19th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the situation that hits arisen in Tasmania where 60 per cent, of potato growers have to sell their potatoes at less than the cost of production, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether consideration will he given to the setting up of a production cost-finding committee to examine this important Tasmanian industry, and the necessity for granting either a shipping freight subsidy or a direct growers’ subsidy similar to those being paid to other branches of primary production ?
– I shall bring the second portion of the question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Representations are still being made to the Prices Commissioner in New South Wales to persuade him to recognize that the Tasmanian potato growers are entitled to a payable price.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel say whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that tho Government intends to pay a subsidy of £2,250,000 upon coal’ that is imported into this country? If that be correct, why cannot a subsidy be paid upon Tasmanian potatoes ? The payment of a subsidy upon coal will benefit only certain monopolies, but a subsidy upon potatoes would benefit the common, everyday producer and consumer.
– The honorable senator has raised a question of Government policy with which I do not propose to deal in answer to a question without notice. I refer the honorable senator to Standing Order 99.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army give an assurance that in the event of a form of compulsory military training being introduced, no minors will be sent to military camps where wet canteens are installed’? Where wet canteens are installed, will strict adherence to existing liquor laws be observed ?
– As the conditions governing wet canteens in military camps would be a matter for Army regulations, it would be considered in conjunction with the other issues that would arise in connexion with such a debatable point. If the honorable senator will place her question upon the noticepaper, I shall then arrange for her to be supplied with an answer.
– I ask the appropriate Minister whether, in connexion with the proposed call-up of young men for military service, the Government will provide that time served at military training by apprentices to trades shall count as time served at their apprenticeship in their respective trades, thus preventing such apprentices from losing the increase of wages to which they would normally have been entitled had they not been called up for military service?
– The question raised by the honorable senator is very important, and I am quite sure that the mischief that he conceives to be possible will be provided against, and that young mcn who are called up will not be penalized in the manner that the honorable senator has indicated is possible.
– Has the Minister for Social Services given any consideration to the tragic plight of age and invalid pensioners, people on fixed incomes and former public servants, school teachers and railwaymen living on superannuation, who are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the ever-rising cost of living since the new Government, - representing the interests’ of the capitalist class, took office in December last? If he has not done so, will he do so immediately, and bring down the necessary legislation to increase age and invalid pensions and liberalize the means test, so that the purchasing power of such pensions, superannuation benefits and fixed incomes will be at least equal to what it was when the Menzies Government took office three months ago f
– I was asked » question on somewhat similar terms on a recent sitting day, and on that occasion I made the point, that I now desire to repeat, that this problem, with all itf ramifications, was created by a Labour administration and is one of the loads that we now have to carry. As to that part of the honorable senator’s question that was submitted in serious vein - because I consider that some of it was submitted in facetious vein - I advise him that we are constantly mindful of .the problem that age pensioners and others have to face because of the increased cost of living, and that the matter will receive consideration just as soon as is practicable. I am not making any promises about what will be done, because the problem is very great and requires a great deal of thought. However, I do make the point that, having been in office only three months, we have not done badly in that we have reached a stage in connexion with social services legislation at which We are able to announce that we shall introduce this week a bill to provide endowment for the first child in each family; and also that we are a long way ahead with our proposals to increase pensions and to do justice to the ex-servicemen of this community, as to increase pensions for sufferers from tuberculosis.
Several honorable senators having risen in their places,
– I should like to point out to honorable senators that I endeavour to give each honorable senator an opportunity to ask a question, and therefore I ask honorable senators who have already asked a question to-day to remain seated until other honorable senators who wish to ask questions have had an opportunity to do so. I have noticed that many honorable senators rise to their feet seeking the call, although they have already asked questions, at the same time as other honorable senators who have not asked questions.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether the children of a marriage of an ex-serviceman of the 1914-18 war, who was married after 1938 ii nd is receiving a pension in respect of total and permanent incapacity, are not entitled to any monetary allowance as is provided in respect of children of similar classes of ex-service pensioners born prior to 1938. If that be so, will the Minister take the necessary action to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act to place children of such pensi oners born after June, 1938 on the same footing as children of ex-service pensioners born prior to that year?
– It is a fact that the children of an ex-service pensioner whose marriage took place after the 30th June, 1938, are not entitled to allowances or pensions under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. Previously, this provision applied to wives :md children of marriages that occurred after the 31st October, 1931, but during that year, which honorable senators will recall was during the depression, the act was amended to extend the date covering such dependants of ex-service personnel to the 30th June, 1938. At present, a sub-committee of ex-service members of the Cabinet is examining the whole subject of war pensions and allowances, and I assure the honorable senator that, it will give full consideration to the matter that he has mentioned.
– “With the object of earning dollars by increasing the flow of American tourists to this country, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government will take up with the States the question of preparing a tourist journal, or booklet, publi cizing the main attractions throughout Australia for distribution in the United States of America?
– The honorable senator has raised an intriguing matter which is worthy of the fullest consideration. I assure him that the Government is alive to the value to this country of the tourist traffic as a dollar earner. As the honorable senator comes from Tasmania, I have no doubt that he is familiar with the value of that traffic as a potential dollar earner, and I cordially invite him to discuss the subject with me when I shall be prepared to give consideration to any suggestion that he may offer.
– In view of the appalling number of motor cycle accidents throughout Australia resulting in death or permanent disability, will the Minister for Trade and Customs, bring this matter to the notice of all the State Premiers with a view to having uniform legislation enacted by the State governments in order to minimize this loss of life and efficiency among Australian citizens? I understand that under the Constitution the Australian Government has not the power to legislate in this direction.
– The matter that the honorable senator has raised is of great importance. I understand that there is already in existence on an Australia-wide basis a body known as the Road Safety Council, on which representatives of the Australian Government confer with representatives of the States. I shall take up the matter with the Prime Minister and later supply the honorable senator with any information that may be available on the subject.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether the Australian Government will place unreservedly at the disposal of members of the medical profession in each State, the Commonwealth’s resources for research into the cause and treatment of infantile paralysis. Will the Government also ensure that adequate clinical accommodation for remedial treatment, and facilities for education, shall be provided to assist children permanently disabled by acute poliomyelitis?
– I understand that conferences have already been held between the Commonwealth and State Ministers of Health on this matter. At present, the State Ministers of Health are doing a considerable amount of this kind of work. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Health with a view to further co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in the manner suggested.
– As the increase of the size of the Parliament has overtaxed the facilities provided at the post office in the King’s Hall in this building, will the Minister representing the POS.masterGeneral endeavour to have better accommodation provided for the postal employees so that they may be able to carry out their work efficiently and expeditiously.
– I realize that the increased .number of members and senators has added considerably to postal work in this building and I shall be pleased to bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs able to confirm or deny newspaper reports that Japan is again building ships, both for its own use and for sale to other countries If those reports are true, can the Minister say how many ships Japan is building, and what is their type?
– When the honorable senator has a better knowledge of the standing orders of this chamber, he will know that questions should not be based on newspaper reports unless the questioners can vouch for the accuracy of such reports. If the honorable senator can vouch for the accuracy of the reports to which he has referred, there is no sense in asking me to vouch for their accuracy. My answer to the honorable senator is that I have not seen the reports, and therefore I cannot say whether they are accurate
– Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral cause an investigation to be made of the tardy mail services to and from Western Australia? In explanation of my question, I inform the Minister that, in one instance, letters written and posted in Canberra on the 26th February were not delivered to my secretary at Federal Members’ Rooms, Commonwealth Bank Building, Perth, until the 7th March.
– I shall bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the matter that has been raised by the honorable senator and provide her with a full reply to the question at the earliest possible moment.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether, having regard to the fact that at the last election of senators, one in every nine of the votes that were cast was declared to be informal, he will request his colleague to give consideration to the adoption of the Hare-Clarke system of voting, which provides that if a voter expresses preferences for at least three candidates his vote shall be regarded as valid.
– I shall refer the question to the Minister for the Interior.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior give favorable consideration to the adoption by the Commonwealth of laws which operate in some States to prohibit canvassing on the day of parliamentary elections, especially in front of polling booths ?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs studied the regimen, known as the C series index, on which the basic wage is computed? If so, will he direct the Commonwealth Statistician to prepare an index that will reflect more accurately than does the C series index the cost of living of an artisan type worker, with a view to the submission of the new index to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in an endeavour to secure that the basic wage shall be tied to an index that represents the true needs of a mid-twentieth century family and not those of a nineteenthcentury family?
– I have not studied the regimen lately. I do not think that it was formulated for the purpose of meeting the requirements of a nineteenth-century family, because the basic wage was introduced much more recently than that. However, I shall examine the regimen in the light of the observations that the honorable senator has made. If anything arises from that examination, I shall be very pleased to inform him of it.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Shipping find Fuel to the fact that production of urgently needed basic materials is being impeded by a shortage of coal. Approximately 39 coal mines are now idle. Will the Minister say whether the Government has taken any action to secure a settlement of the present dispute in the coalfields ?
– Appropriate action is being taken.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
Has the Commonweal th Immigration Planning Committee (a) recommended to the Government that 1,000,000 tons of coal from overseas bc imported in order that Australia’s coal shortages can be met; (b) if so. is this in addition to supplies already being imported from overseas?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
– Following are the replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers ro the honorable senator’s questions are -
Crawler tractors in the classes approved are not at present made in Australia or the sterling area. Availability from soft currency ureas is at present limited.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Will the Minister consider the possibility of extending the ban rs of street lighting in Canberra from 12.30 a.m., which now obtains, until 2 a.m., as is the custom is most Australian cities?
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer : -
Street lighting in Canberra remains on until 12.30 a.m. Mondays to Saturdays, i i,cl us 1 v e, and until 1.30 a.m. on Sunday night to meet the requirements of omnibus passengers arriving in Canberra by a lute train from Sydney. Lighting in the vicinity of shopping areas remains on every night until daylight. The position has been examined but it is considered that the present needs of Canberra do not warrant any extension of the hours of street lighting.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice - ls it a fact that some medical practitioners charge higher fees to patients, some of whom are in poor circumstances, when called upon to visit them at night, and that, following such visits patients arc’ frequently required to hire taxis in order to locate u chemist with an all-night service? If so. will the Minister take stops to fix the charges which oau be levied by medical practitioners in such circumstances?
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answer : -
The Government has no power to fix charges to be levied by medical practitioners. These charges are entirely n matter for the medical profession.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the growing importance of the home in the community and the handling of various questions, such as commodities, prices, &c, which have a direct bearing on the efficiency and happiness of the home, will the Government consider the establishment of a ministry of housekeeping?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
The Government is keenly aware ot the necessity of assisting, where possible, the mother and family, and active steps are being taken in ti lis direction. . At the same time it does not believe chat the creation of u department to deal with these matters would be justified.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health ha.s supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
Is it a fact that SS. Dalby and SS. Engoma are to bc taken off the Bass Strait route and diverted to New South Wales and Queensland routes ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It is correct that Dalby is being replaced by Delamere and Eugowra by Elmore in the Tasmanian trade. The changeover is being effected for technical reasons and as the vessels arc of corresponding classes there will be no alteration other than in names of the particular ships in the services now being provided by the Australian Shipping Board.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
The maximum fee which a subscriber is permitted to charge for a local call originated from his telephone service is 3d., but the Postal
Department has no authority to prevent a subscriber from imposing an additional fee to compensate him for incidental services such as accommodation, attendance and wear and tear on the premises.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government take action to have more rice made available for general consumption in Australia and, if necessary, have the export of that commodity from Australia regulated until adequate supplies are available to meet the demand of the Australian consumer?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
At present, rice is made available to Asiatics resident in Australia; to sick persona who obtain permits; to people in similar categories in New Zealand; to our own people in New Guinea and Papua, and to the people in the phosphate islands, as well as to those in a limited number of the adjoining Pacific islands. The rice left over after these needs have been satisfied has, up to the present, been sent to communities in the Far East within the British Empire countries, principally to Malaya. The rice position is being kept under continuous review and the Australian domestic supply situation will be relieved as soon as circumstances justify it.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
In respect of Japan the answer to the honorable senator’s question is - 1. Nil. 2. No machines or other goods have been received. In respect of Germany - 1. German reparations of an inventory value of 9,375,704 Eni. have been allocated to Australia up to the 31st January, 1950. These would be worth approximately £A.937,500. 2. Machine tools and other items have been disposed of by direct sale to government factories and to industry by auction and tender. The grand total of reparations sales to the 28th February, 1950, is fA.835,368.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Baskets and Basketware. Lavender Oil - Question of Assistance to the
Remote Controls (of the Bowden type) for
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the provisions of the Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-49 relating to child endowment.
Debate resumed from the 9th March (vide page 569), on motion by Senator Mccallum -
That the following Address-iii-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be 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.
– There is no doubt that the people of Australia are pleased to know that Their Majesties the King and Queen will visit this country in the near future. Only an unfortunate illness of the King prevented them from visiting us last year. Coincidental with the announcement of the proposed visit of Their Majesties to this country, a most remarkable position arises from the further announcement that the Government intends to appoint a Minister to represent Australia in Great Britain. It is remarkable- that the Government has chosen for that duty the only member of this National Parliament who has had the audacity to snub His Majesty’s representative in this country. It is probable that the individual- chosen will not be. as welcome a guest in- Great Britain as some people may have considered he would be.
I turn now to- the portion of His Excellency’s Speech tha-t deals with the armed forces of this nation. We all agree that the greatest preventive measure against war is to be ready at all times for war. Everybody will also agree that the Australian people did a magnificent job during the last war. One of the striking features in the references to the armed forces that were made in the Governor^eneral’s Speech was that concerning universal training, a proposal of the Government’s that has never been elaborated upon by any Governments, speaker. It has not been explained whether universal training is to be compulsory conscription or not. There have been hints that it may mean conscription but we have not been told so in definite terms. I should like to know if th, scheme will mean all-out conscription Will it be conscription of man-power andof everything necessary for the defence of the country? If it is to be conscription of man-power, is there to be conscription for the Air Force and for the Navy ? I point out that we have never yet had to resort to conscription for the Navy. Or is it to be conscription for the military forces only? If the Government intends to apply compulsion in respect of service in the- Army only, why is it singling out one section of the community? I cannot comprehend that at a ‘ time when we urgently require to increase production any government will pull key men out ot industry and draft them into camps to undergo military framing for a considerable period. The Government must first face that problem before it can proceed with its proposal to introducuniversal military training. No membeof the Opposition, would, oppose any reasonable step that it might -take to strengthen, the defences of this country. Labours attitude on that matter w»« proved conclusively during the last eight, years when it was in office. However, we shall strenuously oppose any action by the Government that will upset our economy, particularly at a time when our available man-power is insufficient to meet the needs of industry. If it is the intention of the Government to conscript men for training in scientific fieldsrelated to. modern warfare, it will not obtain amy scientists by compulsion. Indeed, no government can get the best out of anybody by resorting to compulsion. The compulsory military system, previously in operation in peace-time proved a failure. It should be obvious te the Government that it can attract sufficient recruits to. meet the needs of a,l branches of the defence forces by offering sufficient inducements to our young men to join those forces. After all, those who join the armed forces in peacetime know that they will be the first to be called upon in any emergency that may arise. Therefore, they are entitled to the best that the country can give to them. Why should any member of the forces receive less favorable treatment in respect of pay and conditions than that which employees in industry enjoy. Honorable senators opposite say that they uphold the right of every individual’ to choose his, or her, job. How can they reconcile that statement with the Government’s proposal to force men into camps to undergo military training? Any man who is conscripted for military service cannot be said to have freedom of choice of occupation. Supporters of the Government should keep that fact at the Sack of their minds.
The Governor-General’s Speech refers to the Government’s proposal to undertake a developmental programme on which an expenditure of £200,000,000 will be incurred. No details of that programme have been given to us. As honorable senators opposite have raised a hue and cry against socialism, I should like them to say whether this money will he lent to private enterprise or be expended on such schemes as the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme or similar schemes to be undertaken by State governments which are socialistic in character. The provision of roads and railways is a form. of. socialism, and, if any of this money is to he expended upon the development of roads in outback areas, the Government will .be applying the principle of socialism against which its supporters so loudly protest. Its alternative is to create private monopolies, but honorable senators opposite will have difficulty in accepting that alternative us supporters of a government which proposes to introduce legislation to amend the Constitution to provide that no government can establish a monopoly in any industry unless power to do so is specifically approved by the people at a referendum. It is timely to inquire whether any government would desire to establish a monopoly in any industry. Therefore, what is the real intention of the Government in holding such a referendum to seek approval of its proposed amendment of the Constitution? Does it desire to ensure that no future government shall engage in any form of socialism, or does it desire to curb the development of private monopolies in industry? The Government’s proposal is very vague. At all events, before it can be justified the Government must indicate in what respect the Constitution now empowers any government to establish a monopoly in any industry which virtually means power to nationalize an industry. At present, the Government has not the power, under the Constitution, to nationalize any industry or undertaking.
– The honorable senator and his colleagues should have realized that fact before they attempted to nationalize banking.
– It has now been made clear that the Australian Government has not the power to nationalize any industry. Therefore, the Government proposes to waste the taxpayers’ money in holding a referendum to amend the Constitution when, in fact, there is no necessity to do so. Such a proposition is absurd. I again ask the Government to supply honorable senators with details of its proposal.
The Speech of His Excellency also indicates that the Government intends to introduce legislation to deal with subversive organizations, particularly the Communist party. During the last three years when supporters of the Government were in Opposition we heard nothing from them as to how the previous Government should curb subversive organizations. The Government has now been in office for three months, but during that time we have only heard talk about what it proposes to do to curb the Communist party which it alleges is the cause of major industrial stoppages in this country. If the Government believes that the Communist party, or any other organization, is sabotaging industry why has it failed during the last three months to take action against the offender? By failing to do so, it has failed to honour the trust that the people have reposed in it. The Government may ban organizations like the Communist party, but it is unrealistic if it believes that by that means it can prevent Communists from carrying on their activities. Honorable senators opposite might just as well say that they intend to ban the Labour party. They could, perhaps, ban the name “ Labour party “, but they could not stop members of the Labour movement from carrying on the work they are doing to-day. Similarly, banning the name “ Communist party “ would not prevent Communists from carrying on the work that they are doing to-day. Banning a mere name will not get the Government anywhere. Prosecution of the men who are not playing the game, and are damaging the Australian economy, is a different matter. For three months, the Government has been talking of what it will do to the Communist party, which it claims is a disruptive force in industry. If honorable senators opposite have any foundation for that claim it is time that they acted. Senator McCallum said that suppressing any organization was dangerous. The honorable senator, admittedly, “ has something “ there. There is, indeed, great danger in suppressing an organization, but, when I say that, I should not like honorable senators to imagine for one moment that I have any love for the Communists. The Liberals threatened me with assassination; the Communists threatened that I would never again enter this Parliament; but I am still here, despite the threats of both organizations. Any attempt to suppress the Australian Labour party would result in the emergence of that party, stronger than ever. Attempted suppression can result only in greater strength. Let us keep the Communists in the open and fight them in the open. Instead of attempting to suppress the Communist party, the Government should take action against individual who are breaking our laws.
The Governor-General’s Speech, which, as we all know, was written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), contained one of the greatest compliments that have ever been paid to the Australian Labour party. His Excellency said that Australia’s high sterling balances in London were a tribute to the Chifley Administra ti on. Those were not his exact words but, in effect, he eulogized the Chifley Government’s action in building up our sterling credits in the United Kingdom, and so maintaining Australia’s sound financial position. Credit for the soundness of the Australian economy in the eyes of the people of other countries is due entirely to the efforts of the Labour Government, and I repeat that the Chifley Administration could’ be paid no higher compliment than that to which I have referred.
I come now to dollar deficits and petrol. The magnitude of our petrol problems is not realized by many people. Throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, the Chifley Government was maligned by Labour’s political opponents for its handling of the petrol issue. The anti-Labour parties were, of course, in league with the oil companies and petrol retailers. For three months, these people conducted a savage campaign against the Labour Government. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator McLeay) has not had the decency or courtesy to give straight answers to questions about petrol that have been asked of him in this chamber. In fact, the Minister slighted a new member of this chamber, Senator Cole, who sought some information about ships on charter to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The Minister brushed the honorable senator’s question aside, saying, “ I have already answered that question “, whereas, in f act, no direct reply had been given. Surely, if the Government has placed ships under charter to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, it is not ashamed to admit in this chamber that it has done so. If that action was taken for the good of the country, there was no reason why a direct reply should not have been given to Senator Cole. However, it makes no difference to me whether the Minister answers my questions on petrol or not. The fact remains that when Labour assumed office in 1941, there was not sufficient petrol in this country to meet our needs for more than a week or ten days - and that was after the war had been in progress for two years! When Japan struck, the importation of petrol was a hazardous undertaking, and had submarines succeeded in sinking the tankers, Australian transport would have been paralysed. The Labour Government resolved that stocks should never again be permitted to fall to such a low level. Acting upon the advice of the service chiefs, an adequate defence reserve was established. Our political opponents claimed that this reserve was not necessary, and that the petrol should be released to the public. When the Menzies Government was elected, it was supposed to release the defence stocks; but what happened? Petrol supplies in various parts of the Commonwealth became chaotic. .During the general election campaign, Liberal party posters in the Bass electorate displayed the slogan “Vote  Kekwick and fill the bowsers”. The anti-Labour parties were elected, and when, after two months, I asked why petrol was not in the bowsers in some places, my question was brushed aside. The Minister has endeavoured to blame the inadequate supplies upon the Chifley Government because of its failure to release petrol. Does it take two months for petrol to reach the bowsers after having been released from the depots? I thought that it would take only a few days, and the Minister, of course, knows quite well that that is so. He was merely employing one of his smart tricks in an endeavour to avoid answering an awkward question. Three Tasmanian petrol retailers, Mr. Willis, Mr. Green and Mr. Davis, were induced to speak up on behalf of the Minister and say that they had more petrol than they could possibly handle. Once again, it was a case of the “ haves “ having plenty, and the “ have nots “ having none, because although those three retailers may have had more petrol than they could handle, hundreds of motorist?, in Tasmania could not obtain fuel two months after the present Government was elected to office. The Government clearly fell down on its election promise to provide adequate petrol for Australian motorists. Even now the Minister for Shipping and Fuel will not cite petrol storage figures showing the quantity that is held in reserve in this country in case of emergency. The Minister has waltzed round and round the question without answering it directly. When the Chifley Government was in office, members of Parliament had no trouble in ascertaining exactly how much petrol was held in this country. Either Senator Scott or Senator Maher attributed the shortage of petrol under the Labour Government to the then Prime Minister’s greed for power. If the honorable senator who made that remark was not new to this Parliament, and obviously without any knowledge of the character of the right honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley), he would realize just how wrong his statement was. Senator Scott said that Mr. Chifley had forced panic buying by saying that, at the then rate of consumption, there would not be sufficient petrol left in Australia for harvesting purposes. Both Mr. Chifley, it ixd his Minister for Shipping and Fuel, Senator Ashley, were prepared to tell the people of this country the hard, cold facts about petrol. What they said was that there was only a limited quantity of petrol in Australia, and if that was all used immediately, there would not be enough for harvesting. This Government is not game to tell the people the truth. Because the Chifley Government told the people the hard, cold facts, it was accused of causing panic and of greed for power.
When the Liquid Fuel (Rationing) Hill was being debated in this chamber, I said that the necessary complementary legislation would not be passed by the Tasmanian Parliament because the old gentleman of the Legislative Council and their fanner friends would not be game enough to disclose the quantities of petrol that they had stored. In the Legislative Council I was maligned and blackmailed by persons who under the cover of parliamentary privilege made statements that they were not game enough to make outside the Parliament. Some members of the council descended into the political sewer- in their attacks, and the only reason why Senator Wright did not join them was that he did not have his gas-mask with him. My statement was later proved to be true because Mr. Lonegan, who also took me to task over it, stated in a broadcast that he made about the 13th February that he had just returned from a tour of Tasmania. He said that he was offered all the petrol that he wanted, and that when he ran short of it one farmer said, “Come up to my place. I have 800 gallons stored there”. Mr. Lonegan was one of the gentlemen who attacked me in the Legislative Council because I said what I did say, but it has been proved that some farmers and friends of members of the council had, in fact, stored petrol. Two of the old gentlemen, Mr. Lillico and Mr. Franton, said that after the general election I ought to go back to trapping. I propose to say something about that, although it is a personal, and not a national, matter. For two seasons I engaged in trapping in the high mountains of Tasmania. That is work that only the toughest of men can stand. I made a few hundreds of pounds quickly. Instead of selling my furs to the merchants at the prices that they offered me, I sent them to London and received double the amount for them that I should have got if I had sold them in Tasmania. They were some of the best furs ever seen in Australia. While I was trapping, Mr. Lillico and Mr. Franton took advantage of the depression. They employed sweated labour to improve their farms. In consequence, they are now wealthy men. 1 am. not ashamed of anything that I did in the past to earn an honest living. 1 am game enough to come out into the open and say that. I do not need to claim parliamentary privilege. I do not want to dwell upon the old gentlemen. They have their job in front of them, and they will do the State and the people of Tasmania a good turn one day when they pass over to the beyond.
His Excellency referred in his Speech to the fact that the Government intends to amend the Banking Act of 1945. Th« banking policy of the Labour party is based upon the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number. The Government has announced that it intends r.o introduce legislation to ensure that, in future, no measure giving the Government monopolistic rights to engage iri commerce or industry can become law unless it has been approved by the peopleat a referendum. Is it the intention of the Government that the people shall be consulted by way of referendum before monopolistic powers are given to the private banks? There is no power in the Constitution that will permit any government to establish a banking monopoly by socializing or nationalizing the private banks. The Banking Act of 1945 represents the limit to which any government can go in relation to banking. This Government is in office, but if it attempts to interfere with banking legislation that served this nation and its economy well during and since the war, it will find that the Labour party is in power in this chamber.
– Despite what the people have said?
– The people put the Labour party in power in this chamber. The general election of 1946 was fought on the Banking Act of 1945, and at that election the present Government parties were subjected to the greatest whipping that they had ever received. The Labour party was returned to power with an overwhelming majority, in both Houses. That general election was fought on the Banking Act of 1945 and not on the contaminated lies on which the general election of 1949 was fought from one end of Australia to the other.
The Government has announced its intention to review the taxation laws. That is very interesting, because we have been told that there is to be a considerable increase of expenditure. If taxes are reduced, there will be a reduction of revenue. If the Government is not very careful it will get into difficulties. Another £15,000,000 a year is to be expended upon child endowment, and at the same time there is to be a revision or reduction of taxes. What section of the community will receive the benefit of a reduction of taxes? I suggest that the Government should consider adopting a system under which the rebates and deductions to which taxpayers are entitled are deducted from gross incomes and income tax is levied upon the remainder of the incomes. In my view, it is not right that income tax should -be levied upon a gross income of £1,000 a year if a taxpayer is entitled to reductions or rebates to the amount of, say, £200. Under the present system the tax is levied upon the gross income and afterwards an allowance is made in respect of deductions and rebates. That system is not in the best interests of the average taxpayer, because it makes it difficult for him to assess the amount of tax that is to be paid. If my suggestion were adopted, taxpayers could, by deducting allowable deductions from their gross income, ascertain the sum on which they must pay income tax. That would be a considerable improvement of the present position.
– The honorable senator supported the present system when it was introduced by a Labour government.
– Honorable senators opposite also supported it. The present system is a considerable improvement on previous systems. The reason why I supported it was because it relieved persons in receipt of lower incomes from the necessity to pay income tax, and placed most of the burden upon those who could best afford to bear it. I do not say that because I supported the present system it cannot be improved upon, or that if the Labour party had been successful at the last general election it would not have endeavoured to improve it.
Who will benefit by the expenditure of an additional £15,000,000 a year on child endowment? Incidentally, another election promise of the present Government parties has not been honoured. The people were told that if those parties were returned to power, child endowment would be paid in respect of the first child of a family. If the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not say in his policy speech that the amount of the endowment would be 10s. a week, many Liberal party and Country party candidates did say so. If they met a woman wheeling a pram, they said, “ How do you do, lady ? Is this your only child ? “ If the answer was “ Yes “, they said, “ If you elect us to the Parliament, you will get 10s. a week for this one “. I understand that Mr. Kekwick, who represents the electorate of Bass in the House of Representatives, pulled up hundreds of persons in his electorate and told them that. Probably many others did the same. Who will benefit by the payment of child endowment to the first child? It is more than possible that the Arbitration Court will take that payment into consideration in determining the basic wage, which is now computed on a unit of three persons - a man, his wife and one child. If the Government were to pay 10s. a week child endowment in respect of the first child, that 103. a week would be taken into consideration by the Arbitration Court, and I do not doubt for one moment that the court would determine the basic wage on the basis of a unit of two persons - a man and his wife. If the payment of child endowment in respect of the first child means that family incomes will be increased, then it will be of some advantage, but it is more than likely that, because the Arbitration Court will take it into consideration in determining the basic wage, it will result in a decrease of the family income. The captains of industry will benefit from this proposal because the 5s. a week child endowment will bc deducted from the basic wage and, therefore, will not have to be paid by employers. It is not likely that the expenditure by consumers upon necessary commodities will be reduced by £15,000,000 a year owing to price reductions. The Government’s proposal will result in an increase of the profits of employers and will be of no advantage to employees. It is therefore obvious that severe repercussions will follow the 5s. a. week endowment of the first child in o-very family. I was amazed at the contention of another Government senator that this would induce more women to have babies, and thereby increase our population. I cannot imagine that that would be so, because the babies would probably be known as “ Spooner’s 5s. babies”. Doubtless, the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) will not be honest about this matter and admit that that is the objective of the proposed extension of child endowment.
– Would the honorable senator like to make my secondreading speech on the proposed measure for me?
– I shall be astonished if he does admit that to be the truth of the matter during that speech.
– I rise to order ls it permissible for the honorable senator to comment during this debate on a motion that appears on the notice-paper?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - During the debate on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply an honorable senator may speak on almost any subject. Senator Aylett ir- in order.
– The proposed extension of child endowment to the first child in every family was foreshadowed in His Excellency’s Speech, and therefore I consider that I am entitled to say anything I desire to say about it. It was unnecessary for the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) to raise a point of order because I had not intended to comment any further about this proposal at this stage, and in due course the Minister for Social Services will introduce the bill that was foreshadowed by His Excellency, to the detriment of the industrial workers of this country.
The Government has claimed that it is putting value back in the £1. Honorable senators opposite have claimed that to-day the Australian £1 is worth only 10s. I should be very happy if, at the end of the month, I received in my allowance twice as many £1 notes as formerly. It is difficult to understand how the Government is putting value back into the £1, in view of the spiralling of prices that has occurred during the three months that it has been in office. Almost every day statements are published in the newspapers of this country about the continual rise of prices. It has been interesting to observe the rise of prices of such commodities following the lifting of controls. Only recently a. statement in the press foreshadowed an increase of from 40 per cent, to 60 per cent, in the price of jam.
That commodity is essential in the homes of the working people of this country. It is significant that even while the Government continues to claim that it is restoring the value of the £1, announcements of increases of prices are being made. A state of chaos is developing throughout Australia. Shipping is at present held up on the Brisbane waterfront, and the Melbourne tram strike is now in its third week. In STew South Wales 39 coal mines are to-day idle, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has restricted production of iron and steel, two urgently needed commodities. Because of the continued spiralling of prices black-marketeers have been able to buy up goods in short supply to hold them for sale when prices rise still further. Can honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber point to any other country in the world where the standard weekly wage of the workers will purchase so much of the commodities essential to life as in Australia ? I claim that the Australian currency is even more valuable for the purchase of essential commodities in this country than is the almightly dollar in the United States of America. Any criticism of the value of the Australian £1 should be based on the quantity of commodities that it will produce. However, the Government has apparently assessed its value by comparing it with American and sterling currency. Although the Government has claimed that the value of the Australian £.1 has decreased, nothing has been done to alleviate the position of needy members of the community who depend on the money that the Government ladles out to them. I refer particularly to tuberculosis patients, who are having a hard time because there has not been an increase of the allowance in order to enable them to combat rising prices. When I visited a sanatorium recently a patient asked me, “ Can you induce the Government to increase the allowance paid to tuberculosis patients to enable us to buy the things that are essential for our recovery ? “ Therefore I was very pleased to hear the Minister for Social Services say last week, in answer to a question, that the Government was considering this matter. I sincerely hope that the Government will give earnest consideration to the claims of the unfortunate people to whom I have referred. It is imperative that the allowance paid to them should be increased as soon as possible.
In the course of his speech Senator Guy stated that no previous government has had so much leeway to make up, upon assuming office, as had the present Government. I remind the honorable senator that he was a supporter of the antiLabour Government which had to relinquish office in 1941, after the war had been in progress for two years, because it had neglected to take steps to increase war production, in addition to carrying on civil production. The present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), who was then Minister for the Army, declared at the time that if a Japanese brigade were to land in Australia there was nobody to prevent it from overrunning this country. Although at that time Australia was desperately short of petrol and arms, .there were very few munitions factories-some of them had only just started production - and 200,000 persons were unemployed in this country, Senator Guy now has the audacity to claim that the present Government had a greater leeway to make up when it entered office than did the Curtin Labour Government in 1941. However, under Labour’s administration, this country ultimately emerged out of the mire into which the Menzies and Fadden Governments had allowed it to drift. Then he went on to say, “We must not expect everything to be done at once. The Government has promised a lot. We must be patient “. I repeat what I said at the declaration of the poll that if this Government can carry out half the promises made by its candidates to the electors during the campaign, I will be the happiest man in the world to congratulate it and say, “ Well done. You have done a good job “. I know perfectly well that the Government has no possible hope of carrying out its promises.
I want to refer now to the potato industry in Tasmania. This is one subjecton which I agree with Senator Guy. Something must be done to help potatogrowers, not only for the benefit of Tasmania but in the interests of the economy of Australia, because 60 per cent, of the potatoes exported from Tasmania go to New South Wales and 30 per cent, go to Queensland. Tasmania is the second largest potato producing State in the Commonwealth - sometimes its production is the largest - and if the T as.manian potato industry failed the effect on the entire economy of Australia would be severe. Then the Prices Commissioner in Sydney would
Li ave a job on his hands and a black market to contend with. Best quality Tasmanian potatoes are second to none in. Australia, but the premium they enjoyed has been removed. The Prices Commissioner in New South Wales said Lt was impracticable to grant a premium on Tasmanian potatoes, but he was able to permit a premium on beef, mutton and lamb. He approved half a dozen prices for meat taken from one bullock, but would not allow different prices for high quality and low grade potatoes. He victimized Tasmania by putting high quality potatoes on the same level as lowgrade potatoes where premiums are concerned. The cost of production in the potato industry has increased enormously in the last year and is still rising. Nothing has been done by the Government to stop this trend. Freights have increased by from 260 to 300 per cent, since 1939. That is a severe handicap on the Tasmanian potato industry which exports most of its production to other States. Tn spite of that the Prices Commissioner in New South Wales will not grant a premium for high quality. In fixing prices he reduced the return to the potato-growers by £1 17s. 6d. a ton, but in almost the same breath he granted an increased margin to wholesalers and retailers who handle the commodity. That shows the inconsistency of the Prices Commissioner. This Government has no control over him or the prices. Its supporters fought a bitter campaign against price fixing on the ground that the States could handle prices adequately. Potato prices provide an example of one State being victimized by the Prices Commissioner of another State. If this Government cannot take some action on this matter, the potato-growers of Tasmania will turn their attention to some other more payable product and will leave potatoes alone. Then the Sydney and
Brisbane markets will be deprived of that staple article of diet. The Minister and Senator Guy stated that they believed in subsidies, and minimum prices, yet they fought publicly against subsidies. Rural production in Australia can be stabilized only by subsidies and minimum prices. If the Government throws away controls, the people of Sydney who can afford to do so will be paying £60 a ton for potatoes, but the big majority will have to go without at that price. The potato-growers of Tasmania ask the Government to re-introduce the contract system under which they worked during the regime, of the Labour Government with a guaranteed price for their potatoes.
– What price would the honorable senator suggest?
– I ask the Government to send an economic adviser to Tasmania to inquire into the cost of production in the potato industry. We will abide by his decision. Nothing could be f airer than that. There has been an increase of about 300 per cent, in freights and 300 per cent, in the cost of production. If the honorable senator does not take my word for it, he should compare the cost of bags to-day with the prices in 1939. The views I have expressed have been put before honorable senators by me on behalf of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation and the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board, which are the organizations representing the potato-growers of Tasmania. I ask the Minister in charge of the chamber to place these matters before the Governmet
Senator Guy said he was appealing for co-operation and suggested that honorable senators should drop the personal feeling that was evident during the election campaign. I had thought that Senator Wright would “ take the bun “ as the champion of champions in making misstatements and trying to blackmail the people during an election campaign, but I really think he should take second place to Senator Guy. It is said that if a person repeats a lie often enough, even a black lie, a person can convince himself that it is the truth. ‘Senator Mattner has got to the stage where he has made himself believe that if the Labour Government were in power it would nationalize everything, even the honorable senator himself. If he read the Constitution, he would know that there is no power in it to nationalize anything and the honorable senator and his property are quite safe. But he also said that what was wrong with this country was that the workers must work harder. Who are the loafers? The honorable senator should say who they are before making a statement of that nature. If he knows, he might be able to persuade the Government, as one of its supporters, to take some action to bring the loafers into line.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that that remark be withdrawn. I did not use the word “ loaf ers “.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - A point of order must refer to some contravention of the Standing Orders and cannot be raised merely to contradict a statement made during the debate. If the honorable senator considers his statement has been, misconstrued, he can ask leave of the Senate later to make a personal explanation. But he must not interrupt the honorable senator in possession of the floor. Tn addition, no new matter can be introduced and no debate can take place on such an explanation.
– When an honorable senator on the Government side of the House makes a statement that members of the community must work harder, be indicates that some one is loafing on the job. I understood the honorable senator to say that. If I misunderstood him I am sorry I accused him wrongly. But the implication is there and I want to know who are the loafers. The honorable senator said he condemned the 40- hour week. I submit that a. man who really works 40 hours has done sufficient for one week. If Senator Mattner does not think so, I suggest that he go down into one of the coal mines or the metal mines, or even take his coat off to work on the property that he talks about so much. He will find he has had enough at the end of 40 hours, despite his statement that 40 hours was too short. The honorable senator added that the Government would deal with the unscrupulous employers. If the Government thinks that unscrupulous employees are not doing a man’s job, it should deal with them just as it has promised to deal with the employers. It should come out in its true colours. He went on further to say that when Labour was in office its supporters had stated that the basic wage had not increased as a result of child endowment being raised to 10s. a week. To show the mental capacity of some people I merely have to point out that the basic wage was fixed on the unit of a family of three; - man, wife and child. The other children in the family were expected to be brought up on 5s. a week each. Then we increased child endowment to 10s. <a week. The action of the Labour Government in increasing endowment did not interfere with the basic wage, because the fourth and subsequent members of a family numbering more than three were outside the scope of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I consider that any school child would have been able to work that one out.
I have a friend hailing from Tasmania who made his maiden speech in this Senate recently, but I can assure honorable senators that he is no maiden. The honorable senator to whom I refer was formerly Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Tasmanian Parliament. The Opposition in Tasmania was so anxious to get rid of him that it did get rid of him, and then it was so barren of thought and brain when it had got rid of him that it had to bribe an independent member of the Tasmanian Parliament to lead it. That shows the extent of the ability of that party in Tasmania. The honorable senator to whom I refer has claimed that the power of the .States had drifted away, and that we should return to the position that obtained 50 year? ago in relation to .States’ rights. He said that we had been going backwards. He did not finish his speech, but I know what he intended to say. He will probably finish his remarks on some future occasion. He implied that the States had lost their sovereign powers and had become beggars to this National Parliament for their existence. He was going to imply in this chamber, just as he did when he stumped Tasmania with the same story, that Labour governments took away the right of Tasmania and other States to tax their own people.
That is a contemptible lie! Labour governments have never taken away the right of the States to impose income tax and other taxes. The field is open for them to come in, but the position is that Tasmania and probably all the other States - I refer especially to Tasmania because I have direct knowledge of it - were never better off financially than they are now under the FederalState financial agreement with the system of uniform taxation. The honorable senator did not develop his point in that respect because he knew that his statements would be refuted. He desires to reconstitute the old States’ rights. Whatever these old States’ rights are is still a mystery to me, because the Labour Administration took no rights away from the States. In point of fact the States have far more power than this Parliament has, ever has had or ever will have unless we can obtain more constitutional powers through a referendum of the people. The States are their own masters. They can do what they like without legal challenge. The honorable senator went on to speak about the cruel destruction of democracy over the last 50 years, and particularly in recent years. To what destruction of democracy was he referring? Was he referring to some subversive organization or was he referring to the previous Government? If he was referring to the previous Government I inform him that that Government did more to implement democracy than any other government in the history of this country ever did. It implemented more legislation on democratic lines for the social benefit of the people, and was fairer to the people by giving them a say in matters of major national importance, than any other government ever was. Consider, our standard of living to-day, and the privileges that the people of this country enjoy - privileges not enjoyed by the people of any other country. Of all the men who ever went out and campaigned during an election, using maliciously untruthful statements, false propaganda and promises that no government could ever fulfil, Senator Wright lias shown himself to be the champion of champions. He is only a new member of this chamber, and I want to tell honorable senators that he will not be permitted to dominate this Parliament or any section of it. Senator Wright will find before six months have elapsed that he is much smaller fry in this chamber than ever he was in Tasmania and I ventureto say that he will remain in that position. In conclusion I suggest that if this Government really wants to do something to improve the dollar position it should just double the bounty on gold and so increase gold production.
.- I hope to be the calm after the storm. I echo the loyal remarks of previous speakers with the hope that the sentiments expressed -by Government supporters will be given some practical application such a3 the previous Government gave to similar sentiments, so that they will not be just empty phrases. To do so the Government had better improve on its present actions. In the short time that I have been in this chamber I have frequently heard the word “ communism “. I wish to deal, to a certain degree, with that subject and to show how communism can be abolished in this country. The present Government’s idea of banning communism as a political body is ethically wrong and foolish. Man is fundamentally an inquisitive animal. What would happen if communism were banned? The people, and especially the youth of the country, would become curious and would delve into the intricacies of communism. Banning of the Communist party would also give an impetus to communism, because people would be tempted to join secret ‘ societies and perhaps sponsor a creed which, if communism were not forced underground, but were left in the open, it would have’ little appeal. Banning communism would place that creed on an altar as something to be worshipped. Communism will grow enormously if ‘ driven underground. Christianity throve on persecution. I consider that in this rather ungodly world of ours communism would similarly thrive on persecution. Communism is anathema to me. It has no hope of surviving in a Christian country, because it is based on a fallacy - the denial of God. It will survive and flourish in nonChristian countries, and there is nothing that we can do about that, because the economic conditions of the people of those countries are such that communism can promise them a better standard of living. In our own country, where Christian principles should prevail - although under the present economic set-up, I consider they do not - communism can be tackled in two ways. The first way is by giving economic security to the people. I do not wish to deal with the ways and means of that method to-day, but I shall say that I am afraid that the present Government has the inherited means but has not the will to bring a plan for economic security to fulfilment.
The second way, which is the main theme of my speech to-day, is one which I consider will lead to the abolition of communism from Australia. I refer to education. We, as legislators, are failing in our duty to ensure the democratic education of the coming generation. Honorable senators may ask what education has to do with the National Parliament. The answer is that; we hold the purse-strings and have the co-ordinating power to make full education for democracy possible. Education is not a parochial matter, but is a nation-wide instrument opening the road to a better way of life. We have to educate the coming generations not by giving them merely a series of theoretical lessons, but by methods that should be taught, and practised in our schools. We must concentrate on children of from six to sixteen years of ago. Every child has the iiia liena blf right to thai form and degree of education most suited to his or her capacity. Under the present conditions it is impossible to meet that requirement. Why is that so? The answer is first that our schools have outmoded buildings and furnishings. These will have to be scrapped. How would honorable senators like to be shut up in dusty, airless - or sometimes very airy - rooms seated on hard board seats for five hours a day, five days a week, with no right of free movement? Those are the conditions in 95 per cent, of our schools to-day. I know that at present, because of the shortage of building materials, little can be done about school buildings, but at least we can plan for the future and make preparations for our plans to .be put into operation when opportunity arises. Then we have the question of the overloaded curriculum. There must be a new approach to education. We do not want to give the children a lot of unnecessary, factual knowledge. We want attitudes of mind in the education of our children for democracy. Knowledge grows with experience, and that is what we want in our schools. At the present time 90 per cent, of our culture is based upon English literature and art. What is wrong with engendering our own Australian culture? We must live our own lives and work out our own destinies.
The next problems are the overcrowding of classrooms and the shortage of teachers. How can children be taught properly when they are packed into pokey classrooms? Under such conditions discipline breaks down. I am afraid that discipline in our schools to-day is deteriorating not because of any fault on the part of teachers but because of the conditions under which they are obliged to work. The shortage of teachers is due not so much to the inadequacy of- the salaries paid in the profession as it is to the unfavorable conditions under which they are obliged to work. When I observe the amenities that are provided for members of the Parliament and compare them with those generally provided for teachers, I feel somewhat ashamed. Members of the Parliament are doing a work of national importance, but teachers are doing a work of far greater moment because they bold the destiny of this nation in their .hands. Yet they are obliged to work under conditions that do not compare favorably with those provided for factory employees.
I pay a tribute to the Chifley Government for the assistance that it provided for tertiary education. That Government established the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Australian Council for Educational Research and also provided bursaries and travelling scholarships as well a.s other benefits. That is a magnificent record, but those facilities’ can be made available only to the very few. Indeed, they can be enjoyed by only about 2 per cent, of children of school age. What is to be done with respect to the other 98 per cent, who form the body corporate of the nation? They are the children whom wc must educate and bring up in our democratic way of life. Professor Candle, an eminent educationalist, has stated concisely the requirements of school children as follows : -
It is the birthright of every child to receive the right type of education, at the right time, by the right teachers in the right buildings.
I trust that honorable senators will support that principle. The point, however, is how can it be implemented. I shall now outline a scheme which is practical and, I hope, worthy of consideration by the National Parliament. First, the Government should make available a loan of £100,000,000 to be raised over a period of five years and distributed to the States on a pro rata basis of school population. I suggest a period of five years because much planning ‘and preparation, not necessarily at the rate of £20,000,000 a year, must be undertaken and the tempo of the scheme will increase when the new education ideas which have already been evolved can be expanded and applied without any of the present restrictions that are due to financial causes. I suppose that if the National Parliament provides the requisite finance it will require to exercise some degree of control over its expenditure. That control can be of the simplest. The Commonwealth Office of Education, with an administrative head directly responsible to a Minister, could be made responsible for the annual distribution to the States of the money provided by the Parliament. The object of that body would be to equalize educational opportunities, to encourage the States to incur expenditure on education whenever necessary and to advise them on the training and qualification of teachers and the provision of modern school buildings and essential equipment required in all branches of their educational services. Within the State educational authority, there should be a senior educational officer who should be an appointee of the Australian Government. It would be his duty to supervise the expenditure of the money to the best advantage, and the States should heed his advice and recommendations. If, for example, a State wished to make an educational experiment estimated to cost, say, £50,000 the Parliament should make that sum available should that senior education officer recommend that it do so.
In support of this scheme I shall outline some features of the English system of education. In Great Britain, education is controlled by the local authorities which in this respect correspond to our State education departments. Those authorities make educational grants which are subsidized up to 60 per cent, by the British Government. In doing so the Government makes only one stipulation, namely, that certain academic standards must be reached. In any instance in which a satisfactory standard is not attained the British Government does not provide any subsidy. Government inspectors are appointed to ensure that co-ordination of education is established and the requisite standard attained. I should say that the educational standard in England is much higher than it is in this country. If we can take the result of the recent general election in Great Britain as any criterion, the eclipse of the Communists and their fellow travellers in that country was a tribute to that system. Thus, Great Britain succeeded in dealing effectively with the Communists without placing any ban upon them.
I have briefly outlined the scheme that I have in mind. How is the money -to be expended? Buildings, although important, are not necessarily the first essential. However, a building plan must be prepared and implemented a? quickly as possible. The first essential is the adequate provision of requisites, such as teaching aids and equipment. At present, teachers laboriously make their own aids, or they do not use any at all. In the latter instance, the practical side of education is neglected. We should establish central stores crammed with text-books, teaching aids and equipment from which teachers could select their requirements. We say that free education is provided in Australia. That is not so. We are not giving the equality of opportunity that we boast about. Many parents cannot afford to buy, or are unable to obtain, requisite books, and I am afraid that the State Governments which control education at present appear to forget that th(.day of the slate and the slate pencil has gone. Free education, in fact, is provided in England. Why cannot we provide free education in this country? Every teacher has had experience of hours of wasted effort because the child is denied the persona] necessities for education. The children must be given these necessities. They will cost millions of pounds, but it is essential that they be provided so that a comprehensive scheme can be carried out.
Sufficient numbers of teachers must be provided. Can we get them? I have no doubt that we can, provided that salaries and conditions of service are made sufficiently attractive. At present, we recruit our teachers mainly among children who pass through the secondary schools. Emergency training colleges should be established, and we should go out on to the highways and by-ways to recruit teachers. Many qualified persons would be prepared to enter a congenial and expanding profession which teaching will become if it is developed along the right lines. The amenities and working conditions must be of the best, and the salaries provided must compare favorably with those paid in other professions. In England after the recent war, 100,000 people were interviewed and of that number 45,000 were selected and trained as teachers. They had the necessary qualifications and they were given a course of two years’ training. The result is that England now has a wonderful reservoir of teachers who will add lustre to the profession because they have suffered and studied life and, consequently, are equipped to infuse the human element into teaching for the good of the coming generation. With the recruitment of new teachers, the overcrowding of classrooms will be remedied and laxity in discipline will disappear. That laxity is the aftermath of the war when parents faied to realize their responsibilities and the harassed teacher was confronted with a new distorted independence on the part of the child. This independence can be led into the right channels by qualified and satisfied teachers. Libraries must be extended, and Tasmania can show how that can be done. Art rooms must be provided to improve the aesthetic sense of the child. Assembly halls must be built for choral and dramatic work, and gymnasiums are essential for physical well-being. There is a particular need for canteens. How can any one try to teach nutrition and hygiene when children arrive at school with sticky jam sandwiches for lunch? Our teaching must be the “ know how “ of life, and equipment is essential to give this “ know how “ expression.
I come now to the staffing of schools. At present, teachers are snowed under with clerical work. There must be an administrative side to school life so that teachers may perform the functions for which they are specially trained. Is it not ridiculous that a head teacher should have to sit down, make up pay-sheets, and pay his staff, wasting a whole day on work that could be done just as efficiently by a junior clerk? Yet that is one of those multitudinous clerical tasks that he has to perform, and I could enumerate many more. They include attendance returns, monthly returns, ‘bus returns, and record cards. Now, perhaps, honorable senators will understand why teachers who are supposed to work only 25 hours a week actually work 60 hours a week.
There are two other points with which I should like to deal. One is the means test. In the teaching profession particularly, the abolition of the means test is essential. Teachers are compelled to subscribe to superannuation funds which provide for them, in Tasmania at least, a maximum pension of £7 10s. a week, or £3 a week more than the age pension for a man and wife. For that munificent £3, the teacher contributes £1 a week- or more - most teachers pay more - all his working life. That is outrageous, and the only remedy is the abolition, of the means test. Then, a retiring teacher will have his superannuation pension as a right by virtue of his direct contributions, and the age pension as a right because of bis tax contributions.
I shall deal now with the iniquitous sweated labour that we have in our government departments. I refer to the disparity between male and female wages for the same work. Why should female teachers, who have equal qualifications, be paid less than males? This is only a form of cheap labour. Women have proved themselves worthy of their places in every walk of life. Their claims to equality are recognized in this Parliament, so why not in other government departments ? How would the lady senators feel if they were paid only 80 per cent, of the allowance received, by male members of this chamber? The case for equal pay for equal qualifications is unanswerable. It may be argued that universal observance of this principle would result in more career women and fewer women remaining in the homes, but I concede that men would benefit considerably because their chances of obtaining employment would be greatly enhanced. They would no longer have to compete against cheap female labour.
I thank honorable senators for the attentive hearing that they have given to this, my first speech in this chamber. Naturally, I shall not expect the same consideration in future. I have tried to make a plea for the education of our children, and for the welfare of our educators. I hope that the Parliament will consider the suggestions that I have made, because in the call for democratic education, I hear the death knell of that pernicious doctrine - communism.
– by leave - I wish to make a personal explanation. Earlier to-day, Senator Aylett claimed that I had called Australian workers loafers. What I actually said was this - 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 . . .
I have never said that Australian workers are” loafers, and I hope I never shall.
– The debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech has been the means, traditionally, of conveying to His Majesty the King expressions of loyalty and goodwill. I am heartily in accord with the sentiments that have been expressed by previous speakers on this subject. I regret that, due to an unfortunate illness, the King and other members of the Royal party were unable to come to this country as they had intended in 1949, in response to the Labour Government’s invitation. We all. hope that the improvement of the King’s health will continue, and that the visit to Australia that has been forecast for 1952 will take place. While on the subject of loyalty, I remind the Senate that we on this side of the chamber take great pride in our loyalty to the British Crown. On many occasions we have expressed that loyalty in a very practical way. I am sure that honorable senators opposite are no less loyal, but members of the Labour party speak as the representatives of the rank and file of the people, who, although of humble station, are no less eager to do their bit in the interests of this country and of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
I noted with interest the GovernorGeneral’s statement of the Government’s policy, and I have listened keenly to Government supporters elaborate that policy in the course of this debate. My conclusion is that the programme laid down by this Government is merely a recapitulation of Labour’s aims. There is a remarkable similarity between the Speech made by the former Governor-General, the Duke of Gloucester, at the opening of the Eighteenth Parliament, on the 6th November, 1946, the Speech of the present Governor-General, Mr. McKell, at the opening of the second, session of the Eighteenth Parliament on the 1st September, 1948, and the Speech now under discussion, f repeat that the policy of the present Government is a mere recapitulation of the outstanding points in Labour’s programme. I am reminded of the popular song from “ Annie Get Your Gun “ - “ Anything you can do I can do better “. I merely ask “how?” In not one field has this Government shown any drive or originality, yet no government has come to office in this country in more favorable circumstances. Labour’s policy of full employment has already been implemented. Our prestige overseas was never higher, due mainly to the great work of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) at the United Nations. All over the world, people are looking to Australia as the great Pacific country that it is destined to be because of its geographical position. Australia’s prestige to-day is a valuable legacy that the Menzies-Fadden Government has inherited. Our sterling credits in the United Kingdom amount to more than £400,000,000. That represents a magnificent effort on the part of members of the
Labour Government, particularly its leader and Treasurer, the right honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley). The National Welfare Fund, from which cur social services are paid, is in credit by more than £100,000,000. Therefore, the Government should have little difficulty in implementing its child endowment proposals. The money is in the bank. Labour put it there. Consider also the high prices now ruling on overseas markets for our primary products. The prices of wool, wheat, meat and metals have never been higher. Never before have our exports exceeded their present-day value and volume. Splendid seasons have contributed substantially to our prosperity. In recent years there has been a gratifying freedom from droughts and other disasters to our pastoral and agricultural industries. If ever a government had a flying start it is the present Administration. In effect, Labour walked out of a house that was properly built and wellfurnished.
– And had a wellstocked larder.
– That is so. How long these conditions will remain is problematical. Already I see some severe difficulties ahead. I remind the Government that the Chifley Labour Government gave to the people of the United Kingdom £35,000,000 in direct grants to assist them to rehabilitate their economy and to purchase much-needed food. There was no indication in the Governor-General’s Speech that this Government also will assist those great and glorious people who bore the heat and burden of the day from Dunkirk onwards. All that this Government has done is to embarrass the British Government by the attitude that it has adopted in relation to petrol. There is no petrol available anywhere which has not some dollar content. It is well known that, in many instances, royalties upon petrol obtained from some countries in the sterling area must be paid in gold. Arab rulers such as King Feisal and the Emir Abd ull ah recognize the value of gold. Lawrence of Arabia took British golden sovereigns with him to the Middle East and used them in such a way that the Arab and Moslem peoples united to drive the Turks from that part of the world. That was done by gold, which is the traditional currency of the world. It is accepted everywhere. The Arab rulers want gold and not paper money, because gold talks, but when we pay them in gold we deprive ourselves of dollars, because the United States of America will buy gold with dollars. Irrespective of the manner in which we approach the problem, petrol costs dollars or has a dollar content. In many instances refining processes are the closely guarded secrets of American organizations which levy royalties upon the petroleum that i3 produced by the use of their processes. They have established refineries in Australia, and the petrol that is obtained from them has a dollar content.
I commend Senator Robertson and Senator Cole for pointing out that no mention was made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of the vital subject of education. I listened with great interest to Senator Cole when he outlined in a lucid manner the educational needs of this country. It will be of great benefit to us to train the minds of the coming generation in Australia. If we teach our children to think, they will be able to recognize and reject pernicious doctrines. A thinking person sees further than other persons do. Australians are not backward in thinking out for themselves what is good for them. I should like to see more, universities established in Australia and Commonwealth scholarships made available in veterinary science, medicine, agriculture and other fields of learning. Let us use the best brains that we have. Although the population of this country is not large, I believe that we can develop the “ know-how “. We have the ability and the brains to do so. To cite two classical examples: Professor Oliphant and Sir Howard Florey have, by their brains, ability and “ know-how “, put this country on the map. In our universities we have intellectual talent of a very high order, and the development and utilization of the intellectual talent of the coming generation is worthy of every consideration. The development of our art and culture is an important matter. In my opinion, we should develop our own Australian way of life and our own culture, medicine, art, drama and literature. The more encouragement that we give to our writers, artists and musicians, the better it will be for us. I see no reason why we should not have in this country great auditoriums such as, the Rose Bowl in California, where symphony concerts and other works are performed by the world’s great artists. I see no 1 eM son why such an auditorium should not be built in Canberra and why the test artists in the world should not come here to give performances.
I give the Government credit for the manner in which it has acknowledged the achievements of the Chifley Government in connexion with immigration. I should like to see a great drive made to attract to this country migrants from the United States of America and Canada. Hundreds of thousands of American troops came here during the war and many of them returned to the United States of America with a high opinion of this country and the opportunities that it offers. Under the present favorable rate of exchange, an American who came here with .a reasonable amount of capital could soon establish himself in business and settle down quickly. The Americans speak the same language as we do, and consequently they could settle down in this country more quickly than can the persons from northern Europe and other countries who are coming here.
I listened with great interest to the remarks of Senator Guy in relation to electoral reform. To some degree I agree with him. It is strange that at every election a large percentage of the votes that are cast are informal. Having regard to the fact that education in this country is compulsory, it seems that insufficient attention has been paid to the dissemination of information about Australia and how it is governed. I suggest that our schools should devote more time to the teaching of civics - the science of civic development and the art of government. Our children should be taught that every citizen has an obligation to record his vote in a proper form. The fact that at the’ last general election one in every nine of the votes recorded in the election of the Senate shows that many Australian people have not taken the trouble to learn their responsibilities as electors. I have been surprised on occasions to discover the way in which political science is taught in our universities. In some instances, outof-date textbooksare being used by students. Why should not we develop our own political outlook and our own Australian ideas of political development .and culture?’ Sir Isaac Isaacs, W. A. Holman and other Australians,, who grew up, as it were, in the Australian political scene, have described that scene minutely in their writings. Those writings are up todate, and they are applicable to conditions in this country and not to the conditions that prevailed in the poverty stricken areas of Great Britain and. Continental Europe when the outofdate text-books to which I havereferred were written. I believe that the teaching of political science should be re-organized in such a. manner that the lessons will be practical and applicable to our present democratic way of life.
The Governor-General referred in his Speech to the intention of the Government to devote a great deal of attention to the development of our national resources. I hope that that will be done, and that the work will bear fruit. In the opinion of those who are fully qualified to judge, there has never been a greater opportunity for the utilization of man’s ingenuity and energy than is afforded by the task of developing this great land of ours. We have vast untapped resources in our fields and forests, and in the seas that surround us. We have hardly scratched the surface of those resources. It has been my good fortune to travel extensively in this country and when I consider the number of cattle that can be carried in the northern parts of Australia, I realize that the potentialities of this country are staggering. It can and will become one of the great food producers of the world.
When Senator Maher talked of coal, he said that the white cliffs of Dover had nothing on the black cliffs of Callide and Blair Athol. That may be so, but what has been done to develop those coalfields? Despite the fact that in Australia there are some of the richest coal-fields in the world, this Government intends to import millions of tons of coal. The statement that it is intended to develop this country is negatived by the statement that large quantities of coal will be imported. Surely there must be some way of mining the coal that is available here, transporting it to ports, and distributing it to industry. Surely there must be some way in which the Commonwealth, acting in co-operation with Queensland, can construct a railway from the coal-fields in that state to a port. We can build the colliers to transport the coal to other ports. It seems very odd that we are going to import coal when we have great coal resources and the Government has said it intends to develop this country.
There is an area in the south-west of Tasmania that is practically unexplored. It is known that there are great mineral deposits there. The country is very difficult of access at the present time, but I see no reason why an aerial survey of the area should not be made. Access to the area could be obtained from Point Davey. The world is running short of essential base metals. For certain reasons, America, France, Argentina and Australia have sent expeditions to the Antarctic. Those expeditions were not designed to find out how cold it is in the Antarctic. They were sent there for a very definite purpose. I have had an opportunity to study some of the documents relating to the American Antarctic expedition that was under the command of Admiral Byrd. The operation was called “ Operation High Jump “. It was equipped with aircraft carriers, submarines and had the services of mineorologists, meteorologists and other experts. They conducted many explorations and made a great number of observations. A great part of the Antarctic continent was mapped. They found there thermal regions where men could live comfortably. By means of geiger counters they ascertained that there are great quantities of uranium and other precious metals in that part of the world. They also discovered coal there. We need not go to the Antarctic because by means of an aerial survey we can locate mineral deposits in the south-west of Tasmania. A great deal can be done to develop our forests and our aluminium resources. Wood and aluminium are essential to the progress of our housing programme. Bauxite deposits in various parts of Aus tralia have been discovered and developed. We have begun in a very small way to develop our forests, but we have not done enough. We must emphasize the importance of planting, exploring, and developing for the future. I contend that the three suggestions that I have made are worthy of the Government’s serious consideration.
I shall now refer to a very important matter which, to the best of my knowledge, has not been mentioned by any other honorable senator during this debate. I refer to the toll of the road. To-day three people were killed and 60 people were injured in road accidents in this country. Perhaps to-morrow there will be a similar number of casualties. Not one of us knows when be may be the victim of a disaster on the roads. The time has arrived when the Australian Government must adopt constructive “ measures to overcome this menace, which accounts for an economic loss to the nation of £18,000,000 a year. However, that loss is secondary to the amount of human suffering that is involved. Particularly at week-ends, there may be seen in the casualty wards of hospitals throughout this country mangled bodies and pulped human limbs. This involves the use of valuable beds at a time when we are crying out for additional hospital accommodation and more skilled medical men to cure disease. Much of this toll is preventable, and bring3 us to the realization that appropriate steps must be taken urgently. Each year the equivalent of the populations of the municipalities of Parramatta, in New South Wales, Box Hill, in Victoria, and Fremantle, in Western Australia, are killed in road accidents. It is not too much to request that the Government should make available £5,000,000 for the provision of road safety devices. Railway level crossings should be replaced by overhead roadways, blind corners should be obviated wherever possible, and wide publicity should be given to the moral responsibility devolving on all persons in charge of motor cars and other mechanicallypropelled vehicles. Of what use is it for parents in this country to rear and educate their children when so many of them are destined to be mown down on the roads? Much has been said lately about the defence requirements of this country. I point out that the equivalent of almost a division of men is put out of action yearly in road accidents in Australia. At present the Australian Road Safety Council receives a Commonwealth grant of £100,000 a year for the purpose of erecting publicity posters and providing material for safety films. Whilst that is all very well, we should adopt a system of long-range planning in order ultimately to eliminate the causes of road accidents. It is not sufficient that we should merely advertise what is happening and forecast what might happen in the future. It should be possible, in a properly organized community, to overcome at least some of the basic causes of accidents on our roads by impressing upon drivers their moral responsibility to their fellow citizens.
Honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber have spoken at length about His Excellency’s reference to the matter of industrial relations, which involves the general well-being of the people, particularly the relationship between employers and employees. It will be very difficult to establish wellbeing in industrial relations while there remain extremists on both sides in the industrial sphere. At present we have on the one hand abuse and ridicule of the workers, whilst on the other hand there is defiance of arbitration by the workers. Disparaging remarks have been made not only by honorable senators opposite but also by supporters of the Government in another place, about waterside workers and other workers in industry. In days gone by I worked on the wharfs and I have also been a seaman. I remind the Senate that an experienced waterside worker is required to exercise considerable skill in his calling. In this mechanized age far more is involved in that occupation than merely pushing a barrow. The men working in the hold of a ship must have the guarantee that their workmates on the wharf will so secure the slings that the cargo will not crash down on them. They must know how to handle heavy slings, and must possess a wide knowledge of the stresses and strains of the various materials. Cargo must be so stowed that it will not present a hazard to navi- gation, and considerable care must be exercised in stowage. For instance, oil must not be stowed on top of general merchandise, and dangerous cargo such as matches and acids must not be stowed where it may constitute a hazard to other cargo. There are many facets of this matter. Because at times waterside workers may be seen sitting down on the wharfs, it is not to be assumed that they are loafing on the job. They may merely be having a spell while the men working in the hold of a vessel are struggling to manoeuvre a bulky piece of machinery into the best position. So far as seamen are concerned, it is not generally known that to become efficient a man must work for successive periods as deck-boy, ordinary seaman and able seaman. He may graduate to the position of boatswain, and, if he is sufficiently ambitious, after years of study, may obtain a Second Mate’s Board of Trade or Coastwise ticket. He must learn to handle lifeboats, and have a good knowledge of seamanship, and of the dozen and one things that the Department of Navigation requires him to know. It is not possible for a man to sign on as a deck officer from the beginning. He must serve his time and acquire all-round skill. I have a comprehensive knowlede of this subject because I have bad to fight my way up from the forecastle. Provided the average Australian is given a “ fair go “ he will give of his best. It is only natural that the workers desire to take home a fair share of the results of their labour, and it is in that connexion that the struggle between the workers and the masters ensues.
I shall now refer to defence aspects, which I am qualified to do because I h.a.ve had some experience of naval matters. I consider that if ever this great island continent is again attacked, because of its geographical position the attack will be made in one of two ways. In the latter stages of World War II. great developments took place in connexion with submarines. Dr. Walther, the German submarine expert, developed an efficient high-powered submarine capable of travelling at a speed of 25 to 30 knots under water. It was equipped with a special breathing device. I hope that the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy will direct the attention of his colleague to that development. The day of the capital ship is finished. If there is another naval conflict in the future I am convinced that submarines will play a big part. Steps must be taken, also, to build up an adequate merchant marine. We have the means to build up the merchant navy of this country. Australia did a magnificent job during the war period, and is continuing to do a good job. I should resist very strongly any unfair attempt to interfere with the shipbuilding programme of this country. After World War I. the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was sold and our shipbuilding yards at Williamstown were broken up. The whole industry was allowed to deteriorate and drift into the limbo oi the lost. We have not only the equipment but also the tradesmen who know how to build ships. I contend that the knowledge of how to do things better than our opponents is just as important in the matter of defence as is man-power. The other essential is courage, or “ guts “. As the result of my observations in Asian countries, I am convinced that if we were to put up a well-trained and fully equipped Australian brigade against a couple of their divisions, the Australians would go through them as a hot knife would go through butter. As a result of my close contact with Australian soldiers during World War II. I a.m convinced that they possess superior fighting qualities.
Sitting suspended from, 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill presented by Senator Spooner, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I should like to preface my remarks by acknowledging my sense of indebtedness to Senator Murray for his courtesy in deferring his speech so that I may move the second reading of this bill. The measure provides ‘that the first or only child in each family under sixteen years of age shall be endowed at the rate of 5s. a week. This was one of the proposals made to the electors in the joint policy speech of the Liberal and Country parties. The necessary legislation to give effect to the proposal is therefore being promptly submitted to the Parliament.
As honorable senators are aware, under the existing law child endowment is payable at the rate of 10s. a week for each child, in excess of one, under sixteen years of age in a family. Approximately 640,000 families now receive endowment under these conditions. Under the bill an additional 5s. a. week will be payableto every one of these families for thechild at present excluded. In addition, endowment of 5s. a week will becomepayable to 450,000 new families in which there is at present only one child undersixteen years of age.
I need scarcely remind honorable senators that it was a government led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that introduced the Commonwealth child endowment scheme in 1941. It was the view of the Government of” that day, as it is the view of the Government to-day, that the family unit is the corner-stone of national life and the key” to our national progress, and that, therefore, it is necessary in the national interest to ensure that some substantial proportion of the family income is not affected by seasonal or intermittent unemployment. This social objective is met partly by child endowment. Under the endowment scheme the mother of a family receives directly a proportion of the family income. She knows when shereceives that proportion that it will be available to her whether the family unit for which she carries so much responsibility is experiencing good times or leantimes.
Since 1941, when it was introduced into the federal sphere by the Menzies Government, child endowment has become an accepted feature in Australian economic life. Then it was regarded as a major development in social services legislation. I think it can safely be said that since its inception it has received general approval throughout the Australian nation. The Government is submitting a most important extension of this social service. I urge honorable senators to examine the proposal earnestly and sympathetically.
The need for child endowment arises from the fact that family expenses rise steeply with the birth of each child, and then decrease as the children reach an age at which they can earn an income. Yet, during the whole of this period the family’s income may remain approximately the same. In other words, a breadwinner’s income is based not so much on the increasing needs of his growing family as on the economic value of the work in which he is engaged. This may bear only a superficial relationship to the expense of bringing up a family. The Government believes that the most effective way to bridge the gap between the economic needs of the family and the income of the family is the payment of some form of allowance that will increase with the size of the family and decrease as the children become more or less selfsupporting. By this means the community does not leave the welfare of its future generations to be decided entirely by .the accident of individual wealth. Indeed, there is much to be said for the view that the expense of rearing a family to maturity should not be borne entirely by the parents. After all, parents do make a great contribution to ,the national welfare when they accept all the great responsibilities of family life and its economic problems in addition to its joys and happiness.
Payment of child endowment eases, in particular, the burden of the mother of the family. It relieves her at least to some extent of the fear that adversity may prevent her from giving to her children that adequate support which they deserve and which she desires to provide. Child endowment is not therefore a temporary measure. It is a social service which should, have, a permanent place in our economy. Summarily, therefore, endowment of children provides practical encouragement and aid for those who have the responsibility and privilege of. caring for families. It operates on the principle that, by relieving the economic pressure on parents, the children will have better opportunities. It is, in effect, a redistribution of the national income to achieve that end.
When introducing the Child Endowment Bill in 1941, the then Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) received congratulations from members of both sides of the House. In this Senate also there was general support for the measure. Since 1941, the rate of child endowment payment has been substantially increased by Labour governments. I am therefore hoping that the extension of the principle, which is contemplated in this new measure, to endow that child who is at present unendowed in each family, will also receive the wholehearted approval of all honorable senators.
The proposal, I repeat, is to endow in each family the child under sixteen years of age on whose .behalf no endowment is paid at present. If approved^ the measure will benefit two classes of families - those families in which there is at present more than one child under sixteen years of age and those families in which there is only one child under that age. Fortunately for Australia, there are more families in the first category than in the second. To these families the result is a net increase of 5s. a week in family endowment payments. This amount will be added to existing child endowment payments. As stated earlier, it is estimated that there are 640,000 Australian families in which there is more than one child under sixteen years of age. Child endowment, in varying multiples of 10s. a week, according to the size of the families, is already being paid to these families. It is a logical development of the principle of child endowment to extend it to the child which is at present unendowed.
To those who argue that the first children in families are provided for in the basic wage, let me say there are many reasons which, can be advanced in favour of providing endowment for the first child in a family. These children are usually the first children of young parents who are already beset with many financial obligations. They have to meet the initial expenses associated with the advent of the new child such as the provision of a pram, the full layette - clothing and so on - without the advantage of being able to use anything which was purchased for a previous child. Often the young couple are endeavouring to finance the purchase of a home and furniture. Under these circumstances the provision of even a small amount of additional money by way of child endowment will be of assistance to them. The case is unanswerable, I submit, that quite outside the basis on which the basic wage is assessed at present the Government is justified in recognizing these factors and paying the 5s. a week contemplated.
There are many cases where a newly married woman continues in employment for some time after marriage to help to get a better start in married life, but the arrival of the first child usually marks the end of her employment, with consequent loss of income. One-child families form such a large part of the total families in Australia that it is difficult to justify withholding from them any aid whatever in the form of child endowment.
The provision made by the bill, therefore, will add to the income of all families where there are one or more children under sixteen years and will thus tend further to ease the economic pressure associated with the rearing of children.
I should like to emphasize here that child endowment is usually paid to the mother of each family. Only in rare circumstances is it paid to the father. It is paid from the National Welfare Fund into which is paid the proceeds of pay-roll tax and social services contributions. For that reason it is not entirely included in wages as ,a cost of production. Its payment, therefore, does not substantially increase production costs which are reflected in a higher cost of living. On the contrary, it provides financial aid to those who most need it, particularlv at a time like the present when living costs are increasing.
As pointed out by the present Prime Minister in his pre-election speech, the problems of child endowment are closely associated with the amount and structure of the basic wage. That wage is at present under complete re-examination by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration whose decision the Government cannot anticipate and has no desire whatever to influence. In this regard, however, the Government wi.ll carry out its pre-election promise that, if the foundation of the’ basic wage is altered and its amount calculated by reference to the needs of a married couple without children, then provision will be made for raising the endowment for the first or only child under sixteen years from 5s. to 10s. a week.
If statements by honorable senators opposite during the recent election campaign can be taken as a guide, it will no doubt be alleged by them in connexion with this measure, that the introduction of endowment for the first child will be followed by a lower basic wage. It is well that we should think clearly upon this issue. This Government stands for the highest possible standards of living for the Australian people. It will take no step which is likely to influence the Arbitration Court in. reaching its conclusion upon what should be the basic wage in this country. Although the existence of child endowment is closely associated with the amount and structure of the basic wage, yet child endowment and the determination of the basic wage remain two clear and distinct problems. One, child endowment, is within the control of Parliament ; the other, the amount of the basic wage, falls for the determination, of the Arbitration Court. What this Government says to the people of Australia is that it believes in the principle of child endowment. That principle now operates to the extent that all children under sixteen years of age, in each family, except one, are endowed. The legislation now before the Senate extends the principle to the extent that all children in each family under sixteen years of age will be endowed. The first or only child in. each family will receive 5s. a week and each subsequent child 10s. a week.
The passage of this legislation will in no way interfere with the freedom of the
Arbitration Court to determine the basic wage upon whatever standard it may think proper, having regard to the evidence submitted to it. This Parliament does not, rand cannot, assume any power to deal with that problem. The existence of child endowment is as relevant, but no more relevant, to the court’s deliberations than are the level of taxation or of prices, the general monetary and financial policy and other matters which must weigh with the judges in reaching their decision.
The assessment of the basic wage is a great national matter which affects nearly every citizen of Australia. Very properly it is left to be determined by an impartial judicial tribunal of the highest standing. There are great problems involved in both the method of approach and the determination upon facts which is necessary after the method has been decided. There is in truth no short formula that can be employed to summarize the lengthy decisions of the Arbitration Court containing the grounds upon which particular judgments have been based.
I remind honorable senators that it was in 1934, after an emergency wage reduction in 1931, that the court adopted the procedure of computing the basic wage on the formula of determining the highest amount which industry could afford to pay. This procedure was again adopted in each subsequent determination of the basic wage, made, after inquiry, in the years 1937 and 1941. The basic wage has not been re-assessed since 194.1. With one exception, increases which have occurred have followed the trend of the cost of living since then. That exception was in December, 1946, when the court made an interim award of an additional 7s. a week.
It is a mistake, therefore, to suppose that the basic wage has been computed on the formula of ascertaining the wage necessary to meet the reasonable needs of an average family unit. Indeed, the court has expressly and specifically departed from that principle. But it would be equally a mistake to suppose that the court since 1934 has taken no account at all of the needs of the average family unit. On this point some confusion of thought occurs because of a statement made by Chief Judge Beeby in 1941. He then said that, in his opinion, the amount of the basic wage then determined was sufficient for the needs of a family unit of three - a man and his wife and one child. He said, further, that, in his opinion, the wage was inadequate for a family consisting of a. man, a wife and more than one child. That, however, is not a statement setting out the method under which the basic wage was computed in 194.1. As I understand it, the statement could be more fairly described as an illustration of the result of that particular judgment of the court. Perhaps the best and fairest form of explanation is to quote a familiar passage from the court’s judgment in 1941. In a judgment, with which all members of the court agreed, the then Chief Judge, Sir George Beeby, said -
The Court has always conceded the “ needs “ of an average family should be kept in mind in fixing a basic wage. But it has never as the result of its own inquiry specifically declared what is an average family or what is the cost of a regimen of food, clothing, shelter and miscellaneous items necessary to maintain it in frugal comfort, or that a basic wage should give effect to any such finding. In the end economic possibilities have always been the determining factor . . . What should he sought is the independent ascertainment and prescription of the highest basic wage that can be sustained by the total of industry in all its primary, secondary and ancillary forms. That, no doubt, is the object, but the adoption of something like the real average family as the unit to be provided for is not without its use in the attainment of that object. There is no clear means of measuring the general wage-paying capacity of the total industry of a country. All that can be done is to approximate, and one of the methods of approximation is to find out the actual wage upon which well-situated labourers are at the time maintaining the average family unit.
As I understand it, this line of reasoning may be summarized thus : The object of the court is to ascertain the highest basic wage that can be sustained by industry. But there is no clear means of measuring the capacity of industry. One method of approximation is to find the actual wage upon which well-situated workers are maintaining the average family unit. It is a fair inference that the standard of living of such workers is not beyond the capacity of industry to sustain. In other words, family needs are no more than a. rough check on what the basic wage should be. In truth, it is only a rough check, because, in the court’s own words, there is no determination even of what the average family unit is. There is no determination of the cost of maintaining an average family and all that, in truth, is done, is to pay regard to the wages paid to a well-situated worker.
It is a matter of history that the system of child endowment introduced in 1941 took account of this view of the basic wage as then determined. It must also be borne in mind that the views expressed and the principles then laid down still stand as the judgment of the court. The Government’s pre-election promise to endow the first child, therefore, fits perfectly into the present picture. The determination of the basic wage is left entirely to the Arbitration Court. There is no appeal against its finding. It is not bound by its own precedents. There is no certainty upon what basis the court will reach its determination. On each hearing, those interested - employers, employees and governments - express their views upon the method upon which they submit the basic wage should be computed and the amount which they submit should be awarded. The court is practically untrammelled in its approach to the matter. It hears the views of those who are interested and reaches its decision.
I emphasize this point. Those who dogmatically state that endowment of the first child will actually reduce the basic wage do so either in ignorance of the procedure or with the deliberate intention to falsify the Government’s intentions. I will add only this: The Government has already made clear what it will do if the court alters the principles of computing the basic wage and takes as the foundation for calculation the needs of a married couple without children. In that event the Government will bring down an amendment to provide uniform endowment of 10s. for all children. If, on the other hand, the court adopts some new principle altogether for computing the basic wage, the Government will reconsider the matter in the light of the new circumstances. But it is idle to speculate on these possibilities. The basic wage, and the principles on which it is com puted, are matters for the court to decide, and this Government will not make the slightest attempt to influence the court in its deliberations.
I turn now to a review of the rates of child endowment paid by the Commonwealth Government in Australia since 1941.. Child endowment was first paid at the rate of 5s. a week for each child under sixteen, except one, in each family. Since then it has been increased twice; in 1945 from 5s. to 7s. 6d. a week, and in 1948 from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a week. Over that whole period the basic wage has been increased on various occasions as a result of adjustments which followed the trend of the cost of living, and as the result of the increase of 7s. a week granted in the interim award made in 1946. I emphasize that not on any one occasion following the introduction of child endowment or the increases of the rate of endowment, has the basic wage been reduced. Over all these years the only effect of child endowment has been to increase the real incomes of families; or, in other words, to increase their living standards. There has been no apprehension among mothers receiving the benefit, anyway, that its payment would result in a reduction of the basic wage. The introduction of this legislation will not alter the position.
I summarize the views of the Government upon the matter as follows : -
All these great national reforms need to be approached with courage. Each time that progress is suggested there are to be found some reactionaries who express the view that the nation cannot afford the expense involved. There are always some who, perhaps timid, weak and apprehensive, fear that social reforms will weaken standards of living in some direction. I emphasize that this Government holds firmly to the view that the peace, contentment and happiness of the Australian nation depends- upon all sections of the community making their just contribution to higher standards of living. I say, therefore,, to those reactionaries, or those who are timid and fearful, to accept the proposal with courage. I have no doubt at all that if they do this, they will in the future look back with sati .faction to the fact that they made their contribution to the joy and happiness that this, measure will bring to over 1,000,000 families in Australia who will benefit from it., To those 1.000,000 families it: is hoped this measure will be acclaimed as but one plain and simple illustration that this: Government will, in a. practical way, implement its policy,, and provide ways and means under which parents of families of young, stalwart Australians will be assisted to cope with the increases which have occurred in the cost of living during recent years. Moreover, it is hoped that these families too will accept this assistance as a forerunner of further practical proposals designed to reach the same end.
The additional endowment provided by the bill will not be subject to any means test and it will be free of income tax. It will be paid in addition to any other payments for children at present received by parents from governmental sources such as the pension of 47s. 6d. a week paid to civilian widows with one or more children under sixteen years; the allowance of 9s. a week paid to the wives of invalid, pensioners for one child under sixteen years;- and the additional benefit of 5s. a week paid to persons receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefits for one child under sixteen years. The additional endowment will also be paid to war widows, wives of service pensioners who have one or more children under sixteen years, in addition to the pensions and other allowances paid to them by the Repatriation Department. It will also be paid, in addition to other Commonwealth payments, to qualified persons receiving allowances under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, the war service land settlement scheme and business re-establishment scheme where such persons have one or more children under sixteen years.
Owing to the great amount of administrative work to be carried out to give effect to the additional payments, it will not be possible to commence these payments before the 20th June, 1950.. By that time there will be approximately 660,000 families receiving endowment on the present basis and to these will be added 450,000 new families, making a. total of 1,110,000 families that will receive endowment, and the number of endowed children will rise by 1,110,000 to approximately 2,240,000. Having regard to all the circumstances, it is clear, therefore, that the commencement of the benefit has been arranged at the earliest possible date.
– Will it be made retrospective ?
– It will commence from the 20th June. After allowing for natural increase and for migrants, it is estimated that the cost of endowing the first child will be approximately £15,000,000 for the financial year 1950-53 and this will bring the estimated total cost of child endowment for that year up to £46,250,000. This is a substantial amount in relation to the total governmental expenditure. It is an amount which is received by a large proportion of Australian families. It is, therefore, the desire of the Government that it should be received by those who are entitled to it with the minimum of inconvenience and that it should be paid by the Government as economically as is possible. It is therefore proposed to endeavour to persuade as many mothers as is possible to have the amount to which they are entitled deposited to the credit of a banking account. There will be no compulsion placed upon them to do so. They will have, the choice of receiving payment each four weeks by means of an order upon a post office or a bank, or alternatively, of having the amount deposited to a bank account of their own nomination each twelve weeks. The deposit will be made to the credit of a savings bank account or an account with a trading bank. The mother can nominate any bank at any branch. Approximately one-third of those who already receive child endowment accept payment by* deposit to the credit of a banking account. This procedure is more convenient for the recipient and obviously reduces the strain upon the staffs at post offices. It also creates circumstances under which those who so desire can allow the amount to accumulate in the hanking account and thus create a fund which may be applied for the education ov establishment of the child in later life. I am, therefore, hopeful that as approximately one-third of all present recipients accept payment by deposit to banking accounts it may prove possible to persuade a substantially larger proportion of those who will receive endowment for one child only also to agree to adopt the same procedure. The probabilities are that total payments for various forms of social services will exceed £120,000,000 for the year ending the 30th June, 1951. It is, therefore, a matter of some importance to the community as a whole that the transactions involved should be carried through as conveniently, expeditiously and economically, as is possible. There is, therefore, some national importance in the campaign which will be adopted to divert child endowment payments to the credit of banking accounts, and any co-operation or assistance which is given to my department to achieve the desired end will be appreciated.
This is the first major piece of legislation to be introduced in this reconstructed Senate, and I feel proud that I am associated with the Government which sponsors it. I believe that the passing of the legislation and the receipt of the endowment moneys is eagerly awaited by the 1,1.10,000 families who will benefit. It will be a practical contribution towards easing the burden of family responsibilities and thus will be another step forward towards increasing the standard of living with resulting greater contentment and happiness in this fair land of Australia. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 751).
– I now come to the announcement by the Governor-General that the Government proposes to establish a standing committee on foreign affairs in this Parliament. I hope that the committee will not be merely an academic group studying “hand-outs” from’ the Department of External Affairs. Such a committee must be competent to assess information and have access to confidential information if necessary. As an academic group, it can serve no useful purpose at all. The best means of obtaining information on international affairs is by observation. Much of what we are told to-day about overseas happenings is highly coloured and misleading. That became clear to me when I visited Japan some time ago as a member of a parliamentary delegation. When we reached
Japan we found that much of the information that had been circulated in Australia about what was happening in that country was completely wrong. It had consisted mainly of highly coloured press reports compiled by so-called international experts on foreign affairs. Many of those reports were found to be mere newspaper sensationalism, and could be discounted entirely. For instance, every one had heard of the devastation that had been caused in Hiroshima by the atomic bomb. Instead of finding the whole central area of Hiroshima devastated by the terrific explosion, as we had been led to expect, we found evidence of a gigantic conflagration. The damage was entirely different from that suffered by Rotterdam, Hamburg and other European cities. The delegation found also that the reconstruction of Japan was proceeding apace, and that, due mainly to the elasticity of the Japanese, resulting from continued exposure to national calamities such as earthquakes, and to their fatalistic acceptance of suffering, the restoration of their economy had been carried out to an amazing degree. The energy of the Japanese people has to be seen to be believed. If the proposed foreign affairs committee is to serve any real purpose, its access to information must be such that its findings will carry weight in the Parliament, and will not be a. mere recapitulation of statements prepared by people outside the Parliament. If an investigation is to be made of the present sombre predictions of disaster from the use of atomic weapons, the committee must have at hand the latest and most accurate information that is available on that subject. The committee could do a great deal of good, but unless its members are prepared to seek information, and are capable of assessing its value, the committee will be a complete farce. Its responsibilities will, be heavy. Peace treaties and international agreements will come within its ambit. It will have to be guided not merely by political events but also by a thorough knowledge of the economic, scientific and cultural background of the countries concerned. In power politics, the aim of almost every nation is to hold the balance of power. It is not lone since there were three major powers in the world, Russia, the United States of America and Great Britain. Now, there are only two, Russia and America, because Great Britain is no longer able to carry the wearying economic burden of the policeman of the world. Many pf Britain’s colonial and other possessions, including India, Pakistan and Ceylon, have become independent. If we are to understand properly the problems of any country, we must know its racial and cultural history. “We must have a complete and accurate picture of what is going on and not rely upon mere theory and hearsay.
Senator Tate drew attention to world population trends. In the past, much has been made of the “ Yellow Peril “ and other similar fears. Admittedly the Asian peoples are increasing rapidly. My research indicates that in 1948 Asiatics numbered 12,000,000,000 and white people only 640,500,000. The annual birth-rate of the world is 21,900,000, or 41 a minute. Of that 41, 29 are Asian, Indian, Negroid, or Melanesian, whilst twelve are of the recognized white races, Saxon, Celtic, Angles, Teuton, Viking and Latin. In other words, two out of every three people born ki the world are coloured. However, population trends do not mean very much unless they are considered in the light of geographical relationships.
I commend to honorable senators the recent observations of Professor Wheare on Australia and its Government. Professor Wheare said that in 1929 Australia, although a well-governed country, was a “little-governed country”. He added that, on his return to this country in 1949, Australia was still among the relatively few well-governed countries, and that he was particularly impressed by the quality of the higher civil service at Canberra. I share those views. We in this country have been indeed fortunate in our method of election of governments. We have the right to change our governments, and such changes are made without the bloodshed and violence which occasionally mark elections in other parts of the world. We changed our government last December - in my opinion for the worse - without any one getting so much as a black eye. That is as it should be. Acceptance of the principle that the will of the people is supreme means that there is effective control of governments in this country. 1 was greatly impressed by the speech made by Senator Collings who is on the eve of his retirement from the Senate. I share whole-heartedly the sentiments that he expressed. We must find a solution to the pressing problems that confront the world to-day. We must find some means of halting the armaments race. My mind goes back to the preparations that were made in this country and in other countries at the outbreak of World War II. to protect the community from the effects of chemical and bacteriological warfare. Every one knew tha t Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo had made preparations for this type of warfare, and that the Allied nations had taken steps to ensure that they would not be outdone. However, so great was the fear of reprisals that neither side was game to start this horrible form of warfare. No one can predict what will be the fate of humanity should an atom bomb war occur, but I believe that the cold logic and common sense of world leaders will prevail, and the present troubled period will pass without resort to arms. Sporadic armed conflicts may occur, but I believe that full-scale warfare will be avoided. At least, I hope that that will be so. I do not accept the inevitability of war. The danger is that if people, believe that war is inevitable they will say, “ If we must have it, let’s get it over “. If the problem is studied closely, it will be found that there is no difference between the countries of the world that cannot be settled by a calm and dispassionate discussion round a conference table. “
Senator Wright, having referred to the memory of Abraham Lincoln, said that with malice to none, hut with goodwill to all the Government has an opportunity to serve this country. I echo that sentiment. I hope sincerely that the honorable senator has turned over a new leaf now that he has left the Tasmanian Parliament. I leave it at that.
– The Governor-General’s Speech was extremely vague and does not provide us with any very tangible subject to discuss. It is customary for the Government to announce, through the GovernorGeneral, the legislation and the proposals that it intends-‘ to present to the Parliament. The Government has, to some degree, indicated what is in its mind, but it has been very vague about some of the problems with which it is faced and some of the difficulties that it must endeavour to overcome. The debate on the motion for the adoption, for the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech has provided an opportunity for new members of the Senate to deliver their maiden speeches- in this chamber. I congratulate all new senators upon their election, and I hope it will not be thought that I am casting any reflection upon those of them who belong to the Government parties when I say that the three new senators who are members of the Labour party are acquisitions to the Senate and to our party. I offer my congratulations to those honorable senators opposite who have been elevated to ministerial rank. I am uncertain whether I should congratulate them or commiserate with them. I know that all honorable senators on this side of the chamber will agree with me when I say that we shall give to them the same assistance as we received from the Opposition when we were in power. I shall go further than that and say that I am prepared to assist them to the extent of relieving them entirely of their arduous duties and responsibilities.
I do not wish to engage in a post mortem, because a post mortem examination is nauseating on most occasions and it certainly would not be pleasant on this occasion, but I feel that I should make some reference to the last general election and to the present state of the parties in the Parliament. Honorable senators opposite will not agree with me when. 1. say that they owe their present positions to the extraordinarily widespread and misleading propaganda that was published by the press and broadcast by radio stations during the election campaign, but that propaganda must have been distasteful to them. The people of Australia were given some dreadful warnings. They were told by responsible members of the present Government parties that the success of the Chifley Government at the polls would mean the end of democracy in Australia and that if it were returned to office the general election of 1949 would be the last election to be held in this country. The people were told that that Government would destroy their freedom and liberty. During the election campaign propaganda of that kind was circulated throughout the length and breadth of Australia. It reflected no credit on the press, the radio stations and the supporters of the present Government who were responsible for it. The Chifley Government was accused of collusion with the dangerous elements that were attempting to undermine and destroy the economy of this nation. Does any fair-minded person believe that it was proper to ask the people of Australia to make a decision upon misleading and untruthful evidence? However, I believe that eventually the people of Australia will appreciate fully the work that was done during the last eight years by Labour governments.
The Governor-General in his speech reminded us of the need that exists for the closest possible co-operation between Australia and Great Britain in the solution of the economic and other problems that confront the British Commonwealth of Nations. For a long period the Chifley Government consistently followed a policy of giving real assistance to Great Britain. At this stage I shall not recount all that the Chifley Government did in pursuance of that policy. I shall content myself with saying that it had a full appreciation of the great difficulties with which Great Britain is confronted and believed that, having regard to all that the British people have done for the world and for us, it is our bounden duty to do all that we can to assist them. The Chifley Government and the governments of other British Commonwealth countries agreed that, in order to help Great Britain to conserve dollars, they would avoid the extravagant use of petrol, the purchase of which was causing a heavy drain to be made upon Britain’s dollar reserves. They agreed to assist Great Britain by being as economical as they could in the use of petrol without hindering the activities of essential industries and the development of their resources. Australia was a party to that agreement. Last year petrol rationing in this country was declared by the High Court to be invalid, and in consequence the consumption of petrol in Australia increased
Senator Courtice. considerably. The Chifley Government decided that it was essential that ample supplies of petrol should be made available for industrial purposes, and, acting in co-operation with the State governments, it introduced a petrol rationing scheme. One of the first actions of this Government upon taking office was to abolish petrol rationing. Up till now it seems to have got away with it. Probably it has received more co-operation from the oil companies than the Chifley Government received. The Chifley Government was actuated by a sincere desire to ensure that Great Britain received the maximum assistance from us that it was possible to give and also to ensure that our own industries were not jeopardized or hindered by the extravagant use of petrol for the purposes of pleasure. The abolition of petrol rationing was apparently one of the matters upon which the people decided to support this Government, but I am sure that if they had known all the facts they would have realized that our desire was only to assist Great Britain and to safeguard the interests of Australia.
Reverting to the propaganda to which I have referred, the present Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) said that if the Liberal party and the Australian Country party were returned to office they would take immediate steps to curb the activities of the dangerous and evil elements in this country with which the Labour party was alleged to be in collusion and, if necessary, to deport certain persons. The Government has now been in office for approximately three months. There was no indication in the Governor-General’s Speech of what it intends to do to combat the terrible influences that apparently existed before the 10th December and it has not yet indicated what it intends to do about them.
I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is not happy about the attitude that his Government has adopted towards Great Britain. Because that country stood alone against evil forces, we can now enjoy our liberty. It is our bounden duty to assist it as far as we can in its great struggle for existence, but the Government has not indicated what it proposes to do in that connexion. It has said that it will make a grant to
Great Britain from the funds that we have in. that country, hut that is not a very generous gesture and such a grant would not be of great assistance. In. its considerations of the important factors associated with petrol the Chifley Government was influenced by the fact that if there was an extravagant use of petrol in this country Ave should be unable to obtain from dollar areas all of the heavy equipment and other commodities so urgently needed for the development of Australia. It is common knowledge that although petrol rationing lias been abolished, the present Government is not relaxing the importation of heavy equipment and machinery. I point out that Australia is still earning fewer dollars than it is expending. This country is leaning very heavily on the British Commonwealth of Nations and the sterling pool in the matter of dollars. It is not fair for us to do so when it is realized that the Governments of India, Africa, and New Zealand are economizing in dollar expenditure. Australia is not considering Great Britain as much as it should in this connexion..
According to recent press reports the present Government intends to pursue a policy of earning more dollars! However, I point out that for many months prior to the general election in December last the Chifley Government, in association with the manufacturers of this country, made earnest endeavours to improve the dollar situation. The press of this country would have us believe that this Government has .decided on something new. It is attracting great credit for its announced policy to liberalize the importation of many commodities that are in short supply in Australia. According to recent press reports the Government has decided to waive the duty on many of these commodities. I remind the Senate that the Chifley Government followed that policy for many months prior to last December. Many honorable senators will recall that railway rolling stock, barbed wire, wire netting, and many other commodities in short supply were imported free of import duty last year. Yet the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) announced recently that duty on those commodities would be waived, as though that were an innovation. If the right honorable gentleman had consulted his departmental officials he would have learned that the Chifley Government had followed that policy for a considerable time prior to the present Government assuming office. This is further evidence of the manner in which the press of this country assists the anti-Labour parties by publicizing their efforts. So far as the economy of Australia is concerned I emphasize that the present Government has not vitally changed the policy that was pursued for a long time by the Chifley Government, with the co-operation and assistance of the Australian manufacturers. I remind the Senate that whilst the Chifley Government was fully conscious of the great value of heavy machinery in connexion with open-cut mining and other industrial activities in this country, it was at pains to ensure that dollar expenditure was applied to the best advantage.
During the campaign that preceded the recent general election much one-sided criticism was levelled at the Chifley Go’vernment. However, in many instances, candidates were not familiar with the facts of the matter. I am convinced that when the people of this country recognize fully the achievements of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments during the last decade there will be a greater appreciation of their work. Undoubtedly the manufacturers of this country were fully aware of the policy of the Chifley Gcvernment in relation to the expenditure of dollars, and were in accord with tha’ Government’s policy. Government sup porters contend that the increased imports of heavy equipment from dollar areas will help to develop this country and assist its economy generally. The;) also claim that they will assist to restor value to the £1. I point out, however, that these imports are very costly and must result in an increase of the cost of living. I find it hard to resist the conclusion that a pursuance of this policy will result in a lessening of the value of the Australian £1. The Chifley Government was influenced only by the urgent needs of this country to import heavy machinery and plant from hard currency areas.
So much has been said by the Minister for Supply and Development and various supporters of the Government about the necessity to encourage the development of Australia, that a newcomer to the Parliament could be pardoned for thinking that this, also, is something new. I remind the Senate that the Chifley Government formulated a policy for the development of this country estimated to involve an expenditure of over £600,000,000, the implementation of which would have tested our resources to the utmost for .many years to come. That policy was decided upon after close consultation with the various State governments, local governing bodies, and engineers and other interested people. It was announced recently that the Minister for Supply and Development had added another project to the programme for northern Queensland. This prompted a Queensland senator to inquire whether there was to be any variation in connexion with the Commonwealth projects that had already been decided upon. It is well known that the Chifley Government assisted the Queensland Government in connexion with a number of projects in that State, and indicated that it was willing to co-operate in connexion with the Callide coal-field and the Burdekin Valley developmental projects.
At the present time nearly 1,000,000 people are engaged in secondary industries in Australia. Less than a decade ago only half of that number of persons were so engaged. Although much has been heard from honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber about the desirability of increasing our secondary industries, I consider that great progress has been made in that connexion in this country during the last eight years. In their references to primary production in Australia honorable senators opposite have referred continually to the drift to the cities. I remind honorable senators that more assistance was given to the rural communities of Australia during the regime of the Chifley Government than ever previously. Due to developments that have taken place in agricultural methods, and the improved designs of farming implements, fewer people than were formerly engaged in rural pursuits are now able to produce larger quantities of primary produce. There have been great technical advances in connexion with agricultural pursuits. The Chifley Government also assisted in connexion with the provision of improved amenities for people living in country districts. During the past few years many industries have been established in Queensland and I believe the policy of decentralization should be developed further. If industries are taken to the country and amenities increased, people will be attracted to country areas and probably will be pleased to remain there. Honorable members opposite have referred often to the socialistic ideas of the Labour party when discussing the development of the country. I ask the Government how it hopes to develop this country by private enterprise. Is private enterprise prepared to establish irrigation and electrification schemes like those that are now in progress? Who is responsible for this activity? Are not government and other public authorities undertaking these works that are so necessary for development? When honorable senators opposite talk about, socialism it is a matter of degree. Many things must be done on the responsibility of public authorities. It is certainly unlikely that any private individual would invest money in long-term plans such as irrigation and electrification. I presume that the Government, believes in that policy and is agreeable to it. I have often said that the greatest socialistic ideas have come from the other side. Brisbane has a most conservative lord mayor, who is a leader of the Liberal party. Only recently he was given authority to take over private buses which had been carrying on a. service in Brisbane for many years. That gentleman who yelled against socialism on 364 days of the year decided on the 365th day to embrace it. and has acquired the private, enterprise I mentioned, which is essential to the transport needs of Brisbane. During the election campaign the Labour party was accused of planning to socialize coiner shops and many other things, but the country and the Government will find that many things will have to be done by public authorities. If this country is to be properly developed it must he the Government’s responsibility to see that such works are carried out efficiently.
When the problems of to-day are discussed, the most constant criticism is directed against the people who do the arduous work in the community. One never hears of the inefficiency of the managerial end of business. That section of industry shows no desire to share the rewards of business or distribute a share of the profits to those who help industry to make them. Several weeks ago I attended a dinner at which there were 700 or 800 guests. For about three and a half hours those people talked about the need for more work to be done by the community. It crossed my mind that there were at that function a large number of people who were enjoying an expensive luncheon. Very many of them were able to frequent race courses and golf links. I do not mind that to a certain point, but the executive end of industry has had a great spin over a long period, particularly since the war. It has enjoyed a sellers’ market. I submit that that section of industry should consider whether the other fellow is entirely responsible for the difficult situation that exists to-day. I believe that executives as well as workers will have to pull up their socks because there will be difficult times ahead. Over a fairly long period all of us have been accustomed to taking things easily. Great profits have been made in industry. Whatever happens, I believe those people will have to give more attention to the efficiency of industry and commerce and will have to do more than complain constantly about the workers’ share in their troubles. I hold no brief for any section of the community that acts in a way that is detrimental to industry. I am fully convinced that strikes and disruption of industry are adversely reflected only on the working people of the community. The day will come when it will be recognized that there is an opportunity to make Australia the country that it should be. It will be necessary then for all sections of the people to pull their weight, but it is most unfair for certain sections of the community to be constantly criticizing the working people while failing to appreciate their own shortcomings. I am sure honorable senators felt privileged to hear Senator Collings’s plea in this chamber last week for sanity and peace in the world. His speech affected me very much, for I have known Senator Collings for many years and know that his life has been spent in an earnest endeavour to uplift the people of this country. At this late year in his life, he fears that there is danger that civilization will be destroyed. Above all else, it is our duty to give whatever time we can to the problems that affect our economic conditions. We must recognize the duty that we all owe to civilization and particularly the Commonwealth of Nations in our efforts to preserve peace. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, in an address in London recently said -
There is nothing that matters so much in the world to-day as that we should get back to the standards which Jesus Christ set for us by His example and teachings in our public as well as in private life. Those standards are not easy to attain and .they are desperately difficult to maintain and yet the whole future of humanity depends upon our being able to make them a common factor throughout the whole of our national and international life. Uncontrolled materialism rising in a crescendo of power must crash in self-destruction. If the responsibilities and opportunities created by the dangers of the present situation are persistently ignored as the world has done so far they will pass us by and we shall be left without hope or remedy.
A glib phrase used by the Labour party opponents is that “socialism means equalization in misery “. Sir Stafford Cripps and many other prominent men in the world to-day who are great Christian socialists believe that unless these problems are attacked in the right spirit and considered from the correct angle, the opportunity to do the right thing may not come to us. In reply to the gibe that socialism means equalization in misery, I say that if ever the souls of men were regimented it was under the old regime when education stopped almost as soon as it began and people lived their drab lives in unhealthy and monotonous surroundings. Whatever may be said against the Labour party, it seeks to bring to ordinary men and women something new, something better. It strives to give them freedom and access to the good things and the culture of life - not equality in misery but equality in opportunity.
– It sounds like Liberal policy.
– It will be a great advance on the part of the honorable senator and his party’s policy if that can be taken as the Government’s intentions, for during a lifetime my experience has been that there has not been one reform, whether it benefited the working community, the farmers or industry, that was not initiated by the Labour party. I can congratulate the parties forming the present Government on the bill introduced in 1941 for the payment of child endowment. It was introduced by the Government, but it was sought often by the Labour party. I was associated with primary industry when the powerful end of it said, “ It is your job to produce the article. It is our job to tell you what it is worth “. By constant agitation and education, the Labour party has improved the lot of the great mass of the people and raised conditions in industry for the workers. Honorable members on the other side who come from the same State as I do have been very silent in regard to some of the achievements of the Labour party. I have been disappointed because of their failure to make any mention of some of the Chifley Government’s activities, one instance of which was its policy towards the sugar industry, which is probably the most important agricultural industry in Queensland. During its last year of office the Chifley Government increased the price of sugar to a degree that meant to the sugar industry and people of Queensland an accretion to their revenue of more than £5,000,000.
– That was no great achievement in view of the rising costs in other industries.
– It was, in any event, something that the Labour Government did, which made Queensland buoyantly prosperous. It meant the difference between ordinary, industrial prosperity and a very pleasant buoyant prosperity.
– Under an agreement made by previous governments.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) now tells me what previous governments did. The first step taken to put the great sugar industry, which means so much to Queensland, on a business footing, was taken by a Labour government in the federal sphere and a Labour government in Queensland. The only occasions on which the sugar industry has encountered set-backs have been during the terms of office of antiLabour governments and it has received benefits only during the rule of Labour governments.
– That is not correct.
– I do not desire the honorable senator to correct me.
– The BrucePage Government made the first sugar agreement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! I suggest that Senator Courtice be allowed to make his speech in his own way.
– I feel that I need some assistance to-night, Mr. Deputy President, but I do not mind suggestions from other honorable senators, provided that such suggestions are not disorderly. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that the Bruce-Page Government first introduced legislation to benefit the sugar industry. Mr. W. M. Hughes, who was then Prime Minister of a federal Labour government, and Mr. T. J. Ryan, who was Premier of a State Labour government in Queensland, took the first step .to put the sugar industry on a business-like footing. Their action has meant a great deal to the development of Queensland and to the people engaged in the sugar industry. Therefore, having heard honorable senators opposite speak about what they intend to do for the industry, and knowing what Labour, when in office, did for all primary industries, I can only reiterate that anything of a worthwhile and tangible nature that has benefited the primary industries has come from Labour governments.
– What about the main roads agreement?
– I do not desire to prolong this discussion, because I am quite content to wait until I see the nature of the legislation that the Government intends to introduce before I voice my opinions fully. I believe that members of the Government are at the moment pretty hazy about some of their problems and that they will be very fully occupied in carrying out the promises that they made during the last election campaign. The Chifley Government made no promises when it faced the electors. We said that we would do all we possibly could to safeguard the best interests of all sections of the people.
– As we have always done.
– Our past record proves that we did what we promised on former occasions. The present Government attained office by promises which-
– False promises.
– The parties opposite promised to do certain things. If the Government can do what its members promised to do, well, good luck to it, but I am satisfied that at the present moment it is greatly perturbed about some of its problems.
– About the rolling strike, for instance.
– As far as the rolling strike or anything of that kind is concerned-
– That problem is a legacy from the previous Government.
– The parties opposite promised that many of our present evils would disappear if they were elected to office, but these evils are probably more in evidence to-day than over before.
– I shall begin by referring to the altered position that exists in the Senate now, compared with the position that existed on the last occasion on which I had an opportunity to address this chamber. On that earlier occasion we had a. Labour government in office and in power. A majority of honorable senators were seated on the right of the President, their position indicating that they supported the government of the day. At the moment we find that honorable senators supporting the Government are in a minority. Like Senator Courtice, I also congratulate the newly elected senators who have already spoken. I believe that during the course of the months ahead of us we shall find that we have some new senators who will be worthy of our steel. Senator Grant. - If we can get any.
– I suggest to these honorable senators that as time goes on the arguments that will be advanced by honorable senators opposite during debates will not be accepted as quietly as we have accepted their utterances so far. A number of honorable senators opposite have indulged in some remarkably loose thinking and speaking. That is not strange to me, because we have in existence, at the moment, a government different from that which occupied the treasury bench a few months ago. We then had a government that had the solid support of the rank-and-file members of the Parliament.
– Until they were poisoned by the press.
– That was the position, not only in this chamber, but also in another place where governments are made and unmade. But we find to-day that Australia has reverted to something that was discarded about eight years ago. We have returned to a coalition government. As a result there is, as I have said, some very loose thinking and speaking going on. We can recall the last time that Australia had a coalition government which eventually fell to pieces because of the disagreements amongst, its components.
– Such disagreements still exist.
– I now feel, after listening to the speeches of the new senators and of members in another place, that all the ingredients are in existence in this Parliament, not for the progress of Australia, but for a return to conditions that once nearly brought this country to destruction. During the course of one honorable senator’s maiden speech - I think it was Senator Reid - I was guilty of a breach of etiquette in that I interjected. The reason I made the interjection was that I heard the honorable senator presenting to this chamber some new philosophy that I know his party colleagues will not agree with. He was suggesting that production came about when the produce was in the hands of the producer, and I interjected to say, “ What would the honorable senator say regarding wheat when it was 18d. a bushel ? “ It is true that in those days the produce of the wheat-grower was in the possession of the producer. It was on his farm. Nobody wanted it. The John Darlings and the Dreyfuses and all the rest of them said, “We do not want your produce”, notwithstanding the fact that the farmer had laboured long and hopefully, wondering what the harvest would be. I say to the honorable senator and others who may be thinking along the same lines that when such conditions arise it is necessary for the government of the day, representing the people of the community, to go to the assistance of the producer, and I remind them that during the period of office of the Chifley Government, which was destroyed by the methods described by Senator Courtice a few minutes ago, it was the function of the Government to take an interest in the producers.
I have here some figures for the years 1944 to 1948, which are the latest period for which such figures are available. During those years the Chifley Government gave £49,000,000 to the producers of this country to help them to exist and to continue to produce. Somebody has suggested that that step was socialism. We’ll, it is a form of socialism that I believe in, and that I think the primary producers believe in, because it was able to tide them over a very difficult time. I suggest to those supporters of the Government who are members of the Australian Country party that when they assemble in their party meetings they ask the members of the Ministry who also are members of the party, what they intend to do regarding certain suggestions or accusations that they made against the Chifley Labour Government. I suggest that they ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) what he intends to do regarding the home consumption price for wheat, in view of present overseas prices. Mr. McEwen was loud in his condemnation of the Chifley Government because it did not exploit the consumers of this country. He suggested that the wheat-growers were robbed of millions of pounds under the Chifley Government’s scheme. Honorable senators who are members of the Australian Country party should remind him of that. He is now the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and is in a position to deliver the goods, but I am afraid that honorable senators will come away empty-handed. I base that belief upon the circumstances of the coalition between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. “
Recognizing our defeat at the recent election, I am pleased to see that certain honorable senators have been elevated to the Ministry. I compliment the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) upon his elevation not only to the Ministry but also to the position of Leader of the Senate, particularly in view of his brief career in this chamber. He has attained that distinction in spite of the fact that the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator McLeay), when he was previously a member of the Senate, was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and Leader of the Senate, whilst the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) also was previously a member of this chamber, and the Minister for Repatriation (.Senator Cooper) was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in the last Parliament. How were those promotions made? Those Ministers were not chosen by their party to fill the positions they now hold. They were simply promoted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Already, they have displayed some hesitancy in dealing with certain matters raised in this chamber, and I believe that that fact forecasts the early downfall of this coalition Government. Over 40 questions appear on the notice-paper unanswered simply because Ministers are afraid to move; they are watching one another. Liberal party Ministers are afraid to supply answers to questions for fear of offending Country party Ministers, and vice versa.
This Government was going to revolutionize the country. In view of the claims its supporters made at the recent general election one would have thought that Australia had gone to pieces under the Chifley Government. Upon their election to office, they displayed the greatest enthusiasm in the knowledge that their Government had inherited a treasury bulging with cash. Our overseas credits exceed £400,000,000, a figure unprecedented in our history. It was no wonder that the Government came forward and talked so readily about providing endowment for the first child in a family under sixteen years and made specious promises to all sections of the community. I should like to think that at the end of its term of office the country will be as prosperous as it is to-day, but I am afraid that I shall be sadly disappointed because, slowly but surely, our economy will disintegrate as the Government reveals itself less and less capable of giving effect to the promises that it made to the people at the recent general election. I am supported in that view when I read the Governor-General’s Speech which I can best describe as a thing of shreds and patches, because, unfortunately, His Excellency is not so favorably placed to obtain from his present advisers advice as sound as that which he was able to receive from the preceding Government. During the recent general election the Prime Minister, as the leader of the Liberal party, and the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) as the leader of the Australian Country party were frequently depicted sitting together and displaying the greatest cordiality. Honorable senators will recall how those two right honorable gentlemen made a. point of going about the country together. They did so in order to keep their eye on each other in case some divergence of opinion might arise between their parties. They produced a wonderful programme that was supposed to be the result of their joint efforts. “Whilst reports of it in the press were accompanied by photographs of only the Prime Minister, that right honorable gentleman went to some pains to intimate that he was enunciating the joint policy of the Opposition parties.
Those parties promised to establish peace in industry, increase coal production and curb prices and thus “ put value back into the £1 “. According to them, Australia would be a wonderful country if they were elected to office. But what do we find to-day? “Where is the industrial peace that the Government promised to establish? I recall that when the Minister for Shipping and Fuel was Leader of the Opposition in this chamber he was always indignant whenever industrial trouble occurred in New South “Wales or Victoria, and invariably alleged that the then government had failed to do anything if the dispute had not been settled within 24 hours. He used to demand to know what the Government was doing about every industrial stoppage that occurred. What is the position to-day? At present, the tramways services in Melbourne are at a standstill owing to an industrial dispute. What is this Government doing about that dispute? What action has it taken to arrange a conference between the parties that are at war? At the same time, the Liberal party Government in Victoria has failed to do anything about that dispute. What does the Government intend doing to settle disputes that are occurring on the coalfields in New South Wales? At the recent general election, Government supporters said that they would mechanize the mines, develop open-cuts and do all sorts of things to increase coal production. The only thing that it has done in connexion with the coal-mining industry, so far as one can judge from the Governor-General’s Speech, is to announce its intention to retain the Joint Coal Board that was established by the Chifley Government. In spite of the fact that we possess deposits of the finest quality coal in the world, the only means that the Government can propose to increase supplies is to import coal. I repeat that Ministers are afraid to do anything for fear that they will offend members of the other party to the coalition. Where is the strong virile Government that we were promised if only the people would sweep the Labour party aside? Echo answers, “Where?” The Government was going to do many other things, but its supporters now admit that it is helpless and hopeless unless the Opposition supports its efforts. It has sent out a frantic and pitiful appeal to members of the Opposition who formed the previous Government, which it claimed at the recent election was unworthy to retain office.
– Like the call that was sent out to Saint Paul from Macedonia, Come over and help us “.
– That is so. One would have thought that, in view of the Government’s condemnation of socialist rule, it would not on any account descend to appealing to the present Opposition for help. The giant who was going to settle the nation’s problems has proved to be a weakly dwarf. I am particularly struck by the Government’s entreaties to the workers to increase production. The Government suggests that increased production is the cure for all our present ills, including the spiralling of prices which is robbing the people of the benefits conferred upon them by the Chifley Government. The conditions established by that Government are slowly but surely being filched from the people. All that the present Government can say is, “Production and more production”. Does it not realize that other problems exist, that a section of the community that was able to make huge profits during the war is determined to retain those profits? Those interests are a law unto themselves. I refer to the people who stand between the producers and the consumers and are able to exploit the community at large. The blame for rising prices must be laid at the door of the present Government, because its supporters urged the people to reject the Chifley Government’s proposal to give power to the Parliament to continue to control prices on a nation-wide basis. I recall that during the referendum campaign on prices control the present Prime Minister, who was then Leader of the Opposition, said that he would risk his neck to bring about the rejection of that proposal because such a result would mean the defeat of the Chifley Government. 1 warn Government supporters that the spiralling of prices will bring about its downfall. The people, slowly but surely, are awakening to the fact that because of that betrayal of their interests at that referendum they are not now able to enjoy the full benefits of their production. Opponents of the Chifley Government told the people that the States could control prices more effectively than the Australian Government. At that time, we heard much talk about the evils of remote control from Canberra. When the housewife finds that the prices of meat and groceries have increased overnight she cannot ascertain who is responsible for the increases. She simply realizes that the purchasing power of her household, income is being whittled away. 1 repeat that the spiralling of prices will bring about the downfall of the Government.
Honorable senators opposite have had much to say about the need to increase production. Of course, if we can produce more commodities, so much the better, but I invite honorable senators to cast their minds back only a comparatively few years, to the time when the workers of this country were producing more than the Australian people could, consume. Why is it that, in some countries to-day, there is an advocacy of socialism? What prompted the Communist manifesto of Marx and Engels? Communism did not originate in Russia or with the Russian revolution. Communism, socialism and many other ideologies have been spoken of over the years. They owe their origin, to the conditions that existed in various countries throughout the world. What were those conditions? Great masses of the people were living in a state of poverty amidst plenty. Communism originated in the desire of the worker to share more equitably in the wealth that he produced. The reactionary parties of those days - the predecessors of the present Government parties - made concessions when it suited them. The form of society changed from slavery to feudalism, and from feudalism to capitalism, because, under capitalism, the employer did not have to feed his slaves or to pay them wages when they produced more goods than could be consumed. It was in those days that the new ideologies of communism and socialism were born. I only wish that the anti-Labour forces in this country to-day would do something progressive instead of upbraiding the worker. They want to prod the worker into greater activity, but what is to be his reward? Let us assume that the worker did produce more goods’ than were required; would the Government make it possible for him to continue to enjoy his present standard of comfort? What guarantee has been given to the worker that when the storehouses have been filled, he will not be stood down from his job? That is what is in his mind all the time. The lessons of history are well known to him, and until he is sure that the full benefit of his labour will accrue to him, and he will lm able to enjoy some of the good things of life, it is no use trying to goad him on, or cajole him with nice words. The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner), when moving the second reading of a child endowment measure earlier to-night, used a rather intriguing expression. He spoke of a “ just wage “ being granted to workers. Is there anything in the Governor-General’s Speech, or in the speeches of honorable senators opposite, suggesting that the worker will bc guaranteed a just wage?
– The Arbitration Court guarantees that.
– The Minister for Social Services also said that, as yet, there was no known yardstick to measure the amount of money that a worker should receive as a fair and equitable wage. Our arbitration courts fix the minimum wage required to keep a worker and his family from starvation. That wage does not purport to enable the worker to live in comfort.
– I gather that the honorable senator is against arbitration.
– Certainly not. 1. am not against arbitration, but it is very gratifying to hear the support that our arbitration system is receiving to-day from honorable senators opposite. We ure told that workers should take their grievances to the Arbitration Court. This advice is quite different from what the anti-Labour parties said when the Labour movement first introduced a system of arbitration.
– The Deakin Government established the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1903.
– We know all about that. It is an old story. We do not seek to take the credit away from the Deakin Government for having established the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The present Prime Minister may shortly introduce certain legislation because Ministers of the Australian Country party who support his administration will tell him to introduce it. Mr. Alfred Deakin founded our arbitration system, and he introduced the old-age pension, but he did these things to keep himself on the treasury bench of this country because the Labour party, led by the late Christian Watson, held the balance of power in this legislature. We know, too, that Judge Higgins established the first basic wage; but he never suggested at any time that he was fixing a fair or adequate reward for the worker engaged in industry. The Harvester judgment never purported to do justice to the worker. It was given because of the desire of the manufacturers of this country to take advantage of certain legislation that was sponsored and introduced by a Labour government. I refer to our tariff system. An obligation was placed upon the manufacturers, who were to receive the benefit of protective tariffs,- to sell their goods to Australian consumers at fair prices, and to pay fair wages to Australian workers. The captains of industry of those days were not prepared to accept the decision of the Parliament, and they appealed to the High Court for an interpretation of the Constitution. The High Court decided that it was not within the province of the Australian Parliament to guarantee either a fair wage to the worker, or that the consumer would receive goods at a fair and reasonable price. Any suggestion that the basic wage is sufficient for a worker to maintain his family in a reasonable standard of comfort is so much moonshine. To-day, we find that arbitration has some new friends. When it was first spoken of, and the Australian workers were pleading for something better than the law of the jungle, what was the attitude of the antiLabour forces? We were told that it was the sacred right of the employer to pay his workers what he deemed to be - a sufficient wage. The employer was the arbiter. There was no thought of a just wage or a just price for goods. The sole object of manufacturers was to get rid of their products as quickly a possible, even to the point of exploiting both the. worker and the consumer. Now we find honorable senators opposite weeping tears on the shoulders of the workers and suggesting that they should submit their claim to arbitration, although, as I have said, one Minister has already stated that there is no yardstick by which we can measure a fair and reasonable wage. That is the trouble in the industrial movement to-day. That is why we still have industrial unrest, although we have the necessary machinery to bring employer and employee together. The strike problem remains, but just as we have evolved from one system to another, that evolution will continue. The workers will continue to progress in spite of the fact that there is in office in this Parliament to-day a Government that is opposed to them. If honorable senators opposite want the workers to help them out of their present difficulties, they will have to offer something more than a mere sustenance wage. The workers will have to be given an opportunity to enjoy the good things of life. Is it not right that the worker who produces the wealth of the community should enjoy that wealth to the fullest possible degree. “Why should he not be able to live in the better-class suburbs of our cities and towns? Why should he not have a limousine? Under Labour’s rule, the conditions of workers have improved immensely. In the capital cities before the Christinas holidays, people sat up all night in queues waiting to buy railway tickets to take them away for the festive period. Labour stands for a fuller and better life for all working people. Labour administrations have brightened the lives of working people. Annual holidays in new surroundings are enjoyed by young people whose parents, in their day, were lucky indeed to have perhaps a few days at the seaside. This country has benefited greatly by eight years of Labour rule. All sections of the com ju unity are better off. Whenever Labour governments have been in office throughout the world, the countries that they have governed have benefited because Labour passed their way. The people of this country have been misled, but they have exercised their democratic right to choose their own government. Labour has passed into opposition, but I have not the slightest doubt that, with the passage of time, and the awakening of the people, Labour will once again occupy the treasury bench. The Government can introduce its legislation, and we shall consider it very carefully. We shall do what we believe to be in the best interests of the Australian people. I hope that one result of this debate will be that honorable senators opposite will in future offer more practicable suggestions than some of those that they have put forward recently.
– I commend the Government for its national development scheme involving the expenditure of £250,000,000 to be raised by way of a loan. The scheme is a grand conception. It envisages the carrying out of developmental work upon a large scale. I believe that the establishment of such a fund will enable us to surmount many of the obstacles that lie in the path of progress. If the fund is used properly, there will be splendid opportunities to develop this country in many ways. As a member of a. local authority, I believe that the scheme may have arisen from the fight that local authorities . have waged to secure some of the revenue that is derived from the petrol tax. I was a member of several deputations that waited upon Ministers of the Chifley Government and requested that some of the proceeds of the petrol tax should be given to local authorities to use at their discretion. Local authorities are now in a very difficult position, and it is essential that their sources of revenue should be widened. I have heard statements to the effect that the fund will be administered by the States, but I believe that the agencies that would be of the greatest help to this country in its administration are the local authorities. Although I am now a member of the National Parliament, I believe that local government is the form of government that is closest to the people. T know of no persons who do more for the people for so little than do members of local authorities. If the Government is wise, it will secure the co-operation of local authorities, which can advise it more accurately than any other bodies of the requirements of the various parts of each State because the members of those authorities live very close to the people in the areas that will he affected. ‘ The local authority must not be overlooked as an agency for this purpose. There is a tendency in some circles to believe that parliamentarians are of a higher standard than members of local authorities, but each tries to serve the people, and 1 believe that nobody serves the people in a more valuable and public-spirited way than do members of local authorities.
Queensland is acknowledged by moat people to be a State that has great possibilities. Within its borders there are many natural resources that have not yet been tapped. Because of its great area and what it contains, I believe that it is destined to play a great part in the affairs of Australia. If Queensland is treated fairly, it will receive a great proportion of the funds that are to be made available for developmental work.
– That is socialism-.
– Whatever it may be called, it will be in fact a form of development. Queensland has vast possibilities. In the southern part of the State there is the Callide coal-field, which is being developed under difficult circumstances. Coa] has to be taken in motor trucks from the coal-field to the port of Gladstone along a road that was not designed to carry heavy loads. There is a need for a railway to be constructed from the coal-fields to Gladstone so that coal may be transported to the coast more cheaply than at present. Further up the coast is the City of Rockhampton, with the Fitzroy River leading back to the western country. I do not know the nature of the soil of that district very well, although I know the district reasonably well, but I believe that the area has vast agriculture possibilities if a dam can be constructed and the land irrigated.
Further inland and slightly to the north-west, there is the great Blair Athol coal-field, which is one of the greatest open-cut coal-fields in the world. The difficulty at present is to transport coal from there to the coast. Many problems must be solved before the Blair Athol coal-field can be fully developed. Recently, inquiries were made into the possibility of achieving a greatly increased rate of production of coal there so that the output of the field can be sent to the coast and sold much more cheaply than at present. Mackay has been mentioned as the deep-sea port to which coal will be sent from Blair Athol. I believe that eventually, with financial assistance from the Commonwealth, the developmental work that is required to be done in this area will be undertaken. It is possible that not only coal but also its byproducts will be available for various industrial purposes.
Not so far back as Blair Athol there lies the Bee Creek coal-field. During the recent coal strike the Mackay City Council was able to maintain supplies of electricity because it could send its vehicles there and bring back to Mackay coal that had been taken from the creek bank. That is an indication of how close to the surface the coal is in that area. The drilling that has been done has revealed that there is 60,000,000 tons of coal that can be obtained from open-cut workings. The thickness of the seam varies from approximately 15 feet to 30 feet. The whole of the area has not yet been fully tested. There is also a possibility that oil can be obtained from the district because there is sedimentary rock there on which two anticlines have been discovered, and anticlines are the geological phenomena for which geologists look when they are searching for oil. In this area there are great possibilities, not only of bringing coal to the coast and establishing industries there, thus assisting the process of decentralization, but also of obtaining oil.
In addition, there is another great possibility in this part of Queensland. From Nebo, which is just at the back of Mackay, and across to Clermont, near the Blair Athol coal-fields, there is a stretch of rich black soil which will, I believe, eventually be another Darling Downs and on which, possibly, wheat, citrus fruits, tobacco and other crops may be grown. A railway line to the coast would open up a belt of country, encourage the development of primary industries, in addition to coal-mining, and assist to implement the policy of decentralization.
Further north, just south of Townsville, there is the Burdekin Valley, about which We hear so much. The scheme for the development of the Burdekin Valley deserves mature consideration. In that area lies an extensive belt of country which with irrigation will grow many tropical products. That area has vast potentialities,, and I sincerely hope that the Government will favorably consider the scheme. Still further north lies the rich area between Townsville and Cairns. Inland, from Cairns are great water resources and the land has many agricultural possibilities. I have heard of a proposal to harness the great Tully Falls in connexion with a hydro-electric project. That scheme also warrants earnest consideration by this Government as a part of its national development plan. Even north of Cairns, there are great belts of country to which we should direct our attention, but Queensland is such a vast State, and is so undeveloped that Queenslanders themselves are not aware of many of its possibilities. Therefore, I have mentioned a few facts, not as a catalogue, but in order to indicate the tremendous opportunities for development. If our minds are directed earnestly to the right areas, Queensland will become one of the great States of the Commonwealth, but it will require a substantial share of the national development fund.
Australians generally are only beginning to realize the possibilities of the tourist industry. Queensland has great potentialities in that field. It has a completely different aspect from most of the other States. A large part of Queensland is situated in the tropics; and, just as we, who live in the north, like to see the trees and flowers of the temperate zone, so the people who reside in the southern States appreciate the flowers and trees, the colour and glamour of the northern region. The great majority of Australian tourists live in the temperate zone, and Queensland has wonderful attractions for them. The previous Government, and representatives of the State governments, at a conference a few years ago, agreed to regard the tourist business as an industry. In other countries, the tourist trade is a most valuable industry, and I regard the tourist trade in Australia as a substantial dollar earner. Without speaking disparingly of the scenic beauty of other parts of the Commonwealth, I believe that Queensland has the greatest attraction in Australia for tourists from overseas. I refer, of course, to the Great Barrier Beef, -which may be described as a world of wonders in itself. Other countries may have mountain and river scenery similar to our own, but no other country has a coral reef that is comparable with the Great Barrier Beef, and, for that reason, we should not lose any time in exploiting its undoubted possibilities.
The Great Barrier Reef and our glorious sunshine are enticing baits which should bring many tourists to this country. Every dollar that we earn from our tourist industry will be available for the purchase in the United States of America of agricultural implements, machinery for industry, and the other requirements of this country. The project is not nebulous. The Great Barrier Reef is a world of wonder, and its rare beauty will be appreciated by visitors from overseas. Even now, although the foreign tourist traffic is almost in its infancy, the return in dollars is considerable. At the city of Mackay, from which many tours radiate to the Barrier Reef, there are several small launches which, in the course of a year, make approximately 140 cruises, each of which lasts from five days to a week or a fortnight. This year, 57 Americans will go on three short cruises and will remain on the Barrier Reef for about a week. If they do not stay another day in Australia, or buy one penny worth of goods here, they will spend 75,000 dollars between the time they leave the United States of America until they return. Of course, it is likely that they will remain in Australia for a longer time, and that their expenditure will be substantially greater than that figure. I emphasize that that return in dollars will be obtained from only three small cruises. Multiply that number by twelve and the industry would be earning approximately 1,000,000 dollars. Provided the foundations are wisely laid, the industry in a few years will he of immense importance to Australia as a dollar earner. In some countries the value of the tourist industry outdistances most of the other industries. For example, the tourist industry in Canada ranks as the second or third most important industry in that country, whilst in Switzerland it is probably the major industry.
We in Australia must use our imagination and drive in order to raise the tourist industry to a standard that visitors from overseas expect for their enjoyment. We should decide the areas of the Commonwealth which have the best natural attractions to interest foreign tourists, so that they will not be disappointed. But more than that is required. Many foreign tourists require first-class accommodation, and they are prepared to pay for it. We must provide, in addition, less expensive accommodation of a reasonable standard for others who cannot afford to pay luxury prices. Indeed, we should cater for all classes of visitors. Our plans should be laid on an even wider basis than that. We must ensure that the proper amenities shall be provided for the comfort and convenience of tourists. If people desire to visit the mountains, they must be able to travel on good roads to all the places from which the scenic beauty may be viewed. Proper amenities must also be provided on the islands. Tourists do not like stepping out of a dinghy on to a beach. They should be able to step from the boat on to an adequate jetty. In addition, the right kind of accommodation must be built on the islands, and suitable transport should be provided from the mainland to the islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The national development fund should be used to assist the projects that I have mentioned. The tourist industry can be developed to an extraordinary degree by the use of imagination and vision. Tours usually radiate from one centre to various beauty spots in the district. Regardless of the city or town that is the centre, the Commonwealth should play its part in assisting a State government or a local authority to make it a first-class place for tourists. It is not sufficient merely to establish a nice hotel in a “ dump “ of a town. The city or town must be developed so that visitors from the United States of America will not gain the impression that the hotel is the only worthwhile place there. Our objective must be to ensure that people who are prepared to visit us and spend dollars in this country shall be so impressed with the scenic beauties and tourist facilities of this country that, on their return to their own country, they will act as ambassadors to encourage more Americans to visit Australia.
In the utilization of the proposed national development, fund we should bear in mind the necessity to provide amenities that will be acceptable to the prospective visitors and will be appreciated also by our own people, , 111 that connexion the local governing authorities throughout Australia constitute a vital force. Although the Chifley Government granted local governing bodies some assistance from the proceeds of the petrol tax for the development and maintenance of roads in sparsely populated areas, I consider that there should be an extension of that principle. Those bodies should be encouraged to assist the development of the tourist trade. I emphasize that much can be done to raise the standard of that trade, which is capable of development into a valuable industry.
– Honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber claim that, because of its majority of 26 in .the House of Representatives, the Government has a mandate from the people. I remind them that no less than twenty of the honorable members comprising that majority had a margin of only 1,000 votes. Therefore the Government’s mandate is not so great as would appear at first sight.
– get by with it.
– It is a very slim mandate. The people of this country did not give the anti-Labour parties so great a mandate as they had hoped for. During the election campaign the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the members of the Liberal party generally, made some fantastic promises, some of which were deliberate lies. The present coalition Government was elected to office in consequence of those lies. I am convinced that with the passage of time the Government will realize that it cannot hope to honour some of the promises that were made. If any legislation brought forward cuts across the principles of the people who elected me to this chamber, or would be detrimental to the people as a whole, I shall vigorously oppose its passage. I hope that my colleagues will do likewise. We must not sacrifice our principles merely for the sake of retaining our. seats in this chamber, but should make it clear where we stand in this matter,, and that we will not “ play “ unless the proposed legislation will be in the interests of the people of Australia. In his Speech, His Excellency said -
My advisers intend to review the existing machinery for conciliation and arbitration in the light of its operation since the amending act of 1947. An investigation is also being made of measures that might be taken to restore to union members the opportunity to express their views, by democratic methods, in relation to the election of officers and threatened or actual disputes.
I direct the attention of honorable senators particularly to the description “democratic”. The trade union movement is the most democratic organization in Australia to-day despite the abuse that has been hurled against it. All schools of thought are represented in the ranks of the trade unionists, and they are very keen that their individual schools of thought should be represented. The procedure for the election of officers is as follows: The rules of most trade unions provide that nominations for the offices shall be invited by advertisements in the newspapers. When received, the nominations are checked to ascertain whether the nominees are financial and otherwise eligible to stand for election to the positions for which they have been nominated. If they are eligible their names are placed on ballot-papers, which, in most instances, are circulated amongst the members of the organization, and a date for the return of the ballot-papers is fixed. Each candidate is entitled to the services of scrutineers, who attend during the counting of the ballot, which is watched very closely. Consequently a trade union election of officers is the most democratically conducted election in Australia. Irrespective of a man’s political allegiance, he is eligible to vote if he is a financial member of the organization. Although supporters of the Government have said much about the Government’s intention to introduce democratic rights into the trade unions, let us consider the course that was adopted in connexion with, the appointment of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his Cabinet Ministers. The right honorable gentleman appointed himself to the Prime Ministership and also selected his Cabinet Ministers.
– With the assistance of the right honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Fadden).
– Probably so. I am encouraged by the admission of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), who was Leader of the Opposition in this chamber during the regime of the last Government, that my contention is true. The Ministers of the Cabinet were selected by the right honorable member for Kooyong and the right honorable member for McPherson.
– honorable senator expect the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Chifley) to select them?
– I expected that the promises that were made by members of the Liberal party when it was first formed, that every member of that party would have the opportunity to express an opinion in a democratic way about the leadership of the party, would be honoured.
– We shall allow the honorable senator to do it next time.
– It is realized that the Cabinet is merely a bureaucracy of vested interests, and was selected by those interests. According to a statement that appeared in the Melbourne Herald, because a Victorian representative received the Prime Ministership, a New South Wales representative should receive the Treasurership. The Government was almost wrecked at that time, The right honorable member for Mcpherson said, in effect, “Notwithstanding what may be said by vested interests in Sydney, I shall be Treasurer in the new Government “, and in order to pacify the right honorable gentleman the Prime Minister offered him the Treasurership.
– He earned that portfolio.
– If ability in the telling of lies is a qualification for the portfolio, the right honorable gentleman certainly earned it. He had told the people of this country that if the Labour Government were returned to office the people’s money would be confiscated and that labour would be regimented and conscripted. If the telling of such lies earned him bis portfolio, let me say that he earned it very well. When the Liberal party was first formed its founders said that it would be democratically controlled. Yet
After the recent general election the Menzies Cabinet was selected before members and senators had been duly elected. The practice of the Liberal party is quite different from ‘that of the Australian Labour party, which is: a truly democratic party. When a Labour government is elected the Cabinet is selected only after all members and senators have been duly elected. All parliamentary representatives of the party, after election, have the right to nominate persons for inclusion in Cabinet. Notwithstanding that that principle is not followed in that so-called monument of virtue, the Liberal party, honorable senators opposite have the impudence to say that they propose to introduce legislation to provide for the democratic control of the trade, unions. What hypocrites they are! Democratic control in their view is control by vested interests in Kew South Wales and Victoria. Before long the people will realize that the parties that they have returned to power are by no means what they pretend to be. New members and senators who belong to the Liberal and Australian Country parties have come into this Parliament and have stated that they will advocate certain policies, but when the vested interests which support them, including Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, crack the whip, and the Prime Minister in his turn cracks it over their heads, they will dance to the tune that has been called for them.. In Tasmania the private banks paid the salaries, transport and other expenses of many of their officers who were sent around the countryside to tell the people that if the Labour Government were returned to office they would lose their identity, that they would forfeit the money standing to their credit in the banks and that they would completely lose their rights as individuals. The banks do not pay out good money solely for the purpose of helping individuals. They pay it out only for their own purposes. In this instance they spent the money for the purpose of convincing the electors that they should return to power the Liberal and Australian Country parties knowing very well that the representatives of those parties would do their bidding. Recently a plea was made in this Parliament that we should not talk about class warfare. Indeed, it was said that there is no class warfare in Australia. Do honorable senators opposite believe that the banks spent their money solely in the interests of the people and not with the object of defeating the Labour Government?
I propose to refer briefly to arbitration and to reply to some remarks that were made on that subject by Senator Wright. I regret that the honorable senator is not present to-night to listen to my reply. He prefaced his comments on that subject by saying that his authority to speak on arbitration might be challenged. I certainly challenge it, because I believe that the honorable senator advanced the most stupid arguments that I have ever heard on that subject. The honorable senator said -
For nearly half a century we have had established in Australia a system of industrial conciliation «nd arbitration for the purpose of ensuring that justice shall lie done to those who are most concerned in industrial disputes.
Later, he said -
However, it was confidently expected that, long before now, such a splendid arbitration system would have obviated recourse to strikes. A tradition of British justice in our courts of law, arid in the field of industry, has been the preservation of liberty and order. The great advantages of which a system of arbitration is capable can be destroyed by bad leadership of industrial organizations.
I believe in the system of arbitration provided that it is just in its operation. Unfortunately, however, the arbitration system which has operated in this country for many years has been absolutely unjust. The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration fixes the wages of the workers, in accordance, not with the prosperity and volume of production of the country, but with what is required to maintain in a so-called average standard of comfort a man, his wife and three children. The history of arbitration in Australia is not a happy one. A basic wage was first fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins in 1907 at 7s. a day, or £2 2s. a week. That rate applied to Melbourne. The award has been known for many years as the Harvester award. Mr. Justice Higgins, in arriving at his decision, said that he had been uncertain whether to make an award of 7s. or 7s. 6d. a day and that he had decided to adopt the lower rate. In computing the basic wage he allowed £1 5s. 5d. for food, 7s. for rent and 9s. 7d. for all other expenditure.
– That wage was fixed for a family unit of four, consisting of a nian, his wife, and two children?
– No, Mr. Justice Higgins said that it was intended to provide an average standard of comfort for a man, his wife, and three children. In 1913, because of increasing prices, the system of adjusting the wage on the basis of cost-of-living index figures was adopted, and the Commonwealth Statistician’s “A” series index was used for that purpose. In 1922, to meet continually rising costs, and to compensate for the lag between wages and prices, Mr. Justice Powers awarded an additional 3s. a. week. In 1931, in order to meet the conditions that resulted from the financial and economic depression, all wages and allowances were cut by 10 per cent. It will be recalled that in that year there was an outcry by employers that industry could no longer afford to pay the then ruling rates of wages, and an application was made to the court for a reduction of wages and allowances by 10 per cent. Notwithstanding the excellent case submitted by representatives of employees in rebuttal of the application, the court decided to grant it. The employees have now submitted a case to the court for a further review of the basic wage. Indeed, that case has been in progress for the last twelve months, and it is not yet nearly completed. That is what is called just arbitration. I call it unjust for the simple reason that when there is a move to re-adjust wages on the request of the employers, sufficient evidence can be heard by the court to justify a reduction in wages in a few weeks.
When a justifiable increase is sought, the court allows the hearing to go on for twelve months and the case is not finished yet. The court took considerable time off for holidays and when the Prime Minister said before the election that he would increase child endowment if he were returned to power, there was another hold up. Any pretext at all is seized upon to delay proceedings and it is evident that the court does not work on the same basis when the workers asio for an increase as it does when the employers seek a reduction.
In 1934, the Harvester standard was abandoned. The court, at that time, developed a new basic wage with adjustments on the “ C “ series for a four or five roomed house. The Powers 3s. and the 10 per cent, cut were repealed. The new wage that was fixed was below the Harvester equivalent by 5s. a week in the case of Melbourne and 3s. a week in the case of Hobart. That meant that that basic wage would not have bought the same quantity of goods in 1934 as the 7s. would have bought when it was granted in 1907. Because of the repeal of the 10 per cent, cut, it represented a small increase in the basic wage, which amounted to 2s. 2d. a week in Melbourne and 4s. a week in Hobart, but as stated it was still below the Harvester equivalent and the “ C “ series was not so beneficial to the. workers. In 1937, the court added what it termed’ the prosperity loadings to the basic wage. These were as follows: - New South Wales and Victoria, 6s. a week; South Australia and Tasmania, 4s. a week; and in the case of railways, 5s. a week in New South Wales and Victoria, and 3s. a week in South Australia and Tasmania. In 1941 after a protracted hearing the court refused to grant any increases, but stood the matter over because of conditions. In December, 1946, the court made an interim decision and awarded increases of 7s. a week generally and, in the case of Tasmania, 6s. a week. The present hearing is a carry-over from 1946 excepting that the unions are now claiming a basic wage of £10 a week. Allowing for the loss of the Powers 3s. and the repeal of the 10 per cent, cuts in 1934, it is obvious that the basic wage of to-day approximates only to the 7s. awarded by Mr. Justice Higgins in 1907. After 43 years of progress in the means of production, the standard of living of the basic wage- worker has not been materially improved. Honorable senators opposite ask if I believe in arbitration without any qualification.. I believe in arbitration provided it is just, but arbitration to-day is unjust.
– The honorable senator is always making side tracks. The fact is that the workers are not receiving any more wages and that the standard of living has not been increased since 1907.
– After eight years of Labour rule!
– Labour had no say in it because when the Labour party asked the country to give it power to fix -wages, hours and conditions, the Liberal party and others said, “Do not give it to the Government. Arbitration is good enough. We want you to keep the workers’ wages down “. The national income has increased by more than 200 per cent, since 19.07 and wages have not increased at all. The workers have produced that increased income but they have not participated to any degree in the greater returns. That is what honorable senators opposite call arbitration and what they are happy about. I say it is unjust. The national income by 1947- 48 was more than double the prewar level.’ A further rise of about 12 per cent, brought the national income in 1948- 49 to £1,955,000,000 against £814,000,000 in 1938-39. The workers have not participated in that increase, yet honorable members opposite talk about strikes. Honorable senators should wonder at the men working at all seeing that they are producing all the value, all the commodities, all the necessities of life, and still are getting only the same share as they received in 1907. When one hears honorable members like Senator Wright talk about the British -justice in our courts of law it makes one sick and shows what hypocrites there are. Senator Wright is not competent to discuss this matter. He might be a lawyer but he should not make statements like that. I have proved that there is no justice in present arbitration practices in this connexion.
The Senate has heard a good deal of comment concerning coal production. Coal is the basis of all industry. In 1915, production of coal in this country totalled 11,415,451 tons, valued at £4,277,592. In 1945, that was increased to 18,298,929 tons valued at £12,302,361. In 1915 the 11,415,451 tons was produced by 22,448 employees. In 1945 the 18,298,929 tons was produced by 23,232 employees - 784 employees more than those engaged to produce 11,415,451 tons. That meant that those 784 employees with the others produced a surplus of 6,883,478 tons over and above that produced in 1915 with an increased value of £8,024,769. That increased value was produced by the workers but they did not receive any increase in their basic wage. That is why there are strikes everywhere. I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Hollywood Repatriation Hospital. Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
, - I draw the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) to the position existing at the repatriation hospital situated at Hollywood, Western Australia. As a result of complaints received from visitors in respect of the diet of the patients, Senator Nash and I visited this hospital. By the courtesy of the administration, the secretary conducted us around the hospital. Our investigations led us to determine, that the administration was doing its best to provide suitable and reasonable meals for the inmates. The hospital had been extended as a result of the policy of the Labour Government of having relatives of servicemen treated there in addition to war patients. The extra wings more than doubled the size of the hospital. The ‘cooking ranges, store and all such essential parts of the provisioning equipment of this hospital have not been improved as the hospital has developed.
Special diets have to he supplied for quite a number of patients who have .been injured in the war. They have special diets in the chest section, and the facilities there are quite inadequate to enable the dietitions, cooks and others to provide what we consider to be a proper service for the patients.
The responsible officials have estimated that approximately £5,000 is required to effect the necessary improvements. I understand that approval has been given to commence work on the floor of the kitchen because it is in an unsanitary condition, being absorbent and wet. Whilst disinfectants are being used to keep the standards as good as possible, it is very necessary for this work to be carried out. But it is quite useless to carry it out without extending the cooking facilities and other general equipment which the staff require properly to supply the very big number of patients at present in the hospital. I ask the Minister to provide in the Estimates for the accommodation which is required at this hospital. I find, too, that suitable cooks and other persons will not accept continuous employment under such conditions. The kitchen and its environs definitely have inadequate sanitation facilities, the manner in which the meals are served is most unsatisfactory and a severe handicap is being suffered by the staff. I can speak only in the highest terms of the administration and those charged with the welfare of the patients at this hospital and I think that action should be taken to provide facilities for the service which the administration and staff desire to provide.
.’ - In reply to the representations made by the honorable senator, I wish to state that I am not at all happy about the repatriation -buildings and facilities in Perth. They are scattered, more or less, all over the city. It has been hoped for some time past that accommodation could be secured in a central position, but owing to the difficulty of obtaining building materials and labour it has not been possible to do this. I am glad the honorable senator has mentioned this matter. I shall have an investigation made immediately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Guildford, Western Australia.
Senate adjourned at 11.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 March 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19500315_senate_19_206/>.