19th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 direct the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister to the fact that the Maitland district of New South “Wales has again been subjected to a severe flood, the third in eighteen months, and that the people of the area are in a desperate plight. I ask the Minister whether the Prime Minister will give special consideration to helping these unfortunate people as quickly as possible?
– The relief of people in the sad circumstances referred to by the honorable senator is attended to primarily by the State governments concerned, which have the necessary machinery and exercise control of local organizations. It is customary for State governments to ask the Commonwealth to contribute to flood’ relief funds on a £I-for-£l basis. Traditionally, regardless of the political colour of the government in power, such applications are considered most sympathetically by the Commonwealth. I suggest to the honorable senator that he ask the New South Wales Government to mako the usual application to the Prime Minister. If that be done, I am certain that the application will be considered sympathetically.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development whether, in view of the hardships that veterans of “World “War I. are now suffering owing to the high cost of living, the Government will give consideration to writing off the principal and interest owing in respect of war service homes, the tenancies of which were originally granted to ex-servicemen who served in World “War I. and which are still occupied by them S
– The question relates to Government policy. Therefore, I arn- not prepared to reply to it.
– As the Treasurer announced in his- policy speech that he would instigate a full investigation into anomalies relating to indirect taxation, wiil the Minister representing the Treasurer assure the Senate that sales tax will be removed from cake manufactured by pastrycooks and catering firms for sale to the public, when the next budget is brought down?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Treasurer, and request that consideration shall be given to the suggestion when the budget proposals are being prepared.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether the Government still intends to introduce a national health scheme? Is the Minister for Health still conferring-, with the British’ Medical Association about the proposal, or has he given up .in despair?
– I assure Senator Sandford that at the appropriate time the Minister for Health will make an announcement on this matter.
-In view of numerous requests that have been made in the Senate during the past few months for a statement by the Government on the negotiations that have been proceeding with the British Medical Association in connexion with the Government’s health scheme, will the Minister representing the Minister for Health say whether his colleague has yet prepared a statement for the Senate indicating what has happened and furnishing a guide as to the nature of the scheme that is likely to be introduced?
– I remind the honorable senator that a series of questions concerning the activities of the Minister for Health in connexion with a national health scheme was asked a short time ago, and I can only repeat now what I said then, which is that as’ soon as the scheme - is completed a detailed announcement will be made for the benefit of honorable senators and the public generally.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the Senate whether full-blooded aboriginal workers in Australia, although taxpayers, are not eligible to receive age pensions? If so, will he take steps to rectify this anomaly?
– My recollection is that only in certain circumstances are aborigines not entitled to receive social services benefits. However, in order that T may check my recollection of the relevant provisions, I shall be glad if the honorable senator will place her question on the notice-paper.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Trade and Customs by pointing out that certain newspaper proprietors have established the wood-pulping industry in Tasmania in order ultimately to provide sufficient newsprint for their requirements. In the meantime, however, they wish to continue to obtain their supplies from Canada, where they have had contracts for many years. Is the Minister in a position to make a statement on the subject? If not, will he, as soon as possible after the Senate rises for the forthcoming recess, inform me whether sufficient dollar accommodation will be provided to enable the newspaper proprietors that I have mentioned to continue to obtain newsprint from Canada until the Tasmanian industry has been fully developed ?
– I should imagine that any statement of Government policy in relation to the matter raised by the honorable senator would be made by the Prime Minister. As honorable senators opposite - particularly those who were members of the former Ministry - will appreciate, the allocation of dollars for the purchase of commodities from hard-currency areas is a very serious matter, involving the utmost scrutiny. Because there are many things for which the Government is anxious to make dollars available, allocations of dollars are made on the basis not of desirability but of essentiality. On no other basis could the allocation of dollars safely and wisely be made.
– Before the session ends will the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether the Government contemplates taking any action to encourage the cotton-growing industry in Queensland?
– I do not know what particular aspect of the matter the honorable senator has in mind. However, I can inform him that recently an informal approach was made to me concerning the admission free of duty to this country of certain mechanical cottonpickers. I can assure the honorable senator that I shall regard any application made on behalf of the industry most sympathetically, and if a formal request is made to the Government for the admission of such machinery at reduced rates of duty I shall be only too happy to extend to the cotton industry the benefit of any customs concessions within my power. The matter of making concessions in connexion with the importation of machinery will depend largely upon whether the machinery is imported from dollar or non-dollar areas.
– Because of an anomaly in the social services legislation, workers in industry of 65 years of age and over who suffer loss of wages through absence from duty due to illness are not entitled to sickness benefit. Should they apply to the Department of Social Services for assistance they are advised to apply for an age pension. The anomaly is probably due to the fact that when legislation to provide sickness benefits was introduced a continuity of full employment such as we are now enjoying was not foreseen. Will the Minister for Social Services review the provisions of the legislation in order to rectify the anomaly that I have mentioned and to make more equitable provision for aged people who are’ still working ‘(
– The point mentioned by the honorable senator has not previously been brought to my notice. It does seem absurd that merely because an employee is more than 65 years of age he should not be entitled to sickness benefits whereas a man under 65 years of age is so entitled. However, I should like an opportunity to examine the facts-. I point out to the honorable senator that the department probably has some procedure by which any such anomaly can be overcome of which the honorable senator and I are not aware. However, if the anomaly does exist and the department has not prepared a remedy for it, I shall certainly give serious consideration to remedying the situation.
– On the 6th June, Senator Katz asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question, without notice, concerning the number of permanent and temporary employees .of the Commonwealth on the 1st December, 1949, and the 1st June, 1950. The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The following particulars include all employees (permanent and temporary) on the pay-roll of Commonwealth governmental authorities as at the end of the month shown. Data are not available as at 1st December, 1949, and 1st June, 1950. Corresponding figures for May will be available about mid July. The information is compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician : -
– Some months ago, Senator Sandford, Senator Sheehan, and I, asked questions about retired public servants, who, because of the war-time shortage of labour were re-employed in various government departments, but instead of being paid a salary plus superannuation payments, received only a salary, and were thus denied superannuation benefits for which they had contributed. Similar questions were asked of the previous Government.
I should like to know now whether it will be possible, before the Parliament goes into recess, for the Government to give an indication of what it proposes to do to compensate those public servants for the superannuation payments that were denied to them during their term of i e-employment.
– As the honorable senator himself has indicated, the decision in this matter was made by the Chifley Government.
– No decision was made.-
– The matter arose and was either determined, or left undetermined .by the Chifley Government. My recollection is that a question on this subject was placed on the notice-paper some time ago, and was answered by my colleague, the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner). The matter does not come within the province of my department.
– A question relating to this subject was placed on the notice-paper and was answered, bu’t it did not deal specifically with the matter that had been referred to by Senator Sheehan, Senator Sandford, and myself. Subsequently, Senator Sheehan asked another question, and was promised by the Minister for Social Services that Cabinet would be consulted and an answer to the question provided. The question that was answered was not the question to which Senator Sheehan, Senator Sandford, and myself, required an answer.
– My recollection is somewhat different from that of the honorable senator. I understand that a question was placed on the notice-paper, that an answer was given by the Treasurer, and that one of the honorable senators interested in it said to me that the answer did not cover the point on which he desired information. My recollection is that I then suggested that he put another question on the noticepaper. I thought that the onus was not on me to make the next move. If I misunderstood the situation, I am sorry.
– Consequent upon a letter- that I have received from the Federal and State Public Essential Services Council, which represents 50,000 employees, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government is likely to repeal all legislation and regulations restricting the rights of public servants in particular and employees in general, to freedom of thought, speech, and association, including political association, and to refrain from introducing legislation or regulations that would be restrictive of such freedoms.
– There appears to be some confusion of thought in the mind of the honorable senator. This Government in no way attempts to impinge on the liberty of the subject in the matter of freedom of thought, speech, or association. However, people’s rights must always be exercised consistently with their obligations to their fellow citizens. That is why, unfortunately, it is necessary in all civilized countries to have a criminal code. That code is intended not to impinge on the freedom of the individual, but to protect the basic freedom of the community generally. For instance, freedom of expression must be restricted. We are not free, even if we feel so inclined, to .blaspheme, scandalize, or utter treasonable words. As long as wo live in a civilized community, we must have laws protecting our basic freedoms, and, therefore, in a small way, it is necessary to curtail not so much the liberty as the licence of individuals who would abuse the freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution.
– In view of the alarming increase in the cost of living, will the Minister for Trade and Customs give any indication before the recess of any efforts that are to be made to honour the election promise made by the present Prime Minister to put value back into the £1? This is an important matter, and as the Parliament isi going into recess for about three months, I submit the question in all seriousness, and ask for a definite answer instead of the usual indefinite reply given -by Ministers.
– The question asked by the honorable senator hardly calls for any answer. If he were less critical of the Government and would co-operate with it, and would use his influence, which I believe to be vast, to assist in the production of goods which are in short supply, and towards better relations between employer and employee, [ think that during the recess he would have the pleasure of seeing an answer to his prayer.
– Although the Prime Minister during the election campaign, promised without any qualification or suggestion of assistance from this side of the chamber, that if returned he would immediately bring down legislation to put value back into the fi, are we now to understand that the Government requires the political assistance of the Labour party to carry out its election promise?
– The Government does not depend on the political assistance of the Opposition for the implementation of its programme. By efficient administration it has contributed considerably to the prosperity of the country, despite political frustration by a hostile majority in the Senate.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Repatriation by stating that I have received requests recently from returned servicemen who are anxious to have some definite information from the Government as to when increased pensions are likely to be paid to them. A number of statements have been made in the press, but is it possible for the Minister to give the Senate some definite information before the Parliament goes into recess?
– Statements have been made during the last few months in regard to soldiers’ pensions or allowances, and I can assure the honorable senator that the Government fully realizes the necessity for such increases. They have been under discussion, and a sub-committee of the Cabinet has been dealing with the matter. An appropriate announcement will be made when a decision, has been made in regard to allowances for each section of persons who are entitled to repatriation benefits under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.
– Seeing that the Minister for Repatriation has assured us that the Government is considering claims for increased service pensions, can he give an assurance that the increases will be retrospective to the time the present Government took office?
– The honorable senator’s question involves a matter of policy, and it is not customary to discuss such matters in answers to questions.
– On several occasions, I have asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General for information about the Government’s programme for the development of television in Australia. Can the Minister say whether a statement on the subject will be made before the Parliament goes into recess ?
– I have not yet received a sta.tement on the subject from the Postmaster-General and, as it is likely that the Senate will go into recess either to-day or to-morrow, it does not seem possible to have a statement prepared before then.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied me with the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice-
– These questions involve matters of Government policy. It is not the practice to deal with matters of Government policy in answers to questions.
Motion (by Senator O’Suluvan) - by leave - agreed to -
That the term of office of Senator T. M. Nicholls as Chairman of Committees be extended from the 30th June, 1950, until the day next before the first sitting day of the Senate after the 30th June, 1950.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it insisted on its amendments Nos. 1 to 4,(vide page 4358) disagreed to by the Senate.
In committee: Consideration of House of Representatives’ message.
– The bill has travelled backwards and forwards between both houses of the Parliament. Its contents and the limits of the disagreement between the two Houses are well known. I move -
That the committee do not insist on disagreeing to amendment No. 1, insisted on by the House of Representatives.
. - The Opposition opposes the motion. I do not propose to talk upon this matter at great length. The question whether child endowment should be taken into consideration, in particular by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, in the computation of the basic wage is now clearly before that court. Ithas been posed in written submissions, not only by employers’ organizations but also by three State governments.
– Which governments are they?
– They are the Liberal governments of Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. They have argued that the court should take child endowment into account in assessing the basic wage. The employers’ organizations have gone somewhat farther, and, through their counsel, have presented the case that the whole spread of social services in this country ought to be taken into consideration by the court in reaching its conclusion upon the basic wage.
The Government and the Opposition are entirely in agreement upon one point. The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner), in both his second-reading speech and the course of debate, affirmed the desire of the Government that child endowment should be paid in full to the recipients and should not result in either a smaller basic wage than would otherwise be granted or a reduction of the basic wage. We understood clearly that it was the desire of the Government that the people should receive this endowment quite separately and apart from wage considerations, and the Opposition expressed complete accord with that view.
But the Government, when pressed by the Opposition, was not prepared to say that it would instruct counsel representing it in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to convey that view to the judges of the court. It would not agree even to write into the bill a mere declaration of ite intention, either in the words suggested by the Opposition or in a modified form of words that might be acceptable to it and the Opposition. The Government contended that there was an element of direction in the form of words suggested by the Opposition, although the statement would be merely one of intention. That is what is keeping the Opposition and the Government apart. The Opposition would be happy to consider any suggestion designed to eliminate the element of direction from the declaration of intention. It does not insist upon the exact form of words that it has chosen, lt would consider on its merits any proposal that the Government made to give effect to the intention in respect of which both the Government and the Opposition ure agreed. The fact that the Government was not prepared to instruct its counsel in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to put forward its view that child endowment ought not to be taken into account in assessing the basic wage caused the Opposition to have some doubts. The Minister for Social Services adopted the attitude, “ We have spoken in the Parliament. Surely somebody will bring our view to the attention of the court “. What more appropriate channel of communication could there be than the Commonwealth’s own counsel in the court? Suppose somebody did not bring to the notice of the court what the Minister has said ou behalf of the Government. The Government is prepared to take the risk that its view may never reach the court. If it really believed that child endowment should be something quite apart from, and additional to, the basic wage, we could expect it at least to intimate that it would instruct its counsel to put before the court the view that has been expressed in this chamber. Then there would be no doubt both of its coming to the notice of the court and of its having the full sanction and force of the Government.
On the question of direction to the court, the Government has been really logical, although it has not been so in relation to the declaration. We feel very strongly in this matter. I notice that additional lights have just been switched on in the chamber. It is to be hoped that they will illuminate the dark recesses of the mind of the Government on this very important point. There are questions about the validity of a direction to the court. We of the Opposition have committed ourselves to the view that the proposal is valid. Although we have stated our position very clearly, there has been no statement of the Government’s position in that matter. We claim that power over child endowment, in short, the power to grant child endowment, plainly includes the power to ensure that nobody but the Parliament could take it away.
– Who is proposing to take it away?
– The governments of three States and the representatives of the employers are asking that it be taken into account in the assessment of the basic wage. Quite frankly, we have a very live fear that the grant of the proposed additional child endowment will result in either a lower basic wage than would otherwise be paid or a straight out reduction of the basic wage by a similar amount. The whole of the trade union movement of Australia has that very real fear. We consider that there is a very strong obligation on the Parliament to relieve its members of those fears. v I state the position simply when I say that we want to be sure that what the Parliament gives by way of child endowment shall not be taken away either in whole or in part by any body other than the Parliament. If the court, having regard to the fact that the first child is endowed, says that it will grant a lower basic wage, or reduce the basic wage by 5s.-
– That is not taking away child endowment.
– I have shown how it could be taken away. There is an obligation on the Parliament to make sure that what it hands out to the mothers of Australia by way of child endowment shall not be taken out of the family budget by some effect on the basic wage. Already representatives of the employers have asked the court that not only endowment for the first child, but also endowment for the second and subsequent children, and, indeed, the whole spread of social services, should be taken into account.
I strike a cheerful note for the Government by informing honorable senators opposite that the other amendments proposed by the House of Representatives will be accepted by the Opposition, for reasons that I shall give when we reach that stage. Therefore, the Government should be prepared to meet the Opposition in relation to this one. The Government should do so if it is earnest in the view that it has expressed in this chamber that it does not want child endowment to be impaired in any way by wage fixation and desires the mothers of Australia to have it without the family budget being affected. If both sides are agreed on that point, why cannot we express that intention in some clear and unequivocal way to the court? There is now only one point at issue between the Government and the Opposition. The Opposition will agree in the arrangement that endowment for the first child in every family under the age of sixteen years shall stand at 5s. a week. The one thing that stands between .the Government and the Opposition is how we can ensure that this endowment shall not be reduced or defeated either in whole or in part. I put it to the Government now, that the Opposition - and I am foreshadowing the attitude that we shall take in relation to the other matters - is urging the protection of the basic wage by keeping it in a separate compartment, divorced from child endowment. The Government has itself expressed .that view in this chamber. Surely there is a formula whereby we can get together and express our intention.
– This morning we come to the end of the long road. It is a case of complete disagreement of views. Senator McKenna has always put forward his case in temperate and reasonable terms, but I find myself in the position that I object to the claim of the Opposition that it is the sole guardian of the basic wage. That is entirely incorrect.
We are the government of the day, and it is our responsibility to do the right thing by all sections of .the community. Those people who are affected by the basic wage comprise a very substantial proportion of the community. As I have said over and over again, this Government stands for the highest standard of living in Australia. When we come to an important matter such as this we have a greater sense of responsibility than has the Opposition in the maintenance of a high standard of living and the maintenance of the basic wage. It is not for honorable senators opposite to say that they are the sole champions of that cause. Governments carry more responsibility than their opponents and in that connexion we shoulder our responsibility without hesitation. The position is that the Government introduced legislation to do a certain thing. Long before that legislation was drafted the Government was aware of the difficulties involved. In his policy speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned the close relationship that exists between child endowment and the basic wage. My second-reading speech on this measure dealt with that aspect in some detail. With respect, it is entirely irrelevant for the Opposition to talk about representations that are being made to the court during the present basic wage hearing. Obviously, counsel for each side presents his submissions in the light most favorable to his case. The Government is not concerned about the representations made to the court by State governments or by employers’ organizations, or even by employees’ organizations. We stand firm on the basic principle of confidence in the arbitration system. We believe that only by having the fullest confidence in industrial arbitration can our great problems be solved. Any other procedure would represent a reversion to the law of the jungle. The greatest tragedy that could occur would be for rates of pay, hours of work, and conditions in industry to be made the subject of pre-election promises, bargainings and bribes for electors. Dealing specifically with the Opposition’s proposal that a direction should be issued to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to disregard child endowment we believe, first, that the matter must be left to the court, and secondly, that no matter how innocuous the proposal to include in the bill a declaratory clause may appear to a layman, it will weaken, harm and possibly invalidate the bill, and may even invalidate the basic wage inquiry itself. Those are the considered views of the Government, and are in accordance with the original bill that was introduced to the Senate. Throughout the long debate that has occurred on this measure in both Houses of the Parliament, those views have been retained by the Government even after full consideration has beer given to the views and the legal arguments expressed by the Opposition. If the Opposition has said its final word on this legislation, then that must be regarded as the final word. Although the Government is most anxious to implement this legislation, it is prepared to do so only if the legislation is in such a form that the Government can accept responsibility for it to the people of Australia. Surely, if a government is to accept responsibility for legislation it should not be asked to support the passage of legislation in which it has no confidence? Surely, it is unreasonable of the Opposition to expect the Government to be a party to enacting legislation which it believes to be wrong? However, if the Opposition has said its final word on this legislation, then it is the final word on the legislation.
– I point out now that the Opposition has only just announced its mind on the quantum of payment, and that quite obviously the Government, which had made up its mind for some time on the proposals put forward by the Opposition, is not prepared to reconsider its decisions. However, the Government is now confronted with a new situation. I have already intimated that the Opposition will not now oppose a payment of 5s. a week as was originally proposed by the Government, instead of 10s. as proposed by the Opposition. That is an entirely new matter which the Government must consider.
The Opposition readily admits the heavy responsibility that rests upon the Government as the custodian of the basic wage, and the Opposition does not regard its proposals as tending in any way to jeopardize the basic wage. In fact, throughout this debate the Opposition has stressed the heavy responsibility that reSt. upon the Government in that matter. I regret that the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) has taken the attitude that if the Opposition persists in including a declaration of the legislature’s intention in the bill that is to be the final word on the measure. We have not taken a rigid attitude in connexion with our proposals. I made th>? Opposition’s attitude clear a few minutes ago, when I said that there was some flexibility about our attitude and invited the co-operation of the Government in devising some means to give effect to the clear and expressed desire of both sides of the chamber. The Minister did not refer to that suggestion. I merely draw attention to the fact now that our attitude did not display complete rigidity, and I ask the Government to give some further thought to the matter. I suggest that the matter should not be pressed any farther in argument at the moment, although it will certainly be pressed to a division later.
The Minister said nothing concerning the suggestion made by the Opposition that counsel for the Government in the basic wage inquiry might be instructed to. put the view of the Government before the court. In the absence of any comment by the Government on that suggestion, the Opposition can only conclude that the Government is not prepared to pursue that course, which means that the court will be left to find out from indeterminate sources the view of the Government. I think that the court is entitled to have the view of the Parliament on this matter conveyed to it by counsel representing the Government.
I come now to the third point raised by the Minister, who explained that he did not express his view as a lawyer but as a layman when he said that the inclusion in the measure of a direction to the court might have the effect of invalidating the legislation. One is usually hesitant to express legal opinions in the course of a debate, but if ever I were confident in all my legal experience of one thing it is that if the declaration were held to be invalid that could not possibly affect the validity of the clauses of the bill which provide for payment of endowment in respect of the first, second, or subsequent children of a family. When the clause, which was inserted in the b’ .1 by the Senate at the instance of the Opposition, was drafted we gave great consideration to its severability, so that if it were held to be invalid it could be severed from the rest of the bill. If the court held, for instance, that it was competent for the Parliament to issue a direction to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, but not to any State arbitration court, the clause was so drafted that the invalid portion of it could, be severed, from the remainder without endangering its validity. I commit myself to the view that even if the entire clause, or any portion of it, were declared invalid, it could be rejected cleanly from the statute without endangering any other portion of the measure. The Opposition entertains that view very strongly, and I commit myself most clearly and say that I have never known of a. clearer case of severability than the clause under discussion. I do not think that there is any substance in the argument that the mere inclusion of an expression of the Parliament’s intention in a measure can be attacked on the ground of invalidity. Who can deny that the inclusion in a bill of a provision to clarify the intention of the legislature is an expression of the Parliament’s will? How could the validity of any such expression be attacked? It is the mere statement of a fact. What we write into the bill is, in truth and in fact, the intention of the Parliament. What is there to prevent the Parliament from writing into the measure an expression of its intention? I suggest that the validity of any such expression of intention is no more capable of attack than are the recitals in the preamble to a bill. I am now speaking of the declaration itself.
– What the .honorable senator is saying is that this clause will have no legal effect.
– No. I do not subscribe to that view. I believe that the mere statement of the intention of the Parliament will have a profound influence on the court. Judges of the court have at times, in their written judgments, deplored the fact that they have not had any guidance from this Parliament on matters that gravely concern not only the Parliament, but also the court.
Turning again to what the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) has said, I say that the validity of a mere expression of intention will not be challenged. On the other hand, that expression will have a powerful influence on the court. After all, this Parliament is concerned primarily with the economy of this country and the welfare of its people. With all due respect, I suggest that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court fills a secondary role. I believe that the court itself would be the first to acknowledge that. This Parliament is concerned with every .phase of the economy of this country, but the court, whilst it looks at the overall picture, is primarily concerned with only one section of that picture. Our responsibility is far wider than that of the court. If we, as a Parliament, have a particular view, we have a duty to express it both in the court and to the court through legislation. I regret that some formula has not been evolved in the course of this discussion that would give some prospect of reconciling our differing views. The Opposition’s view is strongly held, as indeed is that of the Government. I regret exceedingly that it has not been .possible to reconcile those views. At this stage, I have to inform the committee that the Opposition will press its objection to the motion.
– I had not proposed to intervene in this debate, but I should like to make one or two comments on certain legal points to which Senator McKenna has referred. When the Opposition’s amendment was first mooted in this chamber, I said that there were doubts about the constitutionality of the clause that the Opposition proposed to insert. At that stage, Senator McKenna himself v/as prepared, I believe, to agree that the matter was, to say the least of it, not beyond dispute. I suggested that one danger that might arise from the insertion of a provision such as this was that, should the clause be held invalid, it was not inconceivable that the validity of any award made by the court in pursuance of this direction would also be challenged. I also said that .there would he a danger - I do not put it any higher than that - that the ultimate decision in the basic wage case would be delayed by a series of attacks upon this provision. I adhere to those views. For the purposes of the argument in which we are now engaged, I suggest that it is not necessary to set the doubts any higher than I have stated them to indicate that it is desirable that this clause should not be included.
Senator McKenna has given a very positive opinion, which, I confess, I should not be prepared to give, that the inclusion of this clause in our social services legislation could not in any circumstances invalidate that legislation. He said also that the clause was clearly severable from the rest of the legislation, and that if a court held that this declaration was one that the Commonwealth Parliament was not entitled to make in law, only that clause would be invalidated and the rest of the legislation would remain in operation. Once again I should not he prepared to express such a .positive opinion, and I shall give reasons for my view. When a court determines that one section of an act is invalid it has then to consider whether the invalidity of that section invalidates the whole act. I do not want to go into legal technicalities, but I think it is fair to say that, in the final analysis, if the court comes to the conclusion that the act, without the invalidated section, is a different piece of legislation from that which Parliament intended because it has a different meaning, the court may hold that the entire act is invalid. Having regard to the attitude of the Opposition in this debate, and its insistence that child endowment for the first child should not be paid at all unless this clause he inserted, could honorable senators opposite complain if a court which decided that this clause was invalid also reached the conclusion that as the Parliament had intended that all the provisions of the legislation should operate as a single scheme, the measure had become an entirely different piece of legislation, without this all-important overriding declaration of intention? The court might say, “We are not satisfied that the Commonwealth Parliament would have passed that legislation without this clause “, and I suggest that that would be a reasonable conclusion. I do not believe that we can assume with any degree of certainty that the’ inclusion of this clause will not invalidate the entire legislation. I suggest that that is a strong reason why the Labour party should be prepared to concede this legislation if it wishes the people of this country to receive the child endowment benefit’ in accordance with the declaration made in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
.- The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has stated that he would not be as positive as I am that this clause is clearly severable. That shows, in fact, that he accepts almost to the full degree the proposition that I have put to the Senate.
– I do not.
– What the Attorney-General has posed to the Senate is the ultimate theoretical bare possibility. It ignores the history of child endowment. That benefit has been paid since 1941 to the second and subsequent children in every family. Now, after nine years, when the Parliament is merely providing for payment to another unit of the family, there is the clearest indication of the severability of that particular clause from all the preceding provisions. Nothing that the AttorneyGeneral has said in the course of his remarks deviates me from the view I have already expressed, that this clause or any portion of it, whether it be the direction or that portion of the direction that relates only to the State courts, is clearly severable, and oan be lifted out without marring any of the other provisions of child endowment, whether it is this bill or other legislation that has stood for many years.
When this debate was in another stage I acknowledged that there were doubts about the constitutionality of a direction, and I acknowledge immediately that if one rested on the power of conciliation and arbitration, there would be no doubt that it failed, but I do not rest my argument on that head of power at all. I have rested it on the power given in 1946 to the Parliament to make laws relating to endowment, and the power that has always been in the Constitution to do anything incidental to the execution of any complete power. Add those powers together and a proposition is reached that, as there is power to give endowment from the level of the National Parliament, there is power to” ensure that it shall not be taken away.
– The honorable senator still admits that that is doubtful?
– I admitted that the direction to the court was doubtful. I have never conceded that there is any question about the validity of a pure statement of intention of the view of the Parliament, and the Attorney-General has not argued that proposition.
– Except that it. has no legal effect at all. The honorable senator must have it one way or the other.
– The AttorneyGeneral is disregarding realities when he says that. He knows that no court in this land would ignore an expression of intention by the Parliament which had been written into an act of the Parliament. The court would give great weight to it. So the position is reached, apparently by agreement, that if a declaration were written into the bill, there could be no doubt about its validity.
– It all depends on how it is interpreted.
– That would be a matter for the courts, and neither the Attorney-General nor I could interpret it, but the declaration will stand if it is a pure declaration.
– But it has no legal effect.
– It will have great practical effect. Honorable senators are not concerned with legal technicalities, but with the actual effect on the realities of life, and the basic wage is one of them. I am obliged to the Attorney-General for putting his views forward. I do not want to traverse the niceties of legal argument and shall allow the Opposition’s case to rest there. Again regretting the attitude taken by the Minister, the Opposition is obliged-
– To kill the bill.
– The Opposition has no desire to do so. It is putting the Government in the position where it can carry out its promise to the people to provide endowment for the first child at the rate of 5s. a week. The Opposition only asks the Government in doing so to provide a perfectly reasonable safeguard. The proposition is not new. For years the Opposition has been .saying that endowment of the first child would have an effect on the basic wage. That is why the Labour party has been consistent on this point. It wants a safeguard, and honorable senators on this side of the chamber think that the request is perfectly reasonable. By the time that the committee stage is concluded, the Government will be in a position to carry out its election promise. It will have every opportunity to protect and safeguard the living standards about which the Minister has said that the Government is concerned, and rightly so. The Opposition’s request that something should be done soon merely places an insistent duty upon both sides of the chamber.
– Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber who have heard the opposing legal’ points of view should not be offended if I say that none of us can reach judgment upon the technical matters concerned. The position of the Government on that point is quite plain. It accepts without hesitation the advice of its legal officers. I did not enter the debate to make that point because it is self evident, but because I believe that some reply is necessary to Senator McKenna’s statement that the Opposition has now placed the Government in a situation where it can implement its election policy. That is not a fair statement of the situation. In effect, it is an admission on the part of the Opposition that it has been playing politics with this measure and has not been treating it on its merits. I am impelled to say that in reply to Senator McKenna because the Opposition took two points. The first was that the proposed endowment was not enough. The second was the effect on the basic wage. The Opposition has now moved away from its first position, not, I suggest, because of a change of opinion, but for the purpose of creating difficulties for the Government. “We are anxious to implement this legislation, but we cannot do so while it remains in the form in which itfinally emerged from the committee. If the Opposition were “ fair dinkum “, it would go to the people on its original proposals, namely, that the endowment for the first child should be 10s., and that the legislation should include a direction to the Arbitration Court not to take endowment into consideration when assessing the basic wage. The Opposition, by waiving the claim for 10s. a week, has tried to put itself in a better position. That is all I have to say. This is one of those unfortunate situations which can arise, and which, I hope, can be remedied at some time in the future.
Question put -
That the committee do not insist on disagreeing to amendment No. 1 (vide page 4358). insisted on by the House of Representatives.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. Nicholls.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the committee do not insist on disagreeing to amendments Nos. 2, 3, and 4 (vide page 4358) insisted on by the House of Represen tati ves.
I do not propose to speak to the motion beyond saying that amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are those which affect the clauses in the bill that provide for increasing the rate of endowment from 5s. a week to 10s. a week.
. -The Opposition will support the motion on this occasion. We have consistently taken the attitude that 5s. a week endowment for the first child is inadequate. I am not seeking to impose any punishment on the Government, and I point out that the Opposition has made a maximum effort to have the rate of endowment fixed at 10s. - instead of 5s. We were encouraged in that attempt by the Minister for Social Services himself, who asked us, when considering social services, to have courage, and not to be reactionary. Thus, the Minister himself encouraged us to be audacious. Now the Opposition has exhausted its efforts to have the rate fixed at 10s. a week, and, finding that the Government is still unwilling to yield or compromise, we accept the position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
– It is now necessary, under the Standing Orders, to draw up a statement giving reasons for disagreeing to one of the amendments of the House of Representatives. I should be happy to include in the committee appointed for this purpose the Minister for Social Services, or any other Minister, but having regard to the fact that, on a recent occasion, Ministers refused to associate themselves with such a committee, I assume that they are not prepared to accept membership on this one. Therefore, I move -
That Senators Ashley, Cooke and McKenna be a committee to draw up reasons for the Senate insisting on disagreeing to amendment No. 1 insisted on by the House of Representatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The committee had an opportunity to consider this matter in advance. I bring up the reason of the Senate for not agreeing to. the amendment of the House of Representatives. It is -
Reason of the Senate fordisagreeing to amendmentNo. 1 insisted on by the House of Representatives -
Because there is an obligation on the Parliament to ensure that the grant of child endowment is not defeated or, in effect, reduced by the action of a body other than the Pa rliament.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) put -
That the reason be adopted.
The Senate divided. (The President -Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That a conference be requested with the House of Representatives on amendmentNo. 1 insisted upon by the House of Representatives in the bill for an act to amend the provisions of the Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-1949 relating to child endowment, and that the House of Representatives be informed that, in the event of a conference being agreed to, the Senate will be represented at such conference by five managers, viz., Senators Ashley, Cooke, Courtice, Katz and McKenna.
I should like the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) and the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to be appointed managers, but as they have indicated that they will not accept nomination, I have been forced to nominate five Labour senators.
I do not want to add very much to what I have said. I believe that it would be a great pity if we did not explore every possible way of resolving the difference between the two houses. It may be possible for both houses to confer upon the one point of difference between them that exists at present and to seek a way of resolving it. The Opposition believes that that should be tried, in the interests of legislation going on to the statute-book. It is unwilling to leave the matter at the stage where there appears to be a deadlock between the Government and the Opposition. This motion will give the Government an opportunity to consider the new position that has arisen to-day owing to the acceptance by the Opposition of the proposal that the endowment shall he paid at the rate of 5s. a week.
– I do not agree that a new position has arisen because of the action of the Opposition in agreeing that the endowment shall be paid at the rate of 5s. a week. Young as I am in politics, I did not expect that anything other than that would happen. The stand taken by the Opposition in pressing for the endowment to be paid at the rate of 10s. a week, after having opposed a payment of 5s. a week, was so untenable that, sooner or later, even if only in deference to its sense of humour, it had to. depart from it.
Question put -
That the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . 9
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended. first Reading.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I shall take the opportunity provided by the motion to review events in connexion with psychiatric disorders in discharged members of the forces. When the present Government came into power, it was considered to be of paramount importance to examine carefully all that had been done, and all that was still required to be done, regarding the care and treatment of psychiatric disorders in discharged members of the Navy, Army and Air Force. I am now in a position to make a considered statement on this matter, and in so doing I would emphasize that in this and other disabilities the Government desires to ensure that adequate treatment shall be available to any war-disabled member in any of the medical specialities. When the 1939-45 war commenced the Repatriation Commission had a number of men, mainly in the sixth and seventh decades, under medical care for a wide variety of disabilities, among which were psychiatric disorders in their many forms. Some of these men were certified under the State laws governing mental patients, and were housed in separate repatriation blocks, except for a few cases in each State who, for their own protection or to safeguard others, were housed in the special accommodation which the State could make available. There were some cases in country mental institutions at the wish of their relatives so that they could be readily visited. Patients whose mental condition was less severe were treated as in-patients in repatriation general hospitals, or at out-patient clinics, or by private medical practitioners who had accepted appointments as local medical officers. It was recognized that the enlistment of men in the younger age groups would present a treatment problem of quite a different nature and, as war progressed and a great number of women were enlisted in the three fighting services, the problem took on another form.
Psychiatry has developed at an unprecedented rate in the last score of years and, as a result of the war, certain methods of treatment became established, prominent among which were the use of psychiatric teams, the extension of the use of physical treatments, the utilization of treatment in groups, and the implementation of re-establishment by means of social work, occupational therapy and other techniques. Though the Repatriation Commission had closely watched for and applied the modern forms of treatment, it was decided to have expert opinion from specialists outside the department who could help in planning. It was desirable not only to have specialist opinion, but that it should be expressed, if possible, by specialists who had served in the war with men likely to become patients and who not only had shared their experiences, but were aware of their outlook and general attitude. The psychiatrists who formed a committee produced a series of ideas which were most helpful in the preparation of the plan which was finally adopted.
In 1946 a special advisory committee on repatriation medical services was given the task of advising the Minister for Repatriation and the commission on a long-term policy for the repatriation medical service as a whole. One of the matters that received particular attention was that of psychiatry. One of its recommendations was the appointment of a specialist in psychological medicine at the head-quarters of the Repatriation Commission, and when the policy was decided upon immediate steps were taken towards that end. We were fortunate to secure an able specialist who had seen service with the Australian Imperial Forces in three theatres of war and was, at the time, engaged in post-graduate research in psychological medicine at London University. He immediately produced a plan which was accepted by the commission. It was based first on the provision of suitable specialized personnel, and, secondly, on the development of adequate accommodation. The general principle of treating all cases as early as possible, and of managing them as out-patients, or in repatriation general hospitals, rather than of committing them to mental hospitals was adopted, though the latter must obviously become necessary where the unfortunate victim is a menace to himself or to the community at large.
Soon after the Department of Repatriation was established, it was decided that there should be segregation, as far as possible, of the repatriation patients from the civilian insane. Several factors that actuated the repatriation authorities to implement this plan were - (i) Some institutions were more crowded than was considered desirable and this could be relieved by providing separate repatriation blocks ; (ii) relatives of patients would be less distressed in visiting a repatriation block than ordinary sections of mental hospitals; and (iii) in providing repatriation blocks, feeding, clothing and general amenities could be made available at a higher standard than elsewhere in the institution, seeing that the commission was prepared to meet the additional cost of treatment and accommodation. As trained staff, not only doctors, but also nurses and attendants, could be made available only by the State departments devoted to the care of mental patients, the utilization of the machinery of those departments was essential. Although this was an important factor, quite apart from lunacy laws being State laws, this did not mean that the treatment and care was handed wholly to the State officers. Under the terms of carefully drawn agreements, the repatriation doctors and others had the right of inspection of the patients and their facilities, as well as the right to request or provide any special treatments.
The problem of the mentally afflicted ex-serviceman is one about which there is a good deal of loose thinking and not a little in the way of loose statement. War neurosis, as such, presents nothing new to medical science. The same disorders that are found among our ex-servicemen occur in ordinary civilian general medical practice, and the methods of treatment follow well-established patterns. Some of the patients who come under the care of the Repatriation Commission’s psychiatric service are merely a little nervous or over-anxious, and respond to relatively simple treatment. At the other extreme, there are those who are violently homicidal or suicidal and need that special protection for society, or for the patients themselves, which can only be given at a mental hospital where restraint may be legally applied. In between these two extremes lie the majority of cases, most of which are treated at the outpatient centres which exist in every -State, or at the repatriation general hospitals where facilities exist for more intensive therapy, if that is required.
Before going on to the general question of treatment, I would like first to clarify the position of those ex-members of the forces who are committed to mental hospitals. The Commonwealth has never had any authority by law to restrain civilian mental cases. Discharged sailors, soldiers and airmen are not different from the civilian community at large. Such powers remain with the States and are governed by the State lunacy laws. It has accordingly been the policy of the commission to provide, within the framework of this legislation, annexes to mental hospitals which are, as far as possible, selfcontained and maintained at a high standard. It is important that it should be appreciated that appropriate classification of patients in mental hospitals is basic in their treatment. It would be wrong to disturb quiet, chronic cases by associating them with men whose personal habits, for example, were faulty or noisy, especially at night. Between the quiet, chronic patients, and the severely refractory class, are the quasi-refractory, the dements, and others. While some men are appreciative of their visitors, attendants, and surroundings, others never will be. Facilities for work and recreation are a feature of all mental hospital units, the aim being to maintain normal interests and prevent deterioration. Through constant vigilance and the enforcement of those provisions of our agreements with the States, which relate to treatment, we have been able to keep our patients well-fed and well-treated. As an indication of our standards I would quote that distinguished British psychiatrist, Professor Kennedy, who, referring to the Bundoora Repatriation Mental Hospital in Victoria, stated -
The facilities for treatment of neurosis and psychosis in the repatriation service within the State have made excellent progress and there is no doubt that an ex-service patient is, on the whole, usually better looked after than a patient to whom these facilities are not available. . . . Not only is the maintenance rate for the ex-service patients very much higher, but the buildings, amenities, facilities for treatment and occupational recreation are greatly superior.
This state of affairs exists in all States.
The Repatriation Mental Hospital, Bundoora, Victoria, last year opened the finest occupational therapy centre in the Commonwealth. An extension to the occupational therapy centre at the Repatriation cottages at Callan Park, New South Wales, has just been completed. At Wacol, in Queensland, a repatriation pavilion was opened last year, and is the most modern and best equipped mental hospital in the Commonwealth. New additions are planned as the need arises, and already modern units have been designed which incorporate the major advances in mental hospital function overseas.
The commission, under the terms of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, has no jurisdiction to treat those ex-servicemen whose conditions have not been accepted as being due to war service. It has been advanced in some quarters that any ex-serviceman with mental disorder requiring committal to a mental hospital should become the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, and both treatment and war pension should be granted by the Repatriation Commission. Under the Australian Soldiers’- Repatriation Act, tuberculosis is treated and a war service pension is granted under conditions which are prescribed, and it is claimed that these sufferers should be similarly dealt with. That course of action might be highly desirable in the interests “ of the individuals concerned, but it is not clear why the claims of mental patients should be emphasized when there are many conditions which are just as severely disabling, including cardiac, orthopaedic, abdominal and many other conditions. The national responsibility to the discharged man or woman so far as his war service is concerned is to treat him or her and provide pensions in respect of any disability which is warrelated.
The commission has recently exhaustively reviewed every case in the light of the provisions of section 47 of the act, as amended in 1943, and where any doubt has been present, acceptance has been the rule. In all, at the end of 1949, there were slightly less than 1,900 ex-service men and women in mental hospitals, of which number 894 were Repatriation responsibilities. For all exservicemen within mental hospitals, the incidence is only one in 650, compared with one in 250 for the total population. Taking all factors into consideration, this is still a lower figure than may ordinarily be expected. I have no doubt that this is partly due to the early treatment given to ex-servicemen short of the mental hospital stage. At the end of 1949, 14,S86 ex-servicemen were receiving pensions for the various forms of war neurosis - 3,014 for the 1914-18 war and 11,872 for the 1939-45 war.
In outlining the general way in which psychiatric disorders among exservicemen and women are treated, I would reiterate the aim of the commission, which is to provide treatment short of committal to a mental hospital. No patient will be sent to a mental hospital if, first, he is manageable in a general hospital, and, secondly, so long as there remains any hope of cure. The first principle which is followed in the management of any case of war neurosis is to ensure that his home and economic life are disrupted as little as possible. We have, therefore, provided a Repatriation local medical officer service, whereby treatment may be effected through any one of a panel of general practitioners, whom the ex-member himself chooses. Quite a considerable proportion of war neurosis patients may be managed in this way; they remain at work, thereby avoiding financial loss, and periodically attend an evening surgery. If the patient requires specialist treatment for a while, or if his condition needs to be investigated with a view to acceptance of his nervous state, facilities are available both for diagnosis and for treatment at the out-patient centres and general hospitals which exist in every State.
Out-patient clinics, such as that at Grace Building, Sydney, and at Windsor, Queensland, or at the newly-constructed clinic in St. Kilda-road, Melbourne, are setting the standards for Australian psychiatry. Nowhere else have such complete facilities been provided, with accommodation for numerous specialists, where even out-patient shock treatment can be carried out. Some idea of the extent of our activities can be given when it is realized that 5,000 patients yearly pass through the Sydney clinic and are attended by no fewer than nine visiting specialists for a total of 500 hours a month. X-ray, physiotherapy, and other special departments are available at the same centre. We have our own social workers, who may be able to help with social adjustments, in attendance; our own psychologists, who can administer special tests which indicate the level of intelligence and other qualities of the patient; and we have educational therapy officers who are specialists in the field of rehabilitation and are concerned with retraining, where indicated, and occupational placement.
It may well be said that we follow the principle la-id down for optimum mental health, in that we aim to provide those requirements which were considered necessary according to the definition of the Ministry of Health in England, and according to the preamble to the aims of World Health Organization, to which successive Australian governments have subscribed. In both, it is stated -
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not simply the absence of disease or infirmity.
Our psychiatric teams, consisting of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, educational therapy officers, occupational therapists and, last but by no means least, nursing sisters and orderlies, all of whom are orientated towards the social adjustment of the patient endeavour not merely to remove an immediate anxiety or depression or to cure a physical disability, but also to arrange the conditions under which ex-mem’bers of the forces may live so that the possibility of future breakdowns is considerably lessened.
In all our out-patient centres, the visiting specialists in psychiatry are the same as those who act as the honoraries to the leading teaching hospitals. There can he no criticism offered of their standard; they are of the best in Australia. We are supplementing their work with those of our own full-time medical officers who are being specifically trained in those [.problems which present themselves to the commission’s psychiatric services. Their number is, as yet, not all that is desired, but there are no fewer than fourteen such specialists at various stages of training, tome of whom will shortly be fullyqualified specialists in their own right. This is most gratifying, since the commission’s efforts to obtain additional psychiatrists, even through advertisements as far afield as New Zealand and the United Kingdom, have so far been relatively fruitless.
The work performed in our repatriation general hospitals is not fully realized or appreciated. At no general hospitals in the Commonwealth are such complete facilities available. For instance, there is d 117-bed uni i at Concord, a 6S-bed unit at Heidelberg, and proportionate blocks i?i the other States. There are, in addition, large occupational therapy centres where patients engage in wood-working, metal-work, leather and basket work, pottery, painting and sculpture, and also develop those hobbies, and even occupations, which will stand them in good stead after they have left hospital. Library facilities are also made available to help to interest patients in things outside themselves and their ailments. There is even a local broadcasting unit within a repatriation general hospital, and many sufferers from neurosis who have lost confidence have been able to regain it through this means of expression ; some have developed broadcasting as ‘a vocation. Cases of all degrees of severity are dealt with at the general hospital level and, as I have already stated, only those who are too difficult to hold, or in whom (he prospect of cure is very remote, are transferred .to mental hospitals. The latter form a relatively small percentage of the total number handled. The extent of the work which is done at the general hospital may be illustrated by annual admission rates which are approximately 1,000 per annum at Concord in New South Wales, 800 at Heidelberg in Victoria, and in similar proportion in hospitals in the other States.
In the general hospitals, resident medical officers work with visiting specialists of exactly the same calibre as those who attend out-patient clinics. In fact, many attend both in-patients and out-patients. There is no form of established therapy which is not used at our general hospitals, from the readjustment of faulty mental attitudes, which is known as psycho-therapy, to the more drastic treatment of prefrontal leucotomy, which is a brain operation. Our psychiatric unit within the general hospital has the advantage of being able to work in close collaboration with the departments of neurology and neuro-surgery. Some patients are made well by means of the procedure known as abreaction. With this treatment, forgotten distressing memories are brought to the surface and the associated emotions are released by the administration of drugs, or through orthodox hypnosis. The re-living of these experiences is recorded on a wire-recorder and then played back to the patient, and the experience of this, in full consciousness, leads to a loss of symptoms. Some startling successes have been obtained. Electric-shock and insulin-shock therapy are also employed and have produced, in suitable cases, excellent results. The term “ shock-therapy “ is somewhat misleading ; it merely implies the use of either electricity or insulin, which is the drug used in the treatment of diabetes, with the aim of producing improved brain function. This treatment has been well established for years now and is standard practice throughout the world. Our methods of diagnosis, which can utilize the techniques of radiology, pathology, biochemistry and neurology, have been even further extended by the importation of two electro-encephalographs from England. After many vicissitudes those instruments have now been established, and are ready to play their part in the general scheme of diagnosis and treatment. The machines magnify brain impulses over a million times and record the vagaries of brain tissue whose function is disturbed. Another line of treatment which is now being developed in our institutions concurrently with overseas developments is group therapy. It is a promising method which, whilst still in an experimental stage, has nevertheless already demonstrated its value. Our policy is to pursue this, and all other such promising lines of treatment which are definitely not harmful as soon as they appear in the world psychiatric literature.
A considerable amount of medical training is also undertaken at these centres and the programme is even now being expanded. The latest development is the institution of post-graduate medical training for psychiatric nursing in Victoria. Special training courses in this field are also being instituted for medical orderlies. Over the last three years, we have gradually been producing a team of trainee specialists in psychological medicine which, so far, numbers fourteen. One trainee has already attained full specialist status, and many of the others are not far behind. Every facility has been .afforded them, and they have been able to attend university courses and receive instruction at other centres. Casediscussions, with visiting specialists in attendance, provide a valuable feature of their training. There are very few centres, if any, where doctors may obtain such a personal and, at the same time, varied experience in this specialty.
Full plans have been drawn up for remodelling, or replacing where necessary, existing accommodation within general hospitals in every State. The fulfilment of these plans has naturally been dependent upon local conditions of priority for housing, but this programme will be implemented as soon as possible. Accommodation has been redesigned to give additional segregation, special sections for the different methods of physical treatment, recreational and occupational facilities within the wards, and a sufficient number of consulting rooms for specialist personnel, medical officers, visiting specialists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and so on. At the Repatriation General Hospital, Greenslopes, Brisbane, full remodelling has been completed. It is hoped shortly to undertake our other projects.
An arrangement exists whereby we are using two Australian Red Cross institutions as pilot schemes for re-establishment centres - Rockingham in Melbourne and Chelmer in Queensland. The Repatriation Commission maintains the larger proportion of beds in both these places and also provides specialist medical attention. It has been decided, after careful consideration, to avoid the mistakes of the post-war period after World War I., when similar centres were established but had finally to be disbanded, with considerable loss to the cause of ex-servicemen. The lessons learned at Rockingham will be applied in other States as soon as their usefulness has been adequately demonstrated. The re-establishment centre aims to render sufferers from war neurosis capable of functioning adequately within society. This requires a high morale within the institution, which can only then be transmitted to the patient, and this is being fostered by a grand spirit, which is developed as much as in the staff as it is in the patients. This type of centre acts as a half-way house between the out-patient clinic and the hospital. It may prepare patients for the general hospital, receive them from the hospital for a final toning-up, take patients from the mental hospital and gradually ease their way back to community life, and, finally, rehabilitate patients as a part of its own function, without the help of any intermediary hospitals or clinics. Hobbies and training for trades and social readjustment, in general, are fostered. It may be of interest to know that such an activity as classes in ball-room dancing have helped patients to overcome feelings of inferiority, and have enabled them to mix once again with members of the opposite sex, which is a very real benefit to ‘those poor unfortunates who, through mental stress, have withdrawn into a state of over-anxious isolation. The extent to which such projects need to be fostered is being examined scientifically in these pilot experiments and, once again, I can give a ready assurance that no benefit, once proven, will be withheld from general application.
Honorable senators will realize, therefore, that we have an organization in existence which is vitally concerned with solving the problems of war neurosis. Professor Kennedy and others recognize its merits. I shall cite what Dr. H. F. Maudsley, who is the senior consultant in psychiatry in Melbourne, said of the Repatriation Commission’s psychiatric service in last year’s Beattie-Smith lectures which were delivered at the University of Melbourne -
This service is now in the very able hands of Dr. Alan Stoller, and is a model of what one would like to see in an extended way under post-war civilian conditions.
I would make a plea that this fact be recognized in fairness to those members of the various professions who are selflessly striving to produce a treatment service second to none in the world, and who must be discouraged by ill-considered criticism. ,The most disturbing feature of that criticism, in my opinion, is the effect which such statements have on the mental state of men and women who may be already apprehensive because of their disorder. They need faith in those designated to help them to a greater degree than do other classes of sufferers. This opinion has already been expressed by competent psychiatrists, and I therefore feel it my bounden duty to convey it to the Senate so that honorable senators will assist me to prevent any one from undermining this faith, thereby hindering the prospect of recovery.
The Repatriation Commission is not content to remain without the most expert advice. Our specialist in psychological medicine at Repatriation head-quarters attended the International Congress for Mental Health that was held in England in 194S, and inspected the psychiatric provisions for ex-servicemen in the Veterans Administration, United States of America. When it was known that Dr. Daniel Blain, medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, who was responsible for the reorganization of the psychiatric division of the Veterans Administration after the war, was in Honolulu, the commission had no hesitation in arranging for an extension of his trip to Melbourne at the end of May and beginning of June, so that discussions could be held on the advances in psychiatry on the American continent in the past two years.
We are not complacent. My job and that of our specialists is clear. We are aware that we have a charter to treat the neurosis of all ex-servicemen whose disability is related to the rigours of war, and we intend to pursue that duty to the limit of our capacity. I have made an honest statement on the present state of affairs, and I trust this has shown, in accordance with my belief, that the service provided by the Repatriation Commission for the treatment of neurosis cases is a good one. In conclusion, I repeat that, for the sake of the morale of this service, criticism, which is the right of every person in a democracy, should be well-founded and constructive.
– In view of the Government’s refusal to answer, intelligently and informatively, questions that have been put to it about its promise to put value back into the £1, or to deflate the £1 - whichever term one prefers - it is appropriate that something should be said about the matter now. The Government’s attitude is not understandable. It has access to the best advice that is obtainable. It can confer with leading economists, leading bankers, and all those who claim to be experts on such matters ; yet it cannot give us any idea of what can be done or what should be done to correct the present state of affairs. All we have been given is a statement to the effect that the Government will put value back into the £1. That statement was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at Launceston, and has since been re-echoed ad nauseum by other Ministers. The problem confronting us is most important. When we speak of putting value back into the £1 we mean, of course, increasing the purchasing power of the £1. The purchasing power of our currency is decreasing rapidly as the result of increasing prices, and the position will soon have to be faced. The Government is permitting affairs to drift from bad to worse.
All governments since 1914 have inherited an inflated currency. The inflationary process began in 1914 when the then government offered £3 for one sovereign. As a result of that offer, the currency was inflated by £18,000,000. Subsequently, between 1923 and 1924, there was a further inflation of the currency by approximately £30,000,000 as the result of the government of the day agreeing, through the Commonwealth Bank Board, to allow the private banks the “ right to draw “ £30,000,000, without paying one penny in interest. The inflationary process has continued steadily since those days. To-day, according to Treasury -figures, the value of the £1 note has depreciated by fully 72 per cent, compared with that of the sovereign. Personally, I believe the figure to be nearer 75 per cent. It can be easily calculated. A sovereign weighs a quarter of an ounce, so that four sovereigns can be made from 1 oz. of gold. If we divide the price of gold by four, we ascertain the degree to which the currency has been deflated in terms of £1 notes. It has been declared that the problem could not be solved by legislation. What does the Government propose to do? It is charged with the responsibility of legislating in the interests of the people. The people have delegated to it the necessary power to discharge that obligation; but no satisfactory approach has yet been made to the problem. Unless the £1 be revalued by legislation, we shall soon find ourselves in a state of chaos similar to, and perhaps worse than, that of the early 1930’s; yet, when the Government is challenged to say what it intends to do, uo reply is forthcoming. The following report of a speech by Professor Wood, to the Warrnambool Convention of the Victorian Chamber of Agriculture was published in the Melbourne Argus of the 24th April :-
Professor Wood said this country was in danger of the greatest inflation it had ever known.
He said the trend could be seen m the fact that costs, and consequently prices, were rising here, while they were falling in Britain and America. That was the danger signal.
That inflation could not be allowed to continue, or it would have Australia in a similar position to Germany some years ago, when a bagful of “ money “ had to be taken to the store to buy the daily goods.
We have not reached that stage yet, but we do have to take a pocketful of money with us when we go shopping. Professor Wood is an economist at the University of Melbourne. He has warned the Government of the danger that lies ahead. I do not know whether the Government has conferred with him or sought his advice, hut surely the opinion of a man of Professor Wood’s .prestige and standing should be heeded. Again I say that present day trends are most dangerous. It is deplorable indeed that in response to repeated inquiries, we ca.n get from the Government only stereotyped replies such as, “ You will be informed in due course “ or “ It cannot be done by legislation “. Clearly, in relation to this problem the Government is in a state of mental bankruptcy. Members of the Government may be well informed on other matters, but judging by their approach to this problem, they are absolutely ignorant of the position, otherwise an explanation of what is to be done would have been forthcoming.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) and others have said that increased production will put value back into the fi. I deny that absolutely. If increased production would put value back into the fi, why is it that prices are rising in countries like America which are super mechanized and production per unit is higher than it is in this country ? In Great Britain too, production is increasing and I believe that output is on the upward grade in this country. The truth is that the more workers produce under existing conditions, the less they receive relatively and in the aggregate, so that, should they increase production their ultimate position would be worse than that in which they find themselves to-day. Let us assume that Australia was organized industrially to the same degree that America is, and that the output was increased threefold. Wages would not increase as the result of increased production, and unless we could sell more goods overseas, we should very soon be unable to dispose of all our products as- was the case in the early 1930’s. Therefore, increased production is not a panacea. A much more scientific and intelligent approach has to be made to the problem, otherwise strikes will increase m.s they are increasing overseas ; there will be more discontent among workers; and finally, membership of the Communist party will increase because workers will resent the state of affairs with which they are faced and the lack of appreciation of their difficulties by the Government.
This bill provides for the payment of salaries and wages and to the degree that prices are permitted to increase, we shall be indirectly condoning a reduction of the purchasing power of these wages and salaries. There is no stability and no control of any kind. That is of the greatest importance to the workers of this country, particularly to public servants, pensioners and others on fixed incomes. Day after day they are finding that the purchasing power of their money is being reduced indirectly. There is no adjustment of their salaries, wages or pensions apart from the automatic adjustments provided for under our arbitration legislation. But the persons in charge of the goods they require are practically a law unto themselves. That is the fundamental position that the Government is trying to ignore. Will any representative of the Government tell honorable senators exactly what, in the opinion of the Government, should be done? This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. If it reaches a stage similar to that which was reached in Germany in 1924, what will be done? If the Government thinks that it can simply ignore the situation, it will have more trouble than it can handle. Repressive or coercive legislation to deal with trade unionists, Communists, or anybody else will be useless unless the Government is prepared to prevent the impoverishment of the people by continual uncontrolled and unauthorized devaluation of the fi.
I am not exaggerating the importance of this matter. I am wondering how long the workers, particularly those on lower wages, are going to stand this state of affairs. The greatest obstacle facing the Government is the readiness with which the workers have acquiesced in their own subjection. That has applied to the greatest extent in the eastern countries. The Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) in a rather flippant reply to a question, said that when the country was rid of the “ Commos “, and production was increased, everything would be all right. That is only adding insult to injury.
– Does the honorable senator deny that increased production would do some good?
– Increased production is no good without increased purchasing power. Without that, how would the honorable senator dispose of the greater volume of products? In the United States of America at the moment, there is a glut of all kinds of consumer products including primary produce, but there are millions of unemployed who cannot purchase those goods. That illustrates my point. If the workers have increased purchasing power simultaneously with increased production, a balanced economy results, but if increased production goes hand in hand with declining purchasing power, chaos is certain.
– What other country has the same purchasing power as that available to the Australian working man?
– The state of affairs to which I have directed the attention of honorable senators exists in practically every country, but that is no reason why the position should be ignored in Australia. It must be faced ultimately. Once balanced economy is established, there will be no need to fear Communists, because the working people will be satisfied. The average working man does not go on strike simply because he wants to do so. He does not cause disturbances simply for the fun of it.- He feels rightly that be is being ignored, systematically exploited and impoverished, while the Government stands idly by. That is proved by the silence that has greeted the questions on this matter put to the Government by honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
The Chifley Government endeavoured to do something to solve the problem. It sought to stabilize the purchasing power of the people by controlling prices, and submitted a proposal by referendum with the object of obtaining the consent of the people to make that control permanent rather than a temporary expedient, which had been adopted during the war. Honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber opposed that proposal, instead of giving the Labour Government their co-operation. For all practical purposes, they supported the present system under which private monopolies and others controlling production and distribution have the right to fix prices. As a result, prices have been increasing ever since.
Supporters of the present Government repeated the cry that they would put value back into the fi. If that statement had not been made, the Government would not have been challenged in this chamber and in another place. If I were asked what should be done I would say that the first step would be to do what the Labour Government planned. I refer to the national control of banking, so that the expenditure of capital could be controlled, and money used for the production of essential goods, rather than luxuries, or goods that are not essential. To-day, it is found that expenditure on essentials has been reduced to the minimum, whilst expenditure on nonessentials and luxuries is being increased to the maximum. Luxury liners, houses and aircraft are being built, and the reply to any criticism is that dollars are being earned. Certainly that work provides relief up to a point, because if unnecessary expenditure on non-essentials is reduced, unemployment follows, but it merely provides a safety valve for a very unjust system of financial autonomy.
– It would be refreshing if Australia had enough and to spare of coal.
– The coal position is similar to the general situation.
– No, it is an extraordinary situation.
– I have worked in mines, and I. have some idea of the conditions under which the miners are operating. Housing conditions in most of the mining towns are appalling. The miners work under dangerous, dirty and unnecessarily difficult conditions. If mining were managed as it should be, the coal mines would be as safe as an underground railway.
– So they are.
– In most cases, they are not. Good conditions may exist in one highly mechanized mine in Newcastle, but it does not apply to Wonthaggi, where the seams are narrow, and the men are working in slush and dirt all the year round. No one did a better job during the war years than did the miners at Wonthaggi in those filthy and dangerous conditions.
– Did the troops in New Guinea have a better time?
– I speak for myself and for others. I do not suppose that the honorable senator is the only hero in Australia. If he wishes to make invidious comparisons, I reply that the man who produces coal is just as essential for the safety of the country as is the man in the front line. The fighting men and the working forces saved this country during the war. The irony of it is that men who have returned into the mines are now not only producing coal, but are also paying interest to those who capitalized their sufferings and sacrifices during the war. That is why it has been difficult to increase pensions adequately. Those men had to save the country in the first instance, and now they are working under the conditions to which I have referred to pay tribute to those who invested their money in the war, and neither worked nor fought.
– That is not quite right. Why is interest paid on war loans ?
– My opinion is that interest should not be paid on war loans. That is simply a process of capitalizing war. The only redeeming feature about raising war loans in Australia is that a government can, if it wishes, tax its creditors in order to pay the people who fought and worked during the war. I maintain, however, that wars should be financed by direct taxation. No one should be permitted to make a profit out of the sufferings and sacrifices of the soldiers. War loans are a method of capitalizing war, as also is the production of armaments and munitions by private enterprise. When I was the Minister in charge of aircraft production during the war, the department had 600 contractors working for it. It was necessary to police their operations very carefully in order to avoid being overcharged. With the assistance of a very able officer of the Treasury, we forced some of the contractors to refund about £1,000,000. Those contractors had sought to take advantage of the danger in which the country stood in order to debit the Government with costs that they should have borne themselves. They were working under the cost-plus system, and prices had been fixed by mutual agreement. If the department had been able to obtain the services of more costing experts, it would have recovered even more from the contractors. Those who possess the most capital should be taxed to pay for war. If they are able to lend money they are able to pay it in taxes. It is not right that the workers should be taxed after the war is over in order to pay tribute to those who, during the war, neither worked nor fought.
– Who are the people who neither worked nor fought?
– The coalminers.
– I refer to people in receipt of high incomes, for which they gave no useful service in return. At the present time, there are engaged in luxury industries thousands of persons who should be conscripted out of them. In other countries such persons are called “ spivs “. In time of war, persons of that kind capitalize the patriotism of the workers.
– They did all that when the Labour Government was in office.
– Yes, but not to the same extent as now.
– So the whole trouble has developed during the last six months ?
– I think it would be a good thing for the country if many of the lawyers were put to work in the coal mines. They are not engaged on essential work at the present time.
– The lawyers are the first people approached by those who get into bother.
– I have always been able to keep out of such bother.
-. - I understand that the honorable senator used the services of a lawyer when Mr. Hogan sued him.
– Yes, I used the services of Mr. Blackburn, and we won.
– Yes, with Mr. Blackburn’s assistance.
- Mr. Blackburn was a member of the Labour party, and was concerned in the action. I have always divided lawyers into two classes, those who are abject slaves of precedent, and those who were not. In order to put value back into the £1 it will first be necessary to establish national control of banking, so that the national capital may be used for the production of essential commodities. A .good deal is being written and talked at the present time about the Olympic games in Melbourne in 19&6. Much money is to be spent in preparation some of it on the provision of luxury hotels, but not one word has been said about spending money on the abolition of slums. The workers can rot in their slums, while money is being spent unnecessarily. If there were national control of banking it would be possible to prevent much non-essential expenditure, and more money could be expended on desirable projects, particularly upon housing the workers. Senator George Rankin mentioned the coal-miners. I ask honorable senators to consider for a moment the dirty little hovels in which 30 many of the coal-miners have to live. fu most instances, they have paid the hospital cost of those dwellings again ad again, but no move is made to provide them with better houses. Instead, he miners are subjected to savage criticism, and are caricatured and lied about in the press. Need we be surprised that the iron has entered their souls, and that they are treating the community as they are doing to-day? If Senator Rankin were a coal-miner, he would be leading his mates in their efforts to get better conditions. Perhaps he would be a leading member of the Communist party. I believe that he would make a good leader, because he is a man of strength, courage and intelligence, and I think the miners would approve of him.
– I have only one disqualification. I am not a damned traitor.
– The honorable senator is not alone in that. At any rate, it has been said that self-praise is no recommendation. Another method to keep prices down is to increase taxation on big incomes. It might even be necessary to impose a capital levy. In making that suggestion I am in good company, because the late Lord Keynes, the noted English economist, advised the imposition of a capital levy after the 1914-18 war, and again in 1940, as a solution of the economic problems that were besetting Great Britain. However, I cannot imagine that the present Australian Government will attempt to do anything of the kind. The suggestion for a capital levy did not emanate from a Communist, but from an orthodox economist, a man held in very high esteem.
– That is an argument for our side, because Ave believe in home ownership.
– Even so, there is no justification for overcharging one’s fellow men. If there are owners or workers dependent upon income from rents, their needs should be provided for out of Consolidated Revenue. Once the capital cost of slum dwellings has been recovered, rents should be reduced until they are only sufficient to meet the cost of maintenance. If that were done in the case of miners’ hovels, the miners would have hardly any rent to pay l.o-day.
Another way to put value back into the £1 is to reduce indirect taxation. When an honorable senator opposite buys a packet of cigarettes, he pays the same in taxation as does the basic wage earner who buys one. Thus, the incidence of taxation is against the workers all the time. The higher a man’s income, the smaller proportion of it does he pay in indirect taxes. That applies to sales tax :ls well as to customs and excise duties. It is also necessary. to reduce the direct taxation payable by the workers.
If the present situation is allowed to drift, Ave shall get back to the chaotic conditions that prevailed in the ‘thirties, when thousands of small firms suddenly were rendered insolvent, and hundreds of thousands of employees were thrown out of work. At the same time, the incomes of creditors were doubled, or perhaps trebled. They reaped a veritable harvest. Honorable senators opposite may try to brush these arguments aside, but they cannot do so. Even if the workers of Australia be prepared to tolerate as much as are workers overseas, there is a point beyond which it is impossible to go without causing the trouble and chaos to which I have referred. Unless an intelligent approach is made to the problem, the position in Australia in the near future will be similar to that which existed in the ]930’s.
What does the Government intend to do? It has the benefit of experience, and can call upon economists for advice. Up to date, it has not attempted to do anything. The Chifley Government attempted to control prices and banking and to stabilize purchasing power, but this Government has made no attempt to do any of those things. We have witnessed the spectacle of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) saying to audiences in Tasmania and other places, “ It is the responsibility not of the Government, but of the people “. The Prime Minister is reputed to be an educated person who understands all these things, but he cannot give a simple answer to an important question. He treats the workers as if they did not count in the scheme of things. He says, in effect, “ Wait till it suits me “. All that he has been prepared to do, at any rate up to date, is to introduce legislation that would have the effect of making conditions worse than they are. He will not listen to the questions that are addressed to him, and makes no attempt to give a reasonable explanation of what he proposes to do. It is appropriate that we should direct attention to these matters when Ave are considering a money bill.
Again I ask what the Government proposes to do. What does it suggest can be done? Does it propose to attempt to do anything, or does it intend to stand idly by and watch things go on as they have gone on? We read every day in the press that prices are increasing, but there has been no increase of production costs. Those costs, whether they be calculated in terms of gold, commodities or labour, which are. measures of value, were never lower than they are to-day, but prices were never higher than they are to-day. The Government must try to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable. That would not be a difficult task for Professor Wood, Professor Copland or any economist who knows his business. If press reports were correct, Cabinet considered this matter during a whole weekend. The attention of the country was directed to the fact that Cabinet was meeting specially in Canberra, to consider the problem of putting value back into the £1. Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, other economists and Treasury officials were available for consultation, but the Government has not said one word about what should be done or what it intends to do.
It has said merely, “It is the responsibility of the people. We shall tell you in due course what we are going to do. In the meantime, produce more.” That does not help us in the slightest degree; and it will not help honorable senators opposite ultimately if they do not face up to their responsibility in this matter.
If this country is to be financed in the way in which it should be financed, there is only one way in which to do it - that is, on the principle of value for value. The worker is entitled to receive the value of the commodity that he produces. If the coal-miners, the waterside workers and employees in the building trades received the value of the services that they rendered to the community, there would be no trouble. Under our present economy we fix minimum and maximum standards. When the Commonwealth Arbitration Court fixes the basic wage, it says to the workers, in effect, “ It does not matter how valuable are the services you render or the commodities you produce “-
– The honorable senator is talking only in terms of commodities. Are there no other services rendered :by workers that have some value ?
– Labour power is a commodity, and it is used in the production of other commodities. We are concerned with commodities more than with anything else. Money is only a medium of exchange. It is not worth anything of itself. We need money to enable us to purchase the things that we need; otherwise, there would be no demand for it. We must think in terms of commodities rather than in terms of money, which is only a means by which commodities are exchanged. The point that I am attempting to make is that if we adopted the principle of value for value and paid the worker in accordance with the value of the commodity that he produces or the services that he renders, there would be very little trouble.
– How would the value of the commodity or service be calculated ?
-It could be done quite easily by mathematical calculation. We calculate what should be the basic wage, or the lowest weekly sum on which a worker .can live reasonably. If we can calculate the minimum, it would not be a mathematical impossibility, provided we approached the matter properly, to calculate the maximum. We know the number of man-hours required to build a ship, a house, or a railway engine. At the present time we work in terms of the very minimum for the working man and the maximum for the employer or the investor. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is based upon that system. We all believe in arbitration as a principle, but there is a difference between that act and arbitration as a principle. The act makes provision for what the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is doing and will continue to do until it is instructed, by an amendment of the legislation, to work in a different way. At the present time, the workers are tied down to the lowest sum on which they can maintain their health and provide for their children, while the surplus is appropriated by others, mainly those who render no useful service to the community. When I use the term “ workers “, I include administrators, managers and technicians as well as manual workers.
– What about women? Does the honorable senator believe in equal pay for equal work?
– We cannot give equal pay for equal work, but we can give equal pay to the sexes.
– Women should be paid for the work that they do.
– If they were paid the money to which they are entitled, the competent housewife would have to be paid quite a lot of overtime. Woman began by being the first slave of man, and I think she will end by being the last. If women were really conscious of what they are entitled to receive and organized themselves to the degree to which they are capable, they would be a lot better off than they are now. The fact that women have not done that makes things very difficult for the men. The more cheaply a woman is prepared to live, the easier she makes it for the man. Although we commend thrift, the very thrifty housewife does as much to perpetuate poverty among the workers as do the employers or capitalists. If she demanded a higher standard of living and a better house in which to live, there would be no slums in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.
– There are no slums in Perth.
– I know all about the slums of Perth. I worked there for years as a plumber.
– That was a long time ago.
– I have been to Perth since then. .Some of the houses that I sewered 40 years ago are still there, falling to pieces. I was astounded to see wooden post offices in Perth falling to pieces owing to the ravages of white ants. If Senator Robertson doubts my word, let her go to Yarloop and other places. When Senator Robertson supports the policy of the party to which she belongs, she supports the principle of getting as much as she can for herself and as little as possible for the unfortunate working women. In that respect, women have a lot to learn. If Senator Robertson called a meeting of the wives of waterside workers and people of that kind - never mind about the highbrows - I am afraid that her reception would not be as courteous and cordial as it is in this chamber.
– I have had wonderful receptions from them. I know about their conditions.
– I know too. I graduated there as far back as 1894, in the hardest school in the world.
– It was a hard school in those days, but it is not now.
– In those days we worked at a much more leisurely tempo than do the workers of to-day. When I worked as a printer and machinist in Kalgoorlie I operated a machine that turned out about 1,500 sheets an hour. To-day, modern machines tire capable of a much greater speed, t also worked as a plumber in Perth, -subsequently, and am well aware of the increases that have taken place in the remuneration of plumbers since that time. Although to-day many women are operating high-powered machines and working under excellent conditions, as a result of which they produce much more wealth in this country than was produced in former years, the actual value of their remuneration is much lower than that of the wages that were paid to similar workers many years ago. In point of fact they are not getting any more to eat than did the workers of other days, nor are they able to procure more clothes to wear.
The Government is applying the ruleofthumb method, hoping that everything will turn out all right in time. No attempt has been made to understand the mechanism of the present economy. I am endeavouring to make honorable senators opposite realize the need for an intelligent approach to the problem of restoring value to the £1, or deflating the £1, so that the £1 note will have a purchasing power equal to that of the sovereign. Compared with the sovereign, the £1 note is to-day worth only about 5s. When I was engaged in plumbing activities I received as my weekly wages three sovereigns and six shillings. The sovereign that I have in my hand is a reminder of those days. If I were still working as a plumber for the same rate of pay, in gold, the weekly wage that I have mentioned would now have a purchasing power of about £14. However, there has been a considerable decline of the purchasing power of money, which is one of the principal reasons for the dissatisfaction that exists in the community to-day. I assure honorable senators opposite that, if the Government continues to ignore the workers to the degree that it has done to date, it will be disillusioned. Although the Government may pass repressive legislation, I remind the Senate that power on paper is vastly different from power in reality, which cannot be gained without the assistance and co-operation of the workers. Unless the Government decides to treat the workers better in future than they have been treated to date by the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the present Government, the position will become infinitely worse. I claim that the Government will have to exhibit a greater appreciation of the problems of the workers of this country if it hopes to restore the purchasing power of wages, salaries and pensions.
– The former Labour Government did not leave us much of a blue-print to work on.
– I do not for a moment suggest that honorable senators opposite lack intelligence or sympathy, and I am convinced that if the Government were to concentrate on securing the goodwill of the workers by trying to understand their problems, its efforts would be suitably rewarded. However, in response to a number of questions to Ministers by honorable senators on this side of the chamber about how the Government proposes to restore value to the £1, answers have been given such as, “ Efforts must be made to increase production The Government will inevitably be faced with increased industrial unrest and considerable resentment by the workers because of its inactivity in that connexion. Despite the urgency, the restoration of the value of the £1 is the matter to which the Government is paying the least attention. I hesitate to believe that Senator Kendall is a “yes” man whom the Government expects - as it did a private in the Army - to, obey orders implicitly and without question.
Whilst I do not expect that the Government will adopt the suggestions that I have advanced, I at least hope that they will be considered. I emphasize the necessity for the Government to control banking and prices, and to reduce indirect taxation and income tax on the lower income groups. Of course, that would result in a higher rate of tax being imposed on the upper income groups, the members of which, in many instances, spend large sums of money on luxury offices, luxury residences and luxury travelling facilities. Almost alongside, slums are allowed to remain. That applies in other countries as well as in Australia. However, this is a relatively new country, with practically unlimited resources. It is almost 95 per cent, self-supporting. Considerably more could be done by the Government in this country than in other countries, such as in Europe, where slavish traditions are more deeply rooted. There should not be a slavish following of the precedents that have been established and the systems that have produced in older countries the state of affairs with which we are faced to-day. In 1914, the workers were told that after the war conditions would be good for the heroes. Immediately before World War II. the workers were told that as a result of the introduction of the “ new order “ people would not be robbed to the extent that they had been robbed in the past, yet we have gradually reverted to the state of affairs that prevailed between the two world conflicts.
To date, the Government has done nothing to honour its promise to the people of this country that it would restore value to the £1. It is in that connexion that I challenge the Government to state what it intends to do to honour its promise. If it is to retain its selfrespect it must pay attention to the problems of the ma.ny men and women in this country who are not so fortunately placed as are its representatives in the Parliament.
– I am astounded that the wide scope of debate permitted in connexion with an appropriation measure should enable Senator Cameron to refer to matters so far removed from the purpose of the bill. He has addressed honorable senators for about an hour-
– What about the time that we had to listen to the Government senator who preceded Senator Cameron ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - An honorable senator is permitted to speak for an hour and a. half on almost any matter during this debate.
– It is indeed remarkable that we should have had to listen to a homily by Senator Cameron in view of the fact that the measure before the chamber deals with the failure of the former Administration to provide adequately to meet the rising costs of government. The bill relates partly to the period during which Senator Cameron was a member of the Ministry in the former Government. It is therefore paradoxical that he should chastise the present Government, even allowing for the latitude extended in this debate. We are debating the proposed appropriation of £5,053,994. Senator Cameron has stated that the purpose of the proposed appropriation is to meet additional costs of living. In point of fact it is to cover increases of salaries to officers of the various departments, which, presumably, have been paid. This measure shows very clearly the effect of increasing prices on. the cost of government. I was very interested to ‘learn that Senator Cameron was the proud possessor of a sovereign. I should like to know where I could procure one.
– If the honorable senator is a member of this chamber for long enough he will learn more about sovereigns.
– I worked very hard for my sovereign.
– Senator Cameron has said that when he worked as a journeyman plumber he received only three sovereigns and six shillings for a week’s work. Let us ‘be realistic about this matter. Prices have been rising gradually for hundreds of years. I recall reading that in the days before the American War of Independence, Benjamin Franklin was not too happy about the rate that he was paying for accommodation in London. When he informed his landlady that he intended to move to another establishment she asked whether he was not satisfied with the charge of ls. 6d. a week. He replied that although that charge was fair enough he could get accommodation elsewhere for ls. a week. Those facts demonstrate how costs have risen. I stress that the rising costs of operation of government departments must be watched very carefully. As honorable senators are aware, in many instances, due to an increase of governmental activities, two officers are now employed where formerly one could cope with the work. I hope that the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will pay due regard to this aspect of the matter when preparing the next budget. Another aspect that should be borne in mind is the fact that some departments and divisions of departments have become redundant. I shall refer to the position as revealed in Division No. 36 - Taxation Office. The number of clerks employed in the taxation branch, New South Wales, increased from 905 to 989, which is an increase of approximately 9 per cent. The number of clerks employed in the Victorian office of the
Commissioner of Taxation increased from 468 to 526, which is an increase of approximately 6 per cent. There was a total increase of 143 members on the staff in those two States, at an approximate increased cost of £71,000. However, it would be wrong to assume that that amount represents the aggregate additional expenditure to the Commonwealth, because the Government has to pay not only the salaries of the additional officers, but also to provide the cost of their accommodation, telephone rentals, and a variety of other incidental charges, which would probably amount to £1,000 each. That is a good example of the way in which the staff of a department multiplies itself. The staff of the Taxation Branch produces nothing, and 143 useful individuals have been withdrawn from industry, and placed on the debit side of the nation’s economy. If individuals continued to be transferred from production to administration at that rate, it would only be a matter of time when there would be no incomes on which to assess taxation. The increase of staff of government departments is like a snake swallowing its tail. I do not want my remarks to be construed as a reflection on the personnel of departments, because many officers possess outstanding qualifications and render excellent service to the nation. However, I mention the increase that has taken place in the staff of the Taxation Branch as an indication of the general increase of staff throughout the Public Service.
I come now to redundant departments. In the financial year ended the 30th June, 1949, £54,546 was appropriated for the Aeronautical Research Division of the former Department of Supply and Development. Of course, the real amount expended by the division was probably three times as much if we take into account all the incidental services rendered to it and its officers, by other departments, including the installation of special plant and equipment. In Great Britain and in the United States of America, governmental research bodies are carrying out most advanced research, with the aid of the most modern scientists, technicians and equipment, and it is difficult to understand the real reason for maintaining an aeronautical research body in this country when we can avail ourselves of the results of the investigations carried out by research bodies overseas. I suggest that a special board should be established by the Government to review the functions of, and the staffs employed in, existing government departments and instrumentalities, and, for want of a better title, I suggest that such board should be designated the Abolition of Redundancy Board “. The Public Service Board rightly cares for the privileges, rights and duties of personnel already employed by the Government, and theoretically, one of its most important duties is to ensure that government undertakings and departments are not over-staffed. In practice, however, the Public Service Board does very little to reduce personnel in departments. From time to time, committees are appointed to investigate such matters as the allocation of office space to departments and the overstaffing of departments but I believe that there is a need for a special body to deal with redundant departments and branches, and to scrutinize carefully the numbers of staff employed by departments. Having had some experience in Commonwealth government departments, I know how branches of departments and government instrumentalities can continue to justify their existence for years after the need for them has passed. The aeronautical research division is a good example of my contention.
A great deal has been heard lately from the Opposition about the need to restore the value of the fi, and from the utterances of honorable senators opposite, one would imagine that the value of the fi had suddenly declined. The fact is that ever since the war began the value of the fi has steadily declined. The engagement of Professor Wood to advise the Government on economic trends cannot of itself prevent the steady process of inflation, which is being tackled by the present Government, and will be combated..
– In what way is it being tackled?
– By taking appropriate steps to increase production, which will reduce costs. A simple example of that statement is supplied by an organization which markets manufactured articles, the total cost of which, including overhead expenses, is fi for five. These are sold at, say, 5s. each. At that selling price, the organization makes a profit of ls. on each article. Increased production by more modern methods might easily enable the articles to be sold at four shillings each, the overhead remaining relatively constant. Of course, one sure way in which the value of the fi may be increased is by hard work, for which there is no substitute. When I refer to “ hard work “ I apply that term not only to workers engaged in industry but also to the “ bosses “, the managers, the machines and everyone whose efficiency affects production costs.
The bill asks for only a small appropriation to cover money that has already been expended. I trust that when the Treasurer introduces his budget he will take into consideration the two points that I have mentioned - first, the need to reduce governmental expenditure by added efficiency and fewer personnel, and secondly, by getting rid of redundant government departments and instrumentalities. As a means to that end it should establish a board to ‘review redundant departments and undertakings. If those suggestions are carried out, I have no doubt that we shall have more business methods in government, and less government in business.
– Senator Tate expressed surprise at the wide range of subjects covered by Senator Cameron in the course of that honorable senator’s remarks. Of course, Senator Tate has had very little experience of parliamentary business, and he probably does not realize that on an appropriation bill members of the Parliament are entitled to discuss almost any subject. In the course of the” debate I have no doubt that some honorable senators will have occasion to refer to matters in the United States of America, in
Europe, and possibly in Asia. I shall deal with one or two arguments that were advanced by Senator Tate. The honorable senator claimed that the presence of a supplementary appropriation measure before the Parliament showed that the Chifley Government had been inefficient and that additional governmental expenditure had been necessitated by rising costs. That is not so. The introduction of a supplementary appropriation bill towards the end of a financial year is common practice and the need for such a measure is no reflection upon any previous administration, or upon the government officers who prepared the original Estimates. Probably the officials who prepared the original Estimates have also prepared the supplementary Estimates. The usual procedure, of course, is for the Opposition in the Parliament to criticize the Treasurer should any inaccuracy in the original Estimates be revealed. However, that is purely political propaganda. Departmental officials can only do their best. They are not prophets and obviously cannot accurately foresee the future.
Senator Tate mentioned the growth of r.he number of Commonwealth employees, and urged the Government to consider further reducing the number of departments. I do not quarrel with that argument. Since this Government assumed office there has been a reshuffle of departments, and some employees have lost their jobs; nevertheless the total number of Commonwealth employees continues to increase in spite of the Government’s preelection promise to halt the upward trend. Actually the reshuffle of departments was only an empty gesture on the part of the Government. Some departments have been abolished. They include the Department of Information, which, according to Labour’s political opponents, was maladministered by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) when he was Minister for Information. However, although the Department of Information no longer exists, its former staff has not been dismissed. With the exception of perhaps a few men, all former employees of the Department of Information have been absorbed into other departments. A similar reshuffle led to the creation of the Department of National Develop ment under the right honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Casey) in place of the Department of Supply and Development previously administered by Senator Armstrong. Although departments are abolished in name, their staffs are retained under some other organization, leaving the ultimate position very much the same as it was. As I have said, those gestures have been made by the Government, but people outside the Parliament are under the impression that the Government has reduced the number of departments, and that therefore the number of Commonwealth employees must also have been reduced. The truth is, of course, that the number of Commonwealth employees continues to increase. I do not cavil at that. I believe that the Commonwealth payroll will increase even further. It is obvious fj-om what Senator Tate has said that he does not realize, or is unwilling to admit, that the promises made by the present Government parties during the election campaign were “made solely for political purposes. The honorable senator is politically inexperienced, as are some of his colleagues, and therefore we must accept his statements with care. During the election campaign, the present Government parties were prepared to say anything that they thought might help to defeat the Chifley Government. It did not matter whether their statements were inaccurate or irresponsible, so long as they damaged Labour’s cause. Now, Senator Tate admits that certain matters require examination because nothing has been done about them.
Mention has been made of putting value back into the fi. I do not think that can be achieved by any single measure. Consideration will have to be given to perhaps 100 factors. The problem is most difficult for any government to tackle, and as I have said before, the present Administration has my sympathy. Senator Tate argued that by mechanization, production could be increased, perhaps fourfold, and prices would decrease. That is not so. The mechanization of industry requires the expenditure of huge sums of money on capital equipment. It is true that the number of employees can be reduced, and that production can be increased perhaps fourfold as honorable senators suggest, but that does not mean that the goods produced will be cheaper. Sometimes they will be more costly because of the capital expenditure that has been required. Provision has to be made also for depreciation, amortization, replacement and so on. In many instances, the only advantage of mechanization is that dependence upon labour is lessened, but that does not necessarily mean a reduction of production costs. Therefore Senator Tate’s argument is not valid. In industries in which goods are produced almost entirely by manual labour, production may be increased to some degree and overhead costs reduced if the men work harder, but that is not a general rule. There is always a tendency for costs to rise when mechanization is introduced. That may sound extraordinary, but statistics prove it to be true.
While Senator Tate was speaking, somebody interjected that if the wharf labourers worked harder they would get more work done. Superficially, that assertion appears to be true, but I remind the Senate that the wharf labourers are not at fault all the time. I have made a personal inspection of conditions on the waterfront. I visited one wharf and saw a ship being unloaded. The procedure was this : A sling was loaded in the hold in which perhaps four or five men were working. It was then raised and moved over the side of the vessel, but there it paused, sometimes for as long as three and a half minutes. I can vouch for that figure because I timed the work. The delay was caused by the absence of vehicles to transport the cargo. I asked a foreman stevedore whether that occurred very often, and he said it did. I asked him the reason for the delay, and he said that the main trouble was that, as the wharf sheds were not clear, vehicles had to carry cargoes greater distances for storage. In addition, congestion on the wharf made the free movement of vehicles difficult. I then saw the tally clerks at work and I asked them the same questions, and received substantially the same reply. I went into the customs office and had a chat with the customs officer. I told him what I had seen, and he said, “That is quite right”. That is what occurs all the time. He added, “ It is not the fault of anybody down here. The fault lies in not shifting the material away from the wharf.” He spoke of occasions when the wait was longer. I went to another ship in Port Adelaide and watched exactly the same procedure. Motor trucks were shifting cargo from the vessel. The sling came off the ship and was held in the air for seven minutes before a truck came to take the cargo away. If that is multiplied ten times it means the waste of an hour. The fault is not always with the wharf labourers.
– I carefully refrained from saying so.
– An interjection during the honorable senator’s speech led me to make that statement. It was said that if men worked harder, costs would be cheaper. In this case it is not a question of working harder, but of correlating all the movements associated with unloading a ship so that hours will be saved and cargo can be moved more efficiently. That is another factor that could be taken into consideration in reviewing the value of the £1. Sometimes honorable senators ask why the Labour Government did not do something about it when it was in power. Everybody makes mistakes and should learn by them. The Government should endeavour to get some benefit from mistakes that might have been made by the Labour Government when it was in power. I have waited patiently for a. statement from the Government informing the Senate how it proposes to deal with the question of putting value hack into the £1. I am curious to know how the Government will begin its task, but no statement has been made. Honorable senators have merely been told that at the appropriate time a statement will be made.
I shall now turn my attention to the Public Service. There is much discontent in the Public Service because the Public Service Board continually appears before the Public Service Arbitrator and opposes any rise of the basic rate within the Public Service. The amount is small; I think it is £208 and it has been the same for a long time. There have been loadings or increments, but they are always on a percentage basis. The result is that the lower paid public servants, such as postmen, telegraphists and members of the mail branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department, may get an increase of £8 on a percentage basis, whereas a man in the higher salary range may get an increase of £100. Those lower paid men comprise those who do most of the hard work, but they get only a slight increase which just lifts them off the bread line, while officers who are already affluent receive a big increase. The Government should know that that discontent exists. If it flares up, I do not want to see the Government declaring anybody. So far, trouble has been avoided, but there will always be discontent in the Public Service while the Public Service Arbitrator refuses to alter the basic rate and gives increments only on a percentage basis. Under that system, a man receiving £1,000 a year would get £50 from a 5 per cent, increase, but the man on £400 would receive only £20. The basis is wrong. It is not used in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Public servants should have their basic wage brought nearer the standard set by the court.
I draw the attention of the Government to the accommodation for government departments in South Australia. A man told me that if he merely visited each of the Commonwealth Government offices in Adelaide, it would take five and a half hours. That indicates how widely scattered the accommodation is in Adelaide. It is high time that the question of accommodation for Commonwealth departments and branches in all the capital cities, particularly in Adelaide, was referred to the Public Works Committee so that provision could be made for the construction of a decent building that would cover every need. During, and even before, the war when other governments were in power, it was not possible to do everything that was required, but the time has arrived when action should be begun.
Recently, I referred to the transfer of the Mail Branch to a site two and a half miles from the Adelaide General Post Office, and the resultant introduction of a shuttle service. I am informed that the delivery of mails is affected. In addition, mails must close earlier because of this absurd situation, with the result that the business people of Adelaide are inconvenienced and handicapped. I suggest that some temporary building should be provided for the mail branch close to the General Post Office. Land is available and a temporary building could be used until a permanent structure is erected. I object to the removal of the branch which was due to the fetish of an individual who has ruled that something cannot be done on land in the City of Adelaide, but that it can be done on a site two and a half miles from the General Post Office. There is no direct route to the proposed mail branch, and no transport system serves the area. In one direction transport is a quarter of a mile away and in another direction it is half a mile distant. The men are working in shifts and will be inconvenienced by the lack of transport. All except a. few who live in the locality will be involved in greater expense for travel, but they get no allowance to meet the extra cost. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) will arrange to have that mail branch working closer to the General Post Office. In the meantime, I hope that the Government will consider seriously my suggestion that the Public Works Committee should review the advisability of building accommodation in Adelaide for Government department. The Government has bought some land on which there is an old building. I suppose that it intends to demolish the old structure and build a larger one. The land is bounded by Currie-street and Topham-street, and at the rear by a small lane. On that block there is a building in which, at one time, a bookmaker had his parlours, and a physical culture expert also had premises. Those tenants are now out of the building, which is being used by various government departments. The other block is on the corner of Franklin-street and a lane. There is a shed on the block that is used by various departments, but it could be demolished to make way for additions to the post office. Thus, there is no need for the Government to acquire more land. It already has the land, and
I suggest that the Public Works Committee should inquire into the proposal that on this land should be erected buildings for the use of various Commonwealth departments in Adelaide. Now is the time to make plans for the future.
I propose to say something about a national health scheme. Before the general election, a good deal was said on this subject. The present Government parties declared that, if they were returned to power, a committee would be appointed to consider the whole matter with a view to bringing forward a scheme that would be much better than anything proposed by the Labour government. It was suggested that, after the committee had presented its recommendations, the matter would be dealt with by the Government in 1952. Perhaps that is why nothing very much has been done about it since. Some time ago, the Minister for. Health (Sir Earle Page) said that, if it were at all possible, a national health scheme would be put into operation immediately. A similar statement was made by the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden). Apparently, there has been a conference between the Minister for Health and the British Medical Association, as well as between the Minister and the Pharmaceutical Guild. There must also have been some negotiations with the friendly societies. A statement was made, by the Minister to the press, not to the Parliament, that free medicine would be provided through the friendly societies to certain classes of persons. That scheme was, apparently, dropped, and we were told that a new scheme was to be worked, partly through the friendly societies, and partly through insurance societies and voluntary hospital benefit schemes. Nothing further has been heard about that, either, but a. statement has been published by some of the hospital societies and friendly societies that their rules would not allow them to admit all persons to their organizations. Therefore, many people would be left out. We are now trying to get from the Minister a definite statement of what is being done, but so far we have had no success. I do not know whether any record was kept of the conference between the Minister and the British Medical Association, but we have not been able to obtain access to it if there is one. We were told that an agreement had been reached with the British Medical Association, but the next day the Victorian section of the British Medical Association said that it was opposed to the suggested scheme. The proposal of the Minister for Health was that certain drugs were to be supplied free in certain circumstances. It was to be a limited scheme that would benefit only some of the people. I expected the Minister to say that the scheme would apply at least to all pensioners, who would receive free medical treatment and free medicine, but no such statement was made.
The last pronouncement from the Minister representing the Minister for Health was that he felt, sure that the Minister for Health would, at the appropriate time, make an announcement in connexion with a national health scheme. It is time that the Minister for Health was spurred on by his colleagues to do something definite. There is a tremendous amount of sickness and suffering in Australia, notwithstanding that the health of the community is better now than it used to be. For some families, particularly those dependent upon the basie wage, the cost of medicine is a heavy burden. At the present time, pensioners and sufferers from diabetes, for instance, do not know where they stand. Those who live in metropolitan areas can get attention at the out-patients’ section of public hospitals, but those who live in more remote areas are unable to do so.
I propose now to discuss the economic position of the world, and the demand of the people for peace. The economic system is such that there is in progress what is called a cold war. In reality, it is a fight for markets, and Australia is participating in it. One group controls those parts of Europe east of what is known as the Western Zone, as well as practically the whole of Asia. The members of the other group are fighting among themselves for spheres of influence and control of markets throughout the rest of the world. Britain is engaged in a death struggle against the manipulators and monopolists in America, Germany and France. Discourteous notes- are passing backwards and forwards between the various countries. This is a situation that could lead to war. There are many people in the world striving to preserve the peace, and to promote a better way of life. They are striving to promote co-operation among all the peoples of the world so that international trade may be conducted for mutual benefit, and not for private profit. The peace movement is growing, and because of that certain persons are being branded with all sorts of names. Coercive methods are being resorted to, and even in this Parliament we have had evidence that coercive methods have been used in an attempt to break the resolution of the Opposition. The same methods are being applied outside the Parliament. As soon as an individual associates with others of his way of thinking in an effort to preserve the peace, he is branded with an objectionable name, and the fear complex is exploited to break down his resistance so that he will not continue to advocate what he had been advocating.
An example of that has been furnished by the treatment meted out to Dr. James, who, until recently, was employed on the staff of the Repatriation Hospital at Heidelberg. Dr. James was branded as ;>. Communist; he was branded as a fellow-traveller of Communists; and he was branded as an anarchist. He is none of those things, but he did join the Civil Rights League, and he did join in the peace demonstration in Melbourne. Because of that, out he had to go, and he must now start all over again, despite the fact that he is one of the cleverest men in his line, as is admitted by all medical men who know him. The same intolerant attitude is evident in dealings between country and country - between Great Britain and France, between the United States of America and other countries, and, of course, between Russia and other countries. A note is sent to Russia from the United States of America telling Russia that it cannot do this or it should do that. Russia sends back a note saying (hat it is not really trying to do that at all, but is trying to do this. It is leading towards war. The present cold war is an economic war to secure markets. It is being directed by the great monopolists who operated iii Germany prior to the war and are now domiciled in America. The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, the Pierpont Morgans and the Rothschilds are directing this cold war to secure markets. They operate through their cartels in England, France and America.
– That does not account, for the unfriendly attitude that Russia has adopted towards the western democracies since the cessation of hostilities.
– Probably it does not. I am not discussing that point. The point that I am attempting to make is that the cold war or the economic war will become a shooting war unless peace movements in Australia and throughout the world are recognized as genuine by those who now condemn them. Because a man participates in a peace movement, conscientiously believing that it is possible to achieve peace and apply the principles of Christianity to economics, he is branded as something outrageous or atrocious, and then boycotted. That, unfortunately, is happening throughout the world. It is taking place not only in the western democracies but also in Russia. Russians who speak against the Russian ideology are penalized.
– They do not speak for long in Russia. They are soon liquidated.
– That cannot !be proved. It is one of the allegations that the honorable senator has read somewhere. A man cannot speak for too long in Australia. Let there be no mistake about that. He is soon tossed out into the streets, as Dr. James has been. He attended a peace meeting and within a month he was out.
– He was a “ Commo “.
– Senator George Rankin’s interjection supports the point that I am trying to make. He has said that Dr. James is a Communist, but he is neither a Communist nor a “ fellowtraveller “. He is an advocate for peace. He believes in the maintenance of the civil liberties and rights of (the individual.
– We all believe in peace
– I hope that we do, but I point out that a man or woman who advocates . peace and points out in what ways the present system is wrong is immediately branded in the same way as Dr. James has been branded.
– I shall probably be arrested, too. I have done that all mv life.
– I do not want to indulge in personalities. This issue is much bigger than either Senator Robertson or myself. We are only puppets. There are movements that are engaging in activities that may cause a war. They are attempting to crush any person who tries to avoid a war.
– Is the honorable senator talking about Mr. Stalin ?
– I am certainly not talking about my cherubic friend the honorable senator, who suffers from the obsession to which I referred recently. A former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, in the course of a judgment, quoted a statement by a doctor that some persons suffering from an obsession do not know the difference between right and wrong. Senator George Rankin suffers from such an obsession. If anybody opposes him, he says that he is a Communist, or, if not a Communist, a fellow traveller “. That is as far as we can get with him.
– You can get to the stage when you are a traitor.
– Perhaps I ought to take umbrage at that remark. I said just now that the honorable senator does not understand what he is saying. He has called me a traitor.
– I did not.
– It sounded very much like it to me.
– I do not call the honorable senator a traitor, but I have some doubts about it.
– That is the kind of thing that I have to put up with all the time. I can hear every confounded word that the honorable senator says, whereas you, Mr. President, cannot. That has caused one rather unpleasant incident in this chamber already, and it may cause another. I wish that he would keep quiet. I do not want to argue with him. If he has anything to say, let him be a man and stand up and say it. This constant whispering and indulging in epithets does not get us anywhere. Anyhow, I do not suppose that it matters much. As I said just now, we are mere puppets, doing the best we can, according to our lights, to help humanity.
I have said that anybody who raises his voice in favour of peace is hammered. That is happening at the present time in Australia. A peace movement has come into existence in this country, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it has become stronger, because it has been in existence for many years. I have been a member of the Pacifist League for nearly thirty years. One of the speakers who addressed the peace conference in Melbourne was an eminent churchman, but the treatment that he received in Australia would astound any ordinary Christian person. He was refused permission to speak in halls, official receptions were denied to him, and finally, another country refused to allow him to fly over its territory. The impression has been created in the minds of many people in Australia, some of them in high places, that he is a Communist and, therefore, a traitor. It is remarkable that when he returned to England the newspapers photographed him while he was talking, to a member of the Royal Family. It does not appear that he is a traitor. He is a high dignitary of the Church of England. Compare the treatment that he received with the treatment received by a Japanese, a member of the same church. The Japanese has been feted throughout Australia. I have no objection to that Japanese Christian coming here to explain his case, but the difference between the treatment that the two churchmen received in this country is extraordinary.
– Exservicemen have the same opinion of both of them.
– That may be so. I am pointing out the difference between the treatment that each of the two men received, sometimes from people in high places. In the case of one man, a tremendous barrage of propaganda was used with the object of leading people to believe that he was a Communist. In the other case, the attitude was, “ He is quite a decent chap “. Similar coercive tactics have been used in this chamber in an endeavour to force honorable senators to give way upon something that they believe to be right. Political capital is being made out of these things. The other night, at 10.25 o’clock, we witnessed the spectacle of the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) “slangwhanging “ the Opposition in this chamber. At 6 o’clock on the same evening copies of a Sydney newspaper were on sale in country areas, telling the people what the Minister had said in the Senate. The Minister had not made the statement when the paper was printed.
– Dr. Evatt did that repeatedly. He made speeches in the Parliament after they had been published in the press.
– I am not talking of Dr. Evatt. I am talking of the statement which was made by the Minister for Social Services in this chamber.
– The Labour party did the same thing. What is the honorable senator squealing about?
– Order ! Senator George Rankin must not continue to interject.
– I do not care whether we did it or not. It is wrong, irrespective of which party does it. In the instance to which I have referred, those tactics were used on the eve of the general election in New South Wales. At 10.25 p.m. in this chamber we were told what evil beings we were, yet copies of the Sunday Sun, issued in country areas at 6 o’clock that evening, contained what purported to be a report of the Minister’s speech. That shows what the Government will do to bolster up the present economic system.
– What the honorable senator has said is quite incorrect.
– Because a person belonging to a peace movement says that he believes that the present sys tem is wrong and should be replaced by another system, he is told that he is a Communist, a “ fellow traveller “, or something of that kind. That highpressure campaign has gone on and will, I suppose, continue to do so.
I ask honorable senators opposite to give others credit for having the courage of their convictions. I have said repeatedly that I never question a man’s sincerity, although I may question the methods that he adopts to achieve his objective. I believe that some politicians do things that are wrong, but I do not question that they are sincerely trying to achieve what they regard as desirable objectives. I believe that we should all give the other fellow some credit for sincerity. Some of the peace organizations in this and other countries of the world are associated with each other. Sometimes their lines of thought and statements are the same. When that occurs, it is said that they are dictated by Russia. The same kind of thing is probably happening in other countries. Sometimes we receive information about what we call the Russian satellite countries. The same kind of thing is happening there. Those who speak against the persons who are in control of those countries are penalized. The peace movement is world-wide and spontaneous. We do not want another war, because atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs would smash the world. If they were used in another war, there would be no discrimination ; they would be dropped upon all kinds and classes of people. There would not be the precision bombing of the last war, when the working-class areas suffered most.
– That was because there are more working-class areas than other areas. A bomb does not pick out where it is going to fall.
– During World War II. industrial plant and adjoining working-class areas were smashed because of the necessity to destroy the labour supply. That was evident in Great Britain as well as in Germany. The dropping of atomic bombs would result in the breaking up of society as we know it to-day. I am convinced that many people are afraid because the powers that be have used coercive tactics to try to prevent them from saying what is in their minds, that is, that they desire peace.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I understand that while I was absent from the chamber temporarily Senator O’Flaherty stated that I had released a speech to the press before I delivered it in this chamber.
– I did not say that.
– It appeared in the country press published at about 6 p.m., although the Minister did not deliver his speech until almost 10.30 o’clock that night.
– The implication was that I had released a copy of my intended speech to, or discussed it with, press representatives, or in some other way revealed to them what I proposed to say before delivering my speech in the Senate. That is quite untrue. With the exception of my second-reading speeches - copies of which, doubtless, have been handed to press representatives in the ordinary way - never on any occasion have I communicated to the press in advance the contents of my proposed short speeches, long speeches, interjections, or statements. I have never made any prior arrangements with the press or had any discussion with press representatives about any matter prior to raising it in this chamber.
– I intend to address myself principally to matters relating to external affairs and defence, I wish to wm-n the Senate against the dangerous illusion that every movement that calls itself a peace movement is really working for peace and that peace can be obtained merely by setting up pacifist societies. Equally dangerous is the delusion that wars are fought only for markets and other economic reasons. I believe that there is an economic element in the causation of wars, going a long way back, but the theory that wars are caused entirely or mainly by economic motives derives from Karl Marx’s materialist conception of history. It is extraordinary that almost every statement that I have heard from the Opposition concerning external affairs or our defence seems in some way to hint that the danger of war comes from having an adequate armed force, and from the activities of antisocialists, particularly in the United States of America. That is a perfectly fair inference to draw from Senator O’Flaherty’s address. Yet the former Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), on his return from a conference of British Commonwealth Ministers in 1946, said that Australia must in the future make a larger contribution to the defence of the British Commonwealth and that this could best be done in the Pacific, a sentiment with which I think every honorable senator on this side of the chamber agrees. Nothing in Senator O’Flaherty’s speech remotely supported that policy. In May, 1948, the Chifley Labour Government authorized strategic planning for the regional defence of the South-West Pacific area. It is to that matter that I shall address myself.
There have been frequent references to Malaya by way of questions, interjections, and occasionally in speeches. Therefore I propose to state briefly what I believe, after a good deal of study and communication with people who know Malaya at first hand, to be the actual position in that country. The people causing trouble there are mostly Chinese terrorists. Some of them act in liaison with Communists, and some are apparently free-lance terrorists. The evidence that I have gleaned shows that the Malays are the victims of this terrorism, not the aggressors. Yet, the suggestion that Australia should assist Great Britain in the defence of Malaya has been represented in this chamber as interference in the affairs of the Malays.
– There are British subjects in Malaya as well.
– I made the acquaintance of an Asian gentleman in Malaya, Mr. Talalla. He was a refined educated man and a most prominent citizen who was very favorably known to many of the Australian troops. When I asked him what we could do to bring self-government to Malaya he said that the control of the British Government should be strengthened, and that Great Britain should hold the reins until the present races there learned to live in harmony. He also said that to give selfgovernment of the ordinary democratic kind to Malaya at present would be to hand that country over to the Chinese who form almost one-half of the population, . and are the most intelligent and enterprising people there. The subject of America’s economic markets has been mentioned. It is completely fallacious to say that although rubber planters and the owners of the tin mines need protection, the ordinary people do not need protection. It is equally fallacious to say that, whilst profits would be ensured by restoring order in Malaya, that action would not help the whole British economy in that country. Malaya produces two important commodities, tin and rubber. Does any one seriously believe that if the police action of the British Government in Malaya ceased, and the bandits got control, there would be an effective social revolution that would result in the ordinary people getting a better deal 1 Nothing is further from the truth. There would probably be a long period of anarchy, followed by a Communist dictatorship. Neither would benefit the ordinary man. I ask the Opposition to consider very seriously whether the laisser- ] ‘aire notions, which were the chief stock of pacifist propaganda in the 19th century, are applicable to the situation in South-East Asia to-day. I have read all the propagandist literature of the nineteenth century that is worth reading. I am very sympathetic to people like John Bright and the Society of Friends, who took a pacifist attitude, but it has been demonstrated again and again that such an attitude only assists the aggressor. Would a pacifist attitude assist the British Commonwealth, to-day?’ So far from doing so, I believe that it would do us positive harm. The British Commonwealth needs to-day to hold its own against the aggressors throughout the world, particularly in Asia.
I desire now to answer some of the false ideas that have been enunciated by members of the Opposition in contradiction of the policy outlined by the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Chifley). Consider, for example, Indonesia. Similar credulity exists concerning what Indonesia can do and what legitimate claims it has. Fortunately, one aspect of the controversy about Indonesia is now closed. There is no longer any controversy about the rights of the Dutch in what is properly called Indonesia. In making that remark I do not intend to reflect in any way on the Dutch. Indonesia recently put up a wholly false claim to New Guinea, and I say that that claim, should have been answered even more clearly and emphatically by our Government than it was. We said that we would not tolerate Indonesian interference in that portion of New Guinea for which we had a mandate. I think we should go even farther, and adopt an attitude similar to that taken by the independent American republic in. the days of President Monroe, when he said that the territories in North and South America were not a proper subject for conquest or colonization by the powers of Europe. I think that we should adopt a similar attitude concerning South-East Asia, and that we should say that the whole of New Guinea is vital to the defence of Australia. I hope that ultimately we shall say quite definitely that we will not tolerate the handing over by the Netherlands Government of the sovereignty of the Dutch portions of New Guinea to any nation but Australia. After all, we represent the British Commonwealth in New Guinea. Our interests in New Guinea are exactly similar to those of the United States of America in South America when the Monroe doctrine was formulated. If the Dutch Government suggests that New Guinea should be handed over to any nation but Australia, we should object to it.
– Unless the United Nations awards portion of New Guinea as a mandate.
– Because of present conditions in the world I would not be prepared to entrust the control of New Guinea to any power but Australia. The United Nations is not a.t present functioning as we hoped it would when it was founded and as we hope that it will function in the future. Any mandate in respect of New Guinea should be given to the power most concerned, which is Australia.
Whilst I should have been glad to find some item in the proposed appropriation for the Department of External Affairs that could be reduced, I must confess that I cannot suggest any reduction that should be made. I conclude by saying that in Asia there are various forces operating, and we cannot be sure whether any of them are friendly to us. I believe that we should make friends as we go. If
Ave can make friends of any of the powers in East Asia, or can render them innocuous, I believe that we should do so. However, to go around crying, “Peace, peace “, when there is no peace, or to pretend that we can play off the aggressors, is absurd. The three forces that menace peace to-day are communism, Asian nationalism and anarchism. Asian nationalism is an unknown force. We do not know how many Asian countries can establish effective governments. In India and Pakistan the new nationalism is, fortunately, succeeding at the moment, and I hope that it will continue to succeed. However, in Burma it has been a complete failure, and in Malaya there is no evidence that it exists at all. I regard as highly dangerous the attempt to insinuate that people who do not agree with the broad peace movement and insist on the armed forces being fully alert and well trained are in any way enemies of peace. There is no militarist spirit in the British people. I remember talking about three years ago with a very able gentleman who visited this country. He had been an associate of Lenin in the original Bolshevik government established in Russia, but had later parted company with Lenin and devoted the rest of his life to the zionist movement. He had a very shrewd appreciation of democratic forces and of the difficulties that beset popular government. He said to me: “When I hear your people building up a picture of soldiers like Kitchener, French and Haig as ruthless and terrible militarists, I laugh because, compared with the Russian and German army commanders, they are as kittens to tigers”. I think that Great Britain has been probably the least militarist country, partly because of our temperament and partly because of the accident of circumstances. Since the time of Cromwell the army has never dominated our political affairs. And after all, Cromwell was not a dictator in the military sense, but merely a caretaker who came in and kept the peace becauseeverything was falling into anarchy. Perhaps we contributed towards the recent war by refusing to arm ourselves. We should not fall into that error again. We should seek peace, but we should keep the ‘bargaining power of our diplomats intact by retaining our armed forces at 1)rover strength.
.- In debating this bill it is possible almost to circumnavigate the world. Senator McCallum, who has just spoken, had a great deal to say about peace, and he expressed the pious hope that we should all live in peace. However, I should have liked him to mention the fact that not only men, but also women, have played their part in trying to make the world peaceful. Following World War I: the peoples of the world, because of their tragic experiences in that war, established the League of Nations. The existence of that body was confidently believed to ensure the continuance of peace. However, economic development, and rivalry between the major powers, took little notice of the aspirations of the peaceloving nations, and the ultimate consequence was that the world was once again plunged into war. It has been said that earlier wars were due to the desire of various nations to control the world’s markets, but World War II. had its origin in a different cause. Tremendous changes had occurred between the two wars. Industry had marched on, and the control of the means of life had proceeded at such a pace that the world’s food supplies were in process of being monopolized by a few nations. In Germany a new ideology had taken hold, and fascism, whose main purpose was directed towards the control of the world, had emerged as a force in world affairs. Indeed, so far-reaching were the ramifications of that world movement, that all political parties and all social classes throughout the world were affected. In Germany, Dr. Schacht and Fritz Thyssen, the millionaire industrialist and steel magnate, ultimately became victims of the Nazi regime in their own country. The world conflict which subsequently ensued was not so much a struggle for markets as it was a struggle for world dominion. The middle classes and the working people throughout the world wanted only peace. It would be as well, while I am on that subject, to consider what happened in countries adjoining Nazi Germany. Dr. Dolfuss, who was the Chancellor of Austria prior to the Anschluss, was liquidated by the Nazis, as were some of his colleagues in the Government, and because of that happening in Central Europe we, in Australia, can more clearly realize the dangers that lie close to our shores although, perhaps, we are not all really ardent worshippers of peace at the moment. “We have to realize, as Senator McCallum has pointed out, that only a few hours’ flight from Darwin are millions of Asiatics. Because of that fact we must ensure that wo do not make’ any mistakes that might facilitate the conquest of this country by an enemy. During World War II. this country was almost invaded and it may, perhaps, be invaded in the future unless we ensure that we are in a position to resist such an invasion. Senator McCallum said that the British Commonwealth was attempting ‘to assist the Malays along the road to self-government. We in Australia have been fighting for selfgovernment hut in Malaya certain economic forces are at work. Our first responsibility is to ensure that we protect Australia. Senator McCallum said that Karl Marx and some of the other early economist philosophers dealt with world problems under the materialistic conception of history. According to those writers, the materialistic conception of history is simply the betterment of the material conditions under which people produce the necessaries of life. In other words, the manner in which bread and butter is produced actually determines, in the main, every other action in society. That is, in brief, what was meant by the materialistic conception of history. ‘ It explained all the various actions of human kind in terms of economy and environment. Senator McCallum quoted a statement made by the former Prime Minister in 1946. We know that the Labour party then promised support to the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian Labour party is sincere in its agitation, proposals and actions to give every protection and co-operation to the British Commonwealth with a view to the maintenance of peace in this area.
I turn now to the system of conciliation and arbitration for the conduct of which an appropriation is sought by this measure. A most remarkable state of affairs exists in connexion with the work of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It is a well known fact that that court, which is perhaps the most important, tribunal in Australia, is working under very unfavorable conditions and that judges of the court have to hear cases in most unsuitable premises. The court has to hear evidence and reach decisions upon such vital matters as the basic wage in premises that are most inappropriate for use by such a body. The building which houses the court in Melbourne is so old that I can remember it as an old building when I was a boy. It is a three-story building with no lift, and judges who, as a rule, are men past middle age, have to climb up stairs to the court. I suggest that it is one of the worst buildings occupied by any section of the Public Service in Australia, and that it is time that better premises were provided.
This Parliament appropriates money for the administration of the nation’s social services and to provide social service payments for the relief of sick people. If a workman aged 66 should lose his employment through sickness he cannot obtain the unemployment benefits that are provided under our social services scheme. I admit that in certain States ax gratia, payments are sometimes made to help such individuals, but those payments are not made under the strict letter of the law. I consider that that method should be abolished and arrangements should be made whereby persons can rightfully and legally claim their social service entitlements. Although a workman such as I have mentioned has had taken from his pay envelope every week while he was employed, an amount of taxation levied for the purpose of paying for social service benefits, when the time actually comes when he requires the unemployment benefit, he is not entitled to receive it. In other words, taxes have been taken from him under false pretences. He has contributed to the pool but is unable to draw anything from it when an emergency such as sickness throws him out of employment. I realize that it is necessary to draw the line somewhere, but clearly it would not be profitable for a man of 66, who would be entitled to an age pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week, to seek the unemployment benefit of 25s. a week. I do not blame the present Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) for all the anomalies that exist in our social services legislation. If I were to do that, he would very soon point out that this Government has been in office for only six months, and he would ask why successive Labour -governments had not eliminated all the anomalies during their term of office. However, there is an obligation upon every government to ensure that people who pay the social services contribution shall receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
We have heard a lot in recent weeks about Labour’s alleged refusal to cooperate with the Government. .No such charge can be laid in regard to our immigration scheme, the foundation of which was laid when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was Minister for Immigration. That scheme is unparalleled in the history of the Commonwealth. Not only was it launched by a Labour government, but also it was brought to fruition under a Labour administration. Some years ago, an attempt was made by an anti-Labour government to inaugurate a large-scale immigration programme. Sir Herbert Gepp, and Mr. John Gunn, a former Premier of South Australia, were appointed by the Bruce-Page Government to prepare the details of the scheme. Many millions of pounds were placed at the disposal of those gentlemen ; but
J ‘hat happened? The plans fell through,fter a couple of years, and the then Government dispensed with the services of both Sir Herbert Gepp and Mr. Gunn. Tt was left to a Labour government, many years later, to implement the immi- gration policy of this country. To-day, in the capital cities of the Commonwealth and in many other centres, large hostels have been built to house immigrants. Australian workers have not protested against immigrants being permitted to compete with them for employment, and there has been no complaint that the presence of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in this country will reduce the standard of living of Australian workers. During the war the trade union movement of this country pledged itself to co-operate with all governments, Labour and Liberal alike. That cooperation has been continued in connexion with immigration. I remind the Senate also that the rehabilitation and reconstruction scheme that was introduced after the war, and is now functioning so well, was planned and introduced by a Labour government. I am sure that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) will readily admit that the industrial trade unionists of Australia made the reconstruction training scheme possible. The trade unions gave every assistance to the government departments that were charged with the task of evolving and administering that scheme. A fundamental feature of the scheme was the acquiescence of the trade unions in the proposal that reconstruction trainees should be accepted into industry and paid full tradesmen’s rates after only six months of training. In no other country has such a generous measure of assistance been given by industrial workers in the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. It is as well that I should remind the Senate of these things when charges of obstruction are being made against the Opposition in this chamber.
I say emphatically that any objections that have been raised by honorable senators on this side of the chamber to the Government’s legislation have been based upon a genuine desire to safeguard the living standards of the Australian people. That is our only concern. Primary producers generally have never been as prosperous as they are to-day. The financial buoyancy of our primary industries is due of course in no small measure to the world shortage of foodstuffs and the consequent high prices obtaining on overseas markets. It would probably not be an exaggeration to say, that, in the last five years, primary producers have made more profits than they made in any previous 25 years. The Opposition believes, therefore, that it is amply justified in doing its best to maintain, or if possible, raise the living standards of Australian workers. The prosperity of the community at large depends upon the prosperity of the workers. During the depression years, when working people had little or no money to spend, the business community suffered. I am not concerned with any tactical advantage that may be gained by taking this or that point when legislation is before this chamber. I repeat that our aim is to safeguard the living standards and working conditions of Australian workers. To-day, those standards and conditions are as high as any in the world. In this country there is no unemployment. By contrast, in the United States of America, millions of men and women are seeking jobs ; yet that country has almost complete control of the dollar markets of the world! The Labour movement has built up the living standards of Australian workmen, and we shall do our best to ensure that those standards shall not be lowered by this Government, or any other government, in the Commonwealth or State spheres. We shall resist every attempt to filch the hard-won privileges of Australian working people.
Sitting suspended from 6.59 to 8 p.m.
– This afternoon honorable senators were treated to a wide discussion dealing with features concerning other countries ra.ther than to the subject indicated by the term, “supply”. From time to time, questions have been asked in this chamber as to when value is going to be put back into the £1 and it has been said by honorable senators opposite on more than one occasion that honorable senators on this side of the chamber represent anybody but the people whom Labour senators claim to be the only workers in this country. That that is a fallacy is proved by the fact that this Government has been given a mandate. Honorable senators opposite have been found out by the electors of this country. That is the reason why they are sitting in opposition to-day. I suggest that they should accept that, position just as the present Government parties, when in opposition, had to accept the Opposition benches. An endeavour has been made to create throughout the country the impression that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are associated only with large vested interests. Let me tell honorable senators and the people generally that senators on this side of the chamber had just as lowly beginnings in their industrial life as had any honorable senator on the Opposition side. For half a. century I have heard this same old story of persons whose sole purpose is to defeat and defy the will of the people. The men and women of to-day do not believe that. Their vote at the general election held on the 10th December indicated that they are capable of deciding for themselves. The people have indicated that the Government should do its part in fulfilling the destiny of this country for which so much sacrifice has been made. If the people of this country do not take the opportunity to fulfill the destiny made possible by those who made those sacrifices. I am sure that other people will make it known that they appreciate this country’s value and capacity.
The welfare of this country cannot be achieved by delaying legislation day after day, by political manoeuvres and by conveying over the air and through the press the impression that honorable, senators on this side of the chamber are endeavouring to do an injury to somebody. If the Government is to have an opportunity to fulfil its promises to the electors honorable senators opposite must give their assistance and co-operation in the passing of its legislation. They have no right to delay the legislation for the passing of which the Government has been given a mandate in the clearest possible terms. Speakers on the Opposition side of the chamber have admitted that the Government has a mandate for its legislation, but they have indicated their lack of sincerity by the way in which they have dealt with the legislation which has come before the chamber. I refer particularly to the bill to deal with a certain type of people in this country - the Communists, the efforts of honorable senators opposite have afforded a very effective protection to those people and provided them with a screen. That is a state of affairs about which no one in this country but the Communists will be very happy. I do credit honorable senators opposite with not desiring entirely to bring about that state of affairs, but I am sure that they themselves must appreciate that that will be the result.
I ask honorable senators opposite to reflect that throughout this country there are individuals and industrial unions that desire to fulfil their obligations to themselves and to their country by maintaining continuity of supply. Many of the people who control those unions are just as well known to me as they are to honorable senators opposite. They desire to keep the wheels of industry turning. They desire that there shall bo- a continuity of production which will contribute to the value of the £1 which honorable senators opposite are so anxious about. It must be patent to the least intelligent person that it is of very little use setting a. standard of living that does not operate. “Who pays the penalty for the constant interruption to production that takes place in this country? Is it not the women and children of this land ? Are not they the main sufferers? Is it not the family man who is paying the penalty? I think that honorable senators opposite know very well that the people I have mentioned are those who are going to be most distressed by the Opposition’s failure to support the Government’s legislation. That is only one example. There are others outside this House who need very little to inflame them. They have been encouraged by the expressions of opinion in this chamber that they should resist to the last ditch, through their organizations, the introduction of such legislation. That is not the kind of advice that should come from a chamber which is the highest legislative authority in the land. Industrial organizations are essential, but they will do their best work when they are dissociated to a greater extent from political influences. Industrial organizations know that, and so do honorable senators opposite. They know that they cannot ride on the backs of the unionists. They are not the only people who can give the unionists relief.. The Labour party is not the only party that recognizes the workers as essential to the well-being of this country. Otherpeople seem to have been overlooked. I refer to the people who provide employment in industry. If they are not successful and prosperous how are theemployees to be prosperous? If the employers cannot be kept in reasonable prosperity, the Labour party can offer the employees nothing. All the talk in the world will not give them much. There is established in this country a system of arbitration and until it is allowed to function, the country will never be really successful. It is the duty of the Opposition to advocate full support of the arbitration court tribunals and to abide by their decisions. I have accepted decisions of the court for many years and have never been in any organization which refrained from abiding by their decisions.
A question which is connected very closely with the subject before the committee is that of supply. More people are wanted in this country. The nation needs people who are not tradesmen or city dwellers but who are connected with the land and will take up that calling and produce the foodstuffs that are necessary. Those necessities will be in short supply if that need is disregarded. I know that it is not the sole obligation of the Australian Government to settle these people on the land, but I suggest that the State governments could do a great deal in that direction. Then it is the Federal Government’s duty to offer every possible financial aid to establish farming people from Europe on the land. Agricultural land is not being made available. Much of it is held in large parcels. There are many uses to which it could be put and I submit that the policy of the Government must be to offer land-minded people from other places a share of the land so that they can take up agricultural callings. If the land is not thrown open to returned soldiers and others who want it, the Government will not be doing its duty. When the demand is satisfied, Australia should have in operation a policy that will allow people from agricultural industries to enter into other forms of primary production which Australians are not willing to enter. It is essential that those things, shall be done if this country is to be occupied and developed.
The drift from the land has been very marked. It is not for honorable senators to say where Australians should prefer to live, for men have a right to live where they like, but there are many reasons why people are not going on to the land. One of them is the lack of amenities and facilities for family life in the country. I suggest very strongly that when the Government is entering into negotiations for the advancement of money to develop electricity schemes, there should be in the agreement an obligation upon the States which are obtaining the finance to ensure that the country people shall receive electricity on conditions and at rates not less, favorable than those offered to city dwellers. If the cost of amenities is prohibitive, the effect is tantamount to not providing them at all.
I believe that it would be a very sound investment to make available to the country areas a special finance scheme by which farmers of all kinds would obtain long-term loans at a low rate of interest to establish married quarters. Many farmers have had difficulty in the past in providing homes for themselves. Numbers of people would be prepared to go out into the country if they could take their wives and families with them. I throw that out as a suggestion, and I hope that the Government will examine it, I do not propose to speak at any greater length, or to canvass any of the previous arguments. In conclusion, I say that if the Opposition desires to make an effective contribution towards putting value back into the Australian £1, the best thing that it can do is to try to repair the damage that it has done to the value of our money during the last eight years. It can do so by assisting to bring about continuity of industrial production. If the Opposition does that, it will help the Government in its efforts to speed up the production of essential commodities in this country.
– I take no notice of any interjections while I am speaking. I have a purpose to fulfil when I rise to speak, and when I have a purpose I shall not be side-tracked from it by interjections. With great sincerity, I say that some of the political angles of this matter might be well known to honorable senators opposite, but I am sure that the game of extreme party politics does not appeal to the Australian people. Our people desire that we in this chamber, as responsible senators, should discuss sensibly the matters that come before us and try to bring to bear upon them the wisdom and intelligence that we have at our disposal. We should do that also upon our own account for the sake of the country that we represent. I invite honorable senators to reflect upon the suggestions that I have made, and I ask Opposition senators to join with the Government in a cooperative effort to help the country. No government can put value back into the £1 simply by enacting legislation ; it must also have the goodwill of the Opposition and of the people generally. The role of the Government is to provide means for the people themselves to put value back into the £1. It is for the people to make use of the facilities made available by the Government.
– I have listened with interest to Senator Simmonds’s contribution to this debate. The Labour party accepts his apology for the fact that the Government cannot handle the inflationary position that exists in Australia, or carry out its promise made to the people at the last general election that it would put value back into the Australian £1. The Labour party submits that the Government, by its own efforts and supported by big interests, viciously fought a referendum submitted to the people by the previous Labour Government. If that referendum had been successful, prices would have been controlled so that the greatest possible value would have been retained in the Australian £1 for the benefit of the Australian people. At the time of the referendum campaign the non-Labour parties promised the people that the respective States would competently control prices. Not only were those statements made by members of this Government, but they were made also by the Liberal Premier of “Western Australia, Mr. McLarty. That gentleman said that he could control prices much more effectively than could the Australian Government. Liberal leaders in the State of Victoria, and in every other Liberal-controlled State, made much the same promise. To-day they admit that they are utterly incapable of controlling prices by State action.
It was obvious to any thinking person that the effort to destroy the prices control organization in this country was not directed towards the welfare of the people in general. One way to ensure that the Australian people paid reasonable prices for goods which could have been sold at high prices overseas was by controlling the prices through Commonwealth action and limiting the export of material necessary for the welfare of our people. Another way was by means of subsidizing imported commodities which otherwise could be sold here only at prices out of reach of the people. That referendum was defeated and consequently the price structure has been undermined. I shall give the chamber an instance of such damage to the price structure. A producer of zinc is not concerned with selling the zinc in Australia at £9 a ton when he can get £35 a ton for it overseas. Consequently, he sells as such of his product as he can overseas and sells the remainder here at much more than £9 a ton. In fact the Australian people have to pay the world price.” The previous Government fixed a home-consumption price for wheat in order to keep flour and bread prices within reasonable limits. That measure was opposed, but if it had not been introduced the people would have had to pay world prices for wheat products.
A*n honorable senator said that we must encourage people to become farmers. In that connexion it should be remembered that the Liberal Premier of “Westem Australia, Mr. McLarty, has acres and acres of arable land in good areas, but he will not permit it to besold to anybody, not even to exservicemen. In a similar position is the Minister for the Interior (Senator McBride)He has some of the best land in South Australia. He would not make it available to ex-servicemen or to anybody else. It is arrant hypocrisy for honorable senators on the Government side to talk about encouraging people to go on the land when such things can occur. To-day,, two Government bills are held up. With regard to the Social Services Consolidation Bill 1950, the Government declares that payment of 5s. for the first child will not affect the basic wage. But the Government will not insert any provision in the bill to prevent payment of such endowment from being taken into consideration by the Arbitration Court when it is fixing the basic wage. The Government intends to give the people something with one hand and to take it back with the other. That is the sort of trick put over every day by all sorts of sharpers.
I regret that in the bill before the chamber no provision is made for pensions for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. Those people suffer severely through the rising costs of necessities. The Government when on the election platform weeps over these ex-servicemen, but when it has an opportunity to give them something it fails to do so. I brought the matter up before the Government in ‘ the form of three questions, and the reply each time was that it is a matter of Government policy. The Government says it is a matter of policy, but it will not tell us what that policy is. However, we can easily assume that it is not a policy which will benefit the ex-serviceman. Rising costs have also affected the static pensions of age and invalid pensioners. What the Government said during the election campaign about these people, and what it says now, are two entirely different things. The Government has forgotten them. Provision could have been made in the Appropriation Bill for larger pensions, and the Government would have had the full support of the Opposition. The Government has disregarded the mandate it received from the people to increase pensions. The Parliament is shortly going into recess for some months. The Government Whip in the Senate, who is a paid officer, has gone off to collect fees for appearing in a hig law case. He has not been engaged to defend an individual, but is appearing for a government superannuation board. If he is taking profit under the Crown while holding the position of senator, the matter will have to be considered. Three weeks ago, he said that members of the Senate should be in their places to deal with business.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Cooke in order in reflecting upon another senator?
– I understood Senator Cooke to criticize a member of the Senate for taking a position where he will be paid by the Crown. It is quite in order for Senator Cooke so to criticize him.
– I have no wish to say anything that is not true. The honorable senator of whom I speak chided members of the Opposition, and became very insulting about it, when, by a process of political manoeuvring, he was able to claim that they were not present in the chamber to attend to public business. He has not applied to the Senate for leave. He is engaged in a lawsuit in which it seems highly probable that he will receive payment from the Crown, through the superannuation board. While the Government permits that sort of thing to go on, honorable senators opposite should be less ready to charge members of the Opposition with neglecting their duties.
Government supporters have frequently questioned the efficiency of the workers. I am not prepared to listen to criticism of the workers of Australia. Their per capita output is equal to that of workers in any other part of the world who use the same kind of equipment. The workers are faced with rising costs, and, although they have been promised relief, nothing has been done. Now the Government proposes that the Parliament shall ,go into recess, and is asking for Supply, although it refuses to do anything to help the workers and the pensioners to meet the rising cost of living. Senator Simmonds accused the Opposition of having delayed or prevented the passage of several measures, but he did not say that the
Opposition had offered to negotiate with the Government on some of its legislation. No basic amendments to the first part of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill were put forward by the Opposition. We did not attempt to amend those parts of the bill which provided for the banning of the Communist party, but there is admittedly a grave dispute over the question whether the Parliament should allow any one to be injured in person or property or reputation without being given an opportunity to defend himself in a court of law. We will not lightly give way on that principle. We have argued with the Government, and pleaded with it. We have asked the Government to meet us in negotiation in an attempt to save a principle that is dear to democrats. The safeguards that we propose are not designed f.or the protection of the workers in particular. They will also protect the newspaper editor who was mentioned as a Communist in the proceedings before the commissioner in Victoria who inquired into the activities of the Communist party in that State. The rule of law should apply to all. No person should be declared for political reasons, and denied the right to defend himself. Therefore, we say that the Government should negotiate with the Opposition on this point in an attempt to preserve an important democratic principle.
The Senate was designed to be a house of review, and honorable senators are supposed to represent, in particular, the interests of the States from which they come. On several occasions recently, I have sought information from the Government regarding the allocation of dollars among the States for the importation of goods, and I was told that the information was not available because it was a Treasury secret. What is our democracy coming to ? A little while ago, 1 asked the following question: -
What was the dollar expenditure approved for imports to the respective States, for the six months ended the 31st May, 1950?
I received a reply which contained no figures, but which stated -
Western Australia is not treated any differently from other States. All applications for licences to import goods requiring dollar expenditure are dealt with on the same basis, that is, the degree of essentiality of the goods, the availability of comparable goods from other sources and the dollar resources available. State boundaries are not taken into consideration and in any case American raw materials or goods imported into a particular State are not necessarily consumed within that State.
That is the sort of information supplied to members of what is supposed to be a States House. Members of the Government themselves have impressed upon us that we should remember that we are supposed to represent State -interests. Firms in the eastern States are receiving dollar allocations to import New Holland haymowers from the United States of America. Firms in Western Australia have been attempting for years to get these machines, but have been successful in getting only a few. The American firm that manufactures them is quite prepared to export directly to Western Australia, but the Treasury will give dollar credits only to the importing firms in the eastern States. Western Press Limited, in Perth, has had difficulty in getting sufficient newsprint. It is not a member of the combine that had big contracts with Baltic countries, but it received an allocation of dollars to import newsprint from Canada. It has established a pa.per mill in Tasmania and has achieved excellentresults with that project. However, the output of the mill is not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the company, and it has appealed to the Government for an interim allocation of dollar credits so that it can purchase Canadian newsprint until the factory in Tasmania is producing enough paper to meet its needs. The paper cannot be manufactured in Western Australia because of the lack of appropriate types of timber. But the Government, which talks so much about protecting Australian business undertakings, refuses to give a satisfactory reply. The only assurance that it has given is that the Prime Minister will make an announcement when and if it decides to release any information on the subject. The Senate should do everything that lies within its power to ensure that dollar quotas for the purchase of essential materials should not be granted only to companies in the eastern States. The business man in Western Australia, isolated from the more populous States, has to fight the importers in order to get an occasional handout. Most importers in the eastern States do not want to do business with Western Australian firms because they have excellent markets for their goods almost at their doorsteps. Frequently they are able to get better prices in the east than they could obtain in the west, and, at the same time, they are not obliged to go to the trouble of making freight arrangements, dealing with agents, arranging for insurance, making out invoices and so forth. All honorable senators have a duty to ensure that dollar funds shall be released equitably on a State basis. They should protect the welfare of the firms and the people whom they are supposed to represent. The eastern States have benefited unfairly from this Government’s policy in relation to import licences.
Western Australia’s seaports have been sadly neglected, although recently we have had the greatest possible assistance from the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), who has told us the most encouraging stories that we have heard for many years. I do not blame him for the situation, which has existed for a long time. The Chifley Government planned the establishment of a government line of ships in order to overcome the difficulties that had been caused by failure of the private shipping companies to serve Western Australian ports. It was the old story. Profits were not to be made, so the ships were not sent to Esperance, Albany, Fremantle and Geraldton. Those ports serve a vast hinterland, and an undertaking at Geraldton is earning large amounts in dollars by exporting crayfish tails to the United States of America. What is being done by the Senate to protect State interests in such places? If the Government sincerely believes that this is a States house, it will turn a sympathetic ear to our representations on behalf of the States that we represent. Unfortunately it has failed to do so up to date.
I am gravely concerned about the treatment of technicians and other employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department who are doing valuable work in Western Australia. I cannot overpraise the efficiency of these workers. During the war, when man-power and materials were in seriously short supply, they maintained postal and telegraph services at a standard that defied complaint. The telephone network in Western Australia covers vast areas. Many lines have to be maintained over long distances in order to supply the needs of small communities. People who live in the outback are amongst the nation’s most valuable citizens and they should be provided with the best possible postal and telegraphic services. The shortages of materials from which the department has been suffering for a long time are now being overcome, but this Government is not pressing on with developmental work that ought to be undertaken in Western Australia. Approval has been given for the expenditure of funds to improve depots from which Postal Department technicians operate, but nothing has been done to expedite this important work. The conditions under which these officers are required to work are -deplorable, to say the least.
– How long have conditions been like that?
– They have been bad for a considerable time. Funds have been set aside for essential works, but they have not been expended. At Victoria Park, 40 technicians are provided with a room measuring only 16 feet by 8 feet. They have motor vehicles and the technical equipment that they require for their work, but there is a disgraceful absence of amenities. The line inspector and line foreman, as well as the clerical staff, operate in the room that I have mentioned. The only ordinary amenity provided for them is an electric urn. They have to wash and eat their lunch out of doors. The room is too small to hold them all at meal times even when it rains.
– Did the honorable senator say that 40 employees were required to use that room?
– Yes. Most of them sit about in the garage or underneath one of the motor vehicles during the lunch hour when the weather is wet. The accommodation provided for them was intended originally for two motor vehicles. It has been divided into two parts. One half is set aside for the staff and the other half houses one of the vehicles. Their stores are kept in the open and they have to work in the open. Similar conditions apply at South Perth.
Supporters of the Government often criticize the workers for their alleged unwillingness to work overtime. These workers often work overtime under the most appalling conditions. The postal technicians at South Perth have a very small lunch and change room, a part of which is occupied by office fittings. The washing facilities consist of one bowl outside the building. There is no lavatory accommodation, and when the men work overtime they have to call on the postmaster and ask for permission to use his convenience. These grave disabilities should be removed. Financial provision has been made for the work, and there is no reason why it should not be carried out immediately. I ask the Government to hasten all such undertakings. At Midland Junction, about the same number of men as operate from Victoria Park are accommodated in an old wine shed where grapes were once fermented. These men are required to serve a large area. The wine-making equipment was moved out of the shed and the interior was given a coating of white paint. Then the Postal Department’s equipment was installed and the men are now expected to use it as a lunchroom, storeroom and workroom. There is no artificial lighting. In spite of the grave handicaps to which those men are subjected, they have continued to do their work efficiently and well. Yet the Government criticizes the Australian worker !
– For how long have those conditions existed ?
– For about eighteen months. The shed was bought from Yalumba Wines. Better accommodation was promised and money was set aside for the purpose, but nothing further has been done.
– Then nothing was done by the Chifley Government ?
– Provision for the expenditure was included in the Estimates by the Chifley Government. It is now up to this Government to have the work carried out.
– Did the honorable senator say that nothing was done by the Chifley Government?
– No. Money wa9 appropriated for the work and the Labour Government called for the supply of materials, but this Government has neglected the job. Similar disgraceful conditions exist at Mount Hawthorn, and the position at Subiaco is worse. The men at Subiaco are not provided with a recreation room or even a lunch room. Access to their workroom is gained by an alleyway that is not wide enough to permit comfortable passage for a man of my size. Those are the conditions under which men whom Government supporters criticize are working to the best of their ability. The staffs at Fremantle, Cottesloe and the depot in Brisbanestreet, Perth, are similarly handicapped. I urge the Government to rectify this shocking state of affairs. The men have suffered considerable hardships during the summer months, but their situation will become worse as the coldest period of the winter approaches. If the Government is not prepared to have the work done in the interests of the men, at least it ought to have it undertaken in the interests of efficiency and economy. The installation of proper offices and amenities would effect a saving by the reduction of sick leave alone, and the health of the men and their families would improve considerably. These skilled technicians are worth looking after, not only because such men are scarce, but also because they are willing and efficient workers.
I regret that the proposed appropriation provides only for the bare requirements of essential services. The Government has not made any attempt to finance any of the developmental undertakings that it promised the people that it would initiate. The appropriation will enable the Government only to pay its wages bill. Between now and the time when the budget is presented, nothing further will be done. Prices will continue to spiral, but no action will be taken by the Government. Honorable senators opposite laugh, but they would not laugh if they were on the basic wage. They remind me of what was said by a poet - “ He grinneth a lot, but he is still a rogue “.
I turn now to the position of trainees under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. The question of their conditions and allowances was receiving the attention of the Chifley Government before the last general election. In 1945, trainees received an allowance of £3 15s. a week, and that was subsequently increased by 15 per cent. These young exservicemen and women are being rehabilitated and taught trades so that they may become useful citizens. A tradesman is an asset to the country. They are trying to exist on the miserable pittance that they are getting at the present time - £3 15s. a week. Some of them have wives and children.
– The honorable senator knows that a man and his wife receive more than that.
– I agree that some trainees also receive social service benefits.
– Apart from social services, a trainee with a wife gets more than £3 15s. a week.
– I said that trainees receive £3 15s., plus 15 per cent. I told the Senate that the allowance had been increased by 15 per cent. That was done before this Government came into power. In addition, some of them receive child endowment and other social services, but I point out that they themselves are paying for those social services, or will pay for them in future, by their social services contributions. Social services are paid from the National Welfare Fund, which was established for that purpose. Almost every wage earner contributes to it.
Senator Cooper interjecting,
– Order ! The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) should set an example and refrain from interjecting.
– I do not mind interjections, but I hate hypocrisy.
The Government is asking for supply to enable it to carry on. I believe that the Opposition would be justified in refusing to grant supply to the Government except upon the condition that it did something to solve the urgent problems with which the people of this country are confronted. If’ the Opposition did refuse to grant supply, it would be accepting a big responsibility, but it would perhaps be justified in adopting that course, because the Government has not devoted sufficient attention to the problems that beset this country. When the Opposition asks what the Government proposes to do about spiralling prices and putting value back into the £1, Ministers reply, in effect, “What are you doing about those matters?” The Government is charged with the task of solving those problems, but it is doing nothing about them. Indeed, it is aggravating the position.
I do not say that the measure relating to the imposition of a tariff upon imported rayon materials is not justified, because we all believe that a strong rayon industry should be established in Australia. The position has been thoroughly investigated by the Tariff Board. The Government proposes to impose a duty of ls. 6d. a square yard upon imported rayon. I point out that that duty will be paid, in effect, by the workers. I am the father of five children. I know what it costs to clothe young children, and I know what effect a duty upon rayon would have upon family budgets. I agree that there is some justification for the imposition of a duty upon imported rayon, but I say that the Government should have taken cognizance of the recommendation of the Tariff Board that a subsidy should be paid upon this material, which is used by almost every family in this country. If the Government cannot check spiralling prices ; if it is not prepared to advocate wage increases or to protect the workers in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, for goodness sake let it pay a subsidy upon rayon material, as recommended by the Tariff Board, and in that way relieve, to some degree, the burden upon the men and women of this country who have to bear the brunt of the effects of its actions. If the Government is prepared to protect the rayon industry by means of a tariff, it should be prepared also to protect consumers by means of a subsidy. The public cannot afford to pay higher prices for rayon materials.
The Opposition in this chamber and the Government are in disagreement upon certain measures introduced by the Government. In relation to one measure, the Opposition is fighting for the pre- servation of the rule of law, and in relation to another, for the protection of the workers, but the difference of opinion upon those two measures is not very wide. Honorable senators opposite have accused the Opposition of wasting time. If the Government is sincere and really wants to implement its promises to the people, it should agree to the suggestion that a conference be held to negotiate upon the small points of difference between us upon these measures. It should not adopt the attitude that it wants to “get out from under”. It is adopting a hypocritical attitude.
With regard to land settlement, I could name at least six supporters of the present Government parties who hold large areas of land, some of which they have been requested to make available for settlement by ex-servicemen. It is good arable land that is not being fully utilized. The Government has stated that it wants exservicemen to be settled on the land. If it is sincere, let it ensure that exservicemen shall be given the land that they want, and that the present owners are not using fully. When the lion has made his kill and satisfied his appetite, he leaves the remains of the carcass for other beasts to eat. Let the Government act at least as well as the king of beasts. Let its supporters leave what they cannot use for the smaller men to develop. Let us make the large land-holders disgorge some of their land. Is it the policy of the Gvernment to settle ex-servicemen on the land in the windswept mallee, in places where there are inadequate supplies of water, and in marginal areas where one crop in every three must fail? Does it wish to do what the Mitchell Government did in Western Australia - that is, to drain a swamp and settle returned servicemen on the reclaimed land? I do not believe that there are two of the original settlers still on the Peel Estate. The policy of the Labour party is, and always has been, that the Commonwealth should be given the power to resume good land on which ex-servicemen settlers can earn reasonable incomes. Its policy has always been that land for that purpose should be taken from land-holders who do not require it. What has been the policy of the Liberal party towards the subdivision of large holdings for the purposes of closer settlement ? It has always fought the policy most viciously. That is a matter of history. The Government is unable to obtain land for settlement purposes*. As I mentioned earlier, a former Nationalist premier of Western Australia, Sir James Mitchell, formulated a scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the Peel estate. Did Mr. Boss McLarty, whose property near Pinjarra is one of the richest areas in the State, offer to make some of his land available for that purpose ? Of course he did not! Sir James Mitchell, who is a fine, honorable man, did his best in the circumstances. He is a great Western Australian, and when he ceased to be the Premier of the State the Labour Government recommended to His Majesty his appointment as lieutenant-governor, because we admired him so greatly. I am obliged to point out those matters to Senator Simmonds, who has advocated a policy of land settlement. He should be aware that anti-Labour governments have discouraged it. I hope that he will convince the Liberal party and the Australian Country party about the wisdom of his views, and that he will gain substantial support for them. My friends and I will certainly support him up to the hilt in advocating such a policy.
I appeal to the Government to do some to try to check the prevalent serious inflationary conditions, and to honour its pre-election promise to put value back into the £1. Let it also take action to check rising prices, so that the cost of living shall bear a reasonable relation to wages. The Labour party will support any economic measures that are taken by the Government to achieve those objectives. I also urge the Government to increase the pensions of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. I have a considerable volume of correspondence 1 upon that subject, but I shall not weary the Senate by reading it to-night. However, Mr. Kendrick, who is the secretary of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Soldiers Association in Western Australia, will be pleased to submit to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) irrefutable evidence of cases of definite hardship. Age and invalid pensions and widows’ pensions should also be increased, because they are totally inadequate in view of the rapidly increasing cost of living. If the Government will make provision for those payments, I shall say, “ Well done, my friends. You are trying to give effect to the mandate that you have received from the people “.
I have been disappointed with the Government’s efforts to date to honour its pre-election promises. It has submitted to the Senate bills which contain .principles that are repugnant to the Labour party and, I believe, to the majority of Australians. The Government is playing a mean trick on the workers who, for a number of years, have paid social services contributions to the National Welfare Fund, and are entitled to the benefits of a national health and medical service. The Government will be failing in its duty to them if it does not provide those benefits without delay. If it is prepared to grant our requests in these matters, it will be granted .Supply. I consider that the Senate should withhold Supply in the event of the Government’s failure to do as I have said it should do, although I admit that the majority of honorable senators may not hold that opinion.
– The present fascist Government came into power-
– Listen to the Communist “ stooge “.
– Keep quiet, small change! I repeat that the present fascist Government came into power in this country on the most ridiculous and spurious promises that have ever been known in the political history of Australia. One of the main items of its pre-election propaganda was that it would put value back into the £1. However, not one question that Opposition senators have directed to Ministers in an endeavour to elicit information about the Government’s proposals for honouring that promise has been answered, and Ministers have explained, in a roundabout way that the Government is not responsible for putting value back in the £1. They urge the workers to increase production. It cannot be denied that the present Prime Minister, the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies - I nearly said Herr von Menzies - stated in his policy speech that thu Liberal party and the Australian Country party, if they were returned to office, would put value back into the £’J. The people believed him, and he became the Prime Minister. Since the general election on the 10th December last, the Government has not made an attempt to put value back into the £1, and every inquiry that Opposition senators make about the Government’s intentions to honour that promise meet with evasive replies. As a matter of fact, it has been reported, and the statement has not been denied, that since the general election, ‘the Prime Minister has said that it is the responsibility not of the Government, but of the people, to put value back into the £1. The Government cannot have it both ways. We must be honest about this matter.
– That is rather difficult.
– Honesty at last !
– I hoped that “ Corporal Rankin “ would keep quiet. I read in the press recently that a prominent person in Melbourne had stated that the prices of various commodities in Australia are soaring to a greater height and at a greater rate than those of any other country. I remind the Senate that those increases are occurring under the administration of a government that promised the people during the last general election campaign that it would put value back into the £1. The Government now tells us that it requires the co-operation of the Labour party and of the workers to enable it to give effect to that promise. I shall have something to say about co-operation at a later stage of my speech. When the Commonwealth controlled prices, the economic position of Australia was more stable than was that of any other country in the world. No honorable senators opposite will seriously deny that statement. However, members of the present Government spared no effort to defeat the referendum which the Labour Government had submitted to the people, in which it asked them to authorize the Commonwealth to continue prices control. In those efforts they had the assistance of their friends in big business and the private banks.
– The people defeated the referendum.
– Does not Senator Sandford believe in the people’s voice?
– The people were misled by the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, and their friends, the private banking institutions and big business interests, when they voted against that referendum.
– The people were also misled by ‘the press.
– Yes, they were misled by the organs of propaganda. They were fooled then as they were fooled at the general election on the 10th December last. Honorable senators opposite are not talking so glibly now about a double dissolution, although the Menzies Government has been in office for only six months.
– We are ready.
– Honorable senators opposite know as well as I do that the people of Australia realize that they made a mistake in returning this Government to office. The Chifley Government submitted to the people a proposal to enable the Commonwealth to maintain an effective Australia-wide control of prices, but big business interests and the private banks assisted the Liberal party and the Australian Country party to defeat that referendum.
– When the referendum was defeated, the Chifley Government withdrew the subsidies that had been paid on a number of commodities.
– I advise the honorable senator to go back to school. I speak, of course, in a political sense. The anti-Labour parties, big business and the private banks defeated the prices referendum.
– Did not the people defeat it?
– The Liberal party and the Australian Country party, with the assistance of their wealthy friends, defeated the referendum. They had the audacity to tell the people that six State governments could control prices more effectively than a Commonwealthwide organization could do it.
– There cannot . be prices control while wages continue to rise.
– I advise Senator Maher to return to Blair Athol and mine some coal. Prices control, as administered by the Commonwealth, operated very effectively.
– In combination with wage pegging.
– Prices control, as administered by the Commonwealth, kept the economy of the country at a more stable level than the economy of any other country. Honorable senators opposite and their wealthy business friends must bear the responsibility of having defeated that referendum. What has been the result of prices control as it has been administered by six .State authorities ? In most of the States, and particularly in Victoria, Ministers who were in charge of prices control quickly became known as Ministers in charge of de-control. The result, according to authoritative information, is that prices are rising more rapidly in Australia than in any other country. Yet the Government, gave a definite unequivocal promise to the people to put value back in the £1. There is a chaotic state of affairs at the present time.
– The only way that Labour controlled prices during the war period was by pegging them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! Senator Sandford has the floor. If any honorable senator on the Government side of the chamber wishes to participate in the debate he will be afforded an opportunity to do so. There are altogether too many interjections.
– It will be remembered that the supporters of the present fascist Government, by their propaganda, defeated the referendum on rents and prices.
– I rise to order. Senator Sandford has called the present Government a fascist government. I find that remark offensive, and ask that it be withdrawn. It was a fantastic statement from one who has helped the Communists.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask Senator Sandford to withdraw his remark that the present Government is a fascist government.
– In stating his point of order, Senator Gorton said that I had helped the Communists. In respect of that remark I lodge a counter claim. I withdraw the word “ fascist “. At the time of the referendum on rents and. prices, or shortly after it was defeated, the supporters of the present nazi Gover jim ent-
– I rise to a further point of order. It is apparent that Senator Sandford does not realize the difference between nazi-ism and fascism. As they are synonymous terms, I ask that his statement that the present Government is a nazi government be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- As those terms are in the same category, I ask Senator Sandford to withdraw the expression “ nazi “.
– It is obvious that, as usual, the truth hurts. With apologies to the fascists and the nazis, I withdraw the remark. When I was rudely interrupted, I was about to say that after the referendum was defeated the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Chifley), who was then Prime Minister of this country - the greatest Prime Minister that Australia has ever had - was accused of being at least partly responsible for rises of prices, because he had withdrawn subsidies. Honorable senators opposite still refer to that matter occasionally, but it has been very noticeable that since the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been in power, although requests have been made to him to restore subsidies, he has stated that he will not do so. The arguments that were used against the former Government in this connexion were spurious.
– What about the devaluation of the £1?
– I am glad that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has mentioned that matter, because it is dear to my heart. However, I remind him that there is a sharp difference of opinion about it in the ranks of the present composite Government. I know very well that neither the Prime Minister nor “ Artful Artie “ - I refer to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) - is prepared to even consider the revaluation of the £1.
– I said “ devaluation “.
– The Treasurer will not do it at any cost, and the Prime Minister, who acts at the direction of his bosses outside of the Parliament, will not be allowed to do other than follow instructions. Those right honorable gentlemen know very well that immediately they speak about the revaluation of the £1 there will be an irrevocable split in the composite government, similar to the one that occurred in 1941.
– Labour is likely to have a split over the “ Commos “ now.
– Senator George Rankin apparently chooses not to remember the split to which I referred. In 1940 the parties which now form the Government of this country were associated under different names, although the leaders were the same right honorable gentlemen as those who now lead them. At that time Senator George Rankin was one of the Treasurer’s lieutenants.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I suggest that Senator Sandford should take no further notice of interjections, but should proceed with his address.
– He has not enough brains to do so.
– It is indeed strange that the Australian Country party senators in this chamber are continually interjecting on behalf of the Liberal party. Yet, in Victoria, the supporters of those parties are at one another’s throats. How can such circumstances be reconciled? Does Senator George Rankin support the attitude of Mr. McDonald or that of Mr. Hollway?
– Senator Sandford should be able to answer his own question because of the experience that he has had in connexion with the Lang Labour party and the Australian Labour party.
– I have never been a member of any political party other than the Australian Labour party. However, some honorable senators who support the Government have flitted about from party to party and do not -know where they are at the present time. I again ask who Senator George Rankin is supporting in Victoria?
– I am supporting the Country party.
– I hope that the Attorney-General has noted that Senator George Rankin is against Mr. Hollway. Therefore it is obvious that the Liberal party cannot count on the continued support of the Australian Country party. The honorable senator has made an important admission.
– There are some “ rats “ in the Labour party.
– The Australian Country party is welcome to any deserter of Labour who might be of that mind. However, I have no doubt the Australian Country party would accept any such people as it is anxious to obtain any supporters, whether “ rats “ or anybody else.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! Senator Sandford should get. on with his speech.
– The “ Bendigo bulldozer “ is very pugnacious. The present Government came to office with a blare of trumpets. It was going to do this and that and rectify everything, but now it finds that, for the first time in the political history of Australia, to my knowledge, it, as an anti-Labour Government, faces a hostile majority in this chamber. Since the beginning of this session there have been nothing but squeals by Government senators, and appeals for the co-operation of the Opposition. I stress that the Opposition has a duty to see that hasty legislation is not passed. Had it not been for the Labour majority in this chamber the most repressive and vicious legislation ever dreamed of in an English-speaking country - I refer to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 - would now be on the statutebook of this country in its original form.
Every honorable senator on the Government side of the chamber would have supported it without amendment. When the Prime Minister introduced the measure in the House of Representatives he was very definite and emphatic that he would not accept any amendments.
– That is not true.
– The “ yes men “ opposite would have supported the measure as drafted 100 per cent.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! It is not permissible for an honorable senator to refer to legislation that has just previously been discussed in this chamber.
– I understand that that is finished with, at least for some time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator cannot discuss the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950.
– Despite the definite and unequivocal promise that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made in his policy speech at the recent general election that, if returned to office, an anti-Labour Government would put value back in the fi, prices are continuing to spiral higher and higher. The Government has failed to do anything whatsoever to honour that promise. In addition, the present Government parties included in their election policy speeches definite promises to effect an overall reduction of taxes and to increase pensions of all classes. But the Government parties have not even mentioned those promises since they assumed office. They, also promised to establish a national health scheme, but nothing has been done in that respect either. I am not so surprised at that fact because the “ doleful doctor of disease”, the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) is continuing to retreat before the British Medical Association. Numerous questions have been asked in both Houses about that matter, but no information has been given on behalf of the Government. It would appear to any one of reasonable intelligence that no ground for hope exists that the Government will provide health and medical benefits to which the people are entitled because they have been contributing for many years to a fund that was established to finance such benefits. This Government of many parts - a “bitzer” Government - is not prepared to do anything tangible in that respect. Like all previous anti-Labour go vern ments, it is intent upon selling out to the interests that it represents. For instance, it must meet a huge pay-off to the private banks which financed -the present Government parties during the recent general election campaign. Not even the “Bendigo bulldozer” or the “Hobart howler” can deny that statement.
– I rise to order. I submit, Mr. Deputy President, that every honorable senator should endeavour to maintain the traditional dignity of the Senate. The remarks just made by the honorable senator are out of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator has not raised a point of order. If Senator George Rankin had objected to the remark I should have asked that it be withdrawn. Apparently, that honorable senator does not mind.
– I do not mind what Senator Sandford says because J do not take any notice of imbeciles.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! At the same time, I remind Senator Sandford that he must not reflect upon any other honorable senator.
– I am not reflecting upon, but praising, certain honorable senators.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order !
– Having been successful at the polls because they made the most spurious promises and resorted to the most despicable election tactics that have ever been employed in the history of this country, the present Government parties are now preparing to sell out to the interests that they represent. One of the first steps that the Government took was to introduce a measure to restore board control of the Commonwealth Bank. Although the Commonwealth Bank has functioned with conspicuous success since the previous bank board was abolished in 1945 under legislation passed by the Chifley Government, the first action that the present Government took was to introduce a measure, to place the bank again under the control of a board. The
Labour party is irrevocably opposed to that proposal. The people of Australia remember only too well the misery that was caused throughout the Commonwealth as the result of the dictatorial and merciless policy that the previous bank board under dictation from the private banks, applied during the depression. Yesterday, Senator Guy said that that board had not in any way been responsible for the depression.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order ! As the Commonwealth Bank Bill has not yet been finally disposed of, the honorable senator will not be in order in discussing matters that are covered by it.
– I repeat that since the current sessional period commenced supporters of the Government have done nothing but appeal to the Opposition to co-operate with the Government. The people of Australia realize how fortunate they are in that the Labour party has a majority in this chamber, and, therefore, is able to protect their interests so far as the financial policy of the present Government is concerned. This is the first occasion in the history of the Parliament that an anti-Labour government has been confronted with a hostile majority in the Senate. Supporters of the Government have done nothing but squeal about that fact. But let us recall the time when a Labour government was frustrated by an anti-Labour majority in this chamber. That Government, which was led by Mr. Scullin, had been given a clear mandate from the people to implement a definite policy, yet it was prevented from doing so by anti-Labour senators who did not even know how to spell the word co-operation. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) can tell that story. He was a member of the Senate when the anti-Labour forces recorded their vote against the proposals to provide money to succour the men, women and children of this country during the depression. I appeal to honorable senators opposite now to remember the happenings of the depression when tens of thousands of people of this country suffered deprivation and misery.
Reference has been made by honorable senators opposite to the housing shortage, which is unfortunately most acute. I ask supporters of the Government to consider what the anti-Labour governments that were in office during the depression and since did to remedy the shortage of houses before the war. There was no shortage of building materials in those years, and there was certainly no shortage of labour, which was begging for employment. Did the anti-Labour governments attempt to build houses for the people and to employ some of those who were desperately seeking work? Certainly they did not. It is sheer hypocrisy for supporters of the Government to complain now about thu shortage of housing, which is a legacy of the laisser-faire policy of the reactionary governments of this country before the recent war.
– Then why does not the honorable senator go to the country?
– I can tell honorable senators now of the conditions that obtain to-day in Victoria under the so-called democratic parliament of that State. Senator Gorton, as a Victorian senator, should be the last member of the chamber to interject about going to the country on the basis of democracy. The people of Victoria cannot record a democratic vote for the election of members of the Legislative Council of that State. Senator Gorton supports the Liberal party in Victoria, and he knows that the Legislative Council of that State is the most reactionary parliamentary body in Australia. He knows that only one-third of the electors of Victoria are permitted to vote at an election of members of the Victorian Legislative Council. Is that right ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator must address his remarks to the Chair.
– Senator Gorton knows as well as I do that only one-third of the people of Victoria are permitted to vote at an election of members of the Legislative Council of that State. He also knows that the bank interests- of Victoria precipitated a State election in 1947 because of a measure that had been introduced in this Parliament. Notwithstanding that the legislation introduced by the Chifley Administration was purely a federal matter, “ Sir Bank
Clerk “ leader of the Liberals in the Victorian Legislative Council, forced an election. Because of the propaganda that was disseminated by the reactionary forces against the Labour party’s proposal to nationalize the banks, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party contrived to obtain a majority. After that campaign the respective leaders of those parties were roundly abusing one another, and accusing one another of being nothing more than “ political playboys “.
– I rise to order. I ask for a ruling whether the honorable senator is entitled to refer to a matter that concerns only an election that was held in the State of Victoria.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - No point of order is involved. Senator Sandford may continue.
– Like Senator Gorton, I am proud to represent the State of Victoria in this chamber. However, Mr. Deputy President, I suggest that my remarks were quite in order, because, after all, this House is supposed to defend the rights of the people of the States.
Senator Gorton interjecting,
– Honorable senators opposite talk vociferously about democracy, and cry, “ Why does not the Government go to the country?” However, as soon as we on this side of the Senate point out the real nature of the so-called democratic Parliament of Victoria, they complain and endeavour to solicit the aid of the Chair by taking points of order. When I was interrupted I was referring to the situation in this country during the depression. We must remember the lessons of the past. We have had nothing from the Government but appeals for co-operation. I remind honorable senators of what occurred when the Scullin Government had an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives but was in the minority in the Senate. Notwithstanding the fact that that Government had received a mandate from the people to govern this country the anti-Labour majority in the Senate used the weight of its numbers to frustrate every effort made by the Government to alleviate the distress that then existed in the community. At that time hundreds of thousands of our people lived under appalling conditions. It has been said that those conditions resulted from circumstances over which we had no control, but all reasonable people will agree that although it may not have been possible for the Scullin Government to have completely eradicated the evils that then existed, it could have done much to cushion the effects of the depression if it had received the sympathetic cooperation of the anti-Labour majority in the Senate.
– Why did not the Scullin Government go to the people and tell them so ?
– The honorable senator is again playing the old cracked record. He and his colleagues do not like to listen to a recital of the facts of that unsavoury period in our political history. I do not see any enthusiasm on their part about going to the country now because they realize the truth of the old saying of Abraham Lincoln about fooling the people all the time. The people now realize that they were fooled on the 10th December last and they also realize what it has cost them.
– Tell us something about the position in New South Wales.
– It is very good because a Labour government is still in office in that State. However, the honorable senator would not know much about conditions there because he is tod much concerned about what is happening in New Guinea. The people of New South Wales have been fortunate in that a Labour government has been in office in that State during the last nine years, and, in spite of the most insidious antiLabour propaganda that was ever poured into the ears of the electors in any democratic country,- a Labour government is still in office there. The people of Queensland are also fortunate in being governed by a Labour government. In Victoria, after the fiasco of 1947, when Sir Frank Clarke and his followers in the upper house refused to grant supply, the Cain Labour Government went out of office; but at the recent State general election Labour gained an additional nine seats in the lower house. But for the gerrymandering of the electorates in that State a Labour government would now govern Victoria in its own right.
– What about South A ustralia ?
– A similar state of affairs exists in South Australia where Labour recently gained thirteen seats with 105,000 votes, while the Liberal party, with only 93,000 or 95,000 votes, gained 26 or 27 seats. Senator Mattner is well aware of the position that exists in that State and of the reasons for it. Possibly he took a hand in the redistribution of the electorates which has produced such a result-
– Tell us something about Western Australia.
– Western Australia is a very fine State.
Senator Mattner interjecting,
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I warn Senator Mattner that if he continues to interject, I shall name him. There arc far too many interjections.
– I spent a holiday in Western Australia last year and enjoyed it very much. When I next visit that State I shall ask Senator Robertson to show me some of its beauty spots.
I impress on honorable senators opposite that they must be honest and sincere. They must appreciate the fact that although this Government has introduced some sensational measures it has done nothing tangible to give effect to its pre-election promises to put value back into the £1 and to increase pensions of all kinds, including those paid to war widows and aged and invalid persons. The Government also said that it would reduce the number of public servants. Everything should be done to put value back into the £1 and to improve the lot of those who depend on pensions as a means of subsistence; but the reduction of the Public Service is another matter. I should regard such a move as a sign of stagnation. As a country progresses so must the number of its public servants increase. The Government is well aware that it cannot give effect to its pre-election promises. Indeed, it has no intention of attempting to do so. So far it has only attempted to sell out to the intereststhat put it in office. I realize that I should not be in order in referring to the Commonwealth Rank Bill 1950, so 1 merely say that the Government, in thefirst legislative proposal which it submitted to the Parliament, sought toalter the financial system of this country by placing the Commonwealth Bankunder the control of the private financial oligarchy as was done in the period between the two world wars with such disastrous effects on the economy of this; nation. The Government cannot blame the previous Government for the housing shortage and the shortages of consumer goods that now exist, because for at least 25 years prior to 1941, when anti-Labour governments were in office and there was no scarcity of men and materials, nothing tangible was done to improve the working conditions and the social and economic security of the people. The people of Australia will march forward to real economic and social security only when they again return a Labour governmentin the Commonwealth sphere.
– This is a bill to provide from Consolidated Revenue an appropriation of £29,000,000 in connexion with the government of the country and one of the associated measures that has come to us from the House of Representatives is the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1950-51 which is intended to provide funds until the budget has been dealt with, which will not be until after the Parliament re-assembles. I do not consider that there should be any opposition to these measures. Honorable senators opposite are merely attempting to take political advantage of this debate to spread what they consider to be effective propaganda. They must imagine that the mentality of the people of Australia is somewhat similar to their own if they think that their propaganda to-night is convincing enough to gain one vote for the Labour party.
Senator Cameron had a good deal to say about the fact that people who built houses in the past have no right to charge any more by way of rent than the amount of money that is required for the upkeep of those houses. His proposition, in effect, is that people who slaved: for years to save money and who built houses for other people should get nothing in return. People who have built houses throughout this Commonwealth for renting to other people have worked not only to serve their own interests, but also to develop this great continent of ours and to assist Australia to become a great nation. The opinions expressed by Senator Cameron are characteristic of the mentality of the Labour speakers. Senator Cameron is the man who, twelve months ago, at a big public meeting that was attended by a great number of men who represented the working people of this country, said that the workers should be careful that they did not produce too much, because, if they did. so, the result would be over-production, which would result in a fall in prices and in another economic depression. That statement was made by a man who was completely blind to facts. “When he made it the world was hungry for our products. If we had been able to take advantage of the world’s great need of the goods that we produce we should have been able to pay our war debts with the money that we could have earned overseas. This is one of the countries of the world in which goods can be produced cheaply and abundantly. Is there any other country where a man can produce 15,000 or 16,000 bags of wheat in a season? Is there any other country which can produce steel as cheaply as we can produce it in spite of the fact that the Labour party has advised the workers to slow down? Honorable senators opposite cannot deny that fact.
The Labour party propaganda to the workers has been in favour of a policy of “Slow down production. Cut hours. Refuse to do a decent day’s work for a decent wage”. Senator Cameron said to-day that if I had been a coal-miner I might have been the leader of the coal-miners. I assure him there was one reason why I could not be a ‘leader of the coal-miners, and that is because I was not a traitor. The leaders of the coal-miners have been traitors to this country. They stopped work in the mines when our soldiers were in North Africa. They stopped work later when our men were in New Guinea. In World War I., when our troops were in Palestine, Syria and France, they stopped the trains from bringing munitions from Lithgow. They stopped the ships and did everything they could do to assist Germany. During the last war they did everything they could do in the same direction. The wharf labourers in Sydney did everything they could do to assist our enemies in the north, who were not satisfied to shoot our soldiers decently and cleanly but, as honorable senators know from the information that has come to light in the last few day3, treated them as no decent person would treat a dog. Do not tell me that I could be a leader of that crowd. During the two world wars the people to whom Senator Cameron referred were guilty of traitorous behaviour, not only to Australia but. also to the British Empire and to the decent people of the world. The men of the 9th Division who returned from North Africa during the Pacific crisis in the last war could not go on leave because they had to load munitions and food on the Sydney wharfs, not only for our own troops, but, to our eternal shame, also for our American allies and the British people. What were the wages paid for that work ? Six shillings a day for the soldier, and 9s. 4d. an hour for the wharf labourer. While the soldiers were engaged in that work the wharf labourers sat on the wharfs and watched them doing it.
– Who raised the pay of the soldiers? The Labour Government!
– Tes, but who raised the wharfies’ pay to 9s. 4d. an hour?
– The Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
– Nine and four pence an hour for the wharfies, six “ bob “ a day for the men who fought in the swamps of New Guinea ! The troops received only 6s. a day when they took over the wharfies’ jobs. The honorable senator should not talk about who raised the soldiers’ pay, because the rise was only a miserable, lousy “ bob “ a day. The Labour party, which gave the soldiers that increase, raised the wages of other people to the degree that they were paid a danger-pay rate. Men in the Sydney mud hopper who dumped mud into the sea 2 miles outside the heads and men who served in merchant ships off the south coast of Australia received danger pay. The only danger that they faced was that of falling over the side of the hopper. There was no danger from the enemy. Senator Cameron said that the Army and the workers both had to do the job in the war. They both should have been doing the job, but both did not do it. A lot of very fine men did their utmost, but 1 can tell the Senate that I know of munition factories where night shifts were being worked and where 40 or 50 workers were asleep when they should have been making munitions. [ saw thai; happen myself.
– The honorable senator’s party was in power.
– Th, Labour party was in power. To-day, in spite of the fact that every industry in Australia . requires equipment and steel, wo are short of steel because the worker.Iia ve been advised to go slow.
– The honorable senator is talking about a subject with which he is familiar !
– 1 know that it is impossible to obtain enough steel of our own production and that 250,000 tons of steel has to bc imported this year ,at a cost that is double the Australian price.
– The present Government is importing steel from Japan.
– Why ?
– Because it is cheaper there.
– It is necessary to import steel because we anunable to obtain enough locally to build the homes, bridges, factories and other works that are so necessary.
– A non-Labour government exported pig-iron to Japan before the war.
– I advise the honorable senator to keep quiet about that matter, because Mr. Willcock, the Labour Premier of Western Australia, kicked up a tremendous “ squeal “ because the Menzies Government would not allow the Japanese to come in and work the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound. I have a copy of his speech in my hand. Honorable senators Opposite should read that speech and learn something from it. Had Mr. Willcock had his way, Western Australia, and perhaps the whole of the Commonwealth, would have been overrun by the Japanese.
– A government of which the honorable senator was a supporter authorized the export of pig iron to Japan.
– We were getting in return other goods,, including silk from which Ave made parachutes for the Air Force during the war. I repeat that theLabour Premier of Western Australia”squealed” to high heaven at the verythought that the eastern States should interfere with the development of Western Australia.
– The Menzies Government issued licences for the export of pig iron to Japan.
– If the Labour Government in Western Australia had been allowed to bring the Japanese to Yampi Sound, they would never have been exported, but those of us who were left alive would have been exported to work in the rice fields of Asia. It is true that pig iron was exported from Australia to Japan, but for every ton that was sent from this country, 1,000 was sent from the United States of America. Australia was asked by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States to refrain for as long as possible from antagonizing the Japanese.
– The Menzies Government knew that the Japanese were potential enemies, yet it permitted the export of pig iron to Japan.
– Apparently Mr. Willcock was too big a fool to recognize the Japanese as potential enemies. He claimed that the eastern States were trying to prevent the development of Western Australia. Senator Sandford said that I did not know what I was talking about. I remind him that Iron Duke, with 6,700 tons of steel destined for Melbourne, has been tied up since the 23rd May because of the seamen’s strike in support of Labour’s campaign against the antiCommunist bill. Iron Warrior has been idle since the 2nd June. It has on board about 4,000 tons of steel. Iron Master, with 4,500 tons of steel for Adelaide, has been idle since the 31st May. Other vessels are in the same position. Potatoes are rotting on the wharfs in Tasmania because of the lack of shipping, due to the seamen’s strike. Every State in the Commonwealth is in urgent need of timber for home building. In Queensland, sugar is rotting on the wharfs because of the lack of shipping to carry it to the southern States. Thousands of tons of fruit will be wasted for the same reason. Thousands of motor bodies are awaiting shipment in Adelaide. They are urgently needed in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Once again the reason is the seamen’s strike in support of the Labour party’s opposition to the “ Commo “ bill. The demand for motor bodies is so great that they are being carried overland to Melbourne at fantastic freight charges.
Senator Cooke said that the Chifley Government had kept prices down by prohibiting the export of commodities that were in short supply; but how were prices kept down? They were kept down by pegging wages, directing labour, and forcing primary producers to export their commodities at unprofitable prices. The wheat-growers of Australia were deprived of £80,000,000 in that way. Over the years Labour supporters have indulged in. a lot of anti-British talk. In the early days of the war, they objected to one Australian soldier being sent out of this country, but later they climbed on the band wagon and endeavoured to secure popular support on the cry, “ We have to help good old Britain “.
– Is the honorable senator accusing me of being anti-British?
– I do not think the honorable senator has enough sense to be anti-anything.
– You are just a big mongrel.
– I rise to order. Senator George Rankin has said that we on this side of the chamber have been antiBritish, and are anti-British. I take strong exception to that allegation, and ask that it be withdrawn.
- Senator George Rankin must withdraw the remark to which objection is taken.
– If what I have said has hurt the honorable senator I withdraw it ; but I am sure that, if he reads in Mansard the reports of some of the debates that took place in 1938, his conscience will prick him.
Opposition senators interjecting,
– Order ! I cannot si I here and listen to this continuous crossfire. We are not school children. I ask Senator George Rankin to address the Chair. He has had many years of experience in the Parliament, and should know not to take notice of disorderly interjections.
– Very well. I say, however, that if you, Mr. President, read in Hansard the reports of some of the speeches made by Labour supporters in 1938 and 1939, you will agree that they might well have been made by the Boers at the start of the South African War, or by the Irish rebels in 1916. I repeat that the Chifley Labour Government kept down prices in this country at the expense of our primary producers and of people whose wages were pegged and whose labour was subject to direction.
Senator Cooke also said that this Government was not making land available for settlement by ex-servicemen. I remind him that, although the Government of which he was a supporter held office for five years after the war, it did not make available one block of land in the Northern Territory for such settlement. What has been done by these people who cry to high heaven about monopolies? They have given Vesteys and other great monopolies new leases for periods of 65 years and 40 years of that beautiful country in which, in some cases, they have no interest and could never defend. They have made it impossible to put people in there who could defend it.
– What about the “Brisbane line”?
– The man who was concerned with the “ Brisbane line “ lie is looking for one to hide behind, at the present moment.
When the Country party in Victoria was a government party the Parliament passed an act under which the Government could resume any block of land and any station in Victoria. In many cases the Government made resumptions under very hard conditions and unjustly. It resumed land at the 1940 price. It was able to take the homesteads of people who had settled on land well over 100 years ago, and it ‘ did so in many cases. On most occasions it left them the homestead and a. small area around it. I was a member of the committee of the Country party that drew up the conditions under which the land should be’ resumed. The main trouble was that a Minister named Dedman had the idea that he should direct everything. He had operated unsuccessfully two or three farms which had not been very large - about as large as his mentality - before he became a Minister. He had ako been engaged in scrub-cutting. He was the man who halted the settlement of ex-servicemen in the Murray Valley for two years. He demanded the right to tell these farmers who had fought for five or six years what they should grow, where and how they should grow it, and to whom and at what price their produce was to be sold. I visited the Huon Valley in Tasmania subsequent to the Government’s decision to send agricultural experts there. Those who have been on. the land know the agricultural experts very well. Like Mr. Dedman, most of them are experts because they have failed in their undertakings. They proposed to tell the farmers how to work their land: whether to plough it or not. the date on which they should start ploughing and in what direction they should plough - whether from east to west or from north to south. I suppose that everything was worked out by the signs of the Zodiac. A. bill was passed in the Tasm.an.ian Parliament in regard to this scheme. That is what Mr. Dedman wanted to do.
Wherever production has been controlled by the Government what has happened? A tremendous amount has been produced in one year although there has been no demand for it. The next year a commodity of a different type has been produced. The Government has not brains enough to know what is likely to be in demand. It aims to control every enterprise, as Lane did when he went to South America, where he was given a huge area of beautiful land to which he took people from Australia. His country was going to be the most wonderful the world had seen, but eventually those people had to eat monkeys and wild oranges in order to live and the people of Australia had to send a ship to repatriate them. That is the sort of thing that happens under socialization and complete government control. The idea is so silly that I wonder that people could even think about adopting it.
Honorable senators opposite complained about the Government Whip receiving a fee for a brief that he accepted when he was in Tasmania. I express no opinion on that action, but I do say that the honorable senator was outclassed by Dr. Evatt, who used to be away for ten months of the year, flirtinglike a peacock in the springtime, trying to get votes from nigger republics.
– That is a most cowardly statement.
– It is the truth. He was a member of the Government that refused to allow Australian soldiers to receive decorations for war services yet he received decorations from the “French and the Philipinos. His Government decided that the only Australian who was entitled to receive a foreign decoration was the Minister for External Affairs.
– The honorable senator must be very jealous.
– ! am not so jealous as is the honorable senator who has interjected because I have a few decorations of my own.
Senator Cooke said that the rise in costs had been terrific. It has been. Honorable senators opposite were in power for eight years and are largely responsible for that fact. This Government has to carry the burden that they imposed. They brought about the present position. They encouraged men to loaf and not to do a fair thing. They reduced hours of work.
– Does not the honorable senator agree that there should be a 40-hour working week?
– No. I do not. I believe that if the Government of that time had had any statesmanlike qualities it would have said that any man who was prepared to work for more hours than 40 a week would be paid at the rate of time and a half. The country needs production.
– What has the honorable senator produced?
– I have done more in one year than Senator Harris has done in all his life.
Senator Cooke also made some remarks concerning the necessity for trial by jury. The absolute hypocrisy of his party is beyond belief. Six years ago, when the Northern Territory was completely under Labour control, trial by jury was abolished. I know a man who was tried on a capital charge and whose counsel asked for a jury but the request was refused. I know of another case in which a man was accused of cattle stealing and was refused a trial by jury. The power to refuse trial by jury existed for a period of six years. The majority of men in the Northern Territory are decent men. But when it is proposed that men of the Thornton type, who are traitors to this country, shall be dealt with, honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in another place want different treatment to be accorded to them. Thornton left this country and wanted his wife to leave it on a one-way ticket. If I belonged to the union of which Thornton is a member, I should investigate the state of its funds. Men like Williams and Healy are prepared to destroy this country in the interests of Soviet Russia, a foreign power, because they think that they might secure a highly-placed position in the new order. They are hungry for power. Yet where those men are concerned the Opposition suggests that they should have trial by jury.
– Honorable senators on this side know a number of men who were often hungry when Senator George Ranikn’s friends were in power.
– I know who was in power at the time of the depression. Nearly every State in Australia then had a Labour Premier.
There was also a Labour Prime Minister and his government made such a complete mess of things that it was swept out of office.
– Be truthful, sergeant !
– The honorable senator is lucky in that I am not a sergeant of police. Senator Cooke also complained bitterly about the accommodation in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Western Australia. I have no doubt that there is a tremendous increase of work in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and that accommodation may be cramped, but the worst accommodation in Western Australia is probably that in which the Repatriation Department is housed. Four years ago the Public Works Committee reported on it, and recommended the building of a structure that would have been an asset to Perth, as the conditions in the existing building were foul and it was unfair to expect men to work under them. Many of them were suffering from wounds and the effects of gas. Yet for party political reasons the structure was not built.
– The material was needed for housing.
– No; its construction did not suit certain people, and it was not built.
– The honorable senator is like a snake. He would wriggle out of anything.
– I repeat that the building was not erected because it did not suit certain people to have it erected. In the same city there is a factory in which limbs are made for limbless soldiers.
Honorable senators interjecting,
– Order ! This cross-firing must cease. These constant interruptions are most unseemly. The honorable senator should be able to make his remarks without being interrupted. Surely honorable senators are men of intelligence and can conduct adebate without cross-firing and arguing the point like a couple of children.
– The cross-firing is not coming from me.
– Order ! I point out to Senator George Rankin that it is Iris duty as an honorable senator with much parliamentary experience to address the Chair. If the proceedings of the chamber were being broadcast I do not suppose that either he or other honorable senators would carry on as they are doing. Although the size of the audience is limited, it is an intelligent audience. Honorable senators should respect it and also respect the Chair. I ask the honorable senator to speak directly to the Chair and to proceed with his argument.
– I give all respect to the Chair, but when, honorable senators continually interject it is difficult to refrain from replying. The limbless soldiers’ factory, where maimed men are employed, is a place that would not be allowed to exist in any decent city. No factory would be allowed, to carry on under the conditions that there obtain. If the building recommended had been completed, there would have ‘been ample room for these men to work in and the Repatriation Department would have had adequate space and good conditions. The project was not undertaken for party political reasons. I hope that the present Government will see that it is started as soon as .possible.
Honorable senators on the Opposition side complain that value has not been put back into the fi. How could the Government carry out that policy in view of the attitude adopted towards it by this chamber? No matter what the Government puts forward, it is declared to be wrong by the honorable senators opposite. They say, in effect, that they have the numbers and the country can go to blazes. They have spoken about the rayon subsidy. I do not know whether the subsidy is justified or not, but there are experts in the Department of Trade and Customs who attended to such matters. They have advised the Government of the course that it should follow. The complaints of the Opposition sound very strange coming from people whose cry in the past has always been, “You will not protect our industries “. They use any stick to thrash the other fellow, and will adopt any method if they think it may encourage a section of the community to support them. Possibly the woolgrowers may be upset by the decision. They always have a certain fear of rayon and other substitutes for wool, but they are in such a favorable position to-day that they need not fear any other industry in the world. If they cannot meet competition, that is their own fault. The wool industry should not be in danger for the next 60 years.
Reference has been made to prices control, and one honorable senator on the opposite side suggested that the control of prices in Australia was the best in the world. Under prices control there was . a constant rise in costs. The only way in which prices can be kept within reasonable bounds was by taking from one section of the people the fruits of their labour and expecting them to work at least 56 hours a week, while persons engaged in secondary industries many hours fewer. Those who compose” that section have had to work under most difficult conditions and without such amenities as electricity and modern machinery, which are enjoyed by many other workers. They were expected to produce food and clothes for many persons who were too lazy to work for them. The previous Government kept prices down by such means for a little while, but the inflationary pressure finally burst through and it became hopeless for that Administration to try to control prices any longer.
Although the Chifley Government talked a lot about medical services it is unlikely that many persons in Australia received even one pill under the schemes that it propounded. However, the tax that it imposed to finance it schemes is still in existence to-day. Labour supporters do not take the Australian public into their confidence at all; they depend on lying, hypocritical propaganda to hoodwink it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The budget for 1949-50 presented by the previous Government in September last provided for revenue of f 544,000,000 and expenditure of £579,000,000, the difference of £35,000,000 being chargeable to loan fund. In the light of the revenue and expenditure figures for the ten months ended the 3Cth April, the Estimates have now been revised and whilst any conclusions at this stage must be tentative, they indicate that the budget figures may bc exceeded by ‘about £32,000,000 in respect of revenue and about £27,000,000 in respect of expenditure. Therefore the gap to be financed from loan fund will bc reduced from £35,000,000 to about £30,000,000. In addition to the increase of £32,000,000 in revenue, there are savings on various votes approximating £S,000,000, making a total of £40,000,000, which is being expended on Services for which additional appropriation is required. The necessary provision is made in the present bill” and in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2), which will immediately follow. The principal revenue items in excess of the budget estimates are customs, £17,500,000, excise £2,000,000, and sales tax £6,000,000. These items reflect the effect of a greater volume of imports, rapidly rising incomes and larger business turnover.
With regard to expenditure the budget is continuing to feel the impact of continued, increases both in Australian wages and other costs and in prices of materials and equipment obtained overseas.
In defence services there has been some lag in expenditure due to delays in obtaining equipment. Under War (1939-45) Services, a further payment of £2,800,000 in respect of Australia’s contribution to the International Monetary Fund and Bank was necessary because of the revaluation of sterling. Payment of price stabilization subsidies will exceed the estimate by about £4,000,000 and credits arising from war disposals and recoverable war expenditure will be somewhat less than was anticipated. Provision of about £5,000,000 will be required to cover the increase of the proportion of war expenditure now to be charged to revenue in lieu of loan fund. Postal Department expenditure will exceed the budget estimate by about £8,500,000, this being due in part to wage and salary increases and also to faster deliveries and higher cost of equipment from overseas. This latter factor has necessitated a further advance of £3,000,000 to the stores trust account from which purchases of stores and equipment are initially financed. An appropriation of £11,000,000 for capital works and services will be sought in a separate bill. This amount included an additional £2,500,000 for war service homes that arises from a greater number of homes being made available to applicants and from higher building costs.
Advances under the Coal Industry Act to the Joint Coal Board, which will be expended mainly on the purchase of plant and equipment, will be £2,000,000 above the estimate. This expenditure is recoverable. Further items relate to the purchase of materials and equipment for the Postal Department and the construction programme generally. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
– Order ! Under the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the .Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
.- I moveThat leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws with respect to prices.
I had intended, two clays ago, to submit this motion as a. purely formal matter, and then to proceed to the introduction of the measure and the discussion of the bill at the different stages. The Government, however, wished to prevent a debate on the. important subject of prices, which is the most live one in Australia to-day and is of the utmost consequence to every man, woman and child in the community. It therefore interposed and prevented the motion from being treated as a purely formal one, a course which would have enabled the Opposition to proceed to a further stage of the bill.
– I reluctantly challenge the remarks made by Senator McKenna. The Government had no wish at all to frustrate or impede the honorable senator in the introduction of any measure that he thought fit to introduce, but it is considered that as the passage of the child endowment measure was of real and live importance, and consideration of it had progressed to a certain stage, putting it aside to allow the honorable senator’s bill to be debated could not be justified. Furthermore, there was, and still is, a vital matter before the Senate, namely, the need to deal effectively with the Com.munist menace. The Government wished those matters to be dealt with before others were introduced.
– in reply - The position is not as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) has stated. The motion, had it been treated as a formal one as I proposed, could have been disposed of in just the time it took me to recite its terms. Neither the Communist Party Dissolution Bill nor the Social Services Consolidation Bill would have been held up for more than a few seconds if the Government had agreed to treat the motion as formal, because it could not then have been debated or amended. It is clear that the Government did not want the bill to advance to the stage at which the Opposition could place it before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In my second-reading speech on the Appropriation Bill for ordinary services, I indicated that it would be necessary to seek an additional appropriation of £11,000,000 for capital works and services. This measure will make that appropriation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. - This measure provides for an appropriation of £77,000,Q00 to carry on the necessary, normal services of government, other than capital services, for the first four months of the financial year 1950-51. The amount required may be summarized under the following heads : -
Departments and services -
Provision is made only for the estimated requirements to carry on the essential services on the basis of the provision in the Appropriation Act passed by the Parliament for 1949-50, and the Additional
Estimates for 1949-50 recently presented to the Parliament. The various amounts provided for ordinary services represent, with minor exceptions, approximately nne-third of the 1949-50 appropriations for such services.
The amount of £14,073,000 included for Defence Services provides for expenditure on the post-war defence plan, whilst the amount of £9,459,000 provided for War (1930-45) Services covers expenditure on repatriation and rehabilitation, and other charges that arise out of the last war.
The amount of £16,000,000 for “ Advance to the Treasurer “ is somewhat larger than usual, mainly because of the Government’s decision to continue grants to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act, which expires this month, until new legislation is passed by the Parliament. Provision is also required to enable the payment of special grants to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania to be continued pending the receipt of the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. No provision has been made for any new expenditure and there is no departure from existing policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from, the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This -measure makes provision for an appropriation of £25,000,000 to enable Commonwealth works in progress at the 30th June, 1950, to be continued pending the passing of the budget by the Parliament. The Government has adopted a policy of comprehensive long-range planning for capital works, covering periods of from three to five years, in the defence services and in departments such as Works and Housing, Postmaster-General, and Civil Aviation. In order to permit these programmes to be continued successfully, it is essential that funds be available without interruption for the purchase of materials in advance, both in Australia and overseas, and to ensure continuous employment on the many projects. Therefore, the bill provides for four months’ expenditure on works based approximately on the expenditure programme of £79,000,000 included in the capital works Estimates 1949-50 and the Additional Estimates 1949-50. In accordance with the practice followed in submitting a Supply bill, no provision has been made for any new service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Appropriations totalling £47,371,000 were passed by the Parliament during the financial year 1948-49 to cover capital works and. services under specific items. The actual expenditure was £42,394,703, or £4,976/297 less than the amount appropriated. However, due to requirements which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared, expenditure under certain items showed an increase over the individual amounts appropriated, and it is now necessary to obtain parliamentary approval of these increases. The excess expenditure on the particular items totals £4,387,511, which is spread over the various works items of the departments as is set out in the schedule to the bill. Any further details that may be required will be furnished at a later stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for a supplementary appropriation of £5,053,994 to cover additional expenditure on certain services during the financial year 1948-49. The amounts, as detailed, were expended out of a general appropriation from revenue of £10,000,000 thatwas made available to the Trea surer to make payments which could not be foreseen when the original appropriation was approved by the Parliament! It is now necessary to obtain parliamentary approval to cover the several items of excess of expenditure. Full details of the expenditure for which approval is now sought were shown in the Estimates and Budget Papers for 1949-50. These publications showed the amount voted for 1949-50, together with the actual expenditure for the previous year, which was included for information purposes. Details of the items concerned were also included in the Treasurer’s finance statement for 1948-49, which was tabled at the commencement of this session for the information of honorable senators. The Supplementary Estimates detail the items under which the additional amounts were expended by the various departments.
Expenditure under the various parts of the Estimates is in round figures as follows : -
Further details of the various items of expenditure will be available at a later stage.
– Will the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) tell me why the Parliament is being asked now to appropriate money in respect of expenditure incurred in the financial year ended the 30th June, 1949? Why was not the appropriation made in the year in which the expenditure was incurred ?
– At the commencement of each financial period, a budget is prepared for submission to, and approval by, the Parliament. It provides for the appropriation of large sums of money to be expended for certain purposes. It is not always possible to make an accurate estimate of proposed expenditure. If expenditure upon certain works or services is greater than the sum appropriated for that purpose, it is necessary to obtain parliamentary approval of the extra expenditure. This bill is designed to give parliamentary approval to what are, in effect, discrepancies between estimated and actual expenditure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Rep resentati ves.
Standing and sessional orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
This bill is designed to amend the Tariff Board Act 1921-1947 by altering the basis of remuneration of members of the Tariff Board.
Section S of the principal act, as amended by the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Act 1947, provides that members of the board, other than the chairman, shall be paid at the rate of £7 7s. a sitting, subject to a maximum of £1,750 in any one year. It has become desirable to alter that provision and to substitute a more flexible method of fixing salaries. It is considered that the salaries of the chairman and the other members of the board should be subject to review from time to time in the light of such factors as living costs and the salaries paid to persons holding comparable statutory offices.
The bill provides that the salaries and allowances of the chairman and other members of the board shall be such as the Governor-General determines from time to time, that the salary of a member shall not be reduced during his term of office, and that a member shall be deemed to have vacated his position if he engages in paid employment outside the duties of his office. This emphasizes the full-time nature of the work. If the bill be passed, it is the Government’s intention to recommend to the GovernorGeneral that the chairman and the other members of the board shall receive salaries substantially higher than the remuneration ‘at present provided. This action is necessary to make membership of the board attractive to persons of a calibre equal to the responsibilities involved.
The opportunity has been taken to repeal section 15a of the principal act, which refers to the Director of Economic Research. This office was provided for by the Economic Research Act of 1929, but has never been filled. It is the Government’s intention to repeal the act. It is proposed that the bill shall operate on and from the 21st March, 1950 - the day from which most of the present appointments to the board were dated.
I commend the bill to the favorable attention of honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– by leave - To-day is the last occasion on which a very much liked and highly respected colleague, Senator R. E. Clothier, will take his seat in this chamber. He and another of our colleagues, Senator C. A. Lamp, will retire from the Senate on the 30th June. It is very refreshing that the hurly-burly and stress and strain of active parliamentary life does not prevent the making and cementing of friendships. Those of us who have been privileged to know Senators Clothier and Lamp have an abiding affection and regard for them. We remember their cheerful companionship and the many courtesies that they have extended to us.
Senator Clothier has the advantage of having spent a considerable time in Queensland. Naturally, that commends him to me. He served as a member of the Western Australian Parliament. He was elected to the Senate in 1937, and again in 1943. From 1943 onwards he performed the duties of party Whip with a great deal of efficiency. Those honorable senators who were members of the Opposition in this chamber in the last Parliament know that he also performed them with a great deal of consideration for a tiny Opposition.
Senator Lamp was elected to the Senate in 1937 and again in 1943. He was a member of the Repatriation Committee from June, 1942, to January, 1943, a member of the War Expenditure Committee from November, 1941, to July, 1943, and a member of the Public Works Committee from September, 1943, to October, 1949. It was while Se:,r:oi Lamp was the chairman of the Public
Works Committee that I .became most closely associated with him, and regardless of our political views, we appreciate the earnestness,- zeal, enthusiasm and ability with which he applied himself to that position. Although we shall not be seeing those two honorable senators in this chamber, at least for some time, 1 think that I voice the sentiments of all honorable senators who have had the privilege and the pleasure of their companionship when I say that we shall not forget them.
– by leave - I desire, on behalf of the Opposition, to express to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) appreciation of the kindly references that he has made to Senator Clothier and Senator Lamp. I am sure that all honorable senators regret that they are about to leave us. Senator Clothier lias been very close to me while I have been a member of this chamber, and he has done a magnificent job in carrying out the difficult duties of party Whip. Senator Lamp is also a valued colleague. I sincerely regret that we are losing the two honorable senators from this side of the chamber.
– by leave - I desire briefly to support the sentiments that have been expressed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) regarding the retirement from this chamber of Senator Clothier and Senator Lamp. Both honorable senators have had considerable experience here, and I am sure that I express the sentiments of all honorable senators who have been associated with them when I say that they have made firm friends. I, personally, shall lose two good friends when Senator Clothier and Senator Lamp retire. Of course, we have had our political differences, but they have not affected our friendship. Senator Clothier and Senator Lamp have been worthy political opponents, and when they retire, the chamber will lose the services of two excellent men.
– I cannot allow this occasion to pass without saying a few words about our good friends, Senator Lamp and Senator Clothier. I have had the closest personal association with Senator Clothier, and I have found him to be a man among men. Indeed, he is one of nature’s gentlemen. He is highly respected, and he has endeared himself to every member of this Parliament. In the hurly burly of politics, we have our disagreements and our antagonisms, and sometimes bitterness is engendered, but underneath it all, a friendship develops among us that cannot be spoken of too highly. Senator Clothier has endeared himself to every member of the Parliament with whom he has been associated. We deeply regret that the fortunes of political war are taking him from our midst, but I am glad to be able to say that the spirit of the old war horse still breathes in our good friend, because only a few days ago, he informed, me that doubtless an opportunity would soon present itself to enable him ‘to stand again for the Senate. I sincerely hope that, should such an opportunity occur, he will be among us again. We hope that his wish will be fulfilled. I am certain that if it is, he will receive thiwarmest of welcomes on his return here.
– by leave - I thank you, Mr. President, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator ‘O’Sullivan), the Opposition (Senator Ashley) and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) for their kind references to me. I admit that it is unfortunate to have to retire from this chamber, but I should like to say that, during my term as a senator representing Western Australia, I have always endeavoured to do my utmost for Australia, and particularly for my own State. Prom time to time, we may feel a little disappointed and even hurt by remarks that are made in the heat of the political conflict, but I have always tried to work hand in hand with the Government and the Opposition. I well remember that when I was elected as Government Whip, I had some very trying experiences. Supporters of the Government and of the Opposition in this chamber were approximately equal in numbers, but partly through luck and shrewdness and partly as the result of the education that I had gained as Whip in the Parliament of Western Australia, I was able to assist the Labour party to achieve its objective of carrying a bill relating ‘to the coalmining industry by one vote, after a member of my party had been “ shanghaied “. L do not propose to discuss that incident now. but I could tell a long and interesting story about it. I am proud to say that while I have been in turn, Government Whip and Opposition Whip, I have not lost a division. 1 think that I hold the record for regular attendance in the Senate during the twelve years that I have been a member of the chamber. With the exception of ten days when I was absent because I had undergone an operation, I have attended every meeting of the Senate.
The President mentioned that I had expressed the intention to seek re-election to the Parliament. I do not know yet whether I shall stand for the Senate or for the House of “Representatives. Do not think for one moment that, although I am getting on in years, I shall rust away in seclusion. There is still a lot of fight in me, and a keen desire to help my country. The Minister for Trade and Customs recalled that I belonged originally to Brisbane. When I was endeavouring to enliven a meeting in that city on one occasion, I “ picked on “ Senator Critchley who was present, and he retaliated by saying, “You could not make a living in Queensland and, therefore, you had to migrate to Western Australia”. I thank honorable senators, for the kindnesses that they have shown to me. Best assured that, although I shall leave the spotlight for a while, I shall not rust away, as some men who are advancing in years are inclined to do. I shall be back in Canberra for a trip to see how things ave progressing here. If there is a double dissolution, I shall again be in the hunt. I shall never forget the friends that I have made in this chamber, including the unfortunate ones who were defeated at the last general election. I deeply sympathize with them, because I have experienced defeat in a State election, but I came up smiling. I have beaten two tough men in the past, and I may beat another tough man in the future.
– I have received the following message from the House of Representatives : -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act tei provide for the Dissolution of the Australian Communist Party and of other Communist Organizations, to disqualify Communists from holding certain Offices, and for purposes connected therewith “, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives insists on the amendments made by the House on amendments Nos. 7 and Ki of the Senate, which have been disagreed to by the Senate, and insists on disagreeing to amendments Nos- 2, 3, C. 8, 10, 11, 15, 1.7, 20. 21, 22 and 28 made and insisted upon by the Senate, as shown in the annexed Schedule.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration of the bill in respect of the said amendments.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
– I move -
That the amendment of the House of Representatives upon Senate’s amendment No. 7 ( nidi- page 4557 ) be now agreed to.
.- -On behalf of the Opposition I oppose the amendment. I do not propose to speak at any great length upon the motion that is before the Senate because the subject of the amendment has been debated very thoroughly and very completely in this chamber already. I wish to draw attention to portions of the policy speech of the present Government that was delivered on the 10th November last in Melbourne. The bill, incorporating the amendments now under discussion, gives effect to every point that was then put up by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of this country to the electors of Australia.
– That is the honorable senator’s interpretation.
– In addition to being my interpretation, I suggest that it i?. also the interpretation that every reasonable person in Australia would put upon it. A number of definite undertakings were made in that policy speech upon which I shall comment. The first undertaking reads -
The Communist Party will be declared subversive and unlawful, and dissolved. A receiver will be appointed to deal with its assets.
The bill, as now amended by the. Senate, allows that to be done.
– That was in its original form.
– That provision remains completely unimpaired. The next undertaking reads -
Subject to appeal, the Attorney-General will be empowered to declare other bodies substantially Communist; to follow the party into any new form and attach illegality to that new association.
So far as the description of organizations is concerned, the provision is now. in the very form suggested by the Government itself. There is a difference between the Government and the Opposition whether the full meaning has been given to the words “ subject to appeal “. The Opposition claims that only the amendments suggested by the Opposition, and now incorporated in the measure, will give effect to the Government’s own pledge about the use of the words “ subject to appeal “. The next undertaking reads -
No person now a member of the Communist Party shall be employed or paid a fee by the Commonwealth; nor shall any such person be eligible for any office in a registered industrial organization.
There was also a promise that the laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities would be reviewed and strengthened. They may have been reviewed, but they have not been strengthened. That is one pledge that has not been honoured. It is not before us in this measure.
– It does not pretend to be. The Government has been in office only six months. There is plenty of time.
– The following undertaking was made in that connexion : -
Conviction under such laws will disqualify from employment under the Crown or from office in a registered organization.
The bill permits people who are Communists to be so declared, subject to an appeal to a court of law to fully investigate the allegation. They may not occupy offices of the type described in the policy speech. The Opposition has given to the
Government the fullest opportunity to implement its policy. There is not one hint in the whole of the policy speech of the type of measure that the Government has introduced into this chamber.
– That is nonsense.
– I invite the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to show anybody where, in that policy speech, there is one word which suggests that there will be a declaration of an organization or an individual under two counts, the first of which is that it is Communist infested, if it is an organization, or that he is a Communist, if it referred to an individual, and that the Government would in addition declare that the organization or the person is prejudicial to security, with all the serious implications of that allegation.
– That . is a limiting element.
– I should hate the Minister to be generous to me. I cannot imagine any more serious allegation that could be made against any body of persons or an individual.
– Would the honorable senator prefer them to be sacked straight out without a declaration?
– The one thing that the Opposition has done to this measure is to write into it processes of law, to allow full access for both individuals and organizations to the courts of the land. If, at this stage, after all that has been said by the Opposition in this chamber and also outside the Parliament, the Government still adheres to the position that it originally took up in this matter, the Opposition can only conclude that the Government does not favour democratic processes, and that it lacks respect for the rule of law. Frankly, I believe that the Government is using this opportunity to escape the honouring of its election promises.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) fi 1.27]. - (Senator McKenna’s remarks have not broken any new ground. No point raised by him has not been effectively, trenchantly, and adequately dealt with by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer). I see no point at all in delaying the Senate.
Question put -
That the amendment of the House of Representatives upon Senate’s amendment No. 7 (vide page 4557) be now agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. Nicholls.)
Majority . . . . 6
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the amendment of the House of Representatives upon Senate’s amendment No. 16 ( vide page 4548) be now agreed to.
– The comment that I made with respect to the Senate’s amendment No. 7 applies to this amendment. I do not propose to add to what I said previously. The Opposition will oppose the motion.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. Nicholls.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the committee do not now insist on the amendments of the Senate Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 28 (vide page 4539) to which the House of Representatives has insisted on disagreeing.
– The Opposition will oppose the motion.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. Nicholls.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had disagreed to the amendments made by the Senate, for the reasons shown in the annexed schedule.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
– I move -
That the committee do not insist on the amendments of the Senate(vide page 4809) disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
I shall not speak on the motion at length because the message embraces a large number of amendments that were discussed exhaustively a day or so ago.
– I oppose the motion.
Question put -
That the committee do not insist on the amendments of the Senate (vide page 4809) disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. Nicholls.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to-
That Senators Ashley, Cooke and McKenna, be appointed a committee to draw up reasons for the Senate insisting on its amendments to which the House has disagreed.
– On behalf of the committee I bring up the following report: -
Reason of the Senate for insisting on its amendments to which the Mouse has disagreed -
Because the proposal to vest control of the Commonwealth Bank in a board the personnel of which will include persons who are not officers of the bank or of the Public Service of the Commonwealth is not in the national interest. and move -
That the reason be adopted.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received the following message from the House of Representatives : -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the bill intituled “A Bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the ‘ Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-1949 ‘ relating to Child Endowment “, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives does not agree to the request of the Senate for a conference on .amendment No. 1 of the House to which the Senate insists on disagreeing, as shown in the annexed schedule.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration of the bill by the Senate in respect of the said amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
[11.56 J. - I move -
That the committee now agrees to amendment No. 1 (nide page 435S) insisted on by the House of Representatives.
– The difference between the Opposition and the Government on this matter has now been reduced to a very small compass. It concerns one clause of the bill and one amendment only which was inserted by the Opposition with a desire to safeguard the basic wage and to protect those who work under various wage awards in Australia. There are no politics in the amendment. We were encouraged to believe that the Government would accept at least something in the nature of the declaration we seek when we listened to the speech of the Minister during the second-reading debate, portions of which he quoted with the complete approval of the Senate in course of the committee debate. Referring to the Government, the Minister said - lt holds the view that it is essential that those parents with young families should receive some amount– -
I ask honorable senators particularly to note these words - over and above the breadwinner’s earnings if they are to share justly in rising standards of living.
It is perfectly clear that the Government had in mind that if justice is to be done the grant of child endowment for the first child must be over and above the breadwinner’s earnings. We would be content to regard that statement as a declaration’ and write it into the bill. Again quoting in the committee portions of his second-reading speech the Minister used the phrase “ in addition to wages earned “ many times. He said -
It contemplates that, in addition to wages earned, or other income enjoyed, a family which has one child under 10 years should receive 5s. a week . . .
Indeed, the phrase, “ in addition to wages earned “ appears three times in about six lines of the Hansard report of his speech.
– The endowment should be in addition to wages.
– The honorable senator is very dogmatic about the matter, but the Government has frequently told us how closely intertwined are the basic wage and child endowment, and how careful it is not to seek to interfere in any shape or form with the court. If the honorable senator has any doubt about that let him read the further statement by the Minister himself that the Government “ holds that view, irrespective of the amount of the basic wage determined, and the methods by which the court may reach its determination”.
I now pass from what the Minister himself said to the terms of the amendment moved by the Opposition. That amendment was a simple declaration of intention and read as follows : -
It is hereby declared to be the intention - that endowment payable under this Part is intended to be and is a social service for the welfare of children of all members of the community . . .
Does any honorable senator disagree witu that statement? The amendment continued -
I nsk seriously whether any honorable senator disagrees with any of those statements as a statement of intention by the Parliament. The statements are in complete agreement not only with what w* on. this side of the House have stated, but also with the views expressed by the Government itself on this most important matter. The amendment continued - that the benefit of the endowment is not to be defeated or reduced by fixing the salary or wages of employees at rates less than the rates which would be paid if the endowment were not payable.
I think that I erred in reading the earlier part of the declaration when I used the words “ hereby declared to be the intention “. The words “ to be the intention “ were my own words written in pencil on my copy of the amendment and I inadvertently quoted them as a possible alternative. I think that these words brought some criticism from the Attorney-General himself when he claimed that the latter portion of that declaration might have the effect of a direction instead of being purely declaratory in intention. I suggest that if there is any difficulty between the Government and the Opposition in that matter it could be overcome by adding the words that I read out inadvertently and prematurely so that section 94a would commence as follows : -
It is hereby declared to be the intention that endowment … is a social service . . ‘ .
The words “ is intended to be and “ which occur later would then be deleted. That provision would then be purely declaratory of the intention of this Parliament. It would not be a direction. If the Government is clear in the matter of giving no direction to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or other tribunals, and having regard to the fears as to the validity of that provision and its severability in the event of its being declared invalid, the Opposition is prepared to put a proposal to the Government and say, “Let us leave the direction out of account altogether Then the question of the validity of m direction would not arise. I do not think that the Attorney-General contests that point. He certainly did not contest it when I put it to the Senate this afternoon. In the absence, therefore, of a declaration to the contrary by the Government we can take it that there can be no question of the validity of the provision if it is purely declaratory and, of course, if that is the case-
– I am not prepared to concede that.
– All I say to the Attorney-General is that I put that point this afternoon to the Senate and he did not contest it in any way although I developed the theme to some extent. I consider that it is a reasonable assumption that it went by the board.
– It did not.
– Whether the Attorney-General concedes it or not I invite him to say how there can be any question of the validity of a purely declaratory statement of the intention of the Parliament. There could be no issue about its validity. If that is the case no question of its severability would arise. It is a mere statement of the intention of this Parliament and is in accord with the Government’s own view and at one with the theme of the Opposion’s argument. For what is it designed? It is designed to protect the basic wage earners of this country. I agree that it will not bind the court, but I remind the Senate that down the years judges of the court themselves have deplored and bemoaned the fact that they had received no guidance from this National Parliament in connexion with the basic wage. Here is the perfect opportunity that will enable the Government not merely to say in the course of debates in this House that it desires to raise standards of living, but to declare it in the only way that the court will recognize. There is an alternative. It could authorize its counsel to go before the court and read what the Minister said in his second speech and say to the court, “ It is the considered view of the Australian Government that child endowment should be in addition to whatever wage is declared by the court “. That is one very simple test for the Government. Will it do so?
– Of course it would be, and must be, in addition to any wage declared by the court.
– Oh, yes; but the Attorney-General is now playing with words.
– I am not playing with words. That is what the honorable senator said.
– What we are discussing is whether the court is, or is not, to take the payment of child endowment into consideration when, it is determining the basic wage. If the court does take it into consideration, then it is not in addition to the wage. I am not talking technicalities for the sake of technicalities. Let us face the reality that if the court does take the payment of child endowment into account in fixing the basic wage, whether it fails to award a bigger amount than it otherwise would, or reduces the basic wage, it unquestionably is taking it into account and doing what I said a moment ago. I put it to the Government that it has an obligation and a duty in this matter. I asked again and again this afternoon whether the Government is prepared to instruct its counsel in the Arbitration Court to put to the court the Government’s view that child endowment should be separate and apart and should not be taken into account by the court when it is determining the basic wage. I asked that question time and time again during the debate at the committee stage, and again this afternoon, and I did not receive an . answer. I am informed that the AttorneyGeneral has said “ No “ to my question. Why should not a government that has made a declaration of the kind made by the Minister in charge of the bill make such a declaration in this chamber ? Why should there be any hesitation about putting to the court the view that it has already expressed? Why should it have the slightest hesitation about writing that view into the bill itself? This issue is- squarely before the court because threeState governments and an organization of employers are asking the court that child endowment, and, indeed, all other social services, be taken into account by the court when it is determining the basic wage.
– Other people are saying that they should not be.
– That is so. I say that this issue is squarely before the court and I ask what this Government, which is responsible for the economy of this country, is going to do? Will it express to the court any view on this vastly important matter or will it adopt a perfectly negative attitude? Is it suffering from lack of sufficient courage to express a view? Surely ,the members of the Government have an opinion on a matter of such vital importance. To the bread-winners of this country it is a matter of the greatest moment. I repeat the warning that I have given more than once to the Government on behalf of the Opposition that it will be in great difficulties over this matter unless it recognizes the dangers and does all it can to safeguard the basic wage and the basic wage earners of this country. I leave the matter there for the moment. I have made it completely clear that the Opposition is, at this stage, prepared to waive the direction to the courts that it originally sought to include in its amendment. We invite the Government to meet us by honouring what its spokesmen have said in this chamber in agreement with the Opposition. I repeat my undertaking that, if there is any difficulty about the exact wording of the declaration, I am prepared to agree to any reasonable variation that will make it plainly and clearly declaratory, and in no sense a direction to the - courts of this country.
Friday, 28 June 1950
– I submit with respect that on this particular measure the Opposition has lost all sense of perspective. A responsible government has placed this legislation before the Parliament in accordance with the terms of its policy speech. The measure has flitted to and fro between the two Houses of the Parliament. To-night Senator McKenna has used phrases such as, “ This is to be a test of the Government “, “ Are we to regard the Government as adamant ? “, “ The Government has an obligation and a duty “, and “ The Government has an opportunity to honour what it said in its policy speech “. The debate on the bill has been long and bitter, and most extravagant statements have been made by the Opposition about the Government. Honorable senators opposite have stated, for instance, that, in introducing this measure, the Government is trying to undermine the basic wage.
– That is correct.
– Hear, hear!
– We hear that charge repeated now. We are the Government of Australia, even though we do not have a majority in this chamber. This measure represents a great social reform for which thousands of members of the Liberal party have agitated and worked for five years. A Liberal government has come to power and has brought the measure before the Parliament in the form designed best to protect the interests of those who will benefit from it. I withdraw not one word of my second-reading speech. We stand by and believe all that is in that speech. In no circumstances shall we permit the passage of this legislation in a form in which we have not complete confidence. If we are to receive the approbation for bringing this benefit to the people, we shall shoulder- the responsibility of ensuring that its form shall be correct. The Government will not be put in a position in which its major legislative measures will become the subject of continual wrangles and arguments in the law courts. What we do, please God, we shall do properly and do once and for all. That, I believe, will be the result achieved by insisting
Upon the passage of this measure as originally drafted. I hope that the bill will be accepted in its present form.
– The House of Representatives has rejected the request, not of the Government side, or of the Opposition side in this chamber, but of the Senate itself, for a conference on a matter that is of the greatest importance to the welfare of wage-earners. By so doing, the House of Representatives has shown a grave discourtesy to this chamber. The Opposition in the Senate has done its best to convince the Government of the need for some direction, or at least some declaration of this kind. The Minister’s statement that the Government does not want legislation that will be the subject of wrangles in the law courts is a vain hope. While there is a Commonwealth Constitution, no law is safe from attack, and I venture to say that no draftsman can, with complete confidence, draft a bill that will not be subject to attack. Far from fearing wrangles in the law courts, the Government should not hestitate to ascertain the limits of the various powers contained in the Constitution. If the validity of a direction to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, based on the Commonwealth’s power to provide child endowment, and to do anything incidental to the exercise of that power, were tested in the High Court, light would be thrown on the scope of various heads of power in the Constitution in which the Minister himself should be particularly interested. In effect, the High Court, in its judgment, would tell the Minister and this Parliament a great deal about powers relating to such matters as medical and dental services, pharmaceutical benefits and family allowances. I do not think that the Minister would have anything to fear from court proceedings, because they would show the limits of some of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers. The Opposition’s suggestion that the amendment be confined to a mere declaration of intention, in line with the Minister’s statements and the Government’s own view is reasonable and should be accepted. The Minister has not replied to my proposal that counsel for the Commonwealth in the basic wage case should be instructed to place the Government’s view before the court. Perhaps he will be prepared to give me an answer now. I ask him whether the Government is prepared to instruct its counsel to put to the court its view that child endowment should notbe taken into account in determining the basic wage. Will the Minister answer “ Yes “ or “No” to that question?
– I am not prepared toanswer either “ Yes “ or ‘”’ No “. That is a matter for determination by the Government at the appropriate time.
– Surely the appropriate time is now. The misgivings of the people of Australia would be allayed by such an assurance. The trade union movement of this country is most insistent that whatever safeguards are possible should be provided. I do not know whether the Government lives in a vacuum, , but any one in touch with the trade union movement knows that it is pressing for these safeguards. The Opposition has done its best to convince the Government. If the Government is going to , be adamant upon this point, in the interests of the beneficiaries under this bill the Opposition will not record a vote against the motion now -before the Chair, but even at this late stage I invite the Government to consider the declaration that I have put before it. If the Government does not feel inclined to accept that declaration in the form that the Opposition has worded it, let it make some variation of that form and then the bill will be passed with the approval of the Government and the Opposition and will establish safeguards for the workers of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in clause 2, after the word “ shall “ the words “ be deemed to have “ be inserted.
This is a consequential amendment.
– The Opposition has had no notice of this amendment. I should like the honorable senator to give the Senate some explanation of the alteration.
– I wish that all the questions that the honorable senator has addressed to me in recent weeks had been as easy to answer as the one which he now asks.
The bill, as originally drafted, provided that child endowment payments for the first child should take effect on the 19th June. The clause says -
This act shall come into operation on the nineteenth day of , June, One thousand nine hundred and fifty. ‘
The present date is subsequent to the 19th June and in order to make the clause effective it is desired to alter the wording. Instead of saying that thebill “ shall come into operation “ it is desired to use the words “ shall be deemed to have come into operation “.
– Does the honorable senator say that that is the only reason for the amendment and that the Government has no eye on future events?
– I not only have no eye on future events, but, in my innocence, I do not know what motivates the honorable senator’s question.
– If that is so, I absolve the honorable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the date on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Sitting suspended from 12.27 to 1.38 a.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to the consequential amendment made by the Senate in clause 2 of this bill.
THE PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown). - I have received the following message from the House of Representatives : -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate thebill intituled “a bill for an act to repeal the ‘Banking Act 1947-1948’ and to amend the ‘ Commonwealth Bank Act 1945- 1948 “, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives insists on disagreeing to amendments Nos. 1 to 11 made and insisted upon by the Senate as shown in the annexed schedule. The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration of the bill in respect of the said amendments.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the message be considered in committee of the whole forthwith.
Amendment (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the word “ forthwith “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “during the next sittings of the Parliament “.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be left out (Senator Ashley’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President -Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -
That the words proposed to be inserted, be inserted.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– As the Parliament is about to go into recess for approximately three months, I am compelled to bring again to the notice of the Senate what I believe to he an injustice. Dr. P. R. James, who was employed at the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, was dismissed from his employment. He is a brilliant medical practitioner. He graduated as a bachelor of medicine and a bachelor of surgery in 1941. He served overseas for six and a. half years. He was employed at the Heidelberg hospital as a medical officer for four years. Then he received a letter from the medical superintendent of the hospital which stated that the Deputy Commissioner had instructed the medical superintendent to dispense with his services, and a letter from the Public Service Commissioner, Mr. Dunk, stating that the Repatriation Department had dispensed with his services. Dr. James wrote twice to the department, but did not receive a reply to his letters. He wanted to learn why he had been dismissed.
I told the Senate on Wednesday that Dr. James had informed me that he had not been paid for his pro rata leave. When a public servant is dismissed in circumstances such as those to which I have referred and is not paid for his pro rata leave, it means that there is something against him. The failure to pay him is in the nature of a black mark. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator
Cooper) informed the Senate that Dr. James had been paid for his pro rata leave. I communicated with Dr. James and informed him of what the Minister had said. To-day, I received the following telegram from him : -
I definitely did not receive pay for pro rata leave.
I also informed Dr. James that there was a rumour that he was a member of the Communist party and a Communist. I asked him to advise me of the position, because the rumour might have been used as an excuse for his dismissal. He stated in the telegram that he has never been a member of the Communist party.
– Is he a member of the Australian Peace Council?
– I believe he is. He is also a member of the Democratic League. He also said in his telegram -
Last night two security police attempted to search my home without a warrant.
Because he has been dismissed in these circumstances, a stigma has attached to him; so much so, that now the security police apparently believe they have the right to search his home. The Minister for Repatriation is a very just man who occupies a very responsible position.
– Correct both times.
– We look to the Minister to use his prerogative to ensure that justice shall be done to ex-servicemen and to the employees of the Repatriation Department. He knew that the Senate would rise to-night, but he made no attempt to answer the question.
– We did not know that the Senate would rise to-night.
– I asked the question on the 14th June. Eight days have elapsed, and I have not received a reply. The Minister could have obtained the information over the telephone in two hours, but he has been procrastinating. Believing that he is an honest and just man, I appealed to his sense of fairness for the purpose of endeavouring to have the stigma cleared from the name of Dr. James. I urged the Minister to set up a board of inquiry in order to afford the doctor an opportunity to answer any charge that might be laid against him. The Minister stated that he would not appoint such a board. On the 14th June, I asked him to inform the Senate of the reasons for the dismissal of Dr. James. He has not replied to that question. In my opinion Dr. James is suffering, not only victimization, but also gross persecution, particularly in view of the fact that the security police have attempted to search his home. He has served his country well in the armed forces. He is a brilliant doctor. The patients and his fellow doctors have confidence in him. Another factor which should be considered is that the Repatriation Department is short of doctors, and, therefore, his dismissal will be at the expense of the patients until he can be replaced. Is he to be deprived of his livelihood in the Public Service? Are patients to be deprived of the benefits of his skill, care and attention simply because he, perhaps, attended meetings of the Australian Peace Council or something else? It is ridiculous. The Minister should give the Senate the reasons for the dismissal of Dr. James, because in the absence of such reasons, the people of Australia can only believe that he is the victim of persecution and victimization.
– I desire to refer to the arrangements that are made for the preparation of refreshments, or supper as we call it, when the Senate remains in session until a late hour. Shortly before midnight, I was having a cup of tea in the refreshment-rooms when somebody informed the attendants that this chamber would sit late, and that supper would have to be provided. Most honorable senators are aware of the difficulties that the Secretary of the J Joint House Department, Mr. Loof, and the manager of the refreshment-rooms have experienced in retaining staff to serve the additional number of members this year. I realize that it was probably through an oversight that the manager of the refreshmentrooms was not informed that the Senate would sit late. That could occur under any administration. But I think that some one should be given the responsibility to make the position clear to the staff. Many people do not realize that immediately the Parliament goes into recess, the employees of the refreshment-rooms do not go back to “ easy street “, but are dismissed. They are only casual employees, and, during the session, they work for long periods. I appeal to you, Mr. President, the Minister for Trade and Customs (‘Senator O’Sullivan) or to the person who is responsible, to ensure that in future, if it is expected that the Senate or the House of Representatives will sit after midnight, such an intimation shall be conveyed to the officer in charge of the refreshment-rooms in order that the necessary arrangements may be conveniently made. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) may laugh, but I assure him that if to-morrow had been a sitting day we should have been without staff in the refreshment-rooms. Whilst, perhaps, that would not be a serious matter so far as the Minister is concerned, it would have been very serious indeed for the management. I did not make my appeal on political lines, but merely pointed out that a mistake had been made. I think that it is quite wrong for the Minister to laugh and make light of the matter.
– The Government did not know that the Opposition was going to climb clown until almost half-past ten to-night.
– I thought that that would be the excuse. The Government is mean enough to use any excuse whatever to get itself out of trouble. The position was clear long before five minutes to midnight, that both Houses of the Parliament would be sitting after midnight. The refreshment-room staff does a marvellous job, and I consider that whenever it is contemplated that either or both Houses of the Parliament shall be sitting beyond midnight, the manager of the parliamentary refreshmentrooms should receive timely notice that supper will be required.
– I regret that the further questions asked by Senator. Morrow in relation to Dr. P. R. James have not yet been answered. When the answers are available they will be posted to him. I remind that honorable senator that there are 23 questions, apart from his, on the notice-paper awaiting answer. I have answered the questions in his first list, but have been unable, I regret, to deal with the second batch.
– I desire to point out an anomaly that exists in relation to taxation, as far as superannuation annuitants are concerned. An annuitant, who also receives a proportion of an age pension, is regarded by the Department of Social Services as an age pensioner, within the meaning of the act. He should be regarded as an age pensioner by the Taxation Branch also. At present that is not so. Frequently the total income of such a person is less than that of an age pensioner. However, the annuitant is required to pay social services contributions, although a person receiving only an age pension is exempt from such tax. I shall cite a specific case that has been brought to my notice. A married person in receipt of an annuity of £305 in addition to £27 as a part of the age pension was called upon to pay social services contributions amounting to £7 17s. Another person, who was in receipt of an annuity of £.156, plus the full age pension for himself and his wife, was exempt from the .payment of social services contributions, although his total income for the year was £377, being £45 more than the firstmentioned annuitant. Those facts are evidence that an anomaly exists. Age pensions, quite properly, are not taxable, and I submit that State pensions also should be exempt from taxation. Surely, the State subsidy to an annuity should be regarded as a pension. In any event, the “ Pension Fund “ is shown as the drawer on the annuitant’s cheque, yet the payment is included as the annuitant’s “personal investment” for purposes of taxation. Something should be done to rectify the anomaly that I have indicated because such an adjustment would provide substantial help to annuitants who are dependent upon superannuation benefits.
– in reply - I endorse Senator Hendrickson’s representations that due consideration should be shown for the needs of members of the staff when the
Senate sits till a late hour. Unfortunately, not being prescient, I had no idea that the Opposition was again going to change its direction in flight. During the course of this sitting it made quite a number of variations in its tactics. It was not until 11.40 p.m. that I had any indication that there would be no chance of the sitting being concluded before midnight, and I then asked that supper be provided for the staff.
-Why was not that instruction given by 11 p.m. at the. latest?
– The Opposition might again have changed its mind after that hour. Ministers in the Senate are placed in an awkward position when they have no means of knowing where the Opposition will next shove them by using its majority in this chamber. Therefore, honorable senators opposite should not growl when their tactics react against themselves. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) could have told me this morning that he was prepared to conclude the sitting by 6 p.m. Honorable senators will admit that we could have got through our business more effectively and efficiently by that hour without sacrificing anything except the pride of the Opposition, which eventually crumbled in the dust. However, that is by the way. I assure honorable senators that if at any time I am in a position to give an earlier indication to the staff that the Senate will sit till a late hour, I shall gladly do so. If the Opposition, knowing precisely what the position will be, will indicate to me at a reasonable hour that it intends to prolong the sitting until such an hour that will necessitate the provision of supper for the staff, I shall give directions accordingly. But honorable senators opposite cannot blame the Government for the vagaries of the Opposition; indeed, I and my colleagues are victims of those vagaries.
To-day, Senator Cooke asked me as the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions: -
The Treasurer has supplied the followi ng answers : -
Senator Cooke also asked me as the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions : -
The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : - 1, 2, 3 and 4. These questions relate to matters of Government policy. It is not the practice in this House to make statements on policy in answer to questions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Interior - E. J. Burr.
National Development - J. Hunter.
Norfolk Island - Report for year 1948-49.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinance - 1950 - No. 2 - Matrimonial Causes (Papua) (No. 2).
Senate adjournedat 2.3 a.m. (Friday) to a date and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 June 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19500622_senate_19_208/>.