19th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I more -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Tangney on account of ill-health.
I am sure that all honorable senators regret Senator Tangney’s absence from the chamber. They will be pleased to learn that she is recovering, if somewhat slowly, from the effects of a serious operation. We all hope that her health will be quickly restored and that her cheerful and ‘bright personality will again adorn -the Senate in the _near future.
.. - I associate the members of the Government with the sentiments that have been expressed by Senator Critchley.
Question resolved in .the affirmative.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether it is a fact that the Australian Wheat Board pays freight on wheat to all Australian States except Tasmania? If so, why is this discrimination exercised against one State of the federation?
– I do not think that the honorable senator’s assumption is correct.
– It was published in the newspapers.
– In order to put the matter beyond doubt I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper. I shall then obtain the desired, information from the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and make it available to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon, notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information: -
– Ib the Min;representing the Treasurer aware that since the formation of surf life-saving clubs in Australia more than 40 years ago, the members of those clubs have been responsible for saving more than 70,000 persons from being drowned in the surf? Is he also aware that the sole financial assistance received by these clubs is a grant of £1,000 a year by the Government of New South Wales and that that amount when distributed among the clubs is sufficient to pay for only onehalf pf the cost of a life-saver’s belt and reel for each club? As the Government is expending huge sums on bringing migrants to ‘ this country, will it give urgent consideration to the desirability of making a grant of £20,000 for the purpose of expanding and encouraging these worthy organizations which have done so much excellent work in the past and are continuing to save so many Australian people?
– I am well aware of the excellent work that is done by the surf life-saving clubs of Australia. A similar proposal to that made by the honorable senator has already been placed before the Government. I shall make inquiries and do what I can to expedite a decision by the Government in relation to it.
– Is the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport aware that prior to “World War II. the Commonwealth Railways allowed concession rail fares to school children travelling in parties on educational sporting tours and engaging in interstate sporting and athletic competitions? Is he also aware that prior to the cancellation of these concessions, all interstate school competitions were limited to children under fifteen years of age? As the result of the cancellation of these rail concessions the Australian State Schools Football Council has reduced the age of competitors to under fourteen years, so that they may obtain children’s rates of travel. That action, which was forced on the council because of the financial obligation imposed on parents in paying full adult rates for boys between fourteen and fifteen years of age, has proved disadvantageous to the educational and sporting aspects of these tours. In view of the great benefit of these tours to the Australian youth, and its educational value in giving them a knowledge of their own country, thus enabling them later to enter industry with a greater knowledge and ;i broader outlook, will the Minister take action to restore the concession or, ul tentatively, allow students travelling under the auspices of an “ approved schools amateur sports association”, to travel nt “ child’s “ rate of fare up to the age of sixteen years, which is the statutory school leaving age in the State of Western Australia?
– The question asked by the honorable senator is a long and somewhat difficult one to answer without notice. The matter is one that is dealt with by the railways commissioners of the various States. They will meet again in January or February, 1951, when they will examine the question raised by the honorable senator. I mention that some commissioners were becomming tired of amassing huge losses because of the granting of so many free fares, but if the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper, I shall be pleased to get the details for him.
– In view of the large number of schools throughout Australia which have cadet corps and air training corps sponsored by the Army and the Air Force respectively, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy request that such schools consider the addition of naval cadets to their establishments and, if so, will he make available from the Royal Australian Navy the same assistance a? that given by the other services ?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for the Navy and ask him to confer with the naval authorities in order to decide whether the proposal of the honorable senator is desirable and practicable.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, with the statement that the Department of Civil Aviation has a radio direction-finding station on Lord Howe Island, a place that I visited recently. I understand that the department contemplates expanding its activities there. Will the Minister give serious consideration to supplying electric power for lighting purposes to residents of the island, with the object of earning revenue and improving this delightful place as a tourist resort?
– I ask the honorable senator to place his question upon the notice-paper. It is not possible for Ministers acting for Ministers who are members of the House of Representatives to answer complicated questions without notice. I suggest to the honorable senator that in future he should place questions addressed to Ministers in another place upon the notice-paper, and not waste time by asking them in this chamber.
– The press of Australia, including the Sydney Daily Telegraph in an article published this morning, is now directing attention to the drift in the economy of this country. It is recognized that the biggest problem facing Australia at the present time is the startingly accelerated decline in the purchasing power of Australian money. [ ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government will refuse to iri ve way to pressure groups, and also whether it will introduce legislation that will give confidence to the workers instead of creating bogies that destroy the confidence of our people in their own country?
– I assure the honorable senator and the people of Australia that this Government yields to no pressure groups. It is fully conscious of its responsibilities to the Australia ii people, and, despite the attempts of the Opposition to thwart it, will carry out its duties to them to their entire satisfaction.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether press reports relating to the inflow of “hot” money to Australia are correct? If they are, will he inform the Senate of the amount of money involved, and also of the names of the companies :ind individuals who are expecting to receive a handsome “rake-off” from thu Australian taxpayers, having rendered no service to Australia, if the Government appreciates the Australian £1?
– I have not seen the newspaper reports to which reference has been made. We have a very vigilant Treasurer, and the honorable senator may rest assured that the Australian economy will be well protected. I thank him for his interest in the matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether there is a shortage of powdered milk in Western Australia, and a likelihood that, during the coming summer, the position will deteriorate still further? If this be so, will the Minister ask his colleague to take immediate steps, in collaboration with the Western Australian Government, to alleviate the shortage?
– I shall be pleased to cause inquiries to be made in order to ascertain what can be done to improve the position to which the honorable senator has referred.
– I address my question, through you, Mr. President to the appropriate Minister. There may not be one, because nothing has been done about the matter that I shall raise in my question. The Honorable W. Hyland, the Minister for Transport in the Victorian Government, in a report given to the Victorian Legislative Assembly on Tuesday of this week, stated that the cose of building a two-‘bedroom brick-veneer villa had risen by 39 per cent, in the last two years, the present cost being £1,9.11 compared with £1,375 two years ago. He stated also that in two years the cost of a two-bedroom brick home had increased by £426, or 27.6 per cent. ; the cost of a three-bedroom brick home by £441, or 25.9 per cent. ; the cost of a three-bedroom timber-framed house by 24. per cent.; and the cost of a concrete house by 19 per cent. If the report to which I have referred has not been brought to the notice of the appropriate Minister, will he make himself conversant with it? When he has done so, will he bring the information contained in it to the notice of the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet, with a view to persuading the Government to introduce legislation to fulfil one of its election promises, that is, to reduce the cost of homebuilding and household commodities?
– As the honorable senator has referred to the Minister for Transport in Victoria, perhaps I may answer the question. I believe that a well-known Communist in Victoria, instead of laying 900 bricks a. day, as he did prior to the war, is now laying only 300 bricks a day, thereby increasing building costs.
– I understand that the Government has arranged for the importation of a large number of prefabricated houses in the near future. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether those houses are to be imported complete, or whether external and interna] fittings readily available in this country will be used on them, particularly in view of the fact that some Australian manufacturers are already experiencing difficulty in selling such fittings.
– The honorable senator has raised a most important matter and one to which I have given considerable personal attention. Prefabricated houses are being imported under by-law concessions to lessen their cost. In addition, the project is being subsidized substantially by the Commonwealth. The Department of Trade and Customs has intimated to the various State and Commonwealth housing authorities that the by-law concession will not be extended to components that are readily available in this country. Some pre-fabricated houses have been brought litre complete, but the general practice lias been for Australian manufacturers to supply fittings. That is most desirable, of course, not only because of the need to preserve our own industries, but also because the Australian price for many components is less than that of the imported article. However, it is difficult to insist upon the provisions from Australian resources of certain small items such as screws, bolts, and nuts. I assure the honorable senator that the interests of Australian manufacturers are being safeguarded.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
– During the last sessional period of the Parliament I drew the attention of the Minister for Social Services to an anomaly in the social services legislation affecting males 65 years of age and over, and females 60 years of age and over, who remained in industry because of the full employment policy that is now in operation. I pointed out that if they ceased working temporarily through sickness or unemployment, they were not eligible to receive social services benefits, and I asked the Minister to see whether it would be possible to overcome this anomaly because, whilst these people are engaged in industry, they are called upon to make social services contributions. Will the Minister inform me of the present position?
– Since Senator Sheehan asked his question during the last sessional period, correspondence has passed on the subject and there have been several discussions. I agree with Senator Sheehan that it is important that the position should be clearly stated, and I have therefore prepared some notes. At the outset, I point out that unemployment and sickness benefits are not payable to females over 60 years of age or to males over 65 years of age, when age pensions become available. Prima facie, therefore, the appropriate benefit for a female on reaching 60 years of age, and for a male on reaching 65 years of age, is the age pension, not an unemployment or sickness benefit. Furthermore, the invalid pension is available for persons who are 85 per cent, permanently incapacitated. But, as the honorable senator has pointed out, some persons of pensionable age do not avail themselves of the age pension, and continue working. In some instances, however, their earning capacity is interrupted temporarily by unemployment or sickness, and it is that temporary condition that we are now considering. It is the gravamen of the honorable senator’s question. This problem is not new, and no new procedure is being adopted in relation to it. This Government is continuing the procedure that has operated since 1944 or 1945, that is, to utilize the provisions of section 124 of the Social Services Consolidation Act, which empowers the Director-General of Social Services to pay a special benefit to a person who is not qualified to receive an unemployment or sickness benefit. That special benefit is at the same rate as unemployment and sickness benefits. As a result of utilizing that special provision, people of pensionable age who suffer from sickness or unemployment of a temporary nature, and where a return to work can reasonably be expected, are not prejudiced. The benefit is not subject to the same strict means test as in the case of age and invalid pensions, but it has to be judiciously administered so that those disqualified by the property means test for an age pension cannot too easily obtain an unemployment or sickness benefit. However, although it must be judiciously administered, having regard to all the circumstances, claims are as promptly and effectively met as in the case of age and sickness benefits.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
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 t
– I have already furnished the honorable senator, by letter, with a full reply to her question. Briefly, the position is as follows: - Under the Social Services Consolidation Act an age pension may be granted to an aboriginal native who has been given a certificate of exemption from the laws of the State in which he resides relating to the control of aboriginal natives. The State laws of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia provide for the granting of certificates of exemption, and it is entirely a matter for determination by the State authorities what natives should receive those certificates. In the other two States, Victoria and Tasmania, there is no provision for the granting of exemption and, in accordance with the Social Services Consolidation Act, a grant of age pension may be made to an aboriginal native residing in either of those States only if the Director-General of Social Services is satisfied that, by reason of the native’s character, standard of intelligence and social development, it is desirable that a pension should be granted. The policy followed in regard to applicants in these two States is to approve of the grant of a pension where the native’s standard of living is such that he would be granted a certificate of exemption if he were residing in a State where exemption is provided for. The system of granting certificates of exemption, which applies also to natives residing in the Northern Territory, has much to commend it, as it is a means of distinguishing between those natives who are living at European standards and those who are not. The existing position under which the eligibility of aboriginal natives for pensions depends upon the grant of exemption from State control laws appears to be as satisfactory a basis as may be devised at present and ensures uniform, equitable and consistent administration. I believe my predecessor in office took the same view.
– Will the Minister for Social Services rectify a serious anomaly that at present exists in regard to age pensioners? Recently, Victorian superannuation pensions were increased by 25 per cent., but in the case of age pensioners on superannuation, the 25 per cent, increase of State superannuation pensions has adversely affected the amount of the Commonwealth pension.
– As a result of the operation of the means test, increases of superannuation pensions often result in a reduction of the age pension. It is by no means easy to evolve a system that will operate equitably, having regard to the interests of other pensioners as well as of those who receive superannuation. Proposals which, I hope, will be brought before the Senate next week may offer a solution of the problem.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Social Services by stating that, as the result of the ever-increasing rise of prices, blind pensioners are experiencing great difficulty in making ends meet. On behalf of the Blind Pensioners Association I ask the Minister whether he will give early consideration to the desirability of increasing the rate of pensions paid to blind persons, and, secondly, whether he will review the provisions of the means test so as to permit blind pensioners to earn up to the amount of the basic wage without interference with their pensions?
– I have met representatives of the Blind Pensioners Association, and have discussed the problems of blind pensioners with them. The decisions of the Government in relation to those pensions, and to other social services payments will become known when the budget is tabled. I am not in a position to anticipate what those decisions will be.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether it is possible, before the budget is submitted to the Parliament, to increase the rate of permissible income of the blind? In 1948 the basic wage was £5 17s. a week and the permissible income of blind persons was then £5 17s. 6d. They have had no increase since then, although the basic wage to-day is £7 a week, representing an increase of £1 3s. Compared with other members of the community the blind workers are thereby suffering a loss of £1 2s. 6d. a week. I ask the Minister whether the Government will consider increasing the amount of permissible income of blind workers from £5 17s. 6d. to £7 a week immediately.
– One of the difficulties connected with the portfolio I hold is that it is possible to make out a strong case in favour of almost every type of beneficiary. There is hardly a service made available hy my department for which iti is not possible to develop an almost unanswerable case. Yet the scales must be held as evenly as possible and the money available must be applied where it is most needed. Whilst it may be true that the means test has not been liberalized for blind persons for some time, they have received the benefit of the various increases of pensions. Their means test to-day is £5 17s. 6d. a week, which, in conjunction with the pension they receive, gives them an income of £8 a week. They will, of course, share in other benefits that may be provided in
– Has it been brought to the notice of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General that the people of the fast-growing and thickly populated centre of Newstead, in Tasmania, are greatly perturbed over the inadequate facilities at the local post and telegraph office? Is it a fact that, over eighteen months ago, the department asked that a suitable site be acquired for a new post office? Will the Minister ascertain the cause of the inordinate and annoying delay?
– I shall be pleased to bring the representation of the honorable senator to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and I shall pass on to thi. honorable senator any information that I am able to obtain.
– Has the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport submitted a recommendation to Cabinet that the 28 ships owned by the Commonwealth be sold? If not, does he contemplate submitting such a recommendation? What action, if any, has the Minister taken to improve the shipping service between north Queensland and southern ports? Have arrangements been completed to have Euroa, Nyora, Manunda and oth w ships make regular runs to north Queensland ? If so, will he state the time-table of each ship ? Has the Minister taken any action to improve ports, harbours, wharfs and other shipping facilities in Queensland? If he has, will he state fully the particulars 01 such action? Has the Minister recommended to Cabinet that an all-weather road he constructed , from Perth to Cape York?
– I remind the honorable senator that it is not the practice to make statements of government policy in reply to questions. That disposes of the honorable senator’s questions about Commonwealth ships. Improvements to outports is a matter for State authorities. As far as the turn-round of ships is concerned, great efforts have been made by the Department of Trade and Customs and cargo-clearing committees tocoordinate work between ships and warehouses. The sad story is that work on thewaterfront is being seriously hampered by Communists. That has been established by independent inquiries, and I know from my own investigations that, on an average, the output per man hour on the wharfs has decreased by 50 per cent, in the last ten years. We all know that the Federal Executive of the Waterside Workers Federation is controlled by prominent Communists, including Mr. Healy. Despite the Government’s anxiety about the slow turn-round of vessels, Mr. Healy instructed waterside workers at all ports not to work on Sundays or Saturdays as a protest against the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
We have already put three additional ships on the Queensland service and but for the activities of the Communists, urgently needed supplies would reach Queensland ports in far greater volume. I assure the honorable senators that officials of my department are working long hours in an endeavour to ensure regular shipping services particularly to the outports of Queensland and Western Australia. Unfortunately, as soon as a scheme is arranged, the Communists step h and disorganize it. The Government is doing everything possible to improve the position. The outports of Australia, particularly those of Queensland and Western Australia, have been sadly neglected, and the problem of maintaining regular shipping services to those ports is being made far more difficult by the continued holdups on the waterfront.
– I ask the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport whether it is not a fact that Mr. Vertigan, a member of the Australian Shipping Board, recently stated that 75 per cent, of the delay in the turn-round of ships in Australian ports was occasioned by shipping companies using the wharfs for storage purposes, thereby utilizing space that should accommodate cargo being unloaded ? Will the Minister take the necessary action to ensure that cargo will be removed from the wharfs more expeditiously?
– The removal of cargo from wharfs is a matter for the local authorities. In all the ports of Australia I understand the average time for removal has been reduced from six days to three days. If Mr. Vertigan made the statement attributed to him by the honorable senator, it was not in accordance with the facts.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer state whether bursaries and scholarships won by students are subject to income tax? If they are not directly subject to incometax, must the amount of such bursaries and scholarships be included in a parent’s income tax return, and thus be counted as part of his taxable income? If so, will the Treasurer give consideration to the ..’Iteration of the law, so that parents of moderate means may receive the full benefit of bursaries and scholarships won by their children?
– As far as I am aware, the answer to the first and second parts of the honorable senator’s question is “ No “. In order to put the matter beyond doubt, however, if the honorable senn tor will place the question on the notice-paper I shall make inquiries and furnish him with the desired information.
– In view of the national urgency and importance of the soil, erosion problem throughout A nstralia, will the Minister representing the Minister for National Development inform the Senate what steps the Government has taken to assist the States in their fight, against thi? increasing menace?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for National Development and supply an answer to the honorable senator later.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that despite the shortage of dollars, the quota of dollars allotted to the importers of American motor vehicles, particularly of the products of the Chrysler Corporation, has been greatly increased? If so, what is the extent of the increase granted, and for what reason was it granted? Does this decision form part and parcel of the well-known policy of the Government to reduce the cost of living?
– I am not aware that an increased quota of dollars has been allotted for the purpose stated by the honorable senator. If it is a fact. I have not heard of it. I believe that the honorable senator is raising a “ mare’s nest “. However, I shall make inquiries and supply an answer later.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the. Postmaster-General by stating that, from time to time leading business men and industrialists make broadcast statements over thu national network to the effect that shortages of certain commodities are likely to occur, which result in a great deal of panic buying by the public. I instance the recent broadcasts which were followed by panic buying of knitting yarns, woollen, linen anc! cotton goods, and motor tyres and rubber goods. Will the Postmaster-General issue a.n instruction to the Australian Broadcasting Commission that news items and comments broadcast by prominent businessmen over the national network should be supervised so that they will not lead to panic buying and that free advertisement of certain goods will not be permitted.
– The Australian Broadcasting Commission is left as free as possible to run its business as it thinks best. I do not believe that the honorable senator desires the Commission to be subject to Government supervision and direction. He will agree that it must be allowed some latitude in exercising its functions. I shall bring the matter to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and ascertain whether something can be done to stop broadcasts that lead to the panic buying to which the honorable senator has referred, and, which. I agree, is very detrimental to the economy of this country.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development by pointing out that for some years the Department of National Development has operated a tin dredge in the Dorset Elat district on the north-east coast of Tasmania. The operations have shown a handsome profit and have provided employment for more than twenty men in that pioneer district of Tasmania. In view of the increasing importance of an assured source of supply of tin, and because some of the areas from which we previously obtained supplies are not now available to us, will the Minister have a boring survey made of other areas suitable for the use of this dredge and other dredges when the area at present being worked has been exhausted, which will probably be within the next few years?
– I shall place the honorable senator’s request before the Minister for National Development and ascertain his decision upon it.
BROADCASTING of Questions and Ministerial Statements.
– I ask for leave to make a brief statement in connexion with apples.
– I prevented the Minister from speaking a little while ago because an arrangement has been made with the Australian Broadcasting Commission to allow the first 40 minutes of each sitting to be devoted to questions. Should an honorable senator intervene with a statement during question time it has to be erased from the record, and that causes considerable trouble. I am conveying this information to honorable senators so that in future they will not attempt to interpolate any other matter during the period known as question time.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health yet been able to prepare a statement of the Government’s plans for health in the coming year?
– I shall submit the honorable senator’s request to the Minister for Health.
– In pursuance of section 25 of the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1948, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Fourth annual report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board for year 1994-50.
In presenting this report of the Apple and Pear Board, I point out that the Board was originally constituted in 1939, but because of wartime circumstances, and pending a return to normal marketing conditions, its functions were allowed to lapse when the tenure of office of its members expired in 1942. The Board was reconstituted by an amending act of parliament in 1947 and recommenced operations as from the 1st July, 1949. It consists of twelve members, seven of whom represent the growers of apples and pears, three representatives of the exporters of apples and pears, one member representing the employees engaged in the apple and pear industry, and one representative of the Australian Government. The board is concerned with the regulation and supervision of the export of apples and pears from Australia. The act under which it operates prohibits the exporting of those fruits, except by persons who hold licences issued by the Minister on the recommendation of the board.
The board’s report indicates that the apple crop in 1950 did not come up to expectations, principally in Tasmania and Western Australia. As a result of that decreased production, only 1,784,000 cases of apples were shipped to the United Kingdom. That quantity was far short of the 3,500,000 cases sought by the British Ministry of Food under a contract with the Australian Government. Shipment of apples from the 1950 crop to all destinations approximated 2,675,000 cases. A pleasing feature was the resumption of exports to Western Germany, the quantity shipped being 348,000 eases, which compared favorably with pre-war sales to that market. Pears exported during the year totalled 565,000 cases, of which quantity the United Kingdom sought the highly satisfactory number of 480,000 cases.
– by leave - In the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced that Mr. Speaker will be leaving Australia in a few days to represent that House at the opening of the new House of Commons on the 26th October, in response to an invitation from the United Kingdom Government and the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is proposed that the House of Representatives shall suspend at 5 p.m. so that honorable members may have an opportunity to express their good wishes to Mr. Speaker and offer him their warm regards. The Prime Minister has said that the invitation is, naturally, extended to honorable senators. The farewell will take place in the members’ guest room. I suggest for your consideration, Mr. President, that the Senate suspend its sitting at 5 p.m. also.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Representatives of the churches are included amongst the members of the Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations Council and in fact! attended the inaugural meeting of the council which was held in Canberra on the Sth May, to discuss ways and means of adequately celebrating the jubilee of the foundation of the Commonwealth. The council decided to form an executive committee to organize and direct the arrangements for the celebrations. It was not thought necessary to include representatives of the churches on this committee, but should the necessity arise the executive committee will seek the advice of the council on which the churches are represented.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Assistant Returning Officer. - Commonwealth, 92s. 3d.; South Australia, 80s.; New South Wales, 70s.; Western Australia, 80s.; Victoria, 80s.; Tasmania, 103s.; Queensland, 90s. Gd. (Note. - The payment specified in respect of Tasmania covers “ all services in connexion with the election “ whereas that shown in respect of the Commonwealth covers polling day services only. Additional payment at an hourly rate is made for service rendered either before or after polling day.)
Presiding Officer. - Commonwealth, 70s. small booth, 80s. large booth; New South Wales, 62s. small booth, C7s. large booth ; Victoria, 60s. small booth, 70s. large booth; Queensland, 69s. 6d. small booth, 90s. Cd. large booth “(service equivalent assistant returning officer in Commonwealth ) ; South Australia, 65s. all booths; Western Australia, 02s. Gel. small booth, 72s. (id. large booth; Tasmania, 78s. all booths.
Assistant Presiding Officer. - Commonwealth, 07s. Od. ; New South Wales, 62s. ; Victoria, 60s.; Queensland, 09s. 6d!; South Australia, 57s. Od. ; Western Australia, 57s. Gel.: Tasmania, 63s.
Poll Clerk. - Commonwealth, 55s.; New South Wales, 44s. 6d.; Victoria, 40s.; Queensland, 48s. fid.; South Australia, 45s.: Western Australia, 45s.; Tasmania, 53s. ;i. The rates payable to polling officials at Commonwealth elections were reviewed recently by the Minister for the Interior. It is considered that the rates compare favourably with those paid to persons occupying similar positions at State elections in the several Suites. /
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information: - 1, 2, and 3. The former Commonwealthowned dehydration factor)’ at Smithton, Tasmania, was sold to the Rural Industries Board of Tasmania in April, 1948, and its suggested use as a canning factory is a matter for the Tasmanian Government.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon noti.ee: -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Is it a fact that bread manufacturers throughout Australia are endeavouring to increase the public consumption of bread by -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has furnished the following information : - 1, 2 and 3. Decreased orders for export flour in the first half of the year caused a reduction in milling time and employment in the industry, and a reduced output of mill offals.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers to the honor able senator’s questions: -
The decision to close the two offices was made only after examining carefully the character and extent of demand for Commonwealth employment service facilities. While the business being transacted by the offices waa not inconsiderable, it was decided that it was insufficient to justify their retention, having regard to the standards established as part of the Government’s policy to reduce the staffing nf the Commonwealth Public Service wherever possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. The response is not yet complete, as applications are still being received. Ex-service personnel with the Intermediate Certificate may apply at any time for appointment to the Service, and inquiries are still coming in.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice : -
If so, will the Prime Minister furnish a statement showing -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
SenatorCOOPER. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
I point out to the honorable senator that this is not an isolated case. In many instances the services of officers employed in a temporary capacity have been dispensed with by the Public Service Board under the provisions contained in section 82 (6.) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
– I am informed that that does notapply in all cases.
– The honorable senator should await the remainder of my reply. Only last year Dr. Webster, a highly qualified doctor who was employed in a temporary capacity at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, was dismissed by the previous Government. I remind honorable senators that when the then honorable member for Reid in the House of Representatives (Mr. Lang) requested that there should be an inquiry into the circumstances relating to Dr. Webster’s dismissal, the Chifley Government refused to appoint a board of inquiry, on the grounds that the doctor had been employed only in a temporary capacity, and that his services had been dispensed with under the section of the act that I have mentioned. The position in connexion with the dismissal of Dr. James is similar.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions, upon notice: -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions areas follows: -
asked the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– I invite the honorable senator’s attention to my reply of the 30th May last to a question concerning this subject. That reply deals in detail with the questions that have been raised by him in this question.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-
Minister for Trade and Customs) [12.12].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is in terms identical with those in which it was expressed when it was last received from the House of Representatives. There is no provision whatsoever in the bill that was not discussed fully and at great length - I may even say with much repetition - over three months ago. The Opposition, during those days of extended debate, was in no degree limited, confined or restricted. The debate ran its full course, and came to a close only after the Opposition became weary of its own repetition.
The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), speaking on the bill in the House of Representatives, said, “ The real issue between the parties is a narrow one “, though he claimed that it was vitally important. Therefore, I hope that the present debate will be confined to the points in dispute, and that common ground will not be gone over time and time again. However, I propose to refer briefly to some common ground, for the purpose of emphasizing the urgent need for passing this measure, and to emphasize the danger, the irresponsibility and the recklessness of the attitude taken up by those who seek to delay or hinder the passing of a bill which is designed to protect our national security. The common ground to which I refer is found in the recitals to the bill. I pause here to emphasize this point: not one opponent of the bill in the Senate or in the House of Representatives has challenged or denied the truth of those recitals. Let us look at the preamble, and note those recitals, because it is upon them that the whole structure of the bill depends. The recitals are as follows : -
And Whereas the Australian Communist Party, in accordance with the basic theory of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin, engages in activities or operations designed to assist or accelerate the coming of a revolutionary situation, in. which the Australian Communist Party, acting as a revolutionary minority, would be able to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat:
And Whereas the Australian Communist Party also engages in activities or operations designed to bring about the overthrow or dislocation of the established system of government of Australia and the attainment of economic, industrial or political ends by force, violence, intimidation or fraudulent practices:
And Whereas the Australian Communist Party is an integral part of the world communist revolutionary movement, which, in the King’s dominions and elsewhere, engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature and also engages in activities or operations similar to those, or having an object similar to the object of those, referred to in the last two preceding paragraphs of this preamble :
And Whereas certain industries are vital to the security and defenceof Australia (including the coal-mining industry, the iron and steel industry, the engineering industry, the building industry, the transport industry and the power industry) :
And Whereas activities or operations of, or encouraged by, the Australian Communist Party, and activities or operations of, or encouraged by, members or officers of that party and other persons who are Communists, are designed to cause, by means of strikes or stoppages of work, and have, by those means, caused dislocation, disruption or retardation of production or work in those vital industries :
And Whereas it is necessary, for the security and defence of Australia and for the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and of the laws of the Commonwealth, that the Australian Communist Party, and bodies of persons affiliated with that party, should be dissolved and their property forfeited to the Commonwealth, and that members and officers of that party or of any of those bodies and other persons who are communists should be disqualified from employment by the Commonwealth and from holding office in an industrial organization a substantial number of whose members are engaged in a vital industry:
How any Australian who accepts those recitals as a true and realistic description of the activities of the Communist party, and of its real and active menace to our national security, can mess around with hair-splitting technicalities designed to throw a mantle of protection over those who conspire to destroy and betray the country, is beyond all understanding; I repeat the assurance previously given that this measure is directed against those, and only those, who are covered by, and contemplated in, the recitals which I have quoted. No Australian, no matter how militant in industrial matters, or how loyal to his mates and to his country, need ever fear that this bill will hinder or hamper him in his industrial or political activities. The bill is aimed at the enemies of our country, and is designed to put into the hands of the Government an effective weapon with which to deal with them. The amendments favoured by the Opposition, regardless of all protestations to the contrary, could have one result only, namely, the protection of the Communist wreckers by preventing the Government from dealing with them effectively.
In considering this bill, and the Opposition’s objections to it, we should bear in mind that the only clause of the bill which creates an offence punishable by imprisonment is clause 7, and any person charged under that provision is entitled to trial by a judge and a jury, and the onus of proof is upon the Crown from the beginning, to the end of the proceedings.
Clause 5 deals with the declaration of organizations and clause 9 deals in similar terms with the declaration of individuals. Much maudlin nonsense has been talked about onus of proof. As a general rule to which there are many exceptions, the onus of proof of an alleged criminal offence rests upon the Crown; but a declaration under this measure does not involve a criminal offence. No fine or imprisonment may be imposed as the result of a declaration. The only penalty is that a declared person shall not be eligible for employment by the Commonwealth or in a key industry where his activities may endanger the security of the country. As Senator McKenna remarked when the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) was speaking, recently, there can be no trial unless a charge is laid. Senator McKenna was referring to the removal from office of members of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Attorney-General asked whether those members had been given a trial, and Senator McKenna replied, “ Of course they were not given a trial. There cannot be a trial unless an offence is charged “. The members of the Stevedoring Industry Commission had not committed an offence. They were merely carrying on in a manner intolerable to the Government, and so the Government dismissed them.. There was no charge, no trial, and therefore no appeal. I do not criticize that action by the Chifley
Government. It acted very properly, but why did it so act? Simply because the men concerned were in positions of importance and responsibility and, in the opinion of the Government, were not discharging. their onerous and responsible duties in a proper manner. No charge was laid and there was no trial. The men were merely dismissed and their jobs declared vacant. The action, I suggest, is comparable to the declaration of a person under this legislation. No offence will be charged ; therefore there can be no trial. I do not disagree at all with Senator McKenna’s remarks, because, obviously, a person cannot be given a trial unless he is charged with an offence. However, a person who considers that he has been wrongly declared may appeal to a court to have the declaration set aside. If he goes into the witness-box, and, having taken the oath or made an affirmation, states that he is not a person to whom the relative provisions of the bill apply, the court will set aside the declaration unless the Crown can show reason why the declaration should stand. Bearing in mind the fact that this bill is aimed only at those who are working actively to destroy our country, what innocent man is likely to be declared, or what innocent man, if he were declared, would hesitate to rush into the witnessbox and protest his innocence to the whole world? An innocent person could be declared only by the greatest mischance. Before a declaration can be made, the facts of the case have to be reviewed by a committee of five independent people of the utmost integrity. They include the Solicitor-General - the same gentleman who occupied that office when the Labour Government was in office - the Director-General of Security, and the Secretary to the Department of Defence. Surely no sane person would challenge the ability, integrity or sense of public responsibility of any of those gentlemen. Then, when that committee has considered the case, it will make a recommendation to Cabinet which consists of nineteen responsible Ministers - and I say that despite the opinion of honorable senators opposite. Furthermore, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recently gave an assurance that he personally would have to be satisfied before any declaration was made. However much honorable senators opposite may fear the tremendous power, influence and ability of the Prime Minister, not one of them in his proper senses can possibly doubt the right honorable gentleman’s public integrity or his sense of responsibility. Therefore, the chances of an innocent person being declared are very remote, but, as I have said, what innocent person, if he were declared, would hesitate to enter the witness box and protest his innocence to the world? Immediately he did that, the onus of proof would be thrown on the Crown.
– It is. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) should ask his legal advisers whether that is not so. I repeat that immediately a declared person goes into the witness box, takes an oath or makes an affirmation, and says, “I deny the allegation on which this declaration has been made “. the responsibility is on the Crown to satisfy the court that the declaration should stand. If the Crown fails to do that, the declaration will be set aside. If I am wrong. I shall be happy to have Senator McKenna. correct me.
– If a. declared person enters the witness box, he will be subjected to cross-examination.
– Of course, but what has an innocent person to fear from cross-examination ?
– Why should an innocent person be cross-examined at all ‘(
– No innocent person will be declared under this measure. Bearing in mind the fact that a declaration under this measure will not carry with it a fine or imprisonment, I remind the Senate that there are on our statute-book many acts of long-standing under which the mere allegation of the Crown that an offence has been committed is prima facie evidence that the person charged is guilty of that offence, and unless that person is prepared to go into the witness box and prove his innocence, a conviction, and fine or imprisonment will follow. Those acts have been administered by governments of all political shades. They include the Customs Act, the Immigration Act and the Income Tax
Act. In all of them,- the onus is on the person charged to satisfy the tribunal, whether it be a magistrate or a judge and jury, that he is innocent, and unless he can rebut the presumption of guilt from the witness box, he may be fined or imprisoned, or both.
– Does the Minister think it is right that five Ministers of any government should have the right to declare a person without first hearing him ?
– If the honorable senator will read the bill, I shall be happy to meet him in my room and explain it to him. Another statute under which a fine or imprisonment or both may be imposed upon a charged person unless he can prove himself innocent is the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act of 1949, which is Labour legislation. I am referring specially to legislation of long standing, such as the Customs Act, which is one of the oldest pieces of legislation on. the statute-book of the Commonwealth. That legislation, and other enactments, such as the income and sales tax legislation, provide that onus of proof shall rest, not on the Crown or. the prosecution, but upon the person charged with having committed an offence. If the accused person cannot give satisfactory explanation, he is convicted and fined or imprisoned, or both, as surely as night follows day. The point that I emphasize is that that legislation deals with persons who defraud or attempt to defraud the revenues of the Commonwealth.
– Is not that important ?
– Yes ; but how does it compare in importance with offences against the security of this country? It is amazing that the Labour party should be willing to throw a protective mantle over Communist wreckers and saboteurs and place them in a more favorable position tha.n those who are charged with having defrauded the revenue. In the eyes of the Opposition it is a more serious offence to defraud the revenue than to attempt to destroy the country, to threaten its security, or to act against its interests. Opposition senators say to the Communists, in effect, “Do everything your international masters instruct you to do. Disrupt and seek to destroy this country and we shall protect you, but on no account must you seek to avoid the payment of customs duties. If you do so, you will be for it “. We are on common ground with the Opposition in our belief that international communism constitutes an unscrupulous menace to our national safety. At this very moment gallant Australian lads in the Navy, Army and Air Force are fighting international communism in a bloody war in Korea.
– Don’t bring out the sob stuff.
– The Opposition says, in effect, “We share the Government’s view of the menace of international communism; we join with it in extending our good wishes for the safe return of our gallant lads who are fighting international communism in Korea; but for goodness’ sake do not fight communism here “.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) put -
That the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for 8 p.m. this day.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Fuel, Shipping, and Transport) [2.15]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
I submit this motion in order to remind the Senate that, because of a sessional order made last session that we should meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week, the Senate will be unable to sit three days this week unless this motion is carried. The Government is very concerned about the delay in obtaining a decision on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950. I shall not go into all the sordid details of what has taken place in this chamber to-day. I know that there is a very sharp difference of opinion on that legislation and that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and other members of the Parliament are anxious to give us the bill.
– The honorable senator is not in order in criticizing members of another place, but he is in order in stating why he wishes the Senate to meet to-morrow.
– I was not criticizing anybody. On the contrary, I was congratulating Mr. Calwell on his realistic approach to certain important legislation.
– Order ! Perhaps it would be better if the Minister proceeded to give his reasons.
– The Parliament has been in recess for over three months. The number of senators has been increased from 36 to 60, the salaries of members have been increased by 50 per cent., and I believe that we have a duty to the people of this country to make the Senate function. Throughout the length and breadth of the country public opinion is being directed to what is going on in this chamber, and if the majority of the Labour party has made up its mind that it is not going to pass this bill, it is a dreadful state of affairs that we should be here taking up time on a matter that has already been debated fully. The pros and cons have already been thrashed out. I fully appreciate Senator McKenna’s eagerness to have his own bill before the Parliament for discussion, but if the members of the Opposition are sincere they will put themselves to the inconvenience, if it is an inconvenience, of sitting to-morrow.
I move the motion so that honorable senators might have an opportunity to make their- own arrangements. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his Government have been appointed to govern this country, and when the Opposition takes the business of administration out of the hands of the Government it is taking a very serious step.
– Order ! Is the Minister advancing that as a reason why this chamber should meet to-morrow? He must keep strictly to the motion.
– That is one of. the reasons why we should meet and settle this question. The business of government should not be delayed further after such a long adjournment, particularly as the Government is eager to pass as much legislation as possible, before Christmas. The budget and other matters still have to be dealt with. I urge honorable senators to take a realistic view and to make up their minds to pass both the bills that I have mentioned.
– I am amazed that the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) should move this motion and at the same time refer to extraneous matters. Had the Government wished the Senate to sit three days this week, it should have called honorable senators together on Tuesday. I remind the Minister that the Government knew whether the Opposition would agree to any alteration of the proposed legislative programme. In discussion with me the Leader of the Government in the Senate was advised early in the week of the views of the Opposition. The Labour party knows of no urgency in these matters, although the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 has continually been referred to as urgent. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and no doubt on the other side also, have already made arrangements for this week-end and they do not wish to agree to the proposed additional sitting day. The Leader of the Government in the Senate knows exactly the programme that has already been arranged. If the Minister who submitted this motion wishes to get in some propaganda, I suggest he do it in some other way.
– I oppose the motion which has been introduced at this late stage in furtherance of the delaying tactics adopted, by members and supporters of the Govern.ment since we met yesterday. The
Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator Mcleay) stated he submitted the motion because of the urgent business to be dealt with. If that were so, why did not the Government and its supporters allow us to get on with the job yesterday instead of stone-walling? Nobody knows better than he does that members on this side of the chamber who intended leaving Canberra for the weekend have already made their bookings. They have not a ministerial priority to enable them to step onto a plane at a moment’s notice.
– Tell us more about this ministerial priority. I cannot get on planes easily.
– If the honorable Minister has no ministerial priority, why does he support this motion? He must know the difficulty that is experienced in obtaining bookings on planes at short notice. If he is acquainted with those difficulties his action in introducing this motion is hypocritical. In my own case, assuming that the House would not sit on Friday, I arranged for bookings to return home on urgent business at the week-end. I must also secure bookings for the return trip. If this motion were adopted it would cause such inconvenience to members of the Opposition that important business which they have arranged to attend to at the week-end would have to be cancelled. The only alternative would be to request one of the airways companies to provide »a special plane to meet the convenience of honorable senators. This motion is a sly trick such as the Minister used when the Government of which he was a member had a majority in this chamber. If the present Government had a majority in this chamber there is no doubt that the Minister would do his utmost to embarrass the Opposition.
– It . would not ‘ be difficult to embarrass the honorable senator.
– The Minister would not care whether the members of the Opposition were able to get home at the week-end in order to keep engagements already made, nor would he care whether accommodation in Canberra would be available if the House sat to morrow. If the Minister would not enjoy the embarrassment a sitting to-morrow would cause, he should not be so stupid as to move such a motion at this tate hour.
– I endorse the arguments of my colleagues in opposition to the motion. I point out to the Senate that a considerable time ago Sessional Orders were adopted which had regard to the convenience not only of honorable senators, but also of the airways, transport officers and the staff of the Senate. As far as the Opposition can control that matter, the convenience of all those people will be taken into account. In addition to the arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) and Senator Aylett, I point out to the Minister that under the normal sessional orders this chamber sits as long as does the House of Representatives, which has twice the number of members. Each House sits on three days each week. There is, therefore, no virtue in the Minister’s argument that the membership of this chamber has been increased from 30 to 60.
I wish that the Government would make up its mind about the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. That, of course, is ite greatest difficulty in relation to every problem that confronts it. We must choose one or other of the voices of the Government. I am referring, in the first instance, to a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he was wooing the electors, and dealing with communism and its evils and what a government led by him would do about it. In that speech he made the clear statement -
The greatest task facing the nation is to put value back into the £1.
He said that after weighing communism, on the one hand, and prices, inflation and currency matters on the other-
– I rise to order. 1 should like to know whether the argument advanced by the honorable senator has anything to do with whether the Senate should sit to-morrow.
– I do not quite understand what the point of order is..
Senator McKenna is advancing a.n argument to show why it is not necessary for the Senate to meet to-morrow, and is endeavouring to point out how the Government could have taken action which would have obviated the necessity for this special motion. The Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 has already been mentioned, and Senator McKenna is telling the chamber that the Prime Minister had stated that that legislation was merely secondary to putting value back in the fi. I trust that has ex01allied the matter fully to the honorable senator.
– I was replying to the specific statement of the Minister himself when he submitted the motion urging that the chamber should sit tomorrow to enable the Communist Party Dissolution Bill to be passed. He advanced arguments to which I am replying. I repeat that the Prime Minister of this country, not in an ill-considered extempore statement, but with due deliberation and in a carefully prepared document which was the joint manifesto of the liberal party and the Australian Country party, weighing communism on the one hand and spiralling prices and the risk of inflation on the other, said -
The greatest task facing the country is to 1’Ut value back into the £1.
The Opposition accepts that statement of the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman has been brought up to date by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey), one of his senior Ministers, who, on the very day that the Prime Minister was broadcasting about defence, said -
Inflation is the Al problem facing Australia.
He confirmed what I have said by adding, “ Defence is secondary “. We must choose between the two voices of the Government. We prefer to choose the voice of the Prime Minister, buttressed by that of the Minister for National Development, rather than that of the Minister for Fuel, Shipping’ and Transport. There are two ministerial voices to one, and, as true democrats, we prefer the majority.
– because the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley), I am sure quite unwittingly, did not state the position correctly when he said that I was aware of the programme with which the Senate would be faced this week. It is quite true that, in conversation with the honorable senator, I expressed the opinion that I did not expect to ask the Senate to sit this week other than on Wednesday and Thursday, but the honorable senator stretched the facts when he said that I was aware of the Senate’s programme. I never dreamt, and I am sure the people of Australia never dreamt, that the Opposition would attempt to take the business of the Senate out of the hands of the Government. The action taken by the Opposition has completely wasted n day.
The Leader of the Opposition was not accurate when he said that the Senate could have been called together earlier than last Wednesday to deal with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Tha t measure was not received by the Senate until yesterday, because the House of Representatives had not finished dealing with it until then. The Senate was called together to deal with it at the earliest possible moment. The bill was on the table of this chamber at 3 p.m. yesterday, but, owing to a very unworthy ruse of the Opposition, we were denied an opportunity to debate it then.
With regard to Senator McKenna’s remarks a’bout whether the restoration of value to the fi is more important than dealing with the Communists, I say that those matters cannot be separated. We cannot restore value to the £1 until we have curbed the activities of the Communists who are preventing us from doing so. I know that the Opposition is still eager to throw its protective mantle over the Communists. No government can restore value to the £J merely by regulation. The first thing that it must do is to clear the decks and curb the activities of those who are preventing industry from achieving full production. The two propositions cannot be considered separately. If we allow our industry to be sabotaged and wrecked, we cannot expect a state of prosperity. The Government must be given a weapon of defence as far as our economy is concerned, and a weapon of offence and destruction as far as the enemies of our country are concerned. We shall not, be able to implement the programme of the Government until we have the power to deal with those who are out to destroy democratic government in this country.
I am not keen that the Senate should sit more frequently than does the House of Representatives; but, in view of the urgent nature of the measures awaiting the consideration of this chamber, I appeal to honorable senators opposite to put their duty to the nation before their personal convenience. It will not take long to discuss the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. It has been dwelt upon and argued by honorable senators opposite to the point of physical exhaustion. They have sent themselves to sleep with wearisome repetition. The measure is not a new one, and it can be effectively dealt with in a short time. We have asked that it be dealt with to-night, but the Opposition has refused to agree. Let us debate it to-morrow, and we can finish the debate to-morrow. If that is done, I shall agree gladly to discuss the bill introduced by Senator McKenna. I appeal to honorable senators opposite to sit to-morrow, and to assist in giving the country the measure of protection that it so badly needs.
Question put -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at10.30 a.m.
The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
CONSTITUTl ON A LTERA TION ( AVOIDANCE OF DOUBLE DISSOLUTION DEADLOCKS) BILL 1950.
. - LastJune, following a discussion of the provisions of this measure in committee, the Senate appointeda select committee of seven members of this chamber, and the committee honoured me by appointing me as its chairman.
I move -
That the time for bringing up the report he extended until the 1st November next.
The 27th September was the date fixed for the bringing up of the report, but it was not possible to take any action on that date because the Government did not call the Senate together until the 4th October.
– The report could have been ready on the 4th October.
– I shall give reasons why it could not have been ready by that date. I think it proper that the Senate should be informed of the reasons that have actuated the committee in seeking a brief extension of time for the presentation of the report. It may be that the committee will be in a. position to submit its report on the 1st November. I remind the Senate that the committee . consists solely of representatives of the Labour party, the Government having decided not to appoint any of its supporters as members. The inquiry that the committee is undertaking is of very wide scope. Under its terms of reference the committee is concerned, not only with the possibility of a deadlock following a double dissolution at which proportional representation applies, but also with the whole matter of the relationship of the Senate to the House of Representatives, with the provision in the Constitution that requires the number of members of that House to be approximately twice the number of senators, and with the vastly important question, under proportional representation, of the filling of casual vacancies. The broad questions that were referred to the committee were, first, the proposed alteration of the Constitution relating to the election of senators consequent upon a double dissolution; secondly, the Senate’s relationship with the House of Representatives; thirdly, a review of the constitutional arrangements for settling disputes between the two Houses; and fourthly, the making of recommendations for preventing disputes and overcoming deadlocks.
It will doubtless be agreed that those questions, involving constitutional, electoral, and parliamentary matters, required the attention of the best brains available in Australia. The committee inserted advertisements in the press of Melbourne and Sydney, inviting persons qualified or interested to tender evidence to communicate with it; addressed letters to constitutional authorities in Melbourne and Sydney, inviting them specifically to give evidence; and communicated, not only with well-known bodies in the community but 8.ISO with the three great political parties, inviting their represenatives to give evidence before it. The committee was active during the last parliamentary recess. It sat in Melbourne and Sydney. It was not possible for all the witnesses we wanted to hear in both those cities to give evidence before us, and it may be necessary either to re-visit those cities or to bring the witnesses to Canberra. The committee will undoubtedly sit in Canberra. We have sent to the electoral authorities here certain facts that were put before us, and upon which we? desire them to tender evidence. We hope to have before us in the immediate future, not only the Chief Electoral Officer and other electoral officers but also constitutional authorities who are located in Canberra. The Senate will be interested to know that amongst the people who gave evidence were Professor Geoffrey Sawer, Professor of Law at the Australian. National University; Pro- fessor W. G. Friedmann, Professor of Public Law at the University of Melbourne; Professor W. Macmahon Ball, Professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne; and Professor P. H. Partridge, Professor of Government and Public Administration at the University of Sydney. It will be seen that the committee has been active. Owing to the fact that supply was granted only to the 31st October, there was available for the seven senators constituting this committee for travelling and other expenses only £233.
– A waste of money !
– Instead of using those funds for travelling by air, with the exception of one occasion the members of the committee travelled by train from Western Australia and other distant places. The activities of the committee in moving around have been seriously curtailed by the fact that supply was available only for a limited amount, and the committee was particularly concerned to conserve available funds. It is not my purpose to go into the questions that have been raised before the committee. Suffice to say that questions of very great importance have been dealt with by a number of witnesses who have already appeared before it, and I assure the Senate that eventually the appointment of this select committee will prove to have been very well worthwhile. I may say at this stage that not one witness, including those who were highly qualified, favoured the bill that is before the Senate for consideration without some qualification, and a few, extreme qualification. Not one witness gives it unqualified approval. I think it will be agreed, that there would be divergence of opinion on questions such as the relationship of the two Houses of the Parliament. I put it to the Senate that all of us, whether we support the Government or sit in Opposition, are particularly concerned, as senators representing our respective States, to see that anything affecting privileges of the Senate, its powers, and its relationship to the other chamber, are carefully and impartially scrutinized. I remind honorable senators that without the establishment of the Senate there would not have been federation.
– Ho its abolition ?
– That is a subject that is worthy of consideration.
– I thought that the Australian Labour party had decided on iti
– I think it only right that when matters of this vast scope and importance are being considered by a select committee at least all State governments and .State oppositions ought to be given the opportunity to tender evidence. That does not necessarily mean that the committee will visit all States. Of course, it will he impossible for the committee to travel during the current sittings of the Parliament.
– I suppose that it will not sit, either?
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) may be assured that it will sit.
– Like the clucky hen on the china eggs !
– I am amazed that the Leader of the Government in this chamber, in a matter of such importance, should refer to the Senate and to the select committee in terms of such levity and disrespect. I entirely deplore his remark. I submit to the Senate that here is a matter of the greatest significance, both constitutionally and politically, concerning the relationship of the houses, and the adoption of electoral reforms; yet lbc Minister is content to make some completely facetious remark wholly unworthy of an honorable senator occupying his position. My last thought on this matter ‘s that there has .been only one select committee previously appointed by the Senate. That was in 1930. It was concerned with the Central Reserve Bank Bill. Two extensions of time were granted by the Senate of the day, and the inquiry took six months, although the committee sat only in Melbourne and Sydney. It is interesting to note that it was constituted wholly of non-Labour senators. I assure the Senate that this select committee will not wait six months. In moving that the time be extended to the first day of November next, I point out that I have acted on behalf of the committee. I shall leave the matter so that the Senate may have quick and ready control of the position. It must come under review in the very near future, if the Senate continues to sit until the date that I have mentioned.
– I oppose the motion for the extension of time for the presentation of the report of this committee. Almost every motion that Senator McKenna is concerned with these days is designed to obstruct or impede the completion of government business, and this motion is very much in line with a number of others that he has moved this week. This select committee was appointed towards the end of June. I suggest that it was appointed to enable the Australian Labour party to avoid a decision on a bill which, after all, merely provides that the electors shall be consulted on an important electoral matter.
– It went further than that.
– It went no further than that. We were told yesterday when a bill providing for the control of prices was put before us that all that the Government would be doing if it voted against this measure would be to prevent the people having a say. It is perfectly obvious that the Opposition, is determined to prevent the people having a say, if it can, in relation to this reform with regard to Senate elections following a double dissolution. The committee was appointed at the end of June last, and it was directed to bring up its report, as Senator McKenna has reminded us, on the 27th September. We are now asked to extend the time for the making of that report. I suggest that Senator McKenna has given us very little information upon which even to judge whether an extension of time is desirable. To the best of my belief, no sittings were held by the committee until towards the end of August. Even now Senator McKenna has not deigned to tell us how many sittings have been held, which I should be interested to know. All that he has told vis is that the committee has sat in Melbourne and Sydney, and taken evidence from the four witnesses that he has named. I suggest that before the time for making this report is extended, the
Senate is entitled to know what work this committee has done during the last three months - what witnesses it has heard, and how many times it has sat. I suggest that it would not be unreasonable to expect that the committee should to-day present to the Senate something in the nature of an interim report of its proceedings.
I was a little surprised to discover myself that the committee, when inviting witnesses to appear before it, sent to them what purported to be a copy of my secondreading speech on the bill. They were not cent copies of the speech as it appears in Ilansard. It might, at any rate, have provided the witnesses with a correct statement of the facts. All that was circulated to them by the committee - and I invite Senator McKenna to deny this - were roneoed copies of the speech which was prepared, and which I read in part, and to which I added very considerably. If witnesses were to be asked to deal with this question, surely they were at least entitled to have placed before them the full version of what the Minister in charge of the bill had to say in this chamber. That was not done. It would have been a perfectly simple matter for the committee to obtain copies of the speech, as it appeared in Mansard; for the purpose of circulating it amongst witnesses. In the absence of adequate information about what the committee has been doing, I suggest that the Senate is not justified in extending the time for delivering its report. I again invite Senator McKenna to te.ll us specifically on what clays the committee has met, and where it has met; what witnesses it has heard, and on what days evidence was given. I repeat that, as he seeks an extension of time, at least ‘he might extend to the Senate the courtesy of something in the nature of an interim report of the proceedings that have been taken before this committee.
Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) [~2.5S~. - Even if we agreed with every word that the Attorney-General (.Senator Spicer) has uttered - and L for one do not agree with him - I suggest that the whole of the responsibility for his ignorance about this matter lies very firmly on himself. When the committee was appointed an invitation was extended t,o the Government to be represented on it, but the Government would have nothing to do with the committee. The Senate had before it a bill which, to say the least, was ill-conceived and ill-presented. It was brought down in a hush-hush atmosphere. When its introduction was foreshadowed in the press - of course the Government never makes any announcements, so that we must get information from the press - not even senior Ministers knew of the contents of the measure. Oan any one blame responsible senators for wishing to examine thoroughly a measure brought, before the Parliament in such a way ‘i As a West Austraiian, 1 whole-heartedly support the motion lor granting the committee more time in which to prepare its report. The Attorney-General said that be did not know where the committee had sat, or who had given evidence before it. .1. know that it did not sit in Western Australia, and I think that it should do so. On u previous occasion when an inquiry was held into proposals for the revision of the Constitution, very pertinent, evidence was given by witnesses in Western Australia There is a keen interest in the subject and more letters are written to the newspapers about it in Western Australia than in any other State. Because of conditions peculiar to Western Australia, many people who consider themselves constitutional expert* take a very deep interest in proposals for the revision of the Australian Constitution. It is necessary that this motion should 1-e carried so that the committee, even without the concurrence of the Government, may take evidence in all States.
I am sorry that it is not intended 10 examine proposals for a general revision of the Constitution instead of only that part of it which relates to the election of the Senate. T know the sad story of how those who now lead the Government, virtually “ rafted “ on their undertaking in connexion with constitutional revision in 3948, but perhaps they have learned from experience, and can . now be relied upon to keep their word. I do not know for how much longer a long-suffering public will nut hd with a system under which they have to elect separate representatives to the Senate, the House of
Representatives, their own State assemblies, and various local governing bodies, without having any clear idea of where the function of one body begins and another ends. Yet, when the Labour party does something in an effort to get us out of this chaos, we are accused of throwing a spanner into the works. It was unreasonable of the AttorneyGeneral to say that he did not know what the committee had been doing. He could have kept himself informed by placing a Government representative on the committee. Perhaps the chairman might have been the Government’s nominee. Honorable senators opposite know that the measure introduced by the Government for the alteration of the method of electing the Senate, represented, perhaps, the most stupid attempt that has ever been made to tamper with the Constitution. They know that if the proposal were to go before the people in its present form they would be “ flat out “ to justify it. I agree that the powers of the Senate are not what they ought to be, and I have my own ideas about what should be done. I shall state my opinion on the su’bject at the appropriate time, but meanwhile it is most improper of Ministers to say that the Opposition is merely ‘being fractious when it proposes that the committee should be given more time in which to conduct its inquiries.
.- I support the motion. I have given some thought to the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives, and when the Government first introduced the legislation dealing with this subject I said that, at first glance, I was disposed to support it. I feared that, even if there were no double dissolution, a situation might well arise in the next few years in which there would be a continuous deadlock between the Senate and the House of Representatives. As one who values parliamentary government, I appreciate the difficulties that could arise should such a situation develop. We deplore the fact that democracy is not functioning in certain other countries, having been replaced by a form of totalitarianism, and when we realize that the introduction of totalitarian government has generally followed the breakdown of democratic government, we see how serious is the problem with which we are confronted.
I regret that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) should have spoken to this motion as he did. When he was a member of this Senate on a former occasion, he expressed concern regarding our parliamentary institutions. He is a man of outstanding legal ability, and I believed that in him we had a man who was prepared to consider the question of parliamentary government in an impartial way, being eager to evolve a better system. It is regrettable, therefore, that the Attorney-General, who is so well qualified to render valuable service in the cause of parliamentary reform, should refuse to co-operate with the Opposition by nominating Government members’ to the select committee that was appointed to inquire into these matters. Had Government supporters been appointed to the committee they would have had an opportunity to examine ‘ witnesses, and to hear evidence from eminent persons. I was greatly impressed by some of the evidence I have heard. Ever since I have been a member of the Senate, I have sought to learn more of the functions of parliament. I do not look on my membership of the Senate as just a job. I value my position here, and I have studied the actions and utterances of the great men who-, in the early days of federation, tried to evolve a parliamentary system that would be worthy of our young nation. Now, for the first time in the history of this Parliament, there has been appointed a select committee to examine methods of electing the Senate, and the relations between the two chambers.
If there is to be a permanent deadlock between the Senate and the House of Representatives, it is better that the Senate should be abolished; yet if the Senate is to be merely an echo of the majority in the House of Representatives, for what purpose does it exist? Can we justify the existence of a Senate that merely endorses the decisions of the House of Representatives? The framers of the Constitution, with the consent of the people specifically given by referendum, endowed the Senate with certain powers, and it is not right that when the
Senate exercises those powers it should be condemned by those who happen to constitute the government of the day.
Now, because of the situation created by the introduction into the House of Representatives of a piece of illconsidered legislation, a select committee has been appointed to examine methods of electing the Senate. The legislation to which I have referred was kept secret even from certain members of the Cabinet. It was kept secret from the parties which support the Government until it was introduced with a great flourish as something calculated to destroy the effectiveness of Labour’s majority in the Senate. Such legislation, and the manner of its introduction, does little credit to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who, like the Attorney-General, possesses great legal ability. On many occasions in the past he has expressed himself in favour of the granting of enlarged powers to the Commonwealth Parliament; but when a Labour government asked the people to confer enlarged powers, .the present Prime Minister made it a party matter, and urged the people to reject the proposal. Mr. Justice Higgins was one of those who took a prominent part in formulating the Constitution, but eventually he advised the people to vote against it, because he foresaw the difficulty that would arise when attempts were made to clothe the Parliament with great power to meet the requirements of the young nation that was then in the making.
The matter we are now considering is of great importance to all those who wish parliamentary government to survive, and I greatly regret that the Government has refused to be associated with the select committee. I am sorry that the Government insists upon making a party issue of proposals for the revision of the Constitution. The Labour party has stepped into the breach, and has appointed a committee from its own members, because the Government refuses to co-operate. We are doing our duty in an impartial way, and I am sure that the report of the committee will be of value to the Parliament and to the nation, and not merely to a. party.
Senator McCALLUM (New South
Every member of the select committee is pledged to seek the abolition of the Senate. That in itself must cast grave doubts on any recommendation that the committee may make. No one would appoint a committee of Mohammedans to advise on the best method of conducting a sale of pork or a committee of Hindus to inquire into the slaughtering of cows ; and to have a committee of men solemnly pledged to the abolition of this chamber inquiring into methods of improving its efficiency is equally absurd. The reason for the absence of Government representatives from the committee is obvious. The committee has not been appointed to consider an improvement of the functions of the Senate. Its sole purpose is to delay the holding of a referendum on an alteration of the method of electing honorable senators. The legislation providing for the referendum is, as we pointed out when it was under consideration, a specific measure to cure a specific evil. It i3 true that many provisions of the Constitution could be improved, and I believe that there is a case for the calling of a Constitution convention to consider ‘ not only the present functions of the Senate but also many other matters relating to the Constitution, but I can see no good at all in this committee travelling from city to city taking evidence from witnesses. I doubt whether the committee will discover anything that could not be more easily discovered in the Library of this building. After all, the original Constitution conventions did not consider it necessary to travel all over the Commonwealth hearing expert witnesses. The first convention conducted all its deliberations in Sydney. The second mct in three of the State capitals - Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney - but the meetings were conducted as conventions. That, I consider, is the proper method of considering a general overhaul of the Constitution. However, my main complaint is that Senator McKenna has not given us any idea of how far the committee has proceeded with its work. He has mentioned the names of four witnesses, and admittedly they are estimable men and can be regarded as authorities in their own particular field, but it would have been much easier to ascertain their views from the Library. They have all written books and we know their general point of view. Senator McKenna has not told us whether any witnesses declined to give evidence to the committee. He has not given us any idea of the form or duration of the committee’s deliberations, nor has he said anything to convince us that the committee has done an honest piece of work. “We should know those things before we agree to extending the life of the committee. The Senate should not grant an extension of time unless it is convinced that honest work has been done and will be done in future. We should rather direct our efforts to placing before the people the proposed alteration of the method of Senate voting. That is a clear-cut issue and, despite the views of honorable senators opposite, it is a sensible proposal for preventing the return of an evenly divided Senate after a double dissolution.
– I support the motion. The Constitution Alteration (Avoidance of Double Dissolution Deadlocks) Bill is part of a. pattern that has been followed by the Government in its ten months of office. Its first action was to introduce a bill providing for the appointment of ita “ stooges “ to the Commonwealth Bank.
– I rise to order. We are discussing a motion for an extension of the life of the committee appointed by the Senate to consider the Constitution Alteration (Avoidance of Double Dissolution Deadlocks) Bill. That has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Bank or any other phase of Government policy. I submit that Senator O’Byrne is out of order in introducing into the debate extraneous and irrelevant matter.
– It is my duty to decide whether or not Senator O’Byrne is introducing extraneous matter. Most speeches made in this chamber contain references which, when read out of their context, might appear to be extraneous. A speaker must always be given an opportunity to show how he proposes to connect his remarks with the subject under discussion. I have no doubt that Senator O’Byrne will do that in due course. If he does not, he will be out of order.
– I certainly shall connect my remarks with the motion before the Chair. Also, as part of the pattern to which I have referred, the Government has introduced legislation designed to intimidate militant trade unionists in this country. Clearly, it is not designed to intimidate Communists because the Government already has power to deal with those people. Complementary to the banking legislation and the anti-.Communist bill, is the Constitution Alteration (Avoidance of Double Dissolution Deadlocks) Bil], the purpose of which is to intimidate Opposition senators in the hope of securing the passage of the other legislation to which I have referred. Senator McCallum has said that Labour is pledged to the abolition of the Senate.
– So it is.
- -Senator Guy himself was once pledged to work for that objective, but he broke the pledge.
Government supporters interjecting,
– Order ! I warn honorable senators that if they continue to disobey my calls for order I shall be forced to take action. I ask Senator O’Byrne to show how he proposes to connect his remarks with the motion before the Chair.
– It is most important that any proposal to alter the status or functions of the Senate, or oi’ the method by which senators are elected, should be fully considered, and it was for that purpose that the committee that is the subject of this motion was appointed. Equality of representation in the Senate is of vital importance to the States. Recent Tasmanian claims to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for just treatment financially brought only a miserable hand-out which is far from sufficient to meet the needs of that State.
– I again rise to order. I submit that a discussion of what took place between the Premier of Tasmania and the Prime Minister at a Premiers conference or anywhere else has nothing to do with the motion now under consideration. I submit that I am entitled, Mr. President, to direct your attention to this matter, and to ask that you rule Senator O’Byrne out of order.
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) has every right as a member of this chamber to rise to order, but the honorable senator who has the call is entitled to show why, in his opinion, it is essential that the time of the committee should be extended. He has shown how essential it is that any proposed change of the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Senate should be given the most exhaustive scrutiny. In so doing, the honorable senator is quite in order.
– I rise to order. If you are going to justify your rulings on your personal convictions, Mr. President, I suggest that further debate is unnecessary and that Senator O’Byrne is out of order on that ground.
– What is Senator Wright’s point of order?
– It is somewhat esoteric. Senator O’Byrne may continue.
- Senator Wright represents - or perhaps I should say misrepresents^ - the State that I have the honour to serve .in this chamber. It has the smallest population of all the States of the Commonwealth. Under the Constitution however, it has equal representation with the other States. We consider, therefore, that any alteration of the status of the Senate should be closely examined. The refusal of honorable senators opposite to be associated with the committee will stand to their everlasting shame. The Labour party has been forced to take the initiative. Members of the present Government are not fit to hold office. They have been pitchforked into jobs, which, because of their inexperience, they are not qualified to hold., yet when we on this side of the chamber act as our experience of administration dictates, we are accused of hypocrisy and playing for time. After all, Senator McKenna has sought only an extension of three weeks. I am quite confident that when the committee submits its report it will be found to be completely impartial, and to reflect great credit on members of the committee. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
– Any proposal relating to the status and position of honorable senators and the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives is, of course, of great importance to us all, but I consider that the Senate should refuse to grant the extension of time that the committee seeks because, on the information that has been put before us, it has made no real attempt to approach its duties seriously. If that statement is not correct, then the committee has shown scant courtesy to the Senate because of the brief and uninformative report that it has presented. We have not been told of the considerations to which the committee has applied its mind. With a flourish of trumpets, Senator McKenna merely produced a. list of names of men with academic’ qualifications who had given evidence before the commitee. In other words, we have been told only about the flies that have been successfully enticed into the web, but we have not been told what happened when the witnesses appeared before the committee. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has told us that false information has been supplied to persons invited to appear before the committee; but what is still more important, we have not been given any information about those who declined to attend the meetings of the committee on the ground that it was obvious that the committee was not in a position to consider the problem impartially, and that it would deal with it in a partisan manner. Notwithstanding these setbacks the committee had the effrontery to continue its deliberations. I invite the attention of honorable senators opposite who have expressed their appreciation of the good work which the committee has done, and will continue to do, to consider the circumstances in which it was appointed. To those honorable senators opposite who have pointed to the importance of the matters with which the committee is concerned and to great parliamentary traditions that stand behind it I say that the proper time for them to have expressed sentiments of that kind, and to live up to them, was when the legislation reconstituting the Senate was passed through the Parliament. If ever a scurvy trick was played on the Australian nation by any government, it was played by the Chifley Government when it drafted that legislation in such a manner as to prevent the people from choosing which party should be in the majority in the Senate. When the people were asked to record their votes at the last general election honorable senators opposite said, in effect, “We, the Labour party, will enter this contest, which the democracy is to decide, with an advantage of fifteen members over our opponents “. In those circumstances, for honorable senators opposite to talk about the great achievements of the select committee constitutes an offence to every person in this chamber. The contention of Opposition senators that the committee was weakened by the refusal of Government members to accept appointment to it is made with no sense of real values. Having got away with something of which they should be thoroughly ashamed, they try to rub salt into the wounds of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I protest against the manner in which the committee has proceeded with its task. I do not believe that its members are honestly and conscientiously attempting to do their work. The committee is a creature that was born of political expediency and whose sole purpose is to save the Opposition from being placed in the embarrassing position of having to say “ Yes “ or “ No “ to a Government proposal. By forcing the appointment of the committee the Labour party has shown that it has lost all appreciation of what is right and proper in the interests of the electors. Eight years of power ruined the Labour party, and turned its members from parliamentarians into autocrats. They were so drunk with power that they came to the conclusion that they could get away with anything that would keep Labour in office.
– That is a despicable statement.
– Not at all. The Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended by the Labour Government with malice aforethought solely for the purpose of preserving the Labour majority in this chamber.
– Keep cool! Do not get excited !
– I accept Senator Cameron’s rebuke. I agree that an argu ment advanced with heat loses much of its force. This, however, is a matter about which I have very deep feelings. I resent very strongly the fact that the people have been denied an even-money chance of proper and adequate representation in this chamber. Because the Government also took that view, it attempted to remedy the position by introducing legislation which provided that in the event of a double dissolution, the parties on either side of the chamber could win. We hope, and we believe, that, if a double dissolution should eventuate, the parties on this side will be the winners. However, if we are not on the winning side, in a spirit of fairness, we shall accept the verdict of the people without question. The members of the Labour party demonstrated conclusively that they did not possess that spirit when they introduced the legislation altering the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The committee should be instructed to submit its report without delay.
– Honorable senators on the Government side, apparently, enjoy stone-walling tactics for they have spent a considerable period of time in hurling across the chamber unworthy insinuations against the representatives of the Labour party. As one who has been a member of this Senate for many years, and has served on a number of committees, I know something of the difficulties with which the select committee must be confronted in carrying out its task. I came into this chamber when the obnoxious system of representation was in force under which 4.9 per cent, of the electors were represented by only three non-Labour senators. I was still a member of the Senate when the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to provide for the reconstitution of this chamber. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has claimed that this motion is merely a part of a deliberate attempt by the Opposition to hold up Government business. It is nothing ot the kind. We are merely attempting to do the job that we were sent here to do. The Opposition is determined not to permit £150,000 of the taxpayer’s money to be thrown away willy-nilly, as it. would have been had the Parliament approved of this abnoxious bill which was presented by the Government as its solution of the possible problems of deadlocks in the Senate following double dissolutions. This bill is based on proposals submitted to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) by a comparatively unknown Victorian lawyer, but the lawyers in the ranks of the Government did not analyse them carefully. Had they done so they would have realized at once that, far from removing the difficulties that might result from double dissolutions, they would accentuate them. It was obvious to those who carefully considered the implications of the bill that it would not achieve the objectives sought by the Government.
Because of the defects of the measure, the Opposition in the Senate used its majority to refer it to a select committee for investigation and report. I point out that during the 50 years of federation this problem has not previously been considered by such a committee. On several occasions, the Labour party sought to amend the Constitution to enable the Senate to function more efficiently, but on almost every occasion its proposals were rejected. Every member of this Senate wholeheartedly agrees that the Senate should be so constituted as to enable it to function efficiently. By its introduction of a bill to amend the Constitution, with a view to avoiding deadlocks arising as a result of double dissolutions, the Government has tacitly admitted that the Senate does not now function efficiently. The Opposition, accordingly, invited it to form a nonparty committee to inquire into the matter, with a view to ascertaining how best the system of the Senate elections could be improved, and to what degree this branch of the legislature could be made to work more smoothly.
I resent the contention of honorable senators opposite that we are endeavouring to stone-wall Government business. We claim that the Government should not submit to the people a proposal that would cost at least £150,000, would provide no cure for the existing evils, but would in fact make the position worse than it is to-day. Honorable senators opposite are well aware that if the bill had been passed by the Parliament, it would not have achieved the purpose of its framers, and deadlocks would still continue. If honorable senators opposite had had the courage of their convictions they would have joined the Opposition in the formation of a non-party committee to examine the whole problem. The Attorney-General had much to say about this problem in earlier years. Next to the Prime Minister, the honorable senator is now perhaps the biggest “shot” in the Cabinet. Before the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to provide for the re-constitution of the Senate, and when it was possible for the representatives of 51 per cent, of the electors to obtain practically all of the seats in this chamber, the honorable senator rose in his place in the Senate and said, “This is the sort of” treatment that we would expect from the Labour party. Nearly one-half of the electors have been disfranchised and are denied representation in this chamber “. He described the existing electoral system as most undemocratic, and he said that the time had come when the Senate should be elected in accordance with democratic principles. We took his words to heart. When we were in office we amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act to provide for democratic representation in this chamber. The amending bill was agreed to by the then non-Labour Opposition without amendment. To-day, honorable senators opposite have attempted to decry that legislation. We do not contend that it was perfect, but we do claim that it greatly improved the position that had hitherto existed. We are prepared to assist the Government further to improve the act if it is humanly possible to do so; but the Government has rejected our offer.. What does it want? Does it wish so to amend the Constitution as to make impossible the functioning of this Senate? Honorable senators opposite are insincere when they object to this proposal to extend the time for the presentation of the com.mittee’s report. Those who have opposed the motion have had no experience of the working of such a committee, and of the difficulties that confront it in pursuing its task. If they had served on committees of this kind they would realize how unwise it would be for the committee to present a half-baked report. The halfbaked scheme presented by the Government as a means of avoiding deadlocks in the Senate can achieve no good purpose. Do honorable senators opposite want the committee to repeat the mistakes made by the Government when it drafted the measure ? If the members of the Government are sincere aud have the courage of their conviction that the provisions of the Constitution which deal with the functions and methods of election to the Senate are not all they should be, why do not they try to do something, even at this late stage? Why do not they appoint a joint committee to report on the functions of the Senate or bring forward legislation to improve the position? Because the Opposition objects to the Government throwing away £150,000 of the taxpayers’ money and achieving no object at all, the Government says we are adopting tactics to delay the passage of measures introduced by it. We invited the Government to appoint representatives on the committee in an effort to improve the position, but they refused, preferring to rely on the old catch-cry “ communism “. I do> not wish to bring that subject into the debate at this stage, except to say that the tactics adopted by the Government in this chamber are 95 per cent, in line with the tactics adopted by the Communist party. As honorable senators opposite do not wish me to proceed with a discussion on communism, I shall not do so. I content myself with saying that the Communists and members and supporters of the Government adopt the same tactics. Senator McCallum has stated that the committee should make known to the Senate the nature of the evidence that has been given. Senator McKenna lias already informed the chamber who gave the evidence, what the evidence concerned, and the extent to which the committee has dealt with it. He has also mentioned the matters with- which the committee is now dealing. Is it not amazing that an honorable senator, elected to perform a national function, should ask for a report of that nature? What sort of mental capacity has Senator McCallum? If he were chairman of a committee of this nature would he, every time the Senate met, give a detailed report of how far his committee had gone, who had given evidence, and the nature of that evidence? If he would, what would be the good of the committee? A committee is elected to hear evidence, sift it, and present only the kernels of the evidence. It is not expected to present the rubbish also. If honorable senators opposite consider that it is the duty of a committee to bring all the evidence before the Senate, they are welcome to that opinion. It reveals their mental capacity. But I do not intend to allow my mental capacity to sink to that level.
I notice that the Attorney-General has returned to the chamber, lt is very convenient to be able to run away when the discussion becomes embarrassing, but honorable senators will recall that very gallant speech he made when he was sitting where Opposition senators are to-day. The honorable gentleman then said that the then existing system of representation was the most undemocratic system ever incorporated in any legislation. He said that it was undemocratic. If the Constitution were amended he would make the same complaint again. But now he is in a corner and he cannot see his way out. The honorable gentleman has not put forward one suggestion to alleviate the difficulty, but I can offer one to him. If the Senate is evenly divided on a government measure, let the President, declare it carried, because it would have been already carried in another place. If there were even voting on an Opposition motion, let it be declared lost, because it would not be supported in another place. I. offer that suggestion because the AttorneyGeneral and the bright boys of the Government have not brought forward a single idea. It is true that the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) communicated by telephone with a friend jil Melbourne informing him that the Prime Minister had said that his proposed alteration of the Constitution would he adopted. That was the great secret that Mr. Menzies kept from the people of Australia. When it was disclosed we found it would end in a state of deadlock, which is the position to-day.
– As a member of the select committee appointed in consequence of the proposal to alter the provisions of the
Constitution relating to the Senate, I agree with the motion submitted by Senator McKenna. That decision is strengthened after listening to the statements of the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) and Senator McCallum. The Minister for Social Services indicated that he does not believe that this committee is conscientiously doing its work. Senator McCallum considered that, so far as he could see, there was no evidence that the committee had done any honest work. Those are insinuations that I, as a. member of the committee, am not doing the job I was entrusted to do at my election to the committee.
– How many sitting days has the committee had?
– I will tell the honorable senator all about that later on. I take no exception to the insinuations, but I throw them back in the teeth of those who made them. They are cowardly and unwarranted. This committee was appointed because a piece of proposed legislation was introduced by the Government in the hope that this chamber would become nothing more than an echo of another place. If that is the Government’s desire, it is a complete negation of the Australian Constitution as I know it, because the Constitution provides that the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect, of all proposed laws, with certain exceptions, such as laws imposing taxation, or appropriating revenue or money for the ordinary annual services of the Government, and subject also to the proviso that the Senate may not amend any proposed legislation so as to increase any charge or burden on the people. With those exceptions this chamber has power equal to that of the House of Representatives. I suggest that the desire of the Government in presenting this legislation is to have the people say that the Senate shall not have equal powers with the House of Representatives, but shall be an echo of it.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable senator is out of order in discussing the merits of the bill. The merits are not within the terms of this motion, which is to extend the time for the tabling of the committee’s report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.There is no point of order involved. As long as the honorable senator connects his remarks with the ‘bill, he is quite in order in proceeding with the discussion.
– The select committee is charged with the duty of inquiring into a number of important matters, including the number of senators in this chamber, the method of rotation of senators, and the procedure to be adopted in connexion with double dissolutions. The committee was appointed because it was patent to members on this side of the House that the legislation was illconceived and had not been given any thought other than that it might provide a method whereby the Government could obtain control of this chamber. Let us get away from the “ hifalutin “ ideas that some honorable senators endeavour to propagate in this chamber. I say that the Government parties have done a very great disservice to the people of Australia by refusing to associate themselves with the activities of the committee. That attitude shows that, the Government and its supporters are regarding this matter from a purely political standpoint and with scant consideration of the constitutional aspects involved. When it is suggested that the members of the committee are not honestly endeavouring to do their job, it smacks too much of political partisanship.
It has been said that Senator McKenna when speaking to the motion, did not give any indication to the Senate of the evidence that has already been heard. I point out that, the committee has invited anybody in Australia who wishes to give evidence before it to do so. I should like to see it function and hear evidence in each State.
– Why does not. the committee go overseas?
– We may do that too, if it is desired. I consider this matter of such tremendous importance to the people of Australia that people in every State of the Commonwealth should have a right to express their opinions. It may be desirable to ask members of the various State Parliaments and constitutional authorities to give us evidence, or to obtain public opinion in other ways. What matters is that when this subject is finally dealt with, we shall have the benefit of the opinions and ideas of many sections of people throughout the country. It must be remembered that all the brains of the country do not reside in this chamber. That was emphasized by the way this bill was presented to us.
The point I want to make is that the committee has requested certain persons and bodies to give evidence before it, but some of them have not yet done so. One political party was asked to send a representative to give evidence before the committee, but it has not thought fit to do so. If the committee were to issue an interim report setting out the nature of the evidence that has already been tendered to it, some persons would have the benefit of knowing what it has already ascertained and they would hop in and try to upset the applecart. The committee has already heard some very valuable evidence, which will be placed before the Senate at the appropriate time, and I appreciate the opportunity that I have had, as a member of the committee, to hear some of that evidence. To issue an interim report at this stage would be to extend an open invitation to certain persons, who are not now prepared to express an honest opinion, to express a biased opinion in the light of their knowledge of what somebody else had said.
I conclude by saying that the committee has met as often as it has been possible for it to meet.
– Will the honorable senator tell us on how many days it has sat?
– I see no reason why that information should not be disclosed, but I leave it to Senator McKenna, if he so desires, to tell the Attorney-General what he wants to know. I want the committee to hear more evidence, and to seek it in each State of the Commonwealth. This is not a matter that can be dealt with quickly. It has been proposed that a very important alteration of the Constitution shall be made, and I believe that the proposal goes much further than many honorable senators at present realize.
– I am amazed at the heat that has been generated by the submission of this motion. In everyday life, it is normal practice for men who are building a house to knock off on Friday night and return to work on Monday morning to carry on with the job. The committee, in doing its job, has heard a quantity of evidence, but it has not yet heard sufficient to enable it to form a sound judgment upon all of the problems that must be considered. We believe that we can obtain more useful information and that, until we have done so, we should keep our minds open. As the Parliament has been called together and we have been unable to continue to work on the task entrusted to us, we have asked the Senate to permit us to lay it aside for a time and take it up again later.
I am reminded of a very wise old friend of mine who once warned me to beware of the man with a bug. During the life of this Parliament we have seen what happens when men allow a bug to warp their judgments upon almost every issue on which they are called upon to make a decision. It appears that, irrespective of the matter upon which the Sena’te is called upon to express an opinion, the members of the present Government parties relate it to the machinations of the Communists. It is extraordinary how far the Communist bug has penetrated into the minds of supporters of the Government. It seems that every subject brought before the Parliament is, in their minds, linked with communism. The Government desires certain changes to be made in the method of election of senators. That is a matter which has no relation to the Communist party, and one that we might well ask every honorable senator to approach with an open mind, because, after all, the problem of the method of election of senators and the functions of the Senate and the part that it should play in the Parliament needs to be carefully considered before the people are asked to approve of an alteration of the Constitution. But when honorable senators on this side of the chamber suggested that the problem should be carefully considered, the Government, confused again by the Communist bug, told us, in effect, that we ought not to look at the problem clearly or spend time in taking evidence upon
Lt, but that we ought immediately to agree to do what it wanted us to do and then tackle the problem of communism.
This is one of the most important problems that has confronted this chamber for many years. Some honorable senators opposite have said that we approach this matter with closed minds and that we are committed to the abolition of the Senate. I say, having seen the Senate in operation for some years, that its position must be considered with great care. There is room for grave doubt whether, in its present form, it performs a useful function. If we propose to maintain the bi-cameral system of government in Australia, we must make vital changes in the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives and the method of electing senators, but that cannot be done in a few minutes. It should not be done in the manner in which the Government has sought to do it. This bill was drafted, almost overnight, in great secrecy. It was handed to us hurriedly, and we are asked to give our judgment upon it. Within a short time, we were able to point to all kinds of defects in it, but we were still asked to accept the measure and to persuade the people to alter the constitution in the manner suggested by the Government. We felt that the problem was too important to be disposed of hurriedly. We 3aid that it was one upon which we ought to have more information, and that we could obtain that information by establishing a committee to obtain as much evidence as it was possible to get. “We asked the Government to co-operate with us in that task, but the Government, in its wisdom or lack of wisdom, refused to do so. The Opposition went ahead, and a committee was established. Its task has been to try to obtain from the best informed persons their views upon how parliamentary government in Australia can be improved, and I do not think that any honorable senator will deny that great improvements are required.
I regret that the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) imputed ulterior motives to the last Labour’ Government in changing the method of electing senators. The honorable senator’s remarks were quite unworthy of a Minister of the Crown. In the last Parliament, we witnessed the spectacle of a Senate consisting of 33 members of the Labour party and three members of the antiLabour parties. That small anti-Labour Opposition represented 4S per cent, or 49 per cent, of the electorate. It was apparent to everybody that that was unfair, and the Labour Government decided that the method of electing senators should be altered. That was done, but now we are confronted with the difficulty that, if a double dissolution occurs, the Senate will probably come back 30 - 30. We have cured one ill but we have created another difficulty that must now be resolved. It was suggested that the proposals submitted by the Government in this bill would solve that difficulty, but a very brief examination of the measure revealed to the Opposition that it would not achieve the purpose for which it was intended. We are now attempting, by the method of a select committee, to ascertain what is the best thing to do in the interests of the Parliament. I remind the Senate that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has spoken of establishing a standing committee upon foreign affairs. When one considers the functions performed by the American Senate, one wonders whether this chamber would not be more useful if it were called upon to undertake some of the tasks that are now performed by the American Senate. There are a number of problems associated with the position of this Senate, and I do not think that we should lose the opportunity that presents itself to consider them fully. We should not accept the view of the Government that the problem of communism is all-important, that we should just accept this bill and all will be well. The turmoil in which we are involved at present tends at times to cloud our judgment. We all hope that parliamentary government will continue to prevail in Australia, but it can only do so if we adapt it to changing conditions. I believe we have now reached the point when some changes of the relationship between this chamber and the House of Representatives must he made, although I am not prepared to say now what the changes should be.
The Attorney-General said that the committee ought to issue an interim report. I suggest that it would be wrong for it to do so.
– Will the honorable senator tell me on how many days the committee sat? I should like to know.
– The AttorneyGeneral is suggesting that the committee has not done enough work. In addition to performing the duties that all members of the Senate are called upon to undertake, I have devoted a considerable portion of my time to this extra duty. I am prepared to devote whatever free time I have to attending meetings of the committee and reading the evidence submitted to it so that I shall be in a position to assist in the presentation to the Senate of concrete proposals. If all other honorable senators were prepared to devote some of their time to a consideration of this problem it would be of advantage, because when the bill came before us again their minds would be informed and they would be in a position to make constructive suggestions.
– Time is getting on, and we have not achieved very much this afternoon, but I do not think that the few minutes that I shall occupy in speaking to this motion will vitally affect the affairs of government. One point has been overlooked in considering this matter. We on this side of the chamber know perfectly well that the appointment of this select committee was merely a device to shelve a proposal that we thought would meet the situation arising from a double dissolution. In the first place we knew that when this Parliament was assembled, although the Government had a majority in another place, it faced a hostile Senate. We knew also the attitude that the Australian Labour party would probably adopt to vital legislation that we proposed to- introduce, and we considered it quite possible that a double dissolution would occur. For that reason we introduced a bill to provide for a referendum to alter the Constitution in connexion with this matter. Although I do not claim to be an authority on the Constitution, I am of the opinion that a bill providing for a referendum of this nature does not require the concurrence of the Senate. Although I am. not altogether sure of my grounds, I think that I am right. I believe that if this chamber failed to pass the legislation and it was returned to the House of Representatives and passed there again, it could be submitted to the people without further delay.
– If that is so, why does not the Government submit it to the people?
– The Opposition knows why we cannot submit it to the people at this stage. It appointed a select committee to avoid the issue. The matter could have been decided a long while ago. As honorable members know, the bill provides a solution for any difficulties that might arise as a result of a double dissolution. At least it would enable the government of the day, Labour or non-Labour, to obtain a majority in both Houses. It would cut both ways. For the life of me I could never really understand why the Opposition was so deadly opposed to the bill. It is apparent that the select committee has done very little during the last three months. As far as we know, only four witnesses have given evidence. In my opinion, no good purpose would be served by extending the time for the report to be submitted. It would be a sheer waste of time. I suggest that the witnesses who have given evidence are constitutional authorities who, in many cases, would be talking over the heads of the members of the select committee.
– They would not have to shoot too high to get over the honorable senator’s head.
– I do not deny that.
– He would be an easy witness.
– I do not deny that either. However, I am convinced that no good purpose would be achieved by extending the time, because the matter could go on indefinitely. Because it commands a majority in this chamber, the Opposition could further extend the time and continue to delay a decision.
– The honorable senator is merely stating the obvious.
– I register an emphatic protest against an extension of time being granted.
Senator COOKE (Western Australia) 1 4.23]. - -Supporters of the Government have been somewhat Gilbertian in their attitude to this matter for, whilst on the one hand they have implied that the Opposition is wasting time, yet on the other hand some of their number have spoken about divers matters such .as Mohammedans eating pork and Hindus killing cows, obviously in an attempt to smoke-screen the position. The motion before the chamber is that the committee should be granted an extension of time to consider a proposition that was hastily conceived and badly presented to this chamber. The arguments that were presented by the Government when the bill was brought before this chamber were so obviously weak and ineffective in what the measure aimed to correct that it was necessary for the Opposition to appoint a committee to go into the matter thoroughly. I was amazed that the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) should criticize the previous Labour Government for having introduced proportional representation for Senate elections. He even implied that that had been done for an ulterior purpose. Just as various aspects were overlooked when that system was introduced, so certain factors still remain to be corrected in connexion with the present legislation. When the measure which, dealt with proportional representation was introduced in this chamber, the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan), who was then in Opposition, thoroughly congratulated the Labour Government for introducing it and stated that it would rectify faults that had existed since the time of federation. In another place supporters of the Government paid high compliments to the Government for the manner in which it was proposed to put the franchise of this House in order.
– I suggest that the whole Senate should retire.
– The Minister may suggest whatever he likes. It is obvious that at the time when the proportional representation bill was being discussed’ supporters of the then Opposition considered that the power of money would not be sufficient to smash the LabourGovernment then in office and now they desire that this House should become’ merely an echo of the House in which they have a majority. That is why the committee should be given full scope to sift this matter thoroughly, in a non-party manner, in order to protect the interests of the people of Australia. Time spent on that objective is always worthwhile. The real position is that the Government does not require any more power than it has already. From 1901 to the present time - almost half a century - the provision in the Constitution relating to Senate elections has proved adequate without the problem that the Government now fears presenting itself. If, in a general election following a double dissolution, the number of members on each side of the Senate was equal, a government which desired to have certain legislation approved could achieve that end by means of a joint sitting of both Houses, in accordance with section 57 of the Constitution. I contend that the present bill is the product of political expediency. Before we try to alter section 57 of the’ Constitution, which is fundamental to democracy, the whole matter should be thoroughly sifted on non-party lines. If the Government was honest it would admit that there are more things in relation to Senate representation that require to be corrected than what it is alleged the bill will correct. As I have already pointed out, the Constitution provides for a joint sitting of both Houses of the Parliament to settle matters on which agreement cannot be obtained. Obviously by this measure, the Government wants power to render the Senate impotent, useless, and emasculated and” without power to defer any measure submitted by the House of Representatives. It should not be imagined that before to-day governments have not had to submit very urgent matters to the Senate under conditions similar to those that exist to-day, but probably accompanied by more embarrassment. I repeat, that the bill aims to destroy the only democratic bi-cameral system of government in this country. Although the Constitution gives the Government certain rights which will meet the present situation, it is not prepared to exercise them. I thoroughly support the motion to extend the time for bringing up the report of the committee.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.This motion for the extension of the time al lotted to the select committee to bring in its report is of far greater importance than many people may realize. The pioneers of federation in the early nineties were confronted with many difficulties. It has already been pointed out, that Sir George Reid, probably one of the best democrats in Australia, was opposed to federation, and the people of New South Wales, following his lead as Premier, at first rejected the proposal. One of the stumbling blocks to federation was Senate representation. The people of the smaller States feared that they would be completely dominated by New South Wales and Victoria, and those who favoured federation had to allay their fears. The method adopted was to give all the States, irrespective of their population, equal representation in the Senate. That method has since been challenged by many thinkers, and by some of the leading newspapers, particularly in the larger States. It has been suggested that a special commission should be appointed, on the lines of the original convention, to examine the subject thoroughly.
This is not a party matter, and honorable senators, when considering it, should not be influenced by party affiliations. I was amazed to hear members of the Government charge Senator McKenna with employing unfair tactics because the select committee examined only four or five witnesses. Recently, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when confronted with the possibility that the Labour and anti-Labour parties might be equally represented in the Senate, declared that if the naughty boys in the Senate prevented the passing of legislation, he would send them to the country. The Prime Minister is a very fine speaker-
– Hear, hear !
– Yes. but we should stop there. The Prime Minister made has statement on the 12th December. On the 14th December, the Melbourne Argus published a statement by me showing that, on the basis of election results over the last fifteen years, it was extremely probable that the opposing parties would be returned to the Senate in equal numbers. After that, I did not hear another word from the Prime Minister. However, there is a genius in the House of Representatives, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who, some months later, directed attention to what, was obvious to every thinking person. The Prime Minister found himself in a dilemma, so what did he do? He called to his help a briefless barrister in Melbourne, who evolved the scheme that has since been embodied in legislation submitted by the Government, but the scheme, because of its author’s lack of mathematical knowledge, would not help to get us out of our difficulty.
– It would make the position worse.
– I do not go as far as to say. that, but it would be of no help. Therefore, the select committee is charged with a heavy responsibility. The method of electing senators was evolved by a convention in the ‘nineties, and it has remained in operation for nearly 50 years. The select committee consists of a number of intelligent men who realize that their recommendations, if adopted by the Parliament, may become law for the next 40 or 50 years. “We know how difficult it is to persuade the people to agree to any proposed alteration of the Constitution. I believe that the committee, if given sufficient time, will be able to formulate a recommendation that will prove of great value. The committee will have to consider a method of filling casual vacancies i.i the Senate. At present, no provision exists for allowing the people to choose a representative to fill such a vacancy. A vacancy is filled by the government of the day in the State where it occurs.
- .Senator Wright is sceptical, but I remind him that in his own State of Tasmania a Senate vacancy occurred, due to the resignation of Senator Ready, while the State Parliament was in recess. The State Cabinet met and appointed John Earle to fill the vacancy. Tt was not even the State Parliament that appointed him. The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) pointed out that when the number of members in the House of Representatives was fixed at 122, the Parliament had no choice as to what the number of senators should be, because the Constitution expressly provides that the number of senators shall l>e, as nearly as practicable, half the number of the members of the House of Representatives. So what happened? Senators who were elected in 1946 assumed office on the 1st July, 1947, and their term doe3 not expire until the 30th “ June, 1953. They are legally, morally, and constitutionally entitled to occupy their seats until that date. There was no trick, as has been suggested by the Minister for Social Services. How could the term of office of those senators have been terminated ? It is regrettable indeed that when the measure providing for the introduction of the proportional representation voting system at Senate elections was considered by this chamber Labour had 33 representatives in the Senate and the then Opposition had only three. No Labour man approved that state of affairs, nor .does he hope that it will obtain again. Labour itself has on three separate occasions been in the unfortunate position in which members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party found themselves at that time. Twice the anti-Labour parties have held 33 seats in this chamber to Labour’s three, and once Labour had only one representative against 35. However, the fact that.Labour had a substantial Senate majority in 1949 does not justify the allegation that the then Government indulged in snide tactics, because senators contesting the 1949 elections were entitled, if elected, to hold office until 1953. The allegation is too absurd to warrant serious consideration.
The Opposition has been challenged to say whether it favours the abolition of the Senate. Only one authority can abolish the .Senate, and that is the electors of the Commonwealth voting at a referendum. I have no doubt that the anti-Labour forces in the House of Representatives would like to see the Senate abolished for perhaps three months, so that they could put certain legislation on the statute-book. I believe that the select committee that was appointed when this bill was previously before the Senate has been charged with a momentous task. Its report may determine the future of. this chamber, and I believe that every facility should be given to the committee to make the fullest possible inquiry. The Government was invited to appoint representatives to the committee. Obviously, in the interests not only of the Senate but also of the people of Australia, it would be far better to have an all-party committee. The Commonwealth Constitution was not drafted by any one party, Liberal, Conservative, Labour, Protectionist, or FreE Trade. It was the work of all sections of the community. In short, it is a nonparty Constitution. Unfortunately, certain of its provisions have been the subject of considerable litigation, and constitutional reform is long overdue., I believe, therefore, that an extension of the life of the committee, which is the subject of this motion, is essential if the interests of this chamber and of the Commonwealth as a whole are to be safeguarded.
– in reply - I propose to confine my remarks to a few matters that have been raised in the course of the debate. Out of respect to the Senate, I went to considerable pains to adduce reasons in support of the request by the committee for an extension of time. I set out in detail the matters which I considered justified that request by the committee and the support of it by the Opposition. I was rather surprised, therefore, when this motion was made the subject of an extensive debate by Government supporters. I was even more surprised when, after the debate had lasted for about two hours, and a responsible Minister had made a serious allegation against the committee, an attempt was made to apply the gag. The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) alleged that false matter had been issued by the committee to prospective witnesses. Apparently the honorable senator must get angry and be offensive every time he talks. He has now added to. his sins the levelling of a completely false accusation. The action of the Government in provoking this debate and then seeking to gag it during my momentary absence from the chamber, apparently in the object of denying me the right to reply to a very serious allegation by the Minister for Social Services, is deplorable. I remind the Senate that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) or some of his colleagues might well have been on the committee. An opportunity was given to the Government to appoint its own representatives and I have no hesitation in saying that the Attorney-General’s presence on the committee would have been an advantage not only to the committee itself and to the Senate, but also, ultimately, to the cause of constitutional reform. The committee heard valuable evidence from several professors, one of whom went to the trouble of outlining the constitutional convention debates on the subject of deadlocks between the Houses. Another proffered most valuable information on federal systems throughout the world including the recently established “West German Constitution under which a system of qualified majorities applies in the legislature. Enlightening figures were also supplied to the committee. They were the result of long research by the students of one professor who gave evidence. The work of the committee is not to be judged merely by the number of sitting days. Valuable work was performed both before and after the committee’s meetings in both Melbourne and Sydney. I assure the Government that members of the Opposition appreciate the problem that this bill seeks to solve, and are as eager as is the Government to find a solution. “We believe, however, that the problem can best be approached by reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of the present measure, not only in the opinion of the Opposition, but also in the opinion of every witness who has given evidence before the committee. Some prospective witnesses have come forward as the result of advertisements published in the press and not as a result of direct approaches made to them. Others were not available because of prior engagements. I have in mind particularly Professor Shatwell, .Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Sydney University, who was prevented from giving evidence at a time convenient to the committee by the pressure of his work in connexion with the South-East Asian Commission. When honorable senators opposite, most of whom are quite new to the Senate, have had more experience, they will understand what great difficulty there is in arranging meetings of a body of men drawn from every State in Australia. When that is complicated by the difficulty of meeting the convenience of busy professors, and technical and professional men, three months is a very short time indeed for a committee to carry out a task of this magnitude. I submit that the extension of time sought by the motion now before the Chair is not undue.
The Attorney-General claimed that the Hansard record of his speech on this bill was not circulated to prospective witnesses. The question whether the committee should use the document that the Attorney-General circulated in this chamber, or the Hansard report of his speech, was submitted to me, and I decided against the Hansard record, believing that I should be doing the Attorney-General more justice by circulating the completely official document that he himself had submitted to this chamber as the considered product of his mind. I examined both documents and found that the honorable se n a tor had diverged from the official version in some respects. The Hansard record is punctuated by interjections and references to irrelevant matters such as the casting of lots in the choosing of a President and Labour’s refusal to grant pairs for Senator Wilson and Senator Allan MacDonald. I have no hesitation in saying that the choice by the committee of the Attorney-General’s circulated speech was to the advantage rather than to the disadvantage of that, honorable senator’s view-point. I was amazed to find how many of the witnesses who came before us had had the courage to wade through the Hansard report of the debates on the bill.
I have been asked several questions. Honorable senators opposite want to know what individuals and political parties refused the invitation of the committee to give evidence.I feel that, as the committee has not reached any conclusions, is still grappling with the very great problems involved and is still awaiting technical information from Canberra, it would not be proper for me to embark- on a discussion of those matters. I doubt whether the committee itself would, on consideration, authorize the submission of a report stating that invitations had been sent to Mr. A. Mr. B, and Mr. C, who had declined to give evidence. I express a personal view when saying that that would not be a fair course to take, and I should be the first member of the committee to cast my vote against the disclosure of such information.
The Attorney-General asked on how many days the committee had sat. Apparently the honorable senator was missing during most of my original speech on this motion, or was not listening to me, otherwise he would have known that
I had already given to the Senate valid and cogent reasons in support of my motion. Without reference to the minutes of the committee’s meetings, I am not in a position to state the exact number of sitting days.
Government senators interjecting,
– I appreciate the applause from the Government benches for my statement, but I can well do without it. I do not propose to take up any further time. Having replied to the motion, and having corrected the Attorney-General who was absent from the chamber during most of the debate, I now leave the matter to the decision of the Senate
Question put -
That the time for bringing up the report be extended until the 1st November, next.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.5 to 8 p.m.
.- I move-
That Order of the Day, No. I, General Business, be postponed until after the consideration nf Order of the Day, No. 2, Government Business.
The purpose of the Opposition is to give precedence on the notice-paper to the two particular matters for which the Government and the Opposition are claiming priority. The disposal of the Commonwealth Bank Bill, which, as far as the Opposition is concerned, should occupy a very brief period, would leave on the notice-paper the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill and the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, together with Order of the Day, No. 3, under Government business, which is - foreign affairs - ministerial statement (9th March, 1050).
The foreign affairs statement is unquestionably out of date since it bears date the 9th March, 1950. Without unduly anticipating what the Government may do, I should imagine that it would be disposed to discharge that item and perhaps replace it with a more up-to-date statement upon the very important subject of foreign affairs.
– I second the motion.
– I oppose the motion. Only yesterday we devoted a whole day, if we did not waste it, to the discussion of a measure which Senator McKenna claimed to be one of high, if not first, priority. In the face of very strong opposition from the Government members, who were anxious to proceed with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the business was taken out of the hands of the Government. In order to satisfy the Opposition, we are prepared, as I indicated earlier to-day, to proceed with the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill, although the second-reading speech of Senator McKenna on that measure was delivered only last evening, if by doing so we can accelerate the passage of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. If the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill is as urgent as the honorable senator claimed it to be last night when he took the unprecedented step, in a budget session, of taking the business of the Senate out of the hands of the Government and proceeded to discuss a matter that was essentially of a budgetary nature, I should imagine that he would be only too pleased to have his pet bill discussed and disposed of - that, is if he were sincere and not merely playing for time.
– in reply - I merely say in reply to the honorable senator that the course described by him as unprecedented has been quite wrongly so described. There were many occasions upon which a similar course of action was followed when a non-Labour majority existed in this chamber.
– In a budget session ?
– I am not disposed to particularize, for the simple reason that it would be quite profitless to do so.
– The honorable senator should be accurate.
– Depending entirely upon the attitude of the members of the Government, it should take approximately a few minutes to dispose of the measure to which the Opposition now seeks to accord immediate priority. I point out that the item “ Government Business, Order of the Day, No. 2, Commonwealth Bank Bill 1950 “, has been before the Senate since the early hours of the morning of the 23rd June. In a few moments the Government, if it runs true to form, will be accusing the Opposition of delaying a measure that the Government itself has placed low on the notice-paper. In view of my intimation that the Opposition is able to declare its position on the Commonwealth Bank Bill in a matter of minutes, the argument that there should be no delay does not arise. As the Minister has said that he is ready to proceed with his second-reading speech on the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill, I assure him that the Opposition is able to give a quick decision on the Commonwealth Bank Bill so he should be at liberty to proceed with his speech well before 8.15 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-
Minister for Trade and Customs) [8.6]. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
If the Opposition, with its superior numbers, is determined to frustrate the will of the people as represented by the return of this Government, we may as well be comfortable outside.
– The motion of Senator O’Sullivan that, the Senate do now adjourn gives rise to one of the most extraordinary situations that has ever developed in this chamber. It shows complete irresponsibility on the part of the Leader of the Government and those who sit behind him. Members of the Government have been telling the Senate how extremely urgent the disposal of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is and the Opposition has been pressing the urgency of disposing of the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill, so the Senate is agreed upon at least one thing, and that is that both bills are of the utmost urgency. Yet, because of the desire of the Opposition to dispose of one other measure, which I indicated would take two or three minutes, the Minister has taken this extraordinary course. Yet I can and do give the honorable senator a complete assurance to that, as far as the Opposition is concerned, he could, within a matter of minutes proceed with one of the two urgent measures before the chamber–
SenatorO’Sullivan. - Does the honorable senator give an unqualified assurance?
– I give an unqualified assurance that the Opposition will determine its attitude within minutes. I inform the Leader of the Government that whenever I give an assurance on behalf of the Opposition it will always be an unqualified assurance.
– What is the assurance?
– The assurance is that the Opposition will dispose of the Government’s banking bill within minutes.
– How many minutes? A couple of thousand?
– As many minutes as will be needed to take a vote on whether or not we insist on our amendments. I make it as specific as that. I give that assurance without the slightest qualification at all, and I repeat that whenever I do give such an assurance and make no qualification, the Government may take it that there is none.
– I was not questioning the reliability of the honorable senator’s assurance; I merely wanted to know what it was.
– I am sorry if the Leader of the Government did not hear it. My assurance is that as far as the Opposition is concerned, it is prepared to dispose of the Commonwealth Bank Bill within a few minutes. I shall go further than that and say that we will take only so much time as will enable us to indicate that we insist upon our amendments. Unless the Government wishes to debate that particular issue, the measure can be disposed of in a matter of minutes.
The Minister will stand condemned before the people of Australia for inconsequentiality and utter insincerity in urging in this chamber that a certain measure is urgent if at an hour such as this, after the Senate has been sitting for approximately only ten minutes, following the resumption of the sitting after the dinner recess, he does not accept my assurance. He will, in fact, show a sense of complete irresponsibility that one does not expect in a member of a government, if he proceeds with his intention to adjourn the Senate. A few moments before the suspension of the sitting the Minister for Shipping,Fuel and Transport (Senator McLeay) declared that in view of the urgency of the measures before us we should sit to-morrow. Yet at six minutes past eight o’clock in the evening the Leader of the Government calmly stood up and moved that the Senate should adjourn. He did so after he had been given an assurance that a motion that the Opposition has submitted would, as far as the Opposition was concerned, occupy the space of a few minutes. The Opposition is content that the Government should make a spectacle of itself before the people and demonstrate the utter insincerity and hypocrisy of its attitude, when it demanded earlier in the afternoon that the Senate should sit tomorrow. Now with four matters left on the notice-paper, it seeks to adjourn the Senate. I am perfectly content to leave that situation to the judgment of the people of this country.
. - in reply - I am very sorry that Senator McKenna became so heated over this matter, because it is quite a simple one. While there are issues of grave urgency before this chamber it is its duty to consider them and not allow itself to be sidetracked.
Question resolved in the negative.
– In the circumstances I shall retire atthis stage and resume the chair in an hour’s time.
Sitting suspended from 8.15 to 9.20 p.m.
O’Sullivan, are you prepared to go on with the Commonwealth Bank Bill?
– No, for the reasons that I gave.
– I ask for leave of the Senate to make a statement.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that leave be granted ?
Leave not granted.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent Senator McKenna from making a statement.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators.
– I wish to refer very briefly to the position on the notice-paper for the remainder of to-day. The first item is the Commonwealth Bank Bill 1950, the second item is the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill 1950, and the third item “ Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement “.
– The honorable senator made his bill the first item.
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) is out of date.
– He is also out of order in interjecting.
– Apparently he has managed to take the double. The fact is that, by order of a majority of the Senate, the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill has been postponed in favour of the Commonwealth Bank Bill. If the Attorney-General had been following my words, he would have noted that I said the position of the items on the notice-paper for the remainder of the day was as I indicated.
– That is the Opposition’s doing.
– A majority of the Senate so arranged it. An assurance was given, it being said that it was given without any qualification at all, that the Commonwealth Bank Bill would take a matter of only a few minutes. There was no possibility of misunderstanding about that assurance. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), who is in control of that bill, is not prepared to tell the Clerk of the Senate to call on that item, in accordance with the wish of the majority of the members of this chamber. That is the first point that I make.
I shall now trace, very briefly, the history of the measure to which I am now referring.
– Ancient history.
– I shall bring it right up to date. On the 21st June, 1950, not so very long ago, the Senate returned to the House of Representatives a. Commonwealth Bank Bill with amendments that apparently were unacceptable to the other chamber. On the 22nd June, the House of Representatives returned the bill to the Senate with a request that we should not insist upon our amendments. The Senate did insist upon them on the 22nd June. In the early hours of the morning of the 23rd June, the House of Representatives, not putting that bill aside, returned it to this chamber with a message requesting that we further consider our amendments a.nd agree to the position taken up by the House of Representatives. The point that I invite you in particular, Mr. President, to take into account is that the Minister for Trade and Customs then moved -
That the Message be considered in Committee of the Whole forthwith.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) then moved the following amendment : -
Leave out “.forthwith “, insert “ during the next sittings of the Parliament “.
The amendment was carried and the motion, as amended, was agreed to. There is before this chamber at this minute a resolution that that message be considered in committee of the whole on this day, upon which it is an order of the day. Following the proper sequence of the notice-paper, that order has now been reached.
I refer now to Standing Order 261, emphasizing that we have before us a resolution of the Senate. Standing Order 261 reads -
Whenever an Order of the Day is read for the Senate to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole the President leaves the Chair without putting any Question and the Senate thereupon resolves itself into Committee, unless upon Notice given an Instruction thereof is proposed from the Chair.
It would be common ground that there is no notice given, so that we need concern ourselves only with the part of the standing order “ Whenever an order of the day is read “. I recognize that it has been the practice for the Clerk not to read an order of the day unless called upon by the Minister in charge of a particular measure. I submit that when there is a resolution of this Senate extant and we reach the particular measure, it does not depend on the will of the Minister in charge of the measure to thwart a resolution reached by a majority of members of the whole of the Senate, and although I might well have raised this matter by way of a point of order, I feel, Mr. President, that you might like some little time to consider it. I suggest for your consideration that, at any future date, in circumstances such as these, you might formally direct the Clerk of the Senate to call the order of the day, and that the Senate should then, by going into committee, act in complete conformity with the resolution of the Senate. I submit that that is exactly what should have happened on this occasion. However, it did not happen, and to-night we had the spectacle of a leaderless legion in the persons of the Government senators sitting on the benches not knowing what to do next.
– Hope springs eternal in the human breast!
– They were saved from their dilemma by courtesy of the President. The Ministers at the table were unable to accept a suggestion that I made across the table that if they cared to adjourn -for an hour to think it over we would agree to that proposal. They did not even have the wit to move on that suggestion. They should be forever grateful to the President for saving them from an ungracious hour in this chamber. Now let me make this position particularly clear. The Commonwealth Bank Bill has been elevated to the top of the notice-paper.
– What about the urgent measure on prices?
– “We indicated that we were prepared to dispose of the Commonwealth Bank Bill within a matter of a few minutes. There can be no misunderstanding about the assurance that I gave again and again. No matter how urgent the other matter was, would three or five minutes’ debate have made the slightest difference, when the Government sought to adjourn the Senate shortly after 8 o’clock? There are two measures on the notice-paper for which we are separately demanding precedence, first, the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, for which the Government seeks precedence, and the other, the Constitution Alteration. (Prices) Bill, for which the Opposition seeks precedence. Both the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) are on our side, for they claim that the greatest task facing Australia to-day is the curbing of inflation. The whole position was highlighted by a broadcast on this very important subject this evening by the Prime Minister. As to the causes of inflation, the right honorable gentleman repeated almost every word that I put to this Senate last night. He confirmed all the important aspects of the matter and in fact elevated it to the Al problem in Australia, as undoubtedly it is. Although the Government claims urgency for the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, and we claim urgency for our bill, our claim being strengthened by the Prime Minister’s broadcast this evening on the subject of prices, Government Ministers, in complete futility, sat at the table at ten minutes past eight o’clock to-night not knowing what to do. Their one thought was to adjourn the Senate. I hope that the Government has recovered’ some portion of its wit, because the Opposition does not want to see this Senate again in the futile position in which the Government left it this evening. I again make the point that the Commonwealth Bank Bill, which was before the Senate, could have been disposed of by the Opposition in three or five minutes. It is completely clear that the Government prevented that course from being followed. So that the Senate will not, for the remainder of the time available to it to-night, be left without any business, Ave will oblige the Government if it does not know what to do, by calling on a measure that stands in my own name, and which is, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, the most urgent, measure that the Senate could consider.
. - by leave - I thank the Opposition for its courtesy in granting me leave to make a statement. However, there were a few inaccuracies in Senator McKenna’s statement. He made reference to the will of the majority of the Senate. It is quite true that, by accident and by no design of the people, the Opposition has a majority in the Senate at the present time. The Opposition is behaving in a manner which completely ignores the wish of the majority of the electors of Australia, as expressed on the 10th December, 1949. It is true that there is a hangover, a remnant of the general election in 1946, which is completely unmindful of its responsibility to the electorate, this chamber, or the system of parliamentary government. It is so hidebound in party affiliation and loyalty that it is prepared to destroy and bring to ridicule our system of parliamentary government.
Senator McKenna made some reference to a most ungracious hour. That most contemptible hour was not the creation of this Government. That circumstance was created entirely and exclusively by the irresponsible attitude of the Opposition. One of these days a very angry people will call upon honorable senators opposite for an explanation for the way that they have represented, or rather misrepresented them in this chamber. To maintain the Senate, which plays a very serious and responsible part in the government of the country, costs the Australian taxpayers a lot of money. The fact that the Government was placed in that position to-night was due entirely to the complete lack of responsibility of members of the
Opposition. On Wednesday we spent, if not wasted, an entire day on what Senator McKenna and the Opposition as a whole considered to he a matter of No. 1 urgent national priority. Although I had received no notice of it, I expressed my willingness to proceed with that debate forthwith, .because I wanted to get that matter out of the way in order to go on to another measure. We have had before us a matter of great urgent national importance - the Communist Party Dissolution Bill - in precisely the same form as when it was before this chamber some months ago. Yet, was the Opposition prepared to debate it? I do not say pass it, but merely debate it, and dispose of it so that the electors will know where they stand in relation to honorable senators opposite, and so that those honorable senators will know where they stand in relation to the electorate. Senator McKenna mentioned that he hoped that if another occasion such as this arose the traditional practice of the Senate would be laid aside and violated, and that the President would give a direction. I trust that will never take place, regardless of the political party in office. The present Opposition has shown the greatest contempt for the Senate and for the whole system of parliamentary government, as though there were nothing sacred in our parliamentary practice and procedure that the legislature existed only to assist party political propaganda God forbid, that we should ever reach such a state. I am confident that while the present President presides over this chamber, that will not happen. Senator McKenna stated that had we allowed the Commonwealth Bank Bill, which has been on the stocks for many months, to take precedence over the very important Communist Party Dissolution Bill, only a few. minutes would have been required to dispose of it. That reminds me of the pick-pocket who says, “Dilly-dally for only a few moments while I go through you”. Why should the Government submit to such humiliating tactics ? I remind the Senate that a matter of principle and a sense of responsibility are involved. We have urgent government business to do, and we propose to get on with it. I trust that this most unfortunate position will not recur, and that the Opposition will have some sense of its responsibility to the Parliament and to the electors.
– The Minister had none to-night when he moved the adjournment.
– I do not want to be unduly ungrateful for the courtesy of the Senate in allowing me to make this statement, but I wish to point out that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill could have taken even less time to dispose of than the Commonwealth Bank Bill. It was debated in this chamber over three months ago, and the bill here now is identical with the one which came before this chamber on that occasion. I defy any member of the Opposition to offer one new thought or idea upon it. Some honorable senators opposite talked themselves into a state of weary collapse through repetition, when speakon that measure. We even had the spectacle of some honorable senators going to sleep on their feet, lulling themselves by repetition. I again thank the Senate for its courtesy.
– I listened carefully to the speeches of Senator McKenna and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan). A very interesting point was raised by Senator McKenna. 1 have discussed the matter with certain persons during the last hour or so. A decision was reached by a majority of the Senate ; but it is possible, apparently, for the leader of the Government in the Senate, by remaining silent, to thwart the will of the majority. I agree that we must endeavour to uphold the traditions of the Senate, but I have said from this chair on several occasions that I will not be ruled by the dead hand of the past. If, after due consideration, I came to the conclusion that it was fitting that the will of the majority of the Senate should prevail, I would not hesitate to rule to that effect. At the same time, I recognize the force of the point made by Senator O’Sullivan regarding tradition and precedent. It would not be fit and proper for me to decide the issue at the present moment. During the week-end, I shall study the matter, and take counsel with others. When the Senate meets again next, week, I shall inform it of my decision.
Debate resumed from the 4th October (vide page 250), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I need not emphasize, because it is self-evident, that this bill does not bear on the face of it the hall-mark of practicability or sincerity. As was stated previously, probably never before in the history of parliamentary government has such a measure, touching as it does so closely upon budgetary matters, been brought before a legislature on the eve of the introduction of a budget. The real reason is, of course, apparent. This bill has been introduced in order to delay Government business. The Opposition is prepared to go to any lengths to avoid facing the issue on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. The real purpose of the bill now before the Senate is to delay what the Government and the people believe to be legislation of extreme importance and urgency, namely, the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, which is designed to deal with disruptive and destructive elements in our midst. In his second-reading speech, Senator McKenna said that the Opposition was forced to take the initiative. I wish that the activating force arose from an awakening conscience. As a matter of fact, the Australian Labour party, more than any other agency, is responsible for the chaotic conditions into which Australia had drifted just prior to the last general election, and from which we are slowly rescuing it. The proposition submitted by Senator McKenna is that the fixation of prices is a cure for all our economic ills.
– We never said anything of the sort.
– The bill provides for the placing of prices control in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. It is an elementary proposition that the fixation of prices cannot of itself cure any economic evil. If an article costs £10 to produce, no good purpose is served by fixing the selling price at £6. If £10 represents the cost of labour and materials in the article, it cannot be sold at anything less. Thus, the mere fixing of prices cannot of itself achieve anything useful.
– It did during the war.
– Apparently, Senator Nash does not remember that during the war there was direction of man-power and fixation of wages. Such devices for controlling costs and prices are now not available to any government. Senator McKenna said that in the policy speech of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) an assurance was given that living costs would be reduced and real wages increased. The Government is proceeding to do those things. Let us consider what was the position during the last few years of Labour rule. For the year 1948, the increase in the cost of living, according to the “ C” series index, was 8.8 per cent. For the year ended the 30th June, 1949, the increase was 9.8 per cent. Those were years of Labour rule. For the year ended the 30th June, 1950, for six months of which the Menzies Government was in power, the rate of increase was reduced to 9.4 per cent. For the half year ended the 30th June, 1950, the rate of increase was only 4.7 per cent. Thus, -despite the fact that we have been prevented from dealing with one of the most grievous causes of high cost, namely, the Communist wreckers, we have been able at least to halt the rate of increase. Honorable senators will agree with me that one of the most effective ways to check rising prices is to increase production. That can be done in several ways, one of which is to offer incentives. This Government, with the loyal and gracious support of a large number of unions and unionists, has been able in many industries to increase production considerably. That happy association, pleasantly begun, will, I hope, be continued to the benefit of the Australian economy. Increased production in those industries resulted from the offering of incentives, and from an improvement in employer-employee relationships.
Probably the greatest handicap on production is caused by the disturbers and wreckers of our economy. They are not concerned with obtaining a higher standard of living for the Australian people. They are pledged to support and obey an alien power, and it is their aim to bring the workers of Australia to a state of penury, in which fruitful ground they hope to sow the seeds of discord. Full production cannot be achieved until there is peace in industry, and there cannot be peace until we get rid of the Communist wreckers. The Government, early in its life, took steps to eliminate the wreckers from, our industrial life, but the Opposition, by its delaying tactics, has stultified the efforts of the Government, and thrown a protective mantle over the Communists. In his second-reading speech on this bill, Senator McKenna used these words -
In 1047, the Chifley Labour Government, seeing the development of the dangerous inflationary tendencies forseen in 1!)44, and observing the immediate and rapid increase in prices that followed the abandonment of prices control in the United States of America in 1940, passed through this Parliament a. bill for a referendum to include in the Constitution power over “ Rents and prices, including charges “.
That is a frank admission that, in 1946 and in 1947, the Government recognized the commencement of the spiralling of costs, lt submitted certain proposals to the people by referendum. The Opposition of the day said that it was not prepared to give the Government power over rents and prices for an indefinite period; it could have that power from year to year, but not indefinitely. To have granted the power indefinitely would have been to destroy the autonomy of the States. What did the power-hungry Labour Government do? When the people rejected its proposals, as they had every right to do, the Labour Government, in a fit of childish pique, threw overboard the whole system of prices control in September, 1948, although its powers under then existing legislation did not expire until the 31st December that year, and although the Opposition had assured the Government that, if circumstances warranted it, those powers would be freely extended for another twelve months. That did not suit the Chifley Government and, in unsportsmanlike fashion, it dumped the whole intricate business of prices control into the unprepared laps of the States. Then the Labour Government said, “ There, we told you the States could not handle the job “. However, had the Labour Government acted with a sense of responsibility, and continued prices control, as it was entitled to do, until the 31st December, 1948, and then asked for an extension of its powers for another twelve months, the situation could have been adequately met. So, regardless of its responsibilities and, above all, unmindful of the interests of the people who looked to it for help, the
Government, in a fit of pique and sulkiness. threw away its power to control prices.
What factors contribute to increasing costs ?
– Bad government is one.
– We found that out - bad government by Labour for eight years. How can we be expected to repair in eight months the wreckage of eight years of Labour administration? The people of Australia are well aware that bad government causes high prices. That is why they elected the present Administration to remedy the situation. Many factors contribute to rising prices. Earlier this year, Queensland and New South “Wales - I cannot speak of Victoria - suffered devastating floods one result of which has been a serious shortage of green and other vegetables. In these circumstances, it is inevitable that prices will rise. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that price fixing can regulate floods? It may well be that in future lush seasons, prices will drop. I mention floods to emphasize the fact that prices control as such can accomplish nothing unless production is maintained. Opinions on the best means of improving living standards vary. To some people, an improvement of living standards implies better services, a plentiful supply of all commodities, and lower prices. To others it suggests more leisure time. I have no doubt that all members of this chamber desire to improve the living standards of the Australian people; but how can that best be achieved? I am not in a position to say whether a majority of the people of Australia would prefer shorter hours and therefore reduced supplies or goods, or the same working hours with improved services and an abundance of commodities, but one would think that before tackling a problem such as that, a government would make sure that it was well informed and well advised. Certainly one would not expect a responsible government to be guided by what was most likely to be popular with the electors; ‘but what was the attitude of the Chifley Government when the claim for a 40-hour week was ‘before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in “1946 and 1947? Honorable senators will recall that the Commonwealth was represented at that hearing and supported the claim by the unions for a shorter working week. We had just emerged from six years of war during which the greater proportion of our man-power had been engaged on war pursuits instead of on civil production. Thus, there was a gap in the foundations that were being laid for a fuller and richer life for the Australian people. Serious shortages existed as the result of the diversion of labour to war production. The issue then confronting the Commonwealth Government was, as I have said, whether the people as a whole would benefit most from a shorter working week and therefore lower production, or the retention of a 44-hour week with improved production and services. That choice had to be made in 1947 when, according to Senator McKenna the Chifley Labour Government was aware of the development of the dangerous inflationary tendencies foreseen in 1944, and had observed the immediate and rapid increase in prices that followed the abandonment of prices control in the United States of America. The Chifley Government intervened in the 40-honr week claim, knowing full well, of course, that the mere appearance of the Commonwealth at such a hearing would have some influence upon the decision of the court. I shall quote now from the judgment in that case some of the warnings against a reduction of working hours that had been given during the hearing. One was that-
– Who said that?
– These are the warnings that the Commonwealth Government had before it when it supported the claim for a shorter working week. They appear on page 12 of the judgment. Other warnings were -
On page 14 of the report the following reference to shortages appeared: -
Explanations of these shortages are easy enough; the war and the diversion of our resources to that supremely wasteful enterprise, the accumulated housing shortage never overtaken since the 1930 depression, progress in the conception of what constitutes adequate housing, the fall in the birth rate . . .
The wasteful results of bottlenecks and uneven flow of goods. Many other explanations of a general character were offered while each industry had its own special explanations.
I should not like it to be inferred that we on this side of the chamber do not favour the highest possible standard of living for the Australian people, but obviously it is not possible to have a shorter working week and, at the same time, increased production. That is axiomatic. Counsel for the Commonwealth made representations to the court for a 40-hour week. They endeavoured to persuade the court that everything would be all right if the working week were reduced. This is what the court had to say about that -
The Court must assume the Australian Government has, by its support of these claims, in effect informed the Court that it is not alarmed about the financial burden which it is fully aware a favorable decision would impose upon these public undertakings. In this regard South Australia and Western Australia d« not differ from Tasmania and other States, since in the last analysis budgetary equilibrium will be maintained by grants from the Commonwealth which is now the taxing authority.
If we are satisfied that the national economy can stand the burden, then it seems to us proper that the States and Commonwealth should be left to work out their own financial policy.
If on the other hand the added costs lead to greater efficiency and economy then the community is advantaged.
We were, at one stage in these proceedings, before the attitude of the Commonwealth was made as clear as it is now, gravely concerned
Knout the hurden which a 40-hour week would impose upon all these governmental and quasigovernmental undertakings, but the position has been greatly eased by the final statement made by Mr. Lewis for the Commonwealth and quoted herein.
We have heard Senator McKenna’s submission that the Government at that time realized that a period of acute shortages would be suffered, yet speaking for the Commonwealth, counsel submitted that economic conditions warranted the granting of the claim for a 40-hour week !
– But who made the decision in that case?
– The Fur Court made the decision. The Commonwealth Government has not the power to legislate in respect of hours, wages, or conditions of employment. The point I am making is that the Chifley Government, knowing the difficult economic circumstances with which this country was faced, should have said to the unions, “ We believe that you are entitled to higher wages and a better standard of living, but we suggest that that better standard of living be expressed in improved services and a more adequate supply of essential commodities rather than in more leisure hours in which to contemplate your miseries and your inability to purchase the things that make life worth while “. By failing to issue that warning, the Chifley Government displayed a complete lack of responsibility and instead of assisting to raise Australian living standards in a real way, it gave the workers an ice cream which very soon melted in their hands. The shorter working week has not improved living standards to the degree that other measures could have improved them.
This bill does not bear the hall-mark of sincerity. If it were passed, no action could be taken under its provisions for many months. I hope that Opposition senators listened to the speech that was broadcast by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to-night and that they will be in the mood to listen to the further broadcast which the right honorable gentleman will make to-morrow night. A better standard of living and additional goods at lower prices can not be obtained by the passing of acts of Parliament, the promulgation of regula tions or by governmental action. They can be obtained only by improved production, by a greater effort on the part of all workers, both employers and employees, and above all, by an era of industrial peace. Our first effort to accomplish that ideal should be to rid this country of the Communist menace. I trust that the Senate will soon abandon the discussion of this bill and proceed to discuss a vital measure which will place in the hands of the Government an instrument of defence that will enable it to preserve the security of this country, and of offence against its enemies.
– I ask that the document from which the Minister has quoted be laid on the table of the Senate.
– It is my own property.
– When a request has been made to a Minister to table a document, it must be tabled. Standing Order 363 reads as follows: -
A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature, or such as should more properly be obtained by Address, may be called for and made a public Document.
– Does Senator Nash press for the tabling of the document.
– Yes. Who is its author ?
– It is a judgment of the court.
– Order ! Unless the Minister states that the document is of a confidential nature, it must be tabled.
– I have made notations on the document. I shall be prepared to buy one and give it to the honorable senator, if he so desires.
– I have asked that the document be laid on the table of the Senate.
– Order! The document must be tabled unless the Minister claims that it is of a confidential nature.
– The document is of a confidential nature and I therefore claim the privilege extended to me by the standing order.
– When Senator McKenna introduced this bill he did not over-emphasize its importance. He described it as a vital measure and accordingly he asked that it be given immediate consideration. Almost every section of the press throughout Australia endorses the views which he expressed. Those who have studied the subject of inflation well know that our economic position cannot be allowed to drift from bad to worse. It is obvious that the members of the Government are either grossly ignorant or callously indifferent of the position that is developing.
I propose to quote briefly from an article which appeared in the JulyAugust, 1950, issue of the Review, which is published by the Victorian Institute of Public Affairs. This publication is issued by leading business men, and men of high academic qualifications. The council of the institute consists of G. J. Coles, C.B.E., chairman, ,Sir Walter Massy-Greene, K.C.M.G., C. A. M. Durham, C.B.E., M.C., G. H. Grimwade, H. Pv. Harper, W. A. Ince, E. E. Lampe, L J. McConnan, C. IT. McKay, W. I. Potter, Herbert Taylor, and the Honorable A. G. Warner, M.L.C. All are well known, not only in Victoria, but throughout Australia as the occupants of high and important positions in the business world. The editorial committee of the Institute consists of G. H. Grimwade, F. E. Lampe, Herbert Taylor, E. D. Kemp, G. B. Mountain, and H. IT. Warren, who is secretary of the committee. For two years the Institute has engaged in research into the causes of inflation, and it has published many articles on the subject. In an article entitled “ Inflation Again “, the Institute has this to say -
There are . . . two ways in which we might hope to stabilize the value of the Australian £1. First, there is the passive way of waiting till the reaction from the world post-war boom forces a lower level of prices, and costs within Australia.
I observe that some honorable senators opposite appear to be amused. I remember the callous indifference with which they viewed the plight of the people in the thirties, when hundreds of thousands of Australians were on the breadline and countless families were broken up. They are showing the same indifference to the plight of the people to-day. The article continues -
Second, we can take definite action now by embarking upon positive measures of economic and financial policy.
The Government is adopting a passive role. It is afraid to do anything of a constructive nature, either legislatively, economically or financially, lest it be involved in trouble with its own supporters. It has not the moral courage or the requisite knowledge to carry out its task. This is what the Institute has to say -
Nothing will save Australia from the supreme tragedy of depression and unemployment if we allow the gap which is beginning to appear between our own costs and overseas costs to widen until it becomes an unbridgeable chasm. No ingenious devices of financial or fiscal policy, or even large-scale spending on public projects will then serve to save us from the unhappy and painful task of economic readjustment so that our economy can again proceed to operate on stable foundations.
In the article to which I have referred those words have been printed in italic type to emphasize their importance. These are the words of men with more than a theoretical knowledge, of the subject. They ask : Is it not possible to take a new approach - an approach that would enlist the combined goodwill and commonsense of all sections of the community? They then offer this advice -
This might be achieved by the Commonwealth Government inviting all major organized sections to appoint representatives to a conference on inflation for the purpose of thrashing out immediate requirements.
These men fully realize the position with which the country is faced. In the aggregate they represent a very large amount of capital invested in business activities. I entirely agree with them. The members of the Government do not appear to realize how tragic the position really is: The broadcast speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to-night indicates that the right honorable gentleman is ignorant of the position with which his Government is faced. Notwithstanding the fact that he has been warned by every section of the press, and that he himself remembers very well the tragic events that occurred in the ‘thirties, he is content to adopt a passive approach. He will not act until the damage has been done, and hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their employment and the equity in their homes, and insolvencies rise to staggering figures throughout the country. We have been told by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) that the fixing of prices does not mean anything to the Government.
– By itself it does not mean anything.
– The honorable senator now seeks to qualify his statement.
– I have merely repeated what I said before.
– The Minister has also suggested that wages should be pegged.
– Be fair! I did not say anything of the kind.
– The Minister implied that monopolies should have the right to fix the purchasing power of wages so that an increase of wages would not matter to them.
– I did not say anything about pegging wages. It is unusual for the honorable senator to be so unfair.
– Wages are pegged by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
– Order ! In ac cordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) to the lack of en couragement of young people in Australia who are interested in rifle clubs. It is undeniable that the handling of rifles and the weapons of modern war is essential to good military training. Prior to World War II., the government of the day subsidized the purchase of rifles and ammunition. I make no complaint on that score, because it, no doubt, provided an adequate amount of money for the purchase of those items. I understand that the complete equipment includes a telescope at a cost of £15 and that the purchase of other items brings the expenditure to approximately £20. That sum would, of course, be subject to rising costs. If the Government wishes young people, and particularly those young people just leaving school, to interest themselves in this sport, it is not sufficient to teach them to shoot with an ordinary rifle. They require all the accoutrements used by other riflemen. I suggest to the Minister that it is quite illogical to spend large sums of money on the higher side of military training and to neglect this very important aspect of it. This matter is non-controversial, and no doubt the Minister and former Ministers have had it brought to their notice in years gone by. In view, however, of the three broadcasts on defence recently made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I consider this an appropriate time to raise the subject. It may be said that if one form of sport is subsidized so should other sports. I do not consider that a proper argument, and I have no doubt the Minister will agree with my point of view. The young person who interests himself in cricket or football is involved in very small expenditure and, if he shows any particular aptitude, the gear he requires is very often purchased for him. For very many years the Government has, to an extent subsidized the purchase of some of the items necessary in rifle shooting, but I ask the Minister to examine the position in order to see whether the additional accoutrements required cannot, be made at Lithgow. I also ask the Minister to consider whether additional funds should not be made available in order to encourage young people to take up a sport which is most important to military training in Australia.
– The point raised by the honorable senator is an interesting one, and might well, upon close examination, have considerable merit. I suggest that he write to me in more precise terms, stating what he has in mind, and I shall then be pleased to discuss the matter with my colleagues.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Appleand Pear Organization Act -
Fourth Annual Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board for year 1949-50. together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No, 35.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations - 1950 -
No. 31 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union; and others.
No. 32 - Federated Ironworkers’ Asso ciation of Australia.
No. 33 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
No. 34 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.
No. 35 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 36 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 37 - Sheet Metal Working Agricultural Implement and Stovemaking Industrial Union of Australia.
No. 38 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 39 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia).
No. 40 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia; and Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 41 - Australian Workers’ Union and others.
No. 42 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 43- Australian Journalists’ Association.
No. 44 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association, and others.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - No. 2 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tri bunal - Report for year 1949-50.
Banking Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 46.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 43.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of the Commonwealth and Commonwealth Savings Bank as at 30th June, 1950: together with Auditor-General’s reports thereon.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Army- A. H. Corbett.
Attorney-General’s - W. S. Flynn.
Civil Aviation - R. D.Firns, N. L. Keys.
Commerce and Agriculture - K. L. Gunn,
W. B. C.Mackie,J. P. Wilson.
Defence -E.R. Knowles. J. F. K. McCarthy.
Health - K. H. Clarke. M.N. McLeod.
Interior- G. C. Bond. T. B. Halbert. F. A. Powell. W. Steele. C. G van Senden, R. A. Wyatt.
Labour and National Service - . J.E. Excell, P. McDonnell.
National Development -D. L. Beattie, R. Green. I. R. McLeod, E. H. Morgan. W. Roberts, T. H. Rodger, K.R. Walker.
Postmaster-General’s - J. M. Dixon.
Prime Minister’s - H. G. Shaw.
Repatriation- A. H. G. McIntyre,B. McLean.
Social Services - N. J. Cameron.
Supply - W. A. S. Butement. B.G. Gates, A. J. H. Oxford.
Treasury - A. M. Kerr.
Works and Housing - D. W. E. Beverley,
Customs Act - Customs Proclamations - Nos. 766, 767.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, Nos. 36-41, 53, 54.
Defence Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, Nos. 29, 47.
Royal Military College - Report for 1949.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (16).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 52.
Egg Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 31.
Egg Export Control Act - Third Annual Report of the Australian Egg Board, for year 1949-50.
High Commissioner Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 45.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Australian Aluminium Production Commission purposes - St. Leonards, Tasmania.
Common weal th office accommodation pur poses - Perth. Western Australia.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization purposes - Kelms- cott, Western Australia.
Defence purposes -
Bogan Gate, New South Wales.
Gladstone, South Australia.
Newnes Junction, New South Wales.
Nowra, New South Wales.
Queanbeyan, New South Wales.
Rathmines, New South Wales.
Red Hill South, Victoria.
Salisbury, South Australia.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes -
Cowell, South Australia.
Eagle Farm, Queensland.
Meekatharra, Western Australia.
Narrandera. New South Wales.
Renmark, South Australia.
Department of Supply and Development purposes - Hobart, Tasmania.
Department of Works and Housing purposes - Burwood, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales.
Carnarvon, Western Australia.
Chatswood, New South Wales.
Corowa, New South Wales.
Dalwallinu, Western Australia.
Dumbleyung, Western Australia.
Dungog, New South Wales.
Lithgow, New South Wales.
Narrandera, New South Wales.
New Norfolk, Tasmania.
Port Pirie, South Australia.
Sandy Bay, Tasmania.
Stradbroke Park, South Australia.
Sydney, New South Wales.
Woodside, South Australia.
Repatriation Commission purposes - Greenslopes, Queensland.
Meat Export Control Act - Fifteenth Annual
Report of the Australian Meat Board, for year 1949-50.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National Debt Commission - Twenty-seventh Annual Report for year 1949-50.
National Health Service Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 50.
Nationality and Citizenship Act - Return for year 1949-50.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Crown Lands Ordinance - Reasons for resumption of reserve at Elliott.
Ordinances - 1950 -
No. 1 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No. 2 - Crown Law Officer Reference.
No. 3 - Darwin Town Management.
No. 4 - Fisheries.
No. 5 - Police Arbitral Tribunal.
No.6 - Marriage.
No. 7 - Housing Loans.
No. 8- Health.
No. 9 - Apprentices.
No. 10 - Adoption of Children.
No. 11 - Licensing Court Annual Sit tings Validating.
No. 12 - Prisons.
Regulations - 1950 - No. 6 (Control of Waters )
Statutory Rules 1950, No. 34.
Northern Territory - Report on Administra tion for year 1948-49.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1950-
No. 3- Supply (No. 1) 1950-51.
No. 4 - Customs Tariff (Papua).
No. 5 - Customs Tariff (New Guinea).
No. 6 - Land (New Guinea).
No. 7 - Forestry (Papua).
No. 8 - Justices (Attestation of Instruments ) .
No. 9 - Expulsion of Undesirables.
No. 10 - Seamen (Unemployment Indemnity) (Papua).
No. 11 - Shipping (Maritime Convention) (New Guinea).
No. 12 - Arms, Liquor and Opium Prohibition (New Guinea).
No. 13 -Arms, Liquor and Opium Prohibition (Papua).
No. 14 - Printers and Newspapers (Papua) .
No. 15 - Statistics.
No. 16 - Lost Registers.
No. 17 - Co-operative Societies.
Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 30.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, Nos. 48, 51.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 49.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, Nos. 27, 42.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for 1949.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1 950 -
No. 4 - Medical Practitioners Regis tration.
No. 5 - Rates.
No.6 - Tuberculosis.
Regulations - 1950 -
Nos. 2 and 3 (Court of Petty Sessions Ordinance) .
No. 4 (Cemeteries Ordinance).
Sulphur Bounty Act - Return for year 1949-50.
Tractor Bounty Act - Return for year 1949-50.
Trade Marks Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 44.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at -
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1950, No. 28.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Act (No. 1)- Regulations - StatutoryRules 1950, No. 32.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Act (No. 2) - Regulations - StatutoryRules, 1950 No. 33.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19501005_senate_19_209/>.