25 October 1950

19th Parliament · 1st Session

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

page 1287


Senator COOPER:
Minister for Repatriation · QUEENSLAND · CP

– On the 12th October Senator Finlay asked whether the Government had considered increasing the amount of the war gratuity, which was intended as a reward to our exservicemen for services rendered, so that they will not suffer any financial loss.

The Treasurer has furnished the following reply: -

The question of increasing the amount of war gratuity payable on 3rd March, 1951, has recently been subjected to the closest examination by the Government, which has decided not to approve of any increase.

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Senator MURRAY:

– In view of the fact that a large quantity of Tasmanian apples and pears will be available for the interstate markets next year because the British Ministry of Food does not intend to buy the forthcoming crop, will the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport investigate the possibility of using Commonwealth-owned “ D “ class vessels such as Denman to carry apples from the Tasmanian outports of Port Huon and Port Cygnet to Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane, thereby restoring a service that operated in pre-war years, and also reducing the congestion in the port of Hobart during the export season?

Senator McLEAY:
Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · UAP; LP from 1944

– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is hopeful that a large quantity of apples will be sold to the United Kingdom on a tradertotrader basis. I remind the honorable senator that, last year, Australia was not able to supply all the apples required by the United Kingdom. However, 1 assure my Tasmanian friends that, should there happen to be a surplus available for the Australian market in the forthcoming season, priority will be given to the delivery of Tasmanian apples and pears to the mainland.

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Senator ASHLEY:

– Replying to a question that I asked last week, the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral denied that any conditions were imposed on applicants for new telephones. In the House of Representatives yesterday, however, the PostmasterGeneral stated that the installation of new telephones was conditional upon the acceptance by subscribers of duplex lines. I should like to know whether Ministers have adopted a new technique in this Parliament and, instead of answering questions asked in this chamber,’ they are taking the opportunity to make statements in the House of Representatives for political propaganda purposes?

Senator COOPER:

– I can assure the honorable senator that the Government does not deal in propaganda of that kind. I heard the statement that was made by the Postmaster-General on this subject.

Senator Ashley:

– Did the Minister hear the question which I asked last week?

Senator COOPER:

– Yes. As soon as the reply is available, I shall” furnish it to the honorable senator. The PostmasterGeneral stated that duplex lines have been installed in order to provide the public with telephone services that would not otherwise be available. He -also stated that in one Sydney suburb alone approximately 18,000 applicants were on the waiting list for telephones. I am sure that the people appreciate what the Government is doing to give them, if not a full telephone service, at least a service of some kind.

Senator Ashley:

– As the PostmasterGeneral has made a statement about the number of duplex lines installed since he took office, will the Minister ask him to furnish particulars of services of that type which were provided prior to his appointment as Postmaster-General?

Senator COOPER:

– I shall be glad to obtain the information for which the honorable senator has asked.

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– Is the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport aware that firemen on board the interstate freighter Barossa have caused an eleven days’ delay at Fremantle, giving as the reason the poorness of the quality of the coal supplied to the vessel? As the coal presumably came from Newcastle, which was the ship’s exit port, will the Minister institute inquiries and clarify the statement?

Senator McLEAY:
Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The complaint to which the honorable senator has referred was not brought to my notice but several other complaints of. the quality of coal supplied have been reported to me. They were investigated by a commissioner who reported that in all instances the coal was of good quality. We are convinced that these hold-ups were instigated by well-known Communists.

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Senator BENN:

– Will the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport state what amounts were paid by the Australian Government in subsidizing coal imported from India and South Africa between the 1st January and the 30th September of this year? How many tons of coal were imported to Australia during that period, and to whom was the subsidy paid?

Senator McLEAY:

– I understand from memory that to the 30th September of this year approximately 600,000 tons of coal was imported to Australia. The subsidy paid represented the difference between the delivered price of New South Wales coal and the delivered price of imported coal. Subsidies were paid to the Governments of Victoria and South Austraila in respect of such coal as was included in what is known as the substitution plan. Both States imported quantities of coal for which they paid the full price without subsidy. If the honorable senator desires to obtain details of the amounts of subsidy paid to each State he should place his question on the notice-paper. I should then be pleased to obtain the information for him.

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Senator McCALLUM:

– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General seen an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of Saturday last which discussed the effect of short-wave radio broadcasts from Communist stations on new Australians? “Will the Minister ask the Australian Broadcasting Commission to consider the establishment of additional special sessions to meet the needs of migrants and so make less likely their listening to Communist stations ?

Senator COOPER:

– I have seen the article mentioned by the honorable senator, and I shall be very pleased to bring his request to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and to ask for a report on the matter.

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Senator MORROW:

– On the 5 th October last, I directed a question to the Minister for Repatriation concerning the dismissal of Dr. P. R. James from the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, and I now ask the Minister when I can expect to receive a reply to my question? Dr. James is still suffering persecution.

Senator COOPER:

– A reply will be given in due course to the question asked by the honorable senator.

Senator ARNOLD:

Dr. James was dismissed some time ago and there have been many innuendos concerning his dismissal. In view of the fact that- honorable senators have endeavoured to obtain from the Minister for Repatriation some indication of the reason for his dismissal, will the Minister inform the Senate if Dr. James was dismissed because he was incompetent or because of rumours or allegations concerning his character?

Senator COOPER:

– There is already a question on the notice-paper dealing with the subject raised by the honorable senator, and I have intimated that that question will be answered in due course. The questions asked to-day are more or less duplications of questions that have already been asked. Nevertheless they will he answered at the appropriate time. Later : -

Senator COOPER (Queensland- Minister for Repatriation). - by leave - Honorable senators will be interested to know what has been decided so far in the way of war pension and other repatriation benefits for members of the Special Overseas Forces in Korea and Malaya. An early decision was necessary in respect of the benefits, such as war pension, medical treatment and education of children, in the event of casualties in the campaign. The members of the forces to be covered for benefits are, briefly, those who are allotted to operations in Korea and Malaya. In full, the description of the classes, and the period for which they will be covered, are as follows: -

Navy -

Category of Personnel. - All mernbers serving in or posted for attachment to His Majesty’s Australian ships allotted for duty in operational areas.

Period of Eligibility. - From the date the ship is allotted for duty in operational areas or from date of departure from last port of call in Australia, whichever is the later, and up to and including date of arrival at first port of call on return to Australia, or where a ship or a member is withdrawn from operational service to an area outside Australia up to and including the date of arrival at the first port of call in that area.

A r my -

Category of Personnel. - (i) Australian Regular Army and other serving members of the military forces and special enlistees ex civilian life allotted to the special overseas force for duty in an operational area. Reinforcements for British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan are excluded.

Period of Eligibility. - From date of embarkation from Australia for operational duty up to and including date of disembarkation on return to Australia unless earlier allotted to other duties or to another force.

Category of Personnel. - (ii) Personnel in British Commonwealth Occupation Force.

Period of Eligibility. - From date of posting to Special Overseas Force allotted for duty in operational area up to and including the date of disembarkationon return to Australia unless earlier allotted to other duties or to another force.

Royal Australian Air Force -

Category of Personnel. - All members - flying, ground and administrative - of any unit allotted for operational duties against the enemy. This includes both the squadron based on Japan and the transport and bomber squadrons attached to the United Kingdom forces in Malaya. Note. - It was considered that the conditions relating to the squadrons in Malaya wore analogous to those obtaining in the squadron engaged in Korean operations.

Period of Eligibility. - (i) In the case of units overseas - from the date the unit is actually allotted for operational duties against the enemy up to and including the date of disembarkation on return to Australia or allotment to non-operational duties whichever is the earlier ; (ii) In the case of a unit proceeding from Australia on allotment for operational duties against the enemy - from the date of embarkation from Australia up to and including the date of disembarkation on return to Australia or allotment to non-operational dutieswhichever is the earlier.

The areas of operations will be prescribed from time to time as circumstances warrant. In addition to the categories mentioned, any member of the forces wherever serving outside the mainland of Australia will be covered to the same extent in the event of incapacity or death due to enemy action. This covers possibilities such as a long-range bombing plane attacking troops who have not been allotted to operations in Korea or Malaya.

The classes of dependants eligible for pension or other benefits will be the same as provided in the existing Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The rates of pensions will be similar, and the provision will operatewhereby a widow’s pension, for the first six months, will be not less than the standard components of service pay and allowance which she was entitled to receive from, or in respect of, the member.

Medical treatment for incapacitated members will be on the ‘ existing basis, which covers all treatment of whatever description required for the incapacity due to war service. It will include the extension whereby treatment is afforded for incapacity not clue to service where pension is payable at the general rate for total incapacity, on the higher special rates.

Medical benefits for widows and children and certain classes of widowed mothers, on the lines of the present arrangement, will be available.

Other benefits in the repatriation activities which have been approved by the Government are as follows : -

  1. Education of children of deceased, blinded or totally and permanently incapacitated members.
  2. Gifts of furniture for members blinded or totally and permanently incapacitated, and widows with children.
  3. Tools of trade for members generally.
  4. Fares and removal expenses for members proceeding to employment, having or taking up land.
  5. Free passages from Australia to abroad for incapacitated members and families.
  6. Immediate assistance up to £5 to a member in necessitous circumstances.
  7. Funeral expenses in respect of members where death is due to war service and who die in indigent circumstances and in respect of widows and children and certain classes of widowed mothers where the member’s death is due to war service, and the dependants mentioned die in indigent circumstances.

In addition to the provisions I have outlined for members of the forces, it has been decided to grant certain benefits for Commonwealth employees, such as official war correspondents, photographers and cinematographers proceeding to Korea on official duties in association with the Special Overseas Force. The benefits will be similar to those granted to similar employees during the 1939-45 war. They include pensions for the employee and his dependants, on the same basis as that provided in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act for members of the forces, and medical treatment for incapacity resulting from employment with the forces. Assistance for education of children and furniture grants will be made where the employee loses his life, or is rendered totally and permanently incapacitated. Consideration has also now been given to rehabilitation benefits, and a statement on that subject will be made by the appropriate Minister.

page 1291



Senator MATTNER:

– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is possible to ensure that sufficient flat newsprint will be made available to meet the future needs of the country and provincialpress.

Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · LP

– Information available from the Department of Trade and Customs is to the effect that most provincial and country newspapers have had their requirements of newsprint met for this year. The position in regard to requirements for . 1951 and the possibility of meeting them will receive consideration.

page 1291


Senator SCOTT:

– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that the Communist party is opposing, in the High Court of Australia, the Government’s plan to implement the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950? Is it also a fact that the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) is appearing for Mr. Healy, secretary of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, who is a well-known Communist, and who appears on the Prime Minister’s list?

Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · LP

– I have heard a rumour. I am not prepared to accept it or deny it, because time alone will tell who Mr. Healy’s counsel is. I personally do not know at the moment.

page 1291



Senator FINLAY:

– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Customs. As he is no doubt aware, radio has become an important part of the home life of the people of this country, and I wish to know whether it is a fact, as alleged by Electronic Industries Limited, that the proposed tax on radio equipment will increase the cost of such equipment by 331/3 per cent.

Senator SPOONER:
Minister for Social Services · NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– It is not correct to say that the proposed increase of the rate of sales tax applicable to radio sets will cause the price of instruments to increase by 331/3 per cent. Speaking from memory, sales tax is now imposed upon radio sets at the rate of per cent., and it is proposed that the rate shall be increased to 25 per cent.

Senator ASHLEY:

– Is the Minister aware that sales tax is paid upon wholesale prices, and that retailers calculate retail prices on the basis of the wholesale price of an article plus purchase tax and then add a percentage profit? If the rate of sales tax applicable to radio sets is increased to 25 per cent., retail prices will he increased by more than the degree to which purchase tax has been increased ?

Senator SPOONER:

– Sales tax is paid by the last wholesaler. Retailers should not charge purchasers a percentage of the tax.

Senator HENTY:

– I preface a question to .the Minister representing the Treasurer by pointing out that on many rural properties in Tasmania there are dilapidated cottages which are occupied by the farm workers. As it is the desire of many rural employers to demolish such cottages and build new ones for their employees, and in view of the fact that repairs are an allowable deduction for income tax purposes, will the Treasurer consider allowing a portion of cost of these new homes as an income tax deduction?

Senator SPOONER:

– I shall convey the request to the Treasurer and will communicate the right honorable gentleman’s decision to the honorable senator in due course.

page 1292




– Is the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport aware that, owing to the large influx of families to the Turner area of Canberra, school buses are seriously overcrowded? If so, will he take steps to augment the totally inadequate bus service that is at present provided?

Senator McLEAY:
Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · UAP; LP from 1944

– I shall cause inquiries to be made into the matter raised by the honorable senator, and furnish her with a reply to the question as soon as possible.

page 1292



Senator LARGE:

– Approximately four weeks ago I directed a simple question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. It related to the supply of electric current to inhabitants of Lord Howe Island for lighting and power. Will the Minister say whether there is a reasonable chance of the question being answered this week?

Senator McLEAY:

– I shall obtain a reply to the question as soon as possible.

page 1292



Senator COOKE:

– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether it is the intention of the Government to dispose of its 51 per cent, shareholding in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited?’ If that be the intention of the Government, in what way does it intend to dispose of the shares, and what will becomeof the money realized from the sale?


– The Prime Minister issued the following statement to-day : -

According to some sections of the press, the Commonwealth Government is considering the disposal of its controlling interest in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.

This rumour, which is no more than a rumour, no doubt arises from the well-known fact that pursuant to the policy speech, the Government has under close examination its relationships with a. variety of public authorities.

Thus, in recent months we have had occasion to consider the position of T.A.A., of C.O.R., of A.W.A., each of which presents its own peculiar problem.

If, at any stage, the Government arrives at a decision to change the existing position of ally of these authorities, it will promptly say so.

In the meantime, speculative reports can serve no purpose other than some unnecessary fluttering on the stock exchange.

I can add that so far as A.W.A. is concerned, there is no Government decision at all.

page 1292




– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether it is a fact that some State governments have appealed to the Commonwealth for increased financial assistance in respect of education, and that the appeals have been rejected?


– I shall be surprised if a time arrives when State governments do not make appeals to the Commonwealth for financial assistance, whether the appeals are confined only to education or cover a wider field of activity. I am prepared to accept the accuracy of the report that the States have appealed to the Commonwealth for financial assistance. I point out that at the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers the Commonwealth agreed to give to the States many more millions of pounds than they were entitled to under the tax reimbursement formula.

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Senator O’BYRNE:

– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister who is administering theWar Service Land Settlement Scheme by pointing out that ex-servicemen settlers are being charged £6 to £7 a head for sheep to stock their properties. This will make it extremely difficult for them to carry out their farming pursuits successfully, and they are being deprived of the benefits that it was expected would accrue to them.. In these circumstances will the Minister consider exempting the settlers that I have mentioned from the proposed 25 per cent. discriminatory tax, in order to enable them to pay their way during the coming year of high and rising prices ?

Senator McLEAY:

– The Treasurer has already announced that consideration will be given to any requests made in cases of hardship. I point out to the honorable senator that it is incorrect to describe the proposed deductions from wool cheques as a discriminatory tax. I stated yesterday, that the Government proposes to introduce the “ pay as you sell “ system in relation to wool-growers, which, in effect, is similar to a principle that has been applied already to about 2,000,000 taxpayers in this country. I think that the returned servicemen settlers have sufficient intelligence to watch their own interests, and I am sure that the Government will give cases of hardship the consideration that they deserve.

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– In the Sydney Sun of the19th October, the Minister for Social Services was reported to have stated “ In other words we took one pace in an anti-inflationary direction and two giant strides along the path to even greater inflation”.Will the Minister inform the Senate whether he was correctly reported?

Senator SPOONER:

– I was not correctly reported. I have never previously heard the statement that has been attributed to me. I think the honorable senator must be laying the blame in the wrong direction.

Senator Armstrong:

– The statement was attributed by the newspaper to Senator W. H. Spooner.

Senator SPOONER:

– That is my name, but I did not make the statement mentioned.

page 1293


Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-

Minister for Trade and Customs). -by leave - I formally announce to the Senate the following changes in the Ministry: -

Minister for the Interior - The Honorable Eric John Harrison ;

Minister for Defence - The Honorable Phillip Albert Martin McBride.

The Honorable Hubert Lawrence Anthony, Postmaster-General, to act for the Minister for the Interior during the absence from Australia of the Minister for the Interior.

page 1293


Bill received from the House of Representatives.

Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.

Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.

Second Reading

Senator SPOONER:
Minister for Social Services · New South Wales · LP

– I move -

That the billbe now read a second time.

This measure provides for a further appropriation of £18,592,000 to enable Commonwealth works in progress at the 30th June last to be continued pending the passing of the budget by Parliament. Among the major items for which further appropriation is sought are £10,000,000 for the Postmaster-General’s Department, £2,300,000 for immigration and £1,450,000 for civil aviation. A policy of comprehensive long-range planning, covering from three to five-year periods, has been adopted by the Government for capital works in the defence services and in departments such as the Department of Works and Housing, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the Department of Civil Aviation.

To enable those programmes to be continued successfully, it is essential that funds shall be available without interruption for the purchase of materials in advance, both in Australia and from overseas and to ensure continuous employment on the many projects. The bill provides for a further two months’ expenditure on works based approximately on the expenditure programme of £69,000,000 included in the Capital Works Estimates 1 950-51, which are now being considered by the Parliament. Together with the amounts provided in the Supply (Works and Services) Act (No. 1) 1950-51, this bill therefore makes provision for the estimated requirements for six months of the current financial year. It may be mentioned here, as in the Treasurer’s budget speech, that the Government has given the closest scrutiny to all works programmes and has made heavy reductions of original departmental proposals to ensure that there will be no undue competition for scarce labour and materials. In accordance with the usual practice in submitting a Supply bill, no provision has been made for any new service.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ashley) adjourned.

page 1294

SUPPLY BILL (No. 2)1 950-51

First Reading

Debate resumed from the 24th October (vide page 1196), on motion by Senator

Spooner -

That the billbe now read a first time.

Senator ASHLEY:
Leader of the Opposition · New South Wales

– This is the second Supply Bill that has been presented by the Government for the current financial year. The first measure provided Supply for the first four months of the financial year. That period will end on the 31st October. In the past, the practice has been to base Supply bills on expenditure incurred during a corresponding period in the previous year. I notice that there is a great disparity between the various sums of money appropriated by this measure and those appropriated by the first Supply Bill. For instance the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1950-51 made provision for a.n expenditure of £1,645,000 by the Treasury for the first four months of the current financial year whereas in the measure now before the Senate there is an appropriation of £1,310,000 for a period of two months. For the Department of the Navy, the first Supply Bill provided the sum of £3,976,000 for four months compared with an appropriation of £7,433,000 for the two months covered by this bill. For the Department of the Army the first Supply Bill included a provision of £4,860,000. In the bill now before us the provision for that department is £7,446,000. The provision for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in the earlier measure was £653,000; in the present bill £844,000 has been provided. I do not question the need for these increased appropriations, but I point out that the Senate is entitledto be told why they have been increased. The Minister may have a reasonable explanation of the increases. If he has, he has an obligation to make it. The Government took office in December last. In June it was granted Supply for the four months ending the 31st October. It now seeks Supply for a further two months, or six months in all. As far as I can discover, it failed to present the budget and Estimates earlier in the year solely in order to enable it to paint a rosy financial picture for the people of Australia to admire. The Liberal party is dominated by its partner in the Government, the Australian Country party. The history of the last few weeks proves the degree to which the Australian Country party has dominated the decision of the Government. How otherwise can the indecision and procrastination of the Government in relation to matters of national interest be accounted for? The Government’s failure to present the budget and Estimates earlier in the year is clear evidence of its indecision in respect of matters that affect the economic welfare of the people. It is difficult to realize that Ministers and their supporters are the financial wizards who, when they were in Opposition, repeatedly criticized the Chifley Government’s financial policy, not only in the Senate and the House of Representatives, but also on public platforms throughout the country. During the general election campaign the leaders of the parties now in office made specious promises to the people, including an undertaking that they would put value back in the £1. One of the principal complaints made by them when they were in Opposition was that the Chifley Government had failed to reduce taxes. The present Treasurer then said that the coffers of .the Treasury were overflowing, that the Chifley Government had a nestegg of hidden surpluses of various kinds and that the time was ripe for reductions of taxes.


– He did not know then that the Labour Treasurer had robbed the nest.

Senator ASHLEY:

– During the general election campaign he pledged himself to reduce taxes and to cut expenditure, yet he has recently introduced a budget which involves an expenditure of £738,000,000, an amount in excess of that of some of the war-time budgets. No reliance can be placed upon the promises that were made by the leaders of this Government. Even as late as last week at a meeting of the Central Council of the Australian Country party which was held at Canberra, the Treasurer denied that he had made a promise to put value back into the £.1. He is reported to have said -

The Government is receiving a lot of criticism which alleges that it had promised to put value buck iri the £1, mid that it hat; tailed to do so. That is a false charge. Thi- joint policy of the Liberal and Australian Country parties included no such promise. It said that the most important problem was to put value

I ii< flc into the £1.

The right honorable gentleman was merely splitting straws. An interjector ut the meeting is reported to have said that the promise had been embodied in flection slogans that had been published by the Liberal party. Thus, an admission was made by a member of the convention that this feature of the policy of the Government parties was merely a slogan designed to catch the votes of the people. I well remember the importance placed by both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer on their promise during the election campaign to put value back in the £1. The latter travelled from the north of Queensland to Victoria to be present at the opening of the election campaign by the Prime Minister. Standing beside his colleague on the public platform he declared that he endorsed every word that the Prime Minister said. If there is any doubt about his presence there on that occasion, it may be remembered that he stated to members of the press that he lost his pyjamas during his flight on a Trans-Australian Airlines plane from Queensland to Victoria.

Mention has been made on many occasions of the necessity for putting value back into the £1. I have here an advertisement inserted in an Adelaide newspaper by the Liberal party and authorized by Mr. A. S. Dunk, 175 Northterrace, Adelaide. Honorable senators opposite who come from Adelaide will no doubt know that gentleman.

Senator Finlay:

– He is the secretary of the Liberal party in South Australia.

Senator ASHLEY:

– The advertisement states-

Get prices down by restoring value to the £1, now only worth 10s. Encourage production and .pay subsidies when necessary, for example, on items affecting cost of living or the basic wage earner. 1 also have here another advertisement, which contains a photograph of the Prime Minister, stating -

Lower prices. A pound’s worth for every £1 you spend.

I point out to honorable senators that the advertisement is incorrect in its claim that the .£1 was then worth only 10s. In fact it was worth 12s. according to the Commonwealth Statistician. To-day it is worth only half that sum.

I appreciate the enormity of the problems confronting the Government, but 1 also appreciate that they are rendered much more difficult because of the diversity of opinion that exists in the Cabinet, and the pressure that is exerted by the sectional and vested interests which the members of the Government parties represent. This Government has been humiliated to the greatest degree possible because of its submission to the views of a Cabinet minority consisting of five Australian Country party members and two Liberal party members. The rump of the Government is permitted to determine policy on a sectional and discriminatory basis, but that does not excuse the Government for failing to carry out its promises and face lip to the financial crises towards ‘which this country is moving - in a time of unprecedented prosperity, when the highest prices in Australian history are being received for our primary products. It would seem that the members of the Government parties are not only dilatory but also vain. In this chamber last week the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) was unable to give a satisfactory explanation of a measure then before the Senate because his vanity had prevented him from asking his advisers for the necessary information.

Although a great deal of publicity was given to the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had obtained a 100,000,000 dollar loan from the United States of America, we have not heard so much about it lately. Perhaps the fact is that the Prime Minister had made certain commitments in connexion with that loan. If that is so, the members of the Opposition would like to know what commitments and promises the right honorable gentleman was forced to make in order to obtain the loan. We do know that since it was obtained costs in the United States of America have risen by from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent., and that the amount of the loan has deteriorated by approximately 20,000,000 dollars, because it will now purchase only 80,000,000 dollars worth of goods at the most. It matters not whether the goods to be purchased are agricultural implements, mining machinery, petrol or any other commodity. I have no doubt that when the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) speaks in reply he will say that the loan is intended only for essential goods and that the purchase of luxury items will not be considered. That may be correct, but I should still like to know the quantity of luxury goods imported from the United States of America through the gold and dollar reserves since the Government secured this loan for the purchase of essential requirements.

I have been informed that the financial experts advising the Government suggested that appreciation of the Australian £1 would ‘be a major contribution towards halting the increasing cost of living and the stabilization of the economy. I am not claiming that revaluation is the cure for all our economic evils and ills, but .1 am convinced that if the Government had applied to the Cabinet one of the first principles of democracy, which is that the majority shall rule, appreciation of the £1 would now be an accomplished fact. As it is, several million pounds worth of “ hot “ money have arrived in this country, and financial “ leeches “ were waiting to take full advantage of the opportunity given to them because of the delay on the part of the Government. If re-valuation of the £l is to make such a major contribution to the stabilization of our economy, it is to be hoped that it will be done overnight and that pressure groups will be ignored and financial “ leeches “ rewarded only by surprise.

Much publicity has been given to the Government’s wool tax scheme. Whatever merit may be claimed for the scheme, it cannot be denied that it is sectional taxation, that it is discriminatory and that the claim of the Government that its operation will have an antiinflationary effect is incorrect and misleading. In fact, it will have the opposite effect. The Government’s wool tax scheme may not have an adverse effect upon the large graziers, large station holders, wealthy companies and financial institutions that are interested in large properties in Australia, but it will certainly impede the progress of small wool-growers and farmers. I have the balance-sheet of a smallfarmer, which shows that during the year he sold lambs for £500, fodder for £200 and produced 30 bales of wool, for which he expected to receive £3,000-. Under the “ Be shorn as you shear “ scheme, the tax collector will take from that farmer’s wool cheque, before he receives it, £225 under the 7$ per cent, levy, and £600 under the 20 per cent, wool tax, a total of £825. The farmer will receive only £2,175 for his wool. The cost of running his farm for the year was £2,400, which, deducted from his takings, leaves him with £1,300. Under normal conditions, he would pay £220 income tax for the previous year, and be left with £1,080, but, under the “ tax grab “ scheme of the Menzies Government, he will be left with £255, or less than £5 a week, after having worked for a year in outback conditions and not having enjoyed the amenities that are enjoyed fay city dwellers who receive double that wage. Yet the Government is endeavouring to justify its wool tax scheme. Many of the men to whom the scheme will apply are returned servicemen, who were settled on the land under legislation for which the Chifley Government was responsible.

The Menzies Government and its supporters constantly parade the slogan, “ Incentive for more production “. They say that incentive stimulates production. What incentive to increase production will a farmer have who receives less than £5 a week for his year’s toil? Would it be any wonder if he decided that the Government had killed his incentive and that, instead of growing wool, he would sell fodder and lambs? That would be the natural thing to do, but if he did it honorable senators opposite would accuse him of being a Communist. In recent weeks the Government expended tens of thousands of pounds of the taxpayers’ money in appealing to the nation for the three great tasks of production, defence and development to be performed. A subtle political propaganda campaign was indulged in. Every newspaper in the Country, even provincial newspapers, published the Government’s advertisements, yet a few days after that call was made this tax upon the wool-growers of Australia was announced.

The Government is introducing a tax scheme that will adversely affect the production of our main source of wealth and deprive the nation of a vital defence material, by retarding the production of that material to as great a degree as the severest drought did. When taxes wove high and prior to their reduction by the Chifley Government, the slogan, “1 am not going to work for Chifley “ was used by professional men and manufacturers in this country. They said that they were not prepared to work to pay increased taxes, and in many instances they played golf instead. To-day, the slogan is, “I am not going to work for Fadden “. That is what the Australian wool-growers are saying now. For over a century wool has been the foundation of the Australian economy. If we lose our dominant position in the wool trade of the world, not only the wool-growers but also many persons in the lower income group will suffer. One member of the Australian Country party has already resigned from that party as a protest against the Government’s wool tax proposals and its attitude to the appreciation of the Australian £1.


– His resignation had nothing to do with the wool tax.

Senator ASHLEY:

– The wool tax and the appreciation of the Australian £1 are linked together. For months, the Government blundered along and could not make up its mind whether it should appreciate the £1. Finally, it decided to impose a special tax upon a section of industry. I doubt whether that action is constitutional because there is a provision in the Constitution which states that there shall be no discrimination between taxpayers. If the imposition of a special tax upon one section of Australian industry is not discrimination, I should like the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner), when he replies, to explain why it is not. Why has the Government selected wool-growers as the only persons, apart from wage and salary earners, who shall ‘be required to pay income tax twelve months in advance? At question time to-day the Minister for Social Services stated that over 2,000,000 taxpayers in this country are required to pay income tax as they earn their income, or, in other words, in advance. However, I remind honorable senators opposite that only wage and salary earners are required to pay tax in advance. How can the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) justify inclusion in the budget as expected revenue an amount of £103,000,000, which it is proposed shall he deducted from the woolgrowers’ cheques, and showing a corresponding amount on the expenditure side of the budget ? I should like the Minister to explain this aspect of the matter when replying. The trickery of the present financial wizard - I refer to the Treasurer - has been exposed. I point out that when taxes are next payable by the wool-growers, they will be required to make pre-payments on the estimated proceeds of their next clip. In other words, year by year, the wool-growers’ money is to be used to meet current expenditure.

Tt i° evident that the Government does not intend that the current financial year shall be the only year in which the wool-growers will be required to make a pre-payment. Had the Treasurer not resorted to the snide trick of imposing a sectional tax upon the wool-growers of this country, he would have had no alternative to increasing taxes in order to yield more than an additional £100,000,000, if he wished to avoid budgeting for a deficit of £102,500,000. I challenge the Minister for Social Services to deny that that is not a true assessment of the position. Just prior to the 1949 general election, advertisements directed principally to the wool-growers were published in the press, at the instigation of the opponents of Labour. The following exhortations were typical of the headings that appeared in large print in those advertisements: “Farmers - preserve your right to wor,k your own farms as free individuals!”: and “Refuse to be socialized ! “ Those advertisements must rankle in the minds of the, primary producers to-day, in view of the proposal of the anti-Labour Government to impose a sectional tax of the worst kind on the wool-growers. Doubtless the wheat-growers are wondering whether, in the event of a prospective deficit when the next budget is being prepared, they and other primary producers will be selected for attack. “Why should the Government single out for attention a section of the primary producers, instead of the big companies that are making huge profits? It cannot be denied that the parties now in office were returned to power at the last general election because of their promise to lower the cost of living and to put value back into the £1.

In 1949, when the previous Government proposed to reduce taxation, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer, who were then sitting in opposition, complained that the proceeds of the taxes would be still £200,000,000 more than in the most critical year of the war. Yet neither of those right honorable gentlemen has done anything to reduce taxes to any appreciable degree. Although slight reductions have been announced for people subject to the higher rates of tax, no relief has been promised to those on the lower rungs of the income ladder. Prior to their election to office the Government parties made lavish promises without the slightest intention to fulfil them. In his two recent broadcasts, the Prime Minister stated that he was not gloomy about the position in Australia to-day. Following those broadcasts statements appeared in certain newspapers to the effect that the Government was coming to grips with inflation. That was refreshing. It is to be hoped that the Government will get a strangle-hold on that problem. However, many of our people, particularly those who suffer from malnutrition as the result of inflation, will not be soothed by such assertions in the Sydney Morning Herald and other capitalistic newspapers.

Although the leader of the Government parties promised to review . and reduce the incidence of indirect taxes, which they stated were “ a huge, though sometimes unrecognized item, in connexion with the basic wage and the cost of living “, the rates of sales tax on various commodities are to be increased to yield an additional £10,000,000 a year. Honorable senators will recollect that immediately following the introduction in this chamber by the Opposition of a measure to provide for a referendum to amend the Constitution to provide for the control of prices by the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister stampeded to broadcast an explanation of the reasons for the present high cost of living, and he promised that the Treasurer would subsequently amplify his explanation. To date the right, honorable gentleman ha3 not done so. Never in the history of responsible government in Australia have the people faced a graver national crisis than at the present time, and never before have they been burdened with such an inept administration as the Menzies Government.

Recently, a series of advertisements have been published in the newspapers by the authority of the Government. There seems to be some sort of military order about them. The first depicted an outstretched hand above some letterpress which threatened all kinds of danger to the nation. That might be regarded as the softening-up advertisement. It carried the caption, “ Five ugly facts “. There is reference to aggression in Korea, IndoChina and Malaya, aggression which, it is stated, may develop on a large scale unless checked. Then follow these words : -

The democratic powers, apart from the atomic bomb, are at present inadequately armed and prepared.

Upon what authority is it stated that the democratic powers are inadequately armed? Did the Government receive the permission of other democratic nations to make that statement? The Government is attempting to scare the people. Still another advertisement in the series contains a picture of a family at breakfast. It is obviously not a working-class family, because on the breakfast table there is a bowl of fruit, and we know that the workers cannot afford to buy fruit to-day.


– Not in Canberra, anyway.

Senator ASHLEY:

– Neither in Canberra, nor in any part of New South Wales. I cannot speak of the position in other States. The advertisement contains these words -

Great masses of the world’s population are starving and in tatters. People in countries, once happy and carefree, now go cringing in fear. Over Europe and Asia stalk the spectres of violence and death.

Senator O’Byrne:

– Those advertisements are paid for with the taxpayers’ money.

Senator ASHLEY:

– That is so. The Government should do something to arrest the ever-increasing cost of living. On almost every occasion that a Minister speaks in this chamber he abuses the Opposition. We have been abused by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay). I make an exception in favour of the Minister for Social Services. His approach is more tolerant and conciliatory, and he has a proper realization of the problems facing the country. I warn the Government that unless Ministers are more tolerant in their references to the Opposition, and in their approach to the leaders of the great trade unions they will not receive much cooperation from them.

I do not entirely blame the Government for its inactivity. It has been subjected to pressure from various groups, and from politicians who fear an election. Those groups are largely responsible for the Government’s weakness in dealing with matters of national importance. Quite recently, the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) issued a warning about inflation. I quote the following newspaper report of his statement: -

Mr. Casey, Federal Minister for National Development, warned of “ unpopular measures “ to control inflation.

He told the Royal Agricultural Society at a pre-show dinner that the measures would affect everybody. “The Al problem facing Australia is inflation - defence is secondary “, he said.

That statement is significant, not only because it shows that the Minister for National Development has a realistic appreciation of the situation, but also because it was made on the very clay that the Prime Minister made a statement on defence in terms’ that conflict with the one from which I have just quoted. That is further evidence of disunity in the Cabinet.

The hardships suffered by the people a a result of the two world wars would scarcely be remembered in the disaster that would follow the failure of the Government to deal with the problem of inflation. The people are demanding action. For months past, the Government has drifted along, appointing cabinet sub-committees and holding conferences, but all its efforts have been marked by indecision and delay. Indeed, those are the hallmarks of the Menzies Government. The Prime Minister said in his broadcasts that Australia was prosperous. That is quite true. We are enjoying hitherto unknown prosperity, yet there is malnutrition in our midst, as the following newspaper report shows -

Thousands of people in Sydney were being partially starved because high prices were denying them adequate food, the Reverend G. R. Van Eerde, of the South Sydney Methodist Mission, said to-day. “Around the mission alone, I have seen scores of children with malnutrition sores “, Reverend Van Eerde said. “ In the past few months irreparable harm has been done to children. “ Their constitutions have been undermined because their parents can only afford to give them bread and sausage, or jam. “ We are breeding a generation of weaklings.”

The plight of old-age pensioners was probably the worst of all, he said. A large number had died as a direct result of starvation. “ Death certificates invariably show some illness such as pneumonia as the cause. They do not show that if these people had been properly fed they would never have contracted these illnesses.”

What an indictment of our country!

Senator Guy:

– What an indictment of the McGirr Labour Government!

Senator ASHLEY:

– The only response that I can get from Government supporters is disorderly interjections. No matter how much we on this side of the chamber stress the dangers of the increasing cost of living in this country, we can draw hardly a murmur from Government supporters, but immediately mention is made of wheat or wool, the representatives of the wool barons and the wheatfarmers rush in to defend their friends. As I have said before in this chamber, I realize that this Government is facing grave economic problems not all of which are of its own making. Admittedly, import prices cannot be controlled by the Commonwealth, but that does not justify the Government’s complete inaction during the last ten months. It has had repeated warnings from the Opposition about the serious consequences of inflation. I read in to-day’s press another challenge by the Prime Minister to have an election. Challenges by the Government to the Opposition are almost as frequent as challenges by “ Whiskers “ Blake and Big Chief Little Wolf at the Sydney Stadium. If the Government were to devote to its wrestle with the problem of inflation the same energy as it expends on challenges, it might achieve something worthwhile for this country.

A new industry is springing up in Australia. Probably honorable senators opposite have not even heard of it. I refer to day nurseries. The economic position of many married people with children is so bad that wives have to go to work. On their way to work they leave their children - many of them of tender years - at day nurseries, and collect them on their return from work in the evening.

Senator Wedgwood:

– There have been creches for many years.

Senator ASHLEY:

– I know that, but they were for a different purpose. They were used by moneyed people to look after their children while the mothers played golf or pursued some social activity. I am not referring to nurseries of that kind. I am referring to the creches that are used by families in which the wages of the bread-winner are insufficient to maintain the home, with the result that the wife and mother has to work. I have before me a newspaper article which shows how serious the problem of rising food prices has become. It states -

Cost op Food “ Appalling “ Claim Women.

A Bondi housewife to-day spent 28s. 4d. buying the week-end meat, fruit and Vegetables for herself and her husband.

That is for a married couple without children ! Honorable senators will appreciate how much more serious the problem must be for large families. To-day, working people are being asked to pay 6d. for an orange or an apple, and 3d. for a banana. The article continues -

Stating that she regarded herself as an average housewife, she said she was “ positively appalled “ at the cost of everything. “ I had to pay 12s. for a 4-lb. leg of lamb “, she said. “ Isn’t it awful ? I don’t know where the money will come from for my housekeeping if this keeps up. “ I could have bought 4 l’b. of corned beef for only 6s., but my husband won’t eat it,” she added.

Here is her shopping list and the prices shehad to pay -

Senator Hannaford:

– That would do for a week.

Senator ASHLEY:

– Fancy an honorable senator saying that! I should like to see Senator Hannaford live on that diet for a week. He would not look nearly so well as he looks to-day. .That article gives some indication of the prices that people have to pay for foodstuffs in this country at present.,

Last week, appeals were made by the Government to the Opposition to assist in the solution of our economic problems. I emphasize that every member of the Parliament represents the Australian people. Each senator represents a State, and the people of that State expect him to do his best for them. That is his individual responsibility; yet every time an honorable senator on this side of the chamber makes some suggestion about the problems confronting Australia to-day, lie is taunted with being a. member of a party that is allied with the Communists, or is asked whether he believes in wage-pegging. Whilst we all have individual responsibilities as members of the Parliament, we also have a collective responsibility to the people of this country. I give an assurance to the Senate now that if the Government introduces any measure that has as its object the arresting of the present inflationary tendencies, and the stabilization of the Australian currency, it will have the fullest possible support of the Opposition.

Senator Robertson:

– Stop the strikes, to begin with.

Senator ASHLEY:

– I trust I have not said anything that has hurt the lady senator. I have tried to be frank. Although the Labour party sits in Opposition to-day, every member of it is keenly aware of his responsibilities in this Parliament, and T challenge the Government to give us an opportunity to give practical expression to that sense of responsibility by introducing legislation to stabilize the purchasing power of the Australian currency and deal with inflation generally. I do not expect honorable senators opposite to put value back into the fi. Those who made that election promise obviously did not know what they were talking about. They could not have known. Admittedly, the cost of living in this country has not risen only during the term of office of the Menzies Government. Prices have been rising for some time, but that is no excuse for the Government’s failure to attempt to curb inflation. The problem must be attacked in the right manner and with courage. If wage pegging is necessary, it can only be successful with the cooperation of the Australian trade union movement. An essential factor in a stabilized economy is, of course, the limitation of profits, but there are many other factors. Those problems call for men with courage, and immediately courage is shown by this Government, the fullest support will be given by the Labour party.

Senator KENDALL:

– I have no doubt that when the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) replies to the debate he will answer satisfactorily the matters that have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley). This is the first occasion on which 1 have spoken on a Supply Bill. As a newcomer to the Senate I have examined the bill and the proposed appropriations contained in it with a great deal of interest. There are many subjects on which I should like to speak, but as we have only two days in which to dispose of this measure, and as many other honorable senators will naturally wish to air their views on various subjects, I shall confine my speech on this bill to one subject. I hope to have an opportunity to speak on other matters when the budget is under consideration. After a good deal of sorting out of figures I discovered that the total annual cost of running this chamber, including salaries and allowances of honorable senators and staffs and general expenses, is approximately £225,000. I then began to wonder what functions this Senate is fulfilling to make it worth while for the people of this country to expend such a large sum of money on it. Prior to the general election, so that I should not be completely ignorant of parliamentary history and procedure, I spent a considerable amount of time in studying those subjects. I do not claim that when I came here I knew a great deal about them, but at least I was not entirely “ green “. After I had taken my seat in this chamber, I became still more interested in them and I engaged in research into the objectives of this chamber as an upper house of the Parliament. I soon realized that the original conception of the Senate as a State’s house, had passed, primarily as the result of the early struggles of the Australian Labour party when it was developing that solidarity of which its members speak so proudly to-day. The solidarity of the members of that party continued to develop until this chamber, like the House of Representatives, became a party house, and its original conception was lost. To-day, it is obvious to those who read the Hansard record of our debates or listen to the broadcasts of our proceedings that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber speak and vote more or less strictly on party lines. Many years ago Sir George Reid made some observations on tins matter which I regard as applicable when he said -

The voice which we hear in this Chamber is not the voice of the man who speaks, it does not necessarily represent his own principles or his own opinions but only that of a collective conscience mid a collective intellect.

We have recently had in this chamber a striking example of the truth of his words. If we continue to go on as we have been going on in recent months we may eventually see the day when members of the Liberal and Australian Country parties will speak and vote against the dictates of their consciences.

In search of methods by which we could make this chamber of greater use in the parliamentary machine I perused many books on parliamentary procedure and practices. Copies of these books are in the Parliamentary Library and are at the disposal of honorable senators generally. They contain a wealth of information on the functions and practices of upper chambers, not only in British Commonwealth countries, but also in many foreign countries. In seeking methods of improvement, I had recourse to such books as that issued by the Bryce Conference on the reform of the second chamber which was held in J 917, and to the report of the Tate Commission which inquired into a proposal for the abolition of the upper house in New Zealand. From my reading I formulated many ideas which I should like to submit to honorable senators. I realize that many of the practices that have been adopted in other countries may be of no value in this country at the present time, but I suggest that they be considered at a later date, not by the

Government or the Opposition, but by a committee consisting of representatives of all the parties represented in this chamber.

I believe that our bi-cameral system of government is a good one and that only by that system have British countries been able to preserve the continuity of constitutional government. Under the system in operation in the United States of America, Australia and in some other countries by which onehalf or one-third of the senators retire at different periods, sudden and complete changes of government do not occur and the continuity of constitutional government is preserved. I believe that the bicameral system of government to be the best system for this country. All of us have heard the argument that in circumstances such as those that exist at present, with the Opposition holding the majority of the seats in this chamber, a government cannot govern, and that when a government has a majority in both houses of the legislature the Senate merely becomes a rubber stamp. That argument has been canvassed on many occasions. Because I am inclined to agree with that line of thought, I began to examine the systems of government that are adopted by other countries, with a view to ascertaining whether or not we can improve the system that operates here.

If this chamber is to function as a house of review was intended one of the first reforms that should be instituted is the abolition of what are known as the gag and the “guillotine”. An unscrupulous government or a government in a hurry may either gag or “ guillotine “ a. measure through both Houses of the Parliament in a single day. So long as that can be done the whole argument that time is given in the house of review for public opinion on the measure to crystallize through the press publicity given to it, completely falls down. At the same time, a lower limit should be placed on the length of time allowed to honorable senators to complete their speeches. The existing time limit of one and a half hours should be greatly reduced. An honorable senator should be able to say all that he wants to say on any subject in about 25 minutes. If he continues beyond that time he usually labours the subject unnecessarily and so pads hig speech that it becomes boring to those who listen to him in this chamber and to those who listen to the broadcasts of our proceedings over the air. As honorable senators are aware, members of the United States Senate may speak on any subject for as long as they like. As no time limit i.s imposed on the length of their speeches they frequently engage in filibusters, and it is possible for that legislative body to discuss a single measure for six months. Our standing orders should be amended by curtailing the length of time allowed to each honorable senator to speak on matters that, are brought before, us. Such a reform should be accompanied by the abolition of the “guillotine” and the nag.

In my search for ideas, I discovered that the parliaments of other countries have adopted many practices which we might consider worth while. The United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, which is known throughout the world, is a useful and worthwhile institution. The existence of that body gives great impetus ro senators to study matters of foreign policy. Another committee in the United States deals with such matters as appointments to high positions. I do not suggest, however, that such a committee be established in this country. I merely mention these things to show what other countries do and how we may get from them some idea of what we should do. In the United States of America a committee has been appointed to deal with fair employment practices. Many honorable senators will have read that in that country a committee has recently been established to deal with the cost of lobbying. The appointment of such a committee in this country might well be considered. In Switzerland, a joint sitting of the members of both houses of the parliament is held to consider the constitutionality of laws. I do not know whether such a practice is worthy of adoption here, but it, is worth considering. In other countries bills of a noncontroversial character are usually initiated in the upper house of the parliament, the findings of which are printed and circulated among the members of the lower house before the bills are considered by them. That system enables the passage of legislation to be speeded up. In some countries special committees have been appointed to examine economic and social problems. Such a practice might well be followed in this country. Another desirable reform is the establishment of a committee to consider regulations relating to public administration. The findings of the Bryce conference in relation to a second chamber make very interesting reading, and to a certain degree they have a bearing on what 1 have been saying. Among other things. Lord Bryce found that there was general agreement that the functions of a second chamber were as follows: -

The initiation of hills dealing with subjects of a practically non-controversial character which may Iia ve an easier passage through the House of Commons if they have been fully discussed and >ut into a well-considered shape before being submitted lo it:

The interposition of so much delay (and no morel in iiic passing nf :t bill into law as may lie needed to enable the opinion of the nation to he adequately expressed upon it.

Full and free discussion on large and important questions, such as those of foreign policy at moments when the House of Commons may happen to bli so much occupied that it cannot find sufficient time for them.

If a committee took up those matters they could be thoroughly thrashed out and the members of this chamber informed of its findings. Honorable senators would then be provided with some material which would give scope for subsequent discussion. I am convinced that the padding indulged in during the very long speeches in this chamber is due to the fact that on many occasions honorable senators have not been conversant with the subject on which they have spoken. That, in turn, leads to one of the worst features that have crept into the Senate debates, and that is the personal abuse and vilification of honorable senators on the opposite side. Honorable senators may not realize that, people outside the chamber notice such things, but I should like to call their attention to a paragraph which was published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail recently. It, quoted some comments made by the Reverend T. Rees Thomas, of the City Congregational Church, when discussing members of the

Australian Parliament. The reverend gentleman deplored -

Their growing use of the language of the gutter. Their growing tendency to belittle their opponents by cheap humour rather than listening to see if there might bc some truth in what they said. Their growing tendency to descend to cheap and nasty personal allusions, which degraded a debate. 1 do not think there is any argument about that, and every one of us must be aware that such things are not in the best interests of this chamber. I am quite convinced that very often they occur because honorable senators with little knowledge of the subject under discussion, endeavour to make a speech lasting an hour and a half.

It would be nonsense to suggest that all governments are good and all oppositions are bad, that all governments have good ideas, and that all oppositions, when they have any ideas, have ideas that are not worthy of being put into practice. It would be gratifying if this could be treated as a non-party discussion, because, although I have been in this chamber only a short time, I feel that something must be done to enhance its importance. If I as an individual can produce even a few’ suggestions, how much easier would it be for a committee of the Senate, representing the Parliament, to obtain evidence from, say, university professors and constitutional lawyers ? Having obtained that evidence, surely the committee could arrive at conclusions which I could not even attempt to find because my time is limited, my opportunities to interview people are limited, and my reading is confined more or less to the literature in the Parliamentary Library.

I recently perused the constitution of the new West German Federation, which is generally referred to as the Bonn Constitution. It appears that the constitution provides for a rather weak form of bi-cameral system, but there are some interesting points in it. In view of the present position of this Parliament, the continual talk of a double dissolution, and the fact that the Government has introduced a bill to try to avoid deadlocks, I think that the fourth part of Article 77 of the Bonn Constitution is worth quoting. This is the method that has been adopted in an effort to avoid double dissolutions -

Should the veto be adopted by the majority nf the votes of the Bundesrat, it may be rejected by a decision of the majority of the members of the Bundestag. Should the Bundesrat have adopted the veto by a majority of at least two-thirds of its votes, the rejection by the Bundestag shall require a majority of two-thirds, or at least the majority of the members of the Bundestag.

It may be mentioned that the Bundesrat is the upper house and the Bundestag the lower house. If we take our own Parliament as an example we shall be able to see what that means. If a bill is passed in the House of Representatives with a majority of 10 per cent, and is then sent along to the Senate where there is an Opposition in power, in order that the Opposition may prevent the passage of that bill there must be more than 10 per cent, of the votes against it. If the number of votes against the bill is less than 10 per cent., the measure will still go through. As I say, that system may not be applicable here. It amounts almost to a joint sitting without a double dissolution, but it is an idea, and it is only by finding out what other countries do that we will solve this problem. I intend to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) whether a committee can be formed to investigate systems in other countries in order to see if the standards in this Senate cannot be raised. All honorable senators will realize that it is only a matter of time before the people of Australia will raise objection to the present system and will refuse to pay out £250,000 every year for the maintenance of a chamber which, in my opinion, has not one iota of value.

Senator KATZ (Victoria.) f:5.7] .- Having listened to Senator Kendall this afternoon, I suggest the introduction of a Kendall Reform Bill to reform this Senate. Honorable senators may perhaps joke about his suggestions, but there is a great deal of common sense contained in his remarks. As the honorable gentleman outlined in the earlier part of his speech, the establishment of this Senate was decided by a referendum. The need for it arose mainly because of the jealousies that existed among the mainland States of Australia at that time, and the Constitution that was drawn up was the result of a compromise arrived at by representative citizens who attended a convention held for that purpose. The late Sir George Reid, whom Senator Kendall mentioned, represented the largest State, from the point of view of population, at that convention, and many people supported the proposals outlined by him. However, it was necessary for his proposals to be modified, not so much because of popular demand but because of the demands of the farming interests in the State of New South Wales. Eventually, Sir George Reid whole-heartedly supported federation.

When federation was achieved the Parliament was a non-party institution, but grafted into the Constitution was a provision that dealt with the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the boundaries of any one State. Perhaps due to the failure of certain States to enact industrial laws, the workers began to take an interest in the constitutional aspects of the settlement and prevention of industrial disputes in Australia, with the result that a few years after federation the trade unions were presenting candidates for election to the Parliament. Those candidates stood as Labour men, and from that moment onwards there has been this conflict of opinions and ideas, not only in this Parliament, but in ail the parliaments of Australia, and I have no doubt that it also exists in most other parts of the world. I do not desire to deride what Senator Kendall has said, because I believe the time is opportune to improve our whole parliamentary system. It must be remembered that the establishment of this Parliament occurred towards the end of last century. I therefore think that many of the statements made by the honorable senator are worthy of consideration, not only by this chamber hut by the House of Representatives.

It has been said that members of the Liberal and Australian Country parties speak against the dictates of their conscience, but honorable senators will remember that when the Australian Labour party was in power the Opposition of that time attacked the Government for engaging in experimental socialism. The Opposition said that if it was returned to power it would curtail the expenditure of millions of pounds per annum by the dismissal of public servants. It claimed that the country was being overrun .by employees of Government services. The answer to a question recently asked by me in this chamber shows that the present Government, far from curtailing the number of employees, has increased it by 4,875. It is foolish to speak about the Parliament being brought into disrepute when members of the Government make statements which they themselves do not believe.

I pass now to the problem of the young man and woman who marry in this country to-day. In thousands of instances the young wife continues to work, so that they pay double taxation, because the husband is not entitled to a rebate for his wife. Both those young people therefore pay taxes to the Commonwealth Treasury, although we know that if a woman continues in employment after her marriage she adds to the total wealth of Australia. Dealing with ‘production, I point out that members of the Government parties say continually that the workers of this country are not producing enough. The cry of the Government is that Ave must have greater production, but that the workers will not produce to their full capacity because they are controlled by Communists or others. On the 20th of this month, a Minister of this Government, in reply to a question, said that in 1949 Australian primary industries produced more than they did in 1939, although they employed 60,000 fewer workers in 1949 than in 1939. In the House of Representatives, the PostmasterGeneral (Air. Anthony), replying to a question by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson), in which the honorable gentleman asked whether figures could be produced to refute a statement by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) that primary producers had failed to increase production, stated that between 1939 and 1949 the production of potatoes increased from 330,000 tons to 400,000 tons, the production of sugar from 740,000 tons to f>40.000 tons, the production of meat from 930!000 tons to 1,000,000 tons, and the production of milk from 11,500,000 gallons to 12,500,000 gallons. Production of those commodities was greater in 1949 than in 1939, although 60,000 fewer workers were employed. Day after day, radio stations and newspapers charge the workers of this country with not working hard enough and urge them to put more energy into their work so that they produce more goods. The figures that I have just cited prove that those charges are not well founded.

Senator Gorton:

– Will the honorable senator state the figures relating to coal production ‘?

Senator KATZ:

– The figures to which I have referred were given by a Minister of i.his Government, and I do not think Senator Gorton will challenge them. If I went through the ramifications of industry, doubtless I should discover much the same state of affairs.

I shall deal now with pensions. Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) the following question : -

Is the Minister for Social Services aware that in the period in which the basic wage has been increased by i!2 3s. a week the ape pension has been increased by only 7s. (id. a week?

The Minister, in reply, said -

As I have already pointed out. whatever the present increase of age pension* may be, it is that rauch more than the amount by which they were increased by the Chifley Government between 1048 and December. 111411. when the basie wage increased by Ins. a week. Senator Katz apparently believes tint the increase of tha agc pension is not sufficient in relation to the basic wage increases. With respect, 1 contend that the 1101101111110 senator is wrong.

I understand that the increase of 7s. fid. a week in the age pension brings it to a substantially higher level in relation to the basie wage than it was previously. When T say that, of course, I am making no allowance for the further increase of the basic wage recently announced by the arbitration court.

Let us examine’ the Minister’s argument. In October, 1948, when the basic wage, was £5 17s. a week, the age pension was £2 2s. 6d. a week. For the ensuing three months, the basic wage will be £8 3s. a week and the age pension will be £2 10s. a week, or “I per cent, of the basic wage.

Senator SPOONER:

– Does Senator Katz say that the basic wage now is £8 3s. a week ?

Senator KATZ:

– From the 1st December of this year, the basic wage will bc £S 3s. a week in Victoria and £S 6s. a week in New South Wales. I am pointing out that in October, 1948, under the Chifley Administration, the age pension was approximately 36 per cent, of the basic wage, compared with approximately 31 pei1 cent, to-day. Therefore, it is clear why some of us who take an interest in this matter are continually trying to protect the interests of pensioners.

Senator Spooner:

– I do not think the honorable senator will protect their interests by presenting such an unfair argument. In the reply to the question 10 which he has referred, I said carefully that 1 was not making allowance for the further increase of the basic wage recently announced by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.

Senator KATZ:

– I arn not condemning the Minister. I say that, although this Government says that it will protect the interests of pensioners, and attempts to persuade the people that the Chifley Government would not do so, an examination O.t the position reveals that, under the present proposals, pensioners wilh be worse off than they were when the Chifley Government was in office.

Senator SPOONER:

– The basic wage is not yet. £S 3s. a week.

Senator KATZ:

– Nor have pensioners received the promised increase of their elisions. The figures relating to the incomes that age pensioners may earn before their pensions are affected show that, relatively speaking, they will be worse 1 IT under the Government’s proposals than they were previously. Under the old scale, the joint pension of an age pensioner and his wife was £4 5s. a week and. in addition, they could earn £3 a week without affecting the pension. Their t( tal income was £7 5s. a week, which was 5s. a week more than the basic wage, Under the Government’s proposals, the joint pension and permissible income of an age pensioner and his wife will be only £S a week. Therefore, on the east of living figures, they will be 3s. a week below the basic wage, and, therefore, worse off than they were under the old scale.

Senator Spooner:

– The honorable senator will find it difficult to convince pensioners that they will be worse off, however he may work the figures out.

Senator KATZ:

– Let us consider the case of blind workers. In October, 194S, when the basic wage was £5 17s. a week, a blind worker received a pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week and was also permitted to earn £5 17s. 6d. a week before his pension was affected. His total income was £S a week, or £2 3s. 111 Ore than the basic wage. The basic wage will soon be increased to £8 3s. a week. No provision is to be made for an increase of the permissible incomes of blind workers, but their pensions are to be increased to £2 10s. a week. The total permissible income of a blind worker then will be £S 7s. 6d. a week, or 4s. 6d. a week more than the basic wage, compared with £2 3s. in October, 1948. Such treatment of blind workers will have a detrimental effect upon their morale, and also upon the economy of this country, because when they have earned the maximum permissible income they will stop work. If they do not do so, they will work for nothing. Blind workers will, under the Government’s proposal, receive an Irishman’s rise.

Let mc examine another phase of our social services legislation and endeavour to show the Senate why not only this Government but all governments are criticized by the recipients of social services benefits. Service pensions are to he increased from £2 15s. to £3 10s. a week, and the pensions of wives of service pensioners from £1 4s. to £1 10s. 6d. a week. Under the new proposals, a service pensioner who has a wife will receive, £5 0s. (id. a week, compared with £3 19s. a week previously. Under the old scale, the service pension was £2 15s. a week and the age pension for the wife £2 2s. fid. a week, a total of £4 17s. 6d. a week. I point out that the exservice pensioner’s wife must sacrifice bor service pension in order to obtain the full age pension. Although the service pensioner has served his country he, is not permitted to receive a service pension as well as the age pension. In this respect service pensioners are not on an equal footing with men who did not serve in the forces. The total income of a general rate war pensioner is limited at present to £4 17s. fid. a week, unless his wife forgoes a service pension in favour of an age pension. Under the old scale an age pensioner and his wife could receive £7 5s. a week, being £4 5s. combined age pension and £3 other income. Under the present proposal he will be able to receive a total of £S, and he will be therefore worse off relatively than he was under the old scheme.

When I made representations to the Minister about the plight of the blind workers of Australia he was not unsympathetic, but he pointed out that the amount of relief that could be given to those unfortunate people was governed by the amount of money available. I emphasize that those workers are entitled to better treatment than they are at present receiving. In order to meet its commitments the Governmen has introduced new methods of taxation. I refer to the proposed scheme for deductions to be made from wool-growers’ cheques, which has been severely criticized by the Opposition, and in connexion with which many complaints have been received from farmers in all parts of Australia. Legislation such as that which has been introduced in another place to make the proposal law tends to bring the Parliament into ridicule. The Government also proposes to increase sales tax on various commodities. The following article that appeared in the Melbourne Argus on the 14th October is interesting: -

page 1307


Mr. Fadden, you have brought upon yourself tlie wrath of the women. In your Federal Budget speech on Thursday night you classed cosmetics as “ luxury items “.

To-day in the year 1950 much of the cosmetics that are used by the opposite sex become necessary under our social order.

The very environment of women necessitates the use of cosmetics. In addition, the Government proposes to increase to 25 per cent, the sales tax on wireless sets. Is it any wonder that people are condemning the Parliament for its inability to stop the spiralling of prices? At least Labour made an honest attempt to prevent prices from rising. Because the referendum on rents and prices in 194S was defeated, prices have continued to rise Prior to that referendum the Liberal and Australian Country parties disseminated much propaganda and succeeded in influencing the people to reject the proposal that the Commonwealth should be empowered to continue to control prices. The most urgent problem confronting the citizens of this country, both wage and salary earners and pensioners is the necessity to control prices. That problem exists in many of the countries of the world to-day. High prices inevitably mean that the less-favoured members of the community are forced to go without certain of the necessities of life. I trust that the measure that has been introduced by the Opposition will be endorsed by the House of Representatives after being passed by the Senate. The application by various unions for an increase of the basic wage was before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for over eighteen months. A lot of legalisms were introduced into the application, and the court’s finding will affect vitally the interests of every Australian worker.

According to last Saturday’s Age, the directors of Myer Emporium Limited decided to make a one-for-one bonus issue to ordinary stockholders. I point out that big companies adopt this expedient for the purpose of protecting their shareholders. In future they will probably declare dividends of 7i per cent, instead of 15 per cent, as at present. In the final assessment the shareholders will receive the same amount of dividend. A similar proposal has been adopted by Noske Brothers Limited, the large flourmillers, and also by Castlemaine Brewery Company (Melbourne) Limited. Of course, honorable senators know that that concern has not brewed a gallon of beer during the last 25 years. Its premises are situated in City-road, South Melbourne. It gets its dividends from one of the other breweries that closed it down. The bill that we are debating will have a vital effect on the community in general. I know full well that the Minister for Social Services cannot grant every request that is made to him, even if he desired to do so, because of Treasury considerations. However, I hope that, having heard Senator Kendall’s remarks, honorable senators will have food for thought concerning the constitution and powers of the Senate. I regret that the Senate has not more power at the present time.

Senator GUY:

.- Senator Katz has stated that there has been an increase in the Public Service. That is partly true. However, some honorable senators may not be aware that there has been retrenchment in the Public Service proper. Some departments have been abolished, and there has been a reduction in some administrative staffs. It is true that, because of developmental projects, there has been a slight increase in the overall figure.

Senator GRANT:

– By how many?

Senator GUY:

– I am unable to state the exact increase at present. I point out that it would be impossible to bring 200,000 migrants into this country each year without increasing our administrative staff. The increased volume of work that is being handled by the Postal Department has necessitated an increased number of employees in that department. Furthermore, huge defence works could’ not be undertaken without increasing the number of men employed. The honorable senator referred to the increased1 production that has been achieved by the primary producers. In common with: him I pay them a high compliment. Today the farmers are working under grave difficulties, and it is to their credit that they have increased production. What the honorable senator did not tell the Senate was that there has been a substantial reduction in the production of steel, iron, and coal, and that ships are being held up in our ports for longer periods than they are at sea. This afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) meandered through a destructive speech lasting longer than an hour. He did not advance one constructive idea, but merely engaged in a series of heroics. All that the Leader of the Opposition did was to pull down. Tha t is vastly different from building up. He did not suggest one remedy for the wrongs that he mentioned. The Supply Bill provides honorable senators with an opportunity to review the activities of the Government, and to point out some of its achievements. In spite of the hostile majority in one branch of the legislature, the Government has achieved much that is of benefit to the people of Australia. In the joint policy statement made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) before the last general election-

Senator Ashley:

– He promised to restore the value of the £1.

Senator GUY:

– Honorable senators opposite know that that statement is not true. However, I shall discuss that aspect of the matter later. In the joint policy statement, the present Prime Minister said that, if the anti-Labour parties were returned to power, the Communist party would be declared to be a subversive and unlawful organization, and would be dissolved. Legislation designed to bring about that very desirable end has been passed, in spite of the hostile attitude of honorable senators opposite. Petrol rationing has been abolished, although the Opposition said that it would be impossible to get enough petrol to satisfy our requirements. The Government has done what the Opposition claimed to be impossible. The rationing of other commodities has also been discontinued, and the sale of tea and butter is now unrestricted. Another election promise was that legislation would be introduced to endow the first child of a family, and in spite of the passive opposition of honorable senators opposite, that reform is now in force.

Senator Ward:

– And the endowment is 5s. a week instead of 10s.

Senator GUY:

– At any rate, that is 5s. more than the Opposition was prepared to give. The honorable senator is one of those who voted against the endowment rate of 5s. for the first child.

Senator Ward:

– I am one of those who voted for a rate of 10s., which the Government would not give.

Senator GUY:

– It was also promised that an adequate health and medical service would be introduced, and that is now being done in a most admirable and effective way. Unlike the proposal of the previous Government, frequently referred to as the McKenna plan, the scheme that is taking shape will have some stability. We also promised social services benefits. We said that social services payments would bc increased, and that there would be improvements all round. Those promises have been honoured in the budget recently delivered. There have been general increases of pensions. We promised that we would carry on an active immigration policy, and that is being done. We also said that provision would be made for the adequate defence of the country - something of which honorable senators opposite do not approve. Steps have already been taken to bring the defence forces up to the required standard, having regard to the international situation. This year, it is proposed to expend £133,000,000 on defence, which is £79,000,000 in excess of what the Chifley Government spent the previous year. We promised that repatriation benefits would be increased to bring them into line with present-day requirements. That has been done, and those who are entitled to participate in the benefits are well satisfied with the budget.

Improvements have been effected in the manner of assessing income tax. One of the most important decisions of the Government is its plan to revert to the system of deduction for dependants instead of the present rebate system. Concessions have also been liberalized, and this will give relief to taxpayers generally, especially to those with family responsibilities. We also promised to simplify income tax returns and assessments, and that is being done. Previously, there were widespread complaints about the complexity of the method of taxing income. Probably not one person in 5,000 could understand his assessment when he received it. Therefore, the decision to simplify the procedure is very welcome. The decision to print the scale of tax rates on the back of assessment notices in such a manner that the amount of tax payable on any taxable income can be readily ascertained will satisfy a long-felt want.

Senator Ashley:

– And who will interpret the book of explanation consisting of about 80 pages?

Senator GUY:

– The Leader of the Opposition has such a warped and prejudiced mind that it would be of no use trying to explain anything to him.

Senator BYRNE:
QUEENSLAND · ALP; QLP from 1957; DLP from 1968

– I rise to a point of order. The statement that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) has a warped and prejudiced mind is objectionable to me, and I askthat it be withdrawn.


– I wish honorable senators would take notice of Senator Kendall, who said that those honorable senators who made personal reflections on one another were doing nothing to enhance the prestige of the Senate. Senator Guy was speaking of the Leader of the Opposition, who did not object to the statement. However, I wish that Senator Guy would restrain himself when tempted to cast reflections upon other honorable senators.

Senator GUY:

– I thank you, Mr. President. I was drawn off the track by the interjection of the Leader of the Opposition.


– I ask Senator Guy not to take notice of interjections. He has a powerful voice; perhaps he has also a powerful personality. If he refrained from answering interjections, no one would be tempted to rise and take exception to his remarks.

Senator GUY:

– In future, every taxpayer will be able to calculate the amount of tax which he has to pay. It will not be difficult for him to do so, because the tax rates will be expressed in so many pence in the £1, without the present complications of decimals or fractions of a penny. I have chosen, more or less at random, a few of the achievements of the present Government, but I have demonstrated that the Government is well on the way to honouring all its election promises.

Perhaps I will be pardoned for doubting the sincerity of those who suggest that the control of prices should revert to the Commonwealth. Honorable senators opposite must know that there is not the remotest possibility of the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill being passed by the Parliament. They must also know that, even if it were passed, the people would not agree to the proposed alteration of the Constitution, seeing that they have already rejected similar proposals on two previous occasions. Honorable senators must also know that price fixation alone will not solve the problem of high prices and inflation.

Senator Fraser:

– Who said that it would ?

Senator GUY:

– That has been the burden of the speeches of honorable senators opposite for some time. They have claimed that if the Commonwealth Government had power to fix prices everything in the garden would be lovely. We recognize that rising prices are causing great anxiety to the people, but the fact is that price increases during the last few months are directly traceable to the policy of the Labour Government.

I think I am safe in saying that the cost of living allowance paid - to male members of the Public Service may be regarded as a fair indication of cost of living increases. When the Labour Government took office under Mr. Curtin, the cost of living allowance paid to male members of the Public Service was £10 a year. When Mr. Chifley became Prime Minister, the cost of living allowance had increased to £40 a year, but when he ceased to be Prime Minister it had risen to £126 a year, representing an increase of more than 1,200per cent. Membersof the Labour party have themselves often admitted that pricescontrolcannot be effective unlesscosts are alsocontrolled. It was interesting to hear the Leader of the Opposition say this afternoon that he favoured the pegging of wages.I do not blame him for making that statement Rather do I admire him.

Senator Ashley:

– I do not want the honorable senator’s admiration.

Senator GUY:

– Probably not. Control of prices, without control of wages and costs, would lead to extensive blackmarketing. We know, of course, that the introduction of the Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill was merely a subterfuge to distract attention from another bill, and to delay its passage. To write permanently into the Constitution a provision authorizing the Commonwealth Government to control all prices, including those of primary products as well as of secondary products, would be to cut across the principles recognized by the fathers of federation, and would represent the introduction of socialism at its worst. Moreover, it would be bound to fail of its purpose, unless steps were also taken to fix wages and costs.

Senator GUY:

– I urge honorable senators opposite to show their sincerity by throwing their weight behind the Government’s attempts to boost production. The Leader of the Parliamentary Labour party (Mr. Chifley) himself has acknowledged that higher production is the key to economic stability. Unfortunately, we have had the spectacle recently of the federal president of the Australian Labour party, Mr. Ferguson, publicly stating in the Sydney Town Hall that the Menzies Government’s attempt to increase production would receive no assistance from the Australian Labour party. That shows a great spirit of cooperation ! Senator McKenna, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this charmber, was allegedly on the platform when Mr. Ferguson made that declaration.

Senator Ashley:

– Allegedly !

Senator- GUY. - I am accepting the word of the press. Senator McKenna has not denied it, although he has had an opportunity to do so. “What I want to know, and what the people of Australia want to know is whether Senator McKenna subscribes to that declaration of non-co-operation. The honorable senator will have an opportunity in the course of this debate to make his position clear. Unfortunately, some people adopt a doginthemanger attitude to the Government’s scheme to boost output. They appear to he more interested in trying to score off their political opponents than in cooperating to end this national evil of inflation.

Senator Cole:

– The honorable senator himself has just endeavoured to score off Senator McKenna.

Senator GUY:

– I have merely asked whether Senator McKenna subscribes to the declaration made by the president of the Australian Labour party. Surely that is fair enough. Price-fixing tribunals, as we know them, are nothing more than glorified cost-plus administrative authorities. A manufacturer has only to establish that an article costs a certain sum to produce, and the price-fixing tribunal will add a certain percentage of profit. The resultant figure is the fixed selling price. Because of inefficient production, the public is asked to pay exorbitant prices. That may be described as putting a premium on inefficiency. Production costs to-day are so high that it is most difficult to reduce retail prices. As the Prime Minister recently said, no one can compel a. person to sell for 15s. something that cost £1 to produce. Any attempt to do that will obviously lead to a reduction rather than an increase of production. Surely the common-sense approach to the problem is to reduce production costs by increasing production. When two people are competing to purchase one article, its price will rise. What is the common-sense solution of that problem? Let us produce two articles so that each may have one. Every effort should be made to increase supply until it meets demand.

We have heard a lot of talk from honorable senators opposite about putting value hack into the £1 Who took the value out of the £1? We are to-day reaping what was sown during eight years of socialism. Recovery takes much longer than decline. We can go down hill much faster than we can go up hill. No one could reasonably have expected the Menzies Government to repair in eight or nine months the damage clone to our economy by the socialists in their eight years of office. Honorable senators opposite have fought every major measure that we have brought down with the object of restoring Australia’s economy to normal. Senator McKenna. frequently quotes from the joint policy speech of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, delivered by the Prime Minister at the inauguration of the last election campaign.I do not know what the honorable senator would do without that booklet. I, too, propose to quote from it. Recently. I asked the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to read certain words from it, but he quoted a newspaper report instead. I draw the attention of the Senate to the following passage in the policy speech : -

The greatest task, therefore, is to get value hack into the pound, that is, to get prices down. That, is the only effective way of increasing real wages and salaries and, indeed. all monetary payments. High prices are not a cause; they are a result of an abundance nf spending money and an insufficient supply of things to buy. A production policy, which I have already discussed, is therefore of the essence of price control.

What we have been saying all along is that a production policy is essential to price control. Inflation is of great moment to the average Australian because it affects him as an individual. Inflation can not be checked by legislation alone. There has never been any easy way to end a period of inflation. All sections of the community and all political parties must assist in whatever measures are taken. Certain measures of course will not be popular. It would be foolish to expect 100 per cent, popularity for all such measures in view of the internal and external problems that face us to-day. However, we must risk momentary unpopularity to restore economic stability. We are to-day paying the penalty for the fallacious belief that real prosperity can be achieved while our efforts become more and more leisurely. The chickens are coming home to roost with a vengeance after eight years of socialism. The policy pursued by the Chifley Go ve t contributed in no small measure to the lower production and increased buying pressure from which we are suffering to-day. We on this side of the chamber made our position crystal clear from the election platform. We stated that if the inflationary trends were permitted to continue, the result would be social and industrial disaster. We outlined methods by which we considered the position could be remedied. We claimed that increased production was imperative. We urged profit sharing, incentive payments, improved factory amenities, and other reforms, but we have received no co-c’peration from the Opposition, and under production is still the order of the day.

Senator FRASER:

– The Government has done nothing about it.

Senator GUY:

– The honorable senator l;ns been delaying the Government’s legislation, yet he now claims that the Government has not done anything. Our efforts have been thwarted not by weight of argument but by weight of numbers.

When the people of Australia rejected )n prices referendum proposals in 194S. the then Government, led by Mr. Chifley, aggravated the position and caused the cost of living to spiral to a dizzy height by deciding suddenly, in a fit of pique, to withdraw all price stabilization subsidies and to throw the entire price-fixing administration onto the States. Disorder and confusion was inevitable. All the State governments, regardless of their political colour, were outspoken in their criticism of the Chifley Government’s untimely decision to withdraw price stabilization subsidies. I defy any honorable senator to point to any passage in the Chifley Government’s official case for the carrying of the referendum which indicated that a negative vote would result in the withdrawal of price stabilization subsidies.

I propose now to quote one or two comments by State authorities. Mr. Finnan, the ISTew South Wales Minister in charge of prices administration had this to say on the 10th July, 1948 -

Australia will be caught in a price spiral similar to America’s if the Commonwealth Government refused to review its decision to pbolish clothing and interstate shipping subsidies. Abolition of the subsidies could cause the basic wage to rise by £2 per week. This would make State finances chaotic. In New Sou tli Wales, for instance, where each ls. rise in the basic wage cost about £500,000, abolition of .subsidies world mean an increase in expenditure of £20,000,000 a year. If the basic wage rose, production costs would rise too, and the whole economy of the country would be upset.

On the 17th December of the same year Mr. Finnan said -

The burdens cast upon the States because of the withdrawal of subsidies by the Commonwealth Government have been far from easy. The withdrawal of the subsidy has created increases in costs which must be borne by the public.

On the 14th September, 1948, Mr. Gair, the Minister for Labour in the Queensland Government, said -

The Commonwealth, in the interests of the people, should have maintained subsidies on those goods which will inevitably increase greatly in price because of the lifting of subsidies. We even submitted that there should be a gradual lifting of subsidies so as to cushion the impact, but Mr. Chillcy decided against the States.

Those were the words not of a Libera] but of a Labour Minister. On the 12th July, 1948, Mr. McDonald, the then Acting Premier of Victoria, and now the semi-Labour Premier of that State, said -

The withdrawal of price subsidies by the Commonwealth would cause a sharprise in prices and a corresponding increase in the basic wage. A shilling rise in the basic wage would cost Victoria between £130,000 and £150,000 a year in public service salaries. If subsidies were withdrawn and the basic wage were increased by £1 a week, ashas been suggested, Victoria would have to find another £3,000,000 a year. The Commonwealth cannot wash its hands of the responsibility of helping to maintain financial stability in Australia.

Mr. Hollway, speaking in Melbourne on the 12th January, 1949, as Premier of Victoria, said -

I accuse Mr. Chifley of diabolical cleverness in destroying the whole structure of price control simply to gain political propaganda with which to fight a federal election.

In a broadcast address delivered on the 11th June, . 1948, Mr. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, said -

It is obvious that the immediate withdrawal of all price subsidies will plunge the price structure into complete chaos. I do not believe that any government would consider reaction along these lines, much less than that they would indulge in it from any sense of displeasure they might feel.

Trade union leaders, too, were critical of the Chifley Government’s decision to withdraw price subsidies. On the 26th August, 1948, Mr. M. Jordan, assistant secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, said -

The lifting of subsidies and the abandonment of price control by the Commonwealth will result in prices sky-rocketing unless goods arc in plentiful supply. The Federal Government has nothing to lose and a lot to gain by retaining subsidies on goods essential to the worker. If subsidies remain, the workers will re-elect Labour next year.

Subsidies were not retained and the workers did not re-elect the Labour Government in that year. The trend of rising prices has been steepened since the Chifley Government with a. view to embarrassing State administrations and for the purpose of gaining a political advantage at the last general election made its untimely and unnecessary decision to withdraw Commonwealth price subsidies. There was no constitutional need for it either to pass the control of prices to the States immediately or to withdraw the payment of subsidies. The then Opposition parties in the Commonwealth Parliament supported the continuation of stabilization measures, including prices control, under the provisions of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act. Honorable senators opposite who blame this Government for the increase of the cost of living supported the Government which was responsible for the withdrawal of subsidies.

Every one agrees that wages and prices are now chasing each other in a vicious circle. Every automatic adjustment of the basic wage must result in higher prices because wages form the most important component of all costs. As high wages increase costs without a corresponding increase of production high wages are nothing but a mirage which beckons the worker on to greater acts of folly. The £1 is worth only what it will buy. The problem of inflation can be solved only by increasing output commensurate with the increase of wages. No one outside a lunatic asylum wants to see the value of the £1 fall, but fall it will unless there is increased production to off-set increased wages. In order to achieve our objective of curbing inflation we must have the co-operation of all sections of the. community. We must discourage political parties from making party political capital of this matter. It is the duty of every one of us in this Parliament to consider this national problem without party bias.

Inflation is not peculiar to Australia. Indeed, it is more or less common throughout the world. Since 1939 an alarming inflationary spiral has cut the purchasing power of the United States dollar by nearly one-half. The value of the dollar to-day compared with 1939 is only 57 cents. All governments are worried by the soaring cost of living. In the United States of America most transport fares have risen by at least 100 per cent, and the prices of foodstuffs generally have increased by 100 per cent.

Senator Hendrickson:

– What has that to do with us?

Senator GUY:

– I am endeavouring to show that inflation is not peculiar to Australia but apparently it is too much for me to expect the honorable senator to understand what I am driving at. A six-roomed house in the United States of America to-day costs 11,500 dollars compared with 5,000 dollars in pre-war years. The prices of men’s clothing have increased by 100 per cent, and the prices of women’s wearing apparel have increased even more steeply than that. To-day women’s shoes are quoted in the United States of America at 40 dollars a pair, or the equivalent of £A.17 17s. Women’s cloth coats are now selling in the United States of America for 275 dollars, which is equivalent to £A.’1.23 and dress material is quoted at 135 dollars a yard, which is equivalent to £A.60. The United States Government Statistician has stated that since 1939 the volume of goods and services in the United States of America has increased by 67 per cent., but that the money available for spending has increased by 310 per cent. In that country to-day there is more spending power than there are commodities to buy. This country is facing a similar problem. In many countries the trade union movement is taking positive steps to increase production for it realizes that only by that means can the problem of inflation be overcome. Trade unionists abroad now realize that only by producing more and consuming more can they hope to effect a real improvement. of their living standards. That inescapable fact has been driven home to them by economists, statisticians and even by Labour members of Parliament who have convinced the workers of the necessity for increased production. The Director-General of the International Labour Office in his report for the year 1949-50 stated -

Tin: trade unions are urging measures to increase the productivity of labour, the adoption of a new attitude and positive and courageous support for and co-operation in such measures.

In the United Kingdom the Trade Union Congress has established a special production committee and has given a strong lead to the trade unions by its support of the United Kingdom Labour Governments’ policy of increased production. In Sweden and Denmark committees have been established for similar purposes. Even in countries behind the Iron Curtain the workers realize that the principal task of the trade unions is to find ways and means of increasing production.

Senator Hendrickson:

– How does the honorable senator know that?

Senator GUY:

– I have taken the trouble to ascertain these facts. They are recorded in publications which are available in the Parliamentary Library. Apparently when Senator Hendrickson goes into the Library he exhibits more interest in “Deadwood Dicks” than in informative publications which the Library provides for the information of members of the Parliament. The Director-General of the International Labour Office has also stated that almost all workers in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland are now paid by results. Trade union policy in the United States of America is based on the concept that an improvement of the standards of living of the workers can be achieved only by an improvement of productivity. Increased wages and the reduction of hours of labour can no longer make any worthwhile contribution to the improvement of standards of living. I appeal to the members of the Australian Labour party to give a lead to unionists throughout Australia similar to that given to the workers by the trade union movement in Great Britain and other countries.

Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) “8.28”. - Senator Guy’s speech bristled with inaccuracies and contained numerous half-truths. We. expected a much better contribution and some constructive suggestions from one who has been a member of this Parliament for about sixteen years. His whole speech showed his negative approach to this problem of inflation. The honorable senator informed me that after T had been a member of this Senate a little longer I should learn something. I trust that already I can make a better contribution to the debates of this chamber than he made to-night.

The honorable senator referred to retrenchments in the Public Service. I have before me figures which show that the strength of the Public Service increased from 196,000 in 1949 to 201,000 in 1950. Those are official figures, hut let us consider a few individual cases. In addition to the 4,000 additional public servants indicated in those figures, there has been established recently a department of publicity, to which Mr. Edgar Holt has been appointed at a salary of £3,000 per annum. The previous Prime Minister held the portfolios of Treasurer and Prime Minister and managed to carry on with a dual staff, but at the present time staffs of both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been increased and so has the Prime Minister’s personal staff. I point out those facts because Senator Guy claimed that the Government has retrenched employees of the Government.

We have heard much discussion concerning the necessity for increased production. A few months ago the federal president of the Liberal party, Mr. MalcolmRitchie, at a conference in Launceston, Tasmania, advocated returning to a 50-hour week, because, he stated, that is the only way to secure greater production. Amongst those who vigorously opposed that proposal, for political purposes, was the honorable senator who has just been proclaiming the need for increased production. I ask Senator Guy whether he speaks with two tongues? Does he, when he is in Launceston, ad vocat e a 40-hour week, and when he is in Canberra favour a 56-hour week?

Senator Guy:

– I do not recollect saying anything about a 56-hour week.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– During the course of his speech, the honorable senator attacked the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) for not having made a constructive speech. I made it my business to listen to the speech made by Senator Guy in an endeavour to find one constructive point, but I am afraid that I was not successful. It seems to me that he was endeavouring to “ square off “ for some of the unfulfilled promises made by himself and the members of the Government during the election campaign last December.

I have here a cutting from a newspaper published in Sydney. It is headed “An Appeal to the Australian Women”, and it contains a glamorous photograph of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is depicted as saying -

This is what we offer you. Vote (1) Liberal. An end to shortages. Lower prices. A £l’s worth for every £1 you spend. New hospitals and schools. Homes and home ownership at reasonable cost. Preventive medicine and diagnostic clinics. Child endowment for the first child.

The Government has provided child endowment for the first child, but that small sum was soon gobbled up by spiralling price increases. I am afraid it is but cold comfort to mothers of children to-day to realize that they were misled by such an unattractive bait. Senator Guy rightly claimed that petrol rationing had been lifted, and I am very pleased that it has been lifted.

Senator Guy:

– The Australian Labour party said it could not be done.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– We did say it could not be done, because our advisers told us so.

Senator Guy:

– The advice came from the arch-Communist of Great Britain.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– The Labour Government was unable to secure petrol from the sources that became available after the change of government. I am also very pleased indeed that the rationing of tea and butter has ended. But it is just as well that those few paltry promises have been honoured by the Government because otherwise it would not have a tingle item on its list of achievements. Another point made by the honorable senator concerned the request by the Opposition that a referendumbe held on the question of altering the Constitution to provide for power to control prices. The honorable senator emphasized that the Opposition desires to have control over all prices for all time. That was the old parrot cry of the members of the present Government in 1948 when the last referendum was held, and it is a complete distortion and misrepresentation of the facts. It is true that some constitutional powers operate for all time, but there are certain limited powers invested in our Constitution. It is political dishonesty to proclaim, each time it is proposed to amend the Constitution, that some abstract person, some ogre, wishes to obtain all power for all time. I will admit it is a good slogan, but-

Senator Robertson:

– What about the Australian Labour party’s socialization pledge ?

Senator O’BYRNE:

– The Australian Parliament has no power under the

Constitution to nationalize or socialize anything. Irrespective of the fact that some industries may be exploiting the people, and are making excess profits, the Australian ‘Government has no power whatever to socialize or to nationalize any industry. The Australian Labour party is committed to use, at all times, constitutional means to put its policy into effect.

I wish to deal briefly with the speech made by Senator Kendall earlier in the day. I think it was a pleasant speech, which brought in a breath of fresh air, and in that respect it was unusual. It offered some suggestions which, in my opinion, could quite easily be given consideration. The honorable senator suggested that a committee should be constituted to consider legislation forwarded from the House of Representatives, but I ask the honorable senator whether he thinks that this chamber should be a rubber stamp for the other House ? Has theSenate any power whatever to amend a bill? Has it any power to alter or to discard a bill without its action being construed as failure to pass the bill? Psychology is being used to-day to engender in the minds of the people the idea that the Senate should become a rubber stamp for another place. As I have previously pointed out, each representative of a State has a responsibility in this chamber tosee that the interests of his State are safeguarded, but challenges have been thrown out that unless legislation is passed through this chamber as it is presented, word for word, there will be an appeal to the Governor-General for a double dissolution.

Senator Kendall also made an appeal for brevity in speeches made in thischamber. I have a colleague in the House of Representatives, the honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Haylen, and if I wished to make a short, pertinent speech on present-day conditions and on the budget I could not do better than read to honorable senators his parody of “The Man from Snowy River, 1950”. It reads -

There was movement at the station for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Inflation got away And had joined the city slickers. He was worth ten million pound,

Soall theboys had gathered for the fray.

The colt was got by Wool Cheque, traced back to Mortgage Rate,

And Work and Drought and Worry were his mate,

He had broken down his fences and joined the Menzies mob

And theboys had sworn to get him soon or late.

So they sent a call to . Fadden who was up in Queensland way,

Since Clancy of the Overflow was dead;

But Fadden sent a message : he had put his spurs away

And was suffering from inflation in the head.

Then they sent a wire to Menzies saying, “Will you help to rally round,

Will you try to save the shillings in our quids? “;

But Menzies couldn’t help with value in the pound

He was very, very busy calling up the kids.

The squatters lined the stock-rail. They were hot and bitter men

When told of how the brumbies had got in; Surely, said the old man, it’s history back to front,

The late Edward Patrick Kelly rides again.

It seems the colt Inflation - grand dam the station hack -

Will cost us thirty smackers for every hundred we get back ;

This tax to catch wild horses is indeed a heavy load,

Fadden’s madeus waltz Matilda down a long and dusty road.

So onceagain, it’s mount and ride the scarred and wicked hills:

The Menzies party’s let us down. Who’ll save us from our ills?

A lanky bloke from Bathurst way was smoking near the fence: “I mind the time”, the quiet man said, “ you got your cheque in pence. “But now the wheel has spun around. Ah, please don’t take offence: “

The lean long man removed his pipe and said. “Please gather round.

I think you all remember when I kept the Government pound

And when I had inflation roped and hog-tied to the ground.

If you must ride the range again, remember this and grin :

It was you who let inflation out when you let Menzies in.”

I tender my apologies to “ Banjo “ Paterson, but that version of his poem, to my way of thinking, aptly describes the situation that exists to-day.

Senator Spooner:

– There could never be sufficient apologies for that.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– I consider that if one wished to be brief, that version of the poem would suffice as a. speech on the budget. But I wish to refer again to the position that wool-growers are in. At the last general election, the present Government parties promised the people that, if they were returned, they would, among other things, end shortages, reduce prices and introduce legislation to provide for ballots in trade unions. Did the Government conduct a ballot of wool-growers before it announced its iniquitous scheme for the prior payment of income tax by wool-growers? I have not heard of a ballot being conducted at which the woolgrowers of Australia, gave the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) authority to use their money - and it is their money that he proposes to use. The simple fact is that the Government was faced with the prospect of a budget deficit of £103,000,000, and the only means which it could think of to balance the budget was to dip into the pockets of the wool-growers and take from them in advance taxes to an amount of £103,000,000. If the Government considers that proposal to be fair, the ethics of taxation and balancing budgets have taken a peculiar turn since the Labour party surrendered the reins of office.

Honorable senators opposite have refrained from referring to the promises that they made in relation to preventive medicine and diagnostic clinics. I have not heard of one Commonwealth diagnostic clinic being established in the last eleven months, so, without doubt, the promise that such clinics would be established was only a bribe to get votes. The Government parties believe that votes should be won. by all possible means, even by pulling the wool over the eyes of the people. This Government could aptly be described as the “ wool-gatherer’s government “. It pulled the wool over the eyes of the general public of Australia last December, and now it is pulling wool out of the bales of the wool-growers and using it to balance the budget. With regard to preventive medicine, the Minister for Health-

Senatorashley. - Dr. Dogsbody

Senator O’BYRNE:

– He was referred to last night by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as Dogsbody. The right honorable member for Cowper believes that his health scheme, which has the approval of the British Medical Association, is better than the scheme for which Senator McKenna was responsible. It is remarkable that although the McKenna formulary contained 600 items, the socalled improved scheme contains only 139 items, and the number of vital preparations included in it has been reduced to 60.

Senator Gorton:

– The difference between the two schemes is that, under the Menzies Government scheme, the people will get free medicine.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– I thank Senator Gorton for his interjection. Approximately 120 doctors prescribed under the old formulary. They had the intestinal fortitude to “buck” the British Medical Association machine, and by doing so they conferred great benefits upon the people who were fortunate enough to consult them. The British Medical Association applied a thumbscrew to the medical profession, and the great majority of Australian doctors were not allowed or were not prepared to prescribe under the old formulary. As I have said, the McKenna formulary, which honorable senators opposite say is no good, contained 600 items, while the so-called improved formulary contains 139 items, including only 60 vital preparations.

Senator Aylett:

– It is the end of the national health scheme.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– It is the thin end of the wedge. Very few people will benefit from the present scheme, which is designed to conform, not with the spirit, but only with the letter of the provision in the Constitution which confer upon the Commonwealth authority to legislate in respect of health and social services. I have not heard of the construction of one new hospital being commenced since this Government assumed office, or indeed of any suggestion that new Commonwealth hospitals will be built, but perhaps the Liberal party did not mean what it said when, during the last general election campaign, it caused to be published in the press of this country announcements that, if it were successful at the election, new hospitals would be erected by the Commonwealth.

I should like at this stage to refer to hospital services in New Guinea. Senator Kendall has a wide knowledge of that country, and during the last parliamentary recess I had the good fortune to visit it and learn at first hand of conditions there. My visit has been of immense value to me because it has impressed upon my mind the extent of our responsibilities there and in Papua. In those territories we have a sacred trust. Our fitness to administer them could easily bc challenged in the Trusteeship Council o!’ the United Nations. Unless the members of this Parliament realize their responsibilities in Papua and New Guinea and inform themselves fully of conditions there, Australia may stand before the nations of the world and be charged with a breach of a sacred trust. Honorable senators have to look after the States that they represent and members of the House of Representatives must safeguard the interests of their electorates, but some voice should be raised in this Parliament on behalf of the people of the Territories of Papua, and New Guinea. I shall refer - only in passing because of the limited time at my disposal - to some facts to which I think the attention, not only of the Senate but also of the Australian people should be directed. I pay tribute to Colonel Murray, the Administrator of Now Guinea, and to other officers who were most hospitable and co-operative during my stay there. I refer, among others, to Mr. Stephen Lonergan, Mr. Bert Jones, Mr. Ivan Champion and Dr. Gunther. They assisted me to find out as much as I could about New Guinea.

Despite what Colonel Murray is trying to do with the limited resources at his disposal, we shall not be able to justify our administration of Papua and New Guinea unless we embark upon a bold and progressive programme of development. It is logical to assume that, if we do not do so, some other country will take those territories from us, by force or otherwise. A responsibility has been imposed upon us by the Trusteeship Council, but I do not think that we arc doing the right thing there. I visited a native hospital at Ela Beach. Although I have had experience of prisonerofwar hospitals and have seen human beings living under appalling conditions, T have never seen them living under conditions as bacl as those at Ela Beach hos- pital. The infectious diseases ward in that hospital, where persons suffering from all kinds of tropical diseases are concentrated, is only 25 or 30 feet from the maternity ward. Natives lie under the beds as well as on top of them. I know that the habits of the natives of New Guinea are peculiar and primitive but, notwithstanding that, we should approach this problem in a way that will prove to the world that we are worthy to administer this enormous area. Europeans in the territories also have very poor health facilities. In the European hospital at Lae, the bath in the bathroom is not connected to a drainage system. After a patient has taken a bath, he tips the water on to the floor and the nurses have to paddle about in it in their sandals. If reflects no credit upon the present Government that no provision has been made or is being made to alleviate the distressing conditions to which I have referred.

In dealing with the potentialities of New Guinea, perhaps I may make a passing reference to the great need for getting on with the job of milling timber and adopting re-afforestation mea’sures in the Bulolo area. I can understand why bribes were offered for timber rights in Bulolo, because, in my opinion the timber there is worth £150,000,000. We heard that persons in this country were offering £50,000 in an attempt to secure timber rights in the Bulolo Valley, through, as it were, the back door. The timber there is a great asset and vast quantities of it are ready to be milled. It is situated in country that will lend itself readily to re-afforestation. It is there for use by the people of Australia, Papua and New Guinea.

During my visit to New Guinea I visited Mount Hagen, where that great philanthropist, Mr. E. J. Halstrom, has established an experimental sheep station. I saw fertile land there that would bring joy to the heart of any Australian farmer. It is in the tropics, but it is 5,000 feet above sea level and the climate is temperate. At this stage, I should like to pay a tribute to the magnificent work of the district officers in the highland areas of New Guinea and on the fringe of the uncontrolled territories, where there are vast untapped resources.

At Mekes, outside Port Moresby, is 250,000 acres of first-class rice-growing land, but in the last few years only several hundred tons of rice has been produced there. The natives whose staple diet is rice have been supplied from Australia. We should press on with the development of that area. Tea, coffee, and rubber can be grown quite easily in New Guinea, and if we are to justify our administration there, we should encourage their cultivation. The humane policy that Colonel Murray is pursuing, the object of which is to improve the standard of living of the native population and educate and help them generally, could be implemented more easily if the resources of New Guinea were developed in the interests of its people. The aluminium industry as well as hydroelectric schemes could be developed. We have certain responsibilities in New Guinea, but, as far as T can see, No. 1 priority should bc given to the provision there of new hospitals and schools, in accordance with the Government’s election promise. Even if the Government does not intend to honour other promises that it has made to the electors it should honour that one. While 1 am dealing with the subject of ‘relief, I wish to bring to the notice of the Senate the following paragraph of a communication that I’ have received from the Boy Scouts Association -

There have been many youth movements in the last 40 or SO years, but none has stood the to<t of time like the Hoy Scouts Association. The reason is not far to seek, lt is clearly because of its sound basic principles that the Hoy Scouts Association has grown and developed to such an extent, until it has become a vital part of the development and training of youth. We are convinced the more boys that are given the benefit of Snout training, the less industrial unrest there will be and the greater will be the prospect of world peace

Unfortunately people who advocate peace are. branded by this Government as Communists. It seems a terrible state of affairs that if men like myself, who, with every fibre of our being desire peace, give expression to those sentiments, we are branded as Communists, because Communists are advocating peace.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– What rot!

Senator O’BYRNE:

– The organization that I have mentioned is a great instrument of peace. That is one of the ideals for which they strive. In Tasmania, as in other .States, the people who are responsible for the administration of the Boy Scouts movement consider that no better training of youth in good citizenship is provided by any other organization. They claim that the Boy Scouts movement is entitled to much more effective support by the Commonwealth than it is at present receiving. I have raised this subject to-night because other organizations, also, are having a very difficult time. The claims on people’s pockets by many kinds of money-raising ventures is very great. In the rush and bustle to obtain funds, worthy organizations such as the Hoy Scouts movement ate quite easily overlooked. I hope that some provision will be made by this Government, to assist not only the Boy Scouts Association but also other youth movements.

Tri connexion with Australia’s relationship to the United Nations, I shall refer to a statement that was made by the Primp Minister on the 2 6 t,11 June, which was printed in The British Common- wealth of Nations in International A Fairs, published by the Australian institute of Internationa! Affairs, at the time that the United Nations decided to back South Korea against Communist aggression. It reads -

History has shown that great wars which threaten mankind are wars which involve great powers. If a great power is once again to assume the role of aggressor, an international law-breaker, resistance to that power must be provided by the strength of some other great power or powers. As that resistance cannot, by reason of the Charter, bc organized or controlled by the Security Council, it must be organized or controlled outside t!e Council. In other words, the matter must g’i as though there were no United Nations at all.

I have been very impressed by an article that appeared in the Hobart Mercury on the 2Sth September. It was written by Mr. G. T. Wilson of the University of Tasmania, who has been studying political development in India. Under the heading. “ India beginning to suspect Australia’s policy in Asia “, he gives an account, of an interview that hp had with Mr. Nehru. Australia is set in the Pacific, surrounded by Asian countries, and Mr. Nehru commands the highest respect, not only of the Indian people, but also of the other Asian peoples. Portion of the article reads -

Mr. Nehru replied, “ China is sore and distrustful. Bring her into the United Nations and half the problems of Asia will disappear “. It was clear that along this path Nehru has great hopes for peace . . . I felt a faint coolness, such as I have experienced in many parts of India recently. Australians have enjoyed warm popularity here because of their past sympathy for Indonesia and an apparent independence of both power blocs. Is it on the wane? Australia is all too evidently in America’s leading strings and the unnecessary hysteria over New Guinea, with some accompanying swashbuckling braggadocio, are being interpreted here as an integral part of America’s threat to Asian independence. . 1 left with the uneasy feeling that Australia’s subordination to American policy may reap a bitter harvest. It may involve the defence of Bao Dai in Indo-China, or even support for the unspeakable Chiang in Formosa.

As I have said before, we are committed to support the United Nations, for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security. We must, therefore, be very careful to avoid appearing to our potential friends in Asia to be overstepping the mark. Members of the Australian Labour party have stated their attitude quite clearly towards defence. How far we are to be involved in Asia is a matter for conjecture. However, I wish to sound a note of warning. In supporting the United Nations we must be very careful not to alienate our Pacific neighbours in the north. During the past month, supporters of the Government have attached to honorable senators on this side of the chamber a number of labels, such as “ Commos “ and “ fellow travellers Possibly their intention was to smear our names and characters and to confuse the real issues facing the country. I consider that the issues that should be faced are the interests of the ordinary people in this country who are haunted by the spectre of inflation. That issue is being evaded by the present Government, as also are the issues involving the rising cost of living and putting value back into the £1.

The campaign to vilify honorable senators on this side of the chamber is one that I shall speak about. Whatever tag honorable senators opposite may place on me, I should like them to understand quite clearly ray principles.

I am on ‘the side of the common people,, in the sense that I want all men to have an equal chance of a good life and of living it in the way that suits them best. That does not mean that I want all men to have everything that the majority would vote for now, if they were asked. I do not approve of that kind of democracy. I shall repeat what I have often said before, that I want people to have good nutrition, good housing, good education, good working conditions, freedom of speech, freedom of writing and freedom of association; I want them, to have selfgovernment, peaceful relations with their neighbours, and sound moral notions. To this degree I should like to force my ideas on some people who, for many years, have been held in mental subjection as a result of inequalities and injustices. Whatever tag might be placed on me, I stand for freeing people for self-government, not merely canvassing for their votes and promising them neither freedom from want nor self-government. I do not stand for promising mothers and farmers something and then, within a few months, dishonouring those promises. That is not my idea of democracy. My definition of democracy gives priority to the mental and moral relationship of man to man. I consider myself a. democrat. By democracy in this sense I mean not a particular economic arrangement by which the State owns and runs industry, but the entire body of principles that I have enumerated. Public ownership of the essential means of production may or may not follow from these principles, but if it does it will mean that there will be no alternative to ensure that the means of production will be used to serve the principles of democracy as I have defined it.

Senator McCallum:

– Is the honorable senator a socialist?

Senator O’BYRNE:

– Yes, we all are. Senator McCallum is himself a socialist at heart. Every man with decent principles believes that the old order of capitalism is dying, and that the new order is struggling to be born. I see Senator McCallum squirming in his seat, but what I say is true. Without a high degree of economic control we cannot have freedom, or self-government, or a satisfactory standard of living for all. That i? what the Australian Labour party stands for. Those are the principles to which I subscribe. They are true to-day, and they will be no less true in a thousand years’ time. Any one who denies them is either blind or mad or is wicked. “We should realize that we are living in a time of revolutionary change and of evolutionary change. In some parts of the world changes are taking place by revolutionary means. Up to the present, changes have been effected in Australia by evolutionary means, but those who would try to stem the tide must accept responsibility for what happens. Those who face the situation squarely, and make provision for what must occur, will not be overwhelmed by events.

Earlier in the debate I was challenged regarding my statement about the appointment of Mr. Holt as publicity officer for the Government. I quote the following from the Sydney Sim of the 23rd October:-

Re-organization of tlie existing public relations set-up and appointment of prominent Sydney journalist, Mr. Edgar Holt, as its head has been decided by the Liberal Party.

Concurrently, the Federal Government is considering a plan for establishment of a Commonwealth public relations organization to publicize the work of the Federal Government and of Parliament.

Mr. Holt will maintain an active liaison with this organization, but will not be a member of it. lt is .believed Mr. Holt’s salary will bc at least £3,000 a year.

He will establish his head-quarters in Sydney, but will make frequent visits to Canberra.

Senator Guy said that there had been retrenchment in the Public Service. I suggested that his statement was inaccurate, and the paragraph that I have just read proves the truth of what I said. Obviously, there is to be a new government department of public relations, the purpose of which is to publicize the doings of the Commonwealth Government and of the Commonwealth Parliament.

The promises of non-Labour leaders during the election campaign to restore the value of the £1, and to stabilize the national economy, were believed by the people, who are still waiting for those promises to be honoured. We now appeal to the Government to get on with the l’ob, and to stabilize the national economy. Australia is a magnificent country, which should have a great future, but its development can be seriously hampered by inflation. I hope that effective measures will be taken by the Government at least to maintain the value of the £1 at its present level.


– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) questioned my statement that the Opposition proposed to repeal certain legislation if it got the opportunity. As a matter of fact, I used the word “ amend “ in the course of a previous debate on the same subject, but I should have said “destroy”.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- (Senator Nicholls). - The honorable senator may not refer to a previous debate during the current session. If he wished to correct a statement made by the Leader* of the Opposition, he should have asked leave to make a personal explanation.


– Honorable senators opposite seem to find it difficult to refrain from discussing subjects which, I am sure, do not really interest the public, and which are certainly not relevant to the issues before the Senate Members of the Opposition pretend to be astonished that the Government has not honoured all its election promises. They seem to be unmindful of the fact that the tactics of the Opposition have prevented the Government from getting its proposed legislation through the Parliament. No one can deny that the Government received a mandate from the people to do certain things, but it has been prevented by the Opposition from doing them. The Opposition, as well as the Government, has a responsibility to the people.

Frequent reference has been made during this debate to the alleged promise of the non-Labour parties to restore value to the £1 if they were returned to power. Honorable senators should recognize that it is impossible to increase the value of the £1 unless we increase the volume of goods and services to balance the currency in circulation.

There has been a good deal of talk about the United Nations, but many people appear to be oblivious of the fact that our security depends upon the willingness of some men to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of their country. The Parliament and the nation should be grateful to the men of the armed services whose devotion to duty makes it possible for us to live here in peace. We talk of the United Nations resisting aggression, hut the United Nations could do nothing unless there were in this and other com- munities men who are themselves prepared to resist aggression. Lip service to the United Nations can achieve nothing.

Honorable senators opposite, who say that the people were tricked into returning the present Government to power, are insulting this intelligence of the people. I accept full responsibility for the part I took in the campaign to overthrow socialism. The present Government was given a mandate by the people to prevent the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Recently, we have been told that the Commonwealth lacks power to socialize industry, but that is not the fault of the Labour party. If the party had its way, the Commonwealth would have the power to socialize anything and everything. It is not necessary for me to say what socialization means. We have seen its effects. There may be some people who think that they would not be adversely affected by socialization, and they are tempted to favour the imposition of controls which could be effective only if nation-wide. Honorable senators opposite advocate Commonwealth control of prices, but they make no mention of other charges. The people of Australia are,I believe, too well informed, and too keenly aware of their recent experience of Commonwealth prices control and wage pegging to favour the re-introduction of any such controls. A generation will pass before the electors of this country will ever again be induced to accept the regimentation and direction that must inevitably accompany a system of prices control.

We are chided by honorable senators opposite because of our continued advocacy of increased production. Surely the Opposition realizes that production can he increased by methods other than the extension of working hours. Some people appear toimagine that by striking and so hampering distribution and decreasing consumption, they are striking at shipping companies or the Government. Unfortunately that is not so. Industrial dislocation serves only to increase prices. When ships loaded with exports are held up in ports when they should be at sea not the shipowners and the manufacturers, but the people of this country are penalized and they pay the cost. As a primary producer I am well aware of the difficulties that confront the man on the land to-day because of the many increased charge that he has to make. I. am afraid it will not be very long before the Government will have to be asked to consider speedy means of relieving the difficulties in the sugar-growing industry caused by increased production costs. The fixing of prices will not increase production. Every one who has had any association with business knows how the price fixing system works. When a maximum price fixed, it becomes the minimum price. Competition is eliminated and efficiency has no reward.If people can afford to buya commodity ata fixed price, they do so: if they cannot, they stopbuying that commodity.

I believe that the States can play an important part in increasing production, particularly of primary products, by making available land for closer settlement purposes. Because of the apathetic attitude of State governments scores of thousands of land hungry people are being denied an opportunity to engage in primary production. Even to-day, five years after the end of World WarII., hundreds of returned soldiers are waiting to participate in ballots for land under the land settlement scheme for exservicemen. The Commonwealth Government, too, has a heavy responsibility in this matter, because it has to make available the funds for the resumption of land for . soldier settlement schemes. I urge the Government to ascertain from the State governments the reason why greaterprogress has not been made in land settlement.

Another matter to whichI shall refer relates to the development of our outback areas, andI have in mind particularly the North Westernportions of Queensland.I believe that over indulgence in long range developmental schemes is most undesirable. I am speaking of projects from which no return can be expected for perhaps 30 years or 50 years. Undoubtedly some work of this kind is essential, but the time for it, I believe, is when private industry has failed to provide sufficient employment for the Australian people. Should we encounter a period of financial stringency, some of the developmental schemes now in progress many have to be. abandoned temporarily. By that, time, private industry will be unable to absorb all the available labour, and widespread unemployment may result. I believe that there is an immediate need to improve our defence in the vulnerable portions of the Commonwealth. The exact location of defence roads is a matter for determination by our military authorities, but I believe that there is ample scope, particularly in north Queensland, for the construction of highways that will serve the dual purpose of defence and development. In times of war such roads would facilitate the rapid movement of troops and supplies, and, in time of peace, they would permit the opening up of new lands for settlement. The construction of feeder roads leading to these highways would be a matter for the local authorities.

We hoar a lot to-day about the need for tolerance between employers and employees. Each side of course accuses the other of being intolerant. Whilst the plea for tolerance may be all right as far as it goes, I remind the Senate that industrial relations generally are a matter for determination by arbitration. All this talk of tolerance will get. us nowhere until everybody realizes the wisdom of accepting arbitration instead of resorting to the law of the jungle. Lawlessness in industry in recent years has caused untold hardship and misery in Australia.

Senator Cameron:

– I advise the honorable senator to practice what he preaches.


– I never preach anything that I do not. practice. I have believed in arbitration all my life. I consider that I have made a greater contribution towards a peaceful solution of industrial disputes than have certain honorable senators opposite who apparently believe that they are in an arbitration court instead of in the National Parliament. There is a dif ference between tolerance and the handing over of the government of a country to one section of the community. When a government is elected by the people it should govern. I should not like to be a -seriated with any government that was prepared to hand over control of this country to an organization that is seeking to destroy our industrial capacity and so make way for a government that would be abhorrent to any one who believed in the democratic system. We must accept the challenge that has been thrown out to us by doing our best to develop and strengthen a virile and prosperous nation.

From my seat in this chamber it is very difficult for me correctly to assess where the Opposition stands in relation to certain very important matters of policy. When an honorable senator on this side of the chamber said to-night that in certain circumstances this country may become socialized, an Opposition senator interjected, “ That is what we want ‘’. Opposition senators will not always be as frank as he was. I hope that they will not be offended if the people are again told what is in store for them should they return a government that might go the whole hog for complete socialization. Only recently the people demonstrated in no uncertain way that they would have none of Labour’s socialization proposals. T warn honorable senators opposite that a sad fate is in store for them if they again try to get the people to agree to their socialization policy. The people do not think much of the attitude that has been adopted by the Opposition in this Parliament, particularly in this chamber. The people now see the Labour party in its true light and they have formed their own conclusions about it. They are satisfied that the Government has made an honest endeavour to give effect to its promises and they blame the Opposition for anything that has been left undone. The people know that the Government has every intention to fulfil its promises to them as soon as it is able to do so.

South Australia

– It is remarkable that Senator Simmonds should tell us to-night that the Government has received a mandate from the people to prevent the socialization of this country, and that later in his speech he should say that in another generation we shall probably have socialization.

Senator Simmonds:

– I did not say that.


– Apparently he believes that there is some virtue in socialization because, whilst his conservative mind prevents him from understanding why the people should want it, he thinks that we may get it in another generation.

Senator Simmonds:

– I did not say that.


– All he is concerned about is that there is no socialization of this country in his time. Apparently he would lose something if that should happen.

Senator Simmonds:

– I would - my freedom !


– The Senate is now considering a bill to appropriate £61,189,000 to defray the services of the Government during the ensuing two months. The honorable senator has said that in his view defence is of paramount importance and that we should not proceed with some of the long-range projects that were commenced by the Labour Government and which this Government has seen fit to continue. He has said that all available labour should be concentrated on what is required to-day and not to-morrow. That policy has been followed too often in Australia in the past, even in the years prior to federation when governments concentrated on daytoday problems or at most those that arose between general elections. As the result of that misguided policy industry in Australia is now stultified and is unable to meet the needs of the people. Ever since I was a boy - and that is a long time ago - I have heard a great deal of talk about the Snowy Mountains scheme. Throughout the years there has been constant talk about the necessity of that project as a major factor in the development of the eastern section of Australia which would make possible the provision of goods and services in sufficient volume to ensure the development of the western section of Australia. In almost every election campaign that project has been keenly canvassed. Promises were made that something would be done about it hut no action was taken until the Chifley Government, realizing its national importance, evolved a longrange plan to implement it. The project is being proceeded with by the Commonwealth under its defence power with the aid of the two States concerned. It will facilitate production, both primary and secondary, and enable this country to support the larger population that is sonecessary for its defence. The present Government realizes the importance of the work. Even the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) whose department controls it, has been good enough to mention it once or twice. Senator Simmonds contends that we should scraplongrange projects of that kind and concentrate on the provision of our immediateneeds. He believes in the biblical adage, “ Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof “ ; he has adopted the motto, “Put your trust in God and pray for the future “.

The honorable senator has also said that a government should govern and that he would not be associated with any government that did not do so. He complained that the Labour Opposition in this Senate is holding up the ‘business of the Government. If honorable senators will examine the records of the debates in the Senate they will discover that on every occasion on which the proceedings of this chamber have been broadcast, the speech of an Opposition senator has invariably been followed by a speech by an honorable senator from the Government side. The honorable senator must admit that if in fact the business of the Government has been delayed by the Senate, honorable senators opposite are as much to blame for that as are Opposition senators. An examination of the records of this ‘Senate will show that during the early part of this sessional period and the sessional period that preceded it there was no delay in the passage of legislation through this chamber. Certainly during the last few weeks there has been a hold-up but similar hold-ups occurred on other occasions when the members of this Government were in opposition. By the employment of certain tactics they delayed the passage of Government ‘business until certain events had occurred. The present Opposition is not adopting tactics that differ in any way from those that were employed by honorable senators opposite when they themselves were in opposition. Many of the promises made by the Government could have been given effect to without an act of Parliament. It is not necessary for the Parliament to pass an act of Parliament to enable the Government to appreciate the £1. The Cabinet discussed that subject for a very long time before it reached a decision. It has been said that that decision was made by seven members of -the Cabinet who were appeased by the remaining twelve members as a matter of political expediency. Honorable senators opposite have accused us of having delayed the passage of certain legislation which has recently been placed on the statute-book. I remind them that most of the powers conferred on the Government under that legislation were already available to it under the provisions of other acts of the Parliament. The Opposition has done nothing to prevent the Government from giving effect to its promises to the people. Throughout its history, the Liberal party has relied on slogans as a means of influencing the people. During the last four or five years it has relied on the slogan of the Communist menace. Now that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill has been passed I do not know what slogan it will adopt in future. If the speech of Senator Simmonds counts for much, it will try to hit the Australian Labour party with slogans about socialism instead of the old Communist bogy.

Senator Cameron:

– The Liberal party will return to its old slogan about the socialist tiger.


Senator Guy has said that the Opposition has bitterly complained about the failure of the Government to honour its promise to put value back into the £1, but that no such promise had been made. In support of this claim he read an extract from the joint policy speech of the leaders of the Government parties. The people of Australia who attended the campaign meetings of the Prime Minister will remember that he specifically stated his intention to put value back in the Chifley £1. To-day he denies that he made that promise, although he has subsequently said that the only way to put value back in the £1 is for the workers to give greater production. He also claims that the Opposition in the Senate has prevented the Government from obtaining greater production. I would remind the right honorable gentleman that his Government possesses whatever authority the previous Government had.

Senator Guy stated that there had been a falling off in production of coal, iron and steel, and to answer that statement I wish to make use of figures supplied by tlie Commonwealth Statistician’s Department, the accuracy of which, so far as I am aware, has never been questioned. They show that in 1948-49 the production of all coal was 22,103,000 tons. In 1949-50 the total production was 22,526,000 tons representing an increase of 423,000 tons. Yet an honorable senator is heard to blame the Opposition for failing to secure greater production of coal. The figures that I have quoted cover the last twelve months, during part of which time this Government has been in office. In case the honorable senator should attempt to excuse himself by saying that he referred only to black coal and not to all coal, I remind him that the production of coal in New South Wales in the month of June, 1949, was 776,000 tons, and in June- 1950, 977,000 tons, so that there has been a marked increase in production. If we take the month of July, 1949, we find that there was the magnificent total of 5,000 tons produced ! Honorable senators will remember that that was the time when an upheaval took place in the coal mines and when the government of the day took certain action for the purpose of having disputes settled by arbitration. In July, 1950, production reached 1,042,000 tons of coal, which was an extraordinary increase. In August, 1949, S15,000 tons were produced, but in August, 1950, production showed a remarkable increase to 1,223,000 tons. Those are the figures showing tonnages produced in Australia, and they demonstrate the falsity of Senator Guy’s statement.

Let us now turn to iron and steel. In 194S-49 Australia produced 1,045,000 tons of pig-iron. In 1949-50 the output was 1,0S5,000 tons, which was 40,000 tons more than in the previous year. If we take blooms and billets, we find that in 1948-49 there were 1,101,000 tons produced, and in 1949-50, 1,060,000 tons. It is true that that was 41,000 tons less than the 1948-49 production, but that is only one item. The production of ingot steel in 194S-49 was 1,176,000 tons, and in 1949-50 it was 1,194,000 tons, representing an increase over the previous year. Taking those three items together, the overall increase in the production of steel, pig-iron and blooms and billets in Australia was 17,000 tons during that period. Vet the honorable senator has stated that, the Opposition is at fault because production of steel has fallen off.

I have mentioned those figures to show the lengths to which the supporters of the Government will go in an endeavour to make political propaganda and to blame the Opposition for everything. The fact that the honorable gentleman was not accurate in his statements regarding the three items I have mentioned shows that he is not worthy of credence and that any statement that he makes will he tainted. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber know that when the Government could not blame the Opposition it blamed the Communists, and it linked the Australian Labour party with the Communists with the object of attempting to belittle the great Labour movement. But we find that the Government is not able to substantiate its allegations.

Senator Guy also stated that the Government had lifted petrol rationing, despite the assertion by the Labour Government that it could not be done. The Opposition admits that the first statement is accurate, but it denies that it ever claimed that petrol rationing could not be abolished. What it did say was that if petrol rationing were abolished, the purchase of other essential goods would have to be restricted in order to purchase petrol. After the Government abolished petrol rationing we found that there was a shortage of all kinds of materials of dollar origin. If honorable senators go into any engineering shop in Australia to-day and ask if there are shortages of materials of dollar origin, they will be told that there is a shortage. Those shortages became so acute that the Prime Minister hurried over to the United

States of America so that he could borrow 100,000,000 dollars. Of course, those dollars will not be spent on goods that are particularly short in this country, other than on what are termed capital goods, but the loan makes available dollars from the dollar pool so that we may be able to purchase some of those goods. That was the only way in which the Government could get out of the difficulty, because it refused to retain restrictions. It lifted petrol rationing and it had to find some way out of the difficulties consequent on its removal. But nobody knows to-day what conditions apply to that 100,000,000 dollar loan. I asked a question in this chamber the other day in connexion with a wool agreement reached in Great Britain between the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) and American representatives, but a reply to my question has been postponed until the Minister returns. Frankly, I do not expect a reply to it, because I believe the Government will adopt its usual tactics of shelving awkward questions. I have no doubt that one of the conditions applying to the 100,000,000 dollar loan, and that will apply to any other loan which the Government may raise, is that there should be some restriction on the price that the United States of America is to pay for wool purchased from this country. Although we are told that the interest on the loan is only 3£ per cent., plus 1 per cent, for the “usual “ charges, making it 4^ per cent., we shall find that we are required to pay in other ways. The people of Australia should keep their eyes very wide open in order to discover some of the conditions that will be laid down when that little coterie, representing the financial interests of the United States of America, comes over here to see what assets we have to back further loans

Senator Ward:

– An investigation committee is to be sent here.


– That is correct. The committee intends to have a look round to see what Americans require and what we require, so that there may be an exchange. We shall receive some dollars and they will obtain something else, but we may be sure that the American people “ill have the better end of the deal.

The Australian Labour party, when it was in office, laid it down that there should be no further borrowing from overseas countries* and that the overseas debt should be reduced. It carried out that policy as far as practicable. The present Government has every right to vary that policy. But I sound a note of warning to it and to the people of Australia in connexion with borrowing from the United States of America. We have had experience of not being able to meet our interest bill to financiers in Great Britain during the depression years and in previous years. Because wc could not export the commodities that we produced, even at any price, wc were unable to pay the interest that became duc on the money that had been borrowed by the Commonwealth and the States. Consequently, we wore forced to borrow more money to pay interest on the money we had borrowed previously. Eventually, the financiers said that they would not lend us any more money for development work or to pay interest on debts. Certain conditions were imposed upon Australia by the financial group that exerted great influence here during those years. Therefore, some time later some of the States incurred debts in America, some of which have not yet been repaid. Owing to devices such as devaluation and appreciation of currency, we are in some instances paying the equivalent of 14 per cent, interest on money borrowed from America, and that is too much. The Government has now arranged to borrow $100,000,000 from America. I do not know whether it has access to the money yet, but I do know that since the arrangement was made the price of the articles that we require has increased, and, therefore, that the value of the loan to Australia will be less than it was at the time the agreement was made. A similar thing occurred when Great Britain negotiated an enormous loan in America. Immediately it had done so, the prices of the American goods that Britain required rose and the value of the loan decreased correspondingly. Great Britain is still required to pay interest on the loan. Owing to the devaluation of its currency, it must produce more goods to pay the interest than it would have been required to do otherwise, although the nominal rate is still, I think, 3£ per cent.

America does not want many of the goods that we produce in this country, except when a war is in progress and when it wants to accumulate a stock-pile of goods for war purposes. In addition, it. requires very few of the goods that are produced by other countries in the sterling area with which Australia trades. Consequently, in the not very far distant future, America will be in a position to tell us that we must either repay the money that we owe or make provision for the payment of interest in one way or another. Our stocks will gradually be handed over to America and eventually the Americans will send an investigation committee here to inquire whether they can let us have more money. The investigation will conic, not from England, as it did before, but from America. It will tell us what we have to do because we owe money. That has occurred before, and it can occur again. As I have said previously, the international financiers shifted their venue first from France to England and then from England to America, but the same gang is still taking advantage of world difficulties. As far as it is concerned, there are no territorial borders. All it wants is its pound of flesh. I issue this warning because I am genuinely concerned about the change of policy in relation to borrowing from America. It is my firm belief that the change has been caused by the position to which the abolition of petrol rationing in this country has given rise.

Something should bc said about the promises that have been made by the Government, although I do not propose to deal with them in great detail. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told the Australian people of the Government’s plans for preparations for war. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey), almost simultaneously, stated that the. most pressing problem facing Australia was inflation and that defence was secondary. Those were two distinct and different statements. The nation is utterly confused in the face of galloping inflation and the Government’s uncertain policy. No long range or even short range plan to deal with the position has been produced. Apparently all supporters of this Liberal-Australian Country party Government are tied to the long discredited theory that economic forces will always operate automatically and that if there be fair competition prices must fall. We have heard a lot on those lines in this chamber in recent months, and always from honorable senators opposite. The leaders of this Government, doubtless because they held that view, promised the people that they would put value back into the £1 and increase the purchasing power of incomes by reducing living costs. There is no shadow of doubt that they promised to do those things, but the very reverse has occurred. The great majority of Australians who are dependent upon fixed incomes have been caught up in the vicious and ever-mounting spiral of living costs. While prices are racing ahead, profits have soared to a phenomenal degree. The financial columns of Australian newspapers, even provincial journals, are full of accounts of the enormous profits that are being made by some industrial organizations. The Government did not promise to do the best it could in. difficult economic circumstances. It left itself no loophole, and made a definite election pledge which has not been honoured yet and which, because of the Government’s delay, is becoming almost impossible to honour. The warning uttered by the Minister for National Development about the effect of additional defence projects upon the internal problem of inflation has to be taken into account, but the time for warnings has passed. We must find an overall practical solution of the problem presented by the internal crisis. The people are asking, “ Has the Menzios Government any economic plan to ease the strain? If so, what is it?” Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have asked that question repeatedly, but the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) has consistently evaded the issue. Has the Government in mind the Copland plan, or the Micawber plan of waiting for something to turn up? Is it hoping that some day, somehow and somewhere prices will fall and it will be able to claim that it put value back into the £3. No plan of any kind has been announced. All that we have had from the Government are statements made outside, not inside, the Parliament. The Government is the responsible governing authority in Australia, but Minister after Minister, instead of making statements in the National Parliament, makes, through the press and over the radio, all kinds of promises relating to projects that are to be put into operation. An astounding thing occurred recently. The Opposition in this chamber having introduced a bill designed to enable a referendum on prices to be held, the next night, over an Aus-‘ tralia-wide radio network, the Prime Minister condemned the bill and on the following night told the people what the Labour party had been telling them for over four years. The only way in which we can overcome our difficulties is by a planned operation. The haphazard policy of laisser-faire has gone by the board. Government supporters have said repeatedly that the Labour party is mad on planning and that it is dominated by bureaucrats and men from the universities who are full of theories, but the events of the last war proved that we must plan our operations.

That brings me to the war in Korea. It is being conducted by the United Nations, but the predominant factor at the moment is the American forces. I do not take much notice of the press and I do not like quoting from it if I can avoid doing so, because as a rule it is confoundedly inaccurate, but recently I read a press report that I believe to be authentic. It stated that some United Nations aircraft had gone approximately 20 miles into Manchuria and caused a disturbance there. It is reported in to-days press that American aircraft crossed the Korea-Manchuria border and were fired upon by the Communist forces in Manchuria. The Australian Government should make it clear to the United Nations that Australian forces must not be used for the purposes of provocative action in Manchuria or to assist Chiang Kai-shek to take provocative action against China. It should be made abundantly clear that, although we support the United Nations in its efforts to establish a democratic form of government in Korea, our forces must not be asked to interfere in any way with Manchuria or China. I am very perturbed because United States forces are reported to have progressed beyond the border of Korea into another country. The commander of the American forces has admitted that planes under his command did so as a result of faulty planning, and he has apologized for their action. I understand that Manchurian troops have fired at American aircraft. I do not want the Australian forces to be blamed for extending the present trouble into Manchuria. Because there has been so much criticism of Communists by honorable senators opposite and by the press of this country it is possible that aggression against China or Manchuria could develop. I do not want our forces to be involved in anything of the kind, because we have to live in close proximity to those nations. There is no reason why this problem cannot be approached in such a manner that peaceful trade relations between Australia and those Eastern countries may be continued. It is not our duty to undertake provocative action that could lead to further conflagration in the East. From time to time in this chamber and in another place statements have been made to the effect that Russia is behind the scenes in the present conflict, and that Russian Communists have been responsible for certain things. If that were so, one would naturally think that Australia would have nothing to do with Communists in any part of the world. Yet Australian businessmen, aided and abetted by the present Government, have continued to trade with Russia. There has been a tremendous outcry in certain quarters about the Russians making satellites of other countries and drawing an impenetrable iron curtain around them. One would imagine that because of the so-called Iron Curtain no communication would be possible between Australia and Russia. However, that is not so. According to a bulletin that has been issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, Australia has sent to the Soviet Union by way of the Baltic, North Sea and Black Sea ports more than 340,000 centals of greasy wool. “We have sent 84,000 centals of greasy wool to Czechoslovakia, 27,000 centals to Austria, and 368,000 centals to Poland. In other words, we have sent the equivalent of 273,500 bales of greasy wool to those countries, valued at f A.27,441,000.

Yet supporters of the Government have continually condemned the Russian people and the Iron Curtain. I point out that the wool that I have mentioned was exported from our ports direct to those countries. It has not gone through subsidiaries or stooges. The figures that I have cited do not include exports of greasy wool to those countries through any other country.

Although I have mentioned only wool, doubtless other commodities, also, have been exported to Russia. Therefore, at least for trade purposes, the Iron Curtain does not exist. I contend that honorable senators opposite have referred to the Iron Curtain merely to hoodwink the people so that supporters of the Government may continue to disseminate propaganda about the Communists. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures prove that there has been communication between the Australian people and the Russian people and their satellites. Some medium must be used for the purpose of exchange, and credits either in sterling or in dollars must have been established as a result of this trade. But, irrespective of the medium of exchange, there must have been communication between the so-called Iron Curtain countries and Australia. Supporters of the Government should refrain from continually slating the Communists of Russia and its satellite countries, because it is clear that Australia has been exporting to them commodities that could be used against us in the future. I point out that there is a ready market for those commodities in the United States of America and in Great Britain. It matters not to us what the attitude of the British Labour party is in this matter. Despite the plethora of propaganda that has been directed against the Communists in this country, and the decision of the Government to ban them, I consider that honorable senators opposite have been speaking with their tongues in their cheeks. They have repeatedly doubted the sincerity of the Australian Labour party. We must be realistic in this matter. If supporters of the Government are unwilling to discontinue abusing the Communists, Australia should not continue to trade with Russia and its satellites. I point out that even if every Communist was removed from this country, the position abroad would not be altered. I understand that lead, zinc, and other war material potentials arc being exported to those countries through the sterling area. I suggest that the time baji arrived for the Government to take stock of the position to see whether it is possible to effect a peaceful and amicable settlement of the differences that exist between Australia and the countries that I have mentioned, instead of trying to overcome those difficulties by warlike talk.

I take the opportunity that is afforded by the debate on Supply to raise matters of especial interest to South Australia. It is proposed to increase the appropriation for the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. 1 should be glad if the Minister would arrange for officers of that organization to visit South Australia and confer with ‘officers of the Mines Department in that State to see whether it would hp possible to arrange for the gasification of coal in si In. There are known deposits of brown coal in the Moorlands area, estimated to exceed 20,000,000 tons. Admittedly it is almost as poor in quality as the Callide coal in Queensland. However I understand that it will gas, and it may be possible to arrange for its gasification where it lies. To date, the entire field has not been explored, but I understand that tests are still being carried out. Near Mannum there are still further deposits. I have been down into a well, and have seen the coal for myself. It is estimated that there are between 100,000,000 and 150,000,000 tons of brown coal in the area. Experiments have been conducted in Germany in gasifying coal in the seam, and I understand that gas has been produced commercially in that way in Russia. In the United States of America, they are also experimenting with the process. I appeal to the Government to consult with the Premier of South Australia on this matter, and to send experts to confer with officers of the South Australian Mines Department. Perhaps it would be advisable to establish a pilot plant for experimental purposes. Engineers have told me that it should be possible to pipe the gas from the coal-field to factories on the bank of the river Murray. I suggest tl-.rt woollen mills might be established, together with wool scouring plants, where millions of pounds of wool could be scoured instead of sending it overseas. The establishment of such industries would be a step in the direction of decentralization. The place where I suggest the industries might be established is more than 75 miles from Adelaide, and the climate is ideal. The working of the brown coal deposits in South Australia would help to develop that. State, and would also be of assistance to the rest of Australia. Our difficulty in South Australia has always been to get enough coal for the production of the power needed for the expansion of our industries. Unfortunately, the position is becoming worse, not because the production of coal has not increased, but because the demand for it has increased tremendously, due to the rapid expansion of industry throughout Australia, and particularly in South Australia. We are now experiencing difficulty in getting enough power for domestic purposes. I believe that plant for the gasification of brown coal in the seam could be installed at less cost than would be involved in the working of the field either by mining or by the open-cut method.

Deposits of uranium have been discovered in South Australia. I know that, for security reasons, it is not advisable to discuss all phases of this subject, but I suggest that an arrangement should be made between the Commonwealth and the Government of South Australia for the development of uranium deposits. At present, the State Government is trying to do what should be a national job. Wo have been assured that uranium is going to play an important part in the future production of power. The deposits of uranium in South Australia may not be as rich as those in other parts of the world, but they exist, and the Commonwealth should assist in their development. All possible sources of power in South Australia should be exploited, so that we may cease to be dependent upon the eastern States for coal, and in particular so that we shall not have to import from India and South Africa coal upon which the Commonwealth is paying a heavy subsidy.


– This is the first occasion upon which I have had the privilege of speaking on a Supply bill. I heartily agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) when he said that tho first consideration of the Parliament should be to obtain the best living conditions for all of the people. That is the responsibility, not only of the Government, but also of every member of the Parliament and of the community, and I suggest that the problem of rising prices cannot be solved unless there is greater efficiency and increased production. Every person ultimately buys back the result of his own labour. Sometimes, as a taxpayer, I have felt in this chamber that we have made a bad bargain. As a newcomer to the Senate, I have been struck by the complete absence of relevancy in the debate. For instance, Senator O’flaherty pointed out that this waa a debate on Supply, and then proceeded to talk about every other subject under the sun, without ever touching on Supply. Senator O’Byrne and some other honorable senators exhibited great skill in the assembling of newspaper cuttings, but contributed nothing of value to the discussion.


– I point out for the information of the honorable senator that under the Standing Orders honorable senators may, during a debate on the first reading of a bill that cannot be amended, speak on what a former President described as “ matters nearest to their hearts “. Thus, they may, in effect, roam ali over the world, and speak on any subject.


– I had heard a« much before, but I still believe that a debate on a particular subject would be nearer the mark. Recently, members of the Opposition have been eating their words. We witnessed their climb-down over the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. During the debate on the bill providing for the endowment for the first child of a family, members of the Opposition claimed that the amount of the endowment would be taken into consideration when fixing the basic wage. Since then, a judgment on the basic wage has been issued by the Commonwealth Arbi tration Court, and it has been shown that endowment of the first child did not influence the Court at all in arriving at its judgment.

As a woman, I am concerned, not so much with how much is spent aa with how it is spent. Therefore, I congratulate the Government on its decision to re-appoint the Public Accounts Committee. The appointment of that committee will be in accordance with the traditions of the British system of representative government, and will be in line with the practice in Great Britain, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand. A public accounts committee was first appointed in Great Britain in 1861, when Gladstone was Prime Minister, and each parliament since then has re-appointed the committee The records show that, in 1885, the Victorian Legislative Assembly appointed a public accounts committee. There is no truth in the suggestion that a public accounts committee would usurp the functions of the Auditor-General. Indeed, the Auditor-General himself has suggested that a parliamentary committee of public accounts, similar to that constituted in 1913 and suspended in 1932, should be appointed. I quote the following from his report for the year 1948-49:-

In my previous Annual Report. … I referred to the. rapid growth of Commonwealth revenues and the expenditure since the prewar years - the total estimated expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Loan Fund during 1949-50 is £502,100,000 as compared with a total expenditure during the last pre-war year, 1938-30, of f 98,658,000 - and I expressed the opinion that the need for a more detailed .and continuous Parliamentary (nonparty) survey of expenditure is much greater to-day than it was during the period when the Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts functioned, viz., from 1913 to 1932.

Debate interrupted.

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– Order I In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The following papers were pre sented : -

Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Works and Housing

I. Davey, D. W. Hancock.

Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Twentysixth Annual Report of the Dried Fruits Control Board, for year 1949-50, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Postal purposes - Bathurst, New South Wales.

Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Regulations - 1950- No. 8 (Darwin Administration Ordinance). .

Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.