12 June 1951

20th Parliament · 1st Session

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The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.

The Clerk read the ‘proclamation.

Che Deputies appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of the Parliament - the Eight Honorable Sir John Greig Latham, P.O., G.’C.M.G., M.A., LL.M., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the Honorable Wilfred Kelsham Fullagar, B.A., LL.M., a Justice of the High Court of Australia - having been announced by the Usher of the Black Hod, entered the chamber and took their scats on the dais.

The Senior Deputy (the Right Honorable Sir John Greig Latham), through the Clerk, directed the Usher to request the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives, who being come,


Members ov the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives :

His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, constituting us his deputies to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read.

The letters patent having been read by the Clerk,


Members op the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:

We have it in command from the Governor-General to let you know that, as soon as the members of the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a President of the Senate and a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, members of the .Senate, will proceed to choose some proper person to be your President, and you, members of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker; and thereafter you will respectively present the persons whom you shall so choose to His Excellency, at such time and place as he shall appoint. Mr. Justice Fullagar will attend in the House of Representatives for the purpose of administering the oath or affirmation of allegiance to honorable members of that House.

The Second Deputy and members of the House of Representatives having retired,

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The SENIOR DEPUTY produced a Commission authorizing him to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance and directed the Clerk to read the same.

The Clerk read the Commission.

TheClerk produced and laid on the table the certificates of election of senators as follows : -

New South Wales -

William Henry Spooner

William Patrick Ashley

Albert David Reid

John Ignatius Armstrong

John Archibald McCallum.

James Jarvist Arnold

John Percival Tate

Donald MacLennan Grant.

Alister Maxwell McMullin.

Stanley Kerin Amour

Queensland -

Walter Jackson Cooper

Benjamin Courtice

Neil O’Sullivan.

Archibald Malcolm Benn

Anna belle Jane Mary Rankin.

Gordon Brown

Edmund Bede Maher

Condon Bryan Byrne

Ian Alexander Christie Wood

Roy Kendall

South Australia -

Sidney Waininian O’Flaherty.

Edward William Mattner

George McLeay.

Theophilus Martin Nicholls

Douglas Clive Hannaford

John Owen Critchley

Rex Whiting Pearson

Alexander Finlay

Keith Alexander Laught

John Victor Ryan

Tasmania -

Reginald Charles Wright

John Hartley Chamberlain

Nicholas EdwardMcKenna.

James Allan Guy

Norman Henry Denham Henty

George Ronald Cole

William Morrow

William Edward Aylett

Justin O’Byrne.

Robert Hurley Wordsworth

Victoria -

Donald Cameron

John Armstrong Spicer

Charles Walter Sandford

George James Rankin

James Michael Sheehan

John Grey Gorton

John Joseph Devlin

Ivy Evelyn Wedgwood

Albion Hendrickson

Magnus Cameron Cormack

W estern Australia -

Agnes Robertson Robertson

Dorothy Margaret Tangney

Victor Seddon Vincent

Donald Robert Willesee

Edmund Stephen Roper Piesse

James Mackintosh Fraser

Malcolm Fox Scott

Richard Harry Nash

Harrie Stephen Seward

Shane Dunne Paltridge

The above-named senators, with the exception of Senator O’Flaherty, who was not present, made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.

The Senior Deputy having retired,

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Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-

Minister for Trade and Customs). - Mr. Clerk of the Senate (Mr. Edwards), J remind the Senate that the time has now come when it is necessary for it to choose one of its members to be President. ] move -

That Senator Mattner do take the chair of this Senate as President.

Senator McKENNA:
TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition

– I should like to say on behalf of the Opposition that, not having sufficientnumbers to secure the election of its own nominee to this important office, and not desiring to make any gesture against the nomination that has just been made, the Opposition does not propose to submit any of its members for nomination for election to the office of President. I rise to speak to the motion in. order to direct attention to a matter which appears gravely to affect the privileges of this chamber. I refer to an announcement that appeared in the afternoon press of the 8th May last relating to the Presidency of the Senate. The Sydney Daily Mirror of that day, under the heading “ The Prime Minister Offers Senate Presidency “, published the following statement: -

The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to-day offered the position of President of the Senate to Senator McLeay. Senator McLeay is Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport in the present Ministry.

The Sydney Sun ran a more lengthy story on the same day under the heading “ Kew Post likely for McLeay “. On the following morning, the Sydney Morning Herald, under the heading “ Cabinet List Delayed. Hitch over Senate President “, gave a rather long and circumstantial account of the summoning of Senator McLeay from South Australia, his meetings with the Prime Minister and others and his summoning to The Lodge, his rejection of the offer, its subsequent submission to Senator O’Sullivan and its rejection by him. I direct attention to the constitutional position. Section 17 of the Commonwealth Constitution - I shall read only the earlier part of it - provides that the Senate shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a senator to be the President of the Senate. I emphasize the words “ the Senate shall “. In other words, the appointment of the President is a matter for the Senate, and not for anybody else. If these press reports are accurate - and I cannot certify as to that - it is clear that there was an attempted usurpation of the constitutional rights of the chamber by the Prime Minister. It is also completely clear that the disposal of the high office of President of this chamber is one of the matters that is not within the disposition of the Prime Minister, whatever constitutional rights he might enjoy. It is my belief that the reports were accurate. F may be wrong in my assumption, but my belief is based upon several factors. There was no denial by the Prime Minister, or by anybody associated with the Government, of the accuracy of the reports, nor was a reply made to the statement which I made on behalf of the Opposition, setting out the Opposition viewpoint, which was published in the morning press of the 9th May. The report of that statement which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald of that date reads as follows: - - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator N. E. McKenna, tonight issued the following statement: - “ If, as reported, the Prime Minister has offered the presidency of the Senate to one of his Ministers, he has emerged speedily in the role of dictator.

His action exhibits a supreme contempt not only for the 31 Senators, who, it seems, will be supporters of the Government in the Senate, but also for thu Senate itself.

Upon Senators alone rests the responsibility - and they alone enjoy the privilege - of electi:ig their president.

It will be interesting if some of Mr. Menzies’ supporters in the Senate join with Labour in rejecting his dictatorial choice.”

I repeat that no answer has been made to that statement. I indicate to the Senate now that this is the opportunity for Senator O’Sullivan or Senator McLeay publicly to deny that there was that attempted contempt of this chamber. I refer also to the fact that I have been informed that many Government supporters in this Senate tendered protests to the Prime Minister when that announcement first appeared. . That also confirms my belief that there was some accuracy in the reports. I should like to say to those Government senators who supported the statement that I made at the time that, if the newspaper reports were true, their action does them credit. Having regard to the rights of this chamber it seems that the two Ministers whose names appeared in the press reports very properly rejected an offer made to them in those circumstances. The next point I make is that if it may be said that all that was done was that the two honorable senators concerned were merely offered nomination for the position of President of this Senate, all I can say is that the Prime Minister showed a complete disregard for those who support his Government in this chamber, and that their protests were thoroughly well justified. In this instance the Prime Minister either regarded nil of his supporters in this chamber as being ready to come to heel at his behest, or he sought to make fool.” of the two honorable senators to whom he offered the presidency.

Opposition senators would be wanting in their obligations as senators if they did not object to what, if the report be true, was obviously public contempt of this Senate. To allow such an act to pass without objection would not be proper or wise. We take that course having regard to the behaviour of the Government in another matter which gravely affects the privileges of this Senate. I refer now to its refusal, some little time ago, to allow departmental heads and Service chiefs to give evidence before a committee of this Senate.

The Clerk:

– The honorable senator’s remarks must be relevant to the election of the President.

Senator McKENNA:

– I do not propose to say anything further on that subject other than to point to a course of conduct in relation to the privileges of the Senate. The Opposition upholds the constitutional right of this chamber to elect its own President without interference by or direction from the Prime Minister or anybody else, and I do hope that we shall hear from some honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber just what are the facts. I shall be pleased to learn that the press reports to which I ‘have referred were inaccurate.

Senator Guy:

– The honorable senator knows they were inaccurate.

Senator McKENNA:

– I do not know that they were. Moreover, I suggest that the many honorable senators sitting on the Government side who protested to the Government also believed the reports to be true. Therefore, I am in their company in saying what I have said to-day.

Senator Gorton:

– This is awfully silly.

Senator McKENNA:

– If it is suggested that there has been some practice by the Opposition in the past that might seem to have cut across the constitutional right of members of this chamber, let me say first that that has nothing to do with the point that I have raised on behalf of the Opposition. Secondly, in justification of what is done by the Labour party on such occasions, I point out that, in selecting a nominee for the office of President of the Senate, Labour senators, together with their associates in the Federal Parliamentary Labour party from the House of Representatives, meet to select their nominee.

Senator Maher:

– That is worse.

Senator McKENNA:

– In fact and in form, that is the selection by the Labour party of its nominee. We are not discussing to-day the selection of a nominee because honorable senators opposite were not consulted, according to press reports, in the selection of .a candidate. The Labour party has no apologies to make for the procedure that it follows because that procedure has the full concurrence of Labour senators.

Senator Spicer:

– They surrender their rights.

Senator McKENNA:

– They exercise a right and what is done has their full concurrence. Without that concurrence it could not be done. Anticipating that something would be said about that matter, and realizing that I should not have an opportunity to reply in this debate, I have raised the point myself. My justification for so doing is that, according to press reports, there has been a public contempt of the Senate and there has not been any public repudiation of that contempt. I raise this matter now to provide an opportunity for such a repudiation to be made.

Senator McLEAY:
Minister for Shipping and Transport. - I regret that the name of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies · South Australia · LP

has been drawn into this debate. I do not think that anybody in either House of this Parliament has a better appreciation of the fitness of things or a better knowledge of parliamentary procedure and of the Constitution than he has. In my discussions with the right honorable gentleman, he made ir perfectly clear that he wished me to be a member of his Cabinet. Reports subsequently appeared in the press that was likely to be nominated for the office of President. I say emphatically - and I know that this view can be supported by every other honorable senator on this side of the chamber - that the Prime Minister did not do anything to influence any honorable senator in his choice of a nominee for the office of President.

Minister for Trade and Customs · QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs · LP

am sorry indeed, and I am sure that all Government supporters in this chamber as well as many Opposition senators, share my regret, that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Me,Kenna) has marred his first speech since his election to that office by utterances that are palpably unctuous and hypocritical. Despite the section of the Constitution to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred, it is well known that for as long as the Labour party held office in this Parliament, the President of the Senate has never been selected by the Senate as such. The truth is that according to Labour practice the choice of a nominee is made by a body, the majority of the members of which are not members of this chamber and that the nominee so chosen is invariably elected to the presidency of the Senate. With that practice in mind - and nobody knows about it better than does the Leader of the Opposition - I have no hesitation in describing his remarks as completely unctuous and hypocritical.

The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has told us what happened as far as he was concerned. I shall make my own position clear: Prior to the swearing in of the new Cabinet, and in the course of conversations with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about other matters, the right honorable gentleman asked mc whether I was likely to be a. candidate for the office of President. I told him that f was not. At no time has the Prime Minister attempted to exercise any influence whatever, or to interfere in any way, with the choice by the Senate of its President. It may suit the Leader of th, Opposition to rely with childish faith on newspaper reports in the present circumstances, but my frank belief is that he does not believe the reports to be true. All the world may know that the choice by members of the Government parties of their nominee for the office of President was entirely a matter for themselves, without interference by members of the House of Representatives or by any outside organization such as the Australian Labour party federal executive. In my humble opinion, the choice is wise and I regret very much that this opening ceremony has been marred by the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition.

Senator Mattner:

– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.

The Clerk:

– There being no other nomination, I declare Senator Mattner elected President of the Senate.

The PRESIDENT having been conducted to the dais, said -

The office of President of the Senate has been held by men well skilled in the conduct of this chamber. I come to you with considerable feeling knowing full well the responsible duties that I shall have to discharge, and, at the same time, believing that all honorable senators will give to me the loyal support that has been given to every other occupant of this office. I shall endeavour to uphold the traditions of this chamber as they have been upheld by former presidents. 3 take this opportunity to inform the Senate that my immediate predecessor in this office, Senator Brown, has been gracious enough to assure me that he will give me every assistance in my task. I thank him sincerely for that gesture. I shall discharge my duties to the best of my ability and, I trust, with satisfaction to all honorable senators.

Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs). - On behalf of the Government and its supporters, and, I trust, on behalf of all members of the Senate, I offer to you, Mr. President, our very cordial congratulations upon your elevation to the most distinguished post within the gift of the Senate. You, sir, have a long line of very distinguished predecessors to follow, and you have a very high standard to maintain. However, knowing what we do of you, I have no doubt that you will maintain that high standard, and indeed will add still further lustre to an already splendid record.

I need hardly remind the Senate that its new President has already distinguished himself in two world wars and has made magnificent contributions to his country in times of danger. In addition, he has served for some years in this honorable chamber, and I am quite sure that the distinction that has characterized his public performances until now will continue to adorn his record, and that the Senate and the country can look forward to great benefit under his guidance as President. In conclusion, sir, I assure you1 on behalf of all those who care to associate themselves with the Government in this matter that you will receive our utmost cooperation and assistance in the discharge of your most onerous duties.

Senator McKENNA (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition). - On behalf of the Opposition, I associate myself most cordially with the remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) concerning yourself, Mr. President. You have been elected to a responsible office, which carries with it a very high honour. If 1 may say so, you have at the moment, a completely unsullied record as President. It is our hope that, whenever your term may end, some honorable senators on this side of the chamber, representing the Labour party, may be able to say of you then what I have just said of you, namely, that your record is unsullied.

If I may say so with respect, I think you may regard it as a sincere tribute from the Opposition to your personal qualities that no member of the Opposition was nominated for the post of President, notwithstanding that we are all aware that such a nomination would have been futile. You can be assured that you carry the best wishes of members of the Opposition and that you will have their co-operation in the discharge of your very responsible duties. We shall endeavour to be as well-behaved as we can, and as well-conducted as you would wish us to be.

I appreciate greatly your reference to your predecessor, Senator Brown. I am sure that you will not mind if I say that he gave very distinguished service in the chair that you now have the honour to occupy. I wish you, on behalf of the Opposition, success and good fortune in your new position. I shall say nothing about your probable term of office, except that I hope that it may be a happy and useful period to yourself, to the Senate, and to the country.

Senator BROWN:

– I am very happy about the selection that has been made by the political parties opposite and its endorsement by the Senate, and I assure you, Mr. President, that we on this side of the chamber will help you to the best of our ability in carrying out your duties in this chamber. Of course, there may be times when we shall fall from grace. Indeed, I remember that some years ago I myself fell from grace on two occasions, and was suspended. I hope I shall not suffer at your hands in that respect. Perhaps my occupancy of the chair for nearly eight years has mellowed me somewhat, so that I shall behave myself, as all good senators should behave themselves.

May I point out that, apart from presiding over this chamber you will have many duties to perform in your new office. I hold strongly that the public of this country should know more of the duties performed by members of the Parliament and by the President of this chamber. There is, unfortunately, a common belief among the people that the President merely comes into the chamber, offers prayers, calls the Senate to order occasionally and for such services draws a nice salary. Whilst I am on my feet 1 take the opportunity to point out that the President of this chamber has many duties to discharge, some of which are quite onerous. Indeed; of late years they have become much more onerous, as I know from experience. In conjunction with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President has to direct, the activities of many men and women and of a number of departments of tho Parliament. Amongst his duties he is jointly responsible for the administration of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms, in which many persons are employed, the Parliamentary Gardens, the Parliamentary Library, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff and the staff which ministers to honorable senators in this chamber. It is clear, therefore, that the Presidency of this chamber is no mere sinecure. By way of reassurance, however, I point out that in the discharge of the duties of your new office you will have the willing assistance of the very experienced officials of this chamber, who render such splendid service to the Senate.

I must say, however, that during your occupancy of the chair you will have to suffer somewhat. I have suffered for hours in the chair listening to various speakers. As an example, I recall very clearly one occasion when I left the chair about 25 minutes before the usual time for the suspension of the afternoon sitting. That incident occurred many years ago, and it was not concerned in any way with any honorable senator who is now a member of this chamber. Two honorable senators had taken part in a very tiresome debate late in the afternoon. The first of them was a rather boring speaker, but the second speaker was even worse. When he had concluded and another speaker rose for the call. I immediately suspended the sitting of the Senate until 8 o’clock. The Leader of the Government met me in the. corridor outside the chamber and inquired the reason for my action. He wanted to know whether I was, perhaps, going to Government House. I replied, “ No ; it was more than human nature could stand “.

Having delivered myself of that anecdote, i must confess that the standard of parliamentary speaking has improved since then. Nevertheless, I think that on occasions the speeches delivered in this chamber are still very uninteresting. I think that a big improvement could be effected, both in the interests of the public and of honorable senators themselves, if we trained ourselves to speak in a manner that would be more interesting to the listening public. May I inform you, Mr. President, that I was instrumental in having installed in the President’s suite an instrument that will enable you to follow the proceedings in this chamber. When you listen to that instrument I have no doubt that you will, like myself, be somewhat unpleasantly surprised by some of the speeches. Those of us who hear our speeches broadcast might be even more unpleasantly surprised than was the elderly parson in the Old Country, who, on hearing a broadcast of his own voice, exclaimed, “ Good God ! Have I been talking like that for 20 years?” Quite understandably, he refused to enter the pulpit , again until he had improved his delivery. Summing up my remarks, Mr. President, I say that although you will undoubtedly be bored at times, I know that you will be able to bear with it. If I may interpolate another anecdote, I shall remind the Senate of a remark made by a former

Duke of Devonshire, who was a bewhiskered old gentleman. While addressing a gathering he had closed his eyes for some time and droned on. At the conclusion of his address a young lady who congratulated him on his remarks, remarked that it was a pity that he had gone to sleep while delivering them. The Duke corrected her in these words : “ No, my dear young lady, I did not go to sleep. 1 wish I could have gone to sleep. I closed my eyes because my speech was so boring”. That story reminds me of a highly respected Irish gentleman who, many years ago, occupied the chair that you now adorn. While I was still comparatively a new member of the Senate I. was approached by him one day. He said : “ Look, Gordon, we want you to be on the panel of Temporary Chairmen “. When I replied that I was not interested in having myself appointed a temporary chairman, lae said : “ Ha, me bhoy, you want to look to the future. You never know what may come forth “. I’ replied : “ To be quite honest with you, 1 do not know how you can tolerate sitting in that chair, listening to those interminable speeches “. He said : “ I in stand it, me bhoy, because an extra thousand a year makes the seat very soft “. I hope, sir, that in times of mental distress that knowledge may be some solatium to you. I know that many times [ have felt so tired of the debates that f have been tempted to walk out into God’s fresh air. The recollection of the solatium has restrained me, however. In conclusion, I offer you my sincere congratulations on your appointment as President and on behalf of members of the Opposition we welcome your appointment. I repeat the undertaking that I have given you outside the chamber, that I. shall do all in my power to assist you in the discharge of your onerous duties.

South Australia

– I could not allow this occasion to pass without expressing my personal gratitude to supporters of the Government for their nomination of a fellow South Australian to fill the high office of President of the Senate. My colleagues and I have always regarded you, Mr. President, as promising materia^ and we had hoped that you would have seen the light and come across to this side of the chamber. However, you now adorn the President’s chair and, without exaggeration, I am proud to be able to say that never before during my fairly long association with politics have I seen the choice of the parties opposed to Labour so universally approved. We shall extend to you all the assistance that we can and I trust that during moments of weakness on our part, you will continue to remember honorable senators on this side of the chamber as you always have known us.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon Edward Mattner:

– I sincerely thank the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), Senator Critchley, and all other honorable sena tors for their congratulations.

Presentation to the GovernorGeneral..

Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs). - I have to acquaint the Senate that His Excellency the Governor-General has appointed the hour of 2.35 p.m. this day to receive the President in the Parliamentary Library.

Sitting suspended from 11.54 a.m. to 2.85 p.m.


– I invite honorable senators to accompany me to the Library, where I shall present myself to His Excellency the Governor-General.

The members of the Senate proceeded to the Library, and being re-assembled,


– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable senators, I, this day, presented myself to the Governor-General as the person chosen by the Senate as its President. His Excellency was pleased to congratulate me upon my election.

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NOR-GENERAL entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their Speaker,

HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -

Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives :

You have been called together to deliberate upon matters of importance to the well-being of the Commonwealth.

In my speech at the opening of the Nineteenth Parliament I referred to the possibility of a visit to Australia by Their Majesties the King and Queen. Since that time arrangements have been put in hand, and are well advanced, for a visit by Their Majesties, and Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, in 1952. The King’s health continues, as honorable senators and honorable members know, to require care and attention. He has occupied the Throne during a period of many perils and anxieties, and has naturally been affected by his exertions. It is our constant prayer that he ‘will be restored and preserved in health. We believe that when he visits us next year the welcome that will go out to him and to the Queen and to Princess Margaret will be not only a source of real refreshment to him but also a renewed expression on the part of the Australian people of their devotion and loyalty to the Briitish Crown and the British Commonwealth of Nations.

This is the Jubilee Year of the Commonwealth of Australia, and we are, all over Australia, celebrating it in a variety of ways. We do so with thankfulness in our hearts for the achievements of great leaders and a great people in the past, and a clear determination that our next 50 years will be marked by growing strength, an increased capacity for sustaining our historic responsibilities, the development of security not only for ourselves but for the other countries of the world ; and an ever widening and deepening civilization. In this week, at Australia’s capital city, we particularly celebrate the jubilee of the first meeting of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.

We are justly proud of our parliamentary inheritance, and of the way in which our own Parliament has been able to give honorable service and wise leadership, sometimes under circumstances of immense national strain, difficulty and danger.

Lt is especially pleasing and appropriate that this occasion should bc marked not only by the presence of some who sat in our first Commonwealth Parliament, but also by special visits to us of distinguished representatives of the United Kingdom, of our sister nations and of the United States of America.

Since the recent general election, certain changes have been made in the structure and administration of the Government departments. My advisers, feeling that our responsibilities for the development of both the Northern Territory and the external territories, and for the welfare of .their peoples, will be the more promptly and effectively discharged by making them the special task of one Minister and department, have established a new Department of Territories.

The grave, basic, and urgent problems of coal, fuel and power development and production are now, insofar as they are subject to the somewhat limited powers of the Commonwealth, wholly included in the Department of National Development. This department will be responsible for organizing co-operation with the States in joint endeavours to solve these pressing and difficult problems.

Shipping and shipbuilding, heretofore dealt with by separate departments, are now both to be dealt with by the Department of Shipping and Transport.

Having regard to the intensification of defence preparation and the vast problems of supply, research, planning and production to which it gives rise, my Government has set up a separate Depart ment of Defence Production, primarily to attend to major productive activities previously included in the Department of Supply.

The growing complexity of the problems of administration, and the added burdens which result from the need for greatly accelerated and extended defence preparations, render it necessary, in the opinion of my advisers,’ to increase the numbers of Ministers to twenty. A bill to give effect to this increase and to deal with the Cabinet Fund will be introduced early in the session.

My advisers continue to be deeply concerned at the activities of subversive agents in Australia, and in particular at the destructive work of the Australian Communist party, its associates and adherents. Special legislation passed by the last Parliament has been found by the High Court to be constitutionally beyond the power of the Commonwealth. New ways and means of protecting the safety of the nation must therefore be devised. An opportunity will be sought at the time of the forthcoming Loan Council meeting to discuss with the Premiers of the States certain proposals for overcoming the legal difficulties which have been revealed. Failing some effective agreement, my Government will bring forward a measure for the amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution. Meanwhile, the existing laws against subversive activities are being closely examined, and amending legislation will be presented to Parliament.

My Government believes that it has an express mandate from the electors^ to conduct a relentless campaign against the menace of communism in Australia, and will seek to carry out that mandate by all means which are, or may become, available to it.

In the field of foreign affairs my Government will continue to consult closely with the United Kingdom and other members of the British Commonwealth, and with the United States of America. Its basic objective will be the maintenance of liberty and peace and the strengthening of Australian security. In the important Pacific zone, the Government will actively continue the negotiations already in progress for a defensive security arrangement between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. By such a collective regional arrangement the Government believes that Australian security will be enhanced and Australia will be in a position to act more promptly and more effectively in any emergency.

Australian forces of all arms have been acquitting themselves with great distinction in the United Nations’ campaign in Korea, yet not without substantial casualties. My Government will continue, in association with the United Kingdom, the United States and other members of the United Nations, to resist and defeat aggression in Korea, and to deter similar aggression in other parts of the world. It will at the same time continue, in co-operation with other members of the United Nations, to seek negotiation of a peaceful and just settlement in Korea, provided that such settlement upholds the vital objectives for which we are all fighting.

My Government will also seek, in consultation with the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries which participated in the war against Japan, the earliest, possible conclusion of a Japanese peace treaty. The Government recognizes that the occupation of Japan cannot be long continued and that Japan should be restored to the comity of nations. It has been and will continue to be the objective of the Government, in the negotiations for a Japanese settlement, to p.n«ure that Japan will not bp able in the future to become a menace to Australian security.

In South and South-East Asia, my Government will make generous contribution under the Colombo plan, which aims by co-operative effort among all interested governments to facilitate the economic and industrial development of Asiatic countries, and thereby to relieve the peoples of the pressure of poverty and hunger and strengthen their economic and political stability.

The outstanding task of my Government at this time lies in the field of defence preparations in the broadest sense. This includes not only strengthening our armed forces and expanding defence production but also strengthening the national economy which is the basic foundation of a war effort.

The United Nations campaign in Korea, has recently been meeting with encouraging success. But, while it is sound policy to limit the area of thai conflict, such a limitation may at any time be set aside by our enemies and their C01 arborrators. Other recent incidents in various parts of the world have, in my advisers’ judgment, confirmed their belief that Australia must be in an adequate state of defence preparedness at least by the end of 1953, a date which is not out of harmony with the rate and scale of preparation in the United Kingdom and the United States. This time-table involves the progressive and substantial increase of the man-power strength of our forces over a period of three years. These strengths my Government intends to secure by voluntary enlistment in the Permanent and Citizen Forces and by National Service training, the originally proposed intake for which my advisers have decided to double.

My Government will also continue the policy of securing the most modern equipment of all sorts for our armed forces; one of the objectives being that at all stages equipment shall match the numbers to be raised and trained.

Such a programme involves immense material tasks in the production or procurement of munitions, ships, aircraft, clothing, accommodation, and a host of other essential requirements. The impact upon Australia’s normal economy, already suffering from a scarcity of both manpower and materials, must be severe. Great readjustments will have to be made. My advisers are imposing special responsibilities upon the relevant departments, while for advice on the general coordination of economic and military plans and the allocation of our resources between civil and military needs .my Government has the assistance of the National Security Resources Board.

My Government aims at developing plans which will fit within the framework of co-operation with the United Kingdom and other countries of the British Commonwealth, the United States, and other free democracies which would be our allies in the event of war.

In pursuance of this policy the Minister is in a few days to participate in a conference of Commonwealth Defence Ministers. In addition my Government is consulting with the United Kingdom and other governments on the development of a Commonwealth production strategy designed to ensure that the best use is made’ of resources of all Commonwealth and friendly powers so that each may make the maximum contribution, best suited to its resources, to a common effort in the event of war.

The economic organization of the nation to defend itself and to assist its allies can in these turbulent and sudden times no more be improvised after the outbreak of war than can navies or armies or air forces. Therefore, preparation for defence involves economic preparation as well as technical military preparation.

The nature and extent of the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament over such preparations have, in the opinion of my advisers, been rendered doubtful, though the matter may be to an extent cleared up by proceedings now pending in the High Court.

Meanwhile, my Government proposes to introduce a Defence Preparations Bill designed to facilitate national organization for defence by co-operative action where possible, hut where necessary by positive and compulsory provisions. One of the incidents of national preparation for defence is that civil goods and services may run short because of increasing diversion of men and materials. When such shortages are, as they must be, accompanied by rapidly increasing defence expenditure the upward pressure on prices becomes more and more acute. Insofar as the checks upon this process are to be found in administrative, financial and economic measures, they require legislative authority and therefore constitutional power.

If it appears, from declarations of the law made by the High Court, that the simultaneous achievement of adequate defence preparation and economic stability is prejudiced hy the present constitutional position, my advisers will submit to the Parliament proposals for constitutional amendment.

Many of the steps that are needed to correct basic weaknesses in our economy and to lay a firmer foundation for defence and national development can he carried through successfully only by a joint effort of the Commonwealth and States. The Government recently placed before the State governments proposals for joint Commonwealth-State consultation on the action necessary to remedy apparent weaknesses in such fields as transport, power supply, food production, and supplies of materials. Though finality has not yet been reached in all respects, specialized committees of Commonwealth and State representatives are on the way to being set up to examine the problems involved.

Legislation will again be submitted to provide for the repeal of the Banking Act 1947-48 and to amend in certain particulars the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945-48.

Supply bills will be brought down to provide for the carrying on of the ordinary services of the Government and of capital works and services from the end of this financial year until the end of October. During that period it is expected that the budget for the financial year 1951-52 will be introduced.

Other legislation of a financial nature to be placed before Parliament this session (apart from budget measures, which cannot yet be foreshadowed) will include Additional Estimates (1950-51), Supplementary Estimates (1949-50), War Pensions Appropriation Bill and a Loan Bill for war service homes and soldier land settlement-

The Government will also bring forward legislation to make grants totalling £15,000,000 to the States by way of additional financial assistance in respect of the financial year 1950-51.

Legislation will be introduced to reconstitute a Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts.

My advisers will continue to seek an improvement in industrial relations. They believe that peace and progress in industry will be assisted by the closest co-operation between management and labour, differences of opinion being sensibly and authoritatively settled by conciliation or arbitration through appropriate machinery.

My Government believes that tha greatest progress will he made in the improvement of industrial relations when the members of industrial organizations have an effective control over the selection of their officers. A bill to establish secret ballots will therefore be introduced. In the same bill certain other disclosed defects in the powers of the industrial tribunals will be dealt with.

My Government has also under close consideration improvements in the machinery of conciliation and arbitration; it will seek opportunities to confer with both parties to industry on the methods by which these improvements can be effected. The nation cannot’ afford the loss and waste which flow from so many resorts to direct action.

As I indicated earlier, my Government will place great emphasis upon fuel, coal, and power, which are the vital elements not only in development but also in the maintenance of existing industries and employment. As food production is ako of vital and growing importance and urgency, special attention will be paid by my Government to water supply and irrigation matters. In all of these problems it will collaborate fully with the State governments. Clearly, the development programme must be constantly reviewed, and individual projects related to the military and economic needs of the time.

My Government has, particularly since its negotiation of a dollar loan in the United States, been able to make available substantial sums of dollars for the importation of power plants and machinery into Australia.

My Government proposes to continue the policy of purchasing overseas for its own works such materials as are in short supply in Australia. It will also continue to stimulate the importation of scarce building materials required by the general community.

My Government is pressing on with the laying down, in co-operation with industry, of security stocks of strategic materials. Already a substantial provision has been made in this regard.

In an endeavour to clarify the problems to be solved in overcoming international shortages of certain materials, the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and France recently issued invitations to 21 nations, including Australia, to attend an International Materials Conference at Washington. My Government will give consideration to the conclusions reached at the conference. lt is expected that new trade agreements designed to assist exports and ensure supplies of essential imported goods will bc made during the year.

My Government will proceed with its policy of promoting the stability of our rural industries. In giving effect to this policy it will continue to work in close association with the organizations that represent the producers in the various industries and will seek the collaboration of the governments of the States. My Government is now engaged in discussions with the State governments and industry representatives on wheat and dairy stabilization proposals.

Following negotiations extending over seventeen months, agreement has been reached by my Government with the Governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa for n reserve price plan for wool to succeed the wool disposals plan administered by the Joint Organization. At all stages in the negotiations wool-growers’ representatives have been consulted. The plan will soon be submitted to a referendum of woolgrowers in Australia and if they generally approve it, legislation will be introduced to give effect to the plan in Australia.

The Government in its future negotiations on food contracts with the United Kingdom Government will continue to have regard both to the desirability of increasing the contribution which Australia makes to the food supplies of the United Kingdom and also to the need for the farmer to obtain an adequate return.

Continued attention will be given to means of overcoming shortages of agricultural machinery and other materials, which have been affecting the output of the agricultural industries.

A continued flow of immigration is regarded by my Government as of the highest importance to both the defence and the development of Australia. Only through immigration can we obtain the extra workers that we so urgently require for these purposes.

British migration will be, as it has in the past, in the forefront of Australia’s immigration policy and my advisers hope nhat last year’s record intake of British migrants will be exceeded.

New migration agreements to take the place of the displaced persons resettlement scheme which has virtually come to an end due to the termination of the International Refugee Organization’s activities will be negotiated with other European countries. Such agreements have already been entered into with the Netherlands and Italy.

My Government attaches particular importance to the social as well as the industrial assimilation of aliens; it will therefore continue to give every encouragement to non-governmental organizations which have so capably and so willingly assisted in this work in the past.

In the field of social services my Government is keeping all benefits under review, and will, in the budget, put forward proposals which will have regard to current circumstances. It is constantly examining anomalies, with a view to their rectification.

My advisers have in hand a close .study, involving further prolonged research, of i.he incidence of the means test, with a desire to encourage thrift instead of penalizing it and at the same time not to impair our economic stability.

My Government is keeping a close watch on the rates of pensions and allowances payable under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.

These rates, along with other payments to widows and children, will also be reviewed when the budget is being prepared.

The further development of my Government’s health plans will be continued. These have already been brought to fruition in respect of free life-saving drugs, free medical attention for old age and invalid pensioners, milk for school children, and a greatly improved campaign against tuberculosis. My Government will present to Parliament a comprehensive health bill which will deal with medical benefits, hospital accommodation, and medical research.

Shipping problems continue to be of the greatest urgency and difficulty. There a re not enough ships, and those which are in operation have a portion of their capacity destroyed by the slow rate of turn-round in our ports.

My advisers, convinced that these conditions cannot be fully remedied until their causes have been competently identified and examined, are obtaining the services of a highly experienced and competent port expert from overseas. In association with Australians of experience in these matters, including a leading trade unionist, he will examine our problems of port operation, including allied questions which affect the delivery of goods to and their clearance from the ports. Meanwhile, the associated questions of ship procurement from abroad, shipbuilding in Australia, and the operation of shipping on the Australian coast, are being closely studied by my advisers.

The programme of works designed to overtake arrears and restore post office services to a reasonable level of efficiency was accelerated during the last twelve months. A further adjustment in the postal, telephone and telegraph charges in order to bring them more into line with present day costs is under immediate consideration.

The national conscience, our international commitments, our obligations as a trustee nation, and our security, alike call foi a vigorous policy for the development of the physical and economic resources of the territories and the advancement of the welfare and standards of living of the native inhabitants of these territories.

In pursuance of a policy directed to these objectives the Government will push forward the work, which it has already commenced, of surveying the physical and economic resources of the territories, with the object of determining the best means of developing their resources.

Native affairs administration is to bc overhauled and particular attention will be paid to special schemes for the primary i.nd secondary education of natives and to their establishment in useful fields of employment and endeavour for their own advancement.

Closer collaboration between the Commonwealth and States in the administration of aboriginal welfare is to be sought and proposals will be made for regular consultation and active Commonwealth participation.

The questions of territorial administration and services are receiving the immediate attention of my advisers.

My Government will introduce a bill to strengthen the laws relating, to the security of the Commonwealth by the introduction of official secrets provisions similar to those w’hich the United Kingdom and oth.6r dominions have found appropriate.

Committees at present engaged in reviewing the Commonwealth legislation relating to patents and trade marks should complete their task during this session. My Government, fully cognizant of the importance of the law of patents and trade marks in industrial development, will consider the recommendations of the committees with a view to the introduction of modernized industrial property laws at the earliest possible moment.

In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave yon to the discharge of your high and important duties.

His Excellency THE GOVERNOR.GENERAL and members of the House of Representatives having retired,

The President (Senator the Hon.

Edward Mattner) took the chair, and read prayers.

page 19



– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the Opening Speech which His Excellency The Governor-General was pleased to deliver to both Houses of the Parliament.

Ordered -

That consideration of the Speech be an order of the day for the next day of sitting.

page 19


QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs · LP

– I move -

That Senator George Rankin be appointed Chairman of Committees.

Senator Cooper:

– I second the motion.


– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.


– There being no other nomination, I declare Senator George Rankin elected.


-I thank the Senate for the great honour conferred upon me, and I thank particularly the mover r.-r.-f r«- 77 if the1” motion. I assure honorable senators that I will do my utmost to administer my office fairly so as to justify the confidence they have placed in me.

Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs). - -On behalf of all honorable senators I’ extend the heartiest congratulations to our colleague, Senator George Rankin, on his appointment to the very important post of Chairman of Committees. Senator George Rankin has long been known to many of us, and those who do not know him personally have known him by repute. Many years of his life have been dedicated to the service of his country both in war and in peace. He has been a, familiar and highly respected member of the Commonwealth Parliament, having served for many years in the House of Representatives. In addition, he has served with distinction on many joint committees of the two houses of the Parliament. I am sure that under his able chairmanship much good will result from the legislation that will be brought before him in the committee stages. We can look forward to perhaps strict, but always fair and reasonable, conduct of the business of the committees while he is in charge. I have much pleasure in offering to the honorable senator my congratulations and, I am sure, those of other members of the Senate.

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) was, I believe, quite in order when he said that he spoke for all members of the Senate in tendering congratulations to Senator George Rankin upon his election to the very important office of Chairman of Committees. The Opposition most cordially congratulates the honorable senator upon his election and wishes him well in the discharge of his office. Like you. Mr. President, he, too, commences his duties, as far as the Opposition is concerned, with an entirely clean sheet and I believe that he will justify what the Leader of the Government has said by finishing his task still enjoying the high reputation which he now bears. He may rely upon the friendly co-operation of the Opposition in assisting him to carry out his very important duties. What shots the Opposition is likely to fire in the coming months are not likely to be directed at him. Honorable senators on this side of the Senate look to a very friendly association with him down the period that lies ahead.

page 20


Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 3 p.m.

page 20


The following papers were presented : -

Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 18.

Canned Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 14.

Commonwealth Bank Act -

Appointment - N. Botham.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 41.

Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 34, 38, 43.

Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regu lations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 25.

Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 12, 20, 40.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (9).

Flax Canvas Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 17.

Hospital Benefits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 28.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes -

North Sydney, New South Wales.

Puckapunyal”, Victoria.

Queenscliff, Victoria.

Woodstock, Queensland.

Department of Civil Aviation purposes -

Ararat, Victoria.

Cooktown, Queensland.

Eagle Farm, Queensland.

Griffith, New South Wales.

Western Junction, Tasmania.

Immigration purposes -

Devon port, Tasmania.

Postal purposes -

Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Bendigo, Victoria.

Benjaberring, Western Australia.

Bingara, New South Wales.

Crows Nest, New South Wales.

Five Dock, New South Wales.

Griffith, New South Wales.

Launceston, Tasmania.

Newstead, Tasmania.

Northcote, Victoria.

Oakleigh, Victoria.

Omeo, Victoria.

Pine Point, South Australia.

Redfern, New South Wales.

South Kumminin, Western Australia.

Two Wells, South Australia.

Westbury, Tasmania.

Williams, Western Australia.

Young, New South Wales.

Meat Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 29, 35.

National Service Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1051, No. 32.

Nationality and Citizenship (Burmese) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951. No. 21.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 36.

Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 37.

Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1951-

No. 1 - Superannuation.

No. 2 - Volcanic and Seismic Disturbances.

No. 3 - Administration Contracts.

No. 4 - Matrimonial Causes (Papua).

No.3 - Divorce and Matrimonial Causes (New Guinea).

No.6 - Petroleum (Prospectingand Mining) .

No. 7 - Arbitration (Public Service).

Pharmaceutical Benefits Act - Regulation - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 15.

Post and Telegraph Act - Regulation.Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 22, 23.

Post and Telegraph Act and Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No.24.

Public Service Act -

Appointments - Department -

Air - 0. C. Matta.

Civil Aviation- W. O. Alm, . J. L.R. Atkinson, N. V. Brown, A. M. Cox. W. G. Feige, C. W. Fennell, S. W. Hurt. K. H. King, J. R. Krygger, K. ‘ B. P. Lee, L. M. Leslie, N. Silberberg, C. L. Tottenham, C. E. Williams.

Commerce and Agriculture - E. J. Johnston.

Defence - G. R. Dunbar, J. K. Geary, G. H. Heyen, E. L. D. White.

Fuel, Shipping and Transport - M. T. Duggan, W. T. McFadyen.

Interior - J. F. Turner.

Labour and National Service - G. Brett,

S. D. Lay, G. G. Milne.

National Development - J. G. Best. J. L. Bruce, R. N. Collin, K. H. Danks, G. R. Giles,C. M. Gray, N. J. Mackay, S. M. Moorrees, J. G. Munro.

Prime Minister’s - P. M. Finley, D. C. Sutherland.

Repatriation - K. Finch, D. C. Forsyth, W. P. Harris, P. G. Hayes, . P. M. Johnston, M. A. Laidler, J. D. MacLeod, P. E. Mason, R. M. Peel, B. Pelling, E. J. Taylor, P. Whyment, D. L. Wilhelm.

Social Services- E. A. Will.

Works and Housing - R. W. Amess, E. H. Barker, C. T. Bath, T. G. Chapman, F. Chisholm, W. G. Collins, W. J. Dennis, A. Button, J. Fergusson,

13, 26, 27, 33.

Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1951 -

No. 18 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.

No. 19 - Non-official Postmasters’ Assotion of Australia.

No. 20 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.

No. 21 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

No. 22 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.

No. 23 - Australian Journalists’ Association.

No. 24 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union.

No. 25 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 26 - Australian Journalists’ Association. .

No. 27 - Amalgamated Engineering

Union and others.

No. 28 - Transport Workers’ Union of


No. 29 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.

No. 30 - Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Assotion.

No. 31 - Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.

No. 32 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.

No. 33 - Australian Journalists’ Association.

No. 34 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 35 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.

No. 36 - Australian Workers’ Union.

No: 37 - Association of Railway Professional Officers of Australia.

No. 38- Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.

No. 39 - Amalgamated Engineering

Union and others.

No. 40- Federated Clerks’ Union of


No. ‘41 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.

No. 42– Federated Miscellaneous Workers’ Union of Australia. Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1951 - No. 2- Workmen’s Compensation. No.3- Public Health. No. 4 - Commonwealth Jubilee Holiday. No. 5- Liquor. Regulations - 1951 - No. 1 (Buildings and Services Ordinance). Superanuation Act - Superannuation Board - Twenty-sixth Annual Report, for year 1947-48.

Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 31.

War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Burnie, Tasmania. Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 18.

Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1951, No. 30.

Wireless Telegraphy Act - RegulatiomH-

Statutory Rules 1951, No. 19. Wool Products Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 39.

Senate adjourned at 3.58 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 June 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.