20th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether tenders had been accepted for the erection of television . installations in this country. He then informed me that a special committee, which had been appointed, was examining the .position. Can he now inform me whether that committee has completed its investigations, whether its report is available and’ whether I may obtain a copy of it!
– I shall be pleased to submit the honorable senator’s question to the Postmaster-General who will be abta to let him know the result of the committee’s deliberations and the present position concerning the matter. .
– fis the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that an announcement was made some weeks ago to the effect that it was expected that considerable quantities of North American apples would be imported by the United Kingdom between the 6th December, 1951, and the 12th April, 1952, the end of which period will dangerously coincide with the commencement of the market which Australia expects for its apples in the United Kingdom? My information is that the probable quantity of North American imports will be approxi mately 1,750,000 boxes. Is the Minister in a position to state whether a reply has been forthcoming from the British Ministry of Food to the representations which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture recently made for the protection of Australian interests in the United Kingdom apple market?
– I shall take the first opportunity to discuss the matter with my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who recently returned from London, and let the honorable senator have a report of the latest position as soon as possible.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer by stating that because of the increased costs of commodities of all kinds at the present time, the people of Australia are now obliged to carry with them a greater bulk of money which involves additional work for persons who work behind counters and in banks. I suggest to the Minister that a great deal of time could be saved in the counting and sorting of currency if 5s. notes were available. Will the Minister make representations to the Treasurer in order to ascertain whether it is possible for 5s. notes to be printed and issued for circulation throughout the Commonwealth?
– I am not prepared to express an opinion on the proposal, but I shall convey it to the Treasurer.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. The day before yesterday, there was published in the press a paragraph which stated that the Ministry for Defence in Great Britain had announced that the total strength of Britain’s armed forces at home and overseas on the 1st October last wa3 840,200. _ The question has been asked in this Senate and elsewhere whether Australia is bearing its fair share of the burden of Empire defence. We have embarked upon a very expensive recruiting campaign, and have introduced compulsory military training. It would be of interest to the people to learn just what is being achieved in the way of defence preparations. If we are doing our bit it should be a matter for satisfaction; if we are not, the knowledge might act as a spur to recruiting. Therefore, I ask tho Minister what was the total strength of Australian armed forces serving abroad and at home on the 1st October. 1951 ? How many women were serving in the forces? “What was the number of nurses and of civilians directly employed by the armed forces? Will he statu the number of persons, both men and women, serving in the Royal Australian Navy, the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force, respectively?
– It is important that we should, out of a sense of national pride, and in order to diacharge our national obligations, make our fair contribution in co-operation with those beside whom we stand in defence of the free world. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Defence, and as soon as a reply to the honorable gentleman’s question is available, it will be supplied to him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that a radio programme known as ‘ “ Hawaii Calls “, which is broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission each week, was made and produced in Hawaii? Seeing that the Australian Broadcasting Commission purchased this programme from a private source in Sydney, will the Minister ascertain whether any dollars were allocated for its purchase? Will the Minister also find out whether this programme was cleared by the customs authorities for importation into Australia? Is it a fact that the price paid by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the programme each week is £30, and seeing that a sum of £100 would have to be paid to Australian artists to put on a similar programme in Australia, will the Minister say whether it is the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to import cheap, culturally useless and inartistic programmes whilst Australian artists are deprived of employment ?
– I cannot say whether the programme referred to by the honorable senator is inartistic or otherwise, but I shall bring his question to the notice of the Postmaster-General, who will furnish a considered reply.
– What additional amount will be involved in the continuance of the subsidy to woollen manufacturers, which, I understand is to be continued to the 30th April, 1952, instead of terminating at the end of the present year as stated in the budget?
– No additional money will be payable.
– The News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior issues an excellent publication, South-West Pacific, in very small numbers. Copies are distributed gratis in Australia and overseas to a very small number of persons. If the number issued were increased and the publication were offered for public sale., it seems likely that the estimated printing cost of 3s. could be considerably reduced. The publication is not only of great value as a4 advertising medium, but it would also be of educational value to Australians who are not well informed about conditions in the South-West Pacific. Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior consider increasing the circulation of the publication to the extent that would enable it to be “sold to the general public in Australia and overseas?
– 1 shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for the Interior, and obtain a reply as soon as possible.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Customs, concerns what seems to me to be a most significant incident that occurred yesterday when it was reported in the Tasmanian press, and also, no doubt, in the press of the mainland, that among those whom the federal executive of the Australian Labour party had rebuked for not taking an active part in the protection of communism was the Labour Premier of Tasmania. In view of the coincidence of that announcement with the declaration made by Senator Morrow in this chamber last night that the party of which he is a member has for its objective the establishment of Russian socialism, otherwise communism, I ask-
– I did not use the words Russian socialism. I used the word socialism, and I ask that the honorable senator’s remark be withdrawn.
– Order ! Senator Morrow may make a personal explanation later. Before Senator Wright proceeds, I ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to questions. Honorable senators are developing a habit of making practically second-reading speeches. If question time is to be utilized to the best advantage every honorable senator should have time to ask his question. The longer individual senators take to preface questions, the shorter the time that is left for other honorable senators to ask questions. I ask honorable senators, therefore, to frame their questions concisely and to the point.
– The question is whether the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has informed the Leader of the Government whether the Opposition adopts or repudiates the statement of Senator Morrow? If any such intimation is made, I ask the Leader of the Government whether he will give the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to make that clear in the interests of candour in this chamber.
– I am quite sure that not only honorable senators but the people of Australia will wait with some interest to see whether by silence the Labour party will be presumed to acquiesce in and endorse the sentiments expressed by Senator Morrow or whether it will take the first opportunity to repudiate them.
– Mr. President. Am F entitled to make an explanation?
– If Senator Morrow desires to do so he must wait until after questions.
– By way of personal explanation I desire to refer to a question that Senator Wright addressed to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) this morning. He said that during my speech last night I had stated that Labour’s objective was Russian socialism. That is untrue. What I said last night was that our objective is the socialization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. I still stand by that.
– That is the same as Russia’s objective.
– When I sought, nomination for election to this chamber I signed a pledge that I would advocateand fight for the achievement of that objective. The planks in Labour’s platform set out how we shall proceed to attain it. Senator Wright’s statement was deliberately deceptive. I take exception to the honorable senator resorting to such deception in this chamber.
– On the 14th November, 1951, Senator O’Byrne asked a question concerning the supply of potatoes to the employees at the guided weapons testing range at Woomera. The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answer : -
The supply of potatoes to the staff of the range at Woomera and their dependants has been satisfactory throughout the period when potatoes were in short supply. These supplies are obtained through the detail issues depot of the Department of the Army and are supplied by Army contractors. Supplies for the constructional personnel are arranged by the Department of Works and Housing and there has been some difficulty in obtaining supplies over the last six weeks. However, this shortage has now been overcome and supplies at present are adequate.
– Will the Leader of the Government inform the Senate whether it is a fact that Senator Wright was briefed by the Superannuation Board of Tasmania to appear on its behalf? Did he appear in court on behalf of the Superannuation Board of* Tasmania and is that an office of profit, under the Crown?
– I am happy to inform the honorable senator and the chamber that the Government on this side of the Senate does not pry into the private and professional lives of its members. Ours is a free party and as long as its members are entitled to public respect by their behaviour, as ours are, we do not interfere with them at all.
– I am not concerned with the private affairs of Senator Wright or of any other honorable senator. I am interested only in the constitutional aspect of the matter that I have raised. The Minister should not hedge in answering my question.
– Am I to understand that the honorable senator wants’ to know the constitutional implications of Senator Wright’s appearance in certain proceedings on behalf of the Tasmanian Superannuation Board ?
– As a longstanding member of this chamber and a former Minister, the honorable senator must know that it is out of order for any honorable senator to seek a. legal opinion in a question. Such opinions should be sought from the appropriate authorities. If the honorable senator wants a good legal opinion, I refer him to my colleague, Sena-tor Wright.
– On the 14th November Senator Cormack asked a question about the direct shipment of raw materials to Portland, western Victoria, in order to- avoid congestion on Melbourne wharfs. The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answer: -
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say what will be the cost to the Commonwealth of subsidizing the sale of wheat for stock feed to the amount of the difference between the figure of 12s. a bushel that has been proposed, and the 16s. Id. a bushel that the wheat-growers are to receive ?
– I understand thai the Commonwealth liability in the current financial year is estimated at £5.250,000.
– Will thu Minister representing the Minister for the Army seek an investigation of reported delays in the receipt by servicemen in Korea of parcels sent to them from this country?
– I shall be pleased to bring that matter to the notice of. the Minister for the Army. The Minister will be most interested, in it because, in the course of a recent personal discussion with me, he explained thiarrangements that he had made, and the trouble to which he had gone to ensure the prompt transmission of parcels to servicemen in Korea, particularly at the Christmas period. I am sure that any complaint that those arrangements are not working satisfactorily would receive his immediate personal attention.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) agreed to -
That Standing Order68 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 7th December, 1951, to enable new business to beCommenced after 10.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That leavebe given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Act 1949.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) put -
That somuch of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the motion resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That thebill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949, so as to provide quick and effective machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes and for the making of awards for employees of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric undertaking. Although the principal act provides that nothing in the act shall prevent the making of an. industrial award or agreement under any act in relation to officers or employees of the authority, the circumstances in which the work of the authority is being carried on are such that no suitable Commonwealth or State machinery is at present available for the handling of industrial disputes in which the authority may become involved. The employees of the Snowy Mountains Authority follow a wide variety of callings. Normally, both the employees and the authority, as their employer, would use the facilities of the Commonwealth
Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. Although, under the principal act, the authority is not denied approach to the court, such approach cannot be made unless a genuine interstate industrial dispute exists or is pending. The work of the authority is at present completely in New South Wales and at no time will more than a comparatively small part of its work extend across the border into Victoria. More than twenty unions include employees of the authority in their members. Most, but not all, of those unions have federal registration. Any and all of the federal unions may have, or may create, an interstate dispute which affects the classes of workers for which they provide, where they would have access to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for the settlement of such dispute. The authority is not in a position to do that.
The Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator has a statutory jurisdiction wide enough to embrace the employees of the authority, but not the employees of contractors to the authority. Moreover, federal registration is a pre-requisite to the exercise of the jurisdiction of the PublicService Arbitrator. The authority being a body established under a law of the Commonwealth, neither it nor its employees fall within the jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission of New South. Walesor of the wages boards of Victoria.
Pending the provision of appropriate industrial machinery, the authority has been observing three Commonwealth awards and seventeen awards of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, though not bound by them. The main object of the bill, therefore, is to provide for all employees of the authority, and for the authority itself , ready access to one industrial tribunal for the settlement of industrial disputes and for the making of awards. The tribunal that has been selected for this purpose is a single judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Honorable senators will remember that this provision is similar to the provision that was made under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949 for a single judge of the court toexercise jurisdiction in the stevedoring industry.
Persons employed by contractors and sub-contractors of the authority work side by side, to a large degree, with employees of the authority. A. considerable amount of construction work will’ be carried out by contract. For the sake of industrial harmony, it is very desirable that, in such areas as may be specified where these conditions apply, jurisdiction to settle industrial disputes should be vested in one tribunal. The bill specifies the tribunal to have such jurisdiction.
The main purpose of the bill is to be found in clause 7, which provides for the insertion of new Part IVa. - Industrial Matters in the principal act. That part defines contractors, sub-contractors and employees, and it also defines the specified area in which a court will have jurisdiction to settle industrial disputes which affect persons employed by contractors and sub-contractors. As I have said, the hill provides for a single judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to exercise the powers of a court under the act. It is proposed that, in exercising the powers of the court, the single judge shall have regard to any order or award of the Full Court in respect of standard hours, basic wages for males and females, annual leave, sick leave and long service leave. The bill provides for application of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to matters arising under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act in the same manner as the Conciliation and Arbitration Act applies to matters arising under that act. Similar provision is contained in the Stevedoring Industry Act of 1949. The persons employed by the authority comprise officers, temporary officers, and temporary and casual employees. The principal act does not define a temporary officer or a temporary or casual employee. This bill defines a temporary officer and an employee and provides for temporary officers the same privileges of approach to industrial tribunals as are enjoyed by officers. In effect, the bill preserves to officers and temporary officers access to the Public Service Arbitrator, as well as to other industrial tribunals.
The fact that those employed under the Snowy Mountains scheme are drawn from so many different industrial unions and work more or less side by side in a somewhat isolated area, living, in many instances, under camp conditions, makes it especially desirable, in the Government’s view, that industrial relations throughout the scheme should, as far as possible, be under the control of one authority and prescribed by something in the nature of an industrial award. That is precisely what the bill sets out to accomplish.
In introducing the bill, the Government is earnestly endeavouring to provide for the greatest efficiency and harmony between the authority and its employees. The authority has conferred with representatives of the Australian Workers Union and the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council. The union representatives with whom the authority conferred urged very strongly the provision of appropriate industrial machinery for the Snowy Mountains at the earliest possible date. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bil] received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’SULLIVAN ) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill provides for the validation, until the 31st October, 1952, of collections of customs duties under Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4; Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 1; and Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 1.
Those measures were introduced during the present sittings of the Parliament. As the Parliament will be rising at an early date it will not be practicable to afford honorable senators an opportunity to debate the individual items during the present sittings.
For the-information of honorable senators I mention that Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1 and No. 4 relate principally to duty variations which are consequent upon Tariff Board recommendations. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2 cover increased duties on revenue items, whilst Tariff Proposals No. 3 relate to the concessions accorded at the Torquay conference under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. The amendments to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) and the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) are consequential to the alterations made in the four Customs Tariff Proposals. An opportunity will be afforded honorable senators to debate the proposed duties before the expiration of the validation period.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan ) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the validation, until the 31st October, 1952, of collections of excise duty under Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1, and Excise Tariff Proposals No. 2, which were introduced during the present sittings of the Parliament. The former proposals cover variations in excise duties, mainly for administrative purposes, whilst the latter covers increased duties imposed for revenue purposes. The bill is complementary to the measure validating customs duties.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House- of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator MOLEAY’ read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill, together with the Wool (Contributory Charge) Bill (No. 1) and the Wool (Contributory Charge) Bill (No. 2) is to exempt certain classes of wool from the contributory charge on wool. As the three bills deal with related matters, I propose to discuss them all in my second-reading speech. Since 1946, a contributory charge has been levied on all wool sold in Australia or exported in order to provide money for the purposes of the United KingdomDominion wool disposals plan and for promoting the use of wool. Previously, money required for wool use promotion wa3 raised by a wool tax imposed by the Wool Tax Act 1936-1945. The wool tax remains in suspense while the contributory charge is in force.
The contributory charge was also used in the 1950-51 wool season to raise money to provide growers’ capital for a plan of reserve prices for wool in anticipation of wool-growers generally approving the proposed plan. This portion of the contributory charge amounted to 1 per cent. The total charge in 1950-51 was 7-J per cent., the remaining -fc per cent, being for the purposes of the wool disposals plan and wool use promotion.
Operations in Australia under the wool disposals plan were virtually completed in the 1950-51 season and, on the 24th August, it was announced that the reserve price plan had been defeated at a referendum of growers. The need for the continuance of the contributory charge was therefore removed as money for wool use promotion could be raised, once again, by the wool tax. However, a sudden changeover from the contributory charge to the woo] tax within a few days of the beginning of the 1951-52 wool selling season, which began on the 27th August, was not practicable. It would also have meant that an estimated £75,000 would not have been collected on wool already in store, as contributory charge is payable when wool is sold, and wool tax is payable at the time of delivery of wool into store. The Government, therefore, decided that the contributory charge should continue during the 1951-52 wool selling season, but only at such a rate as would yield approximately the same amount as the wool tax, which at the time of its suspension was 2s. a bale. It was estimated that a rate of one-eighth of 1 per cent. would produce this amount.
Wool tax applied only to shorn wool, and the Government decided that contributory charge should also apply only to shorn wool, in 1951-52, although hitherto it has applied to shorn wool, dead wool, skin wool and wool on sheepskins when exported. The Government, therefore, requested the Commissioner of Taxation to grant administrative exemption to dead wool, skin wool and wool on sheepskins until such time as the necessary legislative arrangements could be made. The primary purpose of the three bills to which I have referred is to give legislative authority for those exemptions. This purpose will be achieved by amending the definition of “ wool “ in the Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Acf so as to exclude such wools from the scope of the charge at its new rate. It is proposed that this amendment, which if included in the Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill, should be operative on and from the 27th August, 1951. the date of commencement of the current wool selling season. Consideration is now being given to the arrangements necessary for a complete change-over from the contributory charge to the wool tax at a convenient time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
SenatorMcLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Shipping and Transport) [11.50]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I explained the general purpose of this bill in my second-reading speech on the Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill. This measure repeals section 7 of the Wool (Contributory Charge) Acts (No. 1) 1950, which authorized the imposition of a levy on wool sold in Australia and made it part of the contributory charge. The levy was fixed at7½ per cent. and was for the purpose of providing funds for growers’ capital in the proposed minimum reserve price plan. Collection of the levy ceased on the 30th June, 1951, and, as the reserve price plan was not approved by growers at the recent referendum, the levy is no longer required. Section 7 contained a definition of “ wool “ which is not consistent with the definition now proposed in the Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill. In view of this, it is proposed that that section be repealed with effect from the 27th August, 1951.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia-
Minister for Shipping and. Transport) [11.53].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is the third of the three bills designed to exempt certain wools from contributory charge. This bill proposes the repeal of section 7 of the Wool (Contributory Charge) Acts (No. 2) 1950, which authorized the imposition of a levy of 7¼ per cent. on wool exported from Australia to provide funds for the minimum reserve price plan. As I have already explained, the levy is now no longer needed. Section 7 contained a definition which is not consistent with the definition now proposed in the Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill. For this reason, it is proposed that the section be repealed with effect from the 27th August, 1951.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan), read a first, time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to establish an authority to purchase tea abroad, to import it, and to sell it to primary wholesalers. The new authority, which will bc called the Tea Importation Board, will take the place of the present Tea Control Board, which was established under National Security Regulations, and which thus depends for its authority on the defence powers of the Commonwealth. When the Tea Control Board was established it was given much wider powers than are necessary to-day, and although the board dealt primarily with matters of procurement and first distribution, it was indirectly concerned in secondary and retail distribution, the establishment of security stocks, rationing and the fixation of maximum and minimum prices. That board consisted of three representatives of the wholesale tea trade, a representative of retailers, a representative of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, a representative of the Department of Supply and Development, the Director of Rationing, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner as deputy chairman, and the Minister for Trade and Customs, as chairman. The functions of the proposed new authority will, as I have mentioned, be confined to the purchase, importation and first distribution of tea. There is now no need for such a large board as the present one, and it is proposed that the new board will consist of a chairman, a representative of the wholesale tea trade, a representative of the Treasury, and the Tea Controller.
The reasons for the existence of any authority to handle tea are twofold. In the first place, there is an un steadiness in the price of tea in producing countries, and consequential difficulties in maintaining supplies. Australian consumption of tea is about 60,000,000 lb. per annum, which costs approximately £15,000,000, of which the Government contributes slightly more than half in the form of subsidy. In the two years before the war the average importations were 47,000,000 lb. at an average cost of £3,000,000 per annum. It will be seen that there has been a big increase in consumption, as well as in cost. About half of Australia’s requirement is purchased on forward contracts at fixed prices, and the remainder at auction, or by private treaty, at current prices. In an unstable market, private enterprise would be hesitant about entering into forward contracts, and there would be a danger of periodical or even continued shortages, or of a lowering of the quality standard. In the absence of forward contracts, the bulk of supplies would be purchased at auction, and the local distributors would be competing with one another and forcing prices up against themselves and against the interests of Australian consumers. Until the tea market settles down, the best interests of Australia will be served by a single purchasing authority.
In the second place, tea is heavily subsidized. The present subsidy is about 2s. 6d. per lb. It would not be possible to continue this subsidy and to maintain uniform prices throughout the Commonwealth except by a process of averaging costs. When it is remembered that requirements would be of different types, purchased at different prices, by different people, in different countries, and at different times of the year, the task of averaging would be a practical impossibility. If purchasing were in the hands of various importers, either the uniform price or the uniform subsidy would have to be abandoned.
During the present year tea has been sold by the Tea Control Board at a uniform price of 2s. 8id. per lb. Some of that tea has cost as much as 6s. per lb. in the producing country, and some as low as 4s. per lb. A uniform subsidy would result in a payment of a certain sum per lb. on all types of tea imported and would impose on the State prices authorities the responsibility of continually changing prices in order to reflect changes in costs. On the other hand, the maintenance of a uniform price would necessitate the adoption of a subsidy system, with payments varying with costs and grades, and the establishment of a checking and testing organization at all Australian ports. The Government could not agree to a subsidy system which would involve it in unlimited liability, nor would it favour the establishment in all ports of the checking and testing organization that would be necessary to operate a fluctuating subsidy scheme. The subsidy plan can operate only as long as the Government controls the purchasing of tea.
The bill provides machinery for the smooth transfer of control from the Tea Control Board to the Tea Importation Board, and contains the usual provisions for staff and finance. It is the policy of this Government to abandon controls, where such a course is possible, and to vacate the field of tea procurement at the earliest possible moment. As soon as conditions become more stable, the tea industry will be asked to take over the task of supplying requirements. For that reason the bill will have a limited life. It will expire on the 30th June, 1952, unless the Governor-General exercises powers embodied in the bill to extend it for periods not exceeding one year at a time. The necessity to continue the control will, therefore, be reviewed periodically so that it may be abandoned as soon as possible.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
Hutt the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill that is now presented is to recover by means of an export duty the subsidy which the Government has allowed in respect of any tea sold in Australia in the event of such tea being exported from the Commonwealth. To ease the cost of tea for the Australian user, the Government is purchasing tea overseas at the normal world price and reselling it at -a lower price within Australia. In effect, a subsidy is thus paid. Tea is exported from Australia mainly as ships’ stores and it is not equitable that tea consumed or sold outside the Commonwealth be obtained at concessional prices which are intended only for local consumers. If provision were not made for the recovery of the difference between the domestic price of tea in Australia and the cost to the Tea Importation Board, the result would be that any overseas consumers who obtained tea from Australia would be in receipt of the price subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. The bill is commended to the favorable attention of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators no doubt know that the collection of excise duty on beer is by means of beer duty stamps sold to brewers and by the affixation of stamps of appropriate value to the casks or, in respect of bottled beer, to the covering cart note. The proposed amendment of section 26 will dispose of any doubt which previously may have arisen consequent on an alteration of the tariff and where some beer had been duly stamped and invoiced, but had not been delivered from the premises of the brewery. By the amendment, statutory authority will be given to the department to operate the changed rates of duty in respect of such undelivered beer, despite the fact that the requisite stamping had already been completed. The amending clause is virtually a drafting measure as current practice is in no way altered.
A provision of the act charges various persons, according to the circumstances, with the responsibility for cutting the duty stamps affixed to casks containing beer. This act of cutting must be performed at the time of the opening of the vessel. The administration of the section concerned - section 37 - has brought to light an anomaly which it is now sought to remove. Although the failure to cut beer stamps affixed to casks which had been tapped constituted an offence if the omission were discovered in course of return transit to a brewery, no liability resulted if the failure to cut the stamp were discovered after the vessel had been returned to brewery premises. The amendment removes the anomaly.
Another difficulty associated with the cutting of stamps arose in instances where hotelkeepers sold beer to customers by the cask. The sale did not relieve the publican of the responsibility placed on him by the law for any omission to cut the stamp, as required, although the beer at the time of opening might well have been beyond his physical control. The amendment provides for the cutting of the stamp immediately prior to delivery by the hotelkeeper in such cases on condition that appropriate written records are kept by him.
Under section 61 of the act it is an offence for beer to be bottled, except in a brewery, for the purpose of sale unless every bottle is labelled as prescribed. Occasionally the department has been handicapped in proceedings taken for failure to attach labels because of the difficulty in proving that the beer had been bottled for sale, despite the obvious intention. The proposal to omit the words, “ for the purpose of sale “ will ease the difficulty in this connexion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 21st November (vide page 2390).
Clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.
First Schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote - Parliament, £593,000 - agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £1,917,000.
– The estimated expenditure on the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom for the current financial year represents an increase of more than £18,000 over actual expenditure last year. Are we to believe from those figures that the present High Commissioner is to be £18,000 more expensive than his predecessor? Surely in these times, when taxes on individuals are being raised and some social services payments are being scaled down, an increase of £18,000 in expenditure on the High Commissioner’s Office may be regarded as somewhat excessive.
– Is the honorable senator against employees of the High Commissioner’s Office receiving the salary increases that have been granted to their colleagues in this country?
– No, but if salaries in Great Britain have increased sufficiently to warrant additional expenditure of £18,000 in the High Commissioner’s Office, surely the United Kingdom is headed for a financial crisis much more serious than that existing in this country, and, as we all know, conditions are bad enough here. Perhaps the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), who has just interjected, can tell me whether the additional money sought this year is required solely to meet salary increases, or whether extra staff has been engaged to meet the needs of the present High Commissioner. Is any portion of the increase to be used to provide more amenities for the High Commissioner? I am not talking merely for talking’s sake. These are things that the public wants to know. If the additional expenditure can be justified, I shall have no objection to it, but if it cannot be . justified, then we in this chamber have a perfect right to criticize it.
– The questions that Senator Aylett has asked can be readily answered. There has been no increase of staff at the High Commissioner’s Office. However, there has been an all-round increase of wages, varying from 15 per cent, on the lower salaries to 1 per cent, on the higher salaries. The Estimates were prepared prior to the presentation of the Pinner report, which is expected to result in a reduction of staff by 102. A substantial proportion of the increased vote is attributable to the fact that 68 employees whose salaries previously were paid by other departments, are now being paid by the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I should like some information in relation to certain items of expenditure under the vote for the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom. Last year, £27,521 was expended under the heading, “Purchase of leases of official residences, including legals costs and renovations “. This year £4,160 is being allocated for the upkeep of official residences. In addition, an allowance of £2,510 is to be made to the High Commissioner for the expenses of the official residence. I understand that that money is required for the payment of salaries to employees at the residences, but it would appear that an allocation of £4,160 is rather large for the upkeep of residences on which. £27,521 was expended last year. I should like to know whether that £4,160 is likely to be an annual charge?
– The answer to the last part of the honorable senator’s question is in the negative. During 1950-51, approval was given for the purchase of two official residences. Stoke Lodge, Hyde Park Gate, was purchased for the High Commissioner only for £24,050, and £3,150 was paid for a residence at 33 Addisonroad, for the Deputy High Commissioner.
Funds were made available pending approval of supplementary estimates. The sale of the lease of the residence occupied by the previous High Commissioner is being arranged.
.- The vote for the Prime Minister’s Department includes the sum of £209,000 for the Commonwealth Office of Education. I should like to know what are the functions of that office? Education is primarily a responsibility of the States, and I have always been opposed to the encroachment of the Commonwealth on fields of State jurisdiction. I should like to know how the sum of £209,0Q0 can usefully be expended on education, when the States are already expending many millions of pounds annually in that field. The vote includes provision for such matters as “ General educational and cultural activities “. Such work is already being done by the States. Another item is “Research projects “. That, too. is a State job. Then we have “ Publications “. I do not know what kind of publications the Commonwealth Office of Education issues, but already the State is well established in that field. Another item is “ Teaching aids “ - again a State responsibility. The only items under the heading “ Miscellaneous “ for which I can see justification so far as the Commonwealth is concerned are “ Adult education projects - Northern Territory “, and “ United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization - expenses “. The vote includes a substantial sum for salaries and allowances and travelling expenses, and I should like to know just what the Commonwealth hopes to achieve in return for this estimated expenditure of £209,000. As I have already said, education is a head of power that is reserved to the States, and I should like to know whether the Commonwealth would be seriously hindered if its expenditure on education were abandoned entirely.
– if had intended to cover some of the ground that Senator Maher has covered. I believe that there is a place for a Commonwealth office of education, but its functions should be specified clearly. In the past there has undoubtedly been some duplication of Commonwealth and State activities in this field. “While I was at the New South’ Wales Teachers’ College in Sydney we had officials coming to make intelligence tests from the State Department of Education and also from the Commonwealth. I believe that lt is the duty of education directors of both the Commonwealth and of the States to confer with a view to eliminating such duplication. I have had experience of the disabilities that exist because of the lack of a common teacher’s certificate. I do not suggest that the Commonwealth authorities should attempt arbitrarily to introduce such a certificate but surely that could be done in collaboration with the education directors in the various States. When I was an examiner in the Department of Education in New South Wales, one of the greatest difficulties that confronted the department was to decide the conditions on which teachers from other States could be admitted to the New South Wales teaching service. I was greatly concerned about the matter, because, after we had laid down certain canons, we found that good teachers in other States bad not acquired qualifications equal to those required by us. There was a time when Victoria had only one year’s training, but New South Wales provided for a -second year. I consider that the time has arrived for housecleaning and agreement between the Commonwealth and the authorities in the various States on what may be done. I do not subscribe to the frequently expressed view that the Office of Education should be abolished. Its functions should be clearly defined and the -educational activities of the States co-ordinated in order to obviate duplication, and so that die Commonwealth wil-1 not seek to exercise authority in connexion with the functions of the States.
– I do not consider that there should T)e a reduction of expenditure on the Office of Education. The Commonwealth has a very great responsibility in the sphere of education, which is very important to our national life. This is one ‘of the few matters on which there is not a national policy. Children in the various States are being educated to become citizens of States instead of citizens of Australia.
During the last financial year, £1,121 was expended on adult education projects in the Northern Territory, but there is to be no allocation for that purpose during this financial year. Does that mean that the adults of the Northern Territory have reached saturation point in education, or has the Office of Education given up the job as hopeless ? There must be some reason for the complete wiping out of the financial provision for adult education in the Northern Territory. It is false economy to curtail expenditure on education. Rather should the pruning knife be applied in other directions.
I agree with Senator McCallum that it is time that the whole field of education in Australia should be investigated and placed on a proper national footing. There should be a standard between the States in relation to teachers. The position in relation to the professions is ridiculous. There is no reciprocity between the universities .and the training colleges. In some instances professional men who are qualified to practise in one State -may not practise in another. Nurses who are qualified to nurse in one State are not qualified to nurse in another State, while those who begin their training in one State must start all over again if it becomes necessary for them to move to another State. The Office of Education ^should carry out a good deal of research work. Honorable senators could, with advantage, pay more attention to what is being done in the Office of Education in the very limited sphere in which it can work. The proposed vote should be increased considerably. This is one sphere of Commonwealth activity that could be productive of much .good for the community as a whole. Its activities should be widened in order to develop an Australian spirit in education generally.
– From the point of view of a child, I could imagine nothing more soul-destroying than to ‘be subject to an educational system controlled from Canberra.
– Tt need not necessarily be standardized.
– Senator Tangney has propounded the virtues of building up an education service here, so that the children’ would become little citizens of Canberra.
– That i3 ridiculous!
– I think that we should do everything possible to prevent the growth of a Commonwealth education service that would tend towards a more organized and socialized system. I understand that a considerable portion of the money that it is proposed to allocate for purposes connected with the Office of Education will be applied for the provision of education services for new Australians. That is a function that the States could handle adequately.
– It is being done through the States.
– Teachers have been attracted by higher salaries to leave State education services and join the Commonwealth service for the express purpose of teaching new Australians. With the cessation of that function, they are now seeking re-employment in the State services. Of course they will lose a certain amount of seniority. It was a most unfortunate circumstance that provoked this Government to build up an education service for the express purpose of teaching new Australians, because the States are providing new Australians with work.
– The Common-* wealth is co-operating with the States.
– There is no reason why the State education services should not have been requested to carry out this work. The position at Northam, in Western Australia, i3 ludicrous. Commonwealth teachers are teaching new Australians at the camp, while State teachers are teaching them at the schools. I contend that we should be very careful about what is happening in this embryo department. There will be fatal consequences to the children of this country if it is allowed to usurp services and functions that should be properly carried out by the States.
– With the aspirations of those, including Senator Tangney, who look to an advancement of education, I am sure every member of this chamber agrees. However, I should like the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to state what constitutional justification exists for expenditure on the Office of Education. In the absence of such justification, I submit that we are doing a disservice by interfering with functions that are the preserves of the States. The States are jealous of the jurisdiction which they exercise over educational matters. Whilst education is too often made the plaything of party politics in the States, the people of the States have sufficient sagacity to select their own parliamentarians. I am concerned that the right of the States to control public life and administration within their borders shall be preserved to them. I raise the constitutional aspect of this matter from the point of view of protection of State rights.
By establishing the Commonwealth Office of Education, I suggest that the Chifley Government showed itself to be embarrassed by the riches it had acquired by despoiling the States as ‘recently as 1942. So far, there has been no readjustment. If, embarrassed by our riches, we yield to the very natural temptation to which Senator Tangney referred, and spend money on laudable purposes which are outside our constitutional limits, because of the confusion that will be .created, a disservice will be done to the purpose at which all of us aim.
– This discussion has brought forth disturbing, though no doubt sincere, views about an important national matter. I do not think that any substance exists in the statements that have ‘been made by honorable senators opposite in their attempts to belittle the actions of previous governments. Senator Wright referred to the action that was taken by the Chifley Government in 1942. I suggest that events have proved that it is impossible to reason with the honorable senator once he has made up his mind. However, I am of the opinion that the action taken by the Chifley Government was necessary because of the circumstances in existence at that time and that it was wise from a national point of view.
What concerns me is that education, whether administered by Labour or nonLabour governments, has not progressed as quickly as it should have done. It is apparent from these estimates that certain functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education are to be curtailed and that expenditure during this financial year will be less than it was in the last financial year. In the light of constantly increasing costs, to my mind that is alarming. I have no objection to economy provided that a real saving is effected. When one turns to the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Office of Education, it will be seen that the estimated expenditure for this financial year for salaries and payments ‘ in the nature of salary is £171,000, compared with an actual expenditure of £226,735 last year. I point out that the actual expenditure last year exceeded the estimated expenditure by £36,735. It is disturbing to note that salaries and payments in the nature of salary are to be curtailed this year, and I trust that that does not mean that the activities of the office will also be curtailed.
It is also apparent that the general expenses listed under section b are to be decreased. I appreciate that education lends itself to the employment of temporary and casual teachers, and I hope that the Government will appreciate that the salaries of temporary and casual employees will continue to rise. Salaries and payments in the nature of salary to temporary and casual employees last year amounted to £106,318, whereas the estimated expenditure for this financial year is only £64,000.
I join with Senator Tangney in the hope that the educational projects in the Northern Territory will not be prejudiced because the schedule makes no provision for expenditure in that connexion during the present financial year. It is, of course, the duty of the Government to curtail expenditure wherever possible, but it should not do so at the risk of destroying the value of previous efforts to improve educational standards in this country, I say to honorable senators who habitually speak of the rights of the
States that if they have such a hatred of Canberra they should reconsider their position here. If they dp so, perhaps the envious thousands who are waiting to fill their places will gain comfort from the fact that some honorable senators are dissatisfied.
– I congratulate Senator Maher and Senator McCallum on having made a careful review of the proposed expenditure by the Commonwealth Office of Education and for having reviewed the work which that office performs. I support the contention that if we are to have a Commonwealth Office of Education its functions should be limited to coordinating the educational standards which apply in the various States, as far as both the children in the schools and their teachers are concerned.
If honorable senators turn to the schedule of salaries and allowances at page 144, they will see a list of the positions within the Office of Education. I suggest that they will find it difficult to understand why so many officers should be employed on the simple task of coordination. The officers include a director, two assistant directors - there were three last year - an assistant secretary and six officers in charge. I take it that there is an officer in charge in each of the six States. If that is correct, it is hard to understand why such a staff is necessary in order merely to co-ordinate educational activities in the various States. The list also includes 45 education officers, including a cadet officer, 40 officers designated as accountant and chief clerk, sub-accountant, senior clerk, accountants and clerks, and 35 others who are described as typists, librarian and assistants. It seems to me that there is some ground to support the contention that has been made by some honorable senators that this office is exceeding the functions of co-ordination for which it was established and is engaging in a sphere which should be left to the States.
Also on page 144, reference is made to allowances to officers performing duties of a higher class, officers on loan from other departments and on unattached list, district allowance, cost of living, United
Kingdom allowance, and exchange on salary paid abroad. Why this office should need to have an officer stationed in the United Kingdom is difficult to understand. I admit that I speak in ignorance of the matter, and if an explanation can be given concerning the activities of that officer I shall be glad to hear it.
I hope that no attempt is being made to encroach on the activities of the State Departments of Education which, in my opinion, have successfully performed educational functions in the past and are capable of doing so in the future.
– I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) to give a brief outline of the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education before the various items concerned are put to the vote. I should be loath at any time to condemn expenditure that is made in the interests of education in Australia. Too little is being done at the present time, and I consider that whatever the Australian Government may be able to do to further education will be worthwhile. Honorable senators have heard the extraordinary statement to-day that this Parliament is trying to make all the children of Australia little citizens of Canberra. I suggest that people who make statements such as that obviously need a great deal more education. I confess that I am not up to date concerning the functions of the Office of Education, but I can visualize the important task that such a body might perform. I am not satisfied that the educational authorities in the various States are so completely aware of all the problems concerning education that the Commonwealth Parliament should not devote a small amount of the proposed vast expenditure for this financial year to the solution of some of those problems.
I, too, wish to refer to the item concerning adult education projects in the Northern Territory. Last year £6,000 was voted for that purpose, and only £1,121 was expended. I take it that almost £5,000 remains in hand, but I should like to know why. if it was thought that £6^000 could usefully be expended last year and was voted by the Parlia ment, a much smaller sum was in fact spent. I consider that the Northern Territory is an area in which the Commonwealth might do much more in the way of education than is being done at the present time.
– I believe that the State governments have systematically and consistently financially starved their departments of education. For that reason, I consider it is time that the Australian Government took a stand in the matter. A nation’s greatest asset is its trained and educated men and women. When we find that departments of education are being starved by politicians who are only halfeducated at most, we can appreciate the handicap under which those departments labour. As Senator Tangney has said, our education system needs to be revised. The present system is based mainly on deductive reasoning. Our students are not taught to reason inductively in order to ascertain the truth of the problems with which they are confronted and which they are required to solve. The result is that the community has not been educated to the degree that is desirable. That is’ why the Chifley Government introduced a scheme to assist students who had matriculated.
Sitting suspended from 12.b5 to 2.80 p.m.
– When war broke out, we found that thousands of young men and women had to be educated in order to fit them for the tasks they had to perform, and classes were established in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney as part of the aircraft production programme. If sufficient attention had been paid to education in the States that would not have been necessary. When I was president of the Melbourne Technical College in 1938, I suggested that the thousands of young people who were idling their time away in the streets should be enrolled as technical students, paid the basic wage, and trained for various occupations ; but then, as now, the cry was that the money was not available. Then, when the war broke out, we had to undertake the joh that should have been done before.
This Government has introduced a depression budget, and proposes to starve education in the interests of wealthy taxpayers. That sort of thing will continue so long as we have in power governments which put the interests of the wealthy before its obligation to the young people growing up. Instead of the grant for education being reduced it should be increased. Unless something is done in that direction we shall be worse off in the event of another war than we were in 1939, because there will not be available enough trained men and women. I agree with Senator Tangney that we should enlarge our education system. Experts in education should be consulted, and t” them, rather than to governments, should be allotted the task of drawing up curriculums worthy of the name. However, I do not expect that to be clone while the present Government remains in office.
.- The proposed vote for the Commonwealth Office of Education is not nearly large enough. Apparently, the attitude of the Government is that education should be left to the States. When the Commonwealth Office of Education was established, I hoped that it was merely the forerunner of something bigger and better to come, but my hopes were illfounded. The functions of the office, especially on the financial side, should be centralized. The Commonwealth holds the purse strings and it should appoint a board to ensure that the standard of education in the States is raised. We should develop a certain measure of standardization throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. At. present, the variation of standards as between one State and another is too great. Moreover, those States which expend a large amount of money on education, are liable to be penalized through the operations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and that is one reason why the standard of education in some States is lower than it ought to be. Most people no longer live out their lives in the same village, or even in the same State. With the improvement of transport people move freely from one State to another. Certain standards of education should be prescribed throughout all the States, so that when children move from one State to another they can be easily fitted into their appropriate grades. As things now are, a child moving from one State to another may find that in his new State he is one or two grades behind other children of the same age, and that has a harmful psychological effect on the child himself.
– What subjects should be standardized?
– I should say the “ three R’s I would not suggest that standardization be carried beyond the intermediate grades. Teachers are prone to live within themselves because they are much in contact with children, and for the same reason they tend to become somewhat autocratic. I suggest that there ought to be a standard certificate for teachers that would be recognized in all parts of Australia, so that teachers may move freely from one State to another, and so widen their experience. Such a certificate might be issued through the Commonwealth Office of Education. If teachers were to move about freely as 1 have suggested, they would tend to develop wider vision, something which would be of great value, particularly at this time.
– Some honorable senators seem to think that because a particular vote labelled “Education” has been reduced, the total vote for education has been reduced, but that is not so. The reduction is mainly for administration services, and whether justified or not, it does not represent a reduction of the total vote for education. Under Division 181, there is an item of £1,496,000, which represents Commonwealth grants to universities. The making of those grants is an important forward step, and indicates the sympathy of the Government with the universities, which are, in a sense, the foundation of education because, if university standards are not high, standards will not be high in primary and secondary schools. Under Miscellaneous Services £2,215,000 is provided for various education services. It is not necessary to standardize education in order to < bring about various standards in the various States. Indeed, that would be the worst way in which to attempt to achieve the purpose in view. The danger would be that there might be established a fixed standard that would become the maximum. It might be a good thing to fix a minimum standard, but the State education authorities should be encouraged to improve on that standard. I agree that it would be a good thing to issue transferable certificates, perhaps through the Commonwealth Office of Education, but the Commonwealth should not attempt to impose its will on the State authorities. The States should decentralize their own education offices until ultimately, as the population of the country increases, shires, counties and municipalities would participate more and more in education as is the case in Great Britain, the United States of America and Canada. I emphasize the fact that we need co-ordination of education, partly through the instrumentality of the Commonwealth Office of Education, and not centralized federal control.
, - Senator Arnold asked about the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education. They are set out in section 5 (2.) of the Education Act 1945. The honorable senator also asked for information regarding the vote of £6,000 provided last year for adult education projects in the Northern Territory, of which only £1,121 was expended. As Senator McCallum has pointed out, that vote covered administrative expenses and not the total expenditure on education in the territory. It had nothing to do with the maintenance and sustenance of schools in the territory. It was intended to cover the costs, of operating a mobile cinema unit for the exhibition of films in the territory. The whole of the vote was not utilized. It is not the function of the Commonwealth Office of Education to superimpose services ou those already provided by the States. It would be the height of folly to “suggest that we should establish schools side by side and in competition with those established by the States. The administrative expenses of the Office of Education have been reduced, not because the Commonwealth is less interested in education, but because it is able to maintain its education services at lower cost. Functions which more properly belong to the
States have been handed back to the States. The Commonwealth Office of Education does not compete with the States, but fills in the nooks and crannies in State undertakings. As Senator McCallum has reminded us, for the first time in history the Commonwealth is making grants to State universities amounting to nearly £1,500,000.
– Were not grants to universities first provided by the Chifley Government ?
– No. The Chifley Government introduced a university scholarship system, but it did not remain in office long enough to implement it.
– I agree with the Minister that it did not remain in office long enough.
– In addition to approximately £1,500,000 which the Commonwealth proposes to grant to universities it will also provide scholarships of an aggregate value of £709,000 to assist those undergoing university courses.
The points I emphasize are that we are reducing the cost of administration of the Commonwealth Office of Education, and that we are spending substantially more on educational grants and the provision of benefits to those who wish to pursue higher education than we have in the past-
– I refer to Division 16 - United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization expenses. Western Australia is lagging far behind the other States in the distribution of money for that purpose.
– I still have not been persuaded by anything that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) has said that he can justify the provision of £209,000 for the Commonwealth Office of Education, which merely duplicates the work of the States. It is gratifying to hear that nearly £1,500,000 is to be provided by the Commonwealth for State universities. I wholly endorse that provision. If the Commonwealth Office of Education were wiped out altogether and the amount now provided for it were set aside over a period of five years, an additional £1,000,000 could be made available to State universities and used to better purpose in the interests of higher education. The amount now spent on the Office of Education should be handed to the States and utilized for the building of schools and the extension of State education over many fields instead of being used to keep a lot of “ tall poppies “ in good, comfortable jobs in a Commonwealth instrumentality. I cannot see how the Minister can justify the retention in the Commonwealth Office of Education of a large number of highly paid officers. That instrumentality is somewhat analogous to the Portuguese army, which is reputed to be composed mostly of generals. Are we getting value from their employment? I do not think that we are.
– The Senate should understand that the Estimates and budget-papers were in the hands of the Government Printer before certain reductions of staff had been effected. It will be observed that the vote for the Commonwealth Office of Education has been reduced from £260,000 last year to £209,000 this year. In the years ahead progressive reductions of the vote will be made as functions performed by it are handed over to the States. There are certain fields of education which the Commonwealth cannot vacate. I assure honorable senators that those functions that can best he performed by the States will be handed over to them. As the years go by, Senator McCallum will no doubt be gratified to see the vote for the Commonwealth Office of Education progressively reduced while the Commonwealth still continues to expend approximately the same amount on education generally.
Senator Robertson referred to the vote for expenses in connexion with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. That item is not intended to cover the branches of the United Nations organizations established in the States. It covers the expenses of the international co-operative body, representation at overseas conferences and seminars, publicity on Unesco, films on the activities of Unesco, the international theatre institute, exhibitions of aboriginal culture and assistance to State and national seminars and special investigation expenses. The vote is not allocated to any particular State.
Senator Vincent referred to the vote for the education of immigrants. There seems to be some misunderstanding about that matter. The vote for that purpose is expended on the education, not of immigrant children but immigrant adults, the chief item of which is education in the English language. Money expended for that purpose is very wisely expended. The vote will not be used, as some honorable senators seem to think, for the purpose of establishing special schools for immigrants.
– An amount of £160,000 has been provided under Division 191 for the express purpose of educating non-British migrants. It would appear that the education of child migrants will be covered by that provision.
– The vote to which the honorable senator has referred comes under the Department of Immigration and is completely independent of the vote for the Office of Education.
– 1 disagree with any honorable senator who contends that, we should have a standardized system of education. I agree with Senator McCallum that what we need is greater co-ordination in the education field than we have achieved in the past. For that reason I should like the vote for the Commonwealth Office of Education to be increased. We are a very young country and the existence of a Commonwealth Office of Education at Canberra enables the Commonwealth to render a very valuable service in the coordination of education throughout Australia. I favour the issue of standard teachers’ certificates, even though it is most unlikely that teachers will transfer from, one State to another unless, of course, extremely high salaries paid in one State result in the mass migration of teachers to that State. A minimum standard of education should be provided for teachers.
I am still worried about the grant to the United Nations organization. A. representative of the Western Australian branch of the United Nations organization approached me a few weeks ago. and informed mp. that that branch had not received a grant fi:om the Commonwealth to carry on the work of education in Western Australia this year. L was asked, to endeavour to ascertain what had happened to it. I was under the impression that it would be provided from the votes of the Commonwealth Office of Education.
– Perhaps it would be as well for me to state the items upon which the vote of £S,S00 is to be expended. They comprise the expenses of the National Cooperating Bodies, £3,300 ;. representation at overseas conferences and seminars, £S00; publicity on Unesco, £1,000; films on the activities of Unesco, £1,500; international theatre institute, £100; and exhibition of aboriginal culture, £2,100.
– 1 refer to Division .15 - Commonwealth Grants Commission- for which the vote is £14,000-. The three members of the commission play a new Scotch trick-
– A Scotch trick?
– They assess the amount of grants that should be payable to the States and override the constitutional powers of the sovereign States. They virtually decide what State projects and undertakings are urgent and what are not.
– Rubbish !
– It is the prerogative of the commission to decide which State projects are essential and which are not, despite the views of the elected governments of the sovereign States about them.
– The Commonwealth Grants Commission merely makes ‘recommendations..
– Many honorable senators who are new to the Senate would do well to study the powers vested in the commission.
to order.. I have no desire to prevent Senator Aylett from continuing, but I point out that a message has just come from another place stating that it has agreed to an amendment to the States Grants Bill. The honorable senator will have more time to express his sentiments about the Commonwealth Grants Commission when that bill is before us, and I respectfully suggest that he should save his remarks about the commission until then.
– I shall confine myself to the point that I wish to raise which is an item on page 130’ under “ States Grants Commission “. Is the secretary’s aLlowance to be increased from £1,360 in 1951 to £1,855, or is an extra secretary to be employed?
– The se has been given a rise.
– That is one of the things I want to find out. The secretary is to be given a rise of nearly £500. Is that increase fixed by the Public Service Commissioner or by the Minister ? The typists are to be given another £260. Is that increase to be fixed in the same ratio- as that for the secretary? These are expenses of administration and I want to know if everybody is. to be given the same increase? Honorable senators hear a great deal about the increase in the basic wage and how it reflects o;n, prices, but we hear very little from the Minister about increases such as. this one of £500 to a secretary.
– The s and allowances are in accordance with rates fixed by arbitration award, Public Service regulations, or. other competent authority.
– I do not know ‘ whether the Public Service Board or a competent authority fixed these increases. For the amount of work that these commissions do and the time occupied, is th: expenditure of £9Q0 for typing alone justified? Does the work warrant nearly £2,000 for a secretary? If it does, I say that there are many others in Australia on a much lower salary who are doing more important work and who are entitled, to an increase in wages. How many typists are employed by the three commissars in the Commonwealth Grant* Commission and by the secretary? Are there one or two or are the typists engaged on a part-time basis? The commissars scrutinize State expenditure so closely that we are entitled to pay just as close attention to their expenditure.
– I rise to order. Is it competent for the honorable senator to refer to a secretarial staff as commissars, a term which is used in Russia?
– There is no point of order.
– I did not refer to any secretarial staff as commissars. The commissioners tighten the screw to such an extent against the wish of the elected government that we are entitled to give their expenditure the closest scrutiny.
– Dealing with the question of increases and whether they are merited or not, I hope that the honorable senator’s conscience and interest will be constant if the matter is raised again. As to the number of typists, there are two. The increase is approved by the Public Service Board.
– I wish to refer to Division 13, National Library, “ collection and publication of Australian historical records, £1,000 The amount budgeted for last year was £1,000, but the vote was exceeded by £2,0S5. Yet the vote for this year is unaltered. Australia is reaching :i position of national development where the preservation of national archives is becoming a great responsibility and should receive tie support of honorable- senators. In times of financial stringency things we would like to do have to go by the board, but I should have thought that the stimulus of jubilee year would have given impetus to this question of the collection of national historical documents. As the expenditure last, year exceeded the vote,. I should’ have thought that a greater amount would be provided this year. A great deal of money has been spent on the jubilee of the Commonwealth. I believe that a small sum. could have been given, for half a dozen research scholarships so that competent persons’ could travel about Australia with instruments to record the historical reminiscences of some of the great and aged citizens who have been leaders in commerce and industry for the last ‘50 years. They could have placed on record impressions and recollections which would have been of inestimable value to the nation and otherwise would be lost.
– What about the women pioneers? Would the honorable senator include them?
– Certainly. I believe that many important historical reminiscences could have been recorded so that they would be available to research students. I commend that suggestion to the Government for consideration.
, - The point raised by the honorable, senator is well worth consideration. The Government has the preservation of historical records close to its heart. I assure the Senate that the amount spent this year on this item will be more than £1,000. That amount is shown on the schedule because certain reimbursements are received by the respective States for work done on their behalf by this department. Those amounts have not come to hand. They will do so during the currency of the year and not less than the amount expended last year will be spent this year. As to the preservation of records of current events of national importance, the Australian. Broadcasting Commission has recorded and will preserve the records of outstanding speeches and occasions during jubilee year. I understand that the policy of the Government is to arrange that records of outstanding national events will be preserved foa- generations to come.
Proposed vote agreed to.
DEpARTMENT’ of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £1,568,000.
– The estimated expenditure for the Department of External Affairs for the financial year is £1,568,000 compared with £1,344,494 expended for the previous twelve months. That is an increase of £223j506 for this department in the appropriation that is now being considered. I do not know how that is made up “and whether it is the result of increased personnel in embassies, legations and high commissions, or whether it is the result of higher salaries. I notice, however, under the heading of embassies the expenditure for Division 18, the embassy in the United States of America, shows an increase of nearly £32,000 over last year’s expenditure. In Division 36, Consular Representation abroad, nearly £36,000 more than last year’s expenditure is provided. I do not propose to be critical of this expenditure, but in view of the large number of embassies, legations and high commissions representing the Commonwealth overseas, I believe that we should have more information. I should like the Minister to tell the committee the reason for the increased vote for the embassy in the United States of America and for consular representation abroad.
– I agree with Senator Nash that the increases he has mentioned must cause every senator to wonder if Australia is getting value for the money that is being spent. It is amazing to find that so much has been expended on embassies, legations and high commissions in countries with which Australia has very little to do. I am surprised, for instance, to find that expenditure on an embassy in China is only £12,000, because I regard China as very important to the development of Australia.
– Where would the honorable senator establish such an embassy ?
– That is what 1 would like to find out. I am surprised that the embassy in Eire is voted only £16,000. Something should be done about that because there are many channels of trade with that country and many people of Irish extraction in Australia. An ambassador to Eire has not been appointed for two years, but Australia is spending £35,000 on the Brazilian legation. I ask the Minister to inform the committee what value is being obtained from Brazil for this expenditure of £35,000. Have we a trade commissioner in Brazil as well as a diplomatic repre sentative? If so, what trade negotiations, if any, are being carried on?
I believe that our bonds with the sister dominion of South Africa should be strengthened, but I notice that the estimated expenditure on Australian representation in that country is only £25,000. Whilst I do not suggest that value received is necessarily commensurate with expenditure, I believe that everything possible should be done to foster co-operation between Australia and South Africa. If our ties can be strengthened by increasing expenditure on the Australian High Commissioner’s office in that country, we should have no hesitation in providing the necessary funds, even at the expense of representation in some other countries. When I visited South Africa a few years ago, I was astonished at the work that was being done there by the Australian High Commissioner in spite of his small staff and limited facilities. Amongst South Africans I found considerable interest in Australia. In a country of the size of South Africa, and with such a decentralization of population, it is difficult for a small staff to accomplish all the work that has to be done at the office of the High Commissioner. I believe, therefore, that this is one phase of the activities of the Department of External Affairs that could well be extended. I should like to hear from the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs some account of what is being accomplished generally by Australian representatives overseas. We are expending approximately £1,500,000 on representation abroad and, of that figure, approximately £450,000 is required for administrative expenses. Representation in the United States of America will cost no less than £204,000. That proportion seems to me to be rather top-heavy.
– I should like to know something about the proposed expenditure of £6,300 on Australian representation at Geneva. We must realize that our Department of External Affairs grew, mushroom-like, during the war years. I do not protest against that, but I believe that the time has come for a review of the department’s activities with the object of establishing a definite principle on which to base Australian representation abroad. Prestige should not be the only consideration. Senator Tangney mentioned Eire. I think it will be found, that although Eire is an independent republic, much of the business of that country is still done through London. That fact must be taken into account. There may or may not be justification for an Australian embassy in Brazil. I do not know why we have diplomatic representation there. I should like to know. A perusal of the details of expenditure on representation overseas reveals an apparent disproportion in some instances. 1 consider that there should be some liaison between the United Kingdom Foreign Office and the Australian Department of External Affairs in some countries at least. It would be regrettable indeed if in any country there were to be rivalry, or worse still, hostility, between the representatives of members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Surely, in some countries, Australia could be content to have an officer attached to the office of the United Kingdom, at least until such time as trad? and other relations indicated that independent Australian representation was desirable. Certainly we must have an ambassador in the United States of America and in some other countries, but the important point to be borne in mind is that the more we expend on proliferation of activities, the less we can afford to pay our officers. It is more important that our ambassadors and other representatives should be well paid than that we should be represented everywhere in the world.
– Estimated expenditure under the heading “ Other representation abroad” is £64,000. The items on. which this money is to be expended include, “Salaries and allowances” and “ Temporary and casual employees “. The sum of £24,400 is included for “ general expenses” in relation to representation in the United Kingdom and Malaya. I should like some explanation of those items.
– Expenditure on the Australian embassy in Russia is estimated at £89,000, or approximately £22,000 more than was expended last year. Has that increase become necessary because of inflation in the Soviet Union, or have the salaries of officials of the embassy been substantially increased ?
– I, too, would like an explanation of the increase from £67,468 to £89,000 in the vote for the Australian embassy in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs inform me how many officials are employed at the embassy ?
– Much of the increased expenditure on Australian representation overseas has been necessitated by a circumstance which members of the Opposition are never prepared to recognize. I refer to the fact that inflation is not confined to Australia but is general throughout the world to-day, with the result that higher salaries have to be paid everywhere. In addition, other charges including the cost of cables, have increased considerably. Cable costs represent a substantial item of expenditure by the Department of External Affairs. Honorable senators should realize, therefore, that, in the circumstances, the increase of estimated expenditure overseas is not extraordinary. Senator Tangney referred particularly to representation in China. We have not an ambassador in that country at present. In the schedule of salaries and allowances, the honorable senator will find set out the normal expenditure for an embassy in China. The total of the items listed is £29,536. and from that sum there is deducted the amount of £25,736, which is the sum “ estimated to remain unexpended for positions vacant or subject to approval by competent authority “. By that means, the figure of £3,800 which appears in the Estimates under the heading, “ Salaries and payments in the nature of salary”, is arrived at. The department has found it necessary to make provision this year to cover approximately three months’ expenditure on salaries and general expenses, fares, and removal expenses of members of the staff of the embassy on their transfer to Australia.
asked about the proposed expenditure on representation in Geneva. I am informed that the Australian staff in Geneva includes a consulgeneral, a second secretary, a- third secretary, a consular clerk and a typist. Details of expenditure under the heading, Other representation abroad “, to which Senator Critchley referred, are set out in the schedule of salaries and allowances. For instance, the Australian External Affairs office in London has a counsellor, first, second and third secretaries. Reference has been made to the increased cost of representation in the Soviet Union. That has been necessitated largely by salary increases, higher charges, the exchange rate, and other items of that kind.
– I quite agree with Senator McCallum’s contention that there should be greater liaison between Great Britain and Australia. I consider that Australia has adopted a very weak, approach to the subject of external affairs. Whenever the necessity arises to send a delegation overseas, the question of costs becomes important. Frequently, we find ourselves at a tremendous disadvantage when controversies arise, because we are not as well informed about foreign affairs as we should be. Apropos of what Senator McCallum has stated, I consider that the introduction of Australian passports was a mistake. Irrespective of the fact that the present system was introduced by the former Labour Government, I consider that when a mistake is made it should be admitted. When some young lady friends of mine, who were working girls, visited England not long ago, they took jobs there in order to earn enough money to visit the Continent. In Europe they found that they were at a tremendous disadvantage compared with English girls, whose British passports were accepted universally. Tha Australian girls were forced to work through queues on a number of occasions, as a result of the stupid introduction of the Australian passport. I hope that this Government will seriously consider the desirability of reverting to British passports. When British people who have lived in Australia for a period of years return to England, they are unable to obtain British passports because of the length of time that they have resided in
Australia, and they cannot obtain Australian passports in England because they are only visitors. That state of affairs should be remedied.
I shall now address myself to the subject of Australian representation in South Africa, which is one of the most important countries in the world to-day. There may be a flare up there at any moment. Dr. Malan is likely to seize the British protectorates of Swaziland, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland. In view of the delicate situation there, Australia should be represented in South Africa by the best man that we can obtain. I do not believe that anything good can be obtained cheaply. What is known as the “Cape Coloured “ problem is a very vexed matter. Anybody who has studied the problems confronting South Africa knows that the Dutch have been intermingling with the natives for more than 300 years. It is virtually impossible to distinguish some of the socalled coloured people from whites. They are spread over five or six different constituencies in Cape Province. As they hawbeen deprived of the right to vote, it ilikely now that Dr. Malan’s party will win the seats for those constituencies.
We should also station one of our best men at Natal, where the coloured population is about nine times as large as thi’ white population. I have some knowledge of conditions in Natal, because’ two of my sisters live there. .1 admit that that factor alone would not necessarily result in my knowing a great deal about the subject.
– They may be very wise women.
– If they are like their brother, they would be wise. There are nine coloured people to every white person in that province. The population of Durban comprises Indians, natives, and whites, in approximately equal numbers. Not long ago, there was a serious riot between the Indians and the coloured people, many of whom were killed in Durban in one night. About 60 per cent, of the white population of South Africa are Boers. Predikants and Boer Brothers go about trying to get all the jobs for the Boers. All of these problems are very important, when linked with other problems concerning the coloured peoples throughout the world. They are very important to us. If we had a good man there, who could study the problems of the coloured people on the spot, he could keep the Australian Government well informed. Some people contend that the coloured peoples should be wiped out altogether. We are trying to prevent the coloured problem from arising in Australia.
– Have we not a good man in South Africa?
– I am not suggesting that we have not, but the salary provided for Australian representation in South Africa is only £A.2,500, although South Africa is a sterling country. I do not consider that we can obtain the services of a good man for that salary.
– Australia is obtaining the honorable senator’s services for £1,500 a year.
– I hope that the amount of our allowance will be increased before long. However, in all seriousness, I hope that the Government will consider the aspect of the matter that I have brought forward. Senator McCallum has made a deep study of this subject and he knows, as, indeed, we all do, that South Africa is virtually on the brink of a volcano. Thousands of natives ava employed in various capacities in that country. I understand that it is undesirable for a white man to venture out alone in Johannesburg at night-time, and -quite unsafe for a white woman to do so.
Brazil is also a tremendously important country. It is not generally realized that the area of Brazil is greater than is the area of Australia or the United States of America. Brazil has not been developed to a great extent, and should be a very fertile field for Australian investment. Semi-tropical products that are grown in Brazil might grow in the northern parts of Australia, and if we had a good man there probably he would be able to do some good for us.
Argentina is the most highly developed country in South America, and we should not complain about expending too much money on our representation in that country. I consider that our whole outlook on the subject of Australian representation :abroad is parsimonious and parochial. “We have only to look at a map of the world to realize the importance of Australia, from a geographical point of view. As the result of our participation in two world wars, the eyes of the world are upon this country, and we should not object to the expenditure of the money necessary to obtain the services of the best men to represent us abroad.
I shall conclude by emphasizing that remedial action should be taken in connexion with Australian passports. I do not see why Australians - whether natural-born or by adoption - should be at a disadvantage compared with Canadians, British, Scotch or Irish people.
– For the first time since I have been a member of this chamber, I am entirely in agreement with Senator Grant. I have been astounded at the criticisms of some honorable senators about the amounts that we expend on our diplomatic services. I think that that is a dreadful attitude for this National Parliament to adopt. Although we do not know details of expenditure under this heading, surely we should look at the overall picture. Primarily, the job of a diplomat is to do his best to prevent us from getting into trouble with another country. Bluntly, his job is to prevent war that may be imminent. The proposed vote for Australian representation abroad in this financial year is £1,568,000, and the proposed vote for miscellaneous services connected therewith is £973,000. When we consider that Australia will be expending about £180,000,000 during this financial year on preparations for war, the amount expended for our diplomatic representation abroad could bc regarded as a cheap insurance premium. If our expenditure on such representation will in any way assist to prevent another world war, it is justified.
. - Members of the Opposition are asking for explanations, to which they are justly entitled. They will continue to do so until they receive satisfactory explanations. I have not stated that the proposed expenditure on Australian representation abroad is unwarranted. As I have already pointed out, the vote for salaries and payments in the nature of salary in respect of the Australian Embassy in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for 1950-51 was £56,200, of which only £36,970 was expended. The proposed vote for this financial year is £57,000. 1 should like the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to say whether the Government expects to effect a similar saving of about £20,000 under this heading during this financial year.
– In view of some of the observations that have been made from this side of the chamber I consider that the Government would be well advised to review the general matter of Australian representation in the Netherlands, Eire, Brazil and Israel, which involve altogether an estimated expenditure of £112,000 a year. I hope that if similar appropriation is requested next year the Government will be prepared to justify it.
– In view of the comments that have been made by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber regarding diplomatic representation, would the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) be good enough to inform the Senate of the basis upon which diplomatic representation at certain levels is made? I appreciate that the intensity of commercial or social relations, and perhaps even the geographical position or the military significance of one nation to another, would have some bearing upon the matter. Reason appears to exist for certain countries to be accorded representation on a higher level than has in fact been accorded to them. It may be agreed, on a basis of reciprocity, that if we send an ambassador to a certain country that country will be represented here by an ambassador. I point out that we have firm trade relations with Italy, and that that country has sent many thousands of immigrants to Australia. Will the Minister be good enough to indicate broadly the. basis upon which foreign representation in this country is determined ?
– Since I had the opportunity to go overseas and meet a number of our diplomatic representatives and their staffs, I have come to the conclusion that the Government should assist those officers to maintain a high standard in order that they will not be at a disadvantage compared with the representatives of other countries. Associated with our diplomats are the diplomatic staffs, who are very often forgotten. I met a number of such officers in the United States of America, Egypt, Eire and the United Kingdom who were affected adversely because their remuneration was not sufficient to meet the cost of living in those countries. Accordingly, they had been impoverished. I have no doubt that because of the worldwide inflationary trend they are still suffering economic hardship. I wish to know whether the Department of External Affairs is in a position to ensure that when the cost-of-living adjustments are made in Australia they shall also be extended to diplomatic staffs who represent this country abroad.
Senator SPICER (Victoria - AttorneyGeneral) T3.49]. - Having regard to what I have already said, I think that it is apparent that a great deal of the increase shown in the estimated expenditure of the Department of External Affairs is associated with increased salaries and allowances which, as one might expect, are on a scale similar to the salaries and allowances paid to many officers of the Government in this country.
When reference is made to the basis of Australian representation abroad, and the means by which the level of representation is determined, I should not like, without more study of the question, to embark upon a detailed discussion of the matter. I understand, however, that the position is that agreement with the other country concerned has a great deal to do with the basis of representation that is adopted. The nature of the representation arrived at by agreement with the other country will depend very largely upon the closeness of our relationship with that country, its importance in the scheme of things from our point of view, the intensity of our trade relations, and so on. The result is that while our representation in a certain country will be at the level of an embassy, an exchange of high commissioners will -meet the position as far as other countries are concerned. Those are the matters which enter into the determination of the level of representation to be adopted. I merely state them without laying down hard and fast rules concerning the manner in which such matters are determined.
Reference has been made to the small increase of estimated expenditure on account of the embassy in Eire. Apparently, some honorable senators consider that the proposed expenditure is not sufficient. The position is that we have never had an ambassador in Eire, although at one time a High Commissioner represented us in that country. Since then, the post has been raised to the level of an embassy, although no ambassador has been appointed. In the present estimates provision is made for salaries and allowances for an ambassador for six months on the assumption that an ambassador will be appointed during the course of this year. Accordingly, the estimate covers salary for only six months. Provision has also been made for the salaries of a charge d’affaires at counsellor range and a first secretary for six months, and for a third secretary and typist for the whole year. At the moment a charge d’affaires is operating at the embassy, and consequently the expenses of that office will not be as high as they would be if the whole establishment were actually operating.
Something of that kind is also true of South Africa.- There is a vacancy for a High Commissioner in that country at the present time, the former High Commissioner having gone to The Hague. Provision has been made in the estimates for the salary of a High Commissioner, but only for a period of eight months.
– Has that position been vacant for more than twelve months ?
– I understand that it has been vacant for a little while. I have no doubt that the positions in Eire and South Africa will be considered by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) when he comes back from overseas. I appreciate the remarks that have been made by Senator Grant and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber concerning the importance of the posts in South Africa and Eire. Honor able senators may rest assured that their remarks will be considered by the Minister. I shall direct his attention to them.
– Was the position of ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics vacant at any time last year?
– Senator Aylett has referred to the fact that last year apparently the vote for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries for that embassy exceeded the actual expenditure by £19,230. An attempt has been made to estimate expenditure under that heading for the present financial year, and the figure of £57,000 has been arrived at. Additional costs, including exchange rates, salaries and expenses, will contribute to the increase. All that I can say at the moment is that the estimated expenditure as shown in the Estimates is the estimate which appears appropriate. It has been made bona fide by the Government in the belief that the amount will be necessary to meet current expenditure. Apparently, because of certain circumstances which existed last year, the expenditure on that embassy did not reach the amount which had been estimated.
– What is the number of personnel employed at the embassy in the Union of Soviet Socalist Republics?
– A charge d’affaires, a third secretary, a consular clerk and two typists.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of the Treasury, £6,311,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £976,000.
– I notice that in Division 55 an amount of £44,000 appears under the heading, “ Legal Service Bureau “. That amount is £16,000 less than the vote last year. As I understand the matter, the Legal Service Bureau was a war-time creation of the Chifley Government. I have no doubt that that Government hoped that after it had nationalized the banks and medical services it would also be able to nationalize the legal profession. It is gratifying to find that expenditure on the service is to be curtailed.
I understand that a curious anomaly exists in relation to entitlement to assistance from, the bureau, in that the widow of an ex-serviceman who lost her husband in World War I. is not entitled to the benefit of the services which the bureau supplies. I should like to know if that anomaly has been overcome.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) [3.57 J. - An extraordinary item, appears in Division 56 for 1950-51. It is “ Peace Officer Guard, salaries and payments in the nature of salary, £7,017 “. Can the Minister state the nature of that expenditure? I take it the duty of the guard is to guard somebody. If that is so, I suggest that he has been paid a very substantial sum of money for performing that duty.
– The honorable senator will observe that no proposed vote in respect of that item has been provided for this financial year. I understand that the reason for the omission is that the salaries and payments in the nature of salary to peace officers are recoverable from the departments concerned. The peace officer guard is a small body of men which undertakes certain duties, such as guarding some of the government offices. The actual expenditure incurred is met by the departments concerned.
– The item does not mention “ officers “. It refers on lv to “officer”.
– It is the peace officer guard, which is the title of the body. I am afraid that I must stick to that title, whether or not the honorable senator approves of it as a matter of English.
Senator Wedgwood has referred to the Legal Service Bureau. I think that it is- true to say that the economy which has been effected in the administration of the bureau has been made possible without any reduction of the legitimate service which returned servicemen have received in the past and which they are entitled to receive under the terms of the Reestablishment a-nd Employment Act.
Honorable senators may recall that 1 made a statement about this matter approximately eight months ago and that at that time I issued a directive concerning the functions of the bureau.. Although some ill-informed criticism,, which arose very largely from ignorance,, came from one or two quarters, the fact is that up till the present time I havenot received any real criticism of thedirective which I then issued, either from returned servicemen’s organizations or any one else. I conclude from that fact that the bureau is giving complete satisfaction.
– As time goes by, I have no doubt that the problems with which the bureau has to deal will become le3S numerous.
– I agree. Tha demand for service will not be so great,, and that was why it was necessary togive some attention to the basis upon, which advice was to be given. I havemade a note of what Senator Wedgwood said about widows of men who served inWorld War I. being refused this serviceThe fact is that the Re-establishment and. Employment Act provided that theservice should be made available to men* who had served in World War II. Without any legislative authority, the provision was extended by my predecessor in, office to men of World War I. That may have created some anomalies, but I have not heard a complaint that widows of World War I. have not been able to get. the same treatment in regard to legal advice as have widows of World War II. However, if the honorable senator will supply me with details of any such cases I shall have them investigated.
– It is only fair tosa,y that I know of several widows of World War I. who have received every assistance and. courtesy from the bureau.
Senator BYRNE (Queeusland) [4.3 j.. - Last year, the amount made available for the payment of salaries to officers of the bureau was- £19,000, but the actual expenditure was £26,429. This year, the proposed vote is- again £19,000. It has not been stated that the staff is to be reduced. There will continue to be a director, and nineteen senior legal officers. It may be presumed’ tha’t salaries’ will increase during the next year, so that I find it difficult to understand why only the same amount of money is to be provided for salaries this year as for last year, particularly as last year’s vote was exceeded by £7,429. It almost seems that some reduction of staff is contemplated.
– I am not aware that any reduction of staff is contemplated at the moment. During last year, we got rid of a number of temporary employees. As against that, some temporary employees were put on a permanent basis, but I am not certain that all the permanent positions have been filled.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department op the Interior.
Proposed vote, £2,724,000.
– I am pleased to note that the remuneration of electoral officers is to be increased. In the past, those officers were shamefully underpaid, and I know that the chief electoral officers of the States have had great difficulty in manning polling booths with efficient and reliable officers. It is proposed to increase the vote for this purpose from £167,959 to £227,906, and I hope that the increased remuneration will enable the chief electoral officers to get suitable staff.
I regard electoral reform as a matter of great urgency to which we should direct very serious attention. On several occasions in this chamber I have asked that a joint committee of both Houses of the Parliament should be appointed to consider electoral reform, but I have always been fobbed off with the stereotyped reply that the matter was being kept in mind. The committee, if appointed, should be asked to consider the method of voting, the number of candidates for which the elector must vote, the form of the ballot-paper, and the distribution of literature on election day. For the election of the Senate we have adopted the system of proportional representation. Having done that, we should go a little farther, and adopt the Hare Clark system in its entirety. Under our present system each elector, in order to record a formal vote, must vote for all the candidates whose names appear on the ballot-paper, even if there are 20, 30 or 40 of them. In the last two general elections in Tasmania, and I suppose in other States as well, voters were compelled to express a preference for candidates in whom they had no confidence at all. I was myself compelled to record a preferential vote for Communist candidates. “Why should I or any other elector be compelled to vote for some one in whom I have no trust or confidence? It is morally wrong for the people to be compelled to do so.
– If an elector gives his last preference to a candidate it cannot be said that he has voted for that candidate ?
– Perhaps not, but there may be three Communist candidates, in which case the elector must give a preferential vote for two of them. That was the situation during the last election in Tasmania. The result of such a situation is that electors, to whom communism is anathema, deliberately make their votes informal so that they will not have to vote for a Communist candidate. In the Hare Clark system, the elector is compelled to vote for at least three candidates. He may, of course, vote for all the candidates on the paper, but he is not compelled to do so. To-day, fortunately or unfortunately, most electors have a party allegiance, and under the system which I advocate they would vote for their party candidates and then stop, although they could go on and express their preferences for all the candidates. It will be objected, of course, that under this system there would be a lot of exhausted votes. Of course there would, but it would be better to have exhausted votes than informal votes. The elector would express his preference for three candidates, at least.
I come now to the form of the ballotpaper. In elections for the House of Representatives there is, under the existing law, a distinct advantage to candidates whose names commence with the letter A, B or O, whilst those whose names begin with the letters at the end of the alphabet are at a serious disadvantage. Many people mark their ballot-papers straight down from top to bottom. The law compels people to vote, and those who ari- not politically minded comply with the law by marking the ballot-paper straight down from top to bottom. For Senate elections, the parties draw lots to determine the position of their candidates on the ballot-paper. Thus, we leave it to chance to determine their position on the paper. The party that draws Group A position has an advantage over all others, as the electoral officers themselves agree. When a person writes a letter, he starts at the top left-hand corner of the paper and goes on writing until he gets to the bottom. Many people mark their ballotpapers in the same way. The choice of representatives to govern the nation should not be left to chance. It has been suggested that we should have a circular or cart-wheel ballot-paper. Whilst the use of such a paper might remove some anomalies it could, of course, create others, but I believe that the method is worthy of consideration. I have here a sample ballot-paper similar to that in use in Switzerland and in France for municipal elections, prior to World War II. at any rate, and on this the names of the candidates are printed after the manner of signatures on a round robbin. I ask for leave to have the ballot-paper reproduced in Hansard.
I believe that the adoption of such a ballot-paper would give general satisfaction in Australia, as it has in other countries where it has been tried. The method of voting and counting would remain unaltered; only the form of the ballot-paper would be changed. With the use of the circular ballot-paper, there would be more likelihood of getting an intelligent vote. After all, those who vote for representativesto govern the nation should have a modi cum of intelligence. The percentage of informal votes might be increased. I think it would, but if an elector has not sufficient intelligence to cast a formal vote on a circular ballotpaper, as is done in other countries, he is not entitled to cast a vote at all. I urge the Minister to place my representations before Cabinet with a view to having a joint committee of the Parliament appointed to consider the matter.
I believe that “ spruiking “ or touting in the vicinity of polling booths on polling-day should be prohibited. Canvassers for both sides have been known to address meetings almost at the doors of the polling booths. On the 22ndMarch, 1950, I addressed the following question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior: -
Will the Minister give favorable consideration to the adoption of laws which apply in certain States prohibiting canvassing on the day of parliamentary elections, especially the prohibition of canvassing in front of polling booths on the day of the election.
In his reply the Minister said, inter alia -
In Tasmania the law provides that no person shall canvass for votes at or about the entrance of or within any polling booth on polling day.
That statement is absolutely untrue. That is not the electoral law of Tasmania. I do not blame the Minister for having given wrong information to the Senate. It was undoubtedly supplied to him by his officers. When I directed’ the attention of the Chief Electoral Officer to the erroneous information that had been supplied to the Minister, he admitted that a mistake had been made. So that there may be no doubt about this matter, I shall read section 154 (4.) of the Tasmanian Electoral Act. It provides as follows: -
No person shall … on polling day or on any day to which the polling is adjourned -
Distribute any electoral advertisement, notice, handbill, pamphlet, or card: or
Publish or cause to be published in any newspaper published or distributedin this State, any advertisement for or on behalf of or relating in any way whatsoever to any candidate or political party, or any matter or comment relating to any question or issue of the election campaign.
That provision prohibits the distribution of literature, pamphlets and advertisements on election clay, not within the precincts of, or at the entrance to,a polling booth, but throughout the State.
– When the McGirr Government passed a similar law to operate for only 48 hours prior to an election, Senator Guy and his colleagues kicked up a tremendous fuss.
SenatorGUY. - In what State was that law made?
-In New South Wales.
– People in New South Wales do very funny things ! I have received many letters of protests about the practice to which I have referred. The following is typical of them : -
If you get a chance to make mention in the right quarter that it is about time to pass a bill to abolish that pernicious habit of spruiking outside polling booths on election and referendum days,you would be doing a great service. It is becoming more and more a source of annoyance to all voters, especially elderly people who are most embarrassed by sheafs of literature thrust at them at every step they take to the booth. It is high time it was stopped altogether.
I urge the Government to insert a provision in the Commonwealth Electoral Act similar to that contained in the Tasmanian act. Many electors reach the polling booths in a state of exhaustion after having been embarrassed by convassers who have rushed out to them and thrust into their hands . “How to vote “ cards and literature setting out the claims of the respective parties and their candidates. Many elderly people reach the polling booths in a state of hysteria. These practices are probably responsible for the high percentage of informal votes recorded at every general election. Voters should be able to go to the polling booths and record their votes without being pestered and embarrassed by canvassers.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
SenatorGuy. - I should like to take my second period now, if I may do so.
– I trust that the passage of this bill will not be unduly delayed by a general discussion on the desirability of electoral reform. I appreciate the points made by Senator Guy and I should be pleased to enable him to complete his speech but for the fact that a large number of important officers are compelled to remain here until the votes of the departments which they represent have been disposed of. It is not fair to ask a Minister who, in the Senate, merely represents the responsible Minister, to make decisions on matters that fall within the province of his colleague. I assure Senator Guy that
I shall direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) to his observations and ask that they be considered.
– I was told that six months ago.
– I can only repeat the assurance.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior to a complaint that I received after the last general election. A friend in England, who was particularly interested in the outcome of the election, complained that very little provision had been made at Australia House, London for the posting of the election results. Apparently provision had been made for the posting of the results of the first count of votes, after which the matter appeared to be completely forgotten, if the information conveyed to me by my friend is correct. He told me that he visited Australia House on a number of occasions and looked in vain for up-to-date results of the election count. Progress results should be posted from day to day or from week to week. Very many Australians who are either temporarily or permanently resident in London are interested in election results. Reasonable provision should be made to ensure that up-to-date election information shall be made available to them. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior to give attention to this matter.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of Works and Housing- £2,064,000, agreed to.-
Department or Civil Aviation.
Proposed vote, £9,564,000.
.- The vote for Division 66, “ Salaries and payments in the nature of salary “, is £1,525,000 this year, compared with an expenditure of £978,782 last year, the comparative figures for temporary and casual employees being £2,405,000 and £2,387,564 respectively. Reference to the schedule at page 151 discloses that the number of assistant directorsgeneral has been increased from two in 1950-51 to three in 1951-52, and that the number of engineers, architects, surveyors, superintendents, inspectors and other technical staff has increased from 566 to 640. On the accounting and administrative side the number of accountants, airport managers, controllers of stores, international relations officers,, liaison and welfare officers, senior clerksand clerks has increased from 311 to 387’ and the number of accounting machinists,, assistants, chain-men, communicationsofficers, mechanics, line officers, typists,. &c, has increased from. 1,314 to 1,353. What is the reason for these large increases of staff? In previous years there has been great extravagance in the Department of Civil Aviation. Twelvemonths ago I directed the attention of the then Minister for Civil Aviation tocertain extravagances that were apparent in that department, principally wasteful overtime and unsatisfactory staffing arrangements at airports. I am not sure what results flowed from my representations. I fear that my complaints were glossed over. Later, I wa< informed that my representations werebeing considered. When I observe the great increases of staff revealed’ by thoseestimates I wonder what is going on in the department. I am not aware that developments in the field of civil aviation have been so extensive as thesefigures would indicate. I fear that the extravagances of the past are still continuing. I should appreciate an explanation from the Minister of the- need for such large staff increases without any apparent increase of the work performed by the Department.
– I am sure that Senator Wood would not expect Ministers who act only in a representative capacity in the Senate to be familiar with all the details of departments that are administered by their colleagues in the House of Representatives. I have been informed by my officers that increased wages represent a considerable factor in the increased vote for the Department of Civil Aviation. The staff increases to which the honorable senator has referred are accounted for by the fact that many former temporary officers have been appointed to the permanent staff. If the honorable senator desires further information about, the department I .shall endeavour to obtain it for him before the debate on the bill is concluded.
– When I raised this matter some time ago I expressed the fear that temporary officers in the department would be appointed to permanent positions. I am not at all. satisfied that the department is not carrying surplus staff.
– Is it competent for the Minister to inform the Senate during the discussion of the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation whether there is any truth in the Australia-wide, rumour that the Government proposes to advance to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited approximately £500,000 to assist the company in the reorganization of its business and to finance it to purchase new aircraft. It is too early yet for such an advance to be reflected in the estimates of the department, but if the rumour is true the departmental accounts will bear such a charge during the present financial year. Is the. Minister in a position to confirm or deny the truth of the rumour ?
– Senator Armstrong should not place too much reliance on speculative reports- on matters of this kind that appear- in the press. I remind him a good deal: of the speculation that has already been indulged in by the press on aviation matters has already been proved to be entirely unfounded. I am sure that the honorable senator would not expect me to anticipate any recommendation that may he made by the special officers who are handling, this matter.
– In other words, there is a lot of truth in the rumour.
, - Can the Minister state whether provision is being made by the. Government for- the- assistance of gliding clubs throughout Australia?’ I have asked many questions in the past about the development of gliding because of its importance’ in the training of civil pilots’. In Tasmania, in particular, very many energetic and enthusiastic young men are interested in gliding, but they have the greatest -difficulty in financing their activities. At a time when we are expending a very large amount of money on the training of air pilots for military and civil purposes, funds should be made available for the encouragement of gliding clubs. This Government is not fully seised of the importance of elementary flying training in engineless aircraft. In other parts of the world, particularly inthe Soviet Union, great emphasis is placed on the training of young men in the art of gliding. In Germany before the war, gliding was looked upon, not only as important in training for defence, but as a great hobby. Its value was reflected in the airmen Germany was able to produce in the war. I ask the Minister if provision has been made in the appropriations this year for more generous support, of gliding clubs throughout the Commonwealth and particularly in Tasmania where there is a lack of training aircraft and many young men are eager to get the basic air training which is very important for civil and defence aviation.
– I am informed by the officers of the department that £2,000 has been provided for the purpose for which the honorable senator has referred. The amount is the same as that provided last year. The special request made by Senator O’Byrne for an increase will be brought before the Minister for Civil1 Aviation.
– I wish to point out that Tasmania is worse, off. than other States in that there are no flying clubs where young men. can obtain the training that they want. A gap would be filled if a special allocation could be made to the gliding clubs in Tasmania because of. their isolation from other States. Tasmania is very air minded as is shown, by its efficient airlines. Young people in Tasmania have much more contact with daily air services than have those in other parts of Australia. If it is not possible- to- make allocations to all gliding clubs in Australia, I ask for special consideration to be given to the Tasmanian gliding clubs, because of the motive of the men behind them who wishto see young men given basic training inflying and because of their enthusiasm.
– I will do that.
– Is the Minister in a position to tell the committee if any advance has been made towards the provision of an air service between Australia and South Africa? These estimates contain £5,000 for contracts to carry, mails between the two countries. Last year no money was spent on that service. This is linked with the thought developed earlier by Senator Grant on the importance of South Africa to Australia. It is strange that t wo dominions in the British Commonwealth of Nations have so little in common because of transport problems. Very few ships are moving between the two countries and a traveller who tries to get from Australia to South Africa by air often has to make many transfers. Last year the Government set out to lay the foundation of a commercial airline between Australia and South Africa and £5,000 is provided now for mail contracts between the two countries. Is the Minister in a position to say how far the Government has gone towards setting up permament air transport between the two countries?
.- Will the Minister state what provision has been made for a civil aerodrome at Newcastle? There is an air force aerodrome at Williamtown and some civil planes are permitted to land there, but it is not a satisfactory arrangement. For a long time there has been an agitation at Newcastle for a civil aerodrome at Hexham. The Minister is aware of the large population of Newcastle, Maitland and the coal-fields and the number of people who would benefit from an aerodrome. Will the Minister state if any provision has been made for the construction of an aerodrome at Newcastle ?
– I understand that no provision has been made for an aerodrome at Newcastle. Requests have been ‘ made from time to time but there is nothing in these estimates for that project. I shall inform the Minister for Civil Aviation that the question has been raised and if
I can get any information as to future policy I shall be pleased to supply it to honorable senators. Apart from that I have no information to give. As to the point raised by Senator Armstrong, I understand that the amount on the Estimates is for capital expenditure in this financial year.
– The estimates state that the amount is for mail contracts.
– I understand that that amount is for the mail contract, but the contract cannot start until capital works or machinery are provided.
.- Aircraft of Trans-Australia Airlines are permitted to land on the existing aerodrome at Newcastle and provide a service, but Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited is refused permission to land machines there and to fly a service to Newcastle. Who gives the instruction to that effect and will it be withdrawn ?
– I am not in a position to answer those questions, but I will take the matter up with the Minister and get a reply.
– Regarding the accommodation at Newcastle can something be done - to effect some improvement ?
– That is a legacy from the previous Government and I suppose that accommodation is as good now as it has been in the past eight years. The Government has not had time to catch .up. The point is well taken and nobody would have greater pleasure in attending to it than the present Minister.
.- The Department of Civil Aviation announced three weeks ago that it would not consider the registration of women pilots for commercial work in aviation. After my experience over Canberra in an aeroplane recently, I have no wish to be a pilot, but I understand that there are some women in Australia who are highly qualified. Three of them flew machines to Canberra a few weeks ago to attend a convention. In these days of equality I see no reason why the Department of Civil Aviation should have any difficulty in deciding that a woman pilot may be just as fully qualified as a man.
– I shall be pleased to discuss the question with the Minister. I understand that the difficulty over Canberra recently was mechanical and was not associated with the pilot.
– Is the Minister in a position to make a statement regarding a new aerodrome at West Beach and when will it be in operation?
– I understand from discussions with the Minister that it will be a considerable time before that airport is ready for use. I cannot get the exact date because so much depends on men and materials but I understand that it will be at least eighteen months.
– I understand that approval has been given for modern aerodromes at Goondiwindi and St. George. Can the Minister state what progress has been made? Those two towns are important centres in the pastoral district of southern Queensland and the people are continually asking me what is delaying the work.
– I cannot give information on the progress that has been made but I will get the information and supply it to the honorable senator. I appreciate that the matter is of great importance to those areas.
.- Will the Minister give some assurance that the latest methods developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization in the use of micro-wave navigation will be put into effect as soon as possible? This modern system has passed the testing stage and has been passed over to the Department of Civil Aviation.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia - Minister for Transport and Shipping) that matter before the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes). He is a strong-minded man and I would not dare to tell him what he should do but I am sure that if there is any merit in the proposal, he will take notice of it.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £2,760,000.
– I wish to refer to Division 75”, “ Film Censorship “. Will the Minister inform the Senate of the system of film censorship that is operating at present? I understand that there is some alliance between the Commonwealth censorship and the State censorship bodies, and that is rightly so, but I think that, the Government and the Minister will admit that because of the trend towards certain types of films that are coming into the country, it is necessary that the Parliament should be as well informed as possible on the censorship powers and how far they are exercised in the censorship of films. Provision is made for £9,000 for salaries and payments. Film censorship is so important that the Parliament should be in a position to know for certain that everything possible is being done to maintain the highest degree of decency in the picture business.
– The department has been congratulated by people from overseas on the efficiency of the film censorship and the high standard that has been achieved. The Department of Trade and Customs exercises great care andvigilance in relation to films that are imported into Australia. By arrangement with the States the Chief Film Censor of the Commonwealth operates on behalf of the States as to the type of film to be exhibited. There are two stages of censorship. First, the Commonwealth censors films as they enter this country. Secondly, the States decide whether or not films shall be exhibited after they have entered the country. Strictly - I speak subject to correction by the AttorneyGeneral - that is entirely a matter for the States, but there is in operation a very efficient system under which the Commonwealth Chief Film Censor gives his assistance. As I have said, the censorship activities of the Department of Trade and Customs have been warmly commended. The system employed is most efficient, particularly in comparison with systems operating in other parts of the world.
– I thank the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) for the information that he has given, but he has not completely answered my question. As ail honorable senators are aware, film advertisements carry tags such as “ Suitable for general exhibition and “ Unsuitable for children “. Does the Commonwealth Chief Film Censor decide in which category a film shall be placed? Finally, with what authority does the responsibility lie to ensure that children shall not attend theatres screening films marked “ Unsuitable for children” or “For adults only”?
– I cannot do more than elaborate upon my earlier remarks. The Commonwealth is concerned only with censoring films as they enter this -country. “Whether or not films shall be shown .after they have been admitted by the Customs authorities is a matter for the States. However, there is a close liaison between State and Commonwealth authorities. I understand that films are classified by the Commonwealth Chief- Film Censor, but at the request of and in collaboration with, the State authorities. Should a State decide that a -film is unsuitable for exhibition the responsibility for ensuring that it would not be screened would probably rest with the police. The Commonwealth would not have any jurisdiction in that matter.
– The -classifying of films in the manner to which Senator Critchley has referred is carried out by the film companies themselves, and is .done for the information of patrons. I do not think that it has anything to do with the State .authorities.
Senator CRITCHLEY (South Aus
Senator Vincent for his assistance. He is a member of the legal fraternity and I appreciate his free advice, but there is still one point which I should like to have clarified. If a film is marked “ Unsuitable for children “, whose responsibility is it to ensure that children shall not be admitted to theatres at which the film is being screened?
– That is primarily the responsibility of the parents. I think I have made it clear that, technically, the Commonwealth’s power ceases once a film has been permitted to enter this country. If a film is made in this country, the States have to decide whether or not they will permit it to be shown. I repeat, however, that the States do use the services of the Commonwealth film censors. In fairness to motion picture exhibitors and distributors I concede that they, too, exercise supervision over standards of decency of the films that they handle. Many films that we see in this country have already been cut as a condition of their entry.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vole, £364,000.
– Last year, the vote under the heading “Quarantine7’ was £94,000, but actual expenditure, amounted to £143,247. The estimate for that year, therefore, would appear to have been n very bacl guess. This year, the estimated expenditure is £146,000, which is less than £3,000 in excess of actual expenditure last year. I am wondering whether we have any reason to believe this year’s estimate too will not be greatly exceeded.
..- I can provide the honorable senator with some details of estimated expenditure on quarantine work. Allowances for the services of State officers and others, will cost £25,400 or £1,464 more than actual expenditure last year. That sum includes provision for payments to the States for the administration of animal and plant quarantine activities. The increase of the vote has been necessitated by high wages, anc! increased costs of goods and services. The sum of £o>600 is provided for the overhaul and repair of departmental vessels engaged in quarantine activities. The free, issue of biological products will cost £10,000. Those products include lymph, cholera vaccine- and plague vaccine stocked for quarantine purposes, and calf, lymph, for immunization campaigns. Under the heading “ Incidental and other expenditure “ the sum of £27,000 is provided to meet expenditure incurred in the administration of the Quarantine Act. The increase is to cover rising costs of fumigants &c.. and the changed procedure under which receipts, reimbursing the cost of fumigation of vessels &c, will be credited to revenue, instead of to this vote as in previous years.
– The sum of fc’361,000 allocated for administrative expenditure includes £15,000 for “ Nutrition of children - -payments to States “. 1 should like to know whether this expenditure will be incurred in connexion with the Commonwealth’s free milk scheme, and whether all States will receive grants.
– The £15,000 to which the honorable senator has referred is. the Commonwealth’s share of the cost of the distribution of free milk in the States. The cost of providing the milk will be borne by the National Welfare Fund. The object of the free milk scheme is to improve nutritional standards. The Commonwealth has reached agreement with all States, except Queensland, to meet the cost of supplying up to half a pint of milk a day to every child under twelve years of age, attending a school or kindergarten, and also to defray half the cost of special equipment required by the States- to implement this, scheme. This vote of £15,000 is for the provision of that special equipment. The sum of £1^500,000 is to be appropriated from the National Welfare Fund for the free milk scheme.
– It would appear that the substantial increase of actual expenditure over estimated expenditure on quarantine work last yea-r was due primarily to the free issue of biological products costing £35,1S9.. This year, the estimated expenditure under that heading is £10,000. Can the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) inform me what biological products are being issued and why. they are being issued free?
– The products are lymph, cholera vaccine and plague vaccine stocked for quarantine purposes, and calf lymph for immunization.
– The proposed vote for veterinary officers, specialist scientific officers, consultants, assistant section controllers and’ officers in charge, Media, employed in the serum laboratories for this financial year is £30,898, compared with the vote of £13,231 for the last financial year- This increased provision is very encouraging. Very important work has been carried out by these officers, but much investigational work still remains to be done. In Queensland and New South Wales last year there were very heavy losses of cattle through blackleg. The serum that was being, used proved ineffective, because of the virility of the germ, which has. been a feature of the disease this year also. The veterinary officers are doing an excellent job, and the Minister is to be commended for the proposal to increase the vote for work in connexion with animal husbandry and the control of disease in stock.
– I shall be very pleased to convey the honorable senator’s remarks of commendation to the Minister for Health.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture.
Proposed vote, £1,341,000.
.- This is one department in connexion with which, the Opposition hopes to obtain some information. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have asked a number of questions about production during the last few weeks and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has invariably replied that the matter of increasing production is within the jurisdiction of the States. The Opposition does not mind expenditure of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture increasing, so long’ as we are getting something for the increased outlay. However, this Government seems to be ignoring agriculture. It has abolished subsidies, and it is disbanding boards wherever possible. Expected administrative expenditure, therefore, should be less during this financial year than formerly. Has the Government any plan for increasing production? Honorable senators opposite have advanced so few proposals in this connexion that one wonders whether they have rattles in their heads instead of brains.
Senator Wright interjecting,
- Senator Wright should take notice of what I am saying. In the fertile Circular Head district of Tasmania which he represents, only 100,000 acres of land are in production. If the honorable senator would get busy and have swamp areas there reclaimed in order to enable primary production to be increased he would be doing something valuable. Our technical officers should be fully employed workingout details for the development of our idle fertile areas. In view of the inflammable international situation, we should pay serious attention to this matter. The spark of a match would be sufficient to set off another conflagration. The moment that the blaze started the Australian Government would be called upon to take over the production of food. It would not be able to claim that that was a matter for the States. During the war period the former Labour Government had a very efficient staff and was able to make ample supplies of food available not only to the increased civilian population of this country, but also to the many thousands of Allied servicemen who were stationed here. I remind honorable senators that the anti-Labour Government that was in power before Labour came to office in 1941 did not encourage the development of primary industries. In those days the wheat farmers received only 2s.10d. a bushel for their wheat, and the dairy- farmers received only about1s. per lb. for their butter. If Senator Wright would reflect on the assistance that the Chifley Labour Government rendered to the primary producer during its period of office, he would not make stupid interjections.
Can the Minister assure honorable senators that, in the event of an emergency arising, the primary producers of this country will be able to increase their production by from 25 per cent. to 50 per cent.? In view of the potentialities of this country, our highly qualified staff should plan ahead. It is futile for the Minister for Shipping and Transport to say that primary production is entirely a matter for the States. During the last financial year the Commonwealth expended £341,665 on the production of flax, and precisely the same amount was recovered from the sale of flax fibre. The estimated expenditure under this heading during this financial year will be £460,000, and I notice that it is expected that precisely that amount will be recovered. Will the Minister inform me whether the production of flax is controlled by a flax board, and whythe estimated amount of revenue coincides exactly with estimated expenditure? It is indeed remarkable that, when dealing with broad acres sown to crop, the Government can budget to the exact £1 of estimated revenue and expenditure.This is the best forecast in respect of a growing crop that I have ever seen. Of course, there may be some explanation for the apparent coincidence. Only scant information about the Government’? activities in this connexion has been furnished to honorable senators during the last two years. Is there still in existence a flax board or a flax committee? If so, who is its chairman, and what does it cost to administer? Does it sell flax on behalf of the farmers? I trust that the Minister will explain this matter in detail.
. -Senator Aylett seems to have formed the habit of getting up and spluttering away on all sorts of illogical proposi tions. He insinuated that no productive progress has been made during the last two or three years in the Circular Head district of Tasmania. I remind him that a magnificent processing factory has been established there by Peacock and Company, and the Duck River Butter Company has also established a bacon factory. Furthermore, a depot for whole milk has been completed for Cadbury Fry Pascall Limited. Capital works to drain a considerable portion of that area, that were commenced by the Tasmanian Government during the last two years, have been continued as a result of the Commonwealth agreeing to underwrite State public works. In the one municipality that I mention, four essential adjuncts to development have been, carried out. The honorable senator’s assertions are baseless.
– I hope that Senator Aylett will discontinue his broad general discussion of matters of policy. Although I appreciate his interest, I hope that he will concentrate on the matters that are contained in the bill, and allow men who have important work to do to get on with the job. He should not delay them by talking unnecessarily about matters of policy. The Flax Production Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. J. A. Stevenson, who is an officer of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, has been established by the Commonwealth, in view of the importance of flax in wartime. A considerable amount of money has been guaranteed in order to permit of the expansion and development of the flax industry in this country. It is expected that the proceeds of the sales will about equal expenditure. If there is a deficiency, it will be made up by a special grant. This organization was established as a war effort to increase production, not to make profits. As a result of my long association with the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, I am able, to inform honorable senators that very harmonious relationships exist between the Commonwealth and State Ministers. The technical officers of the Commonwealth and the States confer, in season and out of season, at meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, which performs very useful work. I hope that we will not get into this petty, paltry frame of mind and perhaps disturb the harmony that now exists. I assure Sena tor Aylett that Commonwealth and Tasmanian Ministers are conscious of the serious decline of production, and they are constantly pooling their knowledge and exchanging ideas in order to endeavour to cope with the situation that has arisen. The honorable senator should appreciate that, having regard to what may happen in’ the future, special preparations are being made to ascertain the directions in which primary production may be expanded. At the moment we are critically short of man-power and material, which makes the problem of production very acute both for the State and the Commonwealth. I hope that the honorable senator will not spend time on matters of general policy. If he desires specific questions to be answered, I shall be happy to answer them, but if he wants to wander from Dan to Beersheba, he can strike out on his own.
– I appreciate that from the point of view of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) it is undesirable that the technical officers should be kept here for an unduly long time. On the other hand, this is an opportunity for honorable senators to discuss certain problems in detail. They do not often get such an opportunity to express opinions and to criticize or to comment upon the activities of government departments. I contend that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture will have an increasingly important part to play during the next five or ten years. As Senator Aylett and Senator Wright have stated, the Tasmanian Government, in conjunction with the Australian Government, is preparing the ground work for war service land settlement and for the development of agriculture generally in that State. It must be appreciated, however, that it is necessary for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to co-ordinate the work that is being carried out in the various States. Recently I suggested in the Senate that an investigation should be made of the whole problem of food production in Australia, but my suggestion did not meet with favorable consideration by the Government.”
The Department of Commerce and Agriculture must tackle the problem of food production. I suggest that in Australia ‘to-day we are ‘faced with the disadvantages that arise from the needs of private enterprise and initiative clashing with national requirements. Whilst the extremely high price of wool has ‘brought great prosperity to our wool-growers, it has also meant that -many people have taken up wool-growing and have drifted aw-ay from other agricultural industries such as ‘dairying, wheat-growing and meat production. I consider that tha’t is not in the best “interests of the nation. Unless Australia produces sufficient food for its own needs and, if possible, a surplus, the whole “basis of our economy will fail.
I wish to -know where, in our administration, the machinery is available with which to co-ordinate the activities of the various States in order that out land may be developed economically. New settlers must be attracted to the land. I do not mind if they are new Australians, although I should prefer them to be land hungry Australians who have previously worked on farms and are prepared to produce food. Of course, finance is the difficulty that lies in the way of prospective settlers.
Before the war, when I was living in Queensland, I applied for a land settlement block in that State. In some areas, such as that in which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) lives, 3,500 or 4,000 applications were made for each block of grazing land that was available. The qualifications that were required of applicants were previous experience on the land, sufficient capital to pay the first year’s rental and to pay for improvements, and ability to pass what amounted to a test conducted by the examiners. I suggest that land hunger still exists in Australia and that there are many young men who. are prepared to battle as the early pioneers battled. Their difficulty is that they are not able to obtain land. There appears to be a bottleneck somewhere and it is necessary for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to remove that bottleneck as soon as possible. I have travelled the length and breadth of Australia and have a special interest in primary production. From the knowledge that I have gained it is apparent to me that the country will face a great agri-cultural and food crisis if the problem of food production is not tackled very soon. The opportunity to discuss this matter does not occur very often, because the department is quiet-moving and mos*t efficient. I consider that if honorable senators wish to take up ‘the time df technical officers or of ‘the Minister for Shipping -and Transport in discussion of this matter, it is their duty ‘and ‘their responsibility to do so.
In my opinion, food production is more important than defence preparations, because if we have no food defence forces will be of little use.
– What will happen if the enemy arrives while *we have no defence?
– I think that it would be better to be captured “with a full stomach than with an empty one.
– The enemy would have the full stomach !
– I do not propose to be diverted from the track which I wish to follow.
– The honorable senator is off the track at the moment.
– I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that we are discussing the Vote for the Department of ‘Commerce and Agriculture. With your knowledge of the land and your appreciation of the needs for increased food production, I should think that you would be interested to hear what I have to say. I must say that you, sir, provide a very good example on your properties by giving young men opportunities to go on the land. T am merely asking the’ Government to give that opportunity to thousands of others.
– :The honorable senator is discussing State matters.
– That is the point. I want the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to co-ordinate the activities of the States. Because Queensland is being star ved of money it cannot develop one-twentieth part of the schemes which it would like to commence. It receives only a miserable pittance from this Government. I do not know whether some honorable senators consider that I am exaggerating the position, but I point out that every clay it is possible to see people leaving the harder work on the land and going in for wool-growing, which will enable them to become prosperous, to pay off their mortgages, to install all kinds of amenities in their homes, to buy tractors and all the other articles which may he had at the expense of the future of this nation.
I trust that my remarks will be a small contribution, towards encouraging the authorities to make an Australia- wide effort to increase production of vital foodstuffs.
.- I wish to deal with a matter that concerns the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. Senator O’Byrne discussed almost every department but the one with which we are now concerned. I refer to Division No. 83, Commercial Intelligence Service Abroad, concerning trade representation in various countries. Would the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) furnish to the Senate a statement setting out the volume of trade between Australia and the countries mentioned? Very often trade representatives are appointed to certain countries and are left there whether trade continues or not. I should like to know whether the appointment of these trade representatives is warranted by the volume of trade with the countries concerned. If their appointment is justified, I do not cavil at it. I appreciate that the Minister cannot supply such a statement at the moment, but if he would be good enough to do so at a later date, it would be of interest to honorable senators generally.
– I have no doubt that the statement to which the honorable senator has referred can be made available. I understand that the trade commissioners in the various countries to which they have been appointed do very good work. It happens that sometimes in a new country evidence of the real pioneering work that is being done is not apparent. In addition, periods occur such as the present when shortages of practically all exportable commodities exist. For that reason not very much trade can be promoted by the commissioners. They are obliged to say, “ I am very sorry, but we cannot supply you with the goods “. Having regard to the overall picture, I think that it is important that a country such as Australia should increase its export trade and be well represented in other countries.
Whilst I appreciate the importance of the matters that have been raised by Senator O’Byrne, I point out that they are not the only problems with which the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is concerned. I was interested to hear the honorable senator say that the production of food is more important than defence preparations. I think it was Napoleon who said that an army marches on its stomach. I need not say more than that.
The matter of expansion and development of primary production rests mainly with the States, and I consider that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is regarded by the States as the coordinating authority. I remind the honorable senator that an Australian Agricultural Council has been established and. is doing a splendid job. If a person desires advice on the development of the sugar industry and the expansion of primary production in Queensland, I suggest that he will obtain far better advice from the Queensland Department of Agriculture than he will from the South Australian Department of Agriculture, where food production problems are of a completely different kind. It is a physical impossibility for an officer stationed at Canberra to be an authority on all such matters. The honorable senator should remember that 90 per cent, of the .problem of expansion of primary production concerns the States. If a Commonwealth Minister were to suggest to a State Minister in Queensland or Tasmania or Western Australia how he should run his department he would probably receive the same kind of reply that I received from a Minister of the New South Wales Government when I, through one of the officers of my department, suggested to him what he should do about the Newcastle harbour. I do not think that the Commonwealth has been backward in making money available for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. Tha
Commonwealth has vacated the loan field in favour of the States, and it has promised to underwrite State loan raisings. We are conscious of the urgency of the problem, and the Commonwealth, being the co-ordinating authority, is doing everything possible through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and in other ways, to do a good job.
– I understand that the Australian Agricultural Council has sought the help of the Commonwealth in getting more superphosphate and other fertilizers. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the Commonwealth is, in fact, importing superphosphate from overseas? There is a great shortage of superphosphate in Australia, and because we cannot get enough sulphur, it is impossible to manufacture in Australia all the superphosphate required. If superphosphate is being imported, can the Minister say what is its soluble content?
– Senator O’Flaherty has asked an intelligent question. We are not importing superphosphate because we cannot get it. There is also a world shortage of sulphur. Australia’s quota was reduced some time ago, and was reduced again during the last quarter. The Government has been doing everything possible during the last two years to obtain substitutes for sulphur. Senator Seward discussed the situation in Western Australia. Special efforts are being made to transport by rail 1,000 tons of pyrites from Norseman to the superphosphate works at Perth. We have explored the possibility of increasing the production of pyrites by giving a high dollar priority for machinery to companies engaged in this enterprise. Financial assistance is also being given to the companies, and priority has been given to them for the transport of necessary goods over the railways.
Senator SEWARD (Western Australia)
T5. 35]. - I suppose the practice of Australia’s trade commissioners in various parts of the world is to report to the heads of those government departments which may be concerned with the matters under consideration. I should like to know whether those reports are collated so that they may be made available to honorable senators and others who are interested. I have heard of instances of foreign countries capturing markets quite close to Australia although we were in a position to supply the goods.
– The reports that come in are made available to interested organizations in Australia. They are distributed fairly widely, but I am not sure whether copies are kept for subsequent circulation. If it is possible to have them distributed to honorable senators I shall see that it i? done.
– I thank the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) for coming down to earth and giving the Senate some information, a thing that he has not done in the past. I am glad to learn that he has technical officers to advise him. Perhaps the information that I have supplied may be of value to them. No government should make money available for agricultural development unless the proposals have been recommended by technical officers. The statement that I made a little while ago was correct, notwithstanding the criticism of Senator Wright. I quoted from the report of the marine board at Circular Head, issued in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture in Tasmania. The report was sent to Mr. Luck, the honorable member for Darwin in the House of Representatives, and I suggested that it be sent on to Senator Chamberlain, because that gentleman knows something about farming. I know the district concerned, and what I said is true. It is proposed to develop 50,000 acres, but there is no reason why the area should not be increased to 250,000 acres. The technical officers are looking for good land which they may recommend for development.
Senator Wright mentioned the canning factory at Smithton. That factory was built by the Labour Government during the war. Afterwards, it was bought by the State Government, which eventually leased it back to a private firm. We know all about that, but my point is that factories, as such, cannot increase the volume of primary production. They cannot clear land or till it or plant crops.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport travelled all the way to the Queen of Sheba and back again, but he now objects to my replying to statements made by Senator Wright. The activities of this department are interwoven with those of other departments. For instance, it is of no use to produce commodities unless they can be transported to market. In the case of Tasmania, that involves the subject of shipping.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Social Services.
Proposed vote, £2,021,000.
– -The vote for this department has increased by approximately 20 per cent, compared with last year. Is that because salaries are rising, or is it because the activities of the department are expanding? At the direction of the Prime Minister, the number of Commonwealth employees was to be reduced by 10,000. Have there been any dismissals from the Department of Social Services?
– The honorable senator’s question can be best answered in general terms. The increase of administration costs is due to higher salaries and staff increases. After making allowance for whatever reduction of staff has been effected, administrative costs will still he higher this year than last year, because of salary increases. On the 30th June last, 2,361 persons were employed in the department. On the 26th October, the number was 2,217.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I ask the Minister whether it is possible to dissect the figures relating to unemployment and sickness benefits. I assume that the sickness benefit totals more than the unemployment benefit.
– Unemployment and sickness benefits are always estimated in a round sum because, it is imposible to forecast what amount will be needed. That is particularly so in relation to the unemployment benefit. There are conditions peculiar to sickness benefits, but the unemployment benefit is very largely influenced by industrial conditions. Strikes may result in heavy demands for the benefit, and consequently it is necessary to have a sufficient reserve to meet them. The respective estimates are - unemployment benefit £970,000, and sickness benefit £800,000. Payments of the unemployment benefit in 1950-51 totalled £62,500. The special benefit of £230,000 includes provision for payments made to immigrants during the period of their residence in Australia before they are able to obtain employment.
– I thought that if the amount provided for sickness benefit could be ascertained the information would be of use to us when we are considering the hospital benefits legislation at a later stage.
– Is the Minister able to explain the reason for the seemingly large vote for Division 88, General Expenses, item 8, “ Commission on benefit payments made by banks and post offices “ ? . The estimated expenditure on that item this year is £230,000, but the expenditure last year amounted to only £85,917. Can the Minister explain the reason for the discrepancy between the two sets of figures?
– The vote for that item will be very largely used to cover amounts paid by the Department of Social Services to the Postmaster-General’s Department for services rendered in the payment of pensions. The charges made for such services were very substantially increased following the substantial increases made in other postal charges.
– Is the Minister able to indicate the number of persons who now receive rehabilitation pensions?
Sena to r SP OONER. - I am sorry that the information for which Senator Fraser has asked is not available. If he so desires I shall ask my officers to supply it to him by letter. Particulars of the benefits were not included in the departmental papers furnished to me.
– Is the Minister able to inform the Senate of the nature of the services included under Division 38, General Expenses, item 5, “ Services of magistrates. police, registrars and agents “ ?
– Item 5 covers ordinary services rendered in connexion with various matters in which substantiation is required of claims made for pensions. An applicant for a pension must appear either before selected officers of the department or the special magistrates employed by the department. If the applicant lives in an area in which no branch of the department lias been established, he must appear before the nearest Clerk of Petty Sessions or other legal official and answer such inquiries as are addressed to him. For services of that kind the department concerned makes a charge on the Department of Social Services. There is a marked increase in the estimate for that item this year because arrears of payments for services rendered in the preceding year have still to be met. Claims for ‘payment include amounts due to the Queensland Government for work done but for which no basis of payment had been decided.
– What is the total amount to be expended on pensions granted under the discretionary power of the DirectorGeneral of Social Services? While we are crnsidering the proposed expenditure for the Department of Social Services, I lake the opportunity to express my appreciation of the excellence of the work done by the department and its officers, from the DirectorGeneral down to its most humble employee. In all the years in which I have been a member of this Senate, I have not received one complaint about the department.
– I regret that the information for which Senator Fraser has asked is not available. Indeed, I do not think that it could be furnished by the department without a great deal of work. As far as I am aware, pensions granted under the discretionary authority of the Director-General are not so shown in the departmental records.
– Several years ago the department published a booklet which contained most interesting information for the guidance of applicants for pensions. When it was published, the information contained in it was up-to-date, but so many changes have since been made in our social services legislation that it is now completely out of date. I ask the Minister to consider the desirability of publishing a new booklet of uptodate information. Calculations of pension entitlement are very difficult because of the provisions relating to permissible income. Portion of the vote of £90,000 under Division 88 - General Expenses - Item 2, “ Office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing “, might be set aside for the printing and issue of a revised booklet for the guidance of applicants. I suggest that on this occasion the booklet might carry the notation, “ Issued with the compliments of the Liberal Minister for Social Services “, as the earlier booklet carried a similar notation in relation to the Labour Minister.
– In the details of salaries and allowances there is an item for the payment of “ Officers on loan from other departments, £11,013 “ and another item “ Allowances for officers performing duties of a higher class, £26,000”. To what degree will the amounts provided under those two items be affected by the retrenchments that have been made in the Public Service since these details were prepared? In relation to payments to other department:, for work performed for the Department of Social Services, has any consideration been given to the establishment in the States of special social services officers, independent of the Postal Department, where pension payments can he made on lines similar to those in operation in New Zealand? If such offices were established congestion at post offices, particularly on pension pay days, would be greatly relieved.
– The summary of the main activities of the department includes an item, “ Community rehabilitation”. I should like to know what is covered by that item.
– I appreciate the sentiment that actuated Senator Laught to suggest the issue of a revised informatory booklet on pensions and other social services. From memory, I believe that 1,000,000 copies of the earlier booklet were printed and distributed. When I assumed office it was only my strong regard for the conservation of public funds that permitted me to continue the issue of a booklet which carried a foreword that had been written by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services of the .previous Administration. The printing of a book like that represents a substantial outlay of funds, but the information in it was up to date and correct at that time.
– Was it not published on the eve of a previous election?
– I will not deny that it served a use other than informing the pensioners of their rights under the Social Services Consolidation Act, but that did not alter the fact that the booklet was very useful. I agree that it should bc brought up to date having regard to the changes that have been made in the act and in the social services benefits during the past two years, and I shall pass the suggestion on to the Minister for Social Services. I cannot give Senator Tangney information on officers on loan and those awaiting appointment to higher positions. The figures that are given are estimates of the cost and I think the honorable senator will agree that it would be practically impossible to support them with details. The Social Services Department has regional officers in each State outside the capital cities. These regional officers serve a very useful purpose in collecting claims that are made against the department.
– Are they not mainly Commonwealth employment officers ?
– No. In Newcastle and Wangaratta the officers have a small skilled staff which deals with the whole range of social services benefits, but there is not a pay office. It would be a major task and impracticable, I should say, to attempt to set up a pay organization for benefits outside the Postal Department itself. The story of the rehabilitation scheme, to which Senator Wright referred, is a long one. There are two or three pamphlets issued by the department which outline it and which might be studied by the honorable senator. Briefly, the scheme provides that those who are eligible for the invalid pension may apply to the department for medical treatment to eradicate or mitigate the permanent medical condition which makes them eligible for the invalid pension. The act provides that the department may, in certain circumstances, withhold the invalid pension if the recipient of it is not prepared to make himself available for rehabilitation. In each of the States there is at least one rehabilitation establishment, and in New South Wales there are three. These rehabilitation establishments are staffed with medical and nursing personnel. Frequently the medical condition of persons who receive treatment is one that arises from orthopaedic or muscular complaints, rheumatism or arthritis which react to physio-therapy treatment. I regard the rehabilitation scheme as one of the bright spots in the social services administration in that it does constructive work, which not only relieves the Commonwealth of financial responsibility for those on pensions, but also makes a very substantial contribution to the mental health and happiness of those who otherwise would be doomed to exist permanently on an invalid pension. It is interesting to see the appreciable proportion of recovery effected. Sometimes it is difficult to convince pensioners who are eligible for rehabilitation treatment but when they are persuaded that they can be made physically fit many have gone into the establishments and shown great benefit. Many have been taken out of the classification of unemployable as a result.
– After having had a great deal to do with one of the rehabilitation centres, I take this opportunity of paying tribute do the splendid work that they are doing. They are not only assisting those who are having treatment but are also giving them confidence in themselves and a much happier outlook. As a result, the persons who receive curative treatment are able to play their part in the community and learn an interesting occupation which assists them to a happier and healthier future. The spirit of co-operation, friendship and encouragement in these centres is something that honorable senators should commend heartily.
. When an aged or invalid pensioner is in a government institution, part of the pension is paid to the institution. Can the Minister inform the Senate how much is paid to the institution, since the introduction of the act, and who controls the balance of the pension? Is it paid to the individual and does the Deputy Director of Social ‘Services have the right to pay a sum to the matron of the institution whether the pensioner is willing or not? If any such amount is paid to the matron, is any check kept on how she spends it for the pensioner ?
Senator SPOONER (New South Wales - Minister for National Development) S.25J. - Institutions can apply to the department to be classified as an approved institution. If they are approved, the department pays to them directly a proportion of the pension. Each fortnight £2 2s. is paid to the pensioner and £3 18s. to the institution. The department thus pays £1 19s. a week for the upkeep of the pensioner.
– Do those who are in a mental home come under that provision ?
– No, Commonwealth policy regards inmates of mental institutions as the responsibility of the State governments under State health acts.
– As to the £2 2s. paid to the pensioner, has the Deputy Director of Social Services the power to pay that to the matron of an institution whether the pensioner agrees or not ? If so, is any check kept on how the money is spent?
– The institution must be approved. It may not be a government institution. The department takes appropriate . steps to ensure that proper standards are maintained. When a pensioner is admitted to an approved institution, the institution gets £3 18s. a fortnight. The pensioner has no say in the amount paid to the institution. The balance of the pension is paid to the pensioner.
– Nobody has a claim on it?
– Seven years ago the Social Security Committee investigated the problem of mental health. I wrote the report that the committee made on mental hospitals throughout Australia. For some years we were trying to get the co-operation of all State governments regarding those institutions. Quite recently the Government of Western Australia decided to give some small payment to the inmates of mental hospitals as a form of pocket money. Is that money paid through the grant from the Australian Government or not? Is there anything in the act to provide that payment to children of invalid pensioners can be made other than by child endowment ? I have in mind a case where there are five children under fourteen years of age. If no such provision exists those children are at a great disadvantage in the community compared with children in institutions or those whose parents are on the basic wage or more.
– No payment is being made to the Western Australian Government from Australian Government funds in respect of inmates of mental hospitals.
Any payment that the Western Australian Government is making is coming from State funds.
– A contribution was offered some years ago. Was that taken up by the State Government?
– I do not think a contribution was ever offered.
– It was offered.
– I only remember that at a conference of Commonwealth and State Premiers that I attended, at which I held the portfolio of Social Services, the State Premiers brought forward a proposal that the Commonwealth should pay to inmates of mental hospitals amounts similar to those paid to inmates of other institutions. The Commonwealth’s reply over the years has consistently been that this is a health matter and not a social services benefit.
.- When the portfolios of Health and Social Services were combined, was not an approach made to the States on this matter ? I recall having raised this question on several occasions in this chamber. I have always regarded mental health as the Cinderella of medical and social services. My recollection is that the Commonwealth found it impossible to secure the agreement of the States to any scheme for Commonwealth payments. I am wondering whether the States have ,now withdrawn that opposition.
– My attention has been drawn to the Mental Institutions Benefit Act, which was passed in 1948. Under that legislation, ?550,000 is being appropriated this year. No allowance is payable to children of invalid pensioners unless such children are themselves invalids. I am reminded also that the wife and children of a male invalid pensioner receive allowances of 30s. a week.
– Does that 30s. include child endowment?
– I think that it is in addition to child endowment.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Territories.
Proposed vote, ?156,000.
– I wish to deal with the control of hostels in the Australian Capital Territory.
- (Senator George Rankin). - Order! I ask the honorable senator to reserve his remarks until the vote for the appropriate department is under consideration.
– The schedule of salaries and allowances for the Department of Territories suggests that the appointment has been made, or is to be made, of a special adviser to the Minister. Will the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) explain why this appointment has become necessary, and what the duties of the special adviser will be?
.- The duties of the special adviser, Mr. R, Halligan, are to advise the Minister on such United Nations matters as trusteeship and the work of the South Pacific Commission.
– Since I visited Papua and New Guinea about eighteen months ago, I have been most interested in the development of that territory and when last year’s Appropriation Bill was before the Senate, I drew attention to some of the factors which I considered militated against the effective administration of the territory. I was impressed, however, by the progress that the Administrator, Colonel Murray, and his staff, had made in their work amongst the natives. The development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is of great importance to Australia, and is a matter with which this Parliament should be kept well acquainted. The report of the United Nations Visiting Mission which surveyed the administration of New Guinea was a reflection 05 Australia and on the Australian people We have been given a very important trusteeship. Our responsibility to the United Nations is to look after the welfare of the native peoples of New Guinea and to develop that territory to the limit of our capacity. I am pleased indeed that the Legislative Council of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will begin work next week, and I hope that the members of this Parliament who have been selected to -attend the opening ceremony, will be able to bring back better reports on conditions in the territory than I was able to make after my visit. The establishment of a legislative council will bring to the Territory a measure of selfgovernment which should be welcomed by New Guinea residents and by the native peoples. I understand that the move has been opposed by certain chambers of commerce and by some planters who view with alarm the abolition of the old “ boong-bashing “ order under which for many years they have been able to exploit the natives by forcing them into labour for which many of them were not suited. The establishment of the council, therefore, is a notable advance in the improvement of the welfare of the native peoples. Various interests and localities in the Territory will be represented on the council, and British residents will have an opportunity to play a more active part in the administration. At least they will know what is going on. It is most difficult for members of this Parliament to get any information about our territories. Even the Parliamentary Library, which is a most efficient organization, is not much better off than is the general public for information on the progress that has been made in the territories. I should like to see frequent reports made on such important projects as the re-building of the antiquated hospitals in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. “When I spoke on this subject previously, I mentioned the appalling state of the native hospital at Ella- Beach. I should like to know whether that hospital has been replaced by a modern institution because the conditions that I saw were a grave reflection on the Australian Government. During my visit I was informed that blue-prints had been prepared for new hospitals for white people at Port Moresby and Lae. I saw the plans of the Port Moresby hospital and I considered them to be very good. I should like to know whether the construction of those hospitals has been started. Brief newspaper reports that have come to my notice indicate that various industries are being established in the Territory, of Papua and New Guinea, but
I do not know what progress has been made with them. I saw fine stands of timber in the Bulolo Valley, ready for milling, and some time ago the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that an arrangement was being made between Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited and the Australian Government to exploit those timber resources. A report was to be made on the possibility of manufacturing plywood in New Guinea, from klinkii and hoop pine timber, but so far, neither this Parliament nor the people of Australia have been told what progress, if any, has been made with these projects.
The report of the United Nations Commission to which I have already referred condemned the policy that had been pursued in New Guinea in connexion with the development of natural resources. Since the war the Administrator of New Guinea, Colonel Murray, has had a very difficult job to perform as a result of the devastation that was caused during the war. I hope that, as a result of the establishment of the Legislative Council for the Territory, regular reports will be furnished by the Administrator, and that they will be made available for perusal by honorable senators. The Australian Government is faced with many problems, and is often guilty of adopting the attitude “ out .of sight, out of mind “ as far as Papua and New Guinea, are concerned. We must remember that our responsibility in respect of the Territory is very great. We must make good use of the opportunity that we have to show that we are good colonizers and good administrators. We should bring about a general improvement of educational, medical, and other facilities at Lae, Rabaul, and Port Moresby in order to attract more white people to the administrative services there, so that further progress can be made with development. Conditions in those towns are very primitive indeed. Unless the facilities that I have mentioned are improved, white people will not be encouraged to leave civilized areas to undertake pioneering work. Steps should be taken to open up the fertile land on the highlands . and adjacent Wahgi Valley, which have wonderful potentialities. Much money will have to. be expended on the construction of roads. Of prime importance is the construction of a new bridge over the Markham River at Lae.
– It would soon be washed away.
– I do not think that if a bridge were constructed at the site that has been selected it would be washed away. The wonderful fertility of the Bulolo Valley, and the mineral and agricultural potentialities of Wau, fully justify the building of the bridge.
During last year the Commonwealth Bank made a grant of ?2,500 out of the profits of its Rural Credits Department for research in connexion with fibre crops in New Guinea. It was most encouraging that the bank should look in that way to the future of New Guinea. A very important experiment was carried out in New Guinea during the last twelve months in connexion with the growing of groundnuts, and the crop topped the market in Sydney. That was quite an achievement for New Guinea.
Opportunities to debate these matters occur only infrequently in this chamberso I hope honorable senators are not being bored by my remarks. If they would take the trouble to visit Papua and New Guinea, they would be convinced that we have a big job ahead of us there. I consider that it is specially incumbent on us to develop the territory over which we exercise a trusteeship. I realize that my interest in the development of Papua and New Guinea will not gain for me any additional votes at the next election of members of this chamber, and I am actuated only by a sense of national responsibility. Other nations of the world will eventually test our trustworthiness in this connexion. It is for that reason that I hope that we will soon receive regular reports from the Administrator about the progress that is being made in Papua and New Guinea, and on the deliberations of the new Legislative Council. I trust that they will be made readily by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), in the same way as periodical reports on external affairs are made W-* .the Minister for External Affairs (Mr.. Casey).
– Wa,s the honorable senator an applicant for an administrative post in New- Guinea?
– In to-day’s press there is a report of the result of a Gallup poll that was recently conducted. If 1 were so uncertain about the result of the next general election as honorable senators opposite probably are, I should be seeking an outside post. Honorable senators should evince greater interest in the welfare of our territories. Our- trusteeship of New Guinea provides us with an opportunity to carry out a valuable social and economic experiment. I understand that Senator Kendall proposes to go to Papua and New Guinea during the forthcoming recess of the Parliament to endeavour to extend trading facilities with the mainland. There is a lamentable shortage of available shipping.
- (Senator George Rankin). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to Division 254, Miscellaneous Services item 1, “ Grant to Administration towards expenses, including national welfare, development, war damage and reconstruction “. The proposed vote for this financial year will be ?5,371,000 compared with an expenditure of ?4,356,991 during the last financial year. I should like the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to explain the reason for the increase. Before the war, New Guinea was completely selfsupporting. Furthermore, reparations have been made, and war damage insurance has been paid in respect pf war-caused damage in New Guinea. I also seek information about Division 254 item 4, “ Shipping Service “.
– Order! _ The honorable senator is out of order in referring to Division 254. We are considering the proposed vote of ?156,000 for the Department of Territories.
– I understood that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) had agreed to a consideration of the items that T have mentioned.
Sena-tor O’FLAHERTY .(South Australia) [8.55]. - You ruled earlier ? Mr.
Chairman, that I could not address myself to a consideration of Division 250 - Australian Capital Territory, General Services - for which the proposed vote is £7S2,000. I wish to refer now to a proposed vote that appears in the itemized list under Division 250. It is a part of the total proposed vote of £9,294,000 for all the territories of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator may not proceed to a discussion of that item at this stage.
– I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that in future bills such as the one now under consideration should be indexed in a manner that will enable honorable senators readily to locate particulars of proposed expenditure to which an honorable senator is referring. It is quite impossible for us to do so with the bill in its present form. Senator O’Byrne has discussed matters relating to Papua and New Guinea and I have been under the impression that we were considering the proposed vote for all territories of the Commonwealth.
– We are considering the proposed vote of £156,000 for th« Department of Territories.
– The details of the proposed vote are set out in Part XIV. of the Second Schedule. I ask for information on the item. “ Administrative Officer. Official Representative, Senior Project Officer, Commerce Officer, Principal Research Officer, Economist, Senior ResearchOfficer, Research Officer, Accountant. Librarian, Registrar and Clerks “ under “ Administration “, for which the proposed vote is £74,689, compared with the vote of £49,789 for the last financial year. This is a recurring item, which is full of foreboding to me. No doubt Senator O’Byrne’s mind flies immediately to the financial provision that is to be made for research officers, economists, registrars, and clerks. What is involved in the item that I have mentioned.
– In view of the remarks that were made by Senator O’Byrne, would I be in order in proceeding to discuss the matter to which I referred a few minutes ago?
- Senator O’Byrne wandered a bit. We had better keep to the specific matter before the Chair.
– Those officers are on the unattached list pending suitable vacancies. Although they are at present employed by the department, they have not been permanently appointed. In that sense they are unattached officers. The employment of persons in addition to those employed at the present time is not contemplated. The increase of salaries to which the honorable senator has referred is due to normal increments, cost of living adjustments and increases of salary consequent upon arbitration determinations. The estimates have been worked out having regard to those matters.
– Will the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) inform me of the amount of the salary paid to the Assistant Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, Mr. Cleland, who was recently appointed and who is an. ex-president of the Liberal party ? Can the Attorney-General also say whether that salary has been included in the estimated expenditure of the Department of Territories?
– I inform the honorable senator that the matter to which he has referred does not come within this section of the schedule. It will be found in Division 254.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, £1,029,000.
– I wish to refer to a matter which I had intended to deal with during the adjournment debate last night, but did not do so because of the lateness of the hour. The subject concerns immigration and the Department of Immigration.
– Although the honorable senator is entitled to discuss the matter now, I suggest that it would be much more appropriate if he raised it during the adjournment debate. I take it that the matter does not concern the proposed vote of the Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Labour and National Service.
Proposed vote, £1,6S1,000.
.- Can the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) inform me where reference may be found to the proposed vote for the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board? That board has grown up over the years and, in my opinion, is detrimental to the efficiency of the industry. It is costing the country a considerable sum of money and, as far as I can see, it is performing no useful service.
– The matter is not dealt with in these Estimates at all. The appropriation for the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board is made under its own legislation.
– I wish to refer to Division 94, Part C, Miscellaneous, where an item appears concerning extension for training requirements of technical college training facilities. It will be seen that last year £1,000 was voted for that purpose, but no expenditure is provided for this year.
– On the information available to me at the moment, I am unable to inform the honorable senator why no provision has been made for that item this year, but if he is interested to discover the reason for the omission, I shall obtain the necessary information from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) and furnish him with it.
– Am I to understand that honorable senators will have no opportunity to discuss the operations of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board whilst the committee is dealing with this appropriation measure? Surely provision is made somewhere in the Estimates for an appropriation for that board !
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) has stated that the appropriation is effected by means of special legislation.
– I notice that the total estimated expenditure of the Department of Labour and National Service is £219,185 less than the expenditure last year. Can the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) say whether that reduction of expenditure is due to the fact that a number of employees of the Commonwealth Employment Service have been dismissed? If so, I suggest that no allowance has been made by the Government for the increased expenditure that will be necessary because of the additional overtime required to be worked in connexion with the call up of national service trainees. I consider that in the long run, the department will be involved in more expense because of the necessity to pay additional overtime than it would have been had it not dismissed the employees to whom I have referred.
– The reduction of thi; total estimated expenditure is explained in large measure by reference to Division 94, “ Salaries and payments in the nature of salaries “, item 2, which refers to temporary and casual employees. The vote for salaries and payments in. the nature of salary to temporary and casual employees was £758,000 last year, whereas the estimated expenditure this year is £469,200. It is true that a number of those persons were employed in the Commonwealth Employment Service and that some re-organization of that service took place earlier in the year, with the result that there has been some reduction of the number of temporary employees and a total reduction in the estimates of the whole department.
– I consider that the Department of Labour and National Service deserves careful scrutiny, because it seems to me to be a typical example of Commonwealth growth. In 1940, by proclamation, the department of Industry was converted into the Department cif Labour and
National -Service. It is somewhat breathtaking to peruse the estimates of expenditure for the first year of the life of this infant, when the total expenditure was estimated at £144,200, which included even the rent that was payable at that time. The proposed vote for this year does not include the rent, which appears in the estimates for the “Department of Interior, and amounts to £77,500. One cannot but recall that occupants of premises have been pushed out by this department and prevented from reoccupying office space after coming back from the war, and although in the interim, there has been no appreciable increase of the rates of rental. Yet, because of expansion of government departments the rent which this department has paid to outsiders has increased from £12,700 in 1940-41 to ‘the present estimated expenditure of ‘£77^500.
One of the original purposes of the department, peculiarly enough, was to write the doomsday book for the decade of the war. I refer to the national register. The object of that record was a sensible one at the time because the Commonwealth was then exercising complete man-power control and was directing men into munitions works and the Civil Constructional Corps, according to the exigencies of defence of the nation. To-night we have before us a proposed appropriation of £1,681,000, which, as I have ‘said, does not include at least £77,500 for rent. In the circumstances, I -suggest that this portion of the -schedule is significant not only from the point of view of economy. Having regard to the statements made by honor-able senators opposite about economy during the budget debate, if they were sufficiently consistent to carry their arguments through to their proper conclusion, considerations of economy alone would seem to justify some scrutiny of this department. I take the view that this is a department which was constituted directly for war functions and that its continuance is justified only as long as post-war reconstruction functions, which properly appertain to a government department, are necessary. I am aware that at tha present time the department discharges functions in relation to placing immi- grants in employment and that it conducts an employment exchange. I also appreciate that to -some degree it . polices federal industrial awards and is responsible for the operation of the national service training scheme. I suggest that ‘this department, which was established during the war to direct man-power, was continued after the w.a’r simply for propaganda purposes, and in order to win popularity for the Labour Government. There is no need for the department to concern itself in these days with finding employment. In any case, even if such n need existed, all the. States have for many years had Departments of Labour and Industry which could very well undertake the placing of people in employment, and which have particular local knowledge which renders them especially valuable. Eoiinstance, the office in Brisbane has a special knowledge of the sugar industry ; that in Adelaide has a special knowledge of the needs of the coal-mining industry at Leigh Creek; whilst that at Hobart has a special knowledge, of the needs of the small fruits industry. I -urge the Government to consider particularly the ill-effects of duplicating State services. In Tasmania, I have heard complaints from officers of the State Department of Labour and Industry that they encounter competition from ‘Commonwealth officers who think that it is their duty to police certain awards. I am aware that the State officers could properly police Commonwealth awards only if they were asked by the Commonwealth to do so, but in the past very sensible arrangements have been entered into between the Commonwalth and the ‘States for the collection of Commonwealth revenue by State officers. I believe that it would make for more harmonious working of industrial awards if people seeking information could get it from one central office, both in regard to State and Federal awards. I urge the Government to consider reducing the activities of this department. At page 168 of the schedule details are given of the staffing of the department, and when one notes the number of persons engaged, one wonder? whether there is any room or, indeed, any need for the recruitment of a new army. The schedule shows that there are 346 employment officers in the department, whose salaries total £315,599. I congratulate the Minister upon having reduced the costs of the department, but there is room for further reduction. Above all, it is necessary to avoid duplication of Commonwealth and State activities.
– This department did not exist -in its present form in 1940. At that time, a Liberal government was in office, and the organization out of which the present department grew consisted of only a few executive officers. The department was not then concerned with directing people into the Civil Constructional Corps or into the labour corps. I was one of those who helped to establish the department in Tasmania for the .purpose of diverting man-power into fields where it was most needed in the prosecution of the war effort. It is just so much humbug to suggest that the department was kept in existence for the sake of political propaganda. Senator Wright, who made the statement, must know that he was not telling the truth. Whether the proposed expenditure by the department this year is warranted, I leave it to the Minister to explain.
Senator VINCENT (Western Australia) 9.22]. - Can the Minister offer any explanation of the item on page 16S of the schedule which shows that “the department employs 24 catering officers and demonstrators? Can be say what is being demonstrated, and for whom the catering services exist?
– The catering officers are attached to the food services branch, which consists principally of experts in large-scale catering. They assist in the establishment and running df cafeterias in large industrial establishments, and On the waterfront. The branch, provides expert assistance in connexion with food services operated by the Government, particularly in immigrant hostels, df which there are about 70. Members df the staff also have inspectorial responsibilities. They concern themselves with nutritional matters, and in the conduct of courses for management and staff. We must view ‘this department iii its proper perspective, and understand that it is making a real .contribution to the maintenance of industrial peace. If it is successful in that, the money spent on it will have been well spent. It would be false to assume that ‘the department is concerned only with the employment service. At one time it was concerned largely with finding jobs in which to put men. Since then, the position has been reversed, and now the employment service is concerned mostly with finding men to put into jobs. There are more vacancies than there are men to fill them. On the employment side, the department still does valuable work by putting into suitable jobs displaced persons and immigrants. Whilst some honorable senators may be critical of particular items, I suggest that when the estimate for the whole department is considered, it cannot be regarded as a heavy contribution by the country for the maintenance df industrial peace.
– In Queensland, the State immigration authorities assumed responsibility foi* placing British migrants in jobs, and I cannot see why the Commonwealth Immigration Department cannot perform the same service for immigrants who are under its aegis. Where is the line to be drawn between the activities of the Commonwealth and those of the State? T believe in State rights. The functions which belong specifically to the States should be exercised by ‘them, and the Commonwealth should not encroach on fields of power reserved foi” the States. When ‘this department was first established, Mr. Gair, who was at that time’ Minister for -Labour and Industry in the Queensland Government, protested strongly against what he regarded as unnecessary duplication of State and Commonwealth services. There is not room for Commonwealth and State activity in this field, and we should not have State and Commonwealth officers competing against one another at the expense of the taxpayer. Goodness knows, we are already “taxed heavily enough ‘for urgent purposes without having to meet these added -burdens. Some reduction has b’ee’n made in the overall provision for the department, but its administrative staff has been increased. It is difficult to understand why, at a time of full employment, it is necessary for the department to employ 346 employment officers. That is a paradox which cannot be explained. No unemployment exists among ablebodied men who are willing to work.
– Providing employment for the workers is not their sole job.
– It is always possible for a government to establish a government department and to find all kinds of jobs for those appointed to it. I should like to submit a questionnaire to the administrative head of the Department of Labour and National Service asking him to state how his employees fill in their time throughout the whole of every working day in the week. I do not think that he could make a very satisfactory reply. Irrespective of what government is in office, while I remain a member of this Senate, I shall do everything possible to ensure that the taxpayers shall receive value for their money. Now that this matter hai been brought prominently to the notice of the Minister, I trust that the Government will examine this department and other departments that compete against, and duplicate the work of, State departments. Control of labour and industry is the express concern of the State parliaments. When I toured Queensland during the 1949 general election campaign I was informed by the officer in charge of one employment office in a city in that State that he would be glad to receive instructions to ClOSe down his office because he had nothing to do. He said, “ Everybody in this locality has a job. There is no call upon my services except in a very remote way. I should be glad to be more profitably occupied “. That unfortunate man was buried away in an office in which he had nothing to do of any consequence in the way of finding employment.
– He should have found himself a job.
– He expressed the hope that if there were a change of government his office would be closed and he would be transferred to another department in which he would have a chance to earn his salary. I trust that the Minister will inquire into the need for the continuance of this expensive department and at least ascertain how much further its administrative costs can be pruned. I should like to see it abolished. Those services that are rendered by it co the Department of Immigration and other departments should revert back to them.
– Less than justice has been done to the Department of Labour and National Service and its officers. Senator Maher’s experience in connexion with one of the officers of the department in Queensland is an isolated instance. The department is rendering very valuable services to the people of Western Australia. One result of the establishment of employment offices was to close down a number of private registry offices, the proprietors of which were battening on the unfortunate unemployed and taking from persons who obtained employment through their offices one-half of their first week’s wages whether or not the job offered was a congenial one. Large sums of money were extracted from unfortunate persons who were not in permanent work. The large number of registry offices that had been established throughout the State was clear evidence of the profit that was gained from such ventures and demonstrated the need for the establishment of government employment offices which would not take advantage of the ill fortune of those seeking employment.
During the war years, and since the war, the Department of Labour and National Services has rendered very valuable services to the people of Western Australia. Recently, when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) was in Western Australia taking part in the referendum campaign, he received a deputation of business men and employers of Collie protesting against the announcement that the employment office at that centre was to be closed. As the result of the representations of the deputation, the Minister decided that it should remain open. He made an on-the-spot assessment of the needs of the district and decided that they could be met adequately only by the continuance of the govern: ment employment office. A similar decision was made about the employment office at Merredin. An officer in one of the eastern States, knowing nothing of the circumstances of the Merredin district, decided that the employment office there should be closed in the interest of economy. That has since been found to be a false move and I understand that the office has been re-opened.
Many persons do not understand the scope of the work carried out by employment officers. It has been said that it is the task of the State governments to ensure that British immigrants shall be settled in employment in Australia. That function is not the sole prerogative of the State governments. British immigrants are supposed to be promised employment before they leave Great Britain. Indeed, that is one condition under which they are allowed to come here. They are also supposed to have accommodation arranged for them. M.any of them come here and share accommodation with relatives and friends. Often, after an arrangement of that kind has continued for some time, the friendliness of the arrangement wears off and the new arrivals eagerly seek accommodation elsewhere. Those who are successful in so doing have to obtain employment at centres nearer to their new homes and depend upon the assistance of the Government employment officers in obtaining it. I agree that much can be done by the States in the provision of accommodation and employment for immigrants. In that respect Queensland might be in a very much better position than is “Western Australia, which has only a very small population and very limited financial resources. This problem must be tackled on a national basis. Honorable senators opposite talk about full employment a? though that desirable state will last for ever. In Western Australia recently one business undertaking alone put off 200 men in a week. Many big business houses are already carrying out extensive staff retrenchments, because of the uncertainty of the future. Clothing manufacturers in Western Australia have stated that conditions in that industry have never been as bad as they are now. A psychology of fear that a depression is around the cornet is being created in the minds of business people. Even if the services of Commonwealth employment officers are not being fully availed of now, having regard to the way in which the economic position nf the country is drifting they may be full) availed of within the next few months.
I pay a tribute to the excellence of the work performed by the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service. Many persons who are employed at centres distant from their homes have approached me for assistance in obtaining employment nearer to their homes for domestic reasons. The officers of the Department of Labour and National Service have invariably been able to make the requisite arrangements, and without cost to the persons concerned. Conditions to-day are very different from those of a few years ago when seamstresses and waitresses paid one-half of their first week’s wages to proprietors of registry offices before they were even given a chance to see what sort of a job had been offered to them. It is regrettable that there should be in the community persons waiting to take advantage of the misfortunes of other people. I commend the Government for its decision to retain the Government employment offices. I pay a tribute to the efficiency and helpfulness of all the employment officers with whom I have come in contact during the last eight years. Those whom I have sent to them have invariably been treated courteously.
– After listening to the outline of the functions of the Department of Labour and National Service by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) 1 again appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, to permit me to discuss the activities of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. A portion of the administrative expenses of that body must be provided by the Department of Labour and National Service.
– Order! The honorable senator may discuss the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board when the proposed vote for the Department of Shipping and Transport is under consideration.
– In the House of Representatives yesterday, a question asked about the board was answered by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt).
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has informed me that the proposed votes for the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board now come under the control of the Department of Labour and National Service, and therefore the honorable senator may proceed.
– I wish to discuss the activities of the board for two reasons; first, because of my experiences when as a Minister in the Western Australian Government I was in charge of the Fremantle Harbour Trust; and, secondly, because of the shocking report circulated by the board earlier this year about conditions on the waterfront. Before the establishment of the board, men working on the wharfs at Fremantle were under the control of the Fremantle Harbour Trust, the appropriate government instrumentality for that purpose. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board was foisted on the people and as a result there has been inefficiency, loafing and general dislocation on the wharfs. To’ give an example of how the new authority operates I inform honorable senators that a former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Chifley, asked the Western Australian Government to provide crib houses and conveniences close to the places of work of the men engaged on the waterfront in Western Australia which is as it should be. I made inquiries and found that the request resulted from a visit that had been made by an official of the board. After having inspected the wharfs, he recommended that new crib sheds be erected at Bunbury, Geraldton and Albany, in some instances only 50 yards away from similar amenities that had been provided only twelve months earlier. The Prime Minister ordered those new facilities to be provided. That is the sort of thing that happens when a Commonwealth instrumentality overrides the authority of the State harbour boards. When control of waterside workers at Fremantle was exercised by the Fremantle Harbour Trust certain men were allotted to specific jobs in the .carrying out of which they became very proficient. For instance certain men were employed in storing goods as they came off the ships. They acquired an intimate knowledge of the brands of various importers and became expert in tha work. When control of the waterfront came under the jurisdiction of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board no attempt was made to retain the gangs of picked men and as a result cargoes have not been handled as efficiently as they were under the former system. I went to the Fremantle wharfs and it was a daily occurrence to see half a dozen men playing cards between the sheds. If they were not doing that they could be found at the hotel nearby. As the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board stated in its report, the position is chaotic. There was nobody in authority. The harbour trust could not touch those men. The unfortunate foreman had uo authority. That is one of the main reasons why shipping is being slowed down at Fremantle. The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board states that Judge Kirby had found that in Sydney one stevedoring company in 194S achieved a loading rate of 15.99 tons of general cargo an hour, as against the rate attained by all other interstate companies of 12.90 tons, a difference of 3.09 tons an hour or about 25 per cent, better loading. That wa? because of greater efficiency and much less apparent confusion because the foreman was more co-operative in a friendly way. In the port of Melbourne there came to the board’s notice an alarming number of cases of waterside workers having been arrested by the police for drunkenness and similar offences during their time of employment without the knowledge of their employers. In each case the working report which was furnished by the employer at the conclusion of each job made no reference to the arrest. Many reports credited the me.:i with working a full shift. What was seen by the board in Melbourne was seen in every port that it visited. There was evidence of laxity in supervision and efficiency. Men were found playing cards or two-up, sitting idle on ships and wharfs, fishing, leaving jobs without the permission or knowledge of their employers and in some cases taking it in turn to go home and stay home without being disciplined. In fact, they were paid for their absence as if they had worked.
Another aspect is the time taken up by work in which the men should not be employed. Before the establishment of this board, the work of shifting hatches was done by the ship’s crew, but gradually that was transferred to the waterside workers and it is now done exclusively by them. As a result the work is slower. A ship has to berth before the hatches can be removed, whereas it could be done while the ship is entering the harbour. The waterside worker is thus prevented from doing full-time work. Judge Kirby gave one instance regarding the engagement of labour. If a gang knocks off work in a port, instead of being put on another ship, it finishes and another gang is engaged. As a result, an enormous amount of labour is lost. In his report the judge stated -
Re-engaging labour for fresh work when the original jobs cut out during a shift in Sydney in the months of March and April, resulted in a loss of 39,000 and51 , 000 hours respectively.
That is a terrible state of affairs and it is brought about by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board coming between the authority which should be charged with this work and the men who do it. The vital man is the foreman. The report states -
The foreman, who is a vital cog in the process of handling cargo, in many cases instead of being a permanent responsible servant is but another of the all too numerous casual waterfront employees, and at the completion of a job he leaves with the watersiders, uncertain when and where he will get his next job.
He has no authority or stability of employment, and how can he exercise authority? It should be done by the harbour trust authorities for more reasons than one. It is their duty to erect the wharfs and put machinery on them and they should engage the men to do the work. Many requests are made for up-to-date machinery to assist the men. I have here the report of the Eleventh Interstate Conference of the Australian Port Authorities Association. In it there is a paper which was read by Mr. G. A. Whitton. He stated -
We have arranged and carried out experiments to have the whole cargo of a ship palletized and handled with fork lift trucks. Gentlemen, I am afraid that these trials have not indicated the slightest improvement in output and I am not comparing that output with pre-war output but with present day output. We found in some of those experiments - I could give you the actual figures, of course, but I do not propose to bore you with them - that the handling of a whole cargo which amounted to somewhere in the region of 0,000 tons where every bit of cargo could be palletized was palletized, was handled at a slightly slower rate than a similar type of cargo which was handled on the ship’s previous voyage.
There is not the slightest encouragement for the harbour authorities to introduce modern machinery. In Fremantle they have installed it, but they have not the slightest choice of the men who will work it. I saw a man on a fork-lift truck having a great old time driving it around the shed like a motor car.
The Government is trying to effect economies. If the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board was abolished and the work was handed over to the harbour trust authorities, man-power would be saved and the turn-round of ships would be expedited. That would be of no small benefit to industry in Australia. If there was an item in these Estimates relating to the board I would move for its abolition, but as I cannot find one, all that I can do is to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister in the hope that something will be done in the near future to abolish this board and allow the control of labour to revert to the harbour trust authorities.
In justice to the men, I do not want it to be thought that they are the only ones to blame. They are not. There are cases where employers are to blame. In the case of drunkenness which I have mentioned, the employers did not report the man, but paid him. The judge pointed out that in some cases wool was brought to the wharfs and dumped, there was nobody to direct the men where to put it. They had to wait for their assignments. The employers have some responsibility, but the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board is in no position to enforce any conditions on the employers or employees. The harbour boards are in that position. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board has no authority and the position on the Western Australian wharfs is a scandal. I cannot speak of conditions in the eastern States.
– I have visited the port mentioned by the honorable senator on several occasions. At one time the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board came under the Minister for Shipping and Transport; but, when industrial matters were placed under the Department of Labour and National Service, it came under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has indicated publicly that he regards the position as highly unsatisfactory. I remind the honorable senator that a man of very high standing in the United Kingdom, Mr. H. Basten, has been brought to Australia and for four months he has been making a detailed study of conditions on the waterfront. The Government hopes to get his report this month or early next month, and I can assure the Senate that, on the receipt of the report, -the Government will give the matter earnest and serious consideration.
– I am very encouraged to hear from the Minister that honorable senators can look to an earnest scrutiny of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board and its activities, but the Tasmanian fruit season will be open from the end of February until May. The fruit industry of Tasmania is very important. It is a seasonal industry and the producers work like beavers at harvest time to take advantage of the unique opportunity to supply the market in England when the English apple crop is not ready for harvesting. Therefore, the ability of ships to lift the apple crop is of the greatest moment to southern Tasmania. Because of restrictive influences that have trussed the industry like a plucked fowl for the last five years, members of the Waterside Workers Federation have been permitted to work only two nights a week up to 9 o’clock in Hobart instead of five nights until 9 o’clock and in some cases until 11 o’clock as in other parts of Tasmania. By reason of this iniquitous system of government control of the waterfront industry, the available waterfront labour in Hobart during the apple season has been reduced to 59 per cent, of requirements.
That means that the producers are prevented from getting their apples to the market. I have risen only because apparently it is not possible to get a comprehensive report so that it can be implemented before the next fruit season and because I wanted to show how the iniquitous position that has been demonstrated by Senator Seward affects the apple industry of Tasmania, so that the Minister will be able to keep it specially in focus and so prevent in the 1952 season a recurrence of the unsatisfactory conditions of the past.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed vote, £S93,000.
-. - This proposed vote represents an increase of more than £200,000 over actual expenditure last year. Apparently, as expenditure by this department increases, our shipping services decrease. The lack of adequate shipping is having a severe effect on production in Tasmania. Farmers are saying, “ What is the use of producing more if we cannot obtain shipping space for our produce?” For the information of the Senate I shall cite figures showing the decline of cargoes shipped from one relatively small port in Tasmania. I refer to the port of Stanley. In 1950, cargoes shipped from Stanley totalled 35,516 tons; by 1950, that figure had fallen to 18,569 tons. Details of the decline are shown in the following table: -
There has been a similar deterioration at all other Tasmanian ports. The decline has not been caused by the absence of cargoes. Considerable quantities of produce have been transported 50, 60, or 70 miles by road to other ports on the off-chance that shipping space could he found for them. Last season, farmers turned their live-stock into fields of carrots and turnips which they had not bothered to harvest because of the lack of shipping space; yet vegetables were selling at famine prices in Sydney and elsewhere on the mainland ! Senator Armstrong has complained that Australian shipbuilding yards have not sufficient orders to ensure continuity of employment to dockyard workers. I have no doubt that, when the shipbuilding industry in this country has become almost extinct, honorable senators opposite will be deploring the difficulty in purchasing vessels overseas. Even during the worst years of the war, shipping facilities in this country were not as bad as they are now. The position has become worse in the two years that this Government has been in office, and- the Australian economy and the Australian people are suffering as the result. I do not underestimate the ability of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), but I trust that Cabinet will give more serious attention to this problem. Tasmania is, of course, hardest hit by the inadequacy of shipping services, but some of the mainland States are also labouring under serious disabilities. Not long ago a certain individual informed me that, by buying ten tons of onions at Orbost in Victoria and transporting them by road to Sydney, he was able to make a profit of £600. That kind of black-marketing could be eliminated if shipping space were provided to transport Tasmanian vegetables to the mainland.
– Does Mr. McGirr not control prices in New South Wales?
– I am not concerned at the moment with who controls prices. I am concerned about the lack of shipping facilities, and I am sure that, in this connexion, I have the strong support of Senator Wright. I have shown the decline of cargo clearances at the port of Stanley. At another Tasmanian port which at one time was a big exporting centre for timber, shipments fell from 7,361,45S super, feet in 1940, to 4,753,000 super, feet in 1950. Millions of super, feet of timber are stacked in Tasmania awaiting shipment to the mainland where it is urgently required to build homes. This situation is a national tragedy. Vegetables are being fed. to stock in Tasmania while they are being sold on the mainland markets at famine prices. Huge quantities of timber are lying in stacks in Tasmania while thousands of people on the mainland are homeless. This state of affairs is seriously reducing Tasmania’s industrial potential, and is upsetting the Australian economy.
.- Honorable senators representing Tasmania are united in their efforts to relieve the shipping problems of that State, but I cannot permit this occasion to pass without paying a tribute to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), and to the officers of his department for their sympathetic approach to those problems. The fact that Tasmanian shipping services are still inadequate is not the fault of the department. Any requests that .have been made by honorable senators, individually or collectively, to the department have been complied with if that has been at all possible. While it is true that there are still substantial accumulations of cargoes at Tasmanian ports, the department has done much to alleviate the position. Paper has been shipped from Burnie, timber from Beauty Point, and so on. I am convinced that the Minister and his advisers have done everything possible to help.
, - I have the unusual pleasure of joining in this debate at the invitation of Senator Aylett in an attempt once more to focus the attention of the Senate on the very serious deficiency that exists in Tasmanian shipping services. It is important that all Tasmanian senators, regardless of their party affiliations, should face the veal causes of the present difficulty. Surely the only justification for continuing a government shipping service is that it is free from dislocation due to industrial troubles. The waterside workers and the seamen have tribunals to which they can take their claims foihigher wages or better conditions. Why cannot the important work of carrying cargoes between Australian ports be continued while grievances are being placed before those tribunals? If necessary, wage increases can be made retrospective. A national shipping line should be free from the industrial dislocation with which the private shipping companies have to contend. Again I can illustrate the position by referring to the apple trade. Whereas in 1939 ships carrying apples from Tasmania made 22 round trips to Sydney, to-day they make only eight trips. The Mount Lyell mine in Tasmania supplies most of Australia’s requirements of capper. If honorable senators knew the degree to which irregular shipping services have affected production at that mine they would be appalled. Senator Aylett has drawn attention to the effect that the lack of cargo space is having on primary production in Tasmania. 1 have no- apology to make for endeavouring once again, even at this late hour, to impress upon honorable senators the need to place Tasmanian shipping services on a proper basis.
– I appreciate the seriousness of the shipping problem to Tasmania, Western Australia, and Queensland. When the ships that are being constructed are placed on the Tasmanian run there will be a much improved service, provided that we get a better deal from the waterside workers.
Senator Aylett has asked why expenditure has increased. With the readjustment of the various departments, shipbuilding is now under the control of the Department of Shipping and Transport, and the original administrative staff has to be provided for in the proposed vote. Together with the automatic increases that have occurred from time to time, that is the main reason for the increased expenditure. I make a final appeal to honorable senators to push on with a consideration of the schedule, in order that the departmental officers who have been in attendance for a considerable time may get on with their work.
.- Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) inform me of the prospects of orders for ships being placed with Australian merchant shipbuilding yards? The shipping problem has been a vexed one in the Senate. The Government has placed orders for ships overseas, but theonly order that has been placed in Australia during the last two years is for a vessel of 2,100 tons. This approach to the problem will ricochet against the Government in due course, unless encouragement is soon given to the industry..
– As I have indicated from timeto time, the Government is giving thismatter serious consideration. Due to a shortage of man-power, ships that wereordered by the former Labour Government will not be delivered until 1953. I wasadvised to that ‘effect to-day. Everybody knows the importance of Tribal classdestroyers, and other naval ships, in connexion with the defence of our coast. Special attention has been given to naval’ construction. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) has informed me that there is a shortage, of 5,000 men for theconstruction of naval ships in AustraliaRepresentatives of this country have visited practically every country in theworld during the last twelve months toendeavour to buy ships. They have not been able to buy in any quantity. Wehave bought several ships, but nothingslike the number that we require. We have given licences to ‘various companies,, and we are prepared to encourage them to purchase ships wherever- they possibly can. As I. said earlier, T hope -that we can get a better turn-round of shipsand freedom from holdups in connexion, with the construction of ships in Australia. When we receive the ships that: have been ordered in the United. Kingdom, we shall be able to give betterservice, particularly to- Tasmania. L assure the Senate that the responsible Ministers are reviewing this matter daily. As soon as we can see daylight as far as naval construction is concerned, the aspect of the matter that has been raised by Senator Armstrong, which is vitally important, will receive the attention of the Government.
– I appreciate the fact that this matter has been under review continuously during the last two years, and that this constant review takes a lot out of Ministers. But when does the Government intend to order ships to be built in Australia? It is of no use for the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) to say that the pressure of naval construction is a factor sufficiently important to warrant the closing down of Australian merchant shipbuilding yards. I remind the Minister that there are merchant shipbuilding yards at Brisbane and Maryborough, at which there is no naval construction worth talking about. Because of the fact that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) has stated that we are short of some thousands of men, does the Government intend to let the Queensland merchant shipbuilding yards die? He is suggesting to the Senate that, because there is a shortage of 5,000 workers for shipbuilding in Sydney, that is what should happen. There is also a merchant shipbuilding yard at Whyalla, in South Australia, at which no naval construction is proceeding. Where there is no competition for labour between merchant shipbuilding and naval construction what is to stop the Government from getting on with the job of constructing merchant ships? It is true that ships that were ordered when I was Minister for Supply in the former Labour Government will not be completed until 1953. The main reason for that is that that Government ordered a long way ahead.
– Were the ships ordered foi- delivery in 1953?
– That Government ordered a long way ahead. Labour was responsible for starting up shipbuilding again at Mort’s Dock in Sydney. Four orders were placed in 1949. At the present time, about ten merchant ships are under construction in this country, four of which are due to be delivered before the end of this year. This matter is becoming very urgent, and something beyond a daily review by Ministers is warranted. Ships should be ordered for construction in Queensland and South Australia now, in order to give the shipbuilders an opportunity to lay in supplies of steel and auxiliary machinery, much of which has to be imported. It does not matter so much that delivery will not be effected until 1953. It is only with the utmost difficulty that an expert team can be got together once it has been disbanded. A very fine shipbuilding yard has been established by Evans Deakin Limited at Brisbane. That firm was able to establish its modern shipbuilding yard because the orders that it received enabled it to lay the keel of its next ship when the ship on which it was working was probably only half completed. By that means, the company was able to gain more experience and technical ability as it went along. When the day conies that it has not an order to go on with, its personnel will disperse, and, as I have already mentioned, it will be tremendously difficult for that company to get its team together again. I make a final appeal to the Minister, and the other members of the Cabinet sub-committee which is handling this matter, to lodge orders for the construction of merchant ships with shipbuilding yards at which there is no naval construction taking place.
– Will the Minister inform me whether there is in existence any programme of shipbuilding by the Australian shipbuilding companies, independent of ships that are under construction for the Government ?
– The private companies have two sugar ships nearly completed. Others have been ordered in the United Kingdom.
– I did not intend to speak again, but I have felt impelled to do so by the statements of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) and Senator “Wright about the slow turn-round of ships which, they stated, has been due to the attitude of the seamen and the waterside workers. According to evidence that was given by Mr. Vertigan 75 per cent, of the slow turn-round of ships has not been due to the waterside workers. If honorable senators would refer to the last report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board they would learn that the reason for the slow turn-round, particularly in Sydney, has been the cluttering-up of the wharfs. For instance, vessels have gone to Sydney and have had to lie beside a wharf for up to a month. Wool has been’ placed on the wharf alongside the ship, but has not been loaded because the complete consignment of wool had not arrived at the wharf. On other occasions ships have been loaded with wool, but because the brokers had not paid the bankers for it, the wool had to be unloaded. As a result, shipping has been lying alongside wharfs for many weeks, thus preventing other ships in the stream from coming alongside.
– to order! Senator Morrow’s remarks really have nothing to do with any specified item with which we are dealing in these estimates. He is making a propaganda speech, which has no relevance to any item under consideration.
- (Senator Nash). I rule that the honorable senator is in order. We are considering the proposed vote for the Department of Shipping and Transport, and other honorable senators have dealt with matters not directly associated with thai department.
– I am merely rebutting statements that have been made by the Minister and by Senator Wright. Their indictment of the workers should not be allowed to go unchallenged. The slow turn-round of ships has been occasioned, also, because waterside workers have had to unload at the western ports cargo consigned to the eastern ports, in order to reach the cargo destined for the west. The cargo consigned to the eastern ports has then had to be reloaded. In one instance, 17,000 tons of cargo had to be so unloaded and reloaded. The waterside workers received no credit for such additional handling. The report to which I have referred states that the efficiency of the waterside workers in Tasmania is only 29 per cent. The reason is that ships are ballasted in Hobart. On occasions, ships are sent from Sydney to Hobart to unload certain cargo from their holds and take on other cargo. I have known instances of ships being sent to Hobart in order that certain cargo may be transferred from one hold to another. Again, the waterside workers get no credit for that work. In many instances the wharfs and wharf sheds are so cluttered up with cargo that it is impossible for the waterside workers to proceed with the unloading of additional cargo.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of National Development.
Proposed vote, ?1,076,000.
– So many changes have occurred in the departments in the last two years that it requires some one with the searching ability of Senator Wright to work out the items that should be considered in relation to the proposed vote for a particular department. Earlier to-day, there was a long discussion about fertilizers. I wish to refer to ammonia sulphate. If that item comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) I should like to ask him a question.
– It comes within the jurisdic-tion of the Department of Defence Production.
- (Senator Nash). Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That I do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
In committee:- Consideration resumed.
Department of National Development.
Proponed vote, £1,076,000.
– Last year, expenditure on account of the Bureau of Mineral Resources amounted to £2S2,309, whereas the vote for this financial year is £611,000. I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to explain the reason for the increase.
.- The chief reason for the increase relates to the open-cut coal-mining programme. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has joined with the Joint Coal Board ‘ and the New South Wales Mines Department in an open-cut programme. The bureau not only carries out surveys but also takes an active part in drilling operations. It has a temporary staff of approximately 100 employees engaged in the drilling operations, and drills and plant have been imported from overseas. That is the main reason for the increase, but I point out that there’ has been a general increase of activities of the bureau because of the work that is necessary to stimulate the production of metals that are now in short supply and in endeavouring to locate additional sources of supply of certain metals with some new scientific equipment which has been obtained.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed vote, £2,S10,000.
.- No one will find fault with the fact that the expenditure by this organization is to be increased. It is doing an enormous amount of good work in fighting many diseases that are experienced in this country. I wish, however, to refer to the item “ Fisheries Investigations “, in Division 97, for which an estimated expenditure of £133,000 has been provided. Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) inform me whether any of that money will be spent in investigation of the waters of Western Australia ?
– In the absence of the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, who is indisposed, I have just taken over the administration of this activity. I shall obtain the information which the honorable senator requires and let him have it as soon as possible.
– Despite the lateness of the hour, I cannot let pass the opportunity to commend the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organizationupon the work that it is doing. I point out that funds have been provided by way of outside donations and grants to assist the organization. I am. sure that those donations are made to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization because of wide appreciation of the excellent work that it is doing. The organization was established in 1926. It will be remembered that the first important work which it carried out was the effective destruction of prickly pear by the use of the cactoblastis insect. Since then, its activities have spread to secondary as well as primary industries. The work that is being done for the benefit of secondary industries to-day is of immense value, and the organization is accepted by industry as the final authority on many problems that occur from time to time. The organization continues to play a most important part in primary industries. It takes our problems into the laboratories and surmounts what appear to primary producers to be insurmountable difficulties. I suggest that its work will also make a great contribution to resolving the food shortages throughout the world to-day. It is capable of greater efforts in the future.
One of the greatest achievements of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization last year was the use of myxomatosis in the destruction of rabbits. That valuable work extended more than 1,000 miles, starting from Victoria and going as far as Queensland. When one considers the ramifications of the work that is being done by the organization, it will be found that that work includes investigation of plant and animal diseases, plant breeding, animal breeding, animal husbandry, and covers such diverse matters as insect pests, soil problems, flax, fisheries, food preservation and transport. All those matters are on the primary production side, whilst on the secondary production side its work deals with industrial chemistry, physics? forest projects, paper making, coal, building materials, radio, radar and many other matters. It is pleasing to note that during the years respective Austraiian governments have appreciated the work that has been done by the Commonwealth’ Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and have successively increased the vote for the organization. It is now on an excellent footing, and under the guidance of Dr. Clunies Ross, a man of whom Australia has reason to be proud, this fine organization will be taken on to greater heights in the future. Although I have no doubt that next year the proposed vote will be greater, honorable senators may rest assured that although more money may be spent, even more important results will be achieved.
. -Recently, in the United States of America, an all-party non-partisan committee of the House of Representatives has been investigating, with somewhat startling results, the effect on human life of new fungicides, insecticides and preservatives which are being used very freely for the preservation of food ana the stimulation of growth of primary products. The opinion has been hazarded in that country that the use of some of those chemicals is inducing sterility both in human beings and in animals. In America, and in Australia also, virulent and widespread outbreaks of poliomyelitis have occurred and the incidence of malignant cancer has spread. There has also been an increasing incidence of virus diseases. The investigations committee to which I have referred has called expert evidence from some of the leading doctors in the United States of America, who> have directed their minds to the possibility that the increasing incidence of diseases of that kind can be attributed tosuch matters as the extensive use of DDT for the destruction of insects on plants. The plants are then eaten by stock, and the DDT finally finds its way into the human system. It is interesting: to note that the matter has been considered of such importance in the United’ States of America that a non-party investigating committee of the House of Repersentatives has been appointed. T suggest that the same action might well be taken here.
Some very near tragedies have been averted in the United States of America. Chemical preparations have been used for the preservation of the bloom on peachesand meats sold for human consumption without proper tests being conducted. There have been one or two instances in. which the deleterious effects of such preservatives have been appreciated almost immediately after they have been used by unscrupulous food packers and processors and before the goods have been consumed by the public. The discovery of their danger was merely fortuitous, and it was recognized that human life had been in great jeopardy. If that state of affairs exists in Australia, it should receive the consideration of this Government, and particularly that of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Honorable senators are aware thaisuch preparations are being very widelyused to-day. Whilst they have certain, immediate and short-range effects, such, as the killing of pests or the preservation of fruit and vegetables, we do not know what their long-range effect will be. I do not know whether the health authorities of the United States of America or of this country insist that preparations of that kind must be adequately tested and that any evidence of danger from, their use will result in their use being; promptly prohibited, or whether they are allowed to be used willy-nilly by unscrupulous manufacturers who wish to push the sales of their products, with detrimental, harmful and even fatal effects to the consuming public.
The source of my information concerning the investigations of the American committee is a well-known American magazine called The American Magazine. I have not seen the official report because I understand that the investigations of the committee have not been completed, but the interim report will no doubt bring to light many startling instances of the inherent dangers of such preparations. If the results that are taking place in the United States of America are likely to occur in this country, I suggest that swift action should be taken to prevent harmful effects.
– Again speaking from the absolute depths of ignorance, I should be happy if the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) could inform me to what the item “ Tribophysics “, for which an appropriation of £52,500 is sought, refers.
– The honorable senator’s knowledge of that matter is apparently as great as mine. I shall be pleased to obtain the information for him.
inform me whether aa appropriation is contemplated in respect of the research farm which was established on a £1 for £1 basis by the Australian Government and the Western Australian Government, approximately 80 miles from Wyndham?
– I shall ascertain the information which Senator Fraser desires and let him have it as soon as possible.
In reply to Senator Armstrong, I now inform him that a group of twenty physicists, chemists, metallurgists, mathematicians and engineers has been formed to study problems in the field of surface chemistry and physics. Among the wide practical applications of this work have been the development of bearing designs,, piston-ring lubrication, the performance of lubricating oils, the combustion of fuels and the fabrication, polishing and surface finishing of metals. The work on redrawing, pressing and casting of metals has led to an extension of the basic work and to a study of the mechanicsof the deformation and heat treatment of metals and of the energy changes involved. This has very wide implications in the whole secondary metal industry. I shall be pleased to pass on to the persons concerned any expert or practical information which honorable senators may possess regarding these highly technical matters.
– Financial provision is made for research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization into plant culture. No doubt, most of the money will be expended in the southern parts of the continent, but I suggest that experimental work should be undertaken to discover what new plants of value can be introduced successfully into tropical areas in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia. The Queensland Government proposes to establish an experimental station on the Atherton Tableland, but there the climate is different from that on the lowlands.
– During a trip through Central Australia to Darwin, I was interested to note that in the vicinity of the Katherine River a team of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization experts was conducting experiments along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. One group of scientists was testing the soil in order to discover whether it was suitable for the growing of sorghum. I understand that a man had planted 10,000 acres in sorghum, and that the crop had been a complete failure, involving the loss of a very large amount of money. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization experts could have advised him that the land was unsuitable. Experts are also conducting experiments into the growing of cotton and tropical fruits. Work of a similar nature is going on in all parts of Australia.
– I insist upon getting a reply from the Minister to my inquiry about the progress that has been made with the setting up of an experimental station on the Ord river, where 2,000 acreas were acquired for the purpose. I visited the district three years ago.
– Cannot the honorable senator remember what he saw?
SenatorFRASER- Yes, but I want to know what progress has been made since then. I represent the people of Western Australia, and I have a right to learn, either from the Minister or from officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization what progress has been made in establishing the proposed experimental station on the Ord River.
– I understand that experiments of the kind suggested by Senator Wood are being conducted in twelve different areas throughout Australia. I am sure that Senator Fraser does not expect me to be familiar with what is being done in the Ord River area. No information about it is contained in the notes that have been supplied to me.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £611,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed vote, £34,444,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed vote, £47,411,000.
Department of Air.
Proposed vote, £48,446,000.
Department of Supply.
Proposed vote, £43,066,000.
Department of Defence Production.
Proposed vote, £7,725,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I should like to know what is the production of ammonium sulphate from plants under the control of the Commonwealth. When I left the department, the plants at Albion Park, Deer Park, Ballarat and Mulwala were producing 12,000 tons a year each. What is the present production?
– Production from the four plants mentioned by the honorable senator totals approximately 48,000 tons a year.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed vote, £28,463,000.
– Under the heading of “International Development and Relief”, it is proposed to appropriate £156,000 for Palestine relief. Last year the amount expended was £112,000. I recall that a few years ago the British Commonwealth of Nations lost many valuable lives in that part of the world. Eventually, we got out, and handed the country over to the Jews. For the life of me I cannot see why we should be subsidizing the Jews to the tune of £156,000 a year.
– As used in the schedule, the word “ Palestine “ has a geographical rather than a racial significance. Since 1948, Australia has contributed £213,000 towards the United Nations programme for the relief of Arab refugees. The current year’s programme provides for the expenditure of 50,000,000 United States dollars,towards which Australia has undertaken to contribute £156,800, provided that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is satisfied that positive steps are being taken to provide a permanent solution of the problem.
– It is proposed to grant £12,000 to the States as a subsidy towards the maintenance of housekeeper services. Last year, £15,000 was appropriated, but only £11,761 was expended. This service is of tremendous value to the women of Australia, because it assists those who are in hospital or who have just been recently discharged from hospital. I understand that all the States, with the exception of Queensland, have accepted the Commonwealth grant, and 1. should like to know whether the appropriation is smaller this year because of Queensland’s refusal. I should also like to know whether Queensland will be given an opportunity to re-consider its decision. Such organizations as mother-craft associations, the Country “Women’s Association, the Red Cross Society and homehelp services do valuable work, and they would be greatly assisted by grants from this appropriation which, I hope, will be increased.
.- Under division 183, £5,000 has been provided for the expert committee on taxation. The committee consists of some of the leading taxation authorities of Australia. It has submitted about twelve reports, most of them dealing with the taxation of companies. The work of the committee should be extended. No such extension is envisaged in these estimates, however, because although £6,248 was expended by the committee in 1950-51 the vote this year is only £5,000. The * committee should be requested to investigate the effect of taxation on primary production. “Wise taxation laws based on scientific principles may play a very important part in the stimulation of primary production and provide the necessary incentive to primary producers to extend their activities. The committee could undertake very important research in that connexion. I suggest that it should be directed to investigate and report upon depreciation allowances and matters of that kind. The desirability of the restoration of the initial deduction of 40 per cent, for depreciation might be examined by the committee. I commend the Government for having appointed the committee and I compliment the committee on the excellence of its reports.
– I desire to refer to three items under Division 179. The first isitem 6, “ Mrs. H. A. Hinkler - annual allowance £104”. The allowance originally granted to Mrs Hinkler has not been increased despite the fall in the value of the £1. Considering the service rendered to Australia and to aviation generally by her distinguished son, and the diminished’ purchasing value of the allowance, the Government might well increase the allowance to an amount more in keeping: with that originally granted. Under item 16, “Jubilee Celebrations 1951” although the vote for 1950-51 was £250,000, expenditure amounted to £26S,567 and an additional amount of £85,100 has been provided for 1951-52. 1 should like to know what, if anything, of” permanent value has resulted from the jubilee celebrations. Too much diffusion of activity resulted in some of the celebrations being complete washouts. In. Western Australia the organizers of the celebrations intended to stage a native display but the natives went on strike, exercised their rights as human beings, andrefused to be stared at by the people. In spite of all the prior organization theproject had to be abandoned because thenatives refused to have any part in it. Why is an amount of £S5,100 still outstanding on this item? The original estimate of £250,000 has already been, exceeded by £18,567. The total excess expenditure represents 50 per cent, of the original vote.
Under item 17, an amount of £10,000– has been provided for grants to the Royal Life Saving Society and Surf Life Saving Association. Having regard to thewonder.ful work done throughout Australia by the surf life-saving clubs, and” the risks taken by their members in saving lives on our beaches, that provision is not sufficiently generous. Throughout theyears thousands of lives have been saved on Australia beaches as the result of the activities of honorary beach patrols. These organizations should receive greater recognition from the Commonwealth. The total grant will not go very far when it is divided between the various clubs. The members of surf life-saving clubs arecontributing money from their own> pockets to provide surf life-saving equipment. They are sacrificing their leisure in training to make themselves physically fit to patrol our beaches. As a token of the appreciation of the nation of the work that they are doing, the vote should be considerably increased.
– Under Division 196, provision of £9,906,000 is made for international development and relief. I observe that although £630,000 was provided last year as Australia’s contribution to United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, no provision has been made for that purpose this year. I cannot find under any heading in the Estimates any indication of the provision of funds for the United Nations Associations which are established in Australia. Honorable senators will recall that I endeavoured to ascertain this afternoon what contributions were being made to the State branches of the .organization.
– I und that provision for international development and relief has been made under a supplementary vote, which had not been decided upon when the Estimates were printed.
– What I am concerned about is whether Western Australia will obtain its share of that vote.
– I support the remarks of Senator Laught in connexion with the expert committee on taxation. Yesterday T received two letters from Western Australia. One of my correspondents stated that not one acre of fallow was to be seen in the districts of Roe and Merredin. The other letter was from a man who expected to have 30,000 bushels of wheat this year. He said that he will not grow wheat next year, because of the heavy taxes imposed on him. He proposes to grow a few acres of oats and barley, and let his stock feed on them.. Primary producers are making decisions of that kind to-day solely because of the incidence of taxation. High taxation is one of the principal factors that have brought about a restriction of production in Western Australia. I trust that the expert com mittee on taxation will be directed to investigate the incidence of taxation on primary producers. I should like the members of the committee to visit Western Australia in order to see for themselves the conditions that operate there.
– The total votes under miscellaneous services for the Department of Immigration amount to £11,791,000. The Government has acted rightly in resisting the strong pressure which has been brought upon it in this chamber, and in another place, to cut its immigration programme. If the flow of immigrants were reduced, we should have to cut our development and defence programmes. We should not do anything to slacken our efforts to recruit the best possible immigrants in the greatest possible numbers. An amount of £20,000 has been provided this year for contributions to the States towards the establishment of reception depots for British immigrants. Last year, £70,000 was provided for that purpose. When the immigration programme was originally drawn up, it was the intention of the Government to bring to Australia as many British people as we could induce to come here. It is necessary that British immigrants, when they arrive here, should be housed and taken care of under the best possible conditions. In 1946, the Chiefs of Staffs warned the conference of Prime Ministers that, in the interests of overall strategy, the dispersal of population and’ industrial plants should be put in hand immediately. The migration of a great number of British people would help not only Australia but also the mother country.
An amount of £2,000 has been provided this year for pre-school child facilities for immigrant children. The vote last year for that purpose was £20,000. I am at a loss to know why the vote has been so considerably reduced. If there is any section of the community upon which money should be expended, it is those pre-school children who are in holding centres and whose parents are living in. hostels or holding camps. It is desirable that pre-school facilities of all kinds shall be made available for such children.
– Senator Tangney’s remarks about the allowance paid to Mrs. Hinkler raises the question whether pensions given by way of gratitude should be raised or lowered according to fluctuations in the cost of living. If that were done, the generous spirit which prompted the people to show their appreciation of the mother of a very worthy son would he destroyed.
Senator Tangney also referred to the cost of the jubilee celebrations and asked what we have to show for the large expenditure on them. What does a young man or a young women have after the celebration of his or her twenty-first birthday? Usually the young man has a “ hang-over “. In this instance, we have a “hang-over” of £85,000; which forms a part of a total amount of £350,000 that the Government decided to spend on the celebration of our jubilee year. In addition to the total amount, a further £3,900 has been provided for the Sydney Royal Jubilee Sheep Show. The £S5,000 represents the difference between the £350,000 which it was originally intended to expend on jubilee celebrations and the £268,567 which has already been spent. With regard to Senator Wedgwood’s first point about the £20,000 for the reception of migrants, the Commonwealth and States entered into an agreement to provide accommodation for the reception of assisted migrants. Most of the building for that purpose has already been done. The Commonwealth will meet the cost of erection of the accommodation which is to be operated by the States. The building programme is tapering off and it is estimated that the provision of £20,000 should be sufficient to cover the Commonwealth obligations. In regard to education and health, there was an allocation of £20,000 but the scheme did not actually come into operation until this year. It is expected that the £2,000 provided this year will be all that will be used in the circumstances.
– In regard to the £85,100 foi- the jubilee, is the Government receiving suggestions as to how the money should be spent or has it already been spent?
– Before the £350,000 was allocated, it was budgeted for and commitments were entered into in respect of that amount. This vote is in discharge of commitments that have been entered into already.
, - I direct attention to Division 191, Assisted Migrants, items one to nine inclusive. Can the Minister inform me how many immigrants the Government proposes to bring out for the amount of £8,085,000 that is shown in these estimates? There is an allocation for expected child immigrants, British migration, Empire and allied exservice personnel, Maltese, displaced persons, citizens of Ireland, Dutch migrants and so on. I draw attention particularly to the question of immigration for rural areas. Unfortunately, the immigrants that we have received in Australia are not all that we would have desired, but I am prepared to concede that many of them were displaced persons of a type that could not be expected to undertake arduous rural work and some allowance should be made for that fact. In future, however, Australia’s quota of displaced persons, who are virtually war refugees and not immigrants, will be considerably less.
In pursuance of the Government’s policy, genuine immigrants are to be brought out and I would like to see a little difference between the type of immigrants that we have had and those who are about to arrive. Australia urgently needs men who will go to the rural areas. I do not mean necessarily men who have knowledge of farming but those who are willing to go there and work. Last year I went to the Northam immigration centre to get 100 semi-skilled employees for the town of Lakewood. It is a long way from Perth in the gold-fields. Of 103 ablebodied men who were interrogated in my presence, only two volunteered to go. The others refused point blank. They said Lakewood was too hot. That experience impressed on me very forcibly that we cannot afford to bring men to Australia who will not go to the rural areas to work. I think that we have been apt to believe that the displaced persons who have baca brought to Australia have all become good workers. I do not deny that many of them have done so. But far too many have not been compelled to go to the rural areas. As soon as their period of contract labour has expired, I am certain that the great majority of them will drift back to the cities. I, therefore, urge the Minister to consider the need for workers in rural areas which is of national importance.
– When the Minister replies I would like him to refer to Division 190, Tasmanian shipping service subsidy. Already I can hear an outburst from Tasmanian senators from both sides of the chamber. Probably the Minister’s explanation will justify the whole-hearted praise that has been thrust upon the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) to-night. In 1951 the subsidy was £16,000. This year the allocation is £90,000, I am merely seeking information. If this means an improved shipping service for the Australian continent, so much to the good. Can the Minister inform the Senate what is involved? Is the increase due to extra shipping or extra freight? In the next line there is reference to the Sydney- Vancouver service, for which £27,000 is allocated. When Aorangi was tied up in Sydney, an arrangement was entered into and I understand that the New Zealand Government was responsible for some of the subsidy. Will the Minister inform the Senate what is the total subsidy, and is it only for this year or does it cover a longer period?
– I believe that the subsidy for Aorangi was for one year. In respect of the Tasmanian service, the working expenses of Taroona have increased because of the slow turn-round of ships and higher costs and a substantial increase in the subsidy was necessary. Otherwise the company would have had to continue the service at a loss, and it indicated that it was not prepared to do so. Having regard to the serious situation facing Tasmania if it had no shipping service to the mainland, the Government decided, wisely, I believe, to pay the cost to keep Taroona afloat.
– I refer to Division 191 covering the cost of assisted migration. I express concern at the immigration policy not only of this Government but of the previous Government as well. It has been said that Australia must get immigrants while they are offering.
In the process of doing so, we are not getting the right types of immigrants in many cases and I was pleased to hear Senator Vincent refer to the need of the rural areas. All that we have done so far is to congest our capital cities. This talk of getting people to Australia to end shortages is only creating more problems. For the length of time worked each week and the consequent small production, these people are not helping the situation at all. We want people who will help to produce food and we are not getting them.
I am concerned at the allocation of £8,085,000. In my city returned soldiers brought out a party of British immigrants. Within a few months there was hardly one of them remaining. They floated back to the capital cities. That is the case throughout Australia because we are rushing immigration. Even taking into account defence commitments and requirements, it would be better to be more selective and I feel confident that with the situation existing in other parts of the world over a period of years there will be people who will want to come to this country with the freedom and prospects that exist here for the right kind of immigrant. I was talking recently to a well-known British subject who came to Australia, and he said that this country was not getting the best types of British immigrant in many cases. He was concerned because he thought the people would not always be a good advertisement for the British. There are good and bad, but the proportion of poor immigrants is too large. It would be better to take in immigrants at a slower rate, and get those who will be good citizens and particularly those who will settle in country areas. 1 am concerned about the lack of migration from some places and the preponderance of immigrants from others. Provision is made for £125,000 for people from Malta. They are of British race and did a good job in the war. Provision is also made for £575,000 for Italians. This is a discrimination that I cannot understand. If Australia is to take exenemy subjects, why not make provision for German immigrants who have made good previously in Australia? I think the immigration policy is one of hustle and bustle and I believe that in years to come we shall pay the penalty of going too fast and not being selective enough. The Government should concentrate on selecting immigrants who will be prepared to go into our rural areas and to remain there.
– It is unfortunate that our immigration programme generally should have been disparaged in this chamber, and I rise merely to point out that many capital works in Tasmania are being greatly assisted by new Australians, most of whom arc worthy, skilful, artistic and educated people.
Under the heading “ Commonwealth Hostels Limited “, there are three items of estimated expenditure totalling £660,000. Under the next heading appears the item “ Losses on Workers’ Hostels “, for which the sum of £267,000 is being appropriated. I trust that the heading “ Expendable Equipment “ foreshadows the extinction of the department mentioned in the item which reads “ Equipment for Workers’ Hostels for Displaced Persons, operated by the Department of Labour and National Service “. For this equipment, a mere “ sneeze “ of £1,460,000 is being appropriated.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed voles - Refunds of Revenue, £12,000,000; Advance to the Treasurer, £15,000,000 ; Subsidies, £30,415,000- agreed to.
Wak and Repatriation Services.
Proposed vote, £15,680,000.
– Provision is made under the heading “ Miscellaneous “ for an expenditure of £500 on “ Assistance under Special Circumstances to exService Personnel or their Dependants “. I should like to know whether any special assistance could be provided out of that money for widows of deceased eximperial pensioners who are in necessitous circumstances. No provision is made for such widows under the Repatriation Act and if they are not entitled to the widows’ pension or to some other social services benefit they have to depend on the charity of ex-servicemen’s organizations in this country. There are quite a number of such widows. I have spoken to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) about this matter on several occasions, and I ask him now whether he will have a further investigation made with a view to providing some assistance for these deserving people.
– No provision is made in the vote to which the honorable senator has referred to meet such cases. That appropriation is for the payment of compassionate allowances to deserted wives of Australian exservicemen, particularly ex-servicemen of the World War I. Provision is made also for the purchase and repair of surgical aids for an ex-serviceman named McConaghy who is not eligible for assistance under the Repatriation Act. I shall give consideration to the honorable senator’s representations on behalf of widows of imperial ex-servicemen. Each case would have to be dealt with on its merits, and an inquiry made to ascertain whether any payment was being received from the Government of the United Kingdom. Assistance could be granted only as an act of grace by the Treasurer. . invite the honorable senator to let me have the details of any cases that he has in mind.
.- The maximum war service homes loan has now been raised from £2,000 to £2,750. In some instances persons who have let contracts for the construction of homes to private contractors and have obtained the previous maximum loan of £2,000 from the War Service Homes Division have found that their actual commitments have exceeded that amount. I should like to know whether such persons will be entitled to have their loans increased to ±2/750.
The “War Service Homes Division has discontinued its earlier practice of taking over mortgages. Many persons have found that under conditions existing at present in the building trade they have not been able to obtain a home of the standard that they required for the maximum loan of £2,000. Consequently, they are obliged to obtain additional loans through other agencies, such as banks. 1 should like to know whether the new maximum loan will be made to persons who find themselves in such circumstances. As they have already received a loan from the division, they can offer only limited security when they endeavour to raise the requisite additional money through other agencies. The refusal of the division to take over mortgages places a hardship upon such persons. I suggest that the division should re-institute its practice of taking over mortgages. In that way, persons would not only be enabled to have constructed a home up to the standard that they require hut also would enjoy the consequential additional in ea sure of security.
I should also like to know whether the War Service Homes Division will approve of the writing down of the value of properties that are still being paid off by ex-servicemen of World War I. Many ex-servicemen of that war have now paid more than double the original purchase price but have not yet discharged their full liability under their contract.
– Those homes would fetch three times their value when they were constructed.
– That is not so in the instances that I have in mind. I am referring to wooden structures, some of which were built 34 years ago and have depreciated in value because of the fact that the localities in which they are situated have not developed. The suggestion that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) has made may be true in respect of homes that have been constructed in progressive towns, such as Devonport. The War Service Homes Division should write down the value of properties of the kind that I have mentioned. My attention has been directed to the case of an ex-serviceman of World War I. who contracted to pay £650 for his home. He has already paid £1,050 and still owes £300 under his contract. The division should be generous enough to write down the value of those homes to purchasers, particularly as such action will enable “ diggers “ of World War I. to enjoy a greater measure of security in their declining years.
.- Whilst the sum of £34,000 was voted last year in respect of Allied Control in Japan, the actual expenditure amounted to £36,267, and the proposed vote under that heading for this year is £69,000. I refer to this matter because reports were published in to-day’s press that it is proposed that the British Commonwealth Occupation Force will be wound up in the near future. I should like to know whether Allied Control will be maintained in Japan for, say, the next twelve months. Honorable senators are aware that the peace treaty with Japan has been signed and also that the Japanese have already entered into competition on the Australian market with Australian manufacturers.
.- The proposed vote of £69,000 to which Senator Tangney has referred is in respect of the maintenance of the Australian Mission in Japan. The increase of that amount compared with the expenditure that was incurred under that heading last year is due to the probability that the mission will be thrown entirely upon its own resources in the near future. Up to the present, part of that cost has been paid by the Japanese. In addition, it is expected that the costs will rise considerably.
– Is the British Commonwealth Occupation Force to be retained ?
– Some time must elapse before the organization can be wound up.
. -The sum of £1,600,000 has been allocated as financial assistance to the States in respect of the land settlement of exservicemen. I should like to know whether that sum relates to the actual cost of the land or to administrative costs thatare to be incurred under the scheme by the Commonwealth and the States.
– Earlier this evening, Senator Annabelle Rankin sought information in respect of the Housekeeper Service. I inform her that four of the States are participating in that scheme and that the proposed vote for that purpose is based on the expenditure that was actually incurred under that heading last year. Queensland and South Australia are not participating in that scheme.
Senator Cole raised three questions with respect to the financial assistance that is made available to individuals in respect of the construction of houses under the war service homes scheme. I suggest that the information that the honorable Senator has sought can be more appropriately supplied when the relevant legislation that has been introduced in another place comes before the Senate. I could answer accurately if I had the proposed legislation before me. However, I shall have a stab at it, and if, when the legislation comes forward, it transpires that I have been incorrect, I trust that I shall be forgiven. I do not think that it would be possible to alter contracts that were commenced on a basis of a loan of £2,000 in the light of the recent increase of the maximum amount of loan to £2,750. I am aware that, as a matter of administration, the Commissioner of War Service Homes is meeting special cases. In any event, I do not think that the average ex-serviceman would want to go back on a contract that he entered into many years ago, under which he obtained certain conditions. The repayments are spread over a lengthy period, and borrowers derive advantages both at the beginning, and at the end of the contract. By and large, I do not consider that there is justification for recasting the whole of the contracts. The act provides for generous benefits, and generous re-arrangements when ex-servicemen really need assistance.
The other aspect of the matter relates to a provision in the proposed legislation that is not before the chamber. Speaking in anticipation of that legislation, he has suggested that there will be a variation of the arrangements concerning the provision of finance in cases in which ex-servicemen are already in homes and want to discharge existing mortgages by substituting mortgages to the War Service Homes Division on more favorable terms and conditions. That has been the practice in the past. We are making the available financial resources go around to the best advantage. The primary object of the War Service Homes Act was to enable ex-servicemen to obtain homes. If finance is to be restricted, this is a direction in which an alteration that will not cause much inconvenience to exservicemen can be made.
SenatorO’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) [11.53]. - Senator Wright has sought information about the proposed vote of £1,600,000 for financial assistance to the States in connexion with war service land settlement, under Division’ 206. It is madeup as follows: -
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Commonwealth Railways, £3,510,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £60,568,000.
– I refer to item d “ Mail Services “ under Division 226, Central Office, for which the proposed vote will be £2,412,700. This is a considerable increase compared with the expenditure of £2,302,742 under this heading during the last financial year. Will the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) inform me whether the proposed vote will coincide with the amount of subsidy to be paid to TransAustralia Airlines in respect of air mail services? The portion of the proposed vote in respect of the conveyance of Australian mails in other countries is £300,000. Will the Minister inform me of the cost of carriage per lb. both in Australian currency and in other currencies ?
– I shall be very glad to obtain for the honorable senator particulars of costs in the various countries. The increase is accounted for by higher payments to the Department of Civil Aviation, as a result of increased traffic and the inclusion of other articles in the categories of mail carried overseas. The proposed vote of £300,000 for the conveyance of surface mail is £4.2,124 lower than was the expenditure on this item during the last financial year. This is due to the considerable decrease of the number of food parcels being sent to the United Kingdom and Europe, and a corresponding decrease of payments for terminal charges. Amounts totalling £540,000 were paid to TransAustralia Airlines for the carriage of airmail during the last financial year. That was an average of 0.48d. per lb. a mile. The total payment to TransAustralia Airlines represented 67 per cent, of the payments for the conveyance of domestic airmail. Small amounts, also, were paid to two Western Australian airlines. That is a matter which concerns the Department of Civil Aviation.
.- I refer to the proposed vote of £7,000 for Welfare equipment, under Division 227. I consider that the full amount which is provided for the purchase of welfare equipment should be expended during the financial year, and that a part of it should not be transferred to the next financial year. The proposed expenditure for the current financial year is £7,000 compared with estimated expendi ture last year of £9,000 and an actual expenditure of £3,626. My purpose in directing attention to this matter is to emphasize the importance of expending the amounts that are provided for the purchase of welfare equipment.
Friday, 2S November 1951
– I point out to the Minister that the armed forces of the Commonwealth are expected to purchase their own welfare equipment from the profits which are made from their canteens. Why should welfare equipment be provided by the taxpayers for government departments when the armed forces, in war-time and peace-time, are required to buy their own equipment ?
– I am not able to inform Senator Cormack why welfare equipment is not provided for the armed forces. That is a matter of government policy, or is in accordance with the policy of the service departments. I inform Senator Armstrong that the proposed vote of £7,000 for the current financial year is for the purchase of welfare equipment for the staff of the Post.masterGeneral’s Department in New South Wales. The vote for 1951-52 for the purchase of welfare equipment for staffs throughout the Commonwealth is £32,500, and the expenditure in 1950-51 was £15,092. The provision of new equipment such as refrigerators, electric stoves, furniture, drinking units and urns accounts for most of the increase. That equipment is urgently required, but all the orders which were placed could not be met in 1950-51.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £3,949,000.
– I note that the proposed vote for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is £78,000, which is an increase of £19,100 upon the expenditure upon that authority in the last financial year. 1 ask the Minister to give me some information about the functions of that board, and its real work, and to state whether the Government has any proposals regarding its future.
– The functions of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are set out in the Australian Broadcasting Control Act1948, as follows : -
the Board shall, in relation to programmes of the Commission, consult the Commission and, in relation to programmes of commercial broadcasting stations, shall consult representatives of licensees of commercial broadcasting stations; and
SenatorMcCALLUM (New South
Division 238, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, is not necessary. The public are the judges of the programmes of the commercial broadcasting stations, and there are various ways of ensuring that proper service is given by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I consider that this item should be deleted.
-I direct attention to the proposed vote of £49,000 for the A.B.G. Weekly, compared with the vote last year of £57,300, and an actual expenditure of £65,728. I consider that the A.B.C. Weekly is unnecessary, because many similar publications are on sale throughout the Commonwealth and the taxpayers are not required to meet their losses. I understand that the A.B.C. Weekly is no longer issued in four of the six States. Perhaps the difference between the revenue from sales this year, and expenditure, will not be so great as it has been in the past.
– The item to which Senator Henty refers must be read in conjunction with the item that shows the revenues of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The honorable senator will see that in Division 239, item 3 refers to revenue from the sale of the A.B.C. Weekly, which is estimated at £47,800, so that the actual loss on the publication will be slightly more than £1,000. From the figures that are shown in the printed estimates it would appear that the cost of that publication for the year ended the 30th June, 1951, was £26,576. Although the payments exceeded receipts by this amount, it does not mean that a loss of £26,576 was incurred. The income and expenditure account for the publication, which was compiled under a commercial system, discloses that the cost of the publication for 1950-51 was only about half of that amount. Owing to delays in overseas shipments during the previous year, the cash payments for newsprint purchased during 1950-51 were abnormal and exceeded by £12,400the cost of the. newsprint actually used. Honorable senators will therefore appreciate that the A.B.C. Weekly has an asset of £12,400 worth of newsprint at the present time.
The financial position of the publication during 1951-52 will show a substantial improvement as a result of the action chat has been taken by the commission to discontinue from the Srd February, 1951, the printing of separate editions for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania which will result in considerable reduction of printing and freight costs. Advertising rates have been increased by 25 per cent, from May, 1951, and the retail price of the journal was increased from 4d. to 6d. from the 9th June, 1951. As the result of this action, I have been informed that at the present time the A.B.C. Weekly is showing a profit.
– f refer to Divisions 23S and 239, general expenses, incidental and other expenditure in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It will be seen that between 30 per cent, and 40 per cent, of the total estimated expenditure is represented by those items. 1 should be interested to know whether funds to be made available for welfare have been included in the amounts shown.
– il understand that very little has been provided in those items for the purpose to which the honorable senator has referred.
– I notice that in Division 239 the proposed expenditure for programme expenses of the Australian Broadeasting Commission has increased from £1,S42,500 last year to £2,210,600 this year. Can the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) inform me whether that sum covers the cost of all the programmes that are broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Is it the policy of the commission to abolish most of the live-artist programmes and to import recorded radio programmes from the United States of America ? If that is the policy of the commission, I am of the opinion that it will lower the cultural standards of our people, because some of the programmes that come from America, do nothing to raise cultural standards.
– I should like the Minister for
Repatriation (Senator Cooper) to inform the Senate of the progress that has been made concerning television and its possible introduction into Australia. Can the Minister also state whether funds to be expended for that purpose have been included in the proposed appropriation for technical and other services? I point out that a natural public impatience exists concerning this matter, because television has become common in the commercial and domestic life of the United States of America. I am sure that the Australian people wish to know what progress is being made towards the provision of television programmes in this country.
– I understand that some time ago the Government decided that television should be developed on a gradual scale and that, initially, a national station should be established at Sydney. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department invited tenders for the erection of that station in order that conclusions might be reached by the Government concerning the financial aspect of the matter. Subsequently, a. delegation comprising representatives of the Postal Department, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission was sent to the United State of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom to investigate certain aspects of a practical nature, such as studio design, the form of administration necessary, the availability of programmes and the cost of materials. That delegation recently submitted a comprehensive report to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), and I understand that he is preparing certain proposals for submission to the Cabinet. The Postmaster-General received that report only recently, and I have not seen it myself. I assure the honorable senator that it will be discussed by the Cabinet, after which, no doubt, information will be available at an early date.
In reply to the matters raised by Senator Morrow, I am informed that the Australian Broadcasting Commission does not import recorded radio programmes from the United States of America. The honorable senator recently asked me a question concerning the importation of a recorded programme from Hawaii. I have been informed that that production is produced in Australia and that no dollar expenditure is involved. The policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is to encourage local artists and to develop art and culture in Australia. During 1950-51, approximately 16,000 artists, commentators and speakers were engaged by the commission.
– Expenditure on the Australian Broadcasting Commission news service last year amounted to £241,756 and the estimated expenditure for this year is £281,500. I notice also that provision is made for revenue amounting to £6,700 from the sale of the. news service. Why is it estimated that the service will cost £281,500, whereas the anticipated revenue from its sale to commercial stations is only £6,700? By what arrangement does the Australian Broadcasting Commission supply its news service to B class stations for retransmission?
– The estimated expenditure of £2S1,500 will cover all costs associated with the gathering of the news service. It will provide salaries for reporters and will meet the cost of trunk-line telephone services, telegrams and cablegrams. Cost-of-living adjustments and general salary increases account for the increase of the estimated expenditure over actual expenditure last year. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, in its wisdom, wishes to provide the best possible service for the people, and such a service is necessarily expensive. The news service is sold to commercial stations in country districts for a nominal fee.
– The Labour station 4KQ in Queensland uses the service.
– Yes, both 4LG and 4KQ in Queensland subscribe to it. The Australian Broadcasting Commission could not justly charge a high fee because the arrangement enables the service to be broadcast to listeners who cannot tune into Australian Broadcasting Commission stations. The number of stations that subscribe to the service will probably increase but, as the fee is small, revenue will not be greatly affected. The arrangement is not intended to make a profit.
SenatorO’Byrne. - What was the revenue last year?
– It amounted to £5,537. The charge has been increased by 10 per cent., and more stations than formerly are now using the service.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) has said that it is not the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to import recorded radio programmes from the United States of America.I am glad to have that assurance, but is it the policy of the commission to import recorded radio programmes from any other country outside the British Commonwealth?
– Most of the material that is imported by the Australian Broadcasting Commission is purchased from the British Broadcasting Corporation. A very small percentage is brought from Europe.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £2,091,000.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £1,616,000.
Papua and New Guinea.
Proposed vote, £5,571,000.
Proposed vote, £15,300. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- A tradition of the Senate for many years has been to arrange for a brief suspension of proceedings when sittings continue beyond midnight. Many of us have been constantly in this chamber since 8 p.m., and this is the longest unbroken sitting for many years. There is likely to be considerable discussion of the proposed vote for the territories, and I suggest to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) that the sitting be suspended at this stage.
– Had I known that so many honorable senators would make secondreading speeches instead of seeking information
– Government supporters have offended also.
– That is so. Had I had foreknowledge, I should have arranged for supper to be provided. Unfortunately, at this late hour I do not think that we can make arrangements for the service of supper because most members of the refreshment-rooms staff have gone off duty. However, I shall endeavour to arrange for honorable senators to be supplied with tea and toast or sandwiches. The Government is anxious to have the .consideration of this bill completed during the present sitting because departmental officers have been brought to Canberra from other cities for the occasion. I remind honorable senators that the Hansard staff has been working for many hours to-day and that most of the matters that have been discussed in committee could have been dealt with more appropriately in speeches on the motion for the first reading or during the debate on the Estimates and budget papers. Detailed consideration of the schedule is intended to enable honorable senators to seek for information, not to make second-reading speeches. My remarks are addressed to honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. I shall endeavour to arrange for supper to be provided.
– I direct attention to Division 250, “Australian Capital Territory - General Services “, for which the proposed appropriation is £782,000. There is an itemized list of “ other services “, which includes an amount of £20,000 to provide for an anticipated loss on the operations of Australian Capital Territory hostels. I wish to make a request in connexion with the supply of food to those hostels. For a considerable time past, ‘tariffs at government hotels and hostels in Canberra have been increasing steadily, and the quality of the food supplied has been deteriorating. I have been unable to discover who is responsible for buying the food supplied in these places. So bad is .it now that I should not be surprised if I were to see some one fall down from malnutrition. At Hotel Kurrajong, the meat may be fairly good in one month, but in the next month residents are called on to eat some of the toughest hide in the world. As a matter of fact, one would need a sharp axe to cut it. The Department of the Interior employs nutrition experts, but I believe they all should be booted out. One could get better food in Central Australia by carrying it a thousand miles on camel back than can be obtained in government hostels in Canberra. During a potato shortage, the first people to suffer are those who live at Hotel Kurrajong. I have had three tiny “ spuds “ since I have been in Canberra for this sessional period. Those in charge have noticed that Italians can live on spaghetti, so we who live in the government hotels get spaghetti instead of potatoes. At other times we are served with wishy-washy rice that no one can eat. Then, for a change, we get boston beans out of tins. They are tasteless, and quite useless as they are served.
I understand that the department will not buy fresh, vegetables from local growers. It will buy only in bulk, and local growers have to send their produce to Sydney, where some of it, I have no doubt, is bought by the Department of the Interior and brought back to Canberra. Sometimes we get spinach or silver beet. I have been told that this stuff can be washed until the moon turns blue without losing all the grit that it has in it. At other times we are served with something that is called cabbage, and it contains 50 per cent, of water. I have made inquiries, but I cannot discover who is responsible for the present conditions in government hotels and hostels. They are nominally controlled by the Department of the Interior, but the supplying of food is apparently controlled by nutrition experts who, as I have said, should be booted out. The hostels should be placed under the control of some dear old lady who knows how to cook. As things are, residents are being called upon to pay more and more for food that they cannot eat. An inquiry should be instituted with ;i view to providing better food and better facilities for cooking.
– I shall have the honorable senator’s complaint brought to the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– I refer to the item “Air-mail service- subsidy £11,000 “, in Division 243 of the proposed vote for the Northern Territory. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate to whom that subsidy is to be paid?
– Expenditure in respect of that item is the Northern Territory Administration’s proportion of a subsidy that is payable to Connellan Airways in conjunction with the Department of Civil Aviation and the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– I refer to the item “ Motor cars - running expenses and maintenance, £50,000 “ in Division 243 of the proposed vote for the Northern Territory. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) explain briefly who runs those motor cars, and to what use they are put?
– Provision is made for the running and maintenance expenses of all motor vehicles of the Northern Territory Administration and the operation of administration garages and workshops. The details are -
The addition of the two totals makes the grand total £62,350. An amount of £12,350 is estimated to remain unexpended, and that will reduce the total to £50,000.
Senator AYLETT (Tasmania) [12.44 a.m. . - I refer to the item “Mines Branch - maintenance of batteries and ore sampling, £38,850 “, in Division 243 of the proposed vote for the Northern Territory. I should like to know how many miners are engaged in sampling work and the nature, of the maintenance of batteries that can involve the huge expenditure of £38,850. The services of a large number of highly technical men could be obtained for a lot less than that amount to maintain a battery that is not at work. Of course, if the battery is at Work the maintenance costs will be greater than it otherwise would be, I wish to know whether the Government has any interest in maintaining batteries for private companies. Is it sampling ores for private companies or is it interested in those matters on its own account? Can the Minister explain why last year’s expenditure on this item having been only £26,250, it is proposed to expend £3S,850 on it this year?
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) [12.44 a.m.). - All these batteries are governmentowned and operated. The details are -
Maranboy Mattery. - Wages, £5,000; repairs, replacements and stores, £2,250; freight charges, £750; fuel, £3,000. Total, £11,000.
Tennant Creek No. 1 Battery. - Maintenance, £100.
Tennant Creek No. 3. - Central Battery - Wages of battery and technical staff, £10,000; repairs, stores and replacements, £4,000; fuel, £2,000; messing, £2,000; freight and cartage, £1,000; water, £1,000. Total. £20,000. -Assaying, £750.
Treatment of tailings (2,500 tons at £2 a ton). £5,000.
Mines Branch. - Mining equipment, £1,000.
Hatches Creek. - Plant adjustment and major replacements, £.1,000.
The grand total foi- these items is £38,S50. It is unlikely that No. 1 battery will be operated by the Commonwealth this year, and provision has been made for maintenance only. Provision has been made for plant adjustment and major replacements for the Hatches Creek battery. No provision has been, made for operating costs, as the battery will be leased.
– I refer to the item, “ Grant to Administration towards expenses, including native welfare, development, war damage and reconstruction, £5,371,000”, in Division 254 of the proposed vote for Papua and New
Guinea.. The vote for last year was £4,578,000, yet the estimate this year is £5,371,000. I should like to know why an increase of almost £1,000,000 is considered necessary, because surely reconstruction of war damage must have proceeded almost to completion. There is also the fact that the people of Rabaul have been told that they are to be evacuated. I should like to- know whether, building is going on now in Rabaul, and also whether the repair and re-organization of the naval base at Manus’ Island is included in this estimate, because I cannot find it mentioned anywhere under the Defence estimates. If it is included in this estimate it is out of place because it should have been shown- in the Defence estimates.
In passing, I should like to say that , I. very much appreciate the remarks, pf Senator O’Byrne in relation to this division. I am glad that there, is another honorable senator who is interested in this most important territory and is not afraid to say so. He spoke of the Legislative Council of the territory as something entirely new. It is. not hy any means new, because we had a good Legislative Council in the territory 30 years ago. The composition of the present Legislative Council is not in keeping with my ideas. We had a Legislative Council with nine elected and nine nominated members, the Administrator of the territory having a casting vote. The present Legislative Council has three elected members of a total of 29 members. That is hardly democratic, but we can work on that matter in the course of the next three years and perhaps have something done about it. The honorable senator also said that the Chamber of Commerce was opposed to the Legislative Council being constituted. That is not so. It was against the principle of having only three elected members. I shall not carry that matter any further. I merely wished to put the honorable senator right about those points. I have no doubt that if we get together we can talk these matters over. New Guinea, Dutch New Guinea and the British Solomon Islands are far too important to be party playthings.
I turn now to the item, “ Shipping service, £58,000 “, in Division 254. The vote for 1950-51 was £60,000, and for some reason it has been reduced this year to £58,000. Whoever was responsible for the notation to the item, “ Amounts earned may be credited to this vote “, has a perverted sense of humour. Does the proposed vote of £58,000 represent the amount that may he lost on the operation of the shipping service, or does it represent something else? Does the expenditure of £88,650 last year represent an actual loss on the running of the shipping service, or does it, too, represent something else altogether?
– War damage and reconstruction represent only some of the work to be covered by the proposed vote for item 1 “ Grant to Administration towards expenses, including native welfare, development, war damage and reconstruction “. Australia has international commitments in respect of the trust territory of New Guinea. Some progress has been made in the restoration of areas devastated by the war, but it is clear that, if there is to be complete restoration, and if material progress is to be made in the development of the resources of the territory, substantial amounts will have to be provided by the Commonwealth for expenditure over a period of years on capital works and for the extension of existing district, health, agricultural, educational and other services.
Present arrangements for the operation of the Papua and New Guinea interisland shipping service provide that Burns Philp and Company Limited, New Guinea Company Limited, Colyer Watson Limited, and Steamships Trading Company Limited, shall operate a fleet of 23 government-owned vessels, as agents for the Government. The Government will provide the vessels and meet the cost of operating the service. It will receive all revenue derived from the service and the agents will be paid a managing fee, plus a percentage of the revenue. Due to the unusually large number of vessels laid up for repairs, extraordinary losses occurred during the first half of 1951. A large portion of the expenditure for 1951-52 will be for the purpose of balancing those losses.
– In reply to my comments on the Northern Territory Mines branch, the Minister gave to me some information. We take the opportunity afforded to us by the consideration of the Appropriation Bill to obtain information about these matters because of the normally very scant information that is given to us about the territory. Are they State socialized mines? Are they being operated by the Commonwealth? What ores are being mined, and what returns have been received? Are the returns sufficient to recoup the Commonwealth for the expenditure of £38,850 on the mines?
Under the same division the provision of £33,000 has been made for the purchase of tailings. I assume that they are tailings from the mines or from the buttery which formerly were privately owned. For what purpose are the tailings being purchased ? What does the Government intend to do with them? Are they to be treated in order to extract the mineral content from them? What kinds of minerals are expected to be obtained from them and what return is expected to be derived from their treatment?
– The mines are being conducted in the same way as they were conducted when the Labour Government was in office.
– What metals are being mined?
– The same metals are now being mined as were mined when the Labour Government was in office.
– We are purified to the fullest in formation about these matters. I have asked the Minister a series of simple questions, and he has refused to answer them. Are the mines being worked to obtain gold, wolfram, copper, or silver?
– They are gold and tin mines.
– Will the Government be recouped for the expenditure of £38,850 on the mines? From whom, and at what price, are the tailings to be purchased ?
– Since Senator Aylett has had vast experience as a goldminer, his guess would probably be better than mine. The treatment of the tailings is expected to return a slight profit.
– I am unable to find in the schedule details of the salaries covered by Division 254. What salaries are paid to the Administrator and Deputy Administrator of the Territory of Papua, and New Guinea?
– The Administrator receives £2,600 per annum, plus an entertainment allowance; the Assistant Administrator receives £2,387 per annum, plus an entertainment allowance of £200.
– Expenditure on the Canberra city omnibus service last year amounted to ‘£40,000. The vote was £26,000. As £50,000 has been provided for that purpose this year it is apparent that an even greater loss is anticipated.
Last year £20,000 was provided for losses anticipated to be incurred in the operation of hostels in the Australian Capital Territory, but the total loss sustained was apparently £66,430. This year a provision of £20,000 has again been made to cover anticipated losses. Can the Minister state what steps are being taken to reduce the loss from £66,430 to £20,000? Are any economies proposed to be effected in the apparently irreducible services provided by the hostels, or are some other measures to be taken to correct the financial position?
– An inquiry is being conducted into the transport system in the Australian Capital Territory at the present time. The Senate will understand that Canberra is a peculiar place as far as transport services are concerned. There is no continuous availability of passengers. Buses must go from one inhabitated area to another through areas which are uninhabitated. It would be most difficult to make the bus services pay as a commercial proposition due to the peculiar circumstances of operation.
It is also very difficult to operate the hostels at a profit. They, too, are the subject of an inquiry at the present time, i
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 1.82 a.m.
– Now that I have been satisfied on the item to which I have previously referred, I should like some information in regard to the item “ Assistance to and development of mining industry” under Division 243 of the proposed vote for the Northern Territory. In what, form is the assistance to be given for the development of the mining industry? Last year the amount expended was only £6,024, whereas the anticipated expenditure this years is £.18,000.
– This industry needs no salting by the honorable senator.
– I understand that in the past Senator “Wright has done enough salting. Is the assistance to be given to private companies or individuals, and, if so, in what form is it to be given ?
– This assistance is to be given to private companies. The amount” of £18,000 is to be divided as follows: - Diamond drilling - Operation and maintenance, £5,000 ; replacement of plant. £5,000. Mining development - Assist an.ee to mining, £2,000 ; prospecting assistance, £1,000; battery ore crushing subsidy, £3,000; ore cartage subsidy, £2,000.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted. ‘
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 14th November (vide page 1944), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not intend to oppose this measure, but honorable senators on this side, of the chamber are glad of the opportunity to examine it, even though it be done at such an early hour in the morning. It is regrettable that we have to keep so many of the senior officers of the various departments in the chamber, but we do not see them often enough. Honorable senators see them only once a year when the departmental estimates are being considered. TI] is gives members of the Opposition an opportunity to have clarified many aspects of government administration. During the year, honorable senators sometimes have difficulty in securing equal clarity when asking questions of Ministers. To-day, honorable senators had an outstanding illustration of clarity when questions were asked because of the expert assistance that was given to Ministers by officers from the departments. I believe that in the circumstances the officers should not be hurried away. The length of the sitting is not the fault of the Opposition. If the Government had planned its business .properly, it would not have had highly paid and highly respected officers of Commonwealth departments sitting in the chamber for so protracted a period. They are here to do a job for the members of the Government parties and for honorable senators on the Opposition side as well. That happens only once in a year.
I now turn to the proposed appropriation for works and services. The Government proposes to expend on works and services this year about £101,000,000. Last year’s expenditure on the same account was approximately £68,000,000. The expenditure is thus estimated to increase by nearly £33,000,000. I do not know whether the country will actually get any more works constructed or services rendered for the expenditure of that additional sum, or whether the provision is merely a measure of the inflation that has occurred since last year. If the object be to counter inflation, then we shall get only the same actual value for the expenditure of £101,000,000 as we got last year for the expenditure of about £33,000,000 less. I suggest that the Government will be hard pressed in the next twelve months to carry out the works and services ‘ contemplated. One of the reasons for that is our diminishing overseas credits. The reduction of our credits will naturally affect our imports. At present a very important part of our overseas imports consists of steel, cement and other products used in our building programme which are unobtainable in this country. Moreover, prefabricated houses, schools and post offices are being erected in large numbers throughout the country. That is a very good thing. However, if our overseas credits continue to diminish in the frightening way in which they have diminished during the last few months, the Government will have to reduce substantially its imports of prefabricated building components.
The policy being applied in Commonwealth departments was laid, down by the Chifley Government. When it became apparent in 1947 that the Australian production of steel and other fundamental building materials could not keep pace with our requirements, instructions were given to departments that they should obtain overseas as much as possible of their requirements of steel and other building materials. I suppose one of the reasons why the proposed vote for works and services is so large is that we have to buy materials overseas at very high prices. Of course, no matter how high may be the prices, the materials must be obtained. If our overseas credits continue to dwindle, many of the works that are at present in hand will have to be suspended, and those in contemplation will not be commenced. Time alone will prove whether that action will be necessary.
I do not know whether the Postal Department constructs its own buildings, or whether they are constructed by the Department of Works and Housing. However that may be, I recently saw an illustration of a tremendous waste of expensive imported material. I saw land which had been prepared for the erection of a post office. Foundations were laid, after which the whole project was left in abeyance for some months. Then a building crew arrived and, in a few days, erected a beautiful prefabricated post office. For months afterwards the building stood idle because no internal fittings had been put into it. There was a building, which represented an investment of probably thousands of pounds, lying idle because a little extra work had not been done. That loss of use occurred through the inability of either the Department of Works and Housing or the Postal Department to complete the job. It is a very sad thing to see valuable assets lying idle because we have not the power to put them into use quickly.
In 1949-50 the vote for the equipment and furniture of Australia House and the official residences in London was £70,000. During that year £78,632 w:is expended. This year the vote will be £S0.000. At the end of this financial year probably almost £160,000 will have been expended in two years on equipment and furniture for Australia House and the official residences in London. I submit that that is a lot of money to expend for such purposes. I saw Australia House in 194S and I do not think that it has changed much since then. According to my recollection of the building, it is difficult to understand how this large amountcould be effectively expended. According to the estimates there are only two official residences in London, those of the High Commissioner and the Deputy High Commissioner. The amount voted for expenditure on Australia House and the official residences seems very high, and I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the necessity to. vote such a large sum.
Another matter to- which I desire to direct the attention of the Minister is the proposed vote of £240,000 for the Royal visit next year. However, there will be an interesting increase of the expenditure on Government House in Canberra. I should like to know whether the £240,000 will cover all the expenses connected with the visit, or whether there will be other expenses that will not be defrayed out of that vote. For instance, the estimated expenditure on Government House for this financial year is about twice as much as was expended last year. Is that sum to be expended on Government House because Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Australia, and, if so, why should it not be added to the vote for the Royal visit?
– in reply - If Senator Armstrong will pardon me, I shall not reply to his general remarks about economic conditions, but I shall deal only with the two specific matters that he raised. I have a substantial volume of information concerning Australia House. According to that informamation it is apparent that extensive alterations to and renovations at Australia House are in contemplation. The items range from an estimate of £10,000 for lavatory accommodation to £15,000 for the installation of new boilers and £21,000 for the reconstruction of office accommodation. The note that has been supplied to me mentions that the alterations and renovations have been under consideration since November, 1949. In May, 1950, the then Resident Minister in London made a special report and in July of the same year, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a personal inspection while on a visit to the United Kingdom. Obviously, therefore, the proposed extensions have been carefully considered and have been in contemplation for a considerable period.
In connexion with the proposed expenditure on the Governor-General’s residences, all I have is a brief note which states that the purpose of the vote is to provide furniture for, and to make alterations to, the Governor-General’s establishments. That money will be expended not only at Government House in Canberra, but also at Admiralty House, Sydney.
– Can the Minister say whether the proposed expenditure is incidental to the Royal visit?
– That is not my impression.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to this day, at 11 a.m.
” Hansard “ - Immigration.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Yesterday afternoon, while the Appropriation Bill was being considered in committee, Senator Guy sought and obtained leave to have a diagram of a ballot-paper incorporated in Hansard. The Presiding Officers have always regarded the incorporation of graphs, blocks and the like as a departure from normal procedure. In fact, there have been few such departures. The leave granted yesterday afternoon, in my opinion, was correct, but it should not be regarded as a precedent.
– The subject that I wish to discuss was referred to during my absence last Thursday night by Senator Gorton. It is a matter that I should like to have cleared up. I have paid Senator Gorton the courtesy of seeking an occasion when he is present in this chamber to speak on this subject, and to reply to the allegations that he made against me. I should have thought that, having had the experience of being mistaken for a Communist at a Melbourne political meeting at which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had to come to his aid, he would have been a little more careful in bandying the word “ Communist “ about this chamber. My colleagues know where I stand on that matter. Some weeks ago, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether it was a. fact that there were in Australia declared war criminals who had come here under the displaced persons immigration scheme. The answer that I received to that question was that no displaced persons against whom war crimes had been proved, had been admitted to Australia. I then asked the Minister whether two immigrants, whom I named, were at present in Australia, and whether they had been declared by the Government of Yugoslavia to be war criminals. I also asked whether a third immigrant, whom I named, had applied for Australian citizenship under the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), who replied, on behalf of the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), carefully avoided giving a direct reply to those questions. I then asked whether it was the policy of the Government to allow Australia to become a dumping ground for European war criminals. In reply to that question I was given a comprehensive answer, which set out, amongst other things, the post-war records of the immigrants whom I had named, but made no reference to their activities while, allegedly, they were imprisoned during the war. On the 8 th May of this year, an extradition order was applied for by the Government of Yugoslavia through its consular officials in Sydney. The Yugoslav Government wanted the first two immigrants to whom I have referred to be returned to that country so that they could be tried for war crimes. Three months after that application was made, issue No. 25 of the Jewish News, published on the 21st September, openly made allegations similar to those that I had made in this chamber; yet the Department of External Affairs, in its note to the Consul-General for Yugoslavia on the 30th June - a little more than one month later - stated that the matter was being considered by the competent Australian authorities and that the Yugoslav Consulate would be duly advised of the position. The application for an extradition order against these two men was made on the 8th May, 1951. There was much discussion of the case after that, but no statement to clear up the matter was made until this evasive statement was made to me on the 8th November.
– Evasive ?
– Yes. It evaded every question that I had asked. It was more or less an indirect reply to the authority which had applied for the extradition of these men, but that authority has not received a reply from the Department of External Affairs. A statement was published in the Jewish press a month or more after the extradition order was applied for. No action was taken for more than five months after the order was applied for. “Why has not the Department of Immigration or the Department of External Affairs attempted to clear the names of these men? Senator Gorton said that the person who made these allegations should be summoned to appear at the bar of the Senate. The men have been accused of grave crimes, but, although five months have elapsed since the extradition order was applied for, no action has been taken. In those circumstances, the people who read the Jewish press may believe that the men are, as has been alleged, wanted for war crimes.
I believe that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. For as long as immigrants are being brought to this country from other parts of the world, I shall act as a watch-dog. If I receive reports that undesirable immigrants have been admitted, I shall consider it my duty to track those immigrants down through the proper channels.
– Put the emphasis on watching.
– I can watch, and I can also speak my mind. I should not call upon Senator Wright to act as a judge in cases of this kind because, with his blinkers, he can only look ahead. I do not think he would recognize a fascist if he saw one. The Department of External Affairs is charged with the responsibility of either clearing the names ot these men or of extraditing them. Five months ago, the Yugoslav Consul applied for the extradition of the men to face very grave charges. When the Government of Yugoslavia or of any other country that is represented in Australia applies, through the proper diplomatic channels, for an extradition order, the representative of that government in Australia should have extended to him the ordinary courtesies that are extended to the diplomatic representatives of othercountries. The fact that the Department; of External Affairs has delayed the clearing up of this very serious matter for five months gives me cause to believe chat everything is not open and above board. I should like the department to take some definite action with a view to disposing of the matter finally.
– When Senator O’Byrne began to speak. I hoped that some regard would be had to the ordinary decencies and that, having accused two men, whom he had named, of foul crimes, he would either produce some evidence in support of his charges or withdraw the charges, admitting that he could not substantiate them and that in having made them he had made a cruel and tragic mistake. But, as the honorable senator’s apologia progressed, I was forced to the conclusion that he was going to do none of those things. It was obvious that, in no circumstances, would he admit that an injustice had been done to the men.
I shall not reply in any way to his personal reflections upon me. That would be too much like shooting a squatting rabbit, and would be a waste of time. I realize that honorable senators must be allowed to bring to the notice of the Senate matters that they consider to be of high public moment and that, in so doing, they should be shielded from ordinary legal processes. In that way things can be done that otherwise could not be done. But honorable senators also have imposed upon them the heavy responsibility of ensuring that that privilege shall not be abused and that no charges shall be made in this chamber against any person until every effort has been made to sift all the available evidence and to ensure that no reputation shall be wantonly and lightly destroyed. My complaint is that in this case Senator O’Byrne has made no attempt to check, through proper channels, the accuracy of the information that came into his possession. I believe that in this instance the privilege to which I have referred has been abused. It is of the utmost importance that we should not allow this chamber to become a place in which Communist organizations or other organizations can use credulous dupes to carry on smear campaigns or to indulge in character assassination that those organizations could not carry on or indulge in publicly and be free from libel actions. I do not now accuse, and have not before accused, Senator O’Byrne of being a Communist, but I do say that the charges that have been levelled against these two men proceed from a Communist. All the evidence that has been produced in reply to the questions that the honorable senator asked goes to show that the two men are being attacked because they are now, and have been before, violent anti-Communists. Underlying this charge, without the honorable senator’s knowledge, is an attempt by Communists to smear people who are opposing them.
Let me put the matter to Senator O’Byrne in this way: He has been a prisoner of war and has been in a prison camp. How would he like it if somebody rose in this place and said that, while in a prison camp, he had given to the enemy information that should not have been given to them, and if then, in support of that vile accusation, the accuser said that some enemy of the honorable senator had written to him and had told him that that was so? Senator O’Byrne would justly resent that. That is why I resent thu allegations that have been made against these men, whom I have never seen and about whom I know nothing except that the reply to the honorable senator’s questions goes to show, as far as it is possible to show, that the accusations are not likely to be true. I say also that there is more to this matter than the mere blasting of a man’s reputation. Senator O’Byrne wants to go further - this is literally true - be wants to send these men back to their death, and he is prepared to do that solely on the say-so of a person who is notoriously opposed to them on ideological grounds. That is the sort of practice that filled concentration camps ir; fascist Germany and is now filling similar camps in Communist Russia. In order that similar injustices shall not be allowed to occur in this country, it is time that attention was drawn to the danger that can flow from this sort of thing.
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South properly availed himself of parliamentary privilege when he originally raised the matter to which he and Senator Gorton have just referred. I agree with Senator Gorton that when an honorable senator avails himself of that privilege ho must act very carefully. On the other hand, it seems to me that this has been, taken to extremes by not only Senator O’Byrne, but also Senator Gorton, who described Senator O’Byrne as being the credulous dupe of Communists. Any one who knows anything about Senator O’Byrne knows that that is not true.
– Older! In my hearing Senator Gorton did not say that.
– Yes, he did.
– Order ! That is a reflection upon the Chair. I listened most attentively to Senator Gorton’s speech. I believe that honorable senators will agree that I would he careful to bold the scales of justice in balance. I assure the Senate that I listened most carefully to Senator Gorton’s remarks and that I did not hear him make that statement.
– All I can say on that matter, Mr. President, is that it will be interesting to read the Ilansard record of Senator Gorton’s remarks. If the honorable senator did not make that statement exactly, he did so impliedly. In my view this matter has been taken to such extremes by both sides that neither will do its case any good. Senator O’Byrne was completely justified in placing his questions upon the notice-paper. Having done that-
– He should have waited for an answer.
– In having failed to do so, he may have shown bad judgment. However, he had reasonable grounds for placing his questions upon the notice-paper. Subsequently, he received from the Consul-General for Yugoslavia ti statement which developed still further the allegations that had been made against these two gentlemen. Then, it appears that as the matter developed, the ConsulGeneral for Yugoslavia in May last contacted the Government on an official country-to-country level and requested the extradition of these two men. Wher ever elm any degree of responsibility may rest in this matter it. certainly rests upon the Government. Whether or not others share that responsibility, I shall not say. If the Government either in private correspondence to the Consul-General for Yugoslavia, or in a public statement, supplied the same answer as was supplied to Senator O’Byrne’s question, upon notice, the matter to my mind was then finalized. The reply was reasonable. That should have ended the matter. But the Government took, five months to answer the correspondence that it had received from the Consul-General for Yugoslavia, which, whether all honorable senators approve of the fact or not, is a country that is friendly to Australia. Yugoslavia has consular representation in this country. Yet its representative’s application for the extradition of these two men was ignored by the Government for five months.
– Does the honorable senator think that Senator O’Byrne was justified in intruding into a matter that was pending?
– Yes ; if the Government was content merely to let things ride along.
– While it wai making inquiries ?
– When these men were admitted to Australia as immigrants, the Government, through its immigration and other agencies overseas, had all the information that it possesses about them to-day. If it did not possess that information then, it should have had it. I think that all honorable senators will agree with that statement. That is where the responsibility in this matter rests.
A few nights ago, Senator Gorton suggested that a certain person should bc brought to the bar of the Senate to prog the case for these men. The only aspects that have not been cleared up are the devastating charges that the ConsulGeneral for Yugoslavia has made against these two men. Why cannot that representative be called to the bar of the Senate in order that he may be given an opportunity to prove, if he can, the statements upon which he has based his charges. I should be prepared to do all that I could to move in that direction, because I think that that is the only factor that still remains unexplained in this matter.
– What about Senator O’Byrne’s informant?
– The only informant who has been publicly quoted is the Consul-General for Yugoslavia; and he has extended the charges far beyond the original allegations that Senator O’Byrne made. If that representative could be brought to the bar of the Senate and he could prove his allegations, that would settle the matter once and for all. Senator O’Byrne is not the first person who has made serious charges against these two men, although the Senate is the highest tribunal in which such charges have been made. However, senators from Western Australia will be aware that these charges have been made repeatedly.
– And they have been refuted.
– But not to the degree that the matter has been determined one way or the other. The charges are still floating. I suggest that the best way to clear up the charges once and for all would be to invite the Consul-General for Yugoslavia to appear at the bar of the Senate to supply to honorable senators the evidence upon which he has alleged that these men are war criminals. If he cannot produce the requisite proof, the men would be enabled- to walk again in the light. They would be absolved publicly of the charges and would be in the clear. But if the allegations are not cleared up these men will continue to walk in the shadows, because there is a period from 1941 to 1945 that I do not think the immigration authorities have been able to check completely in respect of their movements. The only man who it would seem can prove the allegations is the Consul-General for Yugoslavia. If it be shown that the allegations have been made as part of a wicked political persecution, we should be enabled to ascertain that fact and let these men go, completely free from taint and suspicion.
– Does the honorable senator believe that any prisoner of war could prove allegations of this kind ?
– No ; but I should like the Senate to give to the Consul-General for Yugoslavia an opportunity to prove them if he can do so to the satisfaction of the chamber.
– That is a silly suggestion.
– No, it is not. He could be approached through the Department of External Affairs to which he made his request for the extradition of these men. Officers of that department could ask him for his evidence, and if he should refuse to add anything to what he has already said, that fact could be reported back to the Senate.
– Senator O’Byrne has complained that the answers that have been supplied to his questions arc evasive. All honorable senators who heard his allegations will admit that the replies that were furnished to him were complete and gave the lie direct to the charges that he or the Consul-General or the Vice-Consul for Yugoslavia levelled against these men. I was particularly impressed by one part of the answer of the Minister. I suggest that the questions that were asked both in regard to Lukic and Rajkovic were of a kind that can do irreparable harm not only to our immigration scheme generally, but also to the individuals concerned. Particularly is this so when the allegations are found to be without evidence, as in these two cases, and to have been based on reasons which, to say the least, could be defined as being irresponsible, irrespective of whether they came from Senator O’Byrne, from whom we have become accustomed to expect nothing but irresponsible statements, or from the Consul-General for Yugoslavia, or from the Vice-Consul. As Senator Gorton has stated, these men are being persecuted because they were internees.
The following report was published in the Western Australian Daily News of the loth November: -
Named Sr.,v Says He Believes in British Freedom. “I believe that I will be given the right, to defend myself in this free country against accusations made under privilege1’, said Yugo slav migrant and Sloga paper editor Milorad Lukic to-day. He was referring to charges made against him in the Senate by Senator Olivine (Labour, Tasmania) that lie was a convicted war criminal.
Background to the allegations was a struggle to sec who would influence Yugoslav new Australians, said Lukic (pictured preparing to-day’s publication of Sloga). The issue: Would the Tito Consulate indoctrinate them, or would Sloga teach them British freedom. ” Sloga is antagonistic to communism of any kind - Tito or Cominform said Lukic. “ Obviously, if I were convicted on a false charge, I would face a political trial in Yugoslavia and Sloga would die with my death - the successful end of a political plot”.
Lukic said that before March 17, 1950, most Yugoslavs in Australia read only a red-tinted propaganda periodical issued in Yugoslav. On March 17, 1950, Sloga introduced a democratic spirit along the line of British tradition.
Questions. “Why did not Senator O’Byrne ask the Yugoslav Consul-General why I was not detained in Germany between 1945 and 1949?” he asked.
On the next day, tine following article appeared in. the same newspaper : -
Cleared Slav Tells of Plot. “ They wanted to get rid of Lukic because of the newspaper Sloga and myself because of my activity among the Yugoslav community and its societies”, said former Judge Mihaila Rajkovic to-day.
His statement followed the clearing of his name yesterday by Government Senate Leader Senator O’sullivan.
In the Senate recently Senator . O’Byrne (Labour, Tasmania) accused Rajkovic and Sloga editor Milorad Lukic of being war criminals. .Senator O’Byrne gave the source of his information as Marshal Tito’s Yugoslav Consul-General in Australia.
Said Rajkovic : “ Communists in Australia wanted to stop our activities. After we had lost one homeland they wished, to deprive us of a new one. Communist logic is to exterminate nil opposition. “ The only way to get us out of Australia and into Tito’s hands was to have us branded war criminals. It might be asked how I could have been a spy and a war criminal in concentration camps when I starved there. Spies were always well fed.”
It is interesting to consider how the allegations began. On the 19th August, Mr. D. Gavrilovic, the Consul-General for Yugoslavia addressed’ an audience of about 40 people at Perth. The following is an extract of a report of the meeting that appeared subsequently in Sloga, a newspaper that is published in the Yugoslav language: -
Mr. Gavrilovic said that the Yugoslav Government had asked from the- Australian Government that the editor of Sloga, Milorad Lukic, bc deported as a war criminal who is responsible for many thousands of lives, and that he had spied to German authorities during the war at concentration and prisoner-of-war camps. All those people who had sympathy for the People’s Liberation Army were consequently killed. When the war was over he caine over to the allied side, representing himself as a victim of the occupators. It is not important what the decision of the Australian Government will be about this question, but the fact remains that he is a war criminal and that Hie Yugoslav Government has asked for his extradition.
We have heard something about what was published in the Australian Jewish News. The following is an extract from a report that was published in that journal on the 21st September: -
Yugoslav Wak Criminals in Australia.
The Yugoslav Government has requested the extradition of two alleged Yugoslav war criminals now in Australia.
The two Yugoslavs came to Australia as displaced persons under the I.R.O. scheme.
Mr. Sydney T>. Einfield, a NJ3.W. Member of the ECAJ last Sunday, told a, Tarbuth meeting the Yugoslav Consul General in Australia had stated that the men had been declared war criminals by the Jugoslav Federal Commission for the determination of war crimes.
Mr. Einfeld who was a dd rossing a few hundred people, said this information was contained in a letter which the Consul had sent to a member of the N.S.W. Jewish Board of Deputies. The meeting which was called by the Sydney Council and supported by the Board launched a petition urging the Commonwealth Government to abandon its mass German migration scheme.
Quoting from the letter, Mr. Einfeld sa.id the two Yugoslav men were Milorad Lukic and Mihailo Rajkovic. Editor of W.A. Paper.
Both were regarded as Fascist traitors by the Yugoslav authorities. Lukic, the letter said, was nt present editor of the Yugoslav newspaper Sloga which is published in Perth, W.A.
Rajkovic, who also was associated with the paper, worked in a Perth factory. “ Lukic is a Serb, married to a German national “. “During the war he was in the service of the Gestapo in the prisoner of war camp at Nuremburg, spying on and denouncing Yugoslav prisoners of war who were sympathetic to the National Liberation struggle nf the Yugoslav people and to the Allied cause as a whole “.
The letter said that Lukic, as a confidant of the Gestapo visited various prisoner of war camps in Germany. There he denounced Yugoslav patriots and anti-Fascists to the Germans and agitated in support of Hitler’s cause. He was also said to have organised Fascist groups to oppose allied war aims.
Vor these crimes, the letter continued, which resulted in the maltreatment and execution of Yugoslav internees.
Lukin was declared a war criminal and traitor and was to be brought to trial by Yugoslav authorities.
Rajkovic, the letter stated, was a Montenegrin, an ex-judge who had prepared a list of 53 people in a. Balkan prisoner of war camp. The people were singled out for maltreatment.
Been use of the serious nature of the crimes alleged against the men, the Yugoslav Government had asked for their extradition.
Appealing to Sydney Jewry not to forget the crimes committed by hundreds of thousands of Germans. Mr. Einfeld said every Jew wlm did not join in the protest against mas* German migration did not deserve the heritage of his forefathers.
The charges that were made have been continued by interjection. Senator O’Byrne has referred to the actions of these men in prisoner-of-war camps. I hope that Senator O’Byrne will convey the following information to his informants. The war-time record of Milorod Lukic was as follows : - He was interned in Oflag VI.b. Warburg, Westphalia, from, the 1st May, 1941, to the 23rd October, 1941. From that date until the 23rd April, 1943, he was interned at Oflag XIII.b Nuernberg. On that day, as a result of British bombing, the whole camp was transferred to a new site at Hammelburg, where he remained from the 24th April, 1943, till the 6th April, 1945. He was then released. During the whole of the time he was in the various camps he was under the direct supervision of the International Bed Cross, and the records of those camps can be checked with that m03t reliable organization. He is accused of having caused the deaths of many of the inmates of the camps. The facts are that during those years there were only three violent deaths in the camps. The circumstances of those fatalities were immediately investigated by the International Red Cross authorities, and the reports about them exist and can be checked. I suggest to Senator O’Byrne that he examine them. I shall give the details of the three deaths from violence. In 1945, two American officers, at Hammelburg, were killed during an air raid because they did not run for cover quickly enough. Those fatalities were immediately investigated, and the report in relation to the circumstances is in existence. In May, 1942, at Oflag XIII.b Nuernberg, ‘a
Yugoslav officer was killed by accident. He was playing an accordion at the wire when the air raid siren sounded. He did not move quickly enough and a guard fired a shot into the air to cause the prisoners to hurry. The bullet ricocheted and killed the man. Honorable senators can ascertain from the records how many violent deaths occurred in the camp.
– There were no Yugoslavs at Oflag VI.b. Warburg, Westphalia. I know, because I was there.
– The report shows differently. Oflag VI.b was the camp in which this man was imprisoned from the 1st May, 1941, till the 23rd October, 1941.
Rajkovic was in the concentration camp at Klos/Albania. That camp was under the supervision, not of International Red Cross, but of the Italian Red Cross, and the man in charge of it was Bishop Orthodox, of Montenegro. A record of that camp is also in existence. Rajkovic was subsequently transferred to the Sulmona concentration camp in Italy, where he remained until he was finally released. Records of that camp are also in existence. Many persons in Australia who were in that camp are able to substantiate the details of those records. As I have stated, all the records can be checked. That is one way in which we can ascertain whether those two men were involved in the alleged killings. I mentioned last week that Rajkovic and Lukic were members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I do not like to rub salt into the wounds of Senator O’Byrne, but I should like to inform the Senate that Lukic is a prominent figure in Western Australia, and a prominent member of the State branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. He has taken an active part in the recruiting campaign. He has spoken from the stand of honour in Forrest-.pla.ce, Perth, from which he has appealed for recruits. In that respect at least he has a greater assessment of our defence needs than has Senator O’Byrne. Mr. N. Marich former Royal Yugoslav Consul in Western Australia, and an exmember of the Australian Imperial Force in World War I., has written to the
West Australian about the allegations by Senator O’Byrne as follows: -
Iwas much surprised to read what Senator O’Byrne had to say about two countrymen and friends whom I helped to come to Australia.It was veryeasy for him to make such wild statements about Messrs.Lukie andRajkoviek under parliamentary privilege. Sonic Labour politicians are only too ready to find fault with the post-war European migrants. They are not doing this for the general benefit of Australis but for selfish, political ends.
Senator O’Byrne states that the Yugoslav Government has declared these two men to be war criminals. From the end of 1944, when he took control of Yugoslavia, to June,1948, when he separated from the Cominform, Marshal Tito and many of his Ministers named Mr. Churchill and other British statesmen as war criminals, so why should Senator O’Byrne be worried ten years after by what these two men did while they were prisoners of war and who, as soon as they could after strict screenings by competent Australian investigators, were happy to come to Australia with their families? If Senator O’Byrne cannot prove his accusation, the least he can do is to resign from the Senate.
The Yugoslav community in Western Australia, and many’ new Australians, deeply resent what has happened. My interest in this case is to try to show to them that, despite the irresponsible charges which have been made by Senator O’Byrne, at least a majority of honorable senators know and understand the meaning of real British democracy. Just as those new Australians have come to look for democratic principles in this country of their adoption, so will a majority of honorable senators see that those principles are applied in this case.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.37 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 November 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1951/19511122_senate_20_215/>.