20th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
SenatorBROWN. - In the absence of the Minister for National Development, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether there are any differences of opinion between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government on the efficacy of the Burdekin Valley development scheme. If so, and if those differences can be overcome, will the Australian Government give an assurance to the people of Queensland that money will be forthcoming to carry out the scheme in full?
– I am not familiar with the details of the matter to which the honorable senator has referred. I understand that there have been some differences of opinion on the best method of developing the Burdekin Valley. It is clear, however, that both the Queensland Government and the Australian Government are eager to proceed with the development not only of the Burdekin Valley but also of Queensland generally. The honorable senator may have read that, at the last two meetings of the Loan Council, the Commonwealth has been unprecedentedly generous, and has agreed to forgo its own share of loan moneys in favour of the States in order that they may proceed with their works programme. In fact the Commonwealth will underwrite the difference between the cost of the agreed works programmes of the States and the funds that will be available to the States from the loan market. That has not been done by any previous Australian Government and I think that the people of Australia appreciate the Commonwealth’s action even if the States do not.
– The shipping of fruit from the southern ports of Tasmania during thelast fruit season has been considerably hampered . by the activities of certain organisations on the waterfront. The situation could be relieved considerably by the reconstruction of the Port Huon wharf. Has an application by the Tasmanian Government for finance to permit that work to proceed come to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture? Has he informed himself personally of the need for that undertaking, and can he indicate when a decision is likely to be made on the matter ?
– Representations have been made on this subject, and during my trip to Tasmania recently I visited Port Huon with the honorable member forFranklin (Mr. Falkinder), in whose electorate the port is situated, to see how far the scheme had progressed. I regard the completion of the jetty a; a matter of very great importance because it is needed to relieve the pressure during the busy fruit export season. The representations that have been made have been placed before the Treasurer, and I hope to receive a decision in a few days.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a question concerning the report that was recently published in the Brisbane press that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Queensland expected a deficit exceeding £2,000,000 for the current financial year. In view of the severe increases in postal, telegraph and telephone rates that were imposed under the last budget, is the Minister jn a position to indicate whether there has been buyer resistance to the heavy charges with a consequent fall in turnover and a relative decline in revenue? If statistics are available, would the Minister inform me of the number of telegrams and phonograms that were despatched through the General Post Office, Brisbane, for the periods 1st July, 1950, to 30th April, 1951, and 1st July, 1951, to 30th April, 1952?
– I cannot supplv off-hand the figures that the honorable member has requested, but I shall bring his question to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and furnish him with a reply as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral request the Public Service Board to inquire into the obvious injustice now being perpetrated in connexion with certain postmasters and senior postal clerks who are denied penalty rates for Saturday work and overtime? Is it not a fact that junior officers who work under the direction of postmasters and senior postal clerks are paid penalty rates?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question concerning the labelling of textiles. This matter has been brought before the Minister on numerous occasions by people who are interested in the wool industry. Recently, a new aspect of the matter ha.3 been brought to light. Dry cleaners have found that, because of the many’ substances that have been incorporated with wool, suits have been ruined by dry cleaning. As the Minister has stated that the labelling of textiles cannot be enforced until all States have uniform textile labelling legislation, will the Minister inform the Senate whether any State Parliament already has the required legislation on its statutebooks ?
– On the 2nd May I attended a conference of State Ministers concerned in this matter in Melbourne. One Minister was absent, but I indicated to those present the type of legislation and regulations that the Australian Government considered could be effectively operated and policed. The proposals did not quite conform with what the States wanted. The States have power to make their own regulations for the labelling of textiles, but it is highly desirable that imported articles should be subject to the same regulations as those of local manufacture. I hope that, as a result of the conference, the States will adopt a .policy in uniformity with that of the Commonwealth.
– If the Minister representing the Postmaster-General has not already done so, will he give, further consideration to granting relief to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen in the matter of telephone rental charges? Many of them have had telephone facilities installed on their doctor’s advice. I understand that a very small number of them would be affected by this proposal and that the loss of revenue to the Government would be negligible while the assistance that would be given to deserving cases would be great.
Sentor COOPER. - Very sympathetic consideration was given to the matter that has been raised by the honorable senator, and a very exhaustive examination was made of the subject when he mentioned it previously. As I then informed the honorable senator, it is not the policy of the Government to make these facilities available. However, the situation is being constantly reviewed, and the request of the honorable senator will be kept in mind.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether it is a fact that the Trans-Australia Airlines aeroplane, which used to leave Essendon for Adelaide each night at midnight has been cut out? Will the Minister take immediate action to ensure that the service is restored, because it is important to the business community of South Australia to obtain early delivery of mail posted in the eastern States the previous day?
– I have read in the press that air services to Adelaide have been curtailed because of a shortage oi’ aviation spirit brought about by a strike on the petroleum fields in the United States of America, but I do not know just what services have been temporarily cut out. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that lighthouse-keepers around the Tasmanian coast have received a circular advising them that the lighthouse service vesse
Cape York will probably arrive at Hobart to load stores during 1952 in the first week of March, the second week in June, and the third week in September. The circular continued -
From the above, it will be seen that it will be necessary for lightkeepers to order sufficient provisions to cover at least four months and, in the case of the September trip, five months.
The circular also stated that the Gape York service was to be used for the transport of all bulk and dry stores, and that the consignment by mail boat of any stores other than fresh meat, butter and vegetables would not be allowed. Can the Minister give any reason why the Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation in Tasmania has notified all lighthousekeepers on the Tasmanian coast that they should order five months’ supply of goods to be delivered in September instead of ordering three months’ supply as formerly? Is it intended to cut out the December vessel that always used to take in the Christmas supplies? Does the Minister consider that men who are doing such an important job in the interests of shipping should be treated in such a contemptible manner? Will the Minister do his best to ensure that the three-monthly service is continued?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the responsible officers in my department. I am just as concerned as is the honorable senator that the best possible shall be done for the men and women engaged in this important work.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that under the system of quotas for sterling imports the total quota for the Commonwealth is, in many cases, held by one importing agent, who is responsible for distributing the goods throughout Australia ? Will the Minister make it a condition of the import licence that in all such cases a just proportion, based upon the previous year’s purchases, shall be sent to the various States?
– I am aware of the situation mentioned by the honorable senator, and I know that, for the most part, the importing agents play the game, and see that the goods are fairly distributed. I do not know whether the Commonwealth has power to control the distribution of goods once they have been landed in Australia. The position is being examined, and at this stage importing agents are being exhorted to see that goods are distributed among the States in proportion to previous purchases.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport to the appalling number of fatal accidents that are occurring on the roads of this country, which are partially attributable to conflicting State road traffic laws. Some time ago the Minister assured the Senate that he would watch closely developments arising out of a conference between State Ministers in this connexion. Will he inform me of the result of negotiations, following that conference, to achieve uniformity of road traffic laws in this country?
– A committee, representative of the seven parliaments of this country, has met regularly in connexion with the matter raised by the honorable senator. From time to time . recommendations have gone forward from that committee to State Ministers administering road traffic laws and to the Minister for the Interior, who administers the motor traffic ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory. I hope that during the current sittings of some of the State parliaments legislation will be introduced to implement the committee’s recommendations. I have been informed by responsible officers of my department that the committee has performed much useful work. I shall obtain for the honorable senator an up-to-date report on the progress that has been made as a result of the recommendations of the committee, and furnish it to him as soon as possible. Both the Commonwealth and State authorities are. eager to take whatever action may be necessary to reduce the dreadful toll of the road in this country.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform the Senate whether it is a fact that M.V. Lautoka is to proceed to Japan for repairs and the installation of new deck plates? Is it true that the Government dockyard at Newcastle, Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company Limited, of Sydney, and private shipping yards, submitted tenders to the agents, W. E. Carpenter and Company Limited, to carry out the work for about £15,000, but that it will be performed in Japan for a much lower price? Is this the first fruits of the treaty of peace with Japan that was ratified recently by this Parliament? Is the Minister aware that a continuation of this practice will cause unemployment in the metal trades and shipbuilding industry which will prove calamitous to our economy and be a retrograde step in Australia’s defence programme ?
– The honorable senator’s question smacks of cheap propaganda. I have no desire to dictate where Senator Ashley should have his repairs carried out, and therefore I do not think that it would be proper for the Government to attempt to dictate to private enterprise in such matters. The price factor is important in these matters. I remind the honorable senator that we are short of several thousand men for naval construction work and repairs. The naval programme is behind. There is adequate employment in this country.
– We are short of everything.
– The honorable senator’s question indicates that he is not lacking in stupidity.
– Oan the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate of the progress made in the negotiations with superphosphate companies in South Australia that are interested in the extraction of sulphuric acid from pyrites mined at Nairne? When is it expected that the treatment plants will commence operations?
– Bequests have been made to the Government by South Australian superphosphate companies for financial assistance for the erection of plant to treat pyrites mined at Nairne. Representatives of the companies are now conferring with the responsible Minister in Canberra. It is hoped that an early decision will be reached and that this important work will be proceeded with as soon as possible.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In 1905, this Parliament appointed a royal commission to inquire into patent medicines and secret drugs, but owing to lack of constitutional power little effect could be given to the recommendations of the commission. Since then the people, by referendum, have empowered this Parliament to control drugs. In view of the serious effects of certain patent medicines upon the health of the Australian people will the Minister appoint a royal commission to inquire into the patent medicine trade in Australia?
– Obviously, I cannot give an assurance that such a royal commission will be appointed. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Health.
– I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to give the Senate any information he possesses about an organization known as the Imperial Relations Trust. The press yesterday reported a series of extraordinary statements by Mrs. Ian Anderson, who is paying a four months’ visit to Australia under the sponsorship of the trust and who, during her stay here, is to be the guest of the Country Women’s Association. Seemingly, this lady has come from Scotland with the object of giving us information regarding that country. Is the trust financed by the Government? Is any control exercised over the persons selected by the trust to come here? If so, what precautions are taken to ensure that they shall be qualified to speak on behalf of the countries that they claim to represent? Mrs. Anderson is reported to have made the startling statement tha.t nearly everybody in the highlands of Scotland wears the kilt. That is sheer rubbish. Steps should be taken to ensure that those who come here on such visits shall be better informed. Although the Minister’s forbears originally came from Ireland-
– Order !
– What is the nature of the Imperial Relations Trust and who finances it? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that those who come here under the sponsorship of the trust to give to Australians information about the country from which they come shall at least be possessed of accurate information about their homeland?
– The honorable senator is very ignorant.
– I am not familiar with the Imperial Relations Trust, which has been referred to by the honorable senator, but I imagine that it is a voluntary organization. To what degree, if any, it is sponsored by the United Kingdom Government or the Australian Government I am not aware, but I am sure that if it sends persons out here from Scotland, it is prepared to give us something that is worth taking. In the free world, ingress to and egress from the various countries is still fairly free, provided that one conforms to the passport requirements and obligations. I hope that such freedom of movement will always continue. If the honorable senafor suggests that the people to whom he has referred are coming to this country for subversive reasons-
– I did not suggest that nt all.
– I imagine that their purpose in coming here is based on friendly and cultural grounds and is designed to create better relations between this country and countries overseas.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs been drawn io a recent statement made by Senator Sparkman, who is a member of the Tinted States Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, to the effect that the Pacific pact does not impose any obligations on America in the event of an attack being made upon Australia, but that the incident would merely be noted? Is this not in direct conflict with the views of the Australian Government which, as I understand them, are that an attack upon a country which has subscribed to the pact will be considered as an attack upon all such countries? Does the Minister agree that further negotiations should be commenced with a view to having a statement made which will clarify the position and declare precisely the meaning of the pact?
– If my recollection serves me aright, this question was discussed at some length in the House of Representatives, and also in the Senate, when the treaty was being ratified by the Parliament. I think that the position was made clear that it was not possible to impose on the United States of America a completely automatic obligation to go to war, because the fulfilment of certain functions is required by the Senate of that country. Consequently, the reciprocal obligations undertaken by both parties were in line with the limitations imposed by the United States Constitution. When the bill was before this chamber, I commented on the fact that the written words seemed to me to be far less important than the spirit in which such treaties are entered into. In this instance, I have no doubt that both parties to the treaty will fulfil completely the obligations that they have assumed.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Repatriation by pointing out that during the past five or six years I have, on many occasions in the Senate, referred to the payment of compensation and subsistence allowance to ex-prisoners of war held by the Japanese. I have also expressed dissatisfaction with the report that was presented to the Parliament concerning that matter. Has the Minister seen a copy of the questionnaire that has been sent to all ex-prisoners of war? Is he aware that great indignation is being expressed by ex-prisoners of war because of the nature of the questions they are required to answer if they wish to claim assistance from the £250,000 which has been made available by this Government? Is it true that it is practically impossible for a person to fulfil all the requirements of the questionnaire unless he is destitute? Will the Minister pause an inquiry to be made with a view to having the questionnaire withdrawn and a new approach made to ex-prisoners of war regarding the use of the fund?
– I have seen the questionnaire and I am aware of the trouble that it has caused amongst exprisoners of war. I shall be glad to bring the matter to the notice of the department concerned. I inform the honorable senator that theRepatriation Department does not administer the prisoner of war trust account. It is a separate trust which I understand is under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department or the Treasury. However, I shall pass the honorable senator’s question on to the appropriate authority.
– Yesterday, Sena tor Henty asked the Attorney-General whether be was aware that the oil refinery attached to the shale oil undertaking at Glen Davis was in such a bad condition that it could not be transported to Bell Bay in Tasmania. Will the Attorney-General assure the Senate that if it is not possible to remove the plant to Tasmania, it will not be transferred to one of the major oil companies on the mainland? Is it not a fact that a deputation which consisted of technical experts assured the Minister for National Development, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Supply last week that the plant was in first-class condition? Is the destruction of the Glen Davis shale oil industry a part of the desocialization policy of the Menzies Government, or is that industry being destroyed for the benefit of one of the major oil companies or of the oil companies in general?
– Obviously, in the absence of the Minister for National Development, it is not possible for me to give the assurance that the honorable senator seeks in the first part of his question. I shall direct the Minister’s attention to the matter and obtain an answer for the honorable senator in due course.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) agreed to-
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Finlay on account of ill health.
Motion (by Senator Spicer) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill tor an act relating to the patents of inventions.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) put -
That so much 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 question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 541), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this bill, which proposes to increase the salary of the Australian High Commissioner in London by £500 per annum. It is rather amazing that the salary of that office has stood at £3,000 for 40 years. Obviously, the position has been grievously underpaid, particularly in recent years. Had that salary been the entire remuneration of the occupant of the office. I doubt whether he would have been able to do full justice to his duties. A large part of his work consists of social activities, and expenditure on entertainment is considerable. I take it that the High Commissioner’s salary is subject to income tax in Australia, but not in Great Britain, and that, apart from his salary, the High Commissioner receives an entertainment allowance.
.- I shall not delay the passage of the bill. I merely wish to place on record my disgust that the salary of the most important office of
Australian High Commissioner in London has remained at £3,000 for so long. I am sorry, too, that, in attempting to improve the position, the Government proposes to increase the salary by only a niggardly £500 a year. In view of wage and salary increases and rising costs over the years, the Government would only be doing the right thing by the occupant of this office and by Australia itself, if it were to double his salary, regardless of whatever other allowances are payable.
. - in reply - I thank the Senate for the manner in which it has received this measure. The salary of the Australian High Commissioner in London is subject to income tax at Australian rates. In addition to his salary, he receives an entertainment allowance and the use of an official residence. I agree with the sentiments that have been expressed by Opposition speakers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 542), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this bill. It is a machinery measure which provides for the adequate description of all types of liquor whether they are matured spirits, whether they are imported in bottle or bulk, and whether they are of Australian origin, or not. I think that the Government’s proposal must have the support of every honorable senator. The bill exempts from the requirement of description of maturity certain other liquors which do not require to be matured in wood. The Opposition cordially supports this measure.
– in reply - I thank the Opposition for the manner in which the bill has been received. As the Leader of theOpposition (Senator McKenna) has said, it is purely a machinery measure and I appreciate the speed with which the Senate has dealt with it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 543), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this bill which is a machinery measure for the purpose of altering the term of the financial year of the Australian Whaling Commission. For good reasons which were set out in the second-reading speech, the Acting Auditor-General has indicated that the change should be effected. I notice with pleasure that the commission, which has been in operation for a very short period, has been particularly successful in its operations. It has made a very substantial gross and net profit and I congratulate the commission upon the success that it has achieved in establishing this very young industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May, (vide page 543), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition very cordially supports this measure which is designed to permit the Australian War Memorial to be used for the establishment of a permanent record of Australia’s activity in all wars. I believe that every honorable senator will join with me in congratulating the Board of Management of the Australian War Memorial at Canberra on the magnificent record that it has established and preserved. One cannot even stroll through the Australian War Memorial without feelings of humility, reverence, and pride in Australians. In that atmosphere, and seeing what is to be seen there, one is reminded of the birth of Australian nationhood. I think that a truly Australian national spirit was born in the war of 1914-18 and that it came to maturity in the recent holocaust of 1939-45. It would be a good thing if every Australian were given an opportunity to visit the Australian War Memorial at Canberra. Any person with only a spark of pride in his country would have it stimulated very quickly into a flame upon visiting that memorial; and if any Australian, through thoughtlessness, did not have that spark of pride I think that a stroll through the memorial would speedily enkindle it. There are certain machinery provisions in the bill relating to the board of management which will make changes in its personnel easier to effect. On behalf of the Opposition I cordially support the measure.
– I commend the Government on its introduction of this bill. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that one cannot approach such a memorial as this other than in a spirit of the utmost humility. In this materialistic age it is of fundamental importance that this National Parliament should ensure that the memorial shall be perpetuated and enlarged. So far, the memorial refers only to the activities of those who participated in World War I. It is also intended that the memorial shall perpetuate the activities of those who served in the second world war, and those who are now fighting in Korea. I especially commend the Government for giving consideration to South African War veterans.
The Government, in preparing this legislation, showed imagination by providing that records in the memorial may be perused by authorized persons. The national capital will in the future be visited by students, both Australian and from overseas, who are interested in the doings of illustrious Australians, and it is desirable that they should have access to records housed in the memorial. I approve of the penal provisions in the bill which are directed against those who may seek to commercialize the memorial.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 543), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill is consequential upon the passing of the national service legislation, and the Opposition has no objection to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 544), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– It is proposed in this measure to continue the benefits which were made available under special legislation to men of the mercantile marine who suffered injury in the course of their war service. The Opposition supports the measure. I can see no benefit in discussing the details of the bill when we do not oppose it, and have no special requests to make. The Opposition has, from time to time, paid proper tribute to the men of the mercantile marine who kept the sea lanes open and maintained lines of communication during the war at great risk to themselves. I take this opportunity to repeat the tribute which the Opposition believes is due to these men.
– As one who spent 30 years at sea, I have a particular interest in this bill, the main purpose of which is to embody in statute form, certain regulations that were introduced under the National Security Act for the purpose of conferring pensions and other benefits upon men of the mercantile marine. Wo in Australia have reason to congratulate ourselves that there is in existence hero provision for conferring such benefits upon seamen. The former Menzies Government is to be commended for having brought in the provision, although I have no doubt that had a Labour government been in office at the time it would have done the same. In other parts of the world, the men of the mercantile marine have been, in general, ignored. Throughout the whole of the first world war seamen whose ship was torpedoed received no pay from the time of the sinking of the ship, even though a considerable time might elapse between then and their getting home. All the thanks they got for their service, and the danger they had undergone, was to have their pay stopped the moment their ship was sunk. I congratulate the Australian Parliament upon having led the world by passing this very worthwhile legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 545), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Tins measure, like the Air Force Bill 1952, is consequential upon the passing of the National Service Acts. It merely effects necessary machinery alterations in the existing legislation. The Opposition does not oppose the passage of the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 545), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This small bill is necessary because the War Service Land Settlement Agreement Act 1945 was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia in its judgment on the case Magennis v. the Commonwealth. Since that time the Commonwealth has been paying just compensation along the lines of the original agreement. Now this measure has been brought down to validate whatever action may have been taken. The purpose of the bill is to authorize the Minister to pay to the States moneys voted by the Parliament for war service land settlement in the various States. When it was before the House of Representatives a debate ensued on the New South Wales system of acquiring land for this purpose. It is not my intention to deal with that aspect of the matter, as sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. The Opposition does not oppose the passage of the bill.
– I do not wish to deal with this measure from the point of view of law or any esesntial principle. I take this opportunity to refute certain inaccuracies and innuendoes that were voiced in another place against the policy of the Queensland Government in connexion with the resumption of properties for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Allegations have been made by land-holders that the Queensland Government is pursuing a socialistic policy to deprive them of their land at unfair valuations. Other equally inaccurate charges have been levelled in another place against the Queensland Government, and the suggestion has been made also that that Government has no interest in encouraging primary settlement and production. It has also been stated that the Queensland Government is still acquiring land at 1942 valuation. To raise this matter in the Senate is proper, because this chamber is the custodian of the rights and interests of the States. Since 1950 the Queensland Government lias acquired properties for the purpose of the land settlement of ex-servicemen at current market valuation. Prior to 1950, but subsequent to 1942, land values were pegged. The only assessable market value was the 1942 valuation. In 1950 land sales control was abolished in Queensland, and from then onwards the market value has been the basis of compensation payable for resumed land. Therefore, I lay bare the falsehood that has been so wrongly uttered in another place. The practice of the Queensland Government has been one of complete equity in resumptions. In most instances the amount of compensation, payable has been determined by negotiation. Where negotiation has not succeeded the matter has been submitted to the Land Court, a judicial body that functions under the Queensland Lands /lets. An appeal against a decision of the Land Court may be made to the Land Appeal Court, and if desired ultimately to the Full Bench of the Supreme Court. In the initial stages the Land Court decided resumption values, which became the norm and the basis for subsequent negotiation. There has been no attempt by the Queensland Government at expropriation of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen, in defiance of equity. I know that for the purpose of negotiation the vendor usually asks a high price while the resuming authority naturally offers a comparatively low figure. Both sides allow a wide margin for negotiation and ultimate settlement. Recently, certain determinations were made by the Land Court in Brisbane. They show that a norm has actually been struck. The court’s determination was close to the figure offered initially by the Crown. In one instance, the amount offered by the Crown was £13,196, the amount claimed by the person whose property was being resumed was £35,000, and the ultimate figure, determined by the Land Court was approximately £21,000. In. other words, the court reduced the claim by £14,000 and increased the Crown offer by £8,000. In the second case, the Crown offer was £6,700, the claim initially was £15,000 and the ultimate determination was- £10,800. To say that the QueenslandGovernment is resuming properties but not giving ex-servicemen an opportunity to acquire economic propositions is coin.pletely unfair. That contention is nit tenable because the State is bound by iti agreement with the Commonwealth which lays down certain specificconditions. One condition is that the property shall be an economicproposition for the ex-serviceman. It is fantastic to suggest that Queensland desires to depart from the ordinary principle of good administration in settling e>: -servicemen on the land. I repeat that I do not want to go into the details of the allegations that have been made. I have addressed myself only to a consideration of the principles involved, and I have tried to show that these completelyinaccurate, careless, and malign insinuations do tremendous damage. They destroy the faith of many young men in the sincerity of purpose of the Queensland Government. They should not bemad e; but they are easily refuted because they are not in accordance with fact. I trust that honorable senators, when they consider matters of this kind in this chamber, will stick closely to the facts and present a clear and accurate picture of the circumstances. I assure honorable senators and the public at large that theQueeusland Government is resuming properties for war service land settlement purposes at current market values, that it is placing young men on properties that are economically sound and is endeavouring to do justice to all parties concerned.
.. - On the surface this bill appears to be a very simple measure, but there are very contentious matters inherent in its provisions. In his second-reading speech,, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) said -
It is . . . proposed toy this bill to authorize the Minister to make payments to theStates of the moneys voted by this Parliament, for war service land settlement in such amounts and subject to such conditions as hedetermines.
Thus, the bill will give to the Minister in charge of war service land settlement very wide authority to control the administration by the States of the war service land settlement scheme. The very contentious subject of the land acquisitions for the scheme has not been fully discussed in this chamber, as it was in another place. The progress of the scheme throughout Australia has been impeded by the selfishness of land-holders who do not use their land to the best purpose, but hold out for the highest price for their land and use every technical and legal loophole to evade their responsibilities. This scheme has a twofold purpose; first, it will enable us to bring about a much-desired increase of food production; and, secondly, it will enable the Government to honour the promise made to members of the fighting forces during the war that, after the cessation of hostilities, those who had the requisite experience would be assisted to settle on the land. There is a tremendous back-log of applications for the allotment of properties. In Tasmania, in particular, the scheme has progressed very slowly. Unfortunately the Government of that State has been forced to include marginal areas in the scheme. It is carrying out experiments in areas that are at present unsuitable for agriculture or grazing, but it hopes that, within four or five years, these experiments will be successful and that it will be possible to utilize the land for the settlement of exservicemen.
Within 35 or 40 miles of Launceston there are 300,000 acres of well-watered agricultural land in an assured rainfall area, the original owners of which have bequeathed large areas to the members of their families in order to escape their obligations to make the land available to ex-servicemen. The State Government has not gone far enough in its efforts to acquire the land for ex-service land settlement purposes. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), in his statement on the Government’s economic policy last night, said that we are living in a period of price booms. Owners of land suitable for the settlement of exservicemen, in an effort to get the last pound of flesh from ex-servicemen, are bitterly opposing the attempts of the States to scale down land values. Under the provisions of this measure, the Minis- ter in charge of ex-service land settlement will be able to prevent the States from scaling down land values in periods of inflation. The additional expense involved in resumptions for the purposes of this scheme will eventually be borne by the ex-servicemen, as was the case after World War I., when properties were purchased at boom prices, subdivided and allotted to ex-servicemen, countless hundreds of whom subsequently walked off their properties without a “ bob “. The worst feature of the earlier scheme was that in many instances the excess money paid to the holders of big properties was used to repurchase the properties after they had been abandoned by the ex-servicemen.
We have not tackled this problem in a workmanlike manner. In my view increased production of food in Australia is of more importance than is the manufacture of defence material. The United States of America and other friendly nations are better equipped than we are to produce our requirements of arms and armaments. We have the God-given advantage of broad acres and a people who have a kinship with the soil and we should be able to produce much more food than we require for our own needs. As the loading of ex-servicemen with a burden of debt for land purchased in periods of inflation was proved to be wrong in the past, so it will be proved to be wrong again. The provisions of this measure will bring a situation about similar to that which existed after World War I., when the land monopolists who lived in the cities and employed managers to farm their properties extracted the last pound of flesh from ex-servicemen. Any move to alter the existing law which enables the States to peg the price of land suitable for ex-service land settlement is a retrograde step.
– This bill gives us an opportunity to integrate our thoughts about the exservice land settlement scheme generally. The Menzies Government can take credit for having greatly improved the scheme inasmuch as, when it assumed office, the scheme contained all the elements of the stereotyped pattern of socialism which have now been eliminated. If we are to consider this measure in its proper perspective, we must delve into the history of the scheme. The original legislation was introduced by the Chifley Government shortly after the presentation of a not too well known rep art by some of the late Mr. Chifley’s myrmidons on the subject of housing which recommended the general socialization of land. The Chifley Government forced upon the agent States, some of them socialist States which were not too unwilling to accept it, a provision that land for war service land settlement purposes should be held on perpetual lease so that the Crown could retain ownership, reassess the rent payable in respect of it every ten years, and thus relegate exservicemen to the position of permanent tenants. It is to the great credit of the Menzies Government that, immediately after it assumed office, it insisted that freehold land should be made available as an inalienable right to those ex-servicemen who wished to own their own land. Doctrinaire Labour governments think that they are performing a public service by expropriating civilian land-owners who, in many instances, have been pioneers. By their own efforts during, perhaps, 50 years they have acquired an asset. I am jealous to protect the rights of men who have acquired property by methods typical of the pioneers.
I wish to refer particularly to the application of this bill to the State of Tasmania. The first legislation concerning war service land settlement required that land should be resumed at the value of the land as stated in the State capital roll, which was then obsolete, in many instances, by as much as 20 or 30 years. A land-owner was required to yield up his land at that figure, plus 5 per cent. When I was a member of -the Tasmanian Parliament, the government of the day to its credit, accepted suggestions that it should repeal that legislation. Thereupon, resumptions were lawful when made at current market values.
– What are current market values?
– If Senator O’Byrne is willing to allow any of his property to be confiscated or expropriated to the Crown except at current market values, he is irresponsible either in in tellect or in management. That principle is the essence of the security of each member of our community. It is essential that a person should, by law, be entitled to gain the ownership of property, whether of land or otherwise, and to resist any attempt of the Executive to expropriate such property other than on fair and just terms.
– The honorable senator is a happy kind of a fellow!
– If there is any sorrow that I can share with Senator Grant I shall be happy to do so, as long as he maintains silence. The Tasmanian statute of 1950 represents the second thoughts of the Tasmanian Labour Government on this subject. The High Court of Australia, in the case of Magennis v. The Commonwealth, demonstrated to the Labour Government of New South Wales that the Constitution requires that property shall be acquired on no basis other than just terms. After that lesson had been given by the High Court, the Victorian Government devised a method whereby implementation of the decision could be avoided. However, it is interesting to consider the action that was taken by the Tasmanian Parliament after the judgment of the High Court had been delivered. It provided a funk hole by means of section 57 of its 1950 legislation. By virtue of that section it proudly adopted an iniquitous system, in defiance of the High Court ruling that it is the constitutional right of every Australian property owner to be compensated on just terms if his property is resumed. I am prepared to leave to any court of justice in this country the assessment of just terms. I raise my voice here to-day in contempt of the Executive which seeks to impose upon land-owners expropriation of land except on just terms. If Senator O’Byrne wishes to aline himself with those authorities, he will demonstrate that he has no sense of justice. In the legislation to which I have referred, the Tasmanian Parliament provided that -
Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-section (2.) of this section -
the value of the land for the purpose of determining compensation shall not exceed the value of the land without buildings, fences, or other structural improvements as on. the 10th day of February, 1042, together with the value at the time of making the determination of the buildings, fences, and other structural improvements.
That legislation -was enacted in November, 1950, as a direct and contemptible attempt to exercise State power in order to deprive land-owners of the benefit of just terms, although the High Court had declared that, for the purposes of the scheme, the Australian Constitution guarantees to every Australian who owns property that the Commonwealth, or the States acting as agents for it, shall not acquire his property on other than just terms.
I have risen to speak in this debate because last week I listened to the broadcast proceedings of the House of Representatives, from which it appeared that New South Wales is the only State in which this unjust provision is being exercised. I want it to be known that the Parliament of Tasmania has provided, in express terras, for acquisition of land on the basis of 1942 land values.
Last night, during discussion of the economic policy of the Government, honorable senators heard something of the doctrinaire socialism that is practised by members of the Opposition. If I interpret correctly the remarks that were made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), he believes that arapidly increasing basic wage is the greatest menace to the Australian economy at the present time. The honorable senator might inform the Senate of the basic wage, as the index of economic value, -on the 10th February, 1942, and compare it with the basic wage as it stands to-day. If he does so, honorable senators will be able to see how vacuous is the contention of Senator O’Byrne that the farmer who thinks that he should not lose his farm on the basis of 1942 values is avaricious and should be suppressed. Obviously value is one of those elusive things that can be established only in relation to existing circumstances. If a man is to be turned out of one farm to-day, he wants to be paid enough to enable him to buy another farm to-morrow so that he may continue to earn a livelihood, and ensure for his sons the future for which he has worked all his life. If Labour seeks to destroy that spirit, I am proud to be able to speak in this Parliament in opposition to Labour’s policy. I warn honorable senators opposite that they will not get very far in the Australian electorate if they pursue their present arguments. Surely land-owners are entitled to just recompense if their properties are to be resumed. The purpose of this bill is to ensure that Commonwealth funds shall not be misused in expropriating .properties at half their current value.
Having made that clear, I wish to refer to one other argument which I did not think any one would shame himself by expressing publicly to-day. Proponents of that argument have revealed a complete misunderstanding of the whole basis of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme, which is, of course, that the nation which owes its continued existence to members of the armed forces should provide exservicemen with opportunities to go on the land and to earn a reasonable living. The difference between the capital expenditure incurred by the Treasury in resuming and improving land, and the price at which that land is made available to ex-servicemen, is written off at the expense of the Australian taxpayer, and I am sure that every taxpayer is proud to mak, his contribution to this worthy cause. My contribution to this debate has been somewhat longer than I intended it to be, but I fear that my remarks were protracted by the stimulation given to me by Senator O’Byrne. I am glad that the Government is insisting that the money that it is making available for war service land settlement shall be used only by agencies that will guarantee just terms to land-owners whose properties are to be expropriated.
Opposition senators interjecting,
– Order ! I hope that I shall not be over stimulated by interjections. I have listened to this debate with considerable interest and perha>ps profit. I have gained quite a lot of information which may be useful to me at some time in the future.
.. - Probably no legislation is more liable to be the vehicle foi attempts to make party political capital than are measures providing repatriation benefits for ex-servicemen. That has been so, regardless of the political complexion of the various governments that have sponsored such proposals. However, I see no justification for the overwhelming political bias that has been shown in this debate by Senator Wright. AntiLabour administrations held office in South Australia both at the end of World War J., and at the end of World War II. The present South Australian Government has candidly conceded that grave mistakes were made in soldier settlement schemes after the 1914-18 war, and has earnestly endeavoured to avoid a repetition of those mistakes. My only complaint is with the slowness of the present scheme. Senator Pearson who has come to our midst from the Parliament of South Australia comparatively recently - for the good or otherwise of the nation I have yet to determine, but if he continues to support this Government I shall not be much longer in making up my mind - will agree that the operation of the war service land settlement scheme in-so-far ms South Australia is concerned is a credit to those responsible for it. However, I am sure that no one will quarrel with me when I say that ex-servicemen are becoming a little restless because of the slowness of the scheme. A matter such as this should not be the subject of party wrangling. We should all he united in our efforts to ensure that there shall be the least possible delay in making land available to ex-servicemen who offered their lives for their country. Our first consideration should be the needs of the ex-servicemen, and debates that reek of partisanship contribute nothing to a solution of the problem. I understand Senator O’Byrne’s outlook. Regardless of values, if land cannot be made available to ex-servicemen, on an economic basis, no soldier settlement scheme can succeed, and I have nothing but contempt for any Parliament, State or Federal, which stands idly by while large tracts of suitable country which would make ideal holdings for hundreds of soldier settlers, remain unproductive. In South Australia, the aggregation of large estates has, in the past, forced not only soldier settlers but also the sons of pioneers who devoted their lives to the development of new lands, to take up holdings situated even beyond the marginal areas, where they have not had even a snowball’s chance of success. After listening to the Minister’s second-reading speech on this measure and Senator Wright’s contribution to the debate to-day, I shall be hard to convince that the old conservative line of thought does not still exist. It seems that this measure would not have been introduced had it not been for a long standing difference of opinion between the Labour Government of New South Wales and the Australian Government. It was refreshing indeed to hear Senator Byrne, exercising his prerogative as a defender of State rights, recount to the Senate what is happening in Queensland.
Thousands of men who returned to this country from active service in our armed forces earnestly want to go on the land - not under the land as many ex-servicemen of World War I. did as the result of the hardships that they endured under the old soldier settlement scheme. Unfortunately many applicants for allotments have now been waiting for many years. It is regrettable that every time this subject is debated in any parliament, State or Federal, the argument seems to hinge on the fair value of lands which, at present, are not producing to anything like their full capacity. We should all remember that but for the sacrifices of our fighting men, values to-day might have been very different from what they are. To suggest that we on this side of the chamber have ever attempted to deny a property-owner just recompense for his land is too stupid for words. It is regrettable indeed that whilst so many ex-servicemen are waiting for farms, hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile country remain undeveloped. However, if land resumptions have to be made on 1952 values, ex-servicemen will have little chance of establishing successful enterprises. Once again I express my disgust and contempt at the heat that has been engendered in this debate and at the tory partisanship displayed by Senator “Wright. I hope that the bill will be passed. It may do some good in a certain State.
Sitting suspended from 1847 to 2. SO p.m.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of this measure. ,1 am prompted to offer a few brief comments only because of what has been said by Senator Wright. Notwithstanding Senator Wright’s boyish charm, I am afraid that he is a disturbing factor in this chamber. The honorable senator brought all his extraordinary eloquence to bear on the question of acquiring land on just terms. No other honorable senator on either side of the chamber has suggested that land should be acquired on other than just terms. But .Senator Wright referred to Opposition members as landed gentry or capitalists and then accused them of wanting to confiscate property. Being a solicitor, I suppose lie can have it both ways.
Honorable senators in this chamber represent the States of the Commonwealth. I remember that at the advent of federation the States insisted on the establishment of the Senate for the purpose of preserving and protecting their lights. The successful settlement of the land and the development of its industries is the responsibility of the States. It is unfortunate that for quite a long time the Commonwealth and the States failed to do their duty collectively and to fulfil their responsibility to the people of Australia. They have argued constantly and have shown great hostility to one another. The people have a right to expect them to be more united in dealing with the problems of the nation. The cost of resumed land is a very important matter which must receive serious consideration. The Australian Government should remember that the sovereign governments of the States are elected by the people and are responsible for the determination of policy. Despite this fact the Australian Government has decided not to co-operate with the States unless they do as that Government tells them.
I do not want any section of the community to be dealt with unfairly, but I have vivid recollections of the effect of land settlement immediately after World
War I. During that period the Government had a most trying and difficult time. It had to appoint committees of inquiry and had constantly to reduce the value of properties because soldier settlers were unable to make a living, due to the fact that they had paid too much for the land in the first instance. We do not want to repeat that process. Is it not the responsibility of the States to settle people on the land and maintain and increase primary production? It is a great pity that the Commonwealth and the States cannot come to an amicable arrangement and avoid the conflicts which are doing no good to this country and which are discouraging a lot of people.
With all the assurance of a solicitor. Senator Wright referred to leasehold tenures. As a farmer he is an excellent solicitor. I have been associated with activity on the land all my life, and 1 know of the struggle that takes place there. I know of men who, after working their farms for some time, have had to leave them because, in the first instance, they had paid too much for them. It was not that they were not goo. farmers, but that they did not have a knowledge of the economic condition ot the country and of the world. The Government must guard against a repetition of such occurrences. It is a physical impossibility for a working man’s son to acquire a farm. I know of a one-man farm in Victoria which cost £16,000. Many of the successful farmers of this country came from working class families, but what hope have the sons of working men of getting a farm at present ? There is some virtue in leasehold tenure because, in the first instance, one does not need a large amount of money to commence a farm under that tenure. The Government of Queensland allows settlers to have land at a modest rental, so that men do not require a lot of capital to become farmers. It was in those circumstances that I became a farmer. I was one of a large workingclass family and would not have had a chance to become a farmer if I had had to pay the price that is demanded for farms at present. This national parliament should give some thought to the subject of the successful settlement of soldiers and others on the land.
I have always been an advocate of orderly marketing and the stabilization of prices. Fluctuating market conditions may be all right for some people, but they are to the great disadvantage of the working farmer. It is better for him to have a stabilized market. If a man were to buy a farm at present inflated values and prices should then recede, what chance would he have of being able to carry on? It does not matter how hard he may work, if the price that he receives for his product is not adequate he cannot be a successful farmer. The outstanding problem of this country is its successful development. In order to accomplish this we must have a lot more small farmers. The States are faced with tremendous difficulties. If men take up land in distant parts of the States they find that transport facilities and other conveniences do not exist, and in these times of shortages it is most difficult to obtain the materials that are required for the successful development of a farm. The Government has expressed itself in favour of land settlement but has been silent in regard to orderly marketing or the stabilization of prices or any other plan that would give security to the man on the land. These principles are a part of the policy of the Labour party and it is only by their implementation that people can be successfully settled on the land. The prices that are being asked for land to-day are altogether unreasonable. Consequently, the State governments have had to exercise caution in resuming land for soldier settlement. If settlers’ farms are over capitalized they will require higher prices for their products in order to make a living. I bought my farm at a time when prices where high. I had no alternative, and I had a long struggle before I was able to pay for it. Many settlers who deserve better treatment could have the same experience.
The land must be .successfully settled by conscientious men in order to bring benefit to the nation and satisfaction to the people. When the nation has decided, that these people should be settled on the land, what other authority than the people’s own representatives, the State governments, should determine the fair value of resumed land? I regret that the Australian Govern ment has assumed a dictatorial attitude to the States in connexion with this matter, and that honorable senators opposite who frequently talk about the rights of the States are now very silent in regard to those rights. My main concern is that the land settlement schemes should be successful and that men who go on the land with a conscientious desire to make good should succeed. If they are burdened with heavy capital costs that will be a physical impossibility. As I have stated, I know of a one-man farm in Victoria which cost £16,000. If a man had as much capital as that he would be foolish to settle on the land. But even half the price of that farm is not available to the average working man and, consequently, he is not able to obtain land. Practical men are required to work the land properly and in Queensland some of the best farming men have been those who gravitated to farming from working class families. Because of the system of tenure adopted in that State, they have been able to acquire land and hold it for a reasonable rental.
I know that the bill will be accepted by this chamber but I contend that it is the responsibility of the Government to refrain from trying to force the States to adopt a certain policy. The Government should co-operate with the States with a view to achieving a satisfactory solution of the problems associated with land settlement. The Chifley Government had very little difficulty with the States. It obtained the co-operation of all State governments, whether Liberal or Labour. At that time there was no open conflict between one legislative body and another. The Government would be well advised to consider the need for keeping down costs of production, because our prosperity depends upon our economic relations with the rest of the world. We should do everything possible to bring down those costs. The time for complacency has passed. If we are to hold this country and develop it a determined effort is called for from every one, propertyowners, workers and managers alike. The economic honeymoon is over, and the time has now come when we must all get back to work.
– I do not want to see heat injected info this debate. All honorable senators agree that there should be a land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen. It is their just and proper reward. The war-time governments told servicemen that when the- war was over everything would be done to settle them suitably in civil life. This problem of the settlement of exservicemen is not novel. It has its roots deep in antiquity, and after every war the settlement of ex-servicemen has had to be undertaken by governments.
When the war ended, I was the custodian of certain family interests in a property in Victoria. At that time a Labour government was in power there. I believe in closer settlement. Land which is used for purposes the need for which has passed, or is passing, should be made available to serve the needs of the community. The property to which I have referred, amounting to about 10,000 acres, was one of the first to be offered to the government, for the settlement of exservicemen. It is one thing to make such an offer in accordance with one’s principles; it is another thing for a government to acquire land on terms which are arbitrarily fixed in accordance with certain ideological concepts rather than with justice. The price of the land to which T have referred, was fixed, perhaps on unjust terms, but it was accepted in the belief that it is the duty of citizens to make some contribution towards the cost of settling ex-servicemen The trouble is that those who believe that there is no such thing as a right to property are disposed to take such an example ns a precedent. Their appetite grows with what they feed on. They go on and. acquire other substantial interests because one land owner accepted the obligation to make land available. Howover, that is all over and done with, and T mention it now only to emphasize my interest in this question.
I was stung into protest when I heard Senator O’Byrne describe land-holders as greedy and brutal exploiters who are demanding their pound of flesh, who seek to grind ex-servicemen into the earth and to saddle them with a load of hopeless debt. I am sure that that is not the attitude of land-owners in general. How ever, it is instinctive for land-owners, who have developed their own properties, to be attached to their land. A man who, like Senator Courtice, takes up virgin country,, or country that had been only partly developed, and who toils on it so that every fence post, every furrow, and every brick in his house represents the expenditure of so much sweat and labour, cannot but resent any attempt by a government to deprive him of his land on other than just terms. I am sure that Senator Courtice would be the first to object to the taking of his property on anything but just terms. Senator Byrne accurately expressed the feelings of honorable senators generally on this subject of the resumption of land. We agree that, in certain circumstances, it is necessary to resume land. No honorable senator objects to the principle of acquiring land for ex-servicemen. I go further than that and am prepared to admit that it is necessary to resume land in order to provide holdings for persons other than ex-servicemen who wish to go
On- the land, and are qualified to do so. The. point which we have now to consider i.s whether a government, in acquiring land for just purposes, should do so on just terms. It is true, as Senator Byrne said, and as Senator Courtice implied, that the Queensland Government has acquired land on just terms. It has set up judicial machinery for the determination of values. In South Australia and Victoria also, land has been resumed on just terms. In New South Wales, however, land has not always been resumed at a fair price, and that is the reason for the introduction of this bill. The members of this Parliament have sworn to uphold the Constitution, and the Constitution specifically recognizes the property rights of the citizens of Australia. No matter what some members of the Opposition may believe, the fact is that our society is founded on the recognition of the rights of property. Unfortunately, the Government of New South Wales, acting on the excuse that it is necessary to acquire land for the settlement of ex-servicemen, has blandly disregarded the requirements of the Commonwealth Constitution. I can well understand the reluctance of Senator Armstrong to have the actions of the
New/ South Wales Government in this connexion discussed’ in the Senate-.
The Labour Government in New South Wales-, or at any rate-, the Fabian, or Marxist, or Communist segments of i’t-
– 1 rise to a point of order. I take exception to: the honorable senator’s, statement that there, is a Communist, government, in. New South Wales. The statement is offensive to me, and I ash that it be -withdrawn.
– I said that the If ninan segments or the Marxist or Communist element m New South Wales had been, responsible- for- the doing of certain things
– I ask that the- honor,able sens tor be required to withdraw his statement.
Iiic PRESIDENT. - I ask. Senator Cormack, to withdraw, the statement which Senator Ashley claims, is offensive to him… I ask him to withdraw his reference- to- a Communist Labour party.
– I withdraw the in implication- tha.fc there is such a thing as i* Communist Labour’ party. I reiterate that,, whatever may be the ideological convictions of a segment of the Labour party in New South Wales, whether they be Fabian or Marxist or Communist, they are following a path which indicates that they are. determined to destroy in Kew South Wales the property rights upon which ow present society is founded. Does’ Senator- Ashley wish to destroy property rights in- Kew South Wales, or does he believe, that propertyowners, whether they be modest householders or substantial land-owners, should not. have their property taken a way from them except on. just terms? The purpose of this bill is to ensure that when the Commonwealth provides money for the acquisition of property for the settlement of ex-servicemen, that property shall- be acquired’ on. just terms in accordance’ with the provisions- of the Constitution, which all members of Parliament have sworn to uphold. The Constitution is- explicit on the point that property irony be acquired only on just terms: Therefore, a responsibility rests upon: any Commonwealth government. whether it be, Labour or- Liberal, or Australian. Country party- to- ensure if it; canthat property- is: acquired only upon the. payment of just; compensation’.. The. Government of New. South’ Wales, under its. powers to acquire land for the. settle* ment, of ex-servicemen, has- taken’ over property on terms whIch amount, almost, to confiscation. T was: pleased’ to. observe; that Senator- Courtice and’ Senator’ Byrne came out; boldly in defence of the rights of property. I applaud their courage and their obedience; to- the moral law, but I reject with contumely the spiteful remarks- of Senator O’Byrne-
– I rise to- a pain* of order. While’ I was- out. of the chamber Sena-tor- Cormack misrepresented; me by declaring that I kadi said; that ali property-owners were greedy? and> ruthless persons..
The- PRESIDENT.- N.o point, of order is involved’.. At all times I” defend the honour of honorable senators. However, unless I hear clearly what, an honorable senator says I am unable to judge the matter impartially. That is why, I deplore- interjections.. Senator O’Byrne may ask for lea,ve to make, a personal explanation, as soon as Senator. Cormack concludes his speech, if he considers, that lie has been misrepresented..
– Senator O’Byrne should disabuse his mind of any feeling of grievance- about my use of rhetorical terms. During his fantastic and ignorant contribution to the debate the honorable senator stated that the average man on the land was seeking, his pound’ of flesh. If- the honorable senator is incensed because I have- ascribed to him the phrase “ greedy farmers “‘y I shall be pleased to confine myself to the phrase that he used, namely, “ farmers who are seeking their pound of flesh”. Honorable senators should endeavour at” all times to uphold the Constitution and maintain the order of society on which the nation is based. With one or’ two notable exceptions,, I think they do so*
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I understand that while I was absent from the chamber Senator Cormack accused me of having said’ that all! property-owners- were greedy awd: brutal exploiters who- wanted: ta grind the ex-servicemen into the dust. That is a complete distortion of my statement. The honorable senator also alleged that I had stated that the average man on the land wished to take the last pound .of flesh. I did not refer to the “ average “ man on the land. I therefore ask that the incorrect statement that has been attributed to me should be omitted from the Hansard report. I take this opportunity to point out, also, that I am not ignorant. I understand fully that Senator Cormack is an egotistical upstart.
– Order! I have listened carefully to Senator O’Byrne’s personal explanation. However, as Senator Cormack has already withdrawn the reference to which Senator O’Byrne has taken exception, I consider that the matter should now rest.
– It has been stated that this is a bill to assist ex-servicemen to settle on the land under fair and reasonable conditions, and on such terms as will give them an opportunity to make a good livelihood, after meeting their interest commitments, so that eventually they will be able to discharge their capital indebtedness. However, I consider that the means to be adopted will result in a negation of the objects of the bill.
Reference has been made to the exorbitant price of land. I suggest that this measure could be more appropriately described as “ a bill for an act to enforce the demands of landlords “. As has been stressed already by other honorable senators, it is quite obvious that in existing circumstances it is impossible for exservicemen settlers on the land to escape from being manoeuvred into a position where they will be committed to pay what is virtually an unpayable debt. That was the position in which soldier settlers found themselves after “World War I. They were compelled to pay exorbitant prices not only for land but also for the plant and equipment that they required. Subsequently, in the ‘thirties, many of them were starved off the land and compelled to work for the dole. To-day, exservicemen of World War II. are being called upon to pay exorbitant prices” for land. In the event of a collapse of the currency, due to unchecked and fraudu lent inflation, those men will be in a serious plight. Already, in terms of gold, the Australian £1 note is worth only 5s. The proof of this assertion is that a sovereign weighs a quarter of an ounce and the price of gold is now approximately £16 an ounce. In other words, four £1 notes are required to purchase what a sovereign would purchase to-day. This will give honorable senators an idea of the extent to which the currency has been inflated.
Considerable sums of money have been lent at 4$ per cent., which at first sight is a relatively low rate of interest. However, if the purchasing power of the Australian £1 note to-day was equal to the purchasing power of the Australian £1 note before World War I., the equivalent rate of interest would be 16^ per cent. As I have pointed out in this chamber previously, it is not possible for the Government to protect ex-servicemen adequately unless it maintains control of banking. Although I listened very attentively to .Senator Wright’s remarks I learned little from them. The honorable senator repeated his parrot cry about “ just terms “. Although one of my colleagues on this side of the chamber asked Senator Wright, by interjection, to elaborate on that term, he made no attempt to do so. There is objective justice, subjective justice, and legal justice. Legal justice depends on the assumptions of the persons that are called together to deliver judgment. For that reason, lawyers seldom agree. Senator Cormack has referred to justice for the landlords. I point out that there can be no justice for ex-servicemen who desire to become farmers unless they share with landlords and other people the right of freedom of access .to land.
The value of land is influenced by the extent to which it has been improved by labour. There is a distinction between price and value. The price of land is governed mainly by the law of supply and demand. In turn, the law of supply and demand is influenced by the economic powers of would-be farmers. Unfortunately, many ex-servicemen do not understand this aspect of the matter fully. My colleague, Senator Courtice, can appreciate the implication of my remarks fully because he started on the land from scratch. Ostensibly, the Government claims that it intends to do something for ex-servicemen by ensuring that landlords shall receive just terms. I consider that the New South “Wales Government is to be commended for its approach to the subject. In effect, it has stated, “ We will fix what we consider to be a fair price for the land “. I believe that the members of the New .South Wales Government are quite as capable as are members of the legal profession to decide on a reasonable price for any specified land. As Postmaster-General in the former Labour Government, I always exercised considerable care when acquiring land for postal purposes under the Land Acquisition Act to ensure that the land that the Commonwealth intended to acquire was not being used by the owner in order to earn his livelihood. Generally speaking, land so acquired was land that was not being used by the owner. I do not consider that a person should be permitted to continue to hold land merely for speculative purposes, and not use it. In present circumstances lie has no right to fix a price for such land far in excess of that which he paid for it. This bill was introduced solely for political purposes. Senator Guy has said that its purpose is to protect the interests of land-holders and that henceforth it will be impossible for the State governments to say to land-holders, as they now do, “ This is the price we will pay for your land. You will get so much and no more “. Senator Cormack referred to property rights. I have yet to hear the honorable senator speak about human rights. His thoughts .are dominated solely by £ s. d., the worship of mammon and the law of minimum production for maximum price. Because past governments adopted that law many exservice]1 en were starved off their land. In the circumstances that prevailed after World War I. they could not compete with more fortunately placed primary producers. At a time when there was a great deal of talk about mountains of wheat being eaten by weevils, ex-servicemen by the thousands were starved off their properties and walked the city streets on the dole. A similar state of affairs will undoubtedly exist again if this measure is passed. Any one with a smatter ing of knowledge of what happened in the past knows perfectly well that the provisions of this bill will not protect the ex-servicemen. I feel it an obligation to say what I have said this afternoon because it is perfectly obvious that honorable senators either are not aware of the position that is developing or are deliberately trying to ignore it. Surely they can realize that if a crash comes those exservicemen who have been settled on the land will be forced off their properties unless appropriate preliminary action is taken to protect them. If honorable senators opposite can grasp that simple fact they will realize that there is no alternative to Labour’s policy in connexion with this scheme. The Government must -control banking so that it will be able to control inflation and prevent rapid increases of prices.
Reference has been made to the basic wage. In terms of money the basic wage has been increased by more than 300 per cent., but in terms of purchasing power it has not been increased one iota. Inflation has brought about a corresponding reduction of the purchasing power of pensioners,, superannuants and persons on fixed incomes, but the Government has done nothing about the matter. How can the Government contend that this bill is designed to protect the interests of ex-servicemen when, at least by the silence of its members, it has indicated that it does not intend to do any more for exservicemen than it has done for them in the past. Whether they like it or not, honorable senators opposite must face these problems. It is of no use for Senator Wright to talk about just terms in theory while in practice he assists the Government to enforce most unjust terms on men and women who are unable to protect themselves. It is obvious that the Government intends to enable landowners to obtain exorbitant prices for land which they are not entitled to retain.
– I did not intend to take part in this debate, and I do so only because I like to preserve a balance in comments made in this chamber concerning the State which I have the honour to represent. If Senator Byrne, who .hails from -Queensland, could become a Queen’s ‘Counsellor, he would undoubtedly be able to impress juries because he has the ability to play up the strong (points of his case and play down its weaknesses. To-day, the honorable senator -elected to -give his version of the history of the war service land settlement scheme in Queensland. He did not attempt to deal with the early history of the scheme, nor did he refer to the harshness of the policy pursued by the Queensland Government which, by order published in the Government Gazette in 1945, .over the signature of the Minister for Lands, froze 1,000,000 acres of land in that State ‘for war service land settlement purposes.
– That was done in accordance with an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State.
– That is so. I am attempting to counter the soft words of Senator Byrne by directing attention to the manner in which the resumption of that land was carried out. I realize that there must be a substantial writing down of the value of land acquired for the settlement of ex-servicemen so that they may have a chance to succeed in their ventures. It was obvious to me then, and it still is, that it would be foolish to purchase land for the settlement of exservicemen in the post-war period on the basis of values ruling during that period. The pertinent question is: Who should carry the financial responsibility for the writing down of land values? On that question the Labour governments of Queensland and New South Wales failed to stand up to the acid test. Instead of agreeing that the burden should be borne by the whole community, they took the view that the land-owner should make the sacrifice. Why should the financial burden of this scheme be placed on the shoulders of the land-owner? To dispossess a man of ‘his property and compensate him by the payment of only onehalf of its value and then expect him to purchase land elsewhere at double the price at which his land was acquired is manifestly unfair.
Senator Cameron worked himself up into a tantrum about the acquisition of land an just tei-ms. It is fortunate for the people of this country that under the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution the Commonwealth may acquire property only on just terms. The sovereign States of the Commonwealth are not so inhibited. They can acquire properties at any price they care to fix. Indeed, they may resume land and refuse to compensate its owner in any way. Grave injustice has : been done to many decent men who took up virgin land developed it and brought up their families on it only to have the area “ frozen “ by lbc Queensland Government. The irony dlf that acquisition is that many of the owners were ex-servicemen from the 1914-18 war, whose sons were absent from Australia fighting in World War II. when their land was “frozen “. There is no justice in such acquisitions. That is the Government’s case in a nutshell.
Using the arguments that were advanced by supporters of the Labour Government an the Queensland Barlin - ment, Senator Byrne asked whether we desired -ex-servicemen -to bear the cost of the Wai’ Service Land Settlement, Scheme. . We do not want them to do so ; it should be -borne by the community as a whole. What would be the attitude <of honorable senators -opposite if we suggested that retail merchants should yield to the Cr.own one half -of the value of their properties and be forced to :seek accommodation elsewhere at present value?? How would Senator Grant, who is now interjecting, like the Crown to say to him “ As your contribution to the settlement of ex-servicemen, we shall dispossess you of your home and pay to you only one half of its value “. Let us step into the shoes of the men who have been dispossessed of their land and compensated to the amount of only one ‘half of its -value. No demagogic pleading can get round my argument. We have heard a good deal of ‘humbug about rapacious landlords who would not make their proper ‘contribution towards the war effort and who will not now make a reasonable contribution to the settlement of exservicemen on the land. Land-owners who have been dispossessed of their properties under this scheme have suffered a double burden because, in addition to the loss of tone half of the value of their land, they had -to sell their sheep and cattle at a time when war-time taxes were particularly severe; When1 a primary producer sells his sheep and cattle in fate the proceeds of the sale are regarded as income for taxation purposes. It is all very well; for honorable senator.0 opposite to ridicule the acquisition of land, on just terms when they know that there is no other method by which land can be .acquired without heavy lass- to landholders.
– What are jus terms ?’
We can all’ differentiate between just and unjust terms. I have just indicated to the honorable senator what I consider to be just terms: I have also indicated that there has been a change of heart on the part of the Australian Labour party in Queensland’, and that the present Labour Government approaches the subject of war service1 land settlement in a much more reasonable manner than did its predecessor. The present Government is attempting to resume land for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the basis of j.US t terms. For a number of years, however, grave injustice was visited upon men who had worked hard to build up their properties and were then, hunted from them, fu my long experience of the political life of the country, I have never seen anything more- unjust than the action taken against Queensland land-owners whose properties, were resumed during the past four or five years. If I make that severe criticism, of a former Labour government of Queensland,, it is fair that I should also state that there is now a. different method of approach t’o that subject. Recently, the Queensland Government agreed: to acquire land” for the settlement of exservicemen on terms that have been decided upon by the Land Court of Queensland. Four cases came before the court, which was presided over by Mr. W. L. Payne: Although the resumptions had been proclaimed’ in 1951, the eases caine before the court only recently. They were test cases, and the decisions given are worth citing- in order to show that’ there is- a difference between resuming land on unjust terms and resuming it, on just terms: The first case concerned Rigby Brothers^ of Rochedale. They claimed! £35,282 as compensation- from the Crown, whereas’ the Government offered’ them £1’3-,196-.. After hearing evidence, inspecting the property, . and obtaining; further evidence from competent and- expert witnesses on. behalf of the Crown and Rigby Brothers, the Land Court decided that the true- compensation was £21,850. Consequently, there was a difference of more than £8,000 between the- amount offered by the. Crown and that decided upon by the court.
– From- what is> the honorable senator quoting?
– The particulars to which I refer have been taken from the judgment of the court and they recently appeared in’ the Brisbane newspapers. Mr. Louis Teagle, of Wandoan, claimed £15,277 for his ‘property, whereas the own offered him only £6,731. The Land Court decided1 upon £10,800 as the correct figure. Mr. Thomas Patrick Postich, of Rochdale, claimed’ £28,648, whereas the Crown offered him £11,507. The Land’ Court decided that £20,900 was the correct amount of compensation for his property. Mr.: Walter Ernest Bernhard Menzell, of Rochedale; and his wife,. Iris May Menzell, claimed £30^.304-. The Crown offered £12,865, audi the Land Court awarded them: £20,550. I suggest that’ in- earlier- resumptions, test cases should, have been referred- to the Land Court by the former Queensland Labour Government in order that, justice might be done.
Senator- O’FLAHERTY. - Who set: up1 the Law! Appeals Board, in Queensland ?
– As long; as there has’ been land’ settlement in Queensland there has1 been a: land’ court and a land appeals board. I cannot go back into the misty corridors of time and indicate, for the benefit of the honorable senator, who established- those tribunals’, but I know that they have been in existence for many years. In any event, the landowners to- whom I have referred- did not have access to the Land Appeals Board because their.’ properties had been “‘frozen “! They were told that their land would’ be- resumed and’ that resumption would be effected1 at prices which were fixed on the basis of 1942 values. The payment of compensation: on that basis’ in 1MB and 19’47 was nothing less than barefaced robbery. To-day, a much, fairer approach is being made to land resumption in Queensland.
This bill, which is a small one, involves an important principle. It is only right that “the Minister for the Interior should have freedom of action, to adopt the phrase used by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), when he introduced this measure in the Senate last evening. It is right, also, that the Minister for the Interior should have independence of thought and decision in matters relating to war service land settlement, in order that he may act as a referee and ensure that land-owners whose property is resumed receive a fair deal. I believe that returned servicemen should be able to obtain land at written-down values, but I also believe that the community as a whole, and not merely one section of it, should be called upon to bear’ the cost of the difference between those reduced values and current market values.
– It seems to me that the crux of the disputation in regard to this hill concerns the interpretation of the words “ just terms “. Surely it is not suggested by the Government that any member of the Opposition advocates that land should be acquired, even for the purpos-3 of war service land settlement, on terms other than just terms?
I point out to honorable senators opposite that the land in this and any other country is worth only as much as it will produce. If we look back to 1938 and 1939, it will be remembered that wheat was then being sold at ls. 6d. and 2s. a bushel, and that the price of wool was very low. Land values at that time were also very low. As a result of World War II. and an increased demand for primary commodities, such as wheat and wool, land values have increased considerably. It is pertinent to ask at what stage did the market price of land represent its true value. It could easily be said that if land had been bought in 1938 and 1939 at about half its present price it would have been acquired on unjust terms. Therefore, according to the argument that has beer presented by honorable senators opposite, some ex-servicemen should be asked to pay higher prices for the land oh which they have been settled. If they are not called upon to do so, the taxpayers must bear the difference between the two sets of values.
I point out that in New South Wales there are closer settlement boards, advisory land boards and other authorities which examine land values. I am sure that even Senator Cormack would not contend that he is better qualified to determine just terms for the sale of land than are the tribunals in the various States. I consider that New South Wales leads the way, as far as the acquisition of land for war service land settlement is concerned. Senator “Vincent laughs. I remind the honorable senator that in the six months which ended in December last only five farms had been acquired in Western Australia for. war service land settlement purposes, and that only 70 farms have been acquired in Western Australia for that purpose during the last five years.
– The honorable senator should study the statistics again.
– I do not need to refer to them- again. This matter of just terms has never before been debated in the Senate. I should like to know how the Government proposes to finance compensation on the just terms to which honorable senators opposite have referred. At the present time, in the electorate of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), who had a great deal to say about this subject in the House of Representatives recently, many promotion cases have occurred. For the benefit of honorable senators who do no: know what promotion cases are, I inform them that such cases concern people who offer their land to the Government.
Senator Maher, speaking with great indignation, claimed that land-owners were being burgled of their land, but he omitted to say that, under the law, a land-owner may retain £14,000 worth of land, exclusive of the buildings on it. The honorable senator put only one side of the case. In all .States, the only complaints concerning resumption of land for war service land settlement purposes have come from the large land-owners of this country. It is the function of the Government to ensure that every returned serviceman, who desires to engage in rural pursuits, shall be given a reasonable opportunity to do so. I understand that in New South Wales the Closer Settlement Advisory Board examines properties in accordance with the terms of the States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Act, which requires that an ex-serviceman must have a reasonable chance of success, with average seasons and conditions. I doubt whether Senator Maher, or any other honorable senator opposite, would deny that those conditions are reasonable. Every soldier settler has a right to expect a reasonable opportunity to make a success of his venture. Senator Cormack will remember, as we all do, that after World War I. hundreds of soldier settlers walked off land that had been acquired at high prices. That happened in Western Australia, in particular. If Senator Seward does not believe that, I shall obtain the figures for him. In many instances, land resumed for soldier settlement was entirely unsuited to the type of production that was undertaken on it. To-day, great care is being exercised, particularly in New South Wales, to ensure that every soldier settler shall have a reasonable prospect of success. That contention is well supported by the charge made in the House of Representatives by the Postmaster-General that many soldier settlers had already paid off their properties. Is it a crime that a man who fought in defence of this country should have been able, because of fortuitous circumstances and the high price of primary products, to pay off hia property in less time than- was expected? If soldier settlement is being retarded in any State, the blame lies with the Commonwealth.
I invite the Minister to explain in his reply what he considers to be just terms for the acquisition of land. I should like to know also how honorable senators opposite consider that land resumptions at increased prices should be financed. Is the Commonwealth in a position to pay the difference between the value fixed by the Land Settlement Advisory Board in New South Wales and what avaricious land-holders consider to be just terms? It is significant that opposition to the war service land settlement scheme has come, not from the small land-owners, but from the owners of huge tracts of land. I know of some property owners who have complained about the resumption of large areas of country which they themselves consider to be of a poor standard. Again I invite the Minister to give to the Senate some indication of what he considers to be just terms for the acquisition of land, and to inform us of the manner in which the Government proposes that the difference between the compensation claimed by large landholders and the price decided upon by the Closer Settlement Advisory Board should be made up.
.- I am pleased that the question of just terms for the acquisition of land has been raised because it is the crux of the problem. Are private landholders entitled to just compensation for land that is resumed for soldier settlement purposes, and, if so, who shall decide what are just terms? I am sure that no honorable senator opposite is prepared to say openly that land should be acquired on unjust terms. Therefore, the argument boils down to the question, “ Who should determine what are just terms ? “ Whenever there is disagreement on a matter of that kind, the decision should be given by an independent arbitrator. In this case, the only possible arbitrator is a court of law. The Commonwealth Constitution provides in section 51 that land acquired by the’ Commonwealth must be acquired on just terms. In the final analysis, the interpretation of “ just terms “ is a matter for the High Court. That authority does not rest with any Minister, and I say that it should not rest with a Minister.
The second point that I wish to make is that the price that is paid for land resumed from a private land-owner has no relation whatsoever to the price that is paid by the soldier settler for his holding. Although the stories that have been told by honorable senators opposite about the plight of soldier settlers after World War I. may be perfectly true, they are quite irrelevant because the present war serviceland settlement scheme is entirelydifferent. Underthe -agreement of 1945,hand ismade available to ex-ser- vicemen at aprice which ‘is determined aftera survey of productivecapacity, probable prices,and other factors has beenmade bytheDivision of Agricultinsal Economics. Whetherthe price that was paid for thelandin the first place ishigher or lower thanthe Division of Agricultural Economicsconsidersit should be, the fact remains thatt the price charged to the ex-servicemanshould enablehim to derivea reasonable return from hisventure. The point at issue is this:Should land beresumed on unjust termsin order to protect the pocketof the generaltax-payerat theexpense of the land-owner ? Those who saythat it should beareentitled to their opinion, but it is one thatI do not share and Ibelieve that theattitude ofthose whohold it is rather despicable. In effect, they are saying to theex-serviceman. You are a great fellow. You defended this country.You deserve to be given an opportunity to settle on the land, and we are prepared to doe very thing in our power to see that that opportunity is given toyou; but do not ask us topay the bill. Let the landowner pay it . The pricethat you pay will not be any greater,but it will make adifference to ourpockets if we can throwour responsibilityon to the shouldersoftheland-owner “. That is theOnly possible interpretationof the attitudeof people who claimthat taxpayers should be protectedby resuming land -on terms which a court of law would consider tobe unjust. Such an attitude asu n-Australian. It is our responsibility as anation to settletheex-serviceman on the land, and to ensure thatland shall be madeavailable on terms that willenable him tomake a good living from his property.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Billread a second time.
– Inmy second-reading speech on this measure, Idid not deal with the attitude of the various Statesbecause I felt that ifthe Senate washappy to leave that matter where it stood, there was noneed todo so. However, I propose to spendafew minutes now in dealing with certain arguments that mere offered inthecourseof the secondreading debate. ParticularlydoI wish to referbriefly to theposition in New South Wales. It isnot true that theGovernment of NewSouth Waleshas acquired land onunjust terms.
SenatorSPICER. - Land has been acquired at l942 values.
– Land was acquired at 1942 values while the Land Sales Control Regulations were inoperation . That was the law. Since the regulations were repealed, the value of the landhas been determined by the New South Wales Closer Settlement Advisory Board, and resumptionshave been made atfrom 40 per cent. to 50 per cent. above the 1942 pegged values. The board examines a property, and assesses it? value. As Senator Gorton rightly sa id. the crux of the problem is who should decide what are just terms. I should not like to leave that decision to the landowner. Senator Maherhas told us of landowner inQueensland who valued hisproperty at £45 an acre, whereas the Government’s offer was £15an acre. Then a court decided that the value was £25 an acre or approximately half-way between the two estimates. That is typical of such transactions; it is the old story ofthe buyer and theseller. It is necessary to have an independent arbitrator to decideupon a fair value. InNew South Wales, the arbitrator is the Closer Settlement Advisory Board. As Senator Ashleyhas pointed out, many property-owners in NewSouth Wales are offering their land tothe Closer Settlement Advisory Boardbecause land values in New South Wales are receding, and the board is offering mora money than most private purchasersare willing to pay.That is a phase throughwhich we are now passing. Protests against the Closer Settlement Advisory Board’s valuations are based largely,not on 1951 figures, but on 1950 figures, because last year values dropped byabout25 percent.Risesand falls in the priceof landcan bevery rapid.In matters such as this, honorable senators opposite are often inclined to take a “ holier than thou “ attitude. They refer to the Opposition as men who want to do all the bad things and to the members of the Government as saintly individuals who want to do all the right things. If Government supporters examine the manner in which existing legislation is administered in the Department of the Interior they will find that the Government has been completely unjust in its treatment of people from whom it has resumed land.
– -But there is a remedy for that injustice. There is a right of appeal to the .High Court.
– No. There is not. I know of a property which was resumed by the Government for £4,000 although it cost the owner more than that to buy it. The owner did not receive any payment for his property for at least eighteen months after the date of resumption. During all that time he had to collect the rent from the property and poy it to the department. When the Government finally settled the transaction they paid h’im interest at the rate of :i per cent, on the resumption value of the property in respect of the period during which they had retained his money while at the same time, in respect of that period, they had received rent from the property at the rate of 12 per cent.
– Has he no means of redress?
– Not in respect of .the -.Government’s action in delaying the settlement nor m collecting the rentals during that period. That *vas the result of departmental procedure which Ministers should know more about it because it frequently has this result. The previous Government might have been equally guilty in -this respect because the same law has been in operation for 40 years. I 6ed not realized that this was going on until this case was brought to my notice. .So when members of the Government take this “ holier than thou “ attitude, they should realize that there -are a lot ©f matters .to which they should attend and >they could then come into this chamber even more saintly than they are now. The action of the Government in resuming property and failing to pay for it for a long period of time reminds me of a statement which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) once made in Sydney when he said that justice delayed is justice denied.
T-It would seem from the sweet, angelic terms which Senator Armstrong has allowed to pervade the Senate that there is .a reasonable degree of unanimity on the bill before the chamber. That unanimity should create a favorable atmosphere in which to suggest that the bill could bear a slight amendment which should be acceptable to all honorable senators.
Sub-clause (1.) of clause 2 reads as follows : -
Moneys appropriated by the Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Act 1051. and mirney* appropriated by an Act passed after that Act. whether before or after the commencement of this Act, for the ^purpose of financial assistance to the States in connexion with war service land settlement, arc payable to the States in such amounts, and subject to such conditions, as .the Minister determines.
I move -
That, in clause 2, sub-clause (1.), the words “ to the States in such amounts, and subject to such conditions, as the Minister determines be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ only to such States as make provision for acquisition of land for war service land settlement on just terms.”.
The bill would then provide that the moneys appropriated under the act .con corned would be payable only to such States as make provision for the acquisition of land for war service land settlement in just terms. In my opinion it is not in accordance with the accepted procedure of this chamber to pass a bill for the payment to the States of moneys in such amounts and subject to such conditions as a Minister may determine. Such a provision would leave altogether too much power in the hands of a Minister and I consider it proper to deny to a Minister such a wide control of moneys appropriated by Parliament. It would be destructive of proper treasury practice to fail to incorporate in the statute -the specific terms and conditions under which these moneys are to be appropriated so that those terms and conditions may l>e studied by treasury officials, the Auditor-General and others who may have to deal with the application of these moneys. It may be that this bill has been framed with the purpose that has been expressed in this chamber during this debate. But money appropriated by this Parliament for war service land settlement should be payable only to States which acquire land on just terms.
I arn surprised that some Opposition senators have had difficulty in interpreting the expression “just terms”. Sometimes lawyers are subjected to the reproach that they couch acts of Parliament in language that is obscure, complex and difficult to understand. The expression “on just terms” seems to me to be very simple and there is a precedent for it5! use in the Constitution. It has also been the subject of discussion and interpretation by the courts. Surely this is the very type of expression that could be acceptable to all honorable senators. As the amendment would enable the fulfilment of the purpose of the bill I hope that it will be acceptable to honorable senators.
– I am in no way unsympathetic to the object which Senator Wright has sought to achieve in moving his amendment. This bill has been prepared after consideration by the legal officers of the Commonwealth and the States and as a result of the decision in the Magennis case. In the preparation of the bill consideration was given to the inclusion in it of some such provision as Senator Wright has suggested. However, difficulties arise to some extent, from the fact that the power to acquire bind for this particular purpose is exercised by the States, and that in each State, independent of soldier settlement legislation, there is land acquisition legislation of some kind. This is the legislation under which the States would normally act, in acquiring land for soldier settlement. The acts concerned have been accepted by the public as providing fair and reasonable terms upon which land may be acquired for public purposes. Of course, the State parliaments are not bound by the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution which prevents the Australian Government from acquiring land except upon just terms. Although the expression “ just terms “ is of some simplicity and conveys to the average man precisely the idea intended, a body of law is growing up around the meaning of that expression which may involve some technicalities. lt is by no means inconceivable that State land acquisition legislation - the general legislation, not that which contains special provisions concerning 1942 values - may contain provisions which, technically, would offend against the conception of “ just terms “ as expressed in the Australian Constitution. I do not mean that that legislation contains unjust provisions. It is legislation the principles of which have been accepted for a long time. Very often it has been copied from similar English statutes. But the relevant acts were brought into operation by legislatures which are not bound by the conception of “ just terms “ as mentioned in the Constitution, and, although the legislation might be fair and reasonable, it still might contain provisions which might offend against that requirement. That fact presents a complication, and I put it forward for Senator “Wright’s consideration.
The bill before the House has been framed in order to avoid that difficulty. It is true that under the bill the payment of money is left in the hands of the Minister, but he is responsible to this Parliament, and if he is not satisfied with the terms upon which land is to be acquired by a State he can refuse to enter into an arrangement with that State. Consequently, the object that Senator Wright seeks to achieve will be achieved by this bill. If the Senate agrees to the amendment complications may arise. The bill will then allow of no flexibility in the handling of this problem. The Minister will have to direct his consideration to the question of whether the land acquisition legislation of a State complies with the conception of “ just terms “ as that expression is used in the Australian Constitution. For those reasons, I suggest to Senator Wright that he give further consideration
– Will the Minister interpret the meaning of “ just terms “ ?
– I do not think so. Under the amendment-
– Under the bill the Minister can withhold money even if land is to be acquired on just terms.
– Under the amendment he could not do that.
– Under the amendment the Minister would have to satisfy himself that the conditions under which the States propose to acquire land would satisfy the constitutional requirement of “ just terms “. Because it is feared that some of the provisions of State land acquisition legislation may not satisfy the conception of “ just terms “ as expressed in the Constitution, it is undesirable to introduce this provision into this bill.
. - I move -
That thebill he now read a second time.
This bill is a complete revision of the law relating to patents of inventions. It is technical in character, but of great importance in the industrial development of the country. Its purpose is to improve the existing law relating to patents, in the light of modern requirements brought about by the great advance in technological development during recent years. Nevertheless, it does not change radically the principles of our patent system. The existing patent system of the Commonwealth is based on the Patents Act 1903, which itself superseded separate systems in each of the States. The act of 1903 has been amended from time to time in minor respects, but the need for a comprehensive review has long been recognized.
Prior to World War II., the present Prime Minister, who was then AttorneyGeneral, set up a committee to consider what alterations were desirable in the Australian patent law. Bills were introduced to give effect to the recommendations of this committee, but the project lapsed in 1940 owing to war-time exigencies. Developments during and after the war have accentuated the need for an overhaul of Australian patent law. In particular, the British legislation, upon which our act of 1903 had been based, was extensively amended and consolidated in 1949. Accordingly, the Government decided to appoint a new committee to review the Australian law in the light of present-day needs, and of the developments in patent law overseas. The chairman of the committee was the Honorable Arthur Dean, who was a member of the pre-war committee, and now a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. Another member of the present committee who served also on the pre-war committee is Mr. L. B Da vies, a pra ctising patent attorney who is a past president of the Institute of Patent Attorneys of Australia. The other members of the committee were Messrs. R. K. White, J. Q. Ewens, and H. R. Wilmot. Mr. White, like Mr. Davies, is a past president of the Institute of Patent Attorneys. Mr. Ewens is the Parliamentary Draftsman and Mr. Wilmot is the Commissioner of Patents.
The committee invited suggestions from all persons interested, and considered suggestions for alterations in the law put forward by the Institute of Patent Attorneys of Australia (Incorporated), the Commissioner of Patents, interested Commonwealth departments, the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents of the United Kingdom, and others. The committee presented its report on the17th April, and the bill has been drafted to give effect to its recommendations. The Government is most appreciative of the work done by the members of the committee, and the thoroughness and care which they have devoted to their task is clearly manifest to all who read their lucid and comprehensive report.
Though the bill proposes to repeal the whole of the existing act and to replace it with a new one, this does not mean that the bill involves a drastic departure from the- present system. The procedure of repeal and substitution was adopted in order to avoid a multiplicity of detailed technical amendments. The committee did not recommend any radical changes in the existing system. On the contrary, it recorded, the view -
That the system of patenting inventions as at present established is, eni the whole, working satisfactorily, audi that any alterations necessary are concerned with matters of procedure rather than with matters of broad general principle.
The greater part of the will’ which honorable senators have before them is, therefore, not new law at all, birt has been in operation for almost half a century. The old law, and the charges now proposed, have been thoroughly considered by a high lj’ expert, committee. I slia.FI touch on the more important changes presently; but before doing so I shall remind the Senate briefly of the important role that the patent system has played in the industrial history of the British peoples, and of the objects for w hich the patent system has been devised.
For centuries, British law has recognized that an inventor should have some protection for his invention, and, indeed, in all but backward countries some such provision exists. This protection is given by the patent system, which is directed lit four objects : the encouragement of inventors-, the advancement of industrial development by bringing- inventions into use without delay, the disclosure of technical! information and the protection of the public interest.
The foundations of our patent system were laid over 300 years ago by the Statute of Monopolies, 1624, which provided for the grant to inventors, by letters patent, of monopoly rights for a limited period. It established the fundamental principle that a patent monopoly could not be granted in respect of manufactures already in use, but only for new manufactures, and then only if they were not. “mischievous to the State or generally inconvenient’’. In fact the existing Patents Act - as also this bill - defines invention “ by reference to the provisions of the Statute of Monopolies.
Some measure of the part that patents fi lay in. the industrial life of this country i* given by the fact that the Patent Office has issued 105,614 patents, that 23,000 remain in force and that patents are now granted at the yearly rate of 4,300. Because of the importance of patents in industrial development, governments all over the world are revising their patent systems and paying particular attention to the. stimulation of inventive skill and energy in their citizens. As technical progress is made, national prosperity increases, and with it the ability of the nation to preserve its national identity. The atomic bomb, jet-propelled aircraft and radar forcibly remind us of the importance of invention to a nation’s existence. Nations which have failed to fake steps to stimulate invention have thereby suffered in their industrial development. In this connexion the history of Holland it worth consideration. Patents of invention were abolished in Holland in 1S69 and were not restored until 1912, and there are students of economic history who maintain that the intervening years were a backward period in the development of Dutch industry.
Whatever encouragement is afforded to inventors by the State, it must be equally applicable to the invention of a group of men as to that of an individual. Industrial technique has now become so involved that in many cases invention if the work of many men working as a team in the well-equipped and expensive laboratories of large business concerns. If this research i3 to continue: and be extended, those responsible for it must be assured of eventually recovering, at least the expenditure incurred, if not some reasonable reward.
It is almost universal practice to encourage invention and provide reasonable protection for the inventor by granting him a monopoly for- a limited period to make, use, exercise and vend the invention within the country of the grant. Thc International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property has further encouraged invention by extending the field of exploitation to- countries other than, that of which the inventor is » resident.
The term of a patent in Australia is sixteen years. Under the present law. this period runs from the date on which thu h Implication is filed, but a patentee has no fight to sue in respect of infringement commited prior to the publication of the completed specification. Under clause (t’7 of the bill, the period runs from the lodgment of the completed specification. The effect of the change will be to extend the term for which the inventor of the patent is given protection. It will also bring the Australian law into line with the provisions of the international convention.
In the public interest, it is essential that protection for the inventor should be coupled with disclosure to the public of the scientific knowledge comprised in the subject matter of the invention. In bringing about the disclosure of technical improvement and information, our patent system has worked exceptionally well. Whether or not any individual patentee rnakes a profit from the invention for which he holds a patent, the information lie discloses, when added to that disclosed by other patentees, has helped to build that vast store of technical information which is now to be found in patent specifications. These, indeed, in many cases will provide the main source from which new industries will be developed. This vas the case, for instance, in the manufacture of electric computers* - machines which, in a few seconds, solve the most complicated mathematical problems, the solving of which, by mental labour, takes hours, days, or even weeks.
The store of technical knowledge contained’ in the specifications lodged in the Patent Office has, up till now, not been used to full advantage. To help in disseminating knowledge contained in the specifications, and to assist the applicant in the preparation of has own specifications, the bill, in clause 56, makes provision for the disclosure by the Patent Office of particulars of prior specification.? disclosed by official searches. A similar provision contained in the legislation of the United States and Great Britain has been found to be of considerable advantage1.
The present patent system has limitations both in the encouragement of inventors and in bringing inventions into use without delay. Having evolved his invention, the inventor’s greatest trouble often lies in getting, the invention adopted in industry. In any major industrial change a manufacturer is forced to weigh the advantage to be obtained by being the first to develop the new methods against the loss in tools and plant rendered obsolete by the change.
It is possible, by legislation, to remove or minimize some of those features of our present patent system which are detrimental to the encouragement of inventors, and to reduce the delay in putting inventions into use. The bill contains several provisions directed to this end. For example, clause 120 enables a manufacturer who proposes to make an article or use a process, and is unable to obtain from his legal advisers a clear opinion that he will not thereby infringe some patent, to seek from the High Court a declaration that in the making of the article or the using of the process he would not commit an infringement.
The involved nature of modern industrial technique has also brought difficulties to the inventor in protecting his invention, and litigation has become more costly owing to the complexity of the issues involved. The bill provides some measure of relief in these matters. One illustration is clause 95, which allows the Commissioner, in addition to the court, as at present, to extend the term of a patent on the ground of war loss. In many instances this will save both time and expense. The establishment of a system providing for the grant of a patent monopoly imposes an obligation upon the legislature to ensure that the public interests are properly protected. In this connexion, I draw the attention of honorable senators to the following observations by the committee,, m paragraph 10 of its report : -
The industrial development of a country is considerably affected by the efficacy or otherwise of its patent system. Manufacturers would not be prepared to develop and produce improved machinery if others could copy the results of their work with impunity. On the other hand, any inequity in the patent system may hamper manufacturers and cause inconvenience to the public. We have endeavoured throughout to maintain a fair balance between the rights of the inventor and the public interest.
The. chief beneficiary of our patent system should be the Australian public, and this should be true whether or not the invention is commercialized. “Where the invention is commercialized the public benefits from the product or process. Where it is not commercialized the public benefits from the recorded knowledge of the inventor. In either case, some contribution is made to technical progress, and so to social and cultural progress. The working and compulsory licence provisions of the present ‘ act have been retained, and have been amplified by the requirement now contained in clause 110 thai the invention be worked, where possible, on a commercial scale in this country. These provisions are a safeguard to the public interest. So also is clause 125. Under this clause the Commonwealth or a State or any contractor with the Commonwealth or a State may use an invention, subject, of course, to the payment of reasonable compensation. Although tha Commonwealth has certain rights of use under the existing law, these rights have been extended, and under the bill will also be enjoyed by the States. I draw the attention of honorable senators to clause 131, which enables the Commissioner, subject to any directions of the Attorney-General, to prohibit or restrict, the publication of information concerning the subject-matter of an application for a patent where it is necessary or expedient to do so in the interests of defence.
The recommendations of the 1950 committee adopt most of the recommendations of the pre-war committee and follow also in the main those of the recent English committee. Many of the provisions of the 1949 British Act have been adopted in substance in the bill. In matters of patents for inventions it is particularly important that legislation in Australia and the United Kingdom should correspond as closely as possible, in the interests alike of British and Australian inventors and their advisers. The reports of the Australian committees to which .1 have referred, together with the bill, have been incorporated in a memorandum, copies of which have been made available to honorable senators. The bill is a rather lengthy one and I do not intend to weary the Senate with a detailed explanation of . it. Suffice to say that, in addition to the matters to which I have already referred, the more important amending provisions relate to (a) changes in procedure in connexion with the applications for patents and in the system of dating patents for the purpose of determining the validity of the patent; (b) the grant of additional rights to exclusive licensees and the definition of “exclusive licensee”; (c) the persons who may practise as patent attorneys
I shall deal with these provisions seriatim -
Honorable senators will find in the booklet which has been circulated a very full explanation of the terms of the bill. If the bill is passed, as I hope it will be, the patent law of this country will be brought completely up to date. The bill is not one which raises party controversy but is of considerable public importance. L commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator MoKenna) adjourned.
Debate . resumed from the 21st May (vide page 548), on motion by Senator SPICER’ -
That the bill he now read a second time.
– The purpose of the bill was explained fully by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in his second-reading speech. It will bring all the land in the Northern Territory under the operation of ordinances that hereafter may be made by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. It seems that the primary purpose of the bill is to bring under Commonwealth control an area of about 675 square miles that was vested in the owners under South Australian law prior to the Commonwealth acquiring the Northern Territory. The South Australian law at that time vested in the holders of the fee-simple the right in minerals below the surface of the earth, and it now appears that minerals of importance in the production of atomic energy are located in sections of this area. It is desired to enable this land to be brought into line with land in the States generally, and with other land in the Northern Territory, so as to divest the owners of rights, not only to minerals that have some relation to atomic energy, but to all minerals, and, in effect, to vest the rights in those minerals in the Crown. The Commonwealth has complete power in relation to the Northern Territory. Its powers are exercisable under section 122 of the Constitution generally without reference to more restrictive provisions of the Constitution. Although it would no doubt be of interest to debate that aspect of the matter, I see no profit in that course at the moment, because the Opposition supports the bill. However, I draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that there is on the statute-book the Atomic Energy (Control of Materials) Act 1946. That measure was passed at’ a time when atomic energy became a matter of real interest in the world. In effect, it conferred on the Commonwealth the right to move in upon land and acquire rights in minerals capable of being used for the production of atomic energy. It relates not only to minerals that have been won from the land, but also to minerals that are still in the land. Whatever rights or powers the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory may see fit to exercise in relation to land within its jurisdiction once the bill becomes law, any ordinance will, of course, be subject to the operation of the Atomic Energy (Control of Materials) Act 1946.
It is right that the owners of this lami, who are in an exceptional position, should be compensated. In his secondreading speech the Attorney-General, dealing with the subject of compensation, said -
If the bill is passed, it is intended to bring down an ordinance in the Northern ‘Territory Legislative Council that will acquire for the Crown all the rights in the minerals on freehold land in the Northern Territory, and provide for compensation to be made to the present title-holders.
Apparently the Minister deliberately a voided the use of the term “ just “.
– It was not a deliberate omission.
– I do not want to embark- upon a discussion of what constitutes just compensation under the terms of Section 51 of the Constitution. When we speak of just terms, divorced from the legal implications to which the Attorney-General referred a little while aso - :and they .are so divorced when the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory is considering compensation - we must remember that there may be ,-as many differing views about what constitutes justice in this matter as there may be bases of valuation. One of .the greatest difficulties is to determine -in the .abstract what is just. A great deal depends upon the point of view from which the situation is regarded. It is proper that the holders of the freehold -of the land under consideration should be compensated. It may be that sheer justice will have regard to the use that tas hitherto been made of the land. I frankly do not know whether it is premer that .such a matter should be taken auto consideration, but it seems to me that some distinction may well be drawn between those owners who have contributed to the welfare of the territory by. taking up land, exploiting it or working it, and those who having acquired land have failed to use or exploit it for any public or private purpose.
The Opposition does not oppose the measure. I have made these comments merely in order to show that the Opposition takes a lively interest, in the affairs of the Northern Territory. Some of us have had an opportunity to wander over a portion of that vast expanse of land, to learn at first-hand of its difficulties of travel and its periodic seasonal difficulties, to watch the miracle of its rivers that flow on one day and disappear on the next, and to gauge the extent of its great areas of arid soil and the other areas that are capable of development if water can be provided in the right quantities at the right time. The Northern Territory must be watched with keen interest by this Parliament if for no other reason than it is of the utmost importance to the defence of Australia. Air and naval bases must be established in the north, and Darwin is the appropriate place for their location. Prom the defence angle alone, it is important that the population of the north be greatly increased.
The Legislative Council of the Northern Territory does not exercise complete power over the territory. Its ordinances are subject to disallowance by the Minister for Territories. Tt is not a wholly elected body; the majority of its members are nominated by the Government and this Parliament has an overriding jurisdiction over its actions. The Minister may disallow ordinances made by the council, but this Parliament, theoretically at least, controls the Minister. I support the measure.
– I direct attention to the very interesting case that has been .submitted by the Attorney-General .(Senator Spicer) in support of ,the .assumption by the Commonwealth of rights in certain mineralbearing areas in the Northern Territory. We trust that the valuable minerals to be obtained from the Northern Territory will be used principally for peaceful purposes, even though it is the intention of the Government in the immediate future te .use them for other purposes. The -development of the Northern Territory has lagged for many years. This bill will -enable the Government to develop its mineral potentialities and thus attract to it a larger population. Even though this ‘bill! establishes the rights of the Commonwealth in -certain valuable mineral deposits in the Northern Territory, it -eai-i be regarded as a socialist-it measure of the kind which honorable -senators opposite are prone to decry. It seems that the Government intrudes into the field of socialism only for -the purposes -of -defence, and it is not prepared to ‘do ‘so for the purpose -of raising the standard’s of living -of the people -Oil’ of developing the country. The Government /regards the latter solely as the .special preserve of private enterprise, f regard .the bill -as -timely .and’ I trust that such minerals as we are able to obtain will be used for ,the benefit *of the Australian people and not sold ito other countries.
Question /resolved in ,the affirmative.
Bill .read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment .or ‘debate.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (side page 550), on motion by Senator Cooper -
That the bill be now rend a second time.
– It is .pleasing to note that the Government is continuing to develop -and .to .bring -to .finality the vast aluminium production project that was commenced in Tasmania by the ‘Curtin Government. Xt is .also pleasing to .note that .the Government is prepared to use the people’s .money for the development of what .can only .be described as a completely socialistic enterprise. There are pertain fundamental industries in which the Commonwealth must engage, either because they are too big -for private enterprise to “handle or ‘because they -are not. attractive enough to induce private investors to finance them. ‘The story -of this project is one. that we hear :a’rl too often in this country. In the -first instance, overseas -interests were invited to establish the aluminium industry iia Australia but they clearly indicated -that while they would gladly supply us with our aluminium requirements they were not prepared . to establish the industry here, the then Government rightly decided that, as the production of aluminium was vitally necessary for our -development, it should itself undertake the venture. The preliminary plans provided for an annual production of 5,000 tons. Increased demand for aluminium made necessary a revision -of the plans and the Government now proposes to establish a plant with a capacity of 13,000 tons per annum. Until 1 939 the consumption of aluminium in Australia did not exceed 3,000 tons annually. These figures dearly reveal how the demand for aluminium has increased in recent years.
I invite the Minister to reveal to the Senate what plans, if any, the Government has .made for the production of this vital material a-t other centres. The -demand for -aluminium is increasing :so greatly that when the Bel-I Bay plant is in -operation in 1954 its output will not nearly he sufficient to meet Australian requirements -and we shall still be compelled to import substantial quantities from -overseas. I think ‘that the Minister foi- Repatriation .(Senator Cooper) stated in the -course of his second-reading speech that the annual Australian consumption of .aluminium is approximately 3 :1b. a head, whereas it is almost 15 l;b. a head in the ‘United States of America. Through increased usage .aluminium .wil-1 a.© doubt be required in greater quantities in this country and before long it may be found .that just as many dollars .as ever .are .needed in order to import aluminium from America. Now is the time either to double the size of the Bell Bay plant or to build another aluminium production plant in some other past of Australia. I point out to honorable senators opposite that a British aluminium company has been most interested in certain projects that could be developed with little difficulty in New Guinea. At Rouna -Falls, nea»r Port Moresby, there is a fall of water which is eminently suitable for the generation of the power necessary -for the -breaking. down of the components of -bauxite. It may perhaps, be wise for the Government to draw up plans for the development of an additional aluminium project, even though its site be in New Guinea.
One of the main attractions of the proposal to establish the industry in Tasmania was the fact that, in the initial stages, power appeared to be available in that State in abundant quantities. However, the old story of this country must again be told. Our industrial development has been much more rapid than the most farsighted of us imagined. The power potential of Tasmania made it an attractive proposition to set up the aluminium industry in that State. So great, however, has been the demand for Tasmanian hydro-electric power that it is hard put to meet the calls that are made upon it. For instance, the demands for power for the aluminium project have increased by more than 50 per cent, since the early days of the project. It has been suggested in the House of Representatives that power will become a bottleneck. I am certain, however, that the people of Tasmania will keep their hydroelectric power projects moving, so that when power is needed in 1953 or 1954 for the aluminium industry it will be available in sufficient quantity. Now is the time to plan for further production of aluminium, either by extending the Bell- Bay plant or by establishing a plant in some other part of Australia. We must keep ahead of demand or we shall run into bottlenecks which arc expensive both to the community and to our overseas financial credits.
In congratulating the Government on its support of this socialistic enterprise, one is led to a consideration of the inconsistency Of its approach to many of its problems. With a great fanfare of trumpets, it was announced recently thatin association with the Bulolo timber interests the Government intends to develop the pine forests of New Guinea. That was a plan proposed by a Labour government. It is two and a half years since Labour left office, but action is only now being taken.
– The subject was not too sweet-smelling at that time!
– I am sure that, if so, the Government has now cleaned it up. Apparently, association with private enterprise is now to be engaged in, although the Government disposed of its shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited some months ago. Apparently, this Government is only consistent in its inconsistency. It sells its interest in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and wants to get out of Glen Davis; yet it is -moving into the aluminium industry and proposes to engage in a socialistic enterprise to obtain timber in New Guinea. Its policy is completely inconsistent.
An additional £4,250,000 is required in order to bring this aluminium project to completion. I hope that the Government will not be obliged to come back to the Parliament for more money, but unless it takes action to stem the rising tide of inflation, it is certain that more money will be required for the project. The Australian £1 has lost its value; in the last couple of years the basic wage has almost doubled, and costs are rising as each quarter goes by. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
.- I congratulate the Government on introducing this bill. I listened with great interest to the remarks of Senator Armstrong until he began to play the game of party politics. Apparently the honorable senator is not as well-informed as he should be. In yesterday’s newspapers a statement appeared to the effect that, as this project had been commenced by the Menzies Government, it is the intention of the Government to complete it, and then to make it available, in the form of a public company, for., private enterprise to continue. Apparently the honorable senator is only half informed on the matter, and in his endeavour to play party politics he has gone off halfcocked.
Although the establishment of an aluminium industry was proposed by the Menzies Government in 1941, it was a Labour government which established the beginnings of the industry at Bell Bay in 1944. The industry has been very fortunate. The basic plant was obtained as war reparations. It was plant which had been manufactured in Germany for use in Norway. It was in fact cased and at the site in Norway where it was to be used when the war came to an end and the Australian Government was able to obtain it.
– We had to buy it.
– Yes, but we obtained it at a. greatly reduced price. That was a good start for the industry. By another piece of luck we were able to obtain breaking-down plant which had been established in Wales by the British Government, which, during the war, had purchased aluminium and had treated it in Wales. It sold the breaking-down plant to the Australian Government, which enabled the Australian Aluminium Production Commission to convert direct current into alternating current. The plant was bought at a fraction of the cost a t which it could be built then or obtained now.
I wish to refer to the power position, because there ‘appears to be some misunderstanding concerning that aspect. Although the Tasmanian Government oversold its supplies of power before they became available, and is now short of industrial power, it is building a plant at Trevallyn, which is approximately two miles from Launceston and thirty miles from Bell Bay. The entire output of that plant is earmarked for the aluminium industry. The plant will supply sufficient power for the industry in its initial stages. Whilst the overall picture of power in Tasmania is anything but satisfactory, the position of the aluminium industry at Bell Bay is protected. In addition, a huge water scheme has been undertaken about 50 miles from Bell Bay. That scheme will serve all the municipalities which lie between its site and Bell Bay, and will ensure an adequate supply of water for the aluminium undertaking. A contract for steel has been let, and the steel is just beginning to arrive. Water supply is therefore assured. With power and water assured, the project is well on the way to success.
As honorable senators may be aware, the Glen Davis shale oil refining works are divided into three parts. There ave a mining section, a retorting section, and a refining section.. The aluminium industry requires between 7,000 and 10,000 tons of petroleum coke each year. Petroleum coke is the pure carbon which remains after the final process of refining petrol. The refinery at Glen Davis has been producing such coke, and it is essential that supplies shall be available for the aluminium industry. The most sensible and economic way to ensure their availability is to transfer the refining plant to Bell Bay. In the process of refining, natural gases are given off. Those gases can he used at Bell Bay to effect a saving of approximately 30,000 tons of coal a year to the aluminium industry. That is an additional advantage which the industry will enjoy. I believe that all the advantages to which I have referred will ultimately lead to the Bell Bay establishment being able to produce aluminium at a lower cost than it is produced anywhere else in the world. I am eager to see that, in the disposal of the Glen Davis shale oil refinery, the requirements of the aluminium industry will receive proper consideration.
The aluminium industry has made slow progress since it was established in 1944. I have often visited the Bell Bay area and I was dissatisfied with the rate of construction during its early years. However, a top-level construction engineer has been engaged for the past eighteen months, and it has been heartening to see the plant come to life. Not only has that engineer performed a magnificent job in connexion with the construction of the plant, but he has also built up an excellent team of workmen and has provided amenities and good working conditions. The men who are employed there say that the early teething troubles, which were partly due to the isolation of the area, have now disappeared. The preparatory work is proceeding rapidly. I have every confidence that the undertaking will be in fullscale production by the end of 1954, and that Australian aluminium will be able to compete both in price and in quality with the product of any other country. I thoroughly agree with Senator Armstrong1 that the scheduled annual production will not be nearly sufficient for our needs. With the depletion of the world supplies of copper and non-ferrous metals, aluminium will play an increasingly important part in industry. Although the total annual Australian consumption of aluminium is only 15,000 tons, as Senator Armstrong has pointed out, on a population basis, that figure represents only one-fifth of the consumption in the United States of America. We should hare no difficulty in doubling our consumption. I am sure that the Government is aware of that prospect and t hat it will make early plans to extend the existing plant. I have no fear about the adequacy of the supply of electricity in Tasmania. The hydro-electric resources of that State have not been properly exploited. If one project had been tackled and finished at a time, instead nf starting work on four or five undertakings simultaneously, the position .today would have been much better than it is.
An important advantage to Australia of the local production of aluminium will be an annual saving of 5,000,000 dollars. That will m!ake an important contribution towards a solution of the dollar problem. I have the greatest faith in this project. I believe that within two years this valuable industry will be i ti production, and that aluminium will be produced economically. I have every confidence in the present production manager and his team, and I believe that when the industry is in full-scale opera- tion every one will agree that it is a credit to Tasmania and to the Liberal and Labour governments that have been associated with its establishment. I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this bill, and I trust that once the industry is on a firm footing, the Government, will allow the- people of Australia to play their part by handing the venture over to a public company, thus removing it for ever from the dead hand of socialism.
Senator 0’BYMfE (Tasmania) [5.19). - I support this bill which provides for the allocation of funds for the development of the great aluminium industry iii Tasmania. The venture is proving a great boon- to that; State. We are extremely fortunate that Tasmania was chosen- as the location of the undertaking: It has- the- advantage, *»f course, of having a great hydro-electric power potential. As Senator Henty has pointed out, the Tasmanian Hydro-electric Commission has undertaken a project at Trevallyn which will supply 40,000 horsepower to the aluminium industry.. That will be sufficient for an output of 13,000 tons of aluminium a year. The Tasmanian Government has played a great part in the preliminary work. In fact, it has embarrassed itself in other directions to provide funds for the project. As I have said, the Trevallyn hydro-electric scheme is designed exclusively to provide power for the aluminium industry. Money has been provided also to house employees of the Aluminium Industry Production Commission. At present, more than 500 people are employed on the project, and, at Georgetown, a few miles from the site of the works, the- Agricultural- Bank of Tasmania, an instrumentality of the Tasmanian Government, has erected 100 houses. Many more are under construction. This, of course, has meant a reduction of the number of houses available to people elsewhere in Tasmania. I say, therefore, that the Tasmanian Government has made a substantial contribution to the development of this, very important undertaking.
Senator Hentry referred to what he described as the over-selling of power in Tasmania. Surely we have passed- the stage when anybody considers that matter to be anything- but a political1 football. Every one who has had a commodity to sell since the war- ended has over-sold because of the great pressure of demand in the post-war years. The Tasmanian Government was most eager to have the aluminium industry established in that State, just as it was eager to- have- other industries-, such as paper manufacture, established1. The Tasmanian Government believes that its objective should be to secure the establishment of industries, and’,, at the same time, to develop the State’s hydro-electric power potential. Unfortunately, the last few years have been abnormally dry on the catchment area which supplies the- main power houses, and the reserve of water in the Great Lake has been seriously depleted. Am a. precautionary measure electricity has; been, rationed to- industry in- Taw mania;. That difficulty will’ b& overcome,
Anticipating an expanding demand for electric power, the State Government already has a fine programme of development under way, and I am confident that the supply of electricity will be adequate, not only for the aluminium industry, but also for other industries that we hope to see established in Tasmania.
The Government’s decision to expend further moneys on the development of the aluminium industry is to be commended. It is gratifying to know that the Government regards this project, which was started during Labour’s term of office, as an essential factor in the Australian community. “We in this country still do not fully appreciate the uses to which aluminium can be put. That was made clear to me when I was in Canada. As Senator Armstrong and Senator Henty have said, Australia could consume twice the annual production planned foi Belli Bay. The venture is one that deserves the commendation of the .people of Australia, and it should be carried on with the greatest possible speed. The people of Tasmania are behind the Commonwealth Government in its efforts to ensure the success of the scheme, and I have pleasure in giving my fullest support to this measure.
– By introducing this measure, the Government has shown that it is fully conscious of the need for the production of aluminium ingots in this country for both defence and commercial purposes. Senator Armstrong said that the Government, by contributing further funds to this project, was travelling along the socialist path. I remind the Senate that in the bill mow before us, and in the amended agreement set out in the second schedule “to the bill, there are certain provisions which foreshadow the ‘sale of thic undertaking ito private enterprise when the production stage has been reached and no further government assistance is required. Unfortunately, the Government to-day finds itself confronted with the necessity to carry on something: which was .started during Labour’s term of office.
Hut we shall aase to do a lot more than -was done by the Labour Government. Senator Armstrong :said that we ‘should plan now for the future. What a pity it is that the Government of which he was a member did not plan ahead. This Government has to make up now for the deficiencies of the Labour Government. It is idle for the honorable senator to suggest to us a medicine that he himself is not prepared to take, or even to compound. Surely when the establishment of a new industry in any particular locality is contemplated, one of the first considerations should be the supply of power. Power is fundamental to all industries. What did the Labour Government do to ensure that .sufficient electric power would be available for the aluminium industry? Senator Henty seems to be satisfied that something is now being done about that matter; bnai surely that action is rather belated. J was amazed, therefore, to hear Senator Armstrong urging this Government to plan ahead. The Labour Government had an opportunity to plan .ahead but did not do so. This Government’s views on government enterprises are well known. We believe that a government should engage in, or assist, an industry only when such action is inescapable in the national interest No government can apply to a business undertaking the energy and drive that can be applied under private management. Private enterprise has to be energetic and efficient or it will go down. In some cases, however - and this is one - government participation cannot be avoided. We are confronted with the necessity to pour more money into the aluminium undertaking because of delays and lack of ability in the early stages of the project. That, of course, k nothing new, but further governmental aid should not have been necessary at this stage. Had the Labour Government established the undertaking soundly in the first place it would be much further ahead than it is to-day, and the Government would probably have been in a position to withdraw from the project. Unfortunately, we are compelled to continue our participation in a manner with which we disagree in principle.
It was most interesting to hear what Senator Henty had to say about the present management. He was quite correct. The mail who is at present in charge of that enterprise has great organizing capacity. His ability to develop the enterprise is due to the training and experience that he received in private enterprise which has to be efficient, competent and speedy in order to exist.
Great delays used to take place in furnishing reports on this undertaking. I take a considerable interest in this industry, and the latest report that I have been able to find is in respect of the year 1950. That report reached me early this year. 1 hope that the Minister will ensure that the reports that will be furnished under the bill before the House will be. rendered promptly so that honorable senators may be aware of the progress that is being made. I support the bill.
– As I listened to Senator Tate I wondered whether he intended to support or oppose the bill. I was pleased to hear him say, at the conclusion of his remarks, that he supported it. I think that all honorable senators who have the development of the aluminium industry in Australia at heart will support the measure. 1 do not believe that any complaint should be made in respect to certain difficulties which have arisen in Tasmania since the inauguration of this project. I have a lively recollection of the negotiations which took place concerning the establishment of the aluminium industry in Australia. Great pressure was brought to bear in order to persuade the. Government of the time not to establish this industry. It was said that it would be possible to obtain all the aluminium necessary for Australia’s requirements from abroad. I am very pleased that the Government did not heed the arguments that were then advanced. This country is very rich in bauxite and the other minerals that are necessary for the production of aluminium. The aluminium factory which was established at Wangaratta, in Victoria, proved very useful in the prosecution of the war. Strong representations were made for the aluminium industry to be located in Victoria, close to the bauxite deposits, and there was agitation for its establishment in other places, but the then Government considered that Tasmania was the best place for it, because of that State’s hydro-electric scheme and the availability of a deep-sea port.
I do not intend adversely to criticize the Tasmanian Government concerning the shortage of electricity in Tasmania. Private enterprise could never have accomplished in Tasmania what the Tasmanian Government has done in regard to the production of electricity. The Tasmanian Government is able to supply sufficient electricity at. present only because other industries were established in that State following its offer of inducements beyond those offered by other States for their establishments. Like other States, Tasmania has had adverse seasons. This year there has not been as much snow on the mountains as usual, and because of a shortage of water it has not been possible to produce the required amount of electricity. I was very pleased to read in the Melbourne Herald a very favorable commentary on the way in which Tasmania had grappled with the problem of supplying electric power. That newspaper drew attention to the fact that the production of aluminium had been delayed somewhat duc to circumstances over which the Government of Tasmania had no control. It commended the action of the Tasmanian Government in establishing subsidiary schemes, and it stated that in a year or so Tasmania would be able to supply all the power necessary for the aluminium project. Consequently, I do not charge the Tasmanian Government with having retarded the development of this project.
The fact that the project will cost more than .was expected in the early stages of its planning is not- surprising; a similar state of affairs exists in many other industries. Costs have increased rapidly and no doubt they will continue to increase. I shall not be so uncharitable as to say that they will increase because the Government may remain in office for another year or so. I commend the Government for making this additional money available in order that the work may proceed as rapidly as possible. Australia, with its growing population, will need more aluminium. A vast quantity will be needed for defence preparations and it is far better to have aluminium at our door than to have to import it from abroad. I do not know how it would affect Australia’s dollar balance if it were necessary to import. all the aluminium that we need for defence preparations. Senator O’Byrne correctly said that aluminium could be used in many ways. The use of this metal is only in its infancy in Australia. As time goes on more use will be made of it. It is only a few years since many kitchen utensils now made of aluminium were manufactured from other metals. I am pleased that the Government has proposed to make it possible for the work to be proceeded with as rapidly as possible. Therefore, I have much pleasure in commending the bill. 1 know that it will pass the Senate and I hope that the plant will be completed and in full production within the time expected by the Government.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) [5.39 J. - Senator Armstrong has been good enough to lead the debate on behalf of the Opposition by making some mean references to the socialistic purposes of this bill. If the Government were ti allow such paltry considerations to enter into its judgment I am sure that those who assemble on this side of the chamber would feel regretful. Although the previous Government prepared the blueprint for this project, it left it to th? efficient management of officers appointed by the Menzies Government to establish the industry. The encouragement of the industry is in the interests of the naval, military and air defence of the Commonwealth. It is a major component of Australia’s war preparations. The attention of Australia has been directed to the need for the continuance of the production of this metal. It is a very paltry jibe by the protagonists of socialism that the Menzies Government has departed from its principles of public administration by continuing a defence project oi such paramount importance.
A lot of squealing has been done b.) unworthy State Premiers during the las: six months. They have misrepresented to the Australian public that the availability of loan money has been restricted by the Government but I have not heard any of them voice appreciation of the fact that when the Government received a declaration from the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Cosgrove, that the finances of his State would not permit the continued support of this industry on the basis originally agreed upon, the Government, despite the difficulty of raising capital, immediately undertook to provide £4,250,000 in order to complete thU project.
– Tasmania invested £4,000,000 in its hydro-electric scheme which will generate the electricity for this project.
- .Senator O’Byrne speaks of the establishment of an undertaking for which I voted two and a half years ago. At that time Australia was said to be in a golden age, when money did not matter and the press was full of the statements of the late Benedict Chifley, and all the kind of flapdoodle that characteristically comes from Senator O’Byrne. The financial stringency of the present time had not then dawned on those who, in the words of an Opposition senator were on their honeymoon. As Senator Cormack explained, the capital resources of thi? country have been committed to the maintenance of its economy to a degree which has made it difficult to obtain further finance for public works.
Sitting suspended from 545 to 8 p.m.
– It should be emphasised that the Commonwealth proposes to expend an additional amount of £4,250,000 on the establishment of the aluminium industry in Tasmania, and this fact should be set against the criticism that the Commonwealth is starving the States of money. The Australian Government is resolved to develop the nation to the financial limits to which the people are willing to go. The Tasmanian Government originally agreed to contribute towards the cost of this project on a £l-for-£l basis. However, it has had to default on the undertaking, with the result that the Minister for Supply announced some time ago that the Commonwealth would establish the industry without further aid from Tasmania, because of its paramount importance to defence. That fact should be considered in relation to the demands of the States for more loan money. In 1948, a total of £75,000,000 of loan money was distributed among the- States. This: year, the States- have demanded’ that the amazing amount of 247,000,000 shall be raised for their purposes. It is- not difficult to understand that such demands have had an adverse effect upon the loan market.
This bill proposes to authorise the expediture of the additional sum of £4!,2’o0,000 on the establishment of the aluminium industry foi” defence purposes, and for the promotion of national development,, but 1 am astonished that honorable senators have1 not noticed a:u Important variation of the terms of the agreement between the Commonwealth and1 the State of Tasmania. Section 9 of the old act provided that the sale or disposal of the whole or any part, of the undertaking of the commission should, not be. effected unless a resolution had been passed: by both houses- of the Parliament, of the Commonwealth, and also by both houses of the State Parliament. It is proposed 80 amend that section by providing merely that the undertaking shall- not be disposed of “ except with the approval of Parliament “. That means the Commonwealth Parliament. In short,, the view is expressed that the ultimate disposal of the industry should, rest with the Parliament which provides the bulk of the money. ‘Ft is, however, stipulated that the- Commonwealth shall give the State three months’ notice of its intention to dispose of the project, and that the State has the rikht to object; but if fine- Common-wealth persists- in its purpose the- State shall be paid’, out of the proceeds’ of the sale,, the money which it has already put into the- project.
It is notable that work on the project has proceeded much, more rapidly since the Menzies Government came into office than it did before. Prior to the advent of the Menzies Government,, we had to listen to a great deal of flapdoodle, from Labour spokesmen seeking votes in Tasmania, but actual work on the project got; no farther- than the clearing of scrub from the site. The Menzies Government has had the wisdom to, place, in charge of the project, a man. whom the Cosgrove Government rejected in 1940. I refer to Mr. George: Leckey, under whose direction the. progress of the work has been very rapid. It- is fitting, that Senator Henty should have paid a tribute to him. Mr. Leckey was: chief electrical engineer in> the service of the- Tasmanian Government for twenty years before 1940. He put forward certain developmental proposals, and the Tasmanian Government was required to make a decision. Due to the influence of the famous Tom D’Alton, Mr. Leckey’s services were dispensed with, and he became available for appointment to the Australian Aluminium! Production- Commission, with the remarkable results that I have sta ted.
– Senator Wright treated us to a good dose of palaver and. flapdoodle about the appointment of a certain individual’ by the Menzies Government. I listened carefully in an attempt to learn whether the- honorable senator was in favour of the project or against if. However; like so. many members of the legal’ fraternity, he made it very difficult for his hearers to- discover just what bc meant. There were some- notable contradictions in his- speech. Not only did he contradict himself, but he also contradicted one of his colleagues from Tasmania and Sena-tor Tate from New South Wales. Senator Henty said’ that, although the Commonwealth proposed to expend an additional £4’,250,,000 on the aluminium project in Tasmania he hoped that, at some- time in the future, the project could be handed1’ over to private enterprise. He does not believe in government enterprise, and he was apologizing for supporting the bill. Senator’ Tate went further than that, and expressed the hope that when the project was in working order the Government would be able to form a public company to take it over. Senator Wright said, in effect, that he did not: believe- in anything like that… He’ is. supporting; the proposal only because, it is a- defence project. He. must know that- defence projects of the kind have been established in. Australia before; and. that, when’ their whole output is not. needed for.’ defence- purposes, the, surPlus is: disposed of to the public During World: War I.,, the Australian Government established a woollen mill at Geelong to make cloth, for the armed sendees. Some of the cloth was sold to private merchants, who distributed it to the public, Later, the same- course was followed as that now proposed b” Senator Tate. The mill was handed over to private enterprise on terms very favorable to the buyers, and du ling the last war the product of the mills was sold at high prices to the Commonwealth. The whole thing was; a racket which was encouraged by a non-Labour government; and two Liberals in this chamber are now proposing that a similar racket should be worked in connexion with the aluminium industry. Senator Wright favours the project for its defence value, and he talked a lot of flap-doodle about the errors of the Tasmanian Government and the virtues of the Menzies Government. ms attitude is parochial. If the project were not being established in Tasmania, but in some other State, the honorable senator would have nothing good to say about it.
I wonder whether honorable senators have considered how supplies of raw material are to bp maintained for the manufacture of aluminium in Tasmania. Although it is very difficult for the Opposition to obtain information on the subject, I believe that the quantity of bauxite in Tasmania will be insufficient to carry on the aluminium manufacturing project for any great length of time Therefore it will be necessary to ship large quantities of bauxite from the Australian mainland or from other countries to Tasmania. I have been told that it is intended to obtain supplies from the huge deposits in Victoria. This will involve the provisio nof shipping. During the relatively short period that I have been a member of the Senate I can recollect a number of Tasmanian senators advocating thu provision of a government shipping service to Tasmania, because private enterprise had failed to cater adequately for the requirements of that State. As the existing shipping service between the mainland and Tasmania is inadequate, it i.< obvious that another service will have to be provided in order to transport supplies of bauxite from the mainland to Bell Bay. Yet even now the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator
McLeay) is negotiating to sell the Commonwealthowned ships that are being operated by the Australian Shipping Board.
Honorable senators well remember that in the past some people have done extraordinarily well out of the sale of Commonwealth industries to private enterprise. The Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was sold at a tremendous loss. Indeed, about £1,250,000 of the price has not yet been received by the Government. We can be pardoned for thinking that someone other than the Commonwealth or the people of this country may get something out of the sale of the aluminium project in the future. Much has been heard during recent months about the probable disposal by the Commonwealth of TransAustralia Airlines. Although the Government has denied that it intends to sell Trans-Australia Airlines, it admits that a large proportion of mail traffic is to be transferred to Australian .National Airways’ Proprietary Limited.
– I rise to order ! I submit that the affairs of Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited have nothing to do with the bill before the Senate. Therefore the honorable senator is out of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator O’Byrne). - Order ! Senator 0’Flaherty should confine his remarks to the bill.
– Supporters of the Government are quick to seize on points’ of order when the implication of such matters is brought home to them. It is significant that at the very time the Government is seeking to make available £4,250,000 for the completion of the aluminium, project at Bell Bay, some of its supporters are hinting about the probable disposal of the venture in the future. Just as, ultimately, TransAustralia Airlines will be virtually handed over to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, so will the aluminium industry, when established, be handed over to private enterprise. Already two representatives of Tasmania sitting on the Government side of the chamber have stated that the
Government wants to develop the aluminium industry in order to be able to dispose of it. What does that mean? Does it not mean that a friend or a relative of a Minister, or somebody else, is going to get a cut out of the business?
– I rise to order! It is most improper for Senator O’Flaherty to suggest that a Minister might get a cut out of the possible sale of the aluminium project in the future. I consider that that remark should be withdrawn.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! As objection has been taken to Senator O’Flaherty’s statement, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I merely asked a question.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. Order ! Senator O’Flaherty will withdraw the statement to which objection Has been taken.
– With respect, Mr. Acting Deputy President, I cannot withdraw a statement that I have not made. I posed the question whether the statements of the two honorable senators to which I have referred mean that a Minister’s friend or relative is to get a. cut out of it. Is the asking of such a question offensive?
Government Senators. - Yes.
– As the question was apparently offensive to supporters of the Government, I apologize and withdraw it. If the statements that I have made do not mean what I have suggested, do they mean that the Government is developing this industry merely to be able to hand it over holusbolus to the aluminium cartel that controls the production of aluminium throughout the world with the exception of production in Russia?
– Apparently that question is not offensive to honorable senators opposite. Two Government senators have stated that the Government considers that the expenditure of an additional £4,250,000 on this venture is warranted in order to get the aluminium project into production. They have &hn stated that they would be pleased to see the project handed over ultimately to private enterprise. Senator Wright has stated that the project should be completed as a defence measure, having regard to the possibilities of the future. The only possibility as far as the conservative element in the Government is concerned is that this project will be handed over to somebody. This Government believes in private enterprise. Indeed, many supporters of the Government have advocated the selling to private enterprise of government socialistic undertakings. Yet they continue to advocate the establishment of this socialistic enterprise. Is it because they know that private enterprise has failed to establish the aluminium industry in Tasmania? I remind the Government that the aluminium cartel would have done so long ago had not the Australian Labour party prevented it from doing so.
Senator Wright has given us some soft soap about the Government obtaining the assistance of a distinguished engineer. I point out that the honorable senator has paid no regard to the physical disabilities that had to be overcome at Bell Bay before the engineer mentioned took over. Many physical difficulties associated with the provision of hydroelectric power had to be overcome before the building of the aluminium project could be undertaken. I understand that a number of members of the Parliament contemplate visiting the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project in the near future. Although efficient engineers have been employed there since the commencement, of the undertaking, I venture to suggest that the vast amount of preparatory work that has been done by the engineers will not be obvious to the parliamentarians until it is pointed out to them by an engineer. Yet some honorable senators opposite have claimed that one particular engineer has been responsible for the progress at Bell Bay. Honorable senators should be fair and impartial in this matter. The Government should not give all credit for progress at Bell Bay to the engineer that it appointed. Tremendous initial physical difficulties had to be overcome at Bell Bay.
– Has the honorable senator seen the project?
– 1 have travelled extensively in this country.
– It is apparent that Senator O’Flaherty would know more about the subject if he had visited Bell Bay.
– I have a good knowledge of the geography of Bell Bay, and a good knowledge also of other matters associated with the establishment of the aluminium project there. ‘ To be fair, honorable senators opposite should admit that a good job has been done at Bell Bay from the beginning. It is true, of course, that financial assistance has been provided by the Commonwealth. 1 should hate to think that the Government, after making available a further £4,250,000 in order to establish the aluminium industry in Tasmania, intended to place physical difficulties in the way of the industry so that ultimately it would be handed over to private enterprise at a discount. Senator Wright stated that he could not understand why Senator Armstrong did not readily support the proposed additional expenditure on this socialistic enterprise. However, his criticism does not amount to a tinker’s benediction, because when the original agreement came before the Parliament honorable senators who now occupy the Government side of this chamber stated that the project would be a huge socialistic enterprise. Whether they like it or not they must admit that it is still a socialistic enterprise. It is for them to state why, having opposed such enterprises through the years, they support a bill of this kind. What has caused them to abandon their faith in private enterprise and embrace the ideals of socialism ? I should like a definite assurance from the Government that it has not decided to proceed with the establishment of this industry with the object of disposing of it to private enterprise at a later date. If it is the intention of the Government to dispose of it later, why do not Ministers frankly say so? Is it the intention nf the Government to develop this indus try in order to benefit certain shipping companies by giving them the sole right to transport bauxite ores to Tasmania and to carry the aluminium ingots to mainland ports? It is impossible for the existing shipping service to clear the cargoes that are now awaiting shipment in Tasmanian ports. How does the Government propose to meet the transport requirements of this undertaking when it is in full production? I am pleased to note that honorable senators opposite have changed their attitude to socialistic enterprises of this kind. This undertaking can be described as a socialist experiment in excelsis because no person may build a house in the area set aside for the plant at Bell Bay unless he first obtains the permission of this Government or of the Government of Tasmania. [ trust that the Government will complete this project and that within a few years aluminium ingots will be shipped from Tasmania to the mainland, first, for the production of defence materiel and, later, to replace other soft metals, such as copper, tantalite and the like. Aluminium has many uses other than for the production, of defence materiel. When the aluminium requirements of the defence programme have been met it will be interesting to learn whether the aluminium plant can be successfully operated to meet the requirements of the civil population. Under the terms of the agreement, the Government of Tasmania is to be reimbursed the amount of money which it has invested in the venture. Thus, in addition to the capital cost, losses incurred in the operation of the plant will be borne by the Australian taxpayers. If the industry is subsequently disposed of, as other Commonwealth undertakings have been disposed of in the past, it will probably be sold at very much less than cost and the taxpayers of Australia will have to bear the loss. I urge honorable senators who represent Tasmania to do everything possible to ensure that the Commonwealth shipping line is retained so that when the aluminium plant is in full production Commonwealth ships may be used to transport the bauxite from the mainland to Bell Bay and to move the manufactured aluminium ingots and such other cargoes as are available from Bell Bay to mainland ports.
– Senator O’Flaherty has asked whether it is the intention of the Government to hand over the aluminium plant at a later date to an international cartel, the amplication being that if the plant is so disposed of, it will be sold at much less than the cost. I remind the honorable senator that the political party to which he belongs commenced this socialist undertaking, and that he supported the project. “When the present Government came to office, the project was well under way. Indeed, it was half completed, or perhaps I should say, it was suspended, like Mahomet’s coffin, between the earth and the sky. One of the factors that incline me to support this bill which, I admit, endorses the socialistic principle, is the simple fact that this undertaking has reached such a stage of development as would cause the Commonwealth great losses if it were abandoned. It goes against my grain to approve of the expenditure of an additional £4,250,000 in what [ believe to be a socialist undertaking. As time passes, it may be found that the initial investment represents the least cost of the undertaking. It is not unlikely that a heavy loss will be incurred in the operation of the enterprise. 1 have been in the political life of this country for a long time, and I have seen the ebb and flow of socialist activities of this kind. In Quensland, we had ample evidence of the failure of such undertakings. To-day, not one member of the Queensland Parliament, or one citizen of that State, wants to repeat the sorry experience of State enterprise in fields that are best left to private enterprise. In every instance large sums of money have, been frittered away in such ventures. Some one has always been ready and eager to chase the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow, and when one State enterprise has failed, another has taken its place. During the last twenty years, every State enterprise handled by successive Queensland governments has proved to be a losing proposition. “We have had ample evidence that people will not work so well for the State as they do for private employers
– Does the honorable senator consider that the railways should be sold to private enterprise?
– We have to continue the railways as a public utility, because they provide services to the outback of Australia, the needs of which could not be met by private enterprise. The aluminium project is in a different category. It is solely a business enterprise. Canneries were established by the Queensland Government against the wishes of many people. Where are those canneries to-day ? They do not exist. When I -was in Western Australia many years ago, a Labour Government led by the late Mr. John Scadden established the State implement works. Where are those works to-day? They no longer exist. The Queensland Government established State butcheries, State cattle stations, and, save the mark, State fishshops. All those undertakings were bound to be losing propositions, and, indeed, many of them were liquidated by socialist governments which found that their belief in State enterprise was wrong. To-day, not a single State undertaking in Queensland may be described as a socialist enterprise. In New South Wales, we have seen the failure of the shale oil undertaking at Glen Davis, another State enterprise which was established with a great fanfare of trumpets by a Labour government. A great outcry was heard recently about the decision of this Government to close those works. Can any levelheaded member of this Senate justify the continuance of the shale oil project at Glen Davis as a business proposition? Of course, he cannot! It is a losing proposition and, no matter how much may be said to the contrary, it cannot be anything but a losing proposition.
In discussing this bill, I do not want to be unfair to my colleagues who represent Tasmania. I am gratified when industries are developed in Australia. The growth of industries such as the aluminium project will enable Australia to play a more important role in the defence of the Pacific. If this undertaking is as good as it is represented to be, why has not private enterprise been attracted to it? When the Minister introduced this bill, he overlooked several important points that are of interest to honorable senators who are called upon to support the continuance of an undertaking which will involve the expenditure of £4,250,000 in addition to the amount that has already been expended on it. For instance, the
Minister gave us no estimate of the profit likely to be earned by the undertaking. Does the Government admit that this is to be a losing proposition, as all other State enterprises in Australia have been? Or does he expect that the undertaking will show a substantial profit after provision has been made for working expenses and overhead ? T should be glad if he would enlighten the Senate upon that aspect. Those who invest their money in private concerns ask for an honest estimate of expected profits. We should not be called upon to invest the taxpayers’ money in an undertaking of this kind without being given similar information. Indeed, I doubt whether we are justified in investing the people’s money in an undertaking which apparently offers no hope of a profit. A factor which influences me to support the bill is the statement by the Minister that the undertaking will make an important contribution to our defence preparation. He did not indicate the proportion of the production of aluminium that will be earmarked for defence purposes. I think that that is an important aspect of the matter, and when he replies to the debate I should like him to give the Senate some information on that point.
As Senator O’Flaherty has stated, there are big cartels, corporations and companies in other parts of the world which are engaged in the production of aluminium. We, in Australia, are experiencing very high cost levels at the present time. Wages have never been so high. But the high wage level is nullified by ever-rising costs.
– And by inflation!
– And by inflation, as the honorable senator says. In view of those facts, I ask the Government whether it is not possible, after our aluminium industry is established, for the large concerns which manufacture aluminium in other countries of the world seriously to undercut us. That is a business aspect of this proposition. I do not submit these matters in a spirit of hostility to the bill, which I intend to support. I do so because they are matters upon which the Senate is entitled to information.
I greatly fear that with the passage of . five or ten years, this enterprise will rank with the_ Glen Davis shale oil refinery and other State-run undertakings in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. It will then be a losing proposition. The taxpayers will be obliged to dig deeper into their pockets in order to make good the losses incurred by the undertaking. It is all very well for us to come here with starry eyes and dreamy hopes about the production of aluminium in Tasmania. I wish that I could see the matter in that way. Unfortunately, I prefer to look at the realities of the position and to face the facts. Usually it is found that the affairs of State-run undertakings are not .as healthy as the socialist dreamers of the Opposition would like them to be. I am sorry to think that perhaps a few of my colleagues - not necessarily in the Senate, but generally in the Parliament - have been carried away by this idea of a government-owned aluminium industry. The mitigating factor in their case is that at least the present Government did not start the enterprise. It did not embark upon it but is merely caught up in it. A certain investment was made by a socialist government, and the present Government was left in the unhappy position of having to decide whether it would be better to scrap the undertaking and cut the losses which would be involved thereby, or whether it would be better to go ahead and give the project a chance. As I have said, the defence aspect of the matter weighs heavily with me, and that is why I should like to know the proportion of aluminium production which is to be earmarked for defence purposes. In addition, I wish to know what the Government expects to receive in the way of profits, a matter which has not yet been discussed.
I listened with great interest to the speeches of Senator Wright and Senator Henty, both of whom are eager for the advancement of Tasmania. I understand their position very well, but with great respect to the honorable senators, I do not agree entirely with their views. Senator Henty stated that, in his opinion, once this undertaking is fully developed, it will be able to compete successfully with the aluminium production enterprises of any other country. I respect the honorable senator for his judgment as a Tasmanian businessman, and I hope that his opinion is correct in this instance, not only for the good of Tasmania but also for that of the Commonwealth generally. The honorable senator also stated that, because of various factors which he enumerated, aluminium will be produced at Bell Bay more cheaply than anywhere else in the world. I hope that his optimistic declarations will be fully justified by subsequent events.
I support the bill because the party to which I belong considers that it should become law. However, it is against my grain and all the principles of my political experience to do so.
– The honorable senator is therefore supporting a bill which he does not like.
– That is correct.
– I did not intend to speak on this bill until certain remarks were made by Senator Wright. At the outset, I wish to tell the Senate where I stand. I favour the measure, with the exception of those clauses which confer on the Government the right to sell this project when it is established. I believe that the people of Australia should not be taxed in order, to provide money for a project which, when it is completed, will be handed over to private enterprise. That course has been taken by this Government in other instances. That proposition reminds me that a great government-owned shipping line, which cost approximately £8,000,000 was sold for £1,500,000, of which the Government actually received a little more than £500,000.
Honorable senators opposite have complained that a government-run undertaking is not able to function as efficiently or as economically as an undertaking managed by private enterprise. I invite honorable senators to cast their minds back to the days of World War II. They may remember that businessmen throughout Australia ran to the government of the day, saying, “ Take over our businesses and control them. We will work for you “. Even the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and other large concerns, asked that that be done. They appreciated that they would be able to plan to greater effect under government management than under an anarchic system of private enterprise. They also appreciated that by that method production would be facilitated and achieved more cheaply. The government was asked to take over most industries, which it did.
Although Senator Henty considers that the production of aluminium by this undertaking will be less costly than in any other part of the world, apparently, the Government proposes to sell the project when it is completed. I was astounded when the honorable senator made that statement, because it was apparent that he was boosting government enterprise instead of private enterprise. Recently, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited complained that it could not compete effectively against TransAustralia Airlines, and it asked for a greater proportion of government business.
– Does TransAustralia Airlines pay taxes?
– Trans-Australia Airlines pays landing charges, although Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has never done so and it owes the Government money at the present time in respect of landing charges. Yet, it imposes landing charges on the people of King Island in respect of each of its planes which lands on the island. A certain person who lives on the island charters a plane from the company at a cost of £100 and is obliged to pay £18 for landing charges. That sum is not handed over to the Department of Civil Aviation.
– Does TransAustralia Airlines pay taxes?
– We are discussing government-run enterprises. I remember that when a Labour government commenced the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme, which was a £250,000,000 project, the members of the Opposition of the day boycotted the opening of the project. Only a couple of members of the Liberal party attended. Now honorable gentlemen opposite are claiming that the scheme is one of the greatest of all time. Australians had talked for 80 years of such an undertaking, but it took a Labour government to do something about it. It did so because it appreciated that such a project would assist not only farmers and manufacturers but also the defenders of the country.
Senator Wright has eulogized the new manager at the Bell Bay works. I admit that he has done a good deal, but the employees have really brought about the improvement in conditions there. The accommodation and amenities that were provided for the employees at Bell Bay were so bad that the men were forced to strike. The food was bad, the hut accommodation, bathing facilities and lavatory accommodation were all unsatisfactory and inadequate. Consequently, the men were forced to impress their claims upon the management. This Government is now taking upon itself credit for something that it did not do. It was the men on the job who were responsible for the improvement of conditions. I went down to Bell Bay on one occasion in order to investigate the conditions. I had a meal with the men. In the cookhouse there were cooking facilities for approximately fourteen men, but the cooking staff was trying to cook for 250 men. There were only four tea urns. The carving of the meat commenced at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the meal was served by 6 o’clock. By that time, the food was either burnt to a cinder or was stone cold. I inspected the lavatory accommodation, which was adequate for only fourteen or fifteen men. After 30 men had had a bath in the bathhouse, there was no more hot water. The huts were full of cracks and the wind blew in so strongly that a candle could not be kept alight. As honorable senators may be aware, it is very cold at Bell Bay. Because of those conditions the men went on strike and by that means attracted the attention of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission to their needs. The commission was so hidebound that it declined to take action for a considerable time. Honorable senators opposite should not run away with the idea that the manager was responsible for the improvement of conditions. The truth is that action was forced on him.
As Senator O’Flaherty has stated, it is well-known that certain American cartels enjoy a monopoly of the production of aluminium. Should a blockade occur in the Pacific, this country would not be able to obtain aluminium. With that in mind, a Labour government looked a long way ahead and decided to commence an aluminium industry in Australia. The object was not to make huge profits, as Senator Maher seems to think it was. The government of the day related this project to our defence requirements. Senator Maher has asked whether further government contributions will be required. On the authority of Senator Henty, there will be no annual losses, because the aluminium produced at Bell Bay will be as cheap as the overseas product. In any case, losses do not matter. We need aluminium.
Government supporters interjecting,
– The interests represented in this chamber by honorable senators opposite live by profiteering and exploitation. If they cannot see an opportunity to exploit the worker in order to obtain a good return for their money, they are not interested. Many people believe that industries that do not show a profit should not be continued. If that principle were applied, we would have no roads and no railways. Obviously, private enterprise would not run railways because they are not profit-making. The truth is, of course, that our railways to-day are transporting goods required for secondary industries, at less than cost. In other words, the people of this country are being taxed to subsidize secondary industries.
– Railways are a public utility.
– Yes, but they are being exploited by the profiteer while
Ave pay taxes to make up the losses that are being incurred. I am pleased that the Government has decided to provide the additional £4,250,000 required to bring the aluminium project to fruition. Had the Aluminium Industry Production Commission not endeavoured to browbeat its employees into putting up with intolerable conditions, the project would have been much further advanced than it is. It took, a strike to make the commission wake up to the need to speed its work. I support the bill with the exception of those clauses which will permit the ultimate sale of the undertaking to private enterprise.
– in reply - I have listened with interest to the speeches that have been made on this bill. It is clear that, generally speaking, the measure is supported by honorable senators. At least, it is supported by those honorable senators who have addressed themselves to the bill. Other speakers, unfortunately, were rather wide of the mark, and dealt with topics that have no relation to the bill. Honorable senators opposite have suggested that the Government has been converted to socialism. We on this side of the chamber have always favoured the development of this country by private enterprise; but we are not biased enough to throw away the millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money that has already been expended on this undertaking. We have decided to proceed with the establishment of the aluminium industry, and to invest more money in it to assure it of success.
Senator Armstrong claimed that due to the inability of this Government to stem inflation, it was now faced with the necessity to contribute much more to this venture than had originally been intended. It is true that the Commonwealth will pay a* further ?4,250,000, whereas the total cost was originally estimated at ?3,000,000, but, as 1 said in my secondreading speech, the additional contribution is required, first, because the cost of the undertaking was underestimated at the beginning, and, secondly, because provision is being made for an output of 13,000 tons of ingot aluminium pei annum instead of 10,000 tons. It is well known, too, that not only labour costs, but also the costs of imported materials have risen steeply since the project was first undertaken. I make no apology therefore for the Government’s decision, even in this period of. financial stringency, to invest a further ?4,250,000 in the industry. It is a work of great national importance and it will play a vital part in our defence preparations.
Senator Maher has asked whether I can give some1 indication of what the profits from the undertaking will be. That would be most difficult. At this stage- any figure that I might give could only be a guess. However, I have the authority of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) to say that it is expected that ingot aluminium will be produced at a price comparable with world prices. Senator Maher also asked what- percentage of the production would be allocated to defence. Naturally, defence needs will have a priority, but I remind honorable senators that” only aluminium will be produced at Bell Bay. The aluminium will have to be taken elsewhere to be processed into forms in which it is used in industry. It is difficult to say, therefore, what percentage of the production will be devoted to defence. The allocation will, of course, vary according to defence needs. It is not expected, that there will be any lack of demand for Australian-produced aluminium. Again I remind the Senate that Australian per capita consumption of this valuable metal is only 3 lb. per annum, compared with 15 lb. per annum in the United States of America. Obviously, the market for aluminium in this country is almost unlimited. I thank honorable senators for their support of the bill, and I hope that it will be given a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read, a second time.
– I take this opportunity to seek some information from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper). Clause 6 extends the scope of the commission from the production of ingot aluminium only to the production of aluminium in other forms. Does the Government intend to set up a fabricating plant so that the ingots can be rolled, extruded, or processed in any other way at Bell Bay? If that is not the Government’s intention, will the Minister impress upon the Aluminium Industry Production Commission the importance of keeping private aluminium fabricating factories alive to the fact that 13,000 tons of ingot aluminium will become available annually in about two years time so that limited fabricating facilities will not form a bottleneck in the production of aluminium goods ? I ask the Minister also to explain, if he can, how the profits from the industry are to be applied in accordance with the second schedule to the bill.
– I understand that the Aluminium Industry Production Commission sought an extension of the definition of its activities to permit the production of aluminium bars, wire and billets, as well as ingots. I am. informed that the commission is well aware of the necessity to plan ahead so that there will be no bottlenecks in the processing of ingot aluminium. I have no further information on the method of applying the profits from the industry, but I think that I should be correct in saying that the order of priority is as it appears in clause 2 (c) (h) of the second schedule.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st May (vide page 580), on motion by Senator 0’ Sullivan -
That the following paper be printed: -
SenatorCOURTICE(Queensland.) [9.17]. - I do not intend to indulge in a general indictment of the Government in connexion with this statement. A similar statement which was presented in another place was not received with very great enthusiasm, and, undoubtedly, it was received with considerable dissatisfaction by the people of Australia. That statement, as is the case with the one that has now been presented by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), did not contain any proposal which could afford the people some hope that the Government would deal with the problems of the country in a more satisfactory manner than it has dealt with them during the last two years. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) covered a very comprehensive field in the course of his most effective criticism of the Government. Consequently, there is no reason why I should take up much of the time of the Senate, particularly as a number of other honorable senators wish to speak to this motion and there is some doubt whether the Government will permit this discussion to continue for any length of time. I was surprised that the motion was submitted to this chamber. As I have said, a similar statement was severely criticized in another place and no doubt the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Armstrong made Government supporters wonder whether the Government had done all that it could have done in connexion with this matter.
I propose to deal only with the Government’s abrupt and drastic action in connexion with the restriction of imports. I am certain that the Minister for Trade and Customs has found it a physical impossibility satisfactorily to administer the Government’s policy in this respect. A watchful, careful government would have appreciated the position as it developed from month to month. It could then have prevented the economy of this country from going so far down the drain without taking the abrupt action on which it decided. I was surprised to hear Senator Gorton say that the Government’s policy was in accordance with the policy of the Government of the United Kingdom. No other honorable senator has expressed such an. opinion. I could understand that the Government of the United Kingdom had drawn the attention of the Australian Government to the fact that the overseas credits of this country were being frittered away.
There was no need for the Government to take this action which has brought about so much dissatisfaction and unrest among business people and in industry. I seriously indict the Government because I consider that its policy has done great harm, particularly to the hitherto harmonious trade relations which existed with the United Kingdom. It has brought great hardship to a number of business people in this country which I consider could have been avoided if the
Government had appreciated its responsibilities. The previous Government had an experience similar to that of this Government in connexion with imports from America. Over a period of many months imports from America were controlled by the previous Government in a manner favorable to the development of this country. For instance, that Government obtained machinery and equipment which made possible the increase of coal production for which the present Government has claimed credit. The previous Government ordered millions of pounds worth of machinery and in that way overcame the difficulties that were interfering with the progress of the country. The present Government could have adopted a similar policy in regard to imports. The present situation is a novel one; it has never occurred before. It is bad for the country and has created a lot of difficulty and discontent. Business people and those who are engaged in industry are greatly alarmed and they consider that the Government could have avoided this situation. On that score alone I consider that the Government has failed the people of Australia.
It is a very serious matter that the trade of this country has been dislocated to the extent that it has. The Government has restricted imports on the basis of the value’ of goods imported during 1951. A business enterprise may have imported little in that year, although it imported a great deal during the previous year. Does the Minister exercise his prerogative in cases of this kind in order to alleviate the hardship that some people may suffer because of the action of the Government The Government’s action has affected all sections of industry. Millions of pounds worth of goods were imported into this country during 1951, but I understand that machinery represented only about 13 per cent, of them. The previous Government ensured that dollar expenditure was used in such a way as to supply the needs of industry to the maximum extent and assist in the development of this country. The action of the present Government has affected all industries in a similar way. Some industries may require imports for the purpose of manufacturing goods for export. Because of the Government’s restrictions they have been unable to continue the manufacture of their product and, consequently, the quantity of our exports has been affected. Adequate consideration has not been given to the very many aspects of the importation of goods which affect the economy of this country.
– are three categories under which goods may be imported.
– I know that. But the Government should have known that millions of pounds were being frittered away in the importation of goods with which this country could have done without. On that score alone the Government has caused a great deal of dissatisfaction. The people have lost confidence in this Government because it has taken no real corrective action to stem the flood of inflation.
Running parallel with the Government’s policy of restricting imports is its policy in relation to the restriction of credit. Many millions of pounds of credit are normally used by private enterprise in connexion with the- business of the country. Credit has now been seriously curtailed. Many concerns’ have been hampered in their operation and their difficulties are very serious. The Government failed to appreciate the position earlier when it knew that Australia’s overseas credits had been reduced by £6,000,000 in a few months. The Government must have known of that position. If it did not, it was guilty of neglect. If it did know of the position it failed to meet its responsibility because it did not take action earlier. Action of some kind had to be taken but it could have been taken much more gradually. Had more selective restrictions been placed upon imports they would not have affected the economy of the country to the same extent as this drastic action has done. The Government says that it does not know how long the restrictions will last. Australian manufacturers have the jitters because they do not know how soon the Government may change its mind. Business people want some assurance of security. The Government has failed the country in its time of need. I know that the situation developed suddenly, but the Government has met it clumsily. Not so long ago Ministers were telling us that one of the best ways to combat inflation was to import more goods; and more goods were imported. Then, after having encouraged imports, the Government suddenly imposed import restrictions. The same policy was followed in respect of capital issues. First, the Government removed control; now it has restored control. Its rapid changes of policy have produced an unfortunate psychological effect. This Government obtained power by deceitful and dishonest methods. It promised the people many things. It was either ignorant of the economic situation, or it deliberately promised what it knew it could not perform. I believe that some of the leaders of the present Government did know what the situation was, but they went on making promises just the same. They even promised to reduce taxation in order to combat inflation, but taxation has, in fact, been increased. There are not many people in Australia who would not gladly go back to the conditions of 1949. There are not many businessmen who would not accept the policy of the Labour Government of 1949 if the conditions that prevailed then could be restored.
The present Government abolished capital issues control, and gave private enterprise a free hand. So far as the Government was concerned the sky was the limit. Its policy was to give private enterprise complete freedom because it professed to believe that by so doing all our economic problems would be solved. People were allowed to invest their money in luxury and semi-luxury industries; then, when the industries were established, the Government re-imposed capital issues control and restricted credit. Unless something is done to restore public confidence there can be no hope for the country; yet there is no indication that the Government will give the people a lead. There is nothing in the financial statement to indicate that the Government has discovered a way out of our difficulties.
Members of the Government have talked much about the need for greater production of food. They were talking about it in 1949, and they have been talking about it ever since, but nothing has been done. If talk could solve our problems they would all have been solved long ago. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is a great orator. Not only does he “ put it over “ the people, but he is able to “ put it over “ his own followers, also. Before each sessional period begins Government supporters meet, and many of them are resolved to demand action from the Government. They go into the party meeting like lions, but they come out like lambs. As I have said, the Prime Minister is a great orator. Probably he would have made a good High Court Justice, but he is not a proper and fit person to lead a government because he is not sufficiently practical. I say that more in sorrow than in anger. It matters little to me personally, but I am concerned for the welfare of the people.
In 1949, supporters of the present Government tried to make the people believe that the Chifley Government wanted economic controls for their own sake. Of course, that was not true. “We imposed controls only because they were necessary. When the people, at the instigation of those who now constitute the Government, refused to give the Commonwealth power to control prices, the slide into inflation began. At that time, I was in. charge of the organization for the control of prices, but I never contended, nor did any other Minister, that price fixing by itself would overcome our difficulties. However, during a time of racketeering and profiteering, the knowledge that the Government was doing its best to keep prices at a reasonable level would have greatly encouraged the public. We shall remain in the doldrums unless there is more intensive effort. In a country like this it should be possible to maintain and even improve our standard of living, but we must work for it. There is no substitute for work, and the people must be encouraged in order to give of their best. It is necessary that all sections of the people shall co-operate with the Government and the Government must give a lead. This Government has failed to do so. On the contrary, its policy has tended to foster unrest and discontent among those upon whose efforts we depend for greater production. I have never believed that we can dispense with imports. I know that we can be paid for our exports only if we accept imports. Nevertheless, if we are to grow up as a nation we must develop our secondary industries. In what other way are we to provide employment for an increasing population?
– In primary production.
– The honorable senator does not know much about the matter. Apparently, she does not know that, because of the mechanization of farming, more can now be produced from the land by fewer people. If we are to have a balanced economy we must develop our secondary industries. As I have said, the policy of import restrictions has been clumsily administered. In some instances raw materials necessary for developmental purposes were stopped when they were already on the wharfs overseas awaiting shipment to Australia. 1 do not blame the Minister for Trade and Customs. Indeed, I am sorry for him. He has had to bear a great responsibility, one that it is almost physically impossible for a man to discharge.
I believe that the Government, before taking action, should have taken others into its confidence. Just before the last parliamentary recess I asked in this Senate what action the Government contemplated to remedy our worsening financial position overseas. I was given no satisfaction, but immediately the’ Parliament adjourned, import restrictions were imposed.. It is a pity that the Government did not take the Opposition into its confidence. All the knowledge and understanding are not on the Government’s side. Some men on this side have bad years of administrative experience in situations similar to the present one, but they were not consulted. We are often twitted with failing to suggest alternative proposals in place of those we criticize, but in practice we are not invited to co-operate. The Opposition is always willing to co-operate in furthering the .welfare of the country, but we are not encouraged when honorable members opposite refer us to, as one of them did last night, as Marxists and Communists.
That is soap-box stuff which does not cut any ice with the people of Australia. They are getting tired of it. Indeed, many supporters of the Government also are tired of it. During the 1949 general election campaign supporters of antiLabour political parties told the people of this country that the Australian Labour party was a party of Communists in sympathy with Russia. That was a most diabolical thing. There appeared to be a conspiracy between the anti-Labour parties and the newspapers of thi3 country to discredit the Labour party. The opponents of Labour knew that the best way to do that would be to discredit the then Leader of the Australian Labour party, the late Mr. J. P>. Chifley, who was probably the greatest man ever to sit in this Parliament. Yet, even until shortly before his death, Mr. Chifley continued to give the Government good advice. Honorable senators who support the Government parties promised the people that if returned to office they would see that the conditions of the people were improved. To-night, however, the Government parties stand indicted by the people because they have failed to honour that promise. The Government has failed utterly in its attempts to deal with the problems confronting the Australian nation. Indeed, its efforts to overcome our difficulties have resulted merely in greater dislocation of business and industry. The best thing that the Government could do would be to go to the people and seek endorsement pf the policy that it has pursued during the last two years. I do not believe for a moment that the people in the lower income brackets would endorse that policy. If the leaders of the Government parties had been wise they would have told the workers that if Australia was to get out of the mire the workers would have to do their part. The Government has failed to secure unity and the co-operation of the people in the way that the former Labour Government did during the war period, with the result that the inflationary trend has made it almost impossible for young married couples to obtain homes. It is likewise impossible for young rural workers to obtain farms of their own. I agree with the contention of a Government supporter this evening that it is necessary for primary pro.duction to be increased. This country should be developed quickly. But this Government is offering no encouragement to young people to settle on the land. Although the Government parties promised to ease the burden of taxation, they have greatly increased it. It almost appears that that has been done by design, in order to increase the difficulties and obstacles confronting the people.
Hitherto, Australia’s trade relationships with other countries have been most satisfactory. Our word has always been our bond. But this Government, without a word of warning, has destroyed those relationships. During the regime of the former Labour Administration there was frequent consultation between the Australian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom in relation to trade. That practice was apparently discontinued by the present Government, which called in the doctor when the undertaker should have been called. I blame the Minister for Trade and Customs only to the extent to which he participated in framing the policy of the- Government. I am sure that if the Minister advocated the present policy of import restriction he is now very sorry that he made such a proposal. In view of the outspoken public criticism of the Government’s policy in this respect, I consider that honorable senators opposite would be wise to look to their laurels and consider taking immediate remedial action. The Government should seek the cooperation of the trade unions. Although I cannot speak officially for the unions, I do know that they were most willing to co-operate with the former Labour Government. However, they have received no encouragement from the present Government, which has repeatedly criticized the workers in the lower income groups. There should be a change of mind on the part of the Government. Of course, I realize that the professional and business people in the community have had an easy time during the past few years and have made a lot of money. Their attitude now is that they want to get thingswith the expenditure of a minimum of effort.
– Can the honorable senator make a constructive suggestion ?
– I do not believe that it would be fair for me to attempt to enunciate all that the Labour party would do if it were returned to office in the near future, but it would endeavour to gain the confidence of the people of this country and would seek their co-operation. We would be candid with the people, tell them about our problems, and advise them, how those problems could be overcome. I am sure that we would receive the same helpful co-operation as was given to Labour during the period of the war. The Government is indulging in policies that Australia cannot afford. Every Wednesday, thousands of people may be seen proceeding to a race-course near Brisbane. At least a thousand motor cars are parked in the adjoining streets on. these mid-week race days. Race-horses, are getting the feed that dairy cattle should receive, because the dairy-farmers are unable to compete with race-horse owners who pay high prices for oats. A young country like Australia cannot hope to progress while such practices persist. The first thing that the Government should do is to stop fiddling while Rome burns.
– We have no control over Rome.
– df the situation was not so serious, the honorable senator’s interjection would be amusing. It is tragic that many young people in this country are starting out on life deprived of the possibility of marriage and with little prospect of being able to enjoy a normal living, due to the chaotic economic conditions now existing. If the Minister for Trade and Customs shares Senator Robertson’s request for information about what Labour would do if elected to office, I assure him that if he makes representations to us we will endeavour to help him out of the present difficult situation. Had he consulted me before introducing the present terrible import restrictions I should have given him some good advice. I believe that the present policy of the Government in thisrespect must fail, because Australia will receive no benefit from the restrictions, which will, succeed only in injuring the good .trade relationships that Australia has enjoyed for a lengthy period with other countries. If there is anything worse than a coalition government, it is a three-party government.
– Is the honorable senator advocating the formation of a threeparty government?
– From the outset, the present Government has experienced difficulty in making up its mind, although it has constantly changed its policy. One Government party has wanted to go one way, whilst the other partner has wanted to go in the opposite direction. How can co-ordination and collective action be achieved in those circumstances? If the Government parties are sincere, they will go to the people. Should they do so I am confident that the people will elect to office a government similar to that which governed this country during the darkest days of the war. Under such a government, Australia would soon overcome the difficulties with which it is now confronted.
Debate (on motion by Senator McCallum) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Country Women’s Association - Visit by Mrs. Anderson - Civil Aviation.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to register an emphatic protest against the deliberate insult that was offered by Senator Grant during question time this morning to a most distinguished woman visitor to Australia. I refer to Mrs. Anderson, of Scotland, who is here as a guest of the Country Women’s Association. I regret that the. honorable senator is not present now, and that so few members of the Opposition are in their places. At the time, I suggested that Senator Grant was very ignorant. I trust that he spoke only on his own account, not on behalf of the Labour Opposition in this chamber, when he mentioned such words as “ investigation “ in connexion with an organization such as the Country Women’s Association. The Associated Country Women of the World, of which Mrs. Anderson is an honoured member, links together 107 country women’s organizations in 23 countries. It has a membership of more than 6,000,000 women. Its aims are -
To promote international goodwill, friendship and understanding between the country women of the world;
To raise the standard of rural women all over the world; and
To further international relatione and be a voice for the country women in international affairs.
It i3 deplorable that a member of this Senate should not know that members of that organization have consultative status on United Nations specialized agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization and Unesco. Each State country women’s association is a constituent member of the Associated Country Women of the World. I should also like to inform Senator Grant, who made very sinister suggestions about the financing of the organization that women delegates who have attended its triennial conferences in various parts of the world have paid their own expenses and have not depended upon the assistance of any government.
Let us come nearer home and see how little Senator Grant knows about his own State. Only five weeks ago, on the 21st April, in Sydney, the capital city of the State which Senator Grant represents, His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir John Northcott, opened the thirtieth annual conference of the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales. Is it any wonder that the people of New South Wales have realized how little Senator Grant knows about what goes on in his own State? The assets of that magnificent women’s association increased in value by £59,000 last year and now total more than £426,000. It is a pity that Senator Grant did not know some of these facts. In every State of the Commonwealth these magnificent bands of women have pledged themselves to honour God, to be loyal to the Throne and to give service to the country. They believe that women working together for the good of women generally, are, at the same time, making a much-needed contribution to the nation, and, indeed to the whole world. These are the women about whom Senator Grant asked a facetious question which was smirked at by many honorable senators opposite.
I very often see Senator Grant reading something from a piece of paper which he holds in his hand. I suggest that he should read the May, 1952, issue of The Countrywoman, which is published in New South Wales and which contains the following quotation from Wordsworth : -
Minds that have nothing to confer find little to perceive.
That quotation, I think, admirably fits the honorable senator.
– To-day, I addressed a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Anthony) concerning the cancellation of the very important air service between Melbourne and Adelaide which leaves Melbourne at midnight. The service constitutes a very important link of communication between the eastern States and South Australia as it conveys air-mail posted in the eastern States in the afternoon and enables it to be delivered in Adelaide on the following morning. There is serious disquiet, particularly among the members of the commercial community of South Australia, because of the cancellation of this service. In reply the Minister was good enough to say that he would look into the matter. He did so with his usual promptness and he has since been good enough to give me a copy of a statement he has received from the Minister for Civil Aviation. Having regard to certain facts which I shall present to the Senate I regard that statement as completely unsatisfactory. The statement is as follows: -
Cuts in aviation fuel are world-wide and the same percentage cut is being applied in the United States itself, which is our source of supply. Country airline services have been far more drastically reduced than have trunk-line services between capital cities, and there is no prospect of increased capital city services at their expense. The airlines themselves have rearranged their schedules in accordance with overall traffic and community requirements throughout Australia. I. very much regret the inconvenience caused, but it is inescapable in existing circumstances regarding the supply of aviation fuel.
I have examined the schedule of air services to and from this capital city and have ascertained that none of the services by Trans-Australia Airlines to Melbourne from Canberra has been cancelled, and that none of the services provided by that instrumentality from Canberra to Sydney - incidentally there are five daily - has been cancelled. No services provided by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited from Canberra to Sydney, have been cut. Indeed, the company to-day added an additional service to its scheduled flights between Canberra and Sydney. The provision of an additional service between Canberra and Sydney in present circumstances should be investigated. I ask the Minister to do what he can to restore the service between Melbourne and Adelaide to which I have referred.
– I was keenly interested in the question asked by Senator Laugh t this morning and in a moment of inquisitiveness I took the trouble to ascertain whether any other air services of equal importance had been discontinued. I found that no comparable service had been cut and that the statements made by the honorable senator in his question this morning were perfectly true. I sin- ‘ cerely trust that the Minister will cause investigations to be made into the discontinuance of this important service.
– I assure Senator Laught and Senator Critchley that I shall again take up the matter with the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Anthony).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Ordinances - 1952 -
No. 17 - Crown Lands.
No. 18 - Cemeteries.
Regulations - 1952 -
Nos. 2 and 3 (Health Ordinance).
Postmaster-General’s Department - Fortyfirst Annual Report, for -year 1950-51.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act andSeat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances - 1952 -
No. 2 - Maintenance Orders.
No. 3 -Bank Holidays.
No.4 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No.5 - Education.
No. 5 (Education Ordinance).
No.6 (Maintenance Orders (Facilities forEnf orcement ) Ordinance).
No. 7 (Rural Workers Accommodation Ordinance).
No.8 (Building and Services Ordinance) .
No. 9 (Liquor).
Senate adjourned at 10:9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 May 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1952/19520522_senate_20_217/>.