21st Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon.
A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Hide and Leather Industries Legislation Repeal Bill 1955.
Social Services Bill 1955.
Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill 1955.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. In the removal of the ban on the export of merino rams from Australia, has the Government given consideration to the effect that the lifting of the embargo will have on the Australian economy - which owes any degree of stability that it may possess almost entirely to the wool industry? Is it correct, as was stated by the Minister for Shipping and Transport, when he was acting as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, that Great Britain and South Africa have given an assurance that the rams will be used for only scientific research ? Is the “ scientific research “ for the purpose of carrying out artificial insemination? If this is so, is it not obvious that within a short period Australia will have to meet a serious challenge to its supremacy in the production of fine wool, particularly from South Africa, where labour costs are cheaper and freight charges are lower to the United Kingdom market, which is one of our best customers for merino wool? How many rams have been exported from Australia since the Labour Government left office in 1949? Who were the exporters? To whom were the rams exported, and from what stud were they obtained for the purpose of export?
– Several interesting points are raised in the honorable senator’s question which I shall be pleased to answer when I obtain the precise details from the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture. Speaking generally, I assure the honorable senator that every precaution has been, and will be taken, in connexion with the export of merino rams in special circumstances to the countries mentioned by the honorable senator for scientific purposes. I shall be pleased to give a detailed reply as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen the statement made by the Minister for National Development to the effect that the backlag of galvanized iron at the port of Newcastle for Tasmania, amounting to more than 1,000 tons, has been caused through lack of shipping? Is the Minister aware that the ships Mulubinba and Merino, which trade regularly from Sydney-Newcastle to Launceston, last week arrived in Tasmania only half -loaded? Is he aware that both these ships can carry more than 200 tons of galvanized iron to Tasmania each trip, if the cargo is offering? Is it a fact that ships of only one line are moving this particular cargo to Tasmania? If this is so, will the Minister approach the representative of that shipping line to seek additional services to take this urgently needed cargo to Tasmania? Failing this, will he see that all ships regularly trading to Tasmania from Sydney and Newcastle are given the opportunity to clear this accumulation of Tasmania’s quota so as to enable distributors in the State to fulfil the outstanding needs of builders and primary producers ?
– I know that there has been a shortage of galvanized iron, but I was not aware that Tasmania was not getting its quota, because of lack of shipping. I assure the honorable senator that I shall immediately look into the points raised by him, and give him a considered reply as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport read of the action proposed to be taken by the Government of India in order to keep freight rates to that country within reasonable limits? Will the Government take similar strong action to protect Australian shippers from the same exploitation by British ship-owners?
– I did see a general report along the lines indicated by the honorable senator. I am not in a position, offhand, to reply to the second part of the honorable senator’s question, but I shall have the matter examined, and give him a considered reply at the first opportunity.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer noticed the reported statement by the Premier of Western Australia that that Premier proposes to use money from the petrol tax refund in order to build a major bridge over the Swan River, in the metropolitan area of Perth? Does he think that that decision indicates that the Premier of “Western Australia does not consider that rural roads in that State need the expansion and repairs which hitherto we have been told were necessary ? If that is so, will this circumstance be taken into account by the Commonwealth Government in any future discussion aimed at a more equitable distribution of petrol tax refunds among the various States?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator has referred, but I should not think that there is any lack of scope for the expenditure of money on roads in the rural areas of Western Australia. If the circumstances mentioned by the honorable senator are con-ect, I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Treasurer.
– It has come to my notice that, after the Entitlements Tribunals have examined applications for pensions, long delays usually occur before applicants are paid the pension. In one case that I have in mind, it was a race between the undertaker and the applicant’s days to live, because he waited for eleven months after his pension was granted before he finally received a pen sion at the 100 per cent. rate. Can the Minister indicate to the Senate whether something can be done to reduce the time that elapses between the granting of a pension by the Entitlements- Tribunal and the final decision of the Assessment Tribunal? At present, the period is unnecessarily long, and the delay causes hardship to applicants, as well as embarrassment to the Minister.
– I assure the honorable senator that a delay of eleven months is not usual in such cases. If the honorable senator will give me particulars of the case he has in mind, I shall look into it. When an applicant establishes a clear case for entitlement, no time should be lost before payment is made to him. He should get the money promptly.
– He received eleven months’ back pension.
– There are really two questions. First there is the question of the time which elapsed between his putting in the application and his appearing before the tribunal. That might be a considerable period, but after the tribunal has given its decision, there should be no waiting time at all. However, I will look into the case which the honorable senator has mentioned.
– I address my question to the Minister representing th, Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. In the light of the increasing intensity of the transport and dock strikes in the United Kingdom, has the Minister now anything to report on the matter of the diversion to continental and other ports of cargoes of Australian primary products of a perishable nature consigned to United Kingdom ports? The Minister will recall that I originally raised this question in the Senate about ten days ago, and he then promised to watch the position closely.
– I checked up to find what had happened during the last, strike, and I discovered that 16,000 tons of beef was diverted to the Continent, a quantity of eggs, and a fairly large quantity of dried fruit. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that at that stage the meat was consigned to the British Ministry of Food. It wa3 government-to-government trading, but now the position has changed, and the transactions are conducted between traders. What happens to the product when it arrives at its destination depends very largely on the man in the United Kingdom who has purchased the goods and paid for them. But I have no doubt that if the strike is prolonged, and any considerable quantity of Australian goods are on the water, the purchasers overseas will take every opportunity to nee that the cargo is sold in other ports.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. President. Last Thursday I asked a question about a gentleman whom I referred to as “ that notorious Pole and about that gentleman’s wife. I asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether he thought that the publication of certain articles in the daily press was ill-advised, as the Royal Commission on Espionage had not made its report. The Minister did not even pay me the courtesy of getting up and speaking, but you, Mr. President, told me that he refused to answer the question. I listened later to the broadcast of the questions by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I heard the announcer say, “ One question was disallowed, and therefore will not be broadcast “. Are you, Mr. President, responsible for such dictation to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, or how did it come about ?
– I will make a statement on that matter later.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he will make a statement to the Senate, setting out the actual total wages and emoluments paid to the individual members of the crew of any D class vessel of the Commonwealth Shipping
Line for the eleven months ending the 31st May, 1955, giving in his statement either the rank or trade, but not the name, of any individual mentioned, and the names of the ships?
– I shall be pleased to have that matter examined, and to see whether the information is obtainable. If so, I will get it for the honorable senator.
– On the 1st June, Senator Aylett asked the following question : -
Can the Minister representing the Minister for Hen 1th say whether there is any limit to the time in which a registered and approved hospital benefits society can hold refunds payable to applicants after certificates and receipts have been received by the society? If there is no limit, will the Minister consider bringing in regulations to put n time limit on the period for which applications can be held before money justly due to applicants is repaid. I know what I am talking about, because I speak from my own experience as a victim of delays.
The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply : -
Registered hospital benefits organizations deal with their members’ claims for benefits as quickly as possible. As the scheme has progressed delays in payments to contributors have been overcome. It mud be appreciated that the mechanics of assessing hospital benefits claims are sometimes complicated and occasional delays in payment are bound to occur. The Government is prepared to consider the introduction of regulations stipulating a time limit within which claims shall be paid by registered hospital benefits organizations, if undue delays occur.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will recollect that some time ago I submitted a question to him relating to the possibility of the Commonwealth railways providing a railway coach in the nature of a travelling chapel for the conduct of church services by various denominations in the various towns along the Trans-Australian railway. The Minister kindly said that he would look into the matter and see whether one could be provided. I now ask the Minister whether anything further has been done in relation to the matter ?
– I understand from the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner that the carriage that he had in mind as most suitable for the purpose to which the honorable senator has referred is not available and, because of the great demand for carriages, will not be available for some time. However, until the Commissioner gets the carriage that he has in mind as suitable for the particular purpose in view he has offered to the gentlemen concerned the use of a second-hand carriage, which is used by the Western Australian Government in connexion with infant welfare, intimating that when that carriage is not occupied by the Western Australian Government he would be pleased to make it available to the various denominations.
– On the 24th May, 1955, Senator Byrne asked the following question : -
I ask the Minister representing tha Minister for Immigration whether his attention has been directed to a recent statement in the press reporting that employees of a major overseas airline maintained that immigrants coming by charter flights at the rate of GO or 70 each week were sub-standard educationally and hygienically and were “ the drags of humanity”? Particular reference was made to one recent flight on which the aeroplane on arrival was said to be “ indescribably filthy “. This flight had been sponsored by the InterGovernmental Committee on European Migration. The article further stated that the Minister for Immigration proposed to have inquiries made into these statements. In view of the fact that Australia is a member of the Inter-Governmental Committee on European Migration, and more particularly as the maintenance of tha standard of immigrants is of immense importance to Australia, will the Minister arrange for the Minister for Immigration to present a statement to the Senate following the conclusion of his inquiries?
I promised to have inquiries made as to the points raised by the honorable senator and to report to the Senate as soon as possible. I now wish to state that the Minister for Immigration has assured me that the reports mentioned by the honorable senator gave a misleading and unfair impression of the immigrants who are coming to this country from southern
Europe, and in particular from Greece The European immigrants who travel in the air-charter flights or by sea are good types physically, mentally and morally. Those who arrived last week were of the same gallant breed of Greeks who befriended and helped our troops during World War II. They came largely from rural areas, where the standards of hygiene are not as high as those to which Australians are accustomed; but, given the same advantages as Australians enjoy, they and their fellows possess all the qualities which go to make firstclasssettlers. The immigrants from southern Europe who travel by 3ea are given instruction on the voyage in Australian living conditions, customs, and hygiene standards. Opportunities for doing thu on the short air trips are obviously limited; but welfare officers of the Department of Immigration who instruct thi newcomers in these things at the immigration reception centres find that they quickly conform to the Australian standards.
In regard to the flight specifically referred to, the Minister for Immigration states that the aircraft, one of » number chartered by the InterGovernmental Committee for European Migration for the purpose of bringing immigrants to Australia, carried 73 passengers. This, admittedly, was in excess of the number usually carried on a commercial flight from Europe; but it included eight children under two years of age and seventeen between the ages of two and twelve. Unfortunately, instead of there being two stewards on duty for the entire trip, only one was available on the flight from Singapore to Australia, the second steward having left the aircraft ill on arrival at Singapore. Id ordinary circumstances one steward would find it difficult to attend to so many passengers; but when rough weather was encountered on the SingaporeDarwin section, and many of them became airsick, he was unable to cope with the additional work. It is not surprising, therefore, that the aircraft’* facilities were heavily taxed on that day. Nevertheless, the department’s boarding officer who met the aeroplane was able to report that the passengers were clean and orderly. All these immigrants are interviewed and examined by our own Australian selection officers overseas. The Government would certainly regret if an impression was gained, merely as the result of a newspaper report, that Australia was lowering its immigration standard, and that these entirely admirable people were likely to be other than the asset which it believes they will be to this country.
– On the 10th May last, Senator Wright asked me a question concerning representations that had been made to him by the Tasmanian Farmers Federation for consideration of a proposal to establish the Commonwealth shipping line as a separate trading entity, on lines similar to those on which the Trans-Australia Airlines Commission has been established. This matter has been under close examination from time to time. However, as the Australian Shipping Board receives direct from the shippers the forward requirements for wheat, timber, potatoes, paper, cement, and steel, which comprise the majority of the cargoes, it is enabled to participate fully in the allocation of vessels and is not dependent upon its competitors for this essential basic information. The agencies already established are quite capable of handling, on a commission basis, any cargo offering for Commonwealth ships. Therefore, it is not proposed, at this stage, to alter tho existing practice. The suggestion that agents adopt sharp practices and treat Commonwealth ships unfairly, so far has been traced only to rumours emanating from a few disgruntled members of the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian Seamen’s Union. To the knowledge of the Australian Shipping Board, no single allegation has ever been substantiated. If any evidence can be placed before the Australian Shipping Board that agents are not acting fairly, it will be investigated promptly.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that the Shaw Savill line is threatening to withdraw four ships from the Australian service? Does he consider that such action would embarrass Australia, in view of the fact that overseas shipping facilities are already inadequate? Does the Minister know that it is alleged that the slow turn-round of ships in Australian ports is the reason for the proposed withdrawal of the ships ? In view of the fact that the Government and the Associated Chambers of Commerce claim that the turn-round of ships has improved considerably, and that the position in that respect is now comparable with that of any other country, will the Minister say what the Government intends to do to make up for the inadequate shipping services, should the threat of this company be given effect?
– From reports that I have received, it seems that the turnround of ships recently has worsened rather than improved. I understand that there are sufficient ships available to handle the overseas trade. The import restrictions which were imposed recently have lessened the amount of cargo coming to Australia, and, of course, the honorable senator will appreciate that the volume of our exports also has fallen off.
– It is a bleak outlook.
– I shall check again with the various port authorities to make sure that sufficient shins are available. What the owners do with those ships, and where they send them, are matters purely for them to decide. At the beginning of the export season, the conference lines enter into contracts with the various export boards, and from my previous experience in checking on this matter, I have found that sufficient ships are always provided to cater for the quantity of goods to he exported. The only thing that upsets that arrangement is a, hold-up, of which, unfortunately, we have too many at Australian ports. I think I can say quite safely that there is an adequate number of shins available for the cargoes coming to Australia, and that the number of ships to lift cargoes for other parts of the world also is adequate. I repeat that decisions concerning the number of ships that the owners send here, and what they do with their ships, are matters for the owners and not for us.
On the 11th May last, Senator Henty asked me a question concerning a replacement vessel for Taroona on the Tasmanian service. I now inform the honorable senator that the chairman of the Australian Shipping Board has advised me that Taroona was taken off the Tasmanian run as from Saturday, the 4th June, and that Moonta, which took over from Taroona, left Melbourne for Devonport on the 6th June with 17S tons of cargo, sixteen cars, and mail, as well as 74 passengers. Moonta has accommodation for 126 passengers. It will arrive at Devonport at approximately 1 p.m. to-day and will leave on the return voyage at about 6 o’clock this evening.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware of the allegations in Tasmania that even in spite of his efforts to ensure the shipment of adequate supplies of galvanized iron to Tasmania, that State is not receiving its quota, and that the Commonwealth ship Denman passes Newcastle and Port Kembla en route from Brisbane to Hobart and is not fully loaded? Will the Minister inquire into the practicability of Denman calling at Newcastle and/or Port Kembla to load galvanized iron for Tasmanian ports?
- Senator Guy raised this matter in the Senate a short time ago and I then gave him certain information. Since then a good deal of the backlog of supplies to Tasmania has been overtaken. I believe that at present all steel supplies for Tasmania at Newcastle and Port Kembla have been cleared, or ships have been allocated for their clearing, with the exception of one parcel of goods at Port Kembla. Apparently, the honorable senator has in mind a further improvement in the Tasmanian shipping service to clear steel supplies. That is more properly a question for Senator McLeay, but I shall refer the matter to him and ascertain whether it is practicable to carry out Senator Marriott’s suggestion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I ask him whether the gentleman with the unpronounceable name is still a member of the security service? Does the Minister consider that such a person who claims to be mainly responsible for bringing Petrov to light should still be a member of the security service? If the man still occupies such a position, will the Minister take steps to have him dismissed, and even if he has been dismissed will the Minister take, the matter up with the Cabinet in order to prevent a man with the reputation he has - according to his wife - from broadcasting the secrets of the security service of this country, bringing it into disrepute and contempt, and making it ridiculous in the eyes of the world ?
– I do not propose to assist the honorable senator by abusing the procedures of the Senate in the way that he abuses them.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by directing attention to the cumbersome, heavy and inconvenient telephone directory that is now in use. The present directory consists of 1,139 pages, of which 663 pages are devoted to telephone information and to the names of ordinary subscribers, and 476 pages are devoted to the names of classified advertisers. Will the PostmasterGeneral give consideration to separating subscribers in the classified section from ordinary subscribers and publishing two telephone directories, one for ordinary and general subscribers, and the other containing the names of classified business and professional subscribers ? Is it a fact that some of the classified advertisers pay considerable sums for the insertion of information in the directory? What revenue is received by the business concern which publishes the telephone directory, and what financial benefit through its operations does the Postal Department obtain?
– -The matter raised in the honorable senator’s question is entirely a matter for the PostmasterGeneral. I should say myself that one telephone directory would be more convenient than two, but I shall bring the matter to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and ask him to let the honorable senator have a considered reply to his question.
– What about the other part of the question? I gave notice, and I am prepared to wait, as usual, for an answer.
– Senator Ashley will get a reply to the whole of his question.
– I want to know what amount of revenue is involved.
– The honorable senator will get all that.
– In view of the fact that the merino wool industry has been the best and most profitable factor in our export trade, and as the policy of past governments in restricting the export of merino sheep from Australia has borne fruit, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate whether it is a fact that, in addition to the export last year of top stud merino rams to the United States of America, a further consignment is to be sent to South Africa in the near future? If so, what is the reason for the Government’s change of policy in this matter ?
– The honorable senator’s question is similar to one asked by Senator Ashley. When I send a reply to Senator Ashley, I shall also send a copy to Senator O’Byrne.
– In view of repeated requests by honorable senators on the Opposition side and members of exservicemen’s organizations for a lower rate of interest on war service homes, has the Minister for Repatriation referred that matter to Cabinet? If so, has he achieved any results for ex-servicemen?
– The matter to which the honorable senator has referred comes under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Social Services. I shall refer the matter to him and obtain a considered reply.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport received any information in reply to a question I asked some time ago regarding the exploitation of passengers who engage motor transport after travelling by aircraft to Mascot aerodrome? There is a monopoly hire car service that exploits passengers who travel from the aerodrome to the city.
– Up to date, I have not received a reply to the honorable senator’s question, nor have I been able to catch the driver who did an injustice to the honorable senator.
– What a stupid answer !
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company ha3 recently distributed £14,000,000 of excess profits to its shareholders, and that that company is one of the principal organizations represented in the current claim for increased freight rates on goods carried between Australia and the United Kingdom?
– Yes, I have seen a press report but, like Senator O’Byrne, I have not had an opportunity to study the balance-sheet of the shipping company in detail.
– The Minister could not study anything.
– I get a lot of pleasure from studying Senator Ashley. Senator O’Byrne can rest assured that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, in conjunction with departmental officers who are responsible for the matter to which he has referred, is making a full examination of the points raised by the honorable senator. We shall do all in our power to keep freight rates as low as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply : - 1, 2 and 3. No such statistics on these matters are kept, and it is not considered practicable to compile them.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that a previous question asked by another senator concerning the erection of the new Commonwealth Bank at Hobart has not been fully answered by the statutory authority concerned, will the Treasurer supply details of the cost of (a) the land, (6) the building, and (c) the furniture and fittings, of that bank?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply: -
The honorable senator’s question raises an important issue of principle in relation to the extent to which the Commonwealth Trading Bank should be obliged to disclose information about the management of its banking business. It must be remembered that thu Commonwealth Trading Bank is an ordinary trading bank operating in direct competition with the private trading banks on the basis of equal treatment and opportunity. That being so. and in view of the confidential nature of banking business, the legislation under which the Commonwealth Trading Bank was established contains provisions designed to ensure that the bank, while in the final analysis being subject to direction by the Government in regard to the general banking policy it follows, is free to manage its ordinary banking operations without interference by either the Parliament, the Government or the
Treasurer. Against this background, I believe it would be inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of the legislation if 1 were to direct the Commonwealth Trading Bank to supply information of the nature referred to in the honorable senator’s question.
– On the 31st May, Senator Vincent asked the following question without notice: -
I notice that the lovely portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, recently completed by the artist, William Dargie, has been removed from the King’s Hall, and is being exhibited in Melbourne. Would the Minister for Trade and Customs give consideration to exhibiting the portrait, not only in Melbourne, but in all the capital cities of Australia, and the larger provincial towns, so that the general public may see it?
As I promised the honorable senator, I have, brought the suggestion to the notice of the Prime Minister who has informed me that approval has already ber-n given for this to be done.
– I lay on the table the following report : -
The twenty-first report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Australian Aluminium Production Commission, Part I., presented to the Senate on 2nd June, 1955. and move -
That the paper be printed.
This motion is moved under Standing Order 36, which is governed by Standing Order 316. The latter standing order precludes a debate on the motion. A ruling was given by one of the earlier Presidents to that effect. However, I understand that that simply precludes a debate on the substance of the motion. In this case that would be the substance of the report. That ruling would not preclude a debate upon the actual printing of the report; and on that interpretation of the Standing Orders and the ruling given by Mr. President Gould, I wish to explain why this motion is being moved.
Normally, when a report comes from the Public Accounts Committee the motion that it be printed is moved in another place, but in the Senate the report is merely tabled. In the case of this report, however, when the motion for printing was presented in another place the debate was adjourned. In effect, the motion was not carried. A mechanical problem therefore arises, because no authority has been given to the committee to print the report as a parliamentary paper. In order to satisfy a very substantial mailing list of persons who wish to receive copies of the report, the alternative would be to meet the expense of printing a limited number, or even all reports desired to be circulated, from the rather limited funds of the committee. That is why opportunity is being taken to move this motion. The committee wishes to make it clear thatit has no wish to preclude a debate on the matter contained in the report, but, apparently under the Standing Orders, debate on the subject of the report would not be allowed on a motion of this kind. I give this public assurance, on behalf of the committee, that if any honorable senator intimates at any time that he wishes to debate the report, the committee will immediately present a motion to the Senate for the adoption of the report to enable such debate to proceed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I lay on the table the following report: -
The twentieth report of the Public Accounts Committee on Supplementary Estimates and variations under section 37 of the Audit Act 1901-1954 and the Commonwealth Consolidated Fund and Revenue Fund for the year 1953-54, presented to the Senate on the 24th May, 1955. and move -
That the paper be printed.
The observations I have made on the previous motion apply to this motion, with one slight exception. Again, this report is merely brought up in this chamber, because a motion for the printing of the report has been presented in another place. However, I understand that no debate on the motion took place in that chamber, and ultimately it was discharged from the business paper. The Public Accounts Committee, therefore, lacks the authority of the Parliament to proceed with the printing of this report, and, for that reason, a motion for the printing of the report is submitted in the Senate. I give the same assurance as I gave in relation to another motion, that if it is desired to debate the subject in this chamber, a motion emanating from a member of the committee will be submitted to enable that to be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board in respect of the following subjects: -
Tariff classifications of Singer sewing machine 20.
Vickers tractor control unite.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short bill for the purpose of effecting four amendments to the Superannuation Act 1922-1954. The first relates to the provision made by authorities of the Commonwealth for the superannuation of their employees. At the present time, these authorities are not required to make any provision for superannuation until pensions actually become payable, when they are required to pay the employer’s share of the pension to the Commonwealth. The AuditorGeneral, in his last annual report, has drawn attention to the need for authorities to provide each year for their accrued pension liability to their employees. The amendment to the act will empower the Treasurer to make arrangements with authorities for their payment to the Commonwealth of the liability accruing year by year for the pensions of their employees.
The second amendment relates to the qualification for units of pension of contributors to the Superannuation Fund. Heretofore, employees’ contributions have been for the number of units of pension appropriate to the annual salary which they receive. The classifications of the Public Service provide -for annual increments from the minimum to the maximum salary of a position. Consequently, there <are adjustments to ‘superannuation contributions .as an “employee -moves through bis salary <range. It is proposed to discontinue these adjustments in contributions ; employees will then contribute for the units <of pension .appropriate to “the maximum salary df .their positions, ti.-] though the contributions by employees will (thereby be increased, the rate for each unit ‘off pension is related to age, and no greater amount in ‘total -will be paid as a result of this alteration. There ‘will :be (n’o increase of pensions resulting from *“HMs alteration in administrative methods except, -in some instances, such as an employee dying, or retiring, because of ill health, prior to his reaching the maxi.mum salary accorded to ‘his position. Any additional cost that might occur in these limited cases will be offset by the reduced (costs of administration resulting from the elimination of many adjustments. For positions occupied by juniors, the qualification for contributions will be the “maximum salary payable to an employee at age twenty.
The other two amendments of the act Are of a drafting nature, details of which I propose to explain in committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
“STEW BUSINESS AFTER 10.30 P.M.
– I move -
That Standing Order fi8 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 10th June next, to enable new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m.
This is a traditional motion at this stage of a sessional period, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), following tradition, will * ‘Oppose it. The motion speaks for itself.
– On behalf ‘of the Opposition, 1 protest against the introduction of this motion. The date mentioned by the Minister, namely, Friday the 10th June, gives the clearest indication that, no matter what happens, the ‘Government intends that the Senate shall rise during this week. I record the fact that before the Senate, at the moment, are no fewer than eight matters, one of which relates to the remuneration to be .paid to judges. Another is the Superannuation Bill, which has reached the -second-reading stage. There are also six Supply bills, -and even though some of them may -be of a relatively routine character, they do propose the expenditure of ‘£228,000j06o. Three of those bills may be debated at the first-reading stage, and the others ‘on the motion for their second reading. They ought not to be disposed tff .summarily. Indeed, many senators may ‘desire to open up a number of matters on ‘the first reading of some of those bills. There remains oh the Senate notice-paper -a matter relating to >the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which all honorable senators will agree is of major importance. I suggest that the .present notice-paper of ,the Senate contains sufficient business -to take us at least a .normal week, if we are to do justice to .it. However, in addition to those .matters, I find on examination that seven, measures. are. expected to reach this chamber .from another place. .1 shall not do more at this stage than make a brief reference to them. Two of those. measures relate to the export of meat, and a further two bills relate to matrimonial causes, which honorable senators will agree is an important subject. Another provides for parliamentary retiring allowances. There is also an important bill relating to States grants to universities. In all, there are about fifteen measures of importance still to be dealt with. If the Son ate is to conclude its sitting during this week - and that it is implicit in the motion - the outlook is that we shall have a repetition of the process cif legislation by exhaustion. We do not think that it is good for honorable senators on either si’.e of the chamber, irrespective of their age. ‘Nor do we think that .it is good for -the Senate to conduct its business in a rush. Unfortunately, the Minister is correct when he says that this kind of thing occurs always at the end of a session, and on behalf of the Opposition I record a very strong protest against the practice of introducingnew business after 10,30 p.m., the purpose then being to rush it to a conclusion.
– Has not the honorable senator ever done the same thing?
– If I have ever done it, that does not provide justification for the practice. Perhaps I would not deny the soft impeachment that, if I have not done it myself, I have on occasion been privy to it.
– I think that the honorable senator has set a very good precedent.
– I suggest that one sin does not justify another. I record my protest on behalf of the Opposition against what is very plainly contemplated - that is, the working of this Senate into the small hours of the morning week, I will give the matter every Saturday morning.
. - in reply - My prognostication on the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was quite correct. But, without wishing to frighten him, I assure him that if there is any evidence of a genuine interest by the Opposition in continuing the debate into the following week, I will give the matter every consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 2nd June (vide page 658), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the billbe now read a first time.
. -Before the adjournment of the debate on this bill I had raised what I consider to be the most critical matter with which the Commonwealth is concerned to-day. I refer to civil defence. Unfortunately, civil defence has become the subject of an inter-party squabble, and I regret very much that this highly important matter has not been recognized as a subject to which members on both sides of both Houses can give their most earnest attention.
During the course of my remarks before the adjournment I pointed out that units of the American Air Force had made a trial flight from Japan to Williamtown, which is not far from Sydney. That flight was made non-stop, over a distance of 5,000 miles. That should have brought home forcibly to all of us the possibility of such a flight being made by hostile forces. I had also pointed out the possibility of hydrogen bombs being dropped on the various capital cities of Australia. I mentioned Brisbane as the closest target, but Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart are all potential targets, within range of an aircraft flying nonstop from Asia. I pointed out also that in the event of such an attack, areas up to 200 miles from the capital city, on the down-wind side, could be affected by radiation and contamination. I also mentioned that within a circle of 10 miles diameter, with the point of detonation as the centre of the circle, all persons could be killed. There is a report in to-day’s newspaper regarding certain civil defence measures in the United States of America. This report lends further credence to my argument, and it also tends to show in vivid contrast our lack of civil defence precautions in this country. We have heard statements by our Prime Minister and various members of the present Cabinet regarding the reasons for the expenditure of £200,000,000 a year on defence. In those statements we have heard estimates of the time that may elapse before war actually commences. On some occasions, the limit has been set at two years. It was forecast at one time that war would commence in 1953, and at another time that it would commence in 1954. But, considering the amount of money being regularly expended on the defence of this country, there must be a great fear that a war will come.
I know the great need for civil defence. As I said previously, I have had personal experience of the heavy bombardment of cities. I mentioned the cities of London, Liverpool and Hull, which were very heavily bombed during World War II. I daw the horror and chaos that could result from bombing raids, even when the victims of those raids had been educated in civil defence, and had been told how to act in a bombing raid. I am very alarmed at the possibility of attacks being made on this country. The visit of those American aircraft impressed upon me the possibility of a similar flight being made by hostile aircraft ; yet the people of this country know absolutely nothing of what they should do in the event of a hydrogen bomb attack on the capital cities. In the Sydney Daily Mirror there is an item emanating from Washington, United States of America, which reads as follows : -
The Weather Bureau is now putting out information twice a day on which way to run if H-bombs start falling.
Assistant Chief of the Weather Bureau (Mr. Delbert M. Little) said this information - ‘ upper air fallout observations “ - had been i regular part of the bureau’s teletype report since May IS.
With the data thus supplied, civil defence officials in potential target areas can quickly compute the radio-active fallout patterns that would result from nuclear attack almost anywhere in the United States.
Thus armed, they can determine what areas must be evacuated if an air attack warning comes and in what directions populations must be moved to escape fallout.
The daily dissemination of this information among the people of the United States is in itself a process of education of those people. Please God, there will never be a hydrogen bomb dropped on any city of the United States or of the Commonwealth. Please God, a war will never start, in which hydrogen bombs fall. But such a war is always possible in these troublous times. We are living on the brink of a war which could easily start through a misunderstanding, and, in my opinion, through a purposeful and deliberate part played by some people, who look on proposals for a solution of international problems as being practically subversive. I read a report in the press recently that a man in South Vietnam had been gaoled for saying that coexistence was possible in the world. I should have thought that the experience of Senator George Rankin, who appears to be about to interject, would make him aware of the growing impact if war on civilian populations. En the old days troops were able to fight their battles away from large centres of population, but it is no longer a soldiers’ war that has to be fought - it is every one’s war. Women and children are in a modern war, just the same as every one else is. It is difficult to drive home to this Government the importance of Australia doing one thing or the other, that is either preparing for civil defence or following a policy in which co-existence would be possible. There must be some compromise. Those who are left to survive, if nations do not wake up to the stupidity of a hydrogen bomb war, will still have to co-exist and will still have to compromise. However, the point that I make is that the people of the United States of America are being educated in civil defence. The range of modern bombing aircraft has been forcibly brought home to us by the recent trip of American aeroplanes from Tokyo, which lies close to the “ bamboo curtain “, to this continent. The implications of this terribly important event have obviously passed over the heads of members of this Government.
Only a short time ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) returned from a rather expensive trip overseas. The people of Australia bore that expense, but they have yet to learn of the outcome of his trip or of any arrangements he has made for Australia’s advancement overseas as a result of the expenditure of Australian money. Each month and each year the administration of this Government weakens the confidence of the people. The people are completely uninformed about what is going on, particularly in the field of international affairs, yet their future and very existence depend on international developments. When the Prime Minister came home the important announcement was made that Australia would send troops to Malaya. That announcement not only has an important bearing on the foreign policy and economy of this country, but also will affect tens of thousands of families. It will have its effect on the homes and the mothers and fathers of the members of the forces who will be sent to Malaya; but very little detail of what is proposed has been given to the Australian people. There has been merely a broad, bland announcement of the fact that nien will be sent there. There has been equally little explanation of the reaction of the people in Singapore and Malaya. The Prime Minister has mentioned privately to members of the Parliament and also, evidently, to an officer of the Parliament - and it would appear from newspaper reports - that the new administration in Singapore is not in favour of Australian troops going to Singapore itself. This news was followed by a further press announcement that the troops would go not to Malaya but to Penang. I do not know whether Australia is hawking its forces in Asia for the purpose of putting up a front, or whether this Government is really sincere about the whole matter. Last January, the President of the United States of America said that, if necessary, hydrogen bombs could be dropped on selected targets in Asia. That could mean that an area of Asia in which Australian troops were stationed, whether in Malaya or Indo-Ohina, would be exposed to atomic attack. Those troops would be within easy range of modern bombing aircraft of an enemy nation.
There is a pressing danger to this country so long as it is not made fully aware of its responsibilities relating to civil defence. The implications of modern warfare seem to have gone .right over the heads of the members of this Government, and no action is being taken here corresponding to that which is being taken in the United States to defend the civil population of that country. The replies of Ministers to any questions on this matter seem to be flavoured with arrogance and truculence founded on a feeling that honorable senators are not entitled to inquire about civil defence. Every honorable senator has as his first responsibility to the State that he represents in this chamber the task of ensuring that the people of that State shall be protected. Every member of Cabinet must know that the days of formal declaration of war are gone. “No nation can reasonably expect, as it might have done in the past, to be given twelve months or eighteen months to prepare for a future war. If a war were to be launched, the speed of its prosecution ind the devastating ferocity with which bud, sides would pursue their attacks with every means at their disposal would mean a war different from any of the past. With this situation in view the United States is taking measures to protect its civil population; but, as yet, the people of. this .country have not been taken into the confidence of the Government and there are no obvious preparations for civil defence. Every member of the Parliament should be speaking on this subject because of its tremendous importance.
During World War IT., in the little State of Tasmania, parks in the towns were dug up and there were trenches and air-raid shelters and barriers in countless places thousands of miles from the nearest enemy line. These precautions were justified to protect the people should there have been any attacks by raiders. How much more necessary are adequate precautions in the changed situation of to-day when bombing aircraft have tremendous range? Despite the advanced development of weapons of warfare, the general public have not. been instructed in the rudiments of the action that they should take in the event of a bombing raid with nuclear weapons. This is a grave reflection upon and a disgrace to the Government. Imagine the terrible situation that would present itself if the friendly aircraft of , the United States air force that flew here from Japan had been hostile aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Had the position been reversed and had those aircraft, instead of coming here on a goodwill mission to land at Williamtown or Fairbairn, been destined to drop atomic bombs on Newcastle, Sydney or Canberra, what would have been the value of Australian forces in Malaya ? In those circumstances, if Australia were suddenly caught unprepared, what would be the answer of this Government to history? Approximately £1,000,000.000 has been devoted to the various defence services during the last five years. In addition, we have made contributions to the development of South-East Asia, and we have built up the semblance of an air force. To the extent that considerations of security permit, the general public is entitled to know what has been done with the bulk of that money. The people should he assured that not only is the military defence of Australia being provided for, but also that those who would have to stay at home during a war, such as the mothers caring for children, and the workers in vital industries, are being provided for. The taxpayers are entitled to that assurance, and they are also entitled to be told the drill, as it were, that would be necessary in the event of an atomic attack. After all, the people in Australia at the time would be on the receiving end, should hydrogen bombs be dropped on this country. The average taxpayer wants to live in the atomic age, not to die in it.
It is the duty of our defence chiefs, particularly the Minister for Defence, to co-operate with the general public and to advise the people, through the medium of short articles and statements in the press, of the dangers of atomic warfare and the primary precautions to be taken in the event of an attack. Of course, the authorities are afraid to do that, because they are of the opinion that to do so might provoke a scare. I suggest that it would be very embarrassing for the Government, to say the least, if many Australians were killed in an atomic attack and those who were left asked why nothing had been done about their defence. Civil defence represents a challenge to the courage of the Minister for Defence, and to that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as well. I believe that there has been a certain lack of courage on the part of those responsible for organizing our civil defence measures. They have not appreciated the inevitable consequences of not informing the people of what might happen. We have a nebulous foreign policy, and we do not know where we stand. One day the Government speaks of the inevitability of war, and the next day it speaks of the possibility of an easing of international tensions. The Government seems to have no definite foreign policy, and if the Australian people want to know how Australia will act in certain circumstances, they must rely on advisers of the Government in other parts of the world to let them know. In the same way, we learn what other countries of the world are doing about civil defence. We have a right to ask the responsible Ministers why Australia is not making the kind of preparations that other countries are making.
The Director of Civil Defence is reported to have said that, in the light of world events, it is not considered necessary to start a civil defence school in Australia. If that statement was made before the recent historic flight of American jet aircraft from Tokyo to Williamtown, perhaps there is some excuse for it, but if it was made after that event, there is no excuse at all. That flight made it obvious that we must have a civil defence school in this country. I hope that the Director of Civil Defence will himself appreciate the importance of the flight by the American aircraft and will be persuaded not only to support the establishment of a school, but also to take note of the progress in civil defence that has been made in the United States.
I am certain that the chiefs of staff have well laid plans for defence as far as the various armed forces are concerned, but I maintain that modern warfare is not concerned only with the fighting forces. It affects directly the people behind the lines, such as industrial workers and women and children. It will take a considerable time to teach the people proper defence measures. In my opinion, there is no time like the present, and I look forward to an announcement by the Government that such plans are well in hand. Although I disagree fundamentally on political and other matters with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), I agree entirely with his views on civil defence. It is true that the honorable member loves the limelight, and it is also true that he was misguided in attempting to follow in the footsteps of Senator McCarthy. I am pleased that he was able to see, at first hand, what happened to Senator McCarthy, and that he has now allowed himself to be led away from the McCarthy line. Perhaps it is unfortunate that, in directing attention to this important matter, he should have been responsible for arousing antagonism in high places. Nevertheless, I think that the honorable member is on the right track in this connexion, and that the Government would do well to make use of the information that he gained during his trip overseas which, incidentally, he generously undertook at his own expense. Despite the honorable gentleman’s personal characteristics, I believe that he has something worth-while to contribute to the councils of the Government, and I hope that the importance of his efforts will not be lost on his colleagues in the Government ranks. I wish that the Prime Minister had brought back from abroad as clear a picture of other matters as that which the honorable member for Mackellar brought back in respect of civil defence. The honorable gentleman investigated the matter very thoroughly, and his inquiries covered a wide field. His words should not fall on deaf ears.
We are entitled to ask : Where are our radar screens ? Perhaps that is a security matter, but there are thousands of people in this country who would feel much happier if the responsible Minister were to assure them that we have sufficient screens, so that we may have a t;ib on the movements of aircraft, whether incoming or outgoing. As I say, the location of our radar screens may be such a secret matter that it cannot be divulged. [ put it to honorable senators that we should not depart from the traditional democratic approach of the Government to the people which has allowed England, in conjunction with its Commonwealth, to win wars in the past.
– Great Britain, not England.
– I thank the honorable senator for the correction. Great Britain has always fought for democracy, and the people have always been behind the British Government and have always believed in the Government, supported it and taken whatever action it demanded of them. However, if Australia is to be honeycombed by secret police, and if people have to consider everything that they wish to say before saying it, so that they will not contravene security rules, then we shall have created a monster which will ultimately destroy us. Such a condition of affairs would destroy the wonderful co-operation which should exist between the people and the Government in a democracy, and that spirit, after all, is the spirit that wins wars. People who believe in their government can hold on just a little longer, and when everything else has disappeared they still have the will to hold on. Such a spirit can be fostered only by a government taking the people into its confidence, but it can be easily destroyed if a government is too distant and arrogant towards the people and treats their opinions with scorn. Unfortunately that seems to be the attitude of this Government.
Recently, when speaking to an adjournment motion, I mentioned the late Mr. A. G. Ogilvie, a former premier of Tasmania. Before World War II. he travelled extensively overseas, and by conversing with people . and by keen observation he formed the opinion that e war was inevitable. On his return to this country, while speaking about his impressions, he said that he would like to see the skies “of Australia black with aircraft. Quite obviously he had in mind the fact that Australia was an island continent and could be attacked only by sea or air. Therefore, the most important part of our defence should be efficient and fast interceptor and fighter aircraft. 3 believe that that opinion is true to-day. but we have received no general assurance from the Government that squadrons of long-range reconnaissance and interceptor aircraft are ready for action, or are being prepared in case of an attack upon this country by long-range aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Another matter that should concern the Senate is the outmoded practice of concentrating huge munition filling factories in vulnerable positions near large cities.
– They smell.
– Not only do they smell, but they are also ideal targets for aircraft, and would direct an enemy’s attack to great centres of population. If the new defence factory which is to be built at St. Mary’s is necessary, it should be divided into sections and dispersed over the countryside, or it should be placed as far as possible from dense centres of population. This factory is a defence project which has no commercial value, and therefore it should be removed, regardless of expense, as far as possible from the great cities. I have placed special emphasis upon this matter, because the only way in which the Government can be shaken out of its false opinions is by taking up the matter on the national level.
I do not say that we should go ahead with a full system of civil defence, but I do say that the Government should prepare the people for the necessary drill and education that they must attain if they are to cope with attacks from the air. We should get rid of the diehard, tortuous thinking that this country can be defended in the jungles of Malaya; because the lesson of the Thunderjet aircraft that travelled non-stop from Japan to Australia clearly indicated that that is not where Australia should be defended. Surely, that achievement should shake the diehards out of their torpor and lethargy. This Government will only be acting in a perverse manner if it closes its eyes to the great lesson of the Thunderjets and to the great danger that threatens this country. If it does not take some effective action, the responsibility will lie fairly on its shoulders if our people are left undefended and be taken unawares.
.- I shall deal with one or two matters that have been referred to by honorable senators opposite before I deal with the matters that I myself desire to put before the Senate. Senator O’Byrne mentioned the late Mr. A. G. Ogilvie. He was one of the best fighters for Tasmania that we have ever known. As the honorable senator said, he travelled abroad, and had the rare ability to absorb what he saw and heard while travelling. Senator O’Byrne said that the late Mr. Ogilvie had stated that he would like to see the skies of Australia black with aircraft, but the honorable senator did not mention that Mr. Ogilvie also recommended at the Burnie conference that the Labour party should adopt compulsory national service. Not only did that conference deny him thrice, but it refused to accept any of his advice about compulsory national service. Therefore, the honorable senator will realize that not only has the Governmentdisregarded his advice, but the Opposition has also disregarded it.
Another matter that has been referred to is the Government’s policy on tuberculosis. I believe that the Government deserves great credit because of the relief that it has given to sufferers from this disease. Some time ago a great American was sent to Australia to. study Australian health conditions, particularly the low rate of tuberculosis in this country compared with the rate in other parts of the world. He was in Australia for some time collecting statistics in all States, and when he returned to the United States of America, he wrote a report. A draft copy was sent to Australia for correction, if required. In that report, he said that one of the reasons why the incidence of tuberculosis was so low in Australia, was that rest was an important factor in the cure of tuberculosis. He had come to the conclusion that Australians took the cure before they contracted the disease and not afterwards.
I wish to refer to page 10 of the schedule to the bill, and the divisions under the heading of Department of Civil Aviation. I congratulate the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Townley), who is a Tasmanian, on all that he has done to improve the standard of aerodromes in Australia and provide them with the latest safety devices. The Minister has never rested in his endeavours to have modern devices installed at Australian aerodromes, and I am sure that he will continue to apply that policy. I am sorry to notice that the Minister has not much money left from the vote for the Department of Civil Aviation for the current year, and that he needs some more, because there are certain matters in the field of civil aviation that I hope the Minister has not overlooked. Two matters concern Tasmania, and repeated representations have been made to the Minister in connexion with them. One is the modern lighting of the Wynyard aerodrome, and the other is the extension of the strip at the Pat’s River aerodrome on King Island. Both those projects are most important and urgent. I hope that” the Minister has not overlooked them, and that he will include them in the Estimates for next year.
After studying the Government airlines and those in which it is interested, including Trans-Australia Airlines, Qantas, and Tasman Empire Airways Limited, I have come to the conclusion that there is room for co-ordination and the saving of expense by amalgamating arrangements for the handling of passengers. In the cities, there are separate offices for the airlines I have mentioned. All of them are government enterprises and there is room for co-ordination. One booking office should be sufficient to cater for all those airlines in one city. I direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to this matter, because I am sure that he will give it consideration when it is brought to his notice. Some of the offices used by the airlines are not fully employed all the time and, by a co-ordination of staffs, much of the work could be done more efficiently and by fewer employees. In many places throughout Australia, the transport of passengers from the city offices to the airports could be co-ordinated. I have often seen a government bus running from one office to an airport carrying seven or eight people, and another bus from a governmentowned airline travelling to the same airport with ten or twelve passengers. An immense sum in capital expenditure is invested in the buses, and if the services could be co-ordinated from one central depot, considerable expense could be saved.
I direct the attention of honorable senators now to the lack of hostel accommodation in Canberra for parties of school children who wish to visit the National Capital and see both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament at work. No doubt all honorable senators have noticed that many parties of school children have visited Canberra in the past few weeks during the school holidays. I believe that we should encourage such visits, because that is the best way to enable the boys and girls of school age to see the democratic system in operation in Australia and to understand its meaning. A visit to Canberra can be of immense value to school children, and it is regrettable when both Houses of the Parliament are not sitting during the school holidays when children are free to visit the National Capital. There is no accommodation in Canberra for those children, and I believe the Government should give earnest consideration to this matter. The children do not need elaborate accommodation. They are under adequate supervision, and they should be given every facility, particularly if they live in distant States. It is a good thing for them to know how Parliament works, even if they go away a little disillusioned.
I turn my attention now to the policy of the Government in centralizing government activities in Canberra. I believe that that policy is detrimental to Australia, and that the nation cannot be properly governed by a central government in the National Capital. I remind honorable senators that great differences exist between widely separated parts of Australia. A law made in Canberra might be suitable for Tasmania, but anathema to northern Queensland Or Darwin. In particular, I direct attention to a relevant matter, similar in character, that appears to have been overlooked. I refer to the hours of employment for public servants which are proclaimed in Canberra and observed throughout Australia. Surely common sense dictates that when- a person is working in the tropics, particularly during the wet season, he should rest between mid-day or 1 o’clock and 3 p.m., and work in the evening hours, but in Darwin, irrespective of climatic conditions, the public servants work the hours that are observed in Canberra. Much more efficient work could be performed by public servants in the tropics if their hours of employment were arranged according to the dictates of common sense.
– Early in the morning.
– Early in the morning and late in the evening, and there should be rest periods, particularly in the wet season.
– Has that ever been recommended in Canberra?
– I do not know, but I raise it now and hope that some cognizance will be taken of it.
I wish to refer to the distribution of the petrol tax to the States, and by them to their municipalities. Honorable senators may be interested to know bow much of tins money was received by the States during the last five years and the sams that they have made available to their municipalities. In Tasmania the story is not a happy one. I do not know whether the same can be said of other States. In 1949-50, the amount of petrol tax granted to Tasmania was £442,000 and of that sum the municipalities received £77,500. Five years later that State received £S31,000, almost double the previous amount, but the municipalities received £87,706, an increase of only £10,000 over the 1949-50 figure. The State Government had received £400,000 more than it had received five years before.
The condition of roads in Tasmania, particularly rural roads, is a question of great urgency. Of the 14,000 miles of road in Tasmania, 12,000 are under the jurisdiction of councils and only 2,000 miles are under the jurisdiction of the State Government. But the councils have received only £87,000 out of £800,000 to keep their rural roads in order. Consequently, during the last five years those roads have sadly deteriorated. I do not know whether the Australian Government can do anything to ensure that the municipalities shall receive a fair share of the petrol tax. I have placed a question on the notice-paper dealing with this subject and probably the reply may give me some information on the point.
The municipalities are suffering a grave injustice in being saddled with th». responsibility for the reconstruction and maintenance of 12,000 miles of road. Although costs in the last five years have mounted rapidly they have received a miserable increase of only £10,000 over the sum allocated to them at the beginning of that period. I pay tribute to the Australian Government for allocating such a substantial sum to Tasmania. I know that when one State raised its voice in protest against the small allocations that were being made to some of the other States, the complaint received short shrift in this Senate. Residents in rural areas are suffering great hardships because of .the state of their roads. Their trucks, cars and farm machinery have to traverse them, and because of wear and tear their state of deterioration worsens with the result thai further cost must- be borne by the rural community.
During this debate several honorable senators have discussed hire-purchase in Australia. I disagree with some of the opinions expressed, because on a per capita basis the extent of hire-purchase in this country has not reached anything like the proportions that it has in the United States of America and Great Britain.
– Not Great Britain.
– Great Britain it still ahead of Australia. I agree that a system of no deposit in a hirepurchase transaction is bad in principle and practice. A sound hire-purchase system calls for an adequate deposit, which means that a hire-purchaser has to be sufficiently thrifty to be able to place a reasonable deposit on the article he wishes to buy. The proportions of hire-purchase in Australia are nowhere near the danger mark. A great deal of American prosperity and employment is attributed to the system of hire-purchase in that country. In Australia this system enables the housewife to use many modern appliances in her home and kitchen which are of great assistance in her work.
– Does the honorable senator consider that the rate of interest charged to the hirer is excessive?
– I am about to deal with that point. It is interesting to examine the position of people engaged in hire-purchase finance. For many years hire-purchase finance on cars has provided an outstanding example of the high profits that are made by companies in this field. That fact has been disclosed in many of their balance-sheets, and it raises the question of imposing a reasonable limitation. What that limitation should be would depend on the type of risk being taken. Hire-purchase is a specialized business and involves all sorts of personalities; and there is an inherent risk that some of the money will be lost. It would be difficult to assess the rate of interest and the amount of profit that should be allowed in order to attract suffi- went capital to this type of business. At the same time, persons should be protected from being exploited when they unwittingly enter into agreements to purchase articles without realizing the full cost to them. Hire-purchase has proved of great benefit to many people and industries in Australia and I hope that the system will continue to expand so that this Government’s policy of full employment will be maintained. I am confident honorable senators on both sides of the chamber agree with that policy.
– We have heard a number of speeches during this debate, but one of the most outstanding was that of Senator O’Byrne, who dealt with the subject of defence. As a man who was in England at the time of the German bombing raids, and who himself participated in bombing raids over Germany, his views on the Government’s defence policy were heard with interest. I agree with the honorable senator that defence is everybody’s business, and is not a party matter. I am sure that honorable senators will agree that the honorable senator, and those who in the same spirit criticize the Government, do so in the best interests of Australia.
Another interesting speech during this debate was that of Senator McCallum. Et was particularly interesting because of the honorable senator’s remarks concerning the place of the Senate in the life of Australia. I agree with him that the money expended to maintain the Senate as a force in the community is money well spent. Naturally, I was interested in the subject, but I commend the honorable senator on making a good speech.
In some references to the recent election in Victoria, Senator Vincent went to extraordinary lengths in an endeavour to show that the Labour party was defeated.
– Surely, the honorable senator does not dispute that fact.
– We are thankful to the honorable senator for the information that he placed before us, and it may be that his advice will be taken. Indeed, it has been suggested that the Labour party should consider appointing him as its campaign director for the next election. However, as the honorable senator also indulged in abuse of the Labour party, I tell him now that we do not want his advice, or that of his colleagues.
Another senator who indulged in abuse of the Labour party was Senator Marriott. He was very annoyed that the Opposition had criticized the Government, and he said so. That is not to be wondered at, because the honorable senator earned his bread and butter working for the Liberal party in Tasmania. What else could we expect from a man with that background? The honorable senator tried to show that there was some close association between the trade union movement and the Communists. I have never known him or any of his colleagues to do anything to suppress communism. The Liberal party talks a lot about communism and, indeed, it was elected to power in 1949 on the Communist bogy.
– Oh !
– The honorable senator interjects “ Oh “, but she should know that communism has been a political football since 1925. During most of that period the Liberal party and the Australian Country party have been in power. In 1925, the Bruce-Page Government was returned on the Communist bogy. The then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, told the people what he would do with the “ Comms “ if he were returned to power. Three years later, in 1928, his government was again returned on the same issue. History repeated itself in 1949, when the present Government was elected on the same issue. The Communist bogy is an election winner. Senator Marriott was concerned about members of trade unions, and said that many of them voted for the Liberal party. Apparently, the honorable senator claims an intimate knowledge of the views of individual members of trade unions, the amounts they pay into political funds, and their various affiliations. It is true that the honorable senator knows all the ramifications of the cadging system, because, as an officer of a political party in Tasmania, it was his job to cadge money for his party.
– It was better to do that than to be a starting price bookmaker.
– In 1949, no cadging was necessary, because the private banks and other financial institutions, and capitalists generally, donated huge sums of money voluntarily to help the Liberal and Australian Country parties to win the election. But they were not so keen to win the election in 1943. On that occasion, even the present Prime Minister (Mr, Menzies) made only a half-hearted attempt to displace Jack Curtin as head of the Government. The Curtin Government had not completed the job of cleaning things up by 1946, and so the election held in that year was another in which only a half-hearted attempt to gain office was made by the non-Labour parties. The parties now in office have Ben Chifley to thank for being on the treasury bench to-day. If honorable senators opposite will recall the election of 1943, they will remember that many Liberal party candidates failed to gain the support of the electors.
– If the old system had been in operation all the time the honorable senator would 11Ot be here now. The system works both ways.
– If the honorable senator will look at Hansard he will see what the Prime Minister said about the position generally. The Prime Minister reneged, “ squibbed it “, in 1941. His Cabinet pushed him out. The press of the country assisted to push him out, because he and his Cabinet were incompetent. The capitalists could see that their assets were in danger, and they did their best to have the Prime Minister and his Government kicked out of office. The Prime Minister is reported in Hansard as having said that he resigned because his own people wanted him to resign. Sir Arthur Fadden carried on for a couple of weeks, but the people soon dumped him. Of course, in 1941, Mr. John Curtin had to take over the Government, with the support of two independent members. The Labour party can never be accused of having set up a government like the one that has been formed by the Liberal party, with the support of the Australian
Country party. The Labour party held office o,n that occasion because the danger was there, the Government had walked out, and something had to be done. Mr. Curtin did not shirk the job; he did it, and honorable senators opposite know how well he did it.
In the 1946 general election the people of Australia got rid of the remainder of the senators who belonged to the Liberal and Australian Country parties. There were only three from Queensland who were returned. The people were sick of the Liberal and Australian Country party senators, and they dumped them. But the senators on the other side of the chamber kept the method of preferential voting even when their own private members wanted an alteration of the method. When senators of the Liberal and Australian Country parties were out of office, how glad they all were when the late Ben Chifley altered the method of voting and introduced proportional representation, which resulted in those senators being re-admitted to office. Honorable senators opposite can thank the Labour Government for that.
– Would the honorable senator like us to revert to the old system ?
– I ask the honorable senator to be quiet. I shall talk to him later. Proportional representation gave everybody a chance to get in. We were not going to sit here and have 33 members on the other side of the chamber, with only three on this side. The alteration was made, and that is how all the honorable senators opposite were returned to office. If the old system of preferential voting had operated in 1949, the parties opposite would not have had a member returned in New. South Wales. Victoria or South Australia.
– Or in Queensland.
– Or in Queensland. Senator Robertson would not be here, nor would any other senator from the Liberal party, because the Labour party had obtained the highest number of votes.
– It has not had the highest number in Queensland since 1943.
– To what election is the honorable senator referring?
– I ask the honorable senator to look up the records. In Western Australia there were Sir George Pearce, “Paddy” lynch, and a few others, who were being returned for term after term, while the votes cast for the Labour party representatives were only a few hundred less on the primary voting. Those senators did not want a change in the method of counting, but I remember that when we defeated the last batch of representatives of the Liberal and Australian Country parties in Western Australia, the late Colonel Collett said, on the steps of the post office in Perth, when the count was declared, “ It is about time the method of counting was altered in the Senate “. I shall never forget that. He had enjoyed twelve or fifteen years in this Senate under the old system of voting. While he continued to be returned everything was all right, but when he saw that there was a chance of defeat, he wanted the system changed.
– We shall shortly take into account the honorable senator’s views in favour of reversion to the old system.
– Senator Paltridge gave an outline of the situation in the north-west of Australia. I agree with his remarks. This has been a subject of discussion for many years. Recently the Western Australian Government set up an all-party committee to go to the northwest and collect evidence to substantiate a claim to the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth should take more interest in the development of that area. That was one of many committees which had been set up to investigate the possibilities of the north-west, and particularly of the Kimberleys. We established the NorthWest Development Committee, but I have never seen any results of that committee’s investigations, although I asked a question in the Senate on one occasion as to whether any committee had made reports regarding the north-west. The present committee has travelled extensively in the north-west area, for thepurpose of makins a submission that the Australian Government should either lend financial assistance to the Western Aus tralian Government for the development! of the area, or take over the job itself-
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) and two othersenators from this chamber travelled, through the north-west in 1953. After the Minister’s visit to the area he was reported in the West Australian of thelst January, 1953, as having said -
Port development in this area had beenunder consideration for a long time but nothing had been done.
I have never heard of anything being: done since. The newspaper report continued, quoting Senator McLeay -
It was an important area with a very great defence value.
That is the important point, its great defence value.
Much preliminary work had been done in. connexion with north-west port development’ and railway development in the Darwin area. . . The Western Australian Government was anxious to retain the Commonwealthowned ships Dorrigo and Dulverton on thiscoast, and a decision on this might be madeafter his north-west trip. … I think, that the development of these ports would; probably rate a priority in the plan for urgentworks announced by the Prime Minister ( Mr. Menzies) when he returned from London. From the development point of view theseareas were all associated with Mr. Menzies’ trip abroad, he added.
I have often wondered just what the results are of the trip abroad that the Prime Minister had at the expense of thetaxpayers. I wonder, also, whether he hasgiven any consideration to the development of the north-west from a defencepoint of view. This Government has expended £1,000,000,000 on defence during the last five years. But has it given any consideration to valuable defence projects in the north and north-west of the continent? The situation there is known to be bad. The north, is always referred to as the “ empty “ north. It is empty, as anyone who has had a look round it well knows. The population generally is very sparse, especially in the Kimberleys. What will happen if something is not done within the next 20 years? This is a question that every Australian should ask himself. It is the job of the Government to do something now. During the next 20 years this Government and other governments that follow it should do their utmost to establish new industries in the sparsely settled districts of the north and north-west and encourage the migration of population there through development of industries like gold-mining and beef cattle raising.
Scientists have been examining these
Areas with a view to finding out the crops that can be successfully grown. Agriculture can be developed in the north-west where tropical fruit and all sorts of other produce can be grown. Development of industries in the north-west would entourage people to move into those areas and populate them. Action is necessary and urgent and the expenditure of a few million pounds each .year in the development of the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia would fee well justified. Year after year the sum -of £200,000,000 has been ear-marked for defence purposes, but look round Australia and see whether any defence projects of importance and magnitude can be found. The Government proposes to send troops to Malaya. The members of the Australian Labour party say that that action is wrong not because it is the decision of a Liberal-Australian Country party Government hut because we consider that it would not be in the best interests of Australia to send troops to Malaya. The Government of Singapore will not allow Australian troops to land there, so they are to land on an island in Penang. Our troops are being carted around. At whose behest? Who is behind this move to send troops 2,000 miles from our coast ? The Government has the audacity to say that these troops will be on the main line of defence of Australia, yet between Malaya and the Australian coast there are 78,000,000 people living in Indonesia and all the other southern islands in that area.
I notice that the Prime Minister of Indonesia is now in Communist China to confer with the Premier of that coun try. Suppose those men should get together and decide that they must do something about the empty parts of Australia? “What good could our troops in Malaya or Penang, do in such circumstances’? Senator O’Byrne explained why it is not accessary to station Australian troops 2,000 miles from this country. The fact ls that those troops are being sent to Malaya only to protect the exploiters of the Malayan people. If those who got the big money out of that country were to distribute a little of it among the Malayan people and give them a fair day’s wage for tapping rubber trees instead of paying them half a dollar a day and filling them with half a bowl of rice, there would be no Communist influence in Malaya to-day. Starvation and poverty breed communism, just as they did in this country in the early 1980’s. During those depression years men were out of work for periods of three years and longer. A man who was fortunate enough to get an odd week on relief work was not allowed to earn, during his weeks of idleness, more thai 7s. a week for each unit of his family. For example, a man with a wife and one child who was on the dole and occasional relief work was not allowed to earn more than 21s. a week. If he earned £2 in any week he had to stand down for portion of the time that might be allotted to him on the work of cracking stones for road-making jobs which were done by some five-eighths roads board. Those are the conditions that breed communism. Yet. during those years there was wealth and food galore in this country. At Geraldton, wheat was tipped from ships into the sea because it could not be sold at ls. a bushel. A lot of the fiveeighths “ cockies “ on the Government side of this chamber know that that was done. An article that is worth quoting appeared in a Western Australian newspaper on the 22nd December, 1952. It reads -
If the average Australian continues to eai 135 lb. each year, beef production must increase by almost 50 per cent, in the next ten years to keep pace with the growing population and still leave some for export.
Ten years is but a short time to a cattleman. It takes as long as that to rebuild » herd which has lost half its breeding cows. Six years will expire before the first progeny of a heifer calf born this year is marketed.
Australia’s human population is likely to reach 11 million by 1902. At the present rate of consumption, an additional 220.000 tons of beef will be required to feed this number of people and provide 100.000 tons for export.
Despite a record production during the 1030-51 season, exports fell to 08,000 tonsapproximately half the pre-war average. There was a further decline to 39,000 ton? for the season ended in June this year.
A critical period is likely to arrive in three to five years, when the effects of the recent drought become apparent.
The author of that article, Mr. J. W. Ryan, has pointed out the dangers to our beef industry. It is obvious that we are struggling to maintain a reasonable rate of beef production, despite the fact that the population of Western Australia is increasing by between 10,000 and 15,000 every year. It will be a very serious matter for Australia if the Government does not do something to assist the cattle industry and the development of the northern parts of Australia.
Many members of this Parliament, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, have spoken of the need for standardization of the railway gauges in Australia. I support fully the remarks that have been made concerning the need to standardize the gauges between Brisbane and Perth. We all were aware of the difficulties caused by breaks of gauge when it became necessary to transport troops and military equipment during the war. A great deal of discontent was occasioned when members of the forces had to be transported from one sud of Australia to the other in cattle trucks, and when, at certain times, it #as necessary for them to spend days on ind in the desert, living on hard rations, In Western Australia, many troops were transported in cattle trucks fitted up with beds and hammocks. I hope that such measures will not be necessary should another war break out. The Government should undertake immediately this major project of standardizing the railway gauges throughout Australia.
Senator SEWARD (Western Australia) f5.2S”). - It was not my intention to take part in this debate, but certain statements nave been made by honorable senators opposite to which I wish to reply. For instance, Senator Harris referred to many projects affecting Western Australia which, he said, had not been proceeded with. Before I resume my seat, I hope to enlighten the honorable senator concerning the reasons why action has not been taken. First, I want to refer to a matter which was raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) during his speech on the Salaries Adjustment Bill in the Senate recently. The honorable senator referred to the urgent need to increase the rate of pen sions. 1 cordially agree that that i> necessary, but I remind him that this Government has done more to increase pensions and social services benefitsgenerally than has any previous government in this country. Only recently, the Government introduced a new social benefit. I refer to the legislation concerning homes for the aged, a matter which required attention for many years., but which no previous government had dealt with. The finger of scorn cannot be pointed at this Government because of its failure to give increased assistance to age pensioners.
Sitting suspended from 5.S0 to 8 p.m.
– Just before th suspension of the sitting I was about to draw attention to the difference between the Labour party in opposition and the Labour party in government. A remark was made to me some years ago by a former Labour Minister of the Western Australian Government. Just after th, defeat of the last Labour Government he said that Labour is no good in government, but it shines in opposition. 1 believe that he was quite correct. In contrast to the rightful advocacy by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator MeKenna) of increased pensions for the- people, one must consider the treatment that was meted out recently to some less well-off people by the Western Australian . Labour Government. Last week I asked a question of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) about the resumption of certain land in Western Australia. The State Government had resumed 330 acres of land at Morley Park, which is on the outskirts of themetropolitan area, and it had taken thai land from elderly people who had held it for from 25 to 30 years. Some of those owners were widows whose husbands wenkilled in World War I. Those people have engaged in pig and poultry raising and dairying, but last October thi Western Australian Labour Government resumed the whole area. The protests of the people were unavailing, because th, State Government said that their titles were not worth the paper they were written on. These people had taken up land in the hope that they could carry on farming pursuits until the time arrived when they would be able to subdivide their blocks, sell some of them and at least have something to live on in their old age other than the age pension.
One man came to me almost crying. He said that he had lodged an appeal against the resumption of his land by the Western Australian Labour Government, and had posted the letter of appeal at the local post office. Then he walked inside to get any letters that might have been received there for him, and found a letter awaiting him from the State Government to say that his appeal had been rejected. This land has been taken from the persons whom I have mentioned, and has been cut up irrespective of their desires. One man had a fairly large poultry farm, and a shed on his property was cut in two when his place was subdivided. Other people have desired to build on part of the land, but the Government has handed back to them any odd blocks, and they have been given no choice. That is the way that Labour treats the people when it is in government. Of course, that is not so in the federal sphere, because of the protection of the Constitution, but we are told that Labour policy is a world-wide policy.
– Bid these people receive the value of the land?
– Tell them to go to court and get it.
– They have been told that they could take the matter to court, but they have not the money to do so. The Western Australian Labour Government took this land from the people last October, but has not yet disclosed what it will pay for it. That aase is one of the reasons why a certain measure will be placed before this Parliament soon. That will ensure that such land is resumed on just terms. But the Western Australian Government has also resumed another 10,000 acres of land, and apparently it is going ahead and resuming all the land that it possibly can while the present legislation is on the statute-book.
I was amused and pleased to hear the all-round support that the proposal for the development of the north-west of Western Australia has obtained in this chamber. That is particularly pleasing to me because I am the author of the whole proposition. With two colleagues I made a trip to the north-west about twelve months ago. My friends were members of the Western Australian Parliament. When we were coming back, we discussed the development of the northwest and decided that we should frame a policy about the public works to be done in that area and ask the Australian Government to make a sum of money available each year for a number of years so that the works could be carried out. Mr. Acklands moved in the State Parliament that a committee be established, to embrace the Premier of the State and the leaders of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party to draw up a programme of works and to present the proposal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). That motion was moved in the State Parliament last August, but to the present time a programme has not been submitted to the Australian Government, and that is one charge of grave inactivity that I lay at the door of the Western Australian Labour Government.
It is most extraordinary that Labour has held the electorates in the north-west for the last twenty years or so with the exception of one seat in the Legislative Council, although on my trip to the area I was told that only one person had ever done anything for the north-west and that was Dame Cardell Oliver. Apparently, she went to the district some years ago and found that there was a shortage of fruit and vegetables. She arranged for the transport of supplies of these commodities to the area by air. It amazes me to hear honorable senators from Western Australia in the Opposition plead that the north-west should be developed, in spite of their inactivity during the last 25 years. However, 1 hope that when the committee of which I have spoken eventually approaches the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), after a delay of almost twelve months, it will obtain sympathetic treatment of its proposal. Indeed, I believe that the justice of its case will appeal to the federal authorities and that they will make the money available to the Western Australian Government to carry out the work needed in the north-west.
Senator Cooke, in the course of his speech on Supply, referred to what he called the “satisfactory” conditions on the waterfront. He said that the Associated Chambers of Commerce had stated that overseas shipping interests have no complaint about the services provided for them in Australian ports. Ee said that the delays in obtaining berths have been practically eliminated and that cargo handling has been improved1 from 262 tons a day in 1951 to 311 tons a day in 1953. In mentioning those figures he might just as well have mentioned the figure of 2,000 tons, because unless he makes a comparison with other figures, his figures are quite useless and meaningless. Before World War II., the average rate of discharge of cargo was approximately one ton for each man-hour. At present it is 0.5 or 0.6 tons for each man-hour. So, honorable senators can see quite clearly that about half the work is being done to-day as against the work done for each man-hour before World War II. When waterfront trouble occurred in Queensland and Kew Zealand and volunteer labour was introduced on the waterfront, 500 tons a day was handled in Queensland and 600 tons a day in New Zealand. Therefore, the 311 tons a day mentioned by Senator Cooke is a very poor effort indeed.
A few weeks ago in Fremantle waterfront employees held a 24-hour stop-work meeting, and through that action 8,000 man-hours were lost, 6,000 to 7,000 tons of cargo was affected, 16 ships including five passenger ships were delayed, 420 tons of cargo was left behind by Strathmore, two other ships left 4,000 cases of fruit behind, 40.000 lb. of skins were left behind and 75 tons of cargo was carried on by Stratheden. The reason for that stoppage was that the men were asked to work two hours overtime on Saturday to finish loading a ship, and they refused to do so. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board directed them to do the work, but they stopped altogether. With regard to the 75 tons of cargo overcarried by Stratheden, when I spoke to the Director of Posts and Telegraphs ro Western Australia a few weeks ago in connexion with the installation of telephones, he said that he did not have enough cable to install these instrumentsbecause it had been carried on to the eastern States through a stoppage on thewaterfront. That is another way in which stoppages are affecting AustraliaIt is useless to say that there is an improvement on the waterfront. There mayhave been some slight improvement, hut we have a long way to go before we can* say that the turn-round of ships is not being delayed.
A misleading statement was made bySenator Cooke. He said that Australia was on a borrow-and-bust campaign, similar to that which preceded 1930. Tb proof of his statement, be said that borrowings of dollars by Australia from the International Bank for Recontruction and Development were the highest of any nation. It is a pity Senator Cooke did not study the subject a little moreclosely before, he made such a ridiculousstatement. Had he studied the quarterly summary of Australian statistics, he would have seen how hopelessly he was wrong. In 1939, Australia’s overseas debtwas £599,000.000. In 1954. the overseas debt was £450,000,000 which is about £150.000.000 approximately less than in 1939. The figures for 1954 are the latest available. The average overseas debt peril head of population apparently escaped Senator Cooke’s notice also. Statistics’ show that the overseas debt a head was £91 in 1931, £73 in 1939, and £43 at thepresent time, according to the latest figures available. Therefore, it is hopelessly misleading to state that we are on> a borrow-and-bust campaign, and to indicate that our conditions now are similar to those that existed in 1931. Senator Cooke also overlooked the use to which borrowed dollars are being put. They arebeing used to increase agricultural and other production and to improve transport facilities. Consequently, that moneyis helping us to develop our economy to> a stage where we will be able to export more, and buy imports that are urgentlyneeded. If honorable senators comparethe way money is being used now with the manner in which it was utilized ins earlier days, they will discover that we are in a much sounder position than we were.
Several honorable senators have urged the standardization of the railway gauge, particularly on the line between Perth and the eastern States. I have been in touch with the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) for twelve months in an endeavour to get something done in connexion with that matter. The Minister arranged for a conference between the chairman of the Railways Commissioners in Western Australia and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, and it took place at Port Augusta in August last. Although I have been endeavouring to get the Western Australian Government to find out what is the recommendation of the Western Australian commissioners, it is impossible to get them to act. I know that the head commissioner reported his views, but no opinions had been obtained from the commissioners as a whole. Therefore, any blame for the delay in standardizing the railway gauge between Western Australia and the eastern States should rest on the Western Australian Labour Government.
Senator Harris emphasized the urgent need for a standard railway gauge for purposes of defence. That is very funny because, when I interviewed the chief of the military staff in 1949 in regard to the standard gauge, he told me that the Department of Defence was simply not interested. Apparently, the military authorities will use air, road or some other form of transport, so it is useless to advocate a standard railway gauge for defence because it is not wanted.
Another important matter dealt with in the estimates is the vote for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I notice that it is set down at £9,250,000, of which £7,600,000 is required for telephone and telegraph services. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) will allocate some of the money this year to the installation of telephones in country districts of Western Australia. I have been trying to get something done for a considerable time, and about a month ago I received a long letter from the Post master-General in which he outlined the many facilities that had been installed and put into operation since this Government was returned to office. I fully acknowledge all that has been done, but the Postmaster-General made a most extraordinary statement to the effect that few country people had to pay anything for telephones to be installed. I spoke to some persons in country districts of Western Australia recently, and one said that he had spent £600 on the erection of a telephone line. There were five persons in the group, and they had erected a line which compared favorably with any departmental line in Western Australia except that the poles were only about 10 feet high. They had built the line for 7 miles, but the Postmaster-General’s Department would not extend its line more than 55 chains from the post office. It would not go further, although the men had bulldozed the ground ready for the line.
– That is helping the farmers.
– I can realize how hard it is for honorable senators from Tasmania, to understand the difficulties of people who live 30 miles from a telephone. That would be impossible in Tasmania. In Western Australia, there are some settlers on war service land settlement blocks in the South Stirling arpa. They are 59 miles from one town, 49 miles from another and 41 miles from their main business centre. They are without any telephonic communication. People who live in more closely settled States like Victoria and Tasmania have difficulty in appreciating the difficulties of those settlers. One of them told me that, on one trip into town, he did £25 worth of damage to his car on a shockingly corrugated road. He pointed out that he was allowed £800 for a motor vehicle, and that compelled him to buy a second-hand car. When young married couples are placed in such situations, they should have a telephone connected to their holdings or to some point reasonably close so that if they want medical aid they can get it, and also attend to any urgent business without having to travel 80 or 100 miles.
I hope that the Postmaster-General will be able to make a more liberal allotment of funds for the provision of automatic telephone exchanges in country areas. Farmers’ wives have operated telephone exchanges for 20 or 30 years, and they have had enough because it is a big tie to have a telephone exchange in the house. The responsible person has to devote certain hours to it and does not like to be away from it, particularly in the summer when fires are prevalent. 1 have received several applications for the installation of an automatic telephone exchange, but invariably the reply from the department has been that there are not enough materials available. I hope that the Postmaster-General will make a greater effort to obtain materials to install automatic exchanges, particularly in distant country areas. Without a telephone service settlers cannot be expected to remain, on their holdings, especially if there is unoccupied land close to transport, nearer the metropolitan area and the markets, and provided with water.
I support the plea made by Senator Mattner for a post office at Darwin. When I was there last year, with other honorable senators, we went to the post office and found it to be a disgustingly sickening place. That is the only way to describe it. It is a prefabricated building in a filthy condition and it cannot be kept clean. Three of us visited the postmaster and when we were all inside the building there was no room for any one else. It was just about big enough for a bathroom, but that is the kind of place at Darwin in which postal employees are asked to work. It is almost impossible for them to do so in such a climate. It was July when we were there, and the girls employed were wearing summer dresses. What the working conditions are like in summer is hard to imagine. [ hope that when a new post office for Darwin is being planned, the PostmasterGeneral will take into consideration working conditions. It must be remembered also that Darwin is the front door to Australia and many air passengers from overseas are passing through it. In all probability the first official place they want to visit is the post office in order to send a telegram or a cablegram. If they go to the present post office their first impression of Australia will be anything but favorable. I hope that the new post office there will be worthy of this great country as well as a decent place for a postal employee to work.
Senator Pearson dealt with the question of uniform taxation. I have spoken on this subject previously, but it cannot be dealt with too often. The urgent need it for a re-organization of the financial relationships between State and Federal bodies. I do not suggest that that necessarily means the handing back to the States of taxing powers. If that were done it would be necessary to have more than one tax collecting authority. The State and Federal taxes might be levied at different rates and in different ways. The taxpayers would be put to greater inconvenience by having to make two returns, each governed by different conditions, and that would make matters mort difficult for him. Western Australia hae no unexpended balance of revenue thai has been allocated from uniform income tax. Some urgent works in that large and undeveloped State have had to be abandoned because of insufficient finance. It has been said that the allocations of taxation revenue to Western Australia have been much greater than they were a few years ago. They may have been twice as large as previously, but costs have increased threefold and the Government is unable to undertake necessary building or to construct roads or build bridges. One bridge over the Swan River was mentioned. It is urgently needed, although I am not in favour of the proposed site. The railways are in 8 shocking condition and their rehabilitation is long overdue. Unless there is some re-alinement of taxation revenue, there will never be an end to the wrangle thai takes place every year at the meetings of the Australian Loan Council. The representatives of the States attend the council with their programmes drawn up to meet absolute needs for the ensuing year and when the allocation they seek is reduced, important works cannot be carried out.
I support Senator Pearson’s suggestion that a convention of Federal and State authorities be arranged to consider a better allocation of finances between the States and Commonwealth. The representatives should not be confined to this Parliament; it is only proper that all
States should be represented because they are vitally interested. However, I would not favour a greater representation of States than of this Parliament. Such a convention should be directed by an independent chairman so that all points of view could be considered. It is wrong that great projects such as the Snowy Mountains scheme should be financed out of Consolidated Revenue and not out of loan funds. The great majority of taxpayers who contribute to Consolidated Revenue will not benefit from that scheme. Much of that benefit will be enjoyed by posterity.
– A debate of this kind provides honorable senators with the opportunity to deal with many subjects which they may not be able to mention otherwise. Senator Seward has been somewhat contradictory because after telling us a few minutes ago how good things are in “Western Australia he ended his speech by saying how bad they are. A good, criterion of the real condition of a country is its economy. I invite honorable senators to compare the value of the Australian £1 now with its value a few years ago. Then, the Australian £1 was more acceptable than the British £1. Now, because of restrictions and increased costs the value of the Australian £1 has declined and, before long, it will be lower still.
I have no wish to circumvent the ruling of the Chair, Mr. Acting President, in what I am about to say, and I am aware that a matter which is sub judice cannot be discussed. To-day, I asked a question about certain matters, but I received no answer. The same thing happened last week. I will not discuss whether I deserved an answer, but I think I am in order in saying that certain events have taken place in the past few weeks which indicate that action should be taken to find what sort of officers are employed in our secret service. These events have been most detrimental and will not be conducive to attracting the right type of people to join the Public Service. Those who have been in charge have shown a complete lack of understanding of their duties. For example, if I were to go to a policeman, or to a police station, and gay that I have certain evidence on which a serious charge could be preferred against Senator Wood, but requested that I should not be called to give evidence of it, a prosecution could be launched on the information 1 had given. Senator Wood would be allowed to be represented by counsel who could ask the police to produce the facts. He can have his lawyer there, and the lawyer should know where the information is coming from.
– He may not know, and if he does he is not permitted to tell.
– If he is told that it is in the interests of the State, it usually stops there. We have a so-called secret service, but its members have not enough sense to realize that certain things are sacred, and that they are under an obligation not to divulge information. Our secret service is a laughing-stock, and the sooner it is wiped out the better. It does not possess the confidence of the community.
There is a proposal to send a delegation from Australia to the Far East, or more properly, our near north. I am very much against it. From time to time we hear of people going to Russia. When they return, they generally give us glowing accounts of what they have seen. Any reports that they write are not worth the paper they are written on. I do hot say that delegates from Australia who went to the Coronation did not see a glorious spectacle. I am not talking of delegations to such events as a coronation, but of -delegations to places that are more or less under the control of dictators. A visit to such countries is like a visit to a big gaol. There is no way to find out anything. I hope that the Labour party will not support the idea of the Government deciding who shall go, and who shall not go. I do not say that the Government intends to make any such decision, but, if it does so, I hope that those who are affected will get the reply they deserve. As I have said, visits to some countries are like visits to a gaol. That will be the position if we send a delegation to South-East Asia. If Senator Gorton, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, were to say what he knows - that is if he knows anything - he would be forced to admit that it is difficult to get information. What would happen would be that, on their return, members of the delegation would say that the place they had visited was a fine place, but that the Communists were causing trouble. If I were to visit a gaol, the first’ person I would see there would be the governor of the gaol; but even before I saw him I would have to get authority of the Controller-General of Prisons to make the visit. If I wanted to find out anything that the authorities did not want me to know, it would be just about impossible for me to do so, because as soon as it was known that I intended to visit the gaol, the ControllerGeneral of Prisons would inform the governor of the gaol when I could go in, and everything would be just so when I got there. That is what takes place when delegations visit Russia
– Why this dissertation on prisons?
– I do not want to be rude, and so I shall not answer the honorable senator as I otherwise might do. I was giving an illustration to support what I was saying, but the honorable senator who interjected cannot understand me. He comes from Tasmania, and has not reached the standard reached by people in other parts of Australia. Unless members of a delegation understand what is taking place in the countries they visit, they will get the information that the delegation that went to Africa got. I was a member of that delegation. Let me tell the Senate what took place. One of our leading delegates said in Kenya that he had seen factories there that compared favorably with anything in Australia. That statement was a lie of the worst description. When the delegation went to South Africa, the same person said that, if he were in South Africa, he would be in favour of the policy of the Malan Government. In South Africa I tried to find out for myself what was taking place. I decided to make inquiries from the native “ boys “. In passing, I suggest that the use of the word “ boys “ when referring to adult natives should be strictly prohibited. It is most offensive, and the adults so described regard it as being offensive. That might not have been the case some years ago, but it is so to-day. In making my inquiries, J approached an important gentleman who had been in the country for 40 years. 1 asked him what he thought was the cause of the Mau Mau revolt. He replied, “ It is that so and so Kenyata and Russia “. He used an adjective which is not unknown in Australia, but I shall not repeat it in the Senate. 1 said that it must be a peculiar country because when the ocean comes in the only wave 13 Kenyata, for there is no wave in front and no wave behind. I mademy own inquiries in the same way as 1 would if I visited a gaol. If I went there I would want to talk to the prisoners. I said to one of the native lads, “ What do you think is the cause of the Mau Mau uprising?” He pointed to his stomach and said “You shoot him, and Mau Mau go away”. I told some of the people with whom we came in contact what the lad had told me, but ] did not say who it was who had given me that answer, because had I done so that would have been the end of thai lad. For a month he had been driving the car in which we travelled. He slept in it because if he did not, he was sure the police would take him up, and he would be one more added to the 40 or 50 natives already interned, or to th, 100 that were being killed every week. When I told one man what the boy had told me, he said that it was not exactly true. He added that the boys were getting good wages, but despite their good treatment, they left and joined the Mau Maus. Another native told me that when the soldiers come along and cry “ Halt “ the people are liable to ge excited, and then somebody is shot. The result is that the whole tribe leaves th, place, and joins the Mau Maus
In South Africa the Indians have no direct representation. Nor have the Africans. The whites, who are small in number, do not know what they are trying to do. Everybody I approached on the subject told me a different story. I said that the name “ Kenya “ should be changed to “ dinna-Ken-ya “. I discovered that Kenyata has more influence with the natives than all the rest of the so-called leaders have. I have read a book about Kenya in which the writer says that the natives have no memory and will soon forget all that has happened and will even forget Kenyata. I mentioned that to one of the natives. He pointed to hia little boy standing alongside of him, and said, “ When that boy’s face is covered with whiskers, and they « re ;grey, he still won’t forget Kenyata “.
– was Kenyata educated ?
– He was educated in England. I thought, at first, that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) had interjected to put me off the track, but as it appears that I was wrong, I will answer him as a good Presbyterian should.
– It was a fair question.
– As one who believes in returning good for evil, I answer the Minister by saying that Kenyata was educated in England. He was there for about seven years, and I believe that he was a graduate of the Inner Temple. The Mau Mau ritual has fiendish rites. The Mau Maus have perverted the Old Testament to suit their own ends. The situation is really desperate, and yet we are told that everything there is all right. In the the whole of the highlands there was not one acre that was not owned by the whites. The coloured people do not occupy one acre of land in the highlands of Kenya. Although some of the native propagandists may give a contrary impression, historically speaking, that is the fact. Land is the fundamental question in that country.
Now I shall refer to what is called the Central African Federation, consisting of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I visited Nyasaland; the other senators did not. I had some friends there, and I learnt a lot about the Central African Federation. The principle behind the federation is this : in Nyasaland there are hardly any industries, and there is rather a large population, of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 nonEuropeans. The intention is to use those people in the copper mines in Northern Rhodesia. For that reason certain people have been pretending that this African Federation existed. The Africans have no direct vote at all. The whites completely control it. When I was at Victoria Falls, there was a gentleman named Mclntyre whose photograph was in the paper on that Saturday^ There was a big write-up about him. He was the treasurer of the Central African Federation. Previously, he had been the treasurer of Southern Rhodesia. He was a Scotsman who went out to Africa with practically nothing, started work in a shop, and finally became fairly wealthy; He did not know who I was, and he said to me, “ That so-and-so James Griffiths should not be allowed in the country “. 1 might say that James Griffiths is one of the finest men you could meek He had been Minister for the Colonies in a Labour administration. I said to Mr. Mclntyre, “ Are the Africans to have any say in the new federation ? “ He said, “ These black so-and-sos will have no say in it if I can stop them “. He is the treasurer and had been telling the world how wonderful the federation was.
I do not want to say any more about that, because I want to refer to South Africa. The other night, we heard Senator Laught saying that Mr. Menzies
Was a wonderful man, who was respected all over the world. The honorable senator said, “ The Prime Minister of South Africa thinks a great deal of Mr. Menzies “. Mr. Menzies was in South Africa, and he said just what he said about the Communists the other day. When he was speaking at a political meeting in Victoria, Mr. Menzies said, “Do you mean to tell me that the Communists in Southeast Asia are no danger?” Of course they are, but what has that to do with the Labour party? Nothing! When Mr. Menzies was in Africa he said, “If we had 9.000.000 coloured people and only 2.000,000 whites we would look at things differently “. He used the term “coloured people” erroneously, because when speaking of coloured people in Africa one does not mean the Zulus, the Basutos, or the Indians, but one means the Cape coloured people. But Mr. Menzies included the lot of them. He said that in those circumstances we would think differently. Of course we would, but Mr. Menzies should not make statements of that kind, as he did when he went to Victoria and said, “ I am a simple Presbyterian, but I have to talk about the groups “. No one could have been better treated than Senator Pearson and the others were treated in South Africa by the people they saw.
– Have I denied it?
– I have not heard the honorable senator say anything about it yet.
– Senator Pearson has more sense.
– More sense than to do what?
– Than to talk in the way that Senator Grant is talking.
– Perhaps I should have more sense than to talk to Senator Kendall.
– The honorable senator proves what he said earlier, that parliamentarians should not be sent overseas.
– I have not finished it yet. I said that they should not be sent unless they had some knowledge of where they were going. It is of no use sending some honorable senators to South-East Asia- because all they know about it is what they read in the Herald and the Age. They would come back no better informed than before they went. I am trying to make the point that practically all the members of the delegation who went to Africa came back with the same ideas that they had before they went, because they were sheltered. They were surrounded by a phalanx, through which it was impossible to force one’s way. I am not so foolish as to suggest that no one should go anywhere. What I say is that parliamentarians should not go overseas unless they have some chance of getting behind the veil.
In South Africa to-day even the Britishers do not want to talk about the situation. In any event, the Britishers no longer count in South Africa. There are 1,000,000 Boers and there are 1,000,000 British, but the Boers, through the medium of apartheid, have the whole game sewn up. Their education is not high, but physically they are very strong.
Except on the farms, they do not do much physical work; the Africans and others do that. But if necessary the Boers are prepared to fight to the death to keep what they have. The British have probably been more humane, or perhaps less understanding, and they are being pushed right back.
I think that other members of the delegation will agree with me when I say that whenever we wanted anything during our visit it was provided almost before we asked for it; but if we wanted to look behind the veil we could not do so. The British, particularly in the towns, have been living on slavery for the last 50 years, and they have not had a new idea since Queen Victoria died. They are still living in the days of the Boer War. But the Boers, their children and their grand-children, are very different. They know all about Colenso and Bloemfontein, and they know it all from the Boer point of view. There are 9,000,000 non-Europeans in the country, but the Boers are trying to introduce this stupid system known as apartheid. To give the churches their due, some of them have done very good work in speaking against this terrible thing. Nevertheless, there is a determination to shift these unfortunate people, and to shift them brutally, by hitting them on the head, putting them in trucks and taking them to reserves. That is apartheid, the segregation of the non-Europeans, but it is impossible to apply that policy fully. For instance, the coloured, non-European girl works in the home. The whites are nol going to do the work that she does. She looks after the children, washes the dishes, cleans the boots. Now they say, “ Thai non-European person is never going to have any say politically “. What they are trying to do in South Africa is economically stupid.
In Africa, particularly in the mines, machine development is probably higher than in similar industries anywhere else in the world. As the machines are developed the mind of man develops. While the man’s mind is developing, the Europeans are trying to hold him back. The wealthiest or the most highly educated Indian or African has no say whatever.
Now it seems that they are going to succeed in taking away the vote from 1,000,000 “ coloured people “ in the Cape provinces. The phrase is used to describe the people born of intermarriage with the original inhabitants of South Africa. The Boers ha ve the most extraordinary - [ will not say “ philosophy “ because it would be a misnomer - they have the most extraordinary method of propaganda. They say that they are the indigenous people of South Africa, and they reason in this way: It is nearly 300 years since they came there originally, and there were only a few bushmen around, and the Bantu were much farther north. “ Bantu “ is the term given to the Africans as a whole. They did not move to the south for many years. The Boers say that they are the original inhabitants sent there by the Lord to govern the blacks or the coloured peoples. In every Dutch Reformed Church in Africa on every Sunday, the predicant - that is, the preacher - preaches that the Lord has sent them there, and that they are going to rule over the non-European people.
That is the position in South Africa, and at any tick of the clock anything is likely to happen. I do not claim to be a superman, but I have read a great deal about South Africa. I have had close relations living there. My own nieces and other relations were born in the country. They have the most extraordinary conception of what has been taking place there, because they were so near to the situation that they could not see the wood for the trees.
I mention these things because, as I said at the beginning, it is useless to tend a delegation to South-East Asia unless it comprises individualists who want to find out for themselves what is right, what is left and what is centre. Some months ago I was talking to Senator Gorton and he spoke of how well things were going in Indo-China and how the Viet Nam had the position in hand. [ suppose his source of information was the Minister in this chamber who represents the Minister for External Affairs. [ said to the honorable senator then, ““We will have a look at the position in /1X months’ time in Indo-China and it will be worse “. My words have been borne out by the events since. The insurgents in Indo-Ohina cannot be called Communist rebels. They are religious fanatics of the extreme right. Forces led by two gentlemen called Bao Dai and Ngo dinh Diem are fighting. One is backed by France and the other is backed by America. Does any honorable senator believe that a delegation could go to Indo-China and find out anything of value just on what it is told? Of course, it could not! I have learned from reading books on South-East Asia what the French have done in Indo-China and what the Foreign Legion has done. There has been indiscriminate butchery. i servant who was too old to work would be hit on the head arid killed and replaced by some one younger. Dreadful thing? have happened there for years.
About six weeks ago notice was given of a bill that would be introduced to send troops to Malaya and I said then that if the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) wenpaid by the Russian Communists to do something that would help their cause he could not do anything better than bring down such a measure. Some honorable senators will remember my words. I said that the Communists are masters of propaganda and that they would say, “ Look at the people who are fighting us. Look what they have come to Malaya for”. This is exactly what is happening. The party that is using this propaganda is called the Malayan Action party, but I should say that speaking generally its members are Communists. They are using this very propaganda, are they not ? Now, the Government does not know whether it is sending troops to Singapore or to the Hebrides. The Prime Minister spoke to Mr. Foster Dulles in the United States of America and then, through the newspapers, committed Australia. Since that time this Parliament has not heard one word about where Australia is going on this matter of sending troops abroad. No one has been told whether the troops are going to Malaya, or Borneo, or Sumatra, or anywhere else. There has been not one word about this thing.
– Surely, they arigoing to Malaya?
– The honorable senator must have been at a Cabinet meeting this morning. He knows more than I do or, for that matter, more than any one else, including the press. Indeed, all that members of the Parliament know is what has been published in the newspapers. All I know is that the people in Malaya who are as near to the Communists as they can get are doing exactly as I said they would. The Sydney Morning Herald said to-day that honorable senators on this side of the chamber seem to be interested in what the Communists say. It did not say what the Malayan Action party has said. I am not directly interested in the policies of that party. I am not against sending troops to Malaya because I am in favour of Communists; I am against sending troops to Malaya because I am against the Communists.
– Like the Tribune.
– The honorable senator is like me, but that does not say he is as intelligent as I am. I suppose that according to the honorable senator’s reasoning, when the Tribune comes out on the same day as the Sydney Morning Herald, both papers contain the same matter. Is that his idea?
– The idea is that they are against it, and so is Senator Grant.
– Everything that I have said is true and everything that the honorable senator has said is obviously stupid.
– Why ?
– I do not understand.
– The honorable senator would not.
– I understood what was taking place as it occurred, and what I said then has been borne out by what has happened since. Senator Gorton is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, but this Senate has not heard a word from him. Let him get up in this chamber and say where these troops are going. The last I read was that the Australian troops were going west of Penang. It is not mine but the senator’s job to tell the Senate about these things.
– Why tell the “ Commos “ everything ?
– After one look at the senator a “ Commo “ would walk away and say it was impossible.
– I’ll say he would.
– Do not be offensive and do not call me a “ Commo “.
– I did not.
– The honorable senator implied that I was agreeing with the “ Commos “. If a Communist looked at that clock and said it is five minutes to nine and I said, “ You are right “, would I be a “ Commo “ too ? Is that what the honorable senator is trying to say? Do I have to say, “ No, it is not five to nine, it is a quarter to eleven”? That is the sort of reasoning that honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber have put forward since 1949. Since that year this country has got into a desperate economic state because of the tremendous increases that have occurred in costs. The Menzies-Fadden Government has wrecked the nation’s economy and every time a senator on this side has pointed to economic facts he has been met with the cry “ You are a Commo “. Wages went up, prices went up, wages went up again, prices went up again, and so it went on. Everybody knew what was happening - except the Government. Any one who said anything about the trend of events was told, “ You are a Commo “. That was the catch-cry at the general elections in 1949 and again in 1951. Now, because honorable senators on this side of the chamber oppose sending troops to Malaya, Senators on the Government side say that we are “ Commos “. The fact is that we are realists. Consider what we have said and it will be seen that it accords with the facts as they have been revealed by the passage of time.
Let me return to the point I was making about delegations. When I was in central Africa a gentleman named General Erwin stool alongside me when I was talking to a non-European. He heard the conversation, which was about where we are going. I would not talk to a native person about revolution or something like that. This man Erwin said to me, “ You should not be talking to them “. I said, “ I will talk to any one I like. You heard what. I was talking about “. But he> was not satisfied with, that and I. take it that he spoke m Sir Howard D’Egville,, who waa the leader of the delegation from the: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Sir Howard then came to me and1 told me not to- talk to Has– natives. That is at nice way to send. a. delegation to< a country..
– That is not what he told the senator.
– That is not the way he talked to me?
– That is not what he told the senator.
– How does Senator Pearson know. He was not there.
– You mean I was there..
– The senator was net. Sir Howard D’Egville said, “If [ were you I would not talk to those people at all “. That is exactly what he said.
– Sir Howard told me what he told you.
– Senator Pearson a moment ago said that he was there; Now be says. Sir Howard D’Egville told him. Anybody who knows me knows also that though I have a lot of faults and might use a little rhetoric here and there, I would not deliberately lie about my worst enemy. I consider myself a truthful man indeed, because I believe that the man. who. lies about, another harms, not that, other person, but himself. [ have used the exact words Sir Howard D’Egville. used to me, but seemingly he was not satisfied with saying them to me;, he went, further, and said something to Senator Pearson, who is making his case worse- for him.
I revert to the situation in Singapore. Mr. David Marshall, who is the Chief Minister there, is very much, against sending, Australian troops1 to Malaya. Some- of the newspapers nave called him a rabble-rouser.
– They probably called1 the senator one once.
– Yes, and I am sorry that they are not, saying it about nae now.. I hope to live up to that reputation. Of course,, whether a. man is a rabble-rouser depends upon whom he is. rousing.. Anybody who. is. an opponent is a member of the rabble. Any one. who talks im a way that the newspapers do not like is a rabble-rouser. He talks to the mob. If he is speaking, to any one on the, other side of the fence he is talking to a most, distinguished audience. This is all part of the technique. David Marshall was very much against sending troops to Malaya. However, the Government would not take any notice at the time, but went ahead with the legislation. Now, during, the. election campaign in Malaya,, in the forefront of the propaganda of the. Action party is the slogan, “Vote for the Action party and we willforce the Australian troops out of Malaya “.
For years, this- Government, has; been indulging in anti-Communist propagandas I suggest that, it cannot, run the country by methods such as those. I invite honorable senators opposite to consider what happened at Port Melbourne during the recent general election in Victoria. In that centre, the Communist candidate, received only 131 votes, despite the fact that the Government has been talking about the dangers; of communism in this* country for the past six years: In- my opinion, the Communists in Australia do not amount to a row of pins. At the recent general election in the. United Kingdom, the Conservatives were successful.
– And they were successful in Victoria, too.
– Yes, I know they were, for the simple reason that the Liberal-Country party candidates received,, by way of preferences,, seven- of every eight votes cast for the groupers.
– Is- the honorable senator with the Communists?
– Have I ever been heard to advocate the cause of the Communists ?
– The honorable senator has been doing that all his life;
– I listened to Senator Vincent speaking the other night, and I have never heard such a political Irishstew. Nobody knew what he was talking about when he started to speak, and by the time he had finished he did not know himself.
I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision to send troops to Malaya, because I am of the opinion that to do so would have a great effect on South-East Asia’. The late Mr. Chifley stated that Mr. Nehru was one of the greatest statesmen he had ever met, and I am satisfied that if it were not for Nehru, all Asia would be Communist now. In my opinion, he is the man, above all others, whom we have to placate. He is putting up a terrific fight against the Communists. Every Communist knows that the party he supports has no chance of attaining power unless it is able to destroy the Labour party. I remember at least one thing that Senator Vincent said when he spoke recently. He referred to the Tribune, I think it was, and said that the Communists advocated support of the Labour party, and things of that kind. If I had the time, Mr. President, I could show you hundreds of utterances by Communists to the effect that the members of the Labour party were socialist-fascists, that the Labour party would have to be destroyed, that its supporters were wolves in sheep’s clothing, and that the party represented the last bulwark of imperialism.
Honorable senators may remember that, on one occasion, I said in this chamber that the Communists had a lot to say about British and American imperialism, but nothing to say about their own brand of imperialism, which is probably the worst of all. This gentleman, Rex Chiplin, who was called before the Royal Commission on Espionage, wired to Sydney to the effect that I had said, “What is wrong with British imperialism ? “ The matter was given publicity under big headlines, and as far as they were concerned, Grant had reached an all-time low. I suggest to honorable senators that Lenin was pretty wise when he said, “We will support the social-democrats in the way that the hangman’s rope supports the man who is going r,o bt- hanged “. We of the Labour party know that to be true. We know how to fight the Communists. It is time that the Government came out with a definite policy, instead of talking all the time about communism. I challenge honorable senators on the other side of the chamber to mention the name of one member of the parliamentary Labour party whom they say is a Communist. Of course, they cannot do so. It is high time that they stopped saying that we are Communists, because it is obviousthat they do so only to cover up for thi mess they have made of the country.
It may be remembered that when tb Seato treaty was before this Pa.rliamen for ratification, we on this side of the chamber said that the treaty had no teeth in it, that the European countries which were signatories to it could not look after themselves, much less look after the countries of South-East Asia, and thai Australia was getting into something which it did not quite understand. What is the position now? I suggest thai everything we said then has been borne out by subsequent events. In the light of that, I ask the Government to consider gravely the decision to send troops to Malaya. I can conceive of nothing better calculated to stimulate the Communist cause than the sending of Australian troops to Malaya.
When the groupers in Victoria were saying that we were Communists, I said, “ All history shows that, when you send an army of occupation into a country, you cause antagonism “. There is no harm in reminding the Government that when the Russian revolution took place, the political machine in Russia was not of a very high order. It was not long since the Russians had known slavery and feudalism. The economy was in a very’ bad state. Famine broke out, and the people were living on roots and anything that they could get. Then, the British and the French made a mistake similar to that which this Government is about to make. They sent British and French soldiers to Russia, as well as Polish and other troops. It was then that Lenin said, “ Never mind whether you are a Communist, a Bolshevik, or anything else. The Fatherland has been attacked “. At that point, the Communist party became strong. It set up a ruthless dictatorship and exterminated all opposition. It has carried on in that way ever since.
When I was in Victoria, I heard a lot about the red, white and blue ticket. I said to our friends there, “ The same thing happened in Ireland, when there were strong forces trying to consolidate the country. That trouble has gone on for 700 years, and the greatest mistake in all that time was the sending of the Black and Tans to Ireland. That gave rise to atrocities by the Black and Tans, and counter-atrocities by the Irish. Men who were there have told me that service on the western front during World War I. was a picnic compared with service in Ireland. They said that, on the Western front, they at least had relief when they were out of the trenches, but in Ireland there was no relief at all. In the dead of night, or when they were going out with their sweethearts, they were in greater danger than they were during the day. 1 suggest that honorable senators apposite consider the manner in which Great Britain lost America. The British sent in soldiers, the famous Red-coats, and they made the even greater mistake of sending Hessian mercenaries to America. I do not know whether honorable senators have read the pamphlet that Tom Paine wrote at the time, but it was distributed throughout America and appealed to the Americans to rally on the ground that there was no longer any question but the defence of the country. And the Americans pushed the British out. I could give illustration after illustration to prove my point, and as sure as [ am speaking here to-night this Government will make a great mistake if it sends troops to Malaya. We have done a great deal to improve our relations with the Asians under the Colombo plan, and we have received many compliments from the Asians for our activities in that direction. I have had contact with a lot of visitors from Asia, and I have often had lunch with them and discussed certain matters with them.. I have learned that we are well liked in Asia, and I suggest to the Government that it would be bad policy to have that liking turned to dislike.
In Africa the white men use the Zulus to carry their burdens whereas the Australian would probably carry his own. In Africa no one would offer a poor old coloured woman a seat in a crowded tram, indeed she probably would be put off the vehicle. On the other hand, an Australian would have no hesitation in giving such an old coloured woman his own seat in the tram. There is a certain spirit of good fellowship in the Australians, and the Asians have realized it. I repeat that we are very well liked in Asia at present, and because I know the Asian people I warn the Government that it will do tremendous harm and assist the cause of communism if it sends troops to Malaya. The Government should admit in a frank and manly way that it has made a mistake in deciding to send troops, and should alter its decision.
.- The remarks that I now wish to make are in the nature of preliminary remarks which I shall make because the present seems to be the last occasion during these sittings of the Parliament that I shall have an opportunity to do so. They arise out of a matter initiated by Senator Henty when he asked a question about the details of expenditure by the Commonwealth Bank on a certain building in Tasmania. The reply that he received indicated that there was no obligation on the Government to supply any details to the Parliament about the items on which money was expended, how much was paid for the site, how much for the building, how much for the furniture, and so on.
Because that reply . seemed to me to derogate from what should be the power of the Parliament, I asked what had been expended in this case on the site, the building and the furniture. To-day, I received a reply to that question from the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) indicating once again that this matter was one which raised an important point of principle, and about which the Parliament had no right to seek details. It appears to me that that answer raises, as indeed the reply indicated, a matter of some principle and substance.
– It was & mischievous question, and mot a question of substance.
– If Senator O’Byrne will remove Ms mind from the particular question concerned, he will realize that if that class of question is not to he answered, a matter of some substance is raised. Of course, it is not an easily answered question, but it is one which should be of importance “to the members of this Parliament. The Banting Act, which set up certain banks, placed upon the managements of them the obligation to be guided by the Government in matters of policy. The Government clearly had the right to protect the banks on matters of policy, but the act did not place in the possession of the Government clear powers beyond that point. Yet, those banks are bound under the Banking Act to provide statements ©f account to the Parliament.
– To the Treasurer.
– To the Parliament, not the ‘Treasurer. Those statements of account were to be provided each year. The position now arises that the banks are bound to provide yearly statements of account but are :not bound to answer any questions that arise from those statements or to explain them in any way to ‘the Parliament. Yet, I repeat, that they are bound by statute to supply the yearly accounts to the Parliament. That seems to be not a satisfactory position. I extend what I have said from the particular corporation about which I -am speaking to all sorts of statutory corporations, and I ‘suggest that on any occasion when these corporations are bound by Jaw to supply accounts to the Parliament, then the Parliament should have the right to obtain information about, and an explanation of, those accounts.
The position in that regard .appears ito he unsatisfactory ;at the present time, as all sorts of things arise from these accounts. The Parliament may wish to know .how much ‘of a certain item of expenditure is debited to the ‘central bank, how much to the trading bank and how much to the other ‘divisions of this particular bank. The Parliament may -wish to know (how much has been written >off each year from the value of buildings, ‘birt it only receives information about how much is written off in respect of the trading banks. There are many matters arising out of the .accounts which would be of interest to the Parliament. The problem, therefore, is how to arrange for the Parliament to get that information without throwing open to it the right to get other information which it probably should not have.
Every one will agree that in the case of the trading bank, which is different from the Central Bank - being a trading corporation and not an instrument of high policy - it would be wrong for the Parliament to have the right to ask for an explanation of why Jones was employed at a particular place instead of Smith, or why “ A “ was promoted instead of “ B “ or why somebody got .an overdraft and another person did not. Mattel’s such as those should be in the control of the manager and the board of the bank, and not subject to political pressure and questions in the Parliament. On the other hand, since public money is involved in this corporation, and because half t’he profits made by the corporation in any year go to ‘Consolidated Revenue, and those profits are lessened if large expenses are incurred, then it appears to me that the Parliament, having not the right to the first category of information, should have right to the second category to the extent of finding out how much has “been spent on a particular project. The Parliament should not say that it .should or .should not have been expended, but it should ,get factual information about how much lias been spent.
In the final analysis the Government has full rights over all these corporations by act of Parliament, and if that right is to be taken into account then the members of the Parliament .should :be supplied with the proper information. This problem is not new to this country. It .has been exercising the minds of the members of the United Kingdom Parliament for the past year or eighteen months. That Parliament appointed a .select committee to inquire into how these statutory corporations, divorced from direct parliamentary control by statute, could supply the sort- of information required by Parliament without being liable to supply the other information which no reasonable man could suggest the Parliament should have. The difficulty was overcome by the appointment of the select committee which was. able to obtain for Parliament in March of this year the kind of information to which I am referring. In. particular, it was able to obtain the type of information presented by the nationalized industries in England to the United Kingdom Parliament.
I commend to the Government some study of this matter in the hope that action may be taken along those lines in connexion with all these corporations. I hope that the Government will study this matter and, in the next parliamentary sessional period, will be prepared to debate’ the matter so that all honorable senators may see the pros and cons of this rather important matter brought out clearly. At that time I shall be more prepared than I am now in these preliminary remarks to take part in such a debate.
I suggest , that it would be proper that, development debentures be credited to those who pay the revenue from year to year, insofar as that revenue is salted down in the capital expenditure of the country. Two weeks ago,, the representative of the Treasurer in this chamber told me that the whole of the cost of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric undertaking - some £54,000,000 - had been provided from current revenue. Nothing could be more opposed to my ideas of a liberal economy and a liberal method of taxation than the fact that the generation which is providing that great capital undertaking should do so by way of revenue taxation. It seems to me to be proper that the people who yield that revenue should have credit, so that their individual fortunes, which are small in the vast majority of cases, should have an I O U from the Treasury put in their cash boxes as part of the family resources. I believe that that is- true private enterprise, so that the man who is earning the money should have the wherewithal himself to. provide for his family. I believe that the- Government should make proper recognition! of that and, instead of simply taking the- money by compulsory taxes, should provide some development debenture whereby the equivalent yield in revenue is represented in the taxpayers’’ accounts by some form of security.
With regard, to income tax, I believe we have reached the stage where it is timely to consider the ultimate limit of that form of taxation. As everybody knows, income tax is a modern form of taxation. Under the socialist delusion that prevailed) before’ 1949, it was thought to provide an inexhaustible means of mulcting the people who work. It is a fact that the income tax does impose a penalty upon the people whose earnings contribute to the development of the country. It can go beyond the stage where it will contribute to development, and reach the stage where the millstone around the necks of the workers will be responsible for economic retrogression. That is broadly so with the scale of income tax savagely conceived by those who were urgently pursuing a socialist objective in 1945 and 1946. They saw in the income tax instrument the best means of getting away from a capitalist economy and, in the Calwell phrase, of producing the omelette of the scrambled egg, so that a person with capital would no longer exist. That scale of income taxation, starting then from a figure of, say, £400 a year, is not being lifted sufficiently in relation to the present scale of modern incomes and the wasting value of money. That incidence of an outworn scale upon a vastly inflated scale of incomes at the present time is producing untold harm to the economy of this country.
I wish to mention one or two matters of detail in regard to income tax policy. The first is the great improvement introduced by depreciation allowances for pastoral and structural improvements to persons engaged in primary industry. I have pleaded, for the third year in succession, that the Government should provide a remedy whereby that should not be a snare and a delusion to the taxpayer who has been induced to take advantage of it, and for whose benefit it was intended. Under the present law, on the sale of the asset improved by the taxpayer, it is - I am informed by no less an authority than the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) who confirms my view - incumbent on the taxpayer to write back the depreciation to the extent of his full improvements of it. An illustration would be the case of a man who sells his farm, having made these improvements with the benefit of taxation concessions, being hit, in the one year, following the sale of his farm, with an unexpected slug of taxation that no member of the Parliament ever intended should be visited on him.
Next, there calls for remedy the section in the Income Tax Act which imposes a capital tax upon a taxpayer who is deemed to have disposed of his plant and stock simply by the fictional notion that is fixed on him by the act when he enters into a partnership with more than five persons, unless the Commissioner of Taxation is good enough to hold the opinion that that number is not excessive. I need not resurrect the great spirits that I found in this Parliament when that provision was enacted, but the time has come for a remedy to be applied so that people no longer will be visited with capital confiscation as is happening daily and yearly, in the name of an income tas under the heading of “ deemed dispositions “.
I now refer to estate duty. May 1 ask that consideration be given to raising the relief on estates from so-called estate duty corresponding to the value of the £3 to-day f May I ask also, that instead of the rate of income tax being fixed in accordance with the aggregate value of the estate, that it be fixed, not in relation to the estate of the deceased but to the quantum of benefit that each individual legatee receives. If a legacy of £500 is left to the manager of an estate valued at £50,000, that unfortunate legatee should not pay at the rate prescribed for £50,000. In other words, I plead for the adoption of an idea of succession duty rather than estate duty.
In view of the recent increased incidence to the Commonwealth of estate duty imposed by the States, I ask, further, that some relief be given to those estates that bear Commonwealth estate duty. First of all, some relief is due in relation to the estates which call for assessment of estate duty twice within a short period of years. Otherwise, the assets of this country will be passed to the Treasury instead of being moulded in the hands of enterprising people upon whom these forms of holdings rightly devolve.
Lastly, on fiscal matters, I wish to refer to gift duty. This Parliament has inherited the gift duty framework that was imposed in 1942 simply as a guardian against the evasion of income tax, then unprecedentedly increased for war-time purposes. A capital tax is now solemnly retained even by those to whom the idea of capital taxation is abhorrent, that is upon gifts of property from one person to another. I plead for the complete abolition of it. Every honorable senator believes that the excessive aggregation of wealth in the hands of any one individual is calculated to prejudice the economy. All honorable senators agree that the greater distribution of wealth is for the advantage of the economy. In the Australian situation the application of this idea often comes to the farming community. A family has worked until they have reached adult years and the father says to one of the family, “ That farm is yours, my son, when you marry”. The farm is worth £7,000, and when the gift is made the Commissioner of Taxation comes to the father and says, “ A tax from you, please - a capital tax, forsooth, because you have given that farm to your son “. That happens, although, in substance, and in family justice, the son has earned the farm a dozen times over.
I contend that the idea of a gift tax is completely opposed to the view of those who consider that the private possession of property by as many individuals as possible in the community is the best protection to individual freedom, and also that to tax the distribution of wealth when we all believe that the excessive aggregation of wealth in any one individual is a prejudice to the community, is wrong.
If that plea fails, my next submission is that it is now some time since the exemption for gift duty was raised from £1,500 to £2,000 and it should be lifted to at least £5,000 so that gifts shall not bc taxed and visited chiefly on the farming community, and the owners of other great estates. If a man with a fortune of £150,000 were to tell his family of five that he would distribute it in equal proportions among them, the community would be greatly advantaged. There is no reason why the gift duty should be maintained.
I pass now to a matter which, within the past few months, has become one of direct national importance. I believe that any factor that tends to increase the costs of our economy in Australia is a direct factor with which every one of us should concern himself. The position to-day is even more serious than it was in 1953. The struggle then was to stabilize the economy. In the fi~”t quarter of 1954, the Commonwealth
Arbitration Court, in its wisdom, achieved the stabilization of our economy. Anything that we can do to prevent the spiralling of our economy is, I believe, much more important now than it was then, because we all see the fierceness of the overseas competition with which our exports are now faced. That competition is keener now than it was then, and so a suggestion to increase overseas shipping freights by 10 per cent, is a matter that should engage our closest attention. This is a matter of significance not only in relation to overseas freights. It is of much more significance in regard to interstate freights. On many occasions the Minister for Shipping and Transport (“Senator McLeay) has told us that the Australian Shipping Board, by maintaining parity in connexion with interstate freights, is doing little more than break even, and is maintaining only a small margin of profit in the maintenance of its interstate shipping service.
I am usually content to fill the role of an anxious listener to these economic debates, and I intrude now only because I have found an extended misconception of the mechanics by which our overseas freights are regulated. I remind the Senate that the overseas freights which Australian exporters and importers are charged are based upon an arrangement that was entered into in 1929. It stemmed from the most unsatisfactory experience of the eight or nine years that followed 1920, when unorganized shipping was servicing Australia, and we found ourselves without the shipping service that we required. The Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Stanley Bruce, at the instance of the exporters of Australia who were going down into the depression of the 1930’s, called a conference with the Conference Line of Great Britain in 1928. The shipping monopoly was matched by an organization which Australia proved itself capable of producing, namely, the Overseas Transport Association, which the exporters and importers of this country had organized. They said to the Prime Minister of that day, in effect, “ If we make an arrangement with the Conference line of ships that they will bring adequate and regular shipping services to Australia, and will charge freight rates which we will, by bargaining, agree to annually, will you bring in legislation to authorize that arrangement, notwithstanding that, on the face of it, it is an arrangement between two combines, and would seem to offend against the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act ? “ I refer honorable senators to the debate which took place in relation to that legislation, as recorded in Hansard of 1930, at page 1130. To add force to my argument, I remind the Senate that in the meantime there was a change of government. After Mr. Bruce made that arrangement, the Scullin Government came into office. It is significant in a greatdegree that the Prime Minister who introduced the measure - a measure which Mr. Bruce had left in his office when his Government was defeated - was Mr. Scullin. In his speech to the Parliament Mr. Scullin pointed out that an arrangement of this sort was necessary to rescue the commerce of Australia from the perilous position into which it had fallen, by reason of there being no organization for the service of Australia in relation to shipping. In the course of the debate, Mr. Scullin, after enumerating the various importing and exporting bodies that constituted the association, said -
That is clear evidence that the Australian Oversea Transport Association is comprehensive and representative of all the principal organizations of the producers and shippers of Australia. The representatives of the association waited upon me as a deputation and pointed out what had taken place. They told me that they were agreed that there should be regulation and organization on the part of the ship-owners and the exporters with a view to bringing down shipping costs.
I emphasize the words “with a view to bringing down shipping costs “. I am not here to say that, after twenty years’ experience, that arrangement does not need revision. I simply bring it to the attention of the Senate to show that Australian industry has been organized in that way, so that from its combined strength it will be able to match the strength of the shipping combines in the annual negotiations regarding proper freight rates. It is theresponsibility of Australian commerce actually to fix overseas freights, and it is a matter with which the Government has only a supervisory concern, and over which it has no direct control. If there are any among us, especially any Ministers, who feel that that organization should be revised, or that it can be used to meet the urgent situation now confronting us, that is the basis from which their consideration should proceed. I sincerely trust that every influence which the Government can bring to bear to keep our freights on a safe level, even if temporarily they may not be remunerative to the shipowners, will be brought to bear so that for the next five or ten years all parties may enjoy benefits which would exceed any temporary benefits that might accrue from an immediate increase, such as that which is now demanded. I hope, not only that we may be able to prevent overseas freights from being increased, but also that influence will be brought to bear that will control inter-state freights as well, because they are a positive menace to the proper conduct of interstate trade at the present time. We have an opportunity to do something to reduce internal costs, so that we may be able to maintain some measure of prosperity for our producers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks an appropriation of £163,077,000, required to carry on the necessary normal service of government, other than capital works and services, for the first four months of the financial year 1955-56. The provision sought may be summarized under the following heads : -
The bill provides f or the carrying on of essential services approved by the Parliament in the -.Appropriation Act 1954-55. The several amounts included for ordinary services represent, with minor exceptions, approximately one-third of the 1954-55 appropriations. The amount of £64,636,000 for defence services provides for expenditure on the current defence programme, and ‘the amount of £8,711,000 for War and repatriation services covers expenditure on repatriation and rehabilitation and other post-war charges. Except in relation to defence, no amounts are included for new services.
However, an amount of £16,000,000 is sought for “ Advance to the Treasurer “ to allow the payment of the special grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania to be continued pending the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, to make advances which will be recovered during the financial year, and, also to meet unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be included in a Parliamentary appropriation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from . the 31st May (vide page 501), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the hill be now read a second time.
– This bill is complementary to the one which was last before the Senate. It provides for supply for the purpose of carrying on capital works and services in the four months commencing on the 1st July next. It is the sort of bill which is usually brought down at this time of the year. It is obviously necessary that at least the same level of expenditure should be maintained on capital works and services. It is essential that there should be continuity of employment, that there should be forward planning and purchase of necessary materials to enable the works to proceed. In those ‘circumstances, the Opposition ‘supports the measure.
– I. should like to make some remarks in connexion with the Department of Civil Aviation, with particular reference to the new Adelaide aerodrome at West Beach. For a number of years, the amount of money available for the building of this aerodrome has been restricted. Because of the parsimony of the Government, there are temporary structures in all parts of the aerodrome for the use of crews of aircraft and of passengers. The facilities at that aerodrome at present are shocking. The people who use the aerodrome should not be asked to put up with the poor standard of facilities which are available. The passenger accommodation consists of one big room, in which there is only one small door. People entering and leaving this room have to use that one door, luside the room there are all the employees of the airways, who use the same amplifying apparatus. When aeroplanes of different companies leave at practically the same time, the announcements follow one another over the public address system, resulting in much confusion. Whoever was responsible for the provision of the privy accommodation should be ashamed of himself. It is very primitive, and gives no privacy at all. Those facilities should be improved as quickly as possible. There is an amount set out in the estimates for expenditure on civil aviation, and I suggest that the urgent work at West Beach should be proceeded with.
There is one other matter to which I wish to draw attention. I do not know who was responsible for drawing up the plans for the approaches to West Beach Aerodrome, but let me tell honorable senators of the effect of the manner in which the aerodrome roads are laid out. My home is about two and a half miles from the aerodrome, yet it takes less time to go from my home to the aerodrome gate than it does to go from the entrance to the aerodrome to “the car parking lot. It appears to me that the person who drew the road plan inside the aerodrome boundaries must have had one leg shorter than the other. The road begins at a small gate into the aerodrome property. It then snakes around in an S-curve and comes back almost to its starting point, where there is yet another small gate. It is too narrow to permit two cars to pass in the gateway. If two vehicles approach from opposite directions at the same time, one has to wait for the other to go through the gate. When the little parking area is finally reached, there is no system about parking. Anybody parks anywhere he chooses, though the buses have a given spot. When the buses leave they have to back out and every one else has to get out of their way or suffer the consequences. While I have been watching traffic at the aerodrome, I have seen some incidents that were very close to accidents. It is only a small area, I know, but there is no order about parking in it. The whole situation is a disgrace to the City of Adelaide.
It is appalling that a capital city should have such an aerodrome with such poor approaches. It was meant in the first instance to be only a temporary affair, but because of parsimony over the years, the defects of the temporary arrangements have never been remedied. The time is long overdue for the Department of Civil Aviation to set to work and use whatever materials and labour are necessary to bring the aerodrome and its facilities up to date. Another disadvantage at the aerodrome, though I do not know whether it arises from the temporary nature of the facilities or not, is that many aircraft, particularly large aeroplanes, cannot be brought nearer than a quarter of a mile to the waiting room. Sometimes they are nearer, but on most occasions passengers have to walk this long distance to get to a waiting room which they probably find is full with other passengers travelling to and from Melbourne. Sydney, country towns in South Australia, and Perth. The premises are quite inadequate and the present state of affairs must not be allowed to continue. When the facilities were first provided they were considered to be temporary. They would have been bearable had they been altered in a short space of time, but they have remained unchanged for altogether too long.
It is exceptional when a large aircraft is nearer than a quarter of a mile to the waiting room. Any saving of time that might be achieved through the use of the new aerodrome at West Beach in comparison with the old aerodrome at Parafield is of no significance to passengers because of the delay that occurs before they board the aeroplanes in which they are travelling.At Parafield passengers had the opportunity to board and alight from planes quickly, and without the long walk to and from the waiting room that has to be undertaken at West Beach. This walk of a quarter of a mile to and from an aeroplane is particularly dismal in the winter months in Adelaide when there can be quite a lot of drizzling rain. I raise this matter of the West Beach aerodrome during this debate because it is the only opportunity I have to deal with it. I trust that the Minister in this chamber who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation will draw his colleague’s attention to the complaint that I have made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Debate resumed from the 31st May (vide page 501), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I sought the adjournment of the motion for the first reading of this measure mainly for the purpose of giving honor- able senators on this side of the chamber, who did not have a full opportunity during the debate on the Supply Bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government, to have a second opportunity to speak, and also, of course, to preserve and assert the right of the Opposition to debate this motion fully. As there has been a full opportunity for discussion, during the debate on another bill, to deal with relevant matters, I do not propose to carry this debate further, unless any of my colleagues care to avail themselves of the opportunity to do so. I reserve any further comment I may have for the explanation of the bill that will be forthcoming from the Minister on the motion for the second reading.
– I wish to refer briefly to a matter which I did not have an opportunity to mention during the debate on the Supply Bill. I refer to the appointment of additional Arbitration Court inspectors for the State of Tasmania. As honorable senators are aware, there are several. Arbitration Court inspectors throughout Australia, and as the result of representations which extended over many years, Tasmania was successful in having an inspector appointed. Because of the large number of awards which that inspector is called upon to police, he is in a hopeless position. I can think of one industry alone that would keep that officer occupied, without doing anything else, for the next two years. I refer to the awards which affect hotel employees. If a complaint is made that the conditions of an award are not being observed, the body ma.king the complaint may hear from the officer in six months’ time, or it may not. He is obliged to deal with awards which affect hotels, sawmills, garages, and many other activities.
When I suggest that the policing of awards should be carried out to the greatest possible degree, it should not be thought that I am complaining about the ability of the officer who is performing this work in Tasmania. Whether he has industrial knowledge or background, or the ability to interpret awards correctly, is more than I can say at the present time. I confess that my interpretation of some awards conflicts with his, but from what I know of his work, it appears that he is endeavouring to do his job properly. It is not his fault that he is not able to do all the work which such inspectors should be doing in Tasmania. I hope that, in future appointments of this kind, the Government will select men with a good background of industrial knowledge. I hope, also, that the Government will consider the request, previously made by myself, and also by the Launceston Trades Union Council and other Tasmanian trades union bodies, that an additional Arbitration Court inspector be appointed for Tasmania. It is very essential that that be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill, and the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill, seeks Senate approval for certain expenditures for which provision was not made in the 1954-55 Estimates. Details of the various items contained in the bill will, where necessary, be explained in committee. There are a few major items, however, to which it is appropriate to refer at this stage. The largest single item for which an appropriation is being sought is an amount of £8,000,000 which it is proposed to transfer to the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account. It now seems clear that, in 1954-55, defence expenditure will fall short of the budget estimate of £200,000,000. This lag in defence expenditure is a product of conditions both in Australia and overseas. With the Australian economy fully employed, difficulties have been encountered in building up the strengths of the defence forces, whilst shortages of manpower and materials have also limited the local production of the material requirements of the services and the execution of defence works. Delays continue to be experienced, also, in. securing equipment and supplies from overseas sources, and large orders are still outstanding. In these circumstances, the Government has decided to transfer £8,000,000 this year to the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account, thus bringing the balance in that account to £20,000,000. This amount of £20,000,000 will be held available in the Treasury to assist in financing outstanding defence commitments.
In the bill, an amount of approximately £5,100,000 is included under departmental votes to cover the cost of the reclassification of the Public Service which was made by the Public Service Board. Provision is also made for salary increases approved by the Government for permanent heads of departments and other officers of the First Division. An amount of £4,000,000 is provided in the bill for the redemption of savings certificates from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This procedure, which has also been followed in each of the past two years, will make easier the financing of loan fund commitments. Honorable senators will also note a provision of £S75,000 for expenditure in connexion with flood relief in New South Wales. This expenditure has been occasioned by the disastrous and widespread floods experienced in that State earlier this year. The total of the additional appropriations covering items set Out in the schedules to these two bills is £28,600,000. It does riot follow, however, that the total expenditure for the year will exceed the budget estimate by that amount, because sayings will be effected on a number of other items of expenditure. After taking these savings into account, expenditure for the year is not likely to exceed the budget estimate. The actual figure for the year will depend, to a large extent, on deliveries of defence supplies and equipment between now arid the end of Tune-.
On the revenue side of the budget, a number of items seem likely to reach, or slightly exceed, the budget estimate. As a result of buoyant economic conditions, sales tax collections may exceed-‘ the pointed mate by as much as £7,000,000. On .the other hand, the recent floods have had some effect on income tax collections, and it is not yet clear whether those collections will reach the budget estimate. Although the final budget result for the year is still uncertain, it may be possible to transfer some further moneys this year to the Debt Redemption Reserve Trust Account. During the next four or five years, the Commonwealth will be faced with the problem of converting or redeeming an enormous amount of debt, arising, in large part, from war- expenditure. Depending on financial conditions at the time, considerable amounts of this debt may have to be redeemed at maturity. It therefore seems wise, as opportunity occurs, to set aside financial reserves which would be available to meet such redemptions.
Until such time as this reserve is required for debt redemption purposes, the moneys in the reserve can be invested. Last year, most of the balance in the Debt Redemption Reserve Trust Account was invested in a special loan to assist the Loan Council borrowing programme. If it should again become necessary this year to supplement the Loan Council programmes to any extent, an investment from the debt redemption reserve could be made in the same way as last year. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
.- The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) amply explained the need for a further expenditure of £28,600,000 for the current year. The biggest additional item referred to by the Minister was an expenditure of £8,000,000 which is to be taken from proposed expenditure and credited to Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account. I imagine that that account will be in the same position as the Strategic Stores and Equipment Account which I have already commented upon. I have pointed out that the taxpayers have provided, large sums up to about £50,000,000 in the last-mentioned trust account, which have not been applied for the purposes of the account. That seems to indicate that the money was used to back up the Government’s borrowing programmes on the loan market. Interest is credited to that account, upon which the Australian Government collects interest from the States. It seems to be extraordinarily good business for this Government to take the money from the taxpayers, pay it into Consolidated Revenue, lend it to itself per medium of a trust account, and then collect interest upon what is, after all, the taxpayers’ own money, from the State governments.
We see that pattern repeated year after year, and I join in the protests that have been made against a very heavy expenditure from revenue upon the capital works of this Government. There is no objection, in certain circumstances, to some reasonable proportion of revenue being applied to that purpose, but I claim that far too big a proportion is being so appropriated. It is apparent in the fact that £8,000,000 is to be put into a trust account, that the Government is clearing the decks to prevent its surplus at the 30th June from appearing to be too big on the budget papers. One can understand that; but one must record the fact that one observes what is going on. This matter will be mentioned at length when Mie budget is debated.
That is not the only capital item that h :is been dealt with out of revenue. The sum of £4,000,000 is to be applied in redemption of savings certificates. That is the repayment of loan moneys; and there is a suggestion by the Minister that although the final budget result for the year is still uncertain, it may be possible to transfer more moneys this year to the Debt Redemption Trust Account. The Minister said that the moneys to the credit of that account will be invested in a special loan to assist the Australian Loan Council’s borrowing programme. Therefore, not only is the £8.000,000 to go to a trust account, which will be applied to support the Australian Loan Council’s borrowing programme, but further moneys - perhaps the balance of the moneys which would constitute a surplus - will also be so applied. It is very good business for the. Australian Government to collect interest on the taxes that it collects, and I wonder how much longer the .State governments will put up with that type of action by this Government. The Opposition does not oppose the passage of the measure, and we shall allow it to pass with the comments that I have made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from the 31st May (vide page 501), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the hill .bc now read a second time.
.- This is a bill to provide £2,801,000 for capital works and services for the current year, additional to the sums dealt with in the Estimates earlier in this financial year. The details are’ available in the Estimates that have been circulated to senators, and they include an item in regard to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which I believe Senator Byrne is interested in discussing. I suggest that that might be an appropriate matter to raise in committee. The Opposition has no objection to the passage of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 31st May (vide page 502), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– The object of this measure is to appropriate moneys for annual works and services of the Australian Government. It gives an opportunity to any senator to deal with matters relevant, and not relevant, upon consideration of the motion. The bill will determine the details of an appropriation of £3,439,434, portion of the Treasurer’s Advance of £16,000,000 made available for the year 1953-54. The bill seeks post facto approval for the expenditure of that money, and indicates the details of such expenditure. The Opposition has no objection to the passage of the measure. I note that these Estimates have been examined by the Public Accounts Committee. I tender my congratulations to that committee for the care and assiduity with which it has addressed itself to the task of examining the Estimates.When one reads the report of the committee, one cannot fail to admire its work.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– As I have said, one must have a feeling of satisfaction with the work of the Public Accounts Committee which has addressed itself with great particularity to an examination of the accounts of the Commonwealth even though, with regard to the year under review - 1953-54 - that revision takes place rather long after the event. Perhaps that is unavoidable. It may also ease the consciences of many of us in this Parliament to know that the committee is giving such care to the matter. We may feel that that relieves us of an obligation that might have fallen more heavily upon us if the committee was not functioning.
I have taken the opportunity to read the report of the committee, and have discovered that on this occasion, the committee has addressed itself particularly to the fault of over-estimating in the course of a year. The committee has reviewed what has happened in the United Kingdom Parliament in a similar way, and has made a worthwhile contribution on the subject. I do not propose to review all the details of over-estimates that are set out for the information of honorable senators. I merely wish to direct attention, with some concern, to paragraph 141 of the report in which the committee states -
It is with regret and some concern that the Committee mentions that a number of statements prepared by Departments for its examination did not provide adequate explanations of the need for a Supplementary Estimate, a variation of an appropriation under section 37 of the Audit Act, or of an overestimate. In some cases, subsequent inquiries revealed that the explanations offered were incorrect. Furthermore, the Committee was disturbed to find that some witnesses lacked familiarity with the particular subject-matter in respect of which they represented their Department.
They are severe strictures on the way that the cases of departments have been presented to the Public Accounts Committee. It is salutary that the committee should direct attention to the matter, and one can only hope that there will be no need for a repetition of such comments on a future occasion. The Opposition proposes to allow the measure to pass without further comment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator SPOONER (New South
Wales - Minister for National Development) [10.33]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for a supplementary appropriation of £3,439,434 to cover additional expenditure on certain services during the 1953-54 financial year. The amounts detailed in the bill were expended out of the appropriation of £16,000,000 made available to the Treasurer to meet expenditure which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared. It is now necessary to obtain specific parliamentary appropriation to cover these several items of expenditure.
Full details of the expenditure for 1953-54, which includes these items, are set out in the Estimates and budget papers for 1954-55. The Estimates papers show the amount voted for 1954-55 and for the purposes of information, the amount voted and the actual expenditure for the previous year. Details of the expenditure are also included in the Treasurer’s Finance Statement for 1953-54 which was tabled during the budget session for the information of honorable senators.
The Supplementary Estimates detail the items under which the additional amounts were expended by the various departments which, in summarized form, were -
Honorable senators will know that the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Supplementary Estimates 1953-54 was recently laid on the table of the Senate. That report is now being examined.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 31st May (vide page 502), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now reada second time.
– This bill is to provide £721,914 for works and services for 1953-54. The Opposition has no objection to 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 2nd June (vide page 594), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The measure before the Senate deals with remuneration for Commonwealth judges. That is the sole purpose of the measure. The increases of salary provided are very substantial. They range from £5,000 to £8,000 in the case of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia; from £4,500 to £6,500 for a justice of the High Court; from £4,500 to £6,500 for a Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and from £4,000 to £5,500 for a judge of that court. The salary of a judge in the Federal Court of Bankruptcy is to be increased from £4,000 to £5,500 and that of a judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory from £3,500 to £4,750. Honorable senators will notice that those increases range from £1,250 to £3,000 a year, or from approximately £24 to £58 a week. The Opposition considers that it is proper that the judges should be given remuneration commensurate with the importance and responsibility of their functions, and of an order that will assure their independence. With these considerations in mind the Opposition supports the bill and approves the principle that the increases should operate retrospectively to the 1st January, 1955.
Having said that, perhaps I could well let the matter rest there, but I am not disposed to do so, mainly because of some comments made by the Minister in his second-reading speech. I recall that he pointed out that no increases had been made in the salaries of judges for 44 years, from 1903 until 1947, and that the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court had remained at £3,500 a year throughout that whole period, and that of an ordinary justice at £3,000. These salaries were raised in 1947 by the Chifley Labour Government, the Chief Justice receiving an increase of £1,000 making his salary £4,500 and ordinary justices also an additional £1,000, making their salaries £4,000. If that is a matter for reproach, non-Labour governments deserve to bear it more than Labour governments, because non-Labour administrations were in office far more often and for longer periods during those 44 years than were Labour governments.
I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that it was a Labour government in 1947 which made the first move to provide a substantial improvement in the pensions of Commonwealth judges. The salaries then determined for members of the Commonwealth judicature were fixed upon the proper considerations which, as I have indicated, animate the Opposition in its approach to this measure. The Labour Government improved pensions and introduced, for the first time, the principle that pensions should be provided for the widows of Commonwealth judges after the judges themselves had retired on pensions or were deceased. That was a substantial buttressing of the independence and an assuring of the impartiality of the members of the Commonwealth judicature. The Labour Government in 1947 was well aware of the proper considerations that should be kept in mind in determining the emoluments that should be given to members of the Commonwealth Bench.
The Menzies Government, no doubt actuated by the same proper considerations, in 3950 addressed itself to the problem, but the increases then given were not of a very great order. The salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court was increased by only £500 from £4,500 to £5,000. Another £500 was added to the salaries of the other justices of the High Court, making their salaries £4,500 per annum. Now, in 1955, five years later, this bill provides for rather startling increases. The salary of the Chief Justice is to be raised by £3,000 and those of ordinary justices of the court by £2,000. I have no doubt that these increases have been based by the Government on those proper considerations to which I have already adverted.
– They have been forced up by the New South Wales judges’ salaries.
– That has not been the main consideration, although it has been a factor. One must ask what happened between 1950 and 1955 to make these great increases necessary? What influenced the Government of New South Wales to make substantial increases in the salaries payable to members of its judiciary? One must acknowledge that it is the fact of inflation that has’ rum through that five-year period. That is the reason and. the main base for that increase. Ordinary justice, having regard to the inflation that has developed, demanded that something of this order should be done. This we find at the instance of a Government that had promised not to depreciate the currency but to put value back into the £1. I should like to believe that inflation had ended and that the economy had gained permanently its highest level and that costs would be stabilized there; but I am convinced that inflation is not ended and that the psychological effect on the community of increases of this magnitude, right and proper as they are, must result in an inflationary tendency. I only hope that our salary levels can be held indefinitely.
My only other comment is prompted by a statement by the Minister in his second-reading speech. He said -
Therefore, this matter should always be considered quite apart from the consideration of those public servants whose offices come into existence under the executive powers of the Commonwealth.
Adjustments of the judges’ salaries which this bill effects have nothing whatever to do with some of the other arguments that have been going on in Australia about the basic wage or margins.
I feel disposed to say that that is a clumsy attempt on the part of the Government to hide the fact that inflation is entirely responsible for this order. I disagree altogether with the statement that the judges’ salaries have ho relativity to what is happening in the rest of the community - to the ordinary wage levels, particularly those in the Commonwealth Public Service. From my own experience I happen to know that a Labour Government was faced with a similar problem in 1947 and that it began by doing justice to the lower ranks of its public servants. It was found that when those lower paid employees were brought closer to those ahead of them, a margin had to be preserved, shifting them along. That process was applied throughout the Commonwealth Public Service and substantial alterations had to be made in the salaries of departmental heads. Immediately after that happened the question arose of the salaries of holders of statutory offices, including judges. The whole course of events was dictated by the principle of relativity. It is obvious to anybody who examines the matter that that must be a conditioning factor. Margins have been granted by the Public Service Arbitrator or by the Government to an extent in anticipation of an award by the arbitrator. The whole inflationary trend has forced an upward movement at all levels.
On behalf of the Opposition I do not accept the statement of the Minister, made on behalf of the Government, that these payments have nothing whatever to do with what is going on in the rest of the community. To me it is so obvious that what is going on in the community has forced increases of this order to be made. Unquestionably, the ruling consideration is to preserve the position of the judges relative to that of the holders of other statutory offices and highly paid officials in the Public Service. I happened to be one of a sub-committee of three in the Federal Cabinet in 1947 that determined the figures, and I know what actuated the minds of those who were primarily responsible for the whole move. Frankly, I confess to the Senate that my appraisement of the amounts that should be paid was not accepted. It was considerably higher than that which my colleagues of the day were able to accept. I have no complaint to make about the figures that are now proposed, having regard to the considerations I have mentioned. I do not want the Minister, or the Government, to believe for one moment that the Opposition accepts the argument addressed to the Senate by the Minister in the two paragraphs that I have mentioned. The very fact that the bill dates the increase back to the 1st January, 1955, shows clearly that the Government has had regard to what happened in the Public Service. Honorable senators will remember that increases to public servants were adjusted to the 23rd December last. It would indeed be a coincidence if there were no relativity in the fact that the increases covered by this bill are to date from the 1st January. No one will believe that the date is without significance. Surely the Minister will not argue that the retrospectivity of this bill has no relation to those other happenings.
– Was there rela tivity when a Labour government raised judges’ salaries?
– Yes. I admit that that was so.
– Then the honorable senator admits that there was inflation at that time?
– The honorable senator will no doubt remember that before 1947 salaries of judges had not been increased for 44 years. In any event, the time was ripe for something to be done. The point is that at that time everybody, was happy when the Chief Justice received an increase of £1,000, which raised his salary from £3,500 to £4,500 per annum. The other justices also received increases of only £1,000. As I have said, there were no complaints at the time. Everybody realized that throughout the Public Service relativity was being observed, and. accordingly, there was general satisfaction. Those increases were not prompted by a degree of inflation. If Senator Hannaford will look at the matter objectively, I think he will agree that the degree of inflation was quite insignificant at that time. The position is different now. Increases of this order, namely, from £5,000 to £8,000, have been pro:vided as a matter of relativity, and of justice.
The only other comment I have to make is similar to that which I made some time ago, when a bill providing for additional salaries for departmental heads of the Public Service was before tis. I spoke then in different terms, but I said that it was politically bad taste on the part of a government’ to make increases of this order, without attending to the whole pensions field. The proper approach is to look first at the people in the lower ranges of income - pensioners and those who need social services payments. It is no argument to say that the Government has done something’ in that field recently. One honorable senator said that these people have not been forgotten by the Government, because only recently it had done something for people needing rehabilitation. That is relatively an insignificant corner of the social services field, because outside that section there are 500,000 people drawing a subsidy of £3 10s. a week. A better approach, both politically and morally, to say nothing of ordinary charity, would be to put these events in a different Order. The Government should have begun with those in the pensions field, then gone on to the members of the Public Service, until ultimately it reached those in the highest order, namely, the judiciary. The Government has been politically unwise in not dealing with the matter in that way. These pensioners are being overlooked at the very time that the Government has acknowledged in the Senate that its surplus funds, which will not be required, are to be put into reserve and used for capital purposes. We were told to-day that £8,000,000 will be placed in the Defence Trust Account. Undoubtedly, that money will be used to support the loan programme, but a sum of £8,000,000 would go a long way towards giving relief to those in the pensions field. It would provide an increase of about 8s. a week to every pensioner. That is based on the fact that £1,000,000 represents about ls. a week for every pensioner. I admit that is a rough calculation, but even if the increases were only 7s. 6d. a week, it would be a very valuable contribution to the income of pensioners.
– That would be for «ne year only.
– Yes, I recognize that. I have pointed out that this year there is a reserve of £8,000,000 that is not needed for defence, and so it is to be put in a trust fund. Later, that money, with other moneys, will be applied to capital purposes. I repeat that the Government ought to have attended first to persons in the pensions field, in which event the whole order of relativity would have developed naturally. The Government, by doing the right thing, would also have done the politically wise thing. It has the money to give substantial relief to these people. The Opposition regrets that it has not given them relief. However, that does not prevent us from supporting the measure of justice contained in the bill before us. The order in which justice is meted out is a matter for the Government. The Opposition can only deplore the fact that the Government has adopted the wrong order.
– In a matter of this kind I feel that it is incumbent on me to offer a few observations, even at this hour of the night. I, for one, regret the association of discussions relating to the political or economic causes of inflation - proposals for financial readjustment, for Public Service salaries revision and so on - with the bill before us, because if any measure is capable of evoking from the Senate a spirit of national interest and pride, undivided by any of the petty considerations which go to mould propaganda in the interests of parties, this should be a bill of that kind, because it concerns that institution in the British way of life which is the cornerstone of our freedom, and which distinguishes us from those whose ideologies we regard as a menace to us to-day. I remember that it was after some period of suspicion, whether historically justified or not in retrospect, that the Stuart kings, under an Act of Settlement, for the first time made a magnificent contribution to the Constitution of Great Britain when they provided for the independence of the British judiciary. That has been the principle which all thoughtful people in Great Britain have regarded as of fundamental importance to the freedom of the subject there. When we recall that in moulding our Constitution in 1900 we took special care to constitute as one of the three organs of government, the High Court and the judiciary, we can see that the judiciary plays a special part in the federal structure. We need to remind ourselves only of events of the last ten years to see that the part played by our judiciary is of tremendous national importance. I think it was in 1947 that the High Court invalidated the Chifley banking legislation because it infringed the Constitution. With equal determination and equal forthrightness the High Court, I think in 1951, invalidated the Communist Party Dissolution Act. Each of those measures convulsed this Commonwealth of ours, from the point of view of public interest, in a way that no other measure has convulsed it, I believe, since federation. The final arbiter within our Constitution, upon those two measures was the High Court of Australia. That indicates graphically the peculiar significance of our judiciary in a federal system.
We can remind ourselves that the judges of the courts live in a community of which we are all part, and that they are subject to the same costs as we are; but [ believe it is important in a discussion such as this to resist any temptation to make personal references, and to realize that we are awarding a salary statutorily to a particular office, namely the office of a judge. I believe, therefore, that a matter about which we can be profoundly disappointed is the references which have been made during the passage of this bill in another place, I think in a most shabby fashion, to petty considerations, the only object of which was to disparage the judiciary. I feel that some of the references that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) permitted himself to make to-night did nothing to advance the cause of the independence of the judiciary. Of course, this same problem was before the House of Commons in the British Parliament in March, 1954. At that time it was 100 years since the judges of the High Court of Justice had had their salaries reviewed. I make a passing remark, for what significance my colleagues think fit to extract from it, that at that time the British Government first submitted a measure whereby all judicial salaries should be increased by £1,000, exempt from, income tax. Even in relation to the judiciary that immunity from taxation was so opposed on all sides of the House of Commons as to be withdrawn. E hope that, on a future occasion, reflection upon that will lead us to remedy some of the legislation which is now on our statute-book. But that is a thought in passing.
When the bill came before the House of Commons, it provided for increasing the judges’ salaries, I think in the case of the Lord Chancellor, to £12,000 a year, and in the case of most of the other judges of the High Court, to £10,000 a year. If the House will bear with me I will quote from a significant speech in the House of Commons upon that measure. The mover of the motion said -
I cannot remember having ever moved the second reading of a bill in this House . . . with a stronger conviction than I have now that it is urgent and necessary in the national interest.
He also said -
In a period where everybody feels th* pressure of taxation and prices, when Members of the House of Commons are quite naturally conscious of their difficulties, and the whole country is gripped in the pincers of rearmament and the Welfare State; when our overseas balance, though greatly improved, is far from being finally established, anything in the nature of an increase of salary or wages requires doubly accentuated scrutiny. Nevertheless, while under no pressure of any kind from the High Court judges, we have felt it our duty to take this important step for reasons which 1 ask the House to allow mf to place before them.
The speaker also said -
It is the long-term interests of fundamental institutions of the State which alone must rule.
At page 1062 of the British Hansard the speaker said -
Parliament has a vital interest in the efficiency and the integrity of the bench because the Parliament and the Judiciary are interdependent, and from different angles they exercise and enforce their control upon the Executive. Parliament decides what the law shall be and the judges decide what in fact Parliament has made it. The principle of the complete independence of the Judiciary from the Executive is the foundation of many things in our island life. It has been widely imitated in varying degrees throughout the world. It is perhaps one of the deepest gulfs between us and all forms of totalitarian rule. The only subordination which a judge knows in his judicial capacity is that which he owes to the existing body of legal doctrine enunciated in years past by his brethren on the Bench, past and present, and upon the laws passed by Parliament which have received the Royal Assent. The judge has not only -to do justice between man and man. He also- and this is one of hig most important functions considered incomprehensible in some large parts of the world - has to do justice between the citizens and the State. He has to ensure that the administration conforms with the law, and to adjudicate upon the legality of the exercise by the Executive of its powers.
At page 1063 of the same volume the following appears: -
The British Judiciary with its traditions and record, is one of the greatest living assets of our race and people, and the independence of the Judiciary is a. part of our message to. the ever-growing world which is rising so swiftly around us. It is the duty of Parliament to make sure that the judges arc not unduly pressed by the money problem which has arisen from the great diminution of their incomes, and that their need to maintain a modest but dignified way of life suited to the gravity, and indeed the majesty, of the duties they discharge, shall not be rendered impossible. Parliament has to ensure that those few men who are capable of rendering this exceptional service in all its forms are attracted towards doing so, and that their circumstances when they have taken office are such as to enable their powers to be exercised in the public interest without financial anxiety or personal distraction.
It is a major British interest that the Judiciary should attract and retain a continuous flow of the highest type of men in character and ability who have devoted themselves to the study of the law.
Then the speaker made a remark that is arresting in its challenge -
I was convinced of the urgency of this Measure when I was informed two years ago that several judges had asked to return to the Bar, as is their right. I also heard of some reluctance among the ablest figures of the Bar to rise to the Bench, in former times an unchallenged inducement.
The Bench must be the dominant attraction to the legal profession, yet it rather hangs in the balance now, and heavily will our society pay if it cannot command the finest characters and the best legal brains which we can produce; and heavily will our country pay if, in an epoch where our relative material power has diminished, we do not sustain those institutions for which we are renowned.
I make no apology for these quotations because they come from a speech by no less a person than the Eight Honorable Sir Winston Churchill, formerly Prime Minister of Great Britain. The traditions so magnificently evaluated and expressed in the passages that I have read have been faithfully transmitted to Australia. It is a matter of the most profound rejoicing that we can say that the judiciary carries on faithfully in this country according to those concepts. Let me read one further excerpt from one of the best legal periodicals - the Law Quarterly Review, of October, 1954: - in which Professor Goodheart, the Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford, in referring to our own Chief Justice of the High Court, said this -
Sir Owen Dixon, the Chief Justice of Australia, who is generally recognized as one of the three or four most distinguished judges in the English-speaking world submitted certain views. Sir Owen Dixon presides over a court that is worthy of him, and I need say nothing more of hia colleagues. It is a matter of satisfaction to be able to .express in that spirit the principles upon which I should like to see the acceptance of this measure based.
. - in reply - I rather regret that the support given to this measure by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was somewhat marred by his intrusion, into the debate of references to pensions and inflation. The honorable senator is a former Minister and well knows that age and invalid pensions are traditionally dealt with as budget matters. In addition, facts disclose that no government has been so mindful of the requirements and the cause of those in need as this Government has been, and I trust that that will always be so. When the budget is being considered such matters will, of course, receive the most careful consideration and the most generous consideration that circumstances will permit. The Leader of the Opposition knows also that inflation is an effect. It is not something that can be turned on and off at will as an electric light can be turned on and off by the flick of a switch. It is true that when the Menzies Government came into office, in 1949, Australia was in the middle of a surge of inflation that had attained the proportions of a flood. A lot of that inflation had been caused, of course, by World War II., but it had been substantially aggravated by eight years of socialist misrule.
The stopping of inflation is not an easy matter. It takes time; and it took the Menzies Government some time to arrest the flood of inflation that it had inherited as a result of the previous misrule. But whereas when we came to office there was a rising tide of inflation and an upward spiralling of prices, those conditions gradually have been arrested. There is no need for the Senate to take my word for it. All that honorable senators need do is to study the cost-of-living index figures, and they will see how the wise administration of the Menzies Government has arrested inflation and brought the spiralling of costs virtually to a standstill. However, I do not wish to intrude into this debate anything extraneous to the bill, as did the Leader of the Opposition. The bill has received the unanimous support of the Senate in a manner to which the subject-matter of the legislation is completely entitled.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 11.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 June 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1955/19550607_senate_21_s5/>.