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 : -
Repatriation Bill 1955.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1955.
Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1955.
– I preface a question to the Attorney-General by saying that when certain statutes are introduced the Minister finds it necessary to specify certain sums because those sums are required for purposes of calculation and have to be taken into account by other bodies. For instance, in connexion with social services-
– Order! The honorable senator should ask his question.
– It is necessary that I preface my question in this way. I now ask the Attorney-General whether he will examine the provisions of section 84 of the Bankruptcy Act 1924-1954 which fixes the priority of debts and states, inter alia, “ Thirdly, in payment of all wages or salary of any clerk, servant, labourer or workman (not being the wife, husband, child, parent, brother or sister of the bankrupt), not exceeding £50, whether payable per time or piecework, in respect of services rendered to the bankrupt within four months before the date of the sequestration order “, to see if the sum of £50 should be increased to an amount in keeping with current values.
– The Bankruptcy Act is at the present time being reviewed by a committee that I appointed for that purpose. I shall see -that the honorable senator’s question is brought to the notice of that committee. I appreciate the point raised in the question. The truth is that some of our legislation was passed many years ago, and it is desirable that it should now be reviewed. I have little doubt that the committee which is examining the Bankruptcy Act will give full consideration to the honorable senator’s question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In view of the increasing incidence of bloat in cattle in Tasmania, will the Minister bring this matter to the attention of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization together with a request that a research team be sent to Tasmania to investigate this complaint ?
– I shall bring to the notice of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization the suggestion made by the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, whether, in view of the surplus stocks of basic foods consequent upon the declining export markets for our primary products, he will consider the following propositions for additional Christmas benefits for all age, invalid and widow pensioners: - 1. That a parcel containing Christmas cake, pastries, plum pudding, dried mixed fruits and confectionery be made available to each pensioner. 2. If the first suggestion is not approved will the Minister approach the Government with a request that it give further consideration to the removal of sales tax on all Christmas processed food items which are purchased by all age, invalid and widow pensioners during next December.
– I shall ensure that the honorable senator’s question is brought to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Social Services.
– I ask the Attorney-General to inform the Senate of the present constitution of the committee that he referred to when answering a previous question about the review of the Bankruptcy Act. To what stage has the business of this committee proceeded?
– Apart from the fact that the Chief Judge in Bankruptcy is the chairman of the committee, I cannot at the moment give the names of the members of the committee. I shall obtain them for the honorable senator, and make inquiries to ascertain the progress that hai been made in the inquiry.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that skilled building tradesmen in Tasmania have been given notice of dismissal on the ground that the Tasmanian Government has insufficient funds to maintain its housing programme for the present financial year? In view of the serious effects such curtailment of the housing programme would have on employment in allied occupations and on the maintenance of national support for our immigration programme, will the Minister ensure that, this matter shall engage the serious and immediate attention of the Government with n view to remedial action being taken in collaboration with the Government of Tasmania ?
– I shall have the honorable senator’s question brought to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for National Development.
– Following an important and disquieting statement that was made in Melbourne yesterday by a finance authority, I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in the absence of the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that at a meeting of Brenton Investments Australia. Limited held in Melbourne, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson stated that problems of the Australian economy were deep-seated, and that it was impossible to see any quick solution to them? He added that it would be fatuous to believe that measures introduced by the Government could be more than temporary palliatives. Did the Minister notice also that Mr. Ricketson listed four main problems - the high cost structure, demands for higher wages, excessive cost of government and extravagant private expenditure, and the absence of a fully effective monetary system? Is the Minister aware that Mr. Ricketson stated that import restrictions, the curtailment of hire purchase, exhortations to the community and trade missions could not eradicate those basic problems in Australia? He added that investors should adopt a vigilant attitude while the Government’s policy was being implemented; that the coming months would see an appreciable intensification of the present financial stringency, and that company expansion would be difficult under the present credit squeeze. In view of that statement by such an eminent authority, will the Minister assure the Senate and the Australian people that the Government has some effective reply to the charge that its policy is likely to intensify the present economic difficulties in Australia?
– I did happen to read the statement by Mr. Ricketson, part, of which has been read by the honorable senator. If he had read the whole of the statement made by Mr. Ricketson, lie would have informed the Senate that that gentleman expressed, great confidence in the future of Australia. It was never intended that we should restrict ourselves into a state of prosperity, and such a claim has never been made by or on behalf of this Government. We can achieve that end only by production. In that connexion, Senator Sheehan and those who sit alongside him could do a lot to encourage an attack on the cost structure and contribute something to the effort for greater production.
– What about the workers ?
– Senator Cameron has repeatedly told us in this chamber that the workers should beware lest they produce themselves out of a job. If that sort of attitude is to be encouraged by a responsible political party, we must expect a lot of bother. In reply to Senator Sheehan, however, I am sorry that he did not quote fully the statement by Mr. Ricketson, but I assure him that the statement has been made frequently by and on behalf of the Government that we do not claim that we can restrict ourselves into a state of prosperity. By means of controls, we can prevent ourselves from getting into a state of severe embarrassment. There is no occasion for panic at all at the present time, but there is need for great caution. The Government, by the measures that it has taken, has merely indicated to the people the need for caution until the condition of our overseas balances has been improved considerably, and the Government has received from the people an earnest of their appreciation of those measures. The position will be improved, not by restrictions, but by greater and better production.
– As the Minister representing the Prime Minister is no doubt aware, a fund has been established in Victoria with the purpose of providing a suitable memorial in Melbourne to the memory of Australia’s greatest soldier, the late Sir Thomas Blarney. Can the Minister say why this Government has not done something in regard to the provision of an appropriate memorial to Sir Thomas Blarney in the national capital? Will the Minister see the Prime Minister regarding this rather important matter ?
– I am not aware whether anything has been done in this mattter, but I shall have great pleasure in bringing the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Prime Minister.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the obvious injustice of the policy of this Government, which is placing the onus of halting the inflationary spiral on the shoulders of wage and salary earners, without any complementary action to restrict profits and interest rates, will the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues take action to restore to the wage-earner the full purchasing power of his wages, and so allay the widespread discontent that exists throughout the Commonwealth because of the ever-widening gap between wages and the cost of living, as evidenced by the index figures each quarter?
– The honorable senator’s question is obviously based on entirely false premises.
– I was delighted to learn that the Minister for Trade and Customs was able to visit South Australia last week, and that he. had made certain important statements relating to the Australian export wine trade. Can the Minister give the Senate further details concerning two matters with which he dealt at that time: First, the contemplated wine display stand at Australia House in London ; and secondly, the appointment of a representative of the wine industry to test all export wines and so ensure that none but the best leaves this country?
– At the present time, I am not in a position to elaborate on the remarks that I made on that occasion, but I assure the Senate that my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and his departmental heads, who are expert in these matters, have the whole question well in hand. As soon as I am. in a position to obtain further information from them, I shall be happy to give it to the Senate.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence Production say whether it is a fact that the company which is building the St. Mary’s ammunition filling establishment owns a fleet of bulldozers, cranes, shovels, loaders and compressors which it hires to itself to work on the St. Mary’s contract? What is the num’ber of these earthmoving machines engaged, and what is the hourly rate of each of them? What supervision is there over breakdowns of machines? Do the same conditions obtain as with ordinary contracts, so that when a machine breaks down payment is suspended immediately?
– I shall be pleased to bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Defence Production, and ask him to provide a considered reply to it. It is quite evident that I cannot, this afternoon, give a considered reply to the matters raised by the honorable senator.
– In view of the vast expansion of commerce and industry in South Australia, causing a constant need for business people to visit the national capital, would the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation use his influence to have the airline companies establish a regular direct shuttlecock service between Adelaide and Canberra and so eliminate the loss of an entire working day through having to travel via Melbourne, as is the case at present ?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider reciprocating the visit of the Indonesian goodwill mission that is at present in Australia by arranging for members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives to tour Indonesia? Does he agree that such visits can do nothing but good ?
– My personal view is that there is a lot of merit in the suggestion that has been made by the honorable senator. I shall take up the matter with my colleagues in the Cabinet.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior: Is it a fact that there is a considerable area of excellent country in Tasmania - particularly in the north-west of the island - which is only partially developed and is not returning sufficient income to the settlers to enable them to continue its development? Is it also a fact that this state of affairs is due principally to a lack of man-power and because bulldozing equipment is not available to the settlers? Will the Minister consider making the necessary equipment available to the settlers in these areas at stated periods or when not in use on war service land settlement projects?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General by pointing out that a Postal Department regulation requires an employee of that department, when applying for leave, to state the nature of his business before leave will be granted to him. Frequently, the matters with which he intends to deal whilst on leave are of a very private nature. Therefore, when postal employees apply for leave, if they do not wish to divulge their private business they have to evade telling the truth. Will the Minister request the Postmaster-General to amend the relevant regulation to provide that the reason “ private business “ shall be sufficient for the granting of leave to postal employees?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and obtain a considered reply from him.
– By way of preface to the question that I shall direct to the Minister for Trade and Customs, I should like to say how much I appreciated the Minister’s courtesy in sending to me a copy of the annual report of the Tariff Board that was tabled in the Senate last week. The report contains a most impressive review of the economic situation. I direct attention to the fact that it bears the date 23rd August, 1955, but, as I have said, it was not tabled in this chamber until last week. Thus, for a period of well-nigh eight weeks, a most stimulating review of the national economic situation was denied to honorable senators. Will the Minister take steps to ensure the abbreviation in future years of the routine measures necessary for the presentation to the Parliament of such Tariff Board reports, so that they will be available to honorable senators from the date, of their production?
– Honorable senators mav remember that Senator Wright asked me some time ago when this report would be available. At thattime, I had only a typewritten copy of the board’s annual report. It ia very unsatisfactory to table such an important report unless copies are available for distribution to both honorable senators and the public generally. On this occasion, the hold-up was occasioned by printing difficulties. It will be appreciated that, although the report was furnished on the 23rd August, one copy of it had to go to the department, and another copy bad to come to me before it could be forwarded to the Government Printer for printing. At present, there is a great rush of work at the Government Printing Office, but I will certainly do what I can to see that this report, which is of such vital importance to the public, is released with a minimum of delay.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been directed to the adverse reports on Australia House by businessmen returning from London ? There has frequently been adverse criticism of this kind, and I should like to know from the Minister, who has recently visited London, or from, the Attorney-General, what steps the Government intends to take to “ Australianize “ Australia House.
– My experiences of people returning from overseas obviously are different from those of the honorable senator. I have had conversations with many people who have recently returned from overseas. They have highly praised the courtesy, and consideration extended to them, and the efficiency shown by officers at Australia House, from the High Commissioner downwards.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Is the Minister aware that wool-growers are very concerned about irregular practices in wool-buying in this country? Wool-growers consider that wool-buyers are buying and splitting lots to the detriment of the Australian producer, and tothe ultimate detriment of the consumer in Australia. Will the Minister make full inquiries and see that regulations are introduced or that some action is taken to prevent the consumers and producers of this country being exploited by middle-men? Is the Minister aware that Mr. D. W. Bucknell, president of the Graziers Association in New South Wales, is deeply concerned about the matter from a different angle from that which I have mentioned?
– I am sure that all honorable senators who know my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, know that he would be well informed of all that happens in regard to the wool industry, from the growing of wool to the disposal of it. However, I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague and ascertain whether he has any comments to make in regard to it.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that the Tariff Board inquiry into the shipbuilding industry concluded in Sydney in January of this year. Is the Minister in a position to inform the Senate when the report of the board is expected to be available to the Senate and to the industry?
– The Tariff Board’s report has been received, but I am not in a position at this stage to say when it will be made available.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister noted that the Commonwealth Bank is renovating its present dilapidated premises at Burnie, Tasmania? Is he aware that these premises are among the oldest buildings in that town, and that the opinion is held by many competent citizens that the renovation is a waste of money, and that new premises should be built? As the present old one-story building is so patently inadequate for this rapidly growing district, will the Minister bring this matter to the attention of the Commonwealth Bank authorities, with the request that the premises be brought up to the standard existing in most other important centres in Tasmania?
– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Treasurer and ask him to give a considered reply.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the furniture of a public servant at Brisbane, who was appointed to a position at Darwin, was transported by road from Brisbane to Darwin at a cost of £1,000, when a Commonwealth-owned ship, Wangara, would have charged £150 to transport the furniture by sea, and that such ship was at the relative time ready to leave Brisbane for Darwin and was begging traders for cargo?
– I have received from the Minister for Supply, the following answer : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject : -
Proposed erection of Commonwealth Offices at Phillip-street, Sydney.
Ordered to be printed.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
Senator SPICER (Victoria - Attorney-
General) [3.40].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase from £100,000 to £150,000 the amount provided each year under the Commonwealth aid roads legislation for road safety purposes. Under the Commonwealth aid roads legislation which was introduced last year the allocations from the petrol tax for Commonwealth aid roads purposes were increased from 6d. a gallon on imported petrol and3½d. a gallon on locally refined petrol to 7d. a gallon on both imported and locally refined petrol. The legislation provided that of this total allocation, which in 1954-55 amounted to £24,242,000, or £7,185,000 more than in the previous year, an amount of £800,000 should be set aside each year for strategic roads, roads of access to Commonwealth property, and other roads serving, or likely to serve, Commonwealth purposes, and ‘£100,000 for road safety. The remainder is payable to theStates to assist them in financing their expenditure on roads.
The terms of the new legislation which was passed last year were discussed with the State Premiers at a Premiers’ conference in June, 1954, and the decision to continue to provide £100,000 each year for road safety was made after it was apparent that the Premiers as a whole favoured that course. After the legislation had been passed, however, this particular provision came up for discussion by Commonwealth and StateTransport Ministers at a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council last January. It was decided at that meeting that having regard to the increase in road traffic and the rise in costs since 1947 when the first road safety grant was made, there was a case for increasing the grant for road safety to £150,000 per annum. It was suggested by the Transport Advisory Council that this recommendation might be considered at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. When the matter came up for discussion at the conference of Ministers held in June of this year, the Commonwealth pointed out that, as any increase in the amount set aside for road safety would reduce correspondingly the amount available to the States for roads, it was a matter for the Premiers themselves to decide whether the road safety allocation should be increased. Although, at the outset, some of the Premiers did not favour any increase in the amount deducted from the roads grants for road safety purposes, the conference finally resolved that the amount allocated in the legislation for road safety should be increased from £100,000 to £150,000 per annum. Provision to this effect is, therefore, made in the bill. The increased provision for road safety will take effect as from the 1st July, 1955.
The matter was reviewed by the Australian Transport Advisory Council at its meeting in July, 1955, when it was resolved that the increased grant be distributed in the same proportions as under the present formula. This will mean that allocations will be as follows: -
The future financing of the Australian Capital Territory Road Safety Council from the Commonwealth portion of the funds - at present £1,000 annually - will be a matter for mutual arrangement between that council and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth portion of the funds will be utilized for the conduct of national educational and public relations campaigns spread equitably over all States and internal territories of the Commonwealth. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill now before the Senate is to provide £48,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of war pensions.
It is necessary to submit a measure of this nature to the Parliament from time to time, for the purpose of appropriating from revenue an amount for payment into a trust account to enable pensions to be paid in accordance with such rates as are approved by the Parliament.
The amount of £48,000,000 now requested makes allowance for the increase of war pensions recently approved by the Senate. The bill has no relation whatsoever to the rates or conditions under which pensions are paid. It is solely to authorize the provision of funds for the trust account from which war pensions are paid.
Debate (on motion by Senator CRITCHLEY ) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase from £2,150,000 to £4,000,000 the maximum amount of Commonwealth assistance to the cost of the Western Australian agricultural areas, great southern towns, and gold-fields water supply scheme. The scheme, which is being constructed by the Government of Western Australia, has a threefold purpose -
In 1948 the then Australian Government agreed, at the request of the Government of Western Australia, to meet on a £l-for-£l basis with the State one-half of the capital cost of the scheme, excluding the cost of increasing the storage capacity of the Mundaring Weir and the Wellington Dam on the Western Ranges, subject to a maximum Commonwealth contribution of £2,150,000. It was then estimated that the full cost of the scheme, excluding increased storage capacity on the Western Ranges, would be £4,300,000. The Commonwealth’s undertaking was given legislative effect by Act No. 52 of 1948.
The Government of Western Australia recently advised that the cost of the scheme will now be greatly in excess of £4,300,000- a figure of between £9,500,000 and £10,000,000 being tentatively mentioned - and asked the Commonwealth to remove the limitation of £2,150,000 on the maximum amount of its contribution.
After fully considering all the circumstances, including the background to the 1948 arrangement and the substantial increase since then in the estimated cost of the scheme, the Government decided that the maximum contribution should be increased to £4,000,000, subject to certain conditions which I shall describe.
In coming to this decision the Government gave careful consideration to the manner in which the additional commitment involved was to be discharged. We had to have regard to the Commonwealth’s budgetary problems, the problem of maintaining stability in the economy, and the consequent need to look critically at any proposal for increased Commonwealth spending. In view of these considerations, the Government decided that the following limits should be placed on total Commonwealth payments to the State: -
A provision accordingly is contained in clause5(b) of the bill now before the Senate.
To the 30th June, 1955, total Commonwealth payments to the State in respect of the scheme amounted to £1,468,204. A limit of £681,796 will therefore be placed on Commonwealth payments to the State in 1955-56, while in subsequent years the amount payable will not normally exceed £462,500 per annum.
The opportunity is also being taken in the bill to amend the definition of the scheme and the definition of the mixed farming areaserved by the scheme. It has been found that the definitions in the 1948 act are unduly restrictive, and do not cover comparatively minor changes in the scheme as originally planned in 1948. It has been established, for instance, that the construction of storages at Bulla Bulling and Kalgoorlie serves the same purpose as, but at less cost than, increasing the capacity of the main conduit to the gold- fields. The definitions are therefore being amended to enable the Treasurer to approve alterations in the original scheme for the purposes of the Commonwealth contribution. Approvals given by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) under this provision would relate, of course, only to alterations in the scheme made by the State Government.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this hill is to authorize the payment to the States in 1955-56 of a special financial assistance grant of approximately £16,200,000 to supplement the amount payable under the formula embodied in the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1946-1948. In each of the last six years, the Commonwealth has supplemented the amounts payable to the States under the tax reimbursement formula. Last year, the formula grant amounted to £130,09S,000. In addition, the States received a special financial assistance grant of £19,902,000. thus making a total payment for 1954-55 of £150,000^000.
The precise amount payable in 1955-56 under the tax reimbursement formula will not be known until the Commonwealth Statistician completes his calculations later in the year. It is estimated, however, that the formula grant will amount this year to about £140,S00,000. Unless, therefore, the Commonwealth makes a supplementary payment again this year, the States would ‘receive £9,200,000 less than the total reimbursement grant which they received last year.
This matter was discussed at a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers which was held in Canberra last June. At that meeting, the Commonwealth offered to make a supplementary grant sufficient to bring the total amount available for distribution among all the States in 1955-56 to £155,000,000. As the amount payable under the formula is estimated at £140,800.000, this offer would have involved the payment of a supplementary grant of about £14,200,000. lt was apparent, however, that the Commonwealth should also take some special action to assist New South Wales. Unlike Victoria and Queensland, which were certain to end the year 1954-55 with budget surpluses, it was clear that New South Wales was faced with special budgetary difficulties - largely as a result of extensive floods in that State. Furthermore, it was evident that, if the supplementary grant was limited to £14,200,000 and that amount was distributed among the States in the same proportions as cbe formula grant, the total payment to New South Wales in 1955-56 would be only about £1,000,000 more than in 1954- 55 as compared with an increase of nearly £2,000,000 in the case of Victoria. The Commonwealth, therefore, proposed that a. special payment of £2,000,000 should be made’ to New South Wales, thus bringing the total payment for 1955-56 to £157,000,000. As the formula grant for 1955-56 will amount to about £140,800,000, the present bill provides, in effect, for the payment of a special financial assistance grant of about £16,200,000, of which £2,000,000 is payable to New South Wales and the balance is to be distributed among all the States, including New South Wales, in the same proportions as the formula grant.
With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall have incorporated in Hansard. the following table in which the estimated payments to each State in 1955- 56 as authorized by this legislation are compared with the payments made last year : -
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 20th October (vide page 652).
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £1,853,000.
.- I should like the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to give me some details in connexion with the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs. The staff of the legation in Thailand is to be increased. I should like an assurance from the Minister that the increase is justified by the work that is being done by Australia’s diplomatic and trade representatives. The staff in Thailand is to be increased by four, but the proposed vote is to be increased from £15,983 last year to £32,759. In Pakistan, the Australian staff is to be increased from seven to eight, but the proposed vote shows an increase of only £500 above the vote for 1954-55. In Ceylon, the Australian staff will not be altered, but expenditure is to be reduced by £2,700. The Australian staff in Burma is to be increased from three to six, and the increase proposed in the vote is £31,600. Apparently there is some reason, other than an increase of staff, for variations in the expenses of those legations. I should like the Minister to give an explanation of the apparent discrepancies.
.- Honorable senators may have noticed that the Auditor-General had some comments to make on the Department of External Affairs in his last annual report at page 23. He stated-
The first annual report for 1953-54 referred to unsatisfactory matters which the department agreed to rectify.
While there has been a general improvement in the Department’s procedures for obtaining supplies and services, a case has been observed involving the purchase of motor tyres by the Australian Embassy at Djakarta in an unauthorized manner at a price above that fixed by Indonesian law.
In plain terms, some black marketing has been engaged in by somebody at the Australian Embassy in Djakarta. Per haps the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) will he able to offer some explanation. He may be able to give a reasonable explanation of the findings in the Auditor-General’s report. The position is, however, that if officers at the Australian Embassy engaged in black marketing, the offence was virtually committed by the Australian Government. It was actually worse than if it had taken place in Australia. The Auditor-General made this comment -
In the following matters, the department has acted only after persistent audit queries-
We know what that means. The Audit Office had to attack the Department of External Affairs and make it do certain things. The report continues -
recovery of overpayment of salary umounting to £18 17s. to a senior officer in May, 1953, prior to his return to Australia from the United States of America;
That means that the head of the overseas mission spent money to cover higher living costs and did not obtain any vouchers to support the expenditure. Apparently, it was a case of “ Go ahead and spend the money. It is quite all right. There is no accounting system operating at all “. Surely, the Department does not conduct its affairs like that generally ! The report goes on -
Apparently, that was another case of “ Go ahead. There is the cheque book. Draw a cheque.” Evidently, it is a cash credit account. The Auditor-General goes on : -
The Department has failed to obtain proper receipts for expenditure as follows: -
That sounds serious to me. The department has failed to obtain proper receipts for expenditure of more than £26,000.
– There was an answer to a question in relation to that matter only the other day.
– Then I shall not pursue it. The report continues: -
amounts paid out by the Australian Embassy, Djakarta, being -
I do not know what slipshod methods were adopted, but apparently, salaries were paid to persons other than the payee. To pay out money and not get a receipt for it is to adopt the bookkeeping methods of pie shops in country towns. The report goes on -
It is proposed not to pass this expenditure in the absence of proper receipts unless it is allowed under section 46 of the Audit Act. The departmental control over representation and living allowances paid to officers stationed overseas has not been satisfactory, cases having occurred where the amounts drawn considerably exceeded the Minister’s original authorization.
When a department has officers stationed in various countries, as has the Department of External Affairs, there is bound to be difficulty at some time or other in connexion with allowances, but there should be some regular method to control such expenditure. Every one appreciates that living allowances would fluctuate between towns, districts and countries, but as I said a while ago, it is possible for a department which has been established for as long as the Department of External Affairs has been established, to have a proper accounting system. These matters to which I have referred do not concern mere beginners in the department. Usually, officers who are posted overseas are trusted officers and not merely public servants who are looking for ways of making on their expense accounts. Therefore, I think this matter comes back to the department.
The Auditor-General’s report continues -
In one instance, an Ambassador’s allowance was fixed at the rate of £2,500 per annum but as his net expenditure in four successive years amounted to £2,985, £6,183, £5,393 and £4,896, the Minister gave covering approval of an increased allowance to meet the excess.
A reply was made in the Senate to that matter recently, and for that reasonI shall not persevere with it. I have received enlightenment in respect of that, and perhaps the Minister has sound ‘ replies to make regarding the other matters which I have raised this afternoon.
– With regard to the increase of staff in Thailand, to which Senator Armstrong referred, I point out that that was due to a considerable increase of work associated with the legation by reason of the activities connected with Seato. The honorable senator also directed attention to the fact that although there had been an increase of staff in Pakistan, it was less costly than it had been in the previous year. That is explained by the fact that there has been a 30 per cent devaluation of the Pakistan currency, so that the cost to Australia has become a little less than in earlier years.
Senator Benn raised a number of matters arising from the AuditorGeneral’s report, and I must confess that at this stage I find it a little difficult to answer his comments at any length. The purchase of tyres at Djakarta, I am informed, was made by inexperienced local staff. The transaction was noted by the department, and the Ambassador was impressed with the necessity to avoid any action of that kind in the future. All the matters referred to in the Auditor-General’s report have been the subject of action by the department, and most of them, if not all of them, have now been adjusted satisfactorily. I think honorable senators will appreciate that there are, at times, difficulties in such matters as the obtaining of receipts in countries where the standard of literacy is pretty low and bookkeeping methods may not be known, but it should be satisfactory to Senator Benn to know that at least most of the matters to which he has referred, arising from the Auditor-General’s report, have been attended to satisfactorily.
– I have listened with interest to the reply of the Minister to Senator Benn’s observations, because I feel particularly indebted to the Auditor-General in respect of the matters which he brings under attention in his report. I am glad to notice, over the years, an increasing disposition to use the Auditor-General’s report as the Estimates are passing through this chamber. Having made that acknowledgment, I wish to add that I. am at a little of a loss to understand the brevity and the cryptic nature of some of the terms used in the report. It seems to me that, in some places, the report represents a designed attempt not to afford to the members of this Parliament particular and detailed information to which I, as an individual senator, claim a right. When I see, under the heading, “ Department of External Affairs “, such trenchant criticism of that department by the Auditor-General, [ think it detracts from the status of this chamber if we are asked to pass these Estimates without a complete, detailed and satisfactory statement in relation to each one of those comments in the Auditor-General’s report. Until such statements are forthcoming, I ask the Minister not to press for the passage of the Estimates of this department, so that we may be assured, by more than an indefinite and general statement that most of the matters have been the subject of action, that they really have, been the subject of satisfactory action. I notice in particular that, in respect of one item, £26,085 was paid out by the Australian Embassy in Paris over the past five years. It is surely not suggested that the illiteracy of that legation and the people of that country would explain the inadvertent omission to provide vouchers for such an item. I suggest that the Parliament becomes a farce when departments such as the Department of External Affairs asks us to pass these Estimates in the face of a criticism like that by the Auditor-General. I therefore ask the Minister, in his discretion, to postpone consideration of the proposed vote until satisfactory explanations of all these criticisms by the Auditor-General are forthcoming.
– I desire to invite attention to Division 37 - High Commission - Pakistan - particularly item 3, “ Bent and maintenance, office, £14,300 “ under B. - General expenses. Last year, of £1,900 voted for this item, only £1,368 was expended. Will the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) explain the reason for the tremendous increase of the cost of rent and office maintenance in Pakistan for which the proposed vote provides? The proposed vote for salaries in respect of our representation in Pakistan is approximately the same as last year’s vote, but the proposed vote for the item I have mentioned is more than seven times as much as last year’s vote.
I also invite attention to the increased expenditure proposed for our representation in the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. I compliment the Government on strengthening our representation in those important countries. I am conscious of the fact that adequate representation in the Philippines would do much to increase our trade with that republic, particularly in relation to cattle which are being shipped there alive from the Northern Territory. Furthermore, it would assist Australian manufacturers to establish branches in the Philippines, with consequential benefit to Australia.
– We have been told frequently of late about the difficulty that Australia is experiencing in obtaining suitable markets for its export commodities. The establishment of ambassadorial representation and trade posts will assist us in that direction. I should like to know the reason for the marked decline, in respect of our overseas representation, of the cost of travelling and subsistence. For instance, the proposed vote for item 1, Travelling and subsistence, under Division 18 - Embassy - United States of America - B. - General expenses - is £2,700, compared with last year’s vote of £8,000, only £6,808 of which was expended. The proposed vote for a similar item under Division 20 - Embassy - Republic of France - is £800, compared with a vote of £3,200 last year, of which only £1,229 was expended. In relation to a similar item under Division 23 - Embassy - Republic of Ireland - the proposed vote is only £100, compared with last year’s vote of £2,400, of which only £2S was expended. The proposed vote for item 1, Travelling and subsistence, under Division 24 - Embassy - Japan - B. - General expenses - is £300, compared with last year’s vote of £3,800, of which, £3,090 was expended. The relative smallness of the proposed votes to which I have referred calls for explanation. Although I might be on the wrong track, it seems to me that for our overseas representatives to foster trade relations it is necessary for them to move around. Therefore, I should like the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to explain the reason for the reduction this year of the proposed votes that I have mentioned.
.- I should like to add my contribution to the observations that have been made by Senator Wright and Senator Benn. It seems to me that when a department knows that the proposed vote for it will come before this chamber, and that the Auditor-General has made specific complaints regarding certain of the department’s transactions, that department should cause to be in attendance here officers who can provide detailed explanations in relation to the specific matters to which the Auditor-General has directed attention. All that we have received so far in respect of the matter to which both Senator Wright and Senator Benn referred is a statement by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) that the discrepancies have been noted by the department, that the report of the AuditorGeneral has been noted by the department, and that officers have been impressed with the necessity not to do the same sort of thing again which, no doubt, is very laudable. But I should be glad if the Minister would also provide us with an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the conditions under which this sort of thing has been done. In short, I do not think it is too much to ask for a detailed explanation of the reason why amounts totalling £1S2 for salaries and allowances were signed for by persons other than the payees.
– Cannot we be supplied with the names?
– Senator Grant can make his speech after I have finished mine. It is also not too much to ask for a detailed explanation in relation to sundry payments of £1,807, for which no receipts were produced, so that we might have an idea why money was paid out without receipts being obtained, and an assurance that that will not .occur again.
– Senator Laught has referred to the proposed vote of £14,300 for rent and maintenance of the office of the High Commission in Pakistan. The increase compared with last year’s vote is explained by the fact that rent for a new office has to be paid four years in advance. Apparently that payment will be made during this financial year.
– The rent must have doubled as well.
– I come now to the references that have been made to the Auditor-General’s report. Senator Wright has referred to an amount of £2 6, OS 5 that has been paid out by the Australian Embassy in Paris over the last five years. The position appears to be that there has been substituted for the practice of granting fixed representational and living allowances to ambassadors, a system of re-imbursement of living and representational expenses, but the ambassador was not provided with staff to keep minute details that vouching would require. The Minister has made it clear that it was impossible to impose on the ambassador the burden of fully vouching, which would entail much more work than was involved under the previous arrangement, under which fixed unvouched allowances were provided. To ease the situation that arose as a result of that, amended terms were to be drafted, but at the time that this problem presented itself, those amended terms had not been put into operation. Added to all this, procurement of receipts for all the expenditure on household and representational goods was impossible. Cooks’ and butlers’ records have been kept, but the Auditor-General has not regarded them as adequate receipts. However, it is hoped that a considerable sum will be cleared by the production of receipts, and the balance has been referred to the Treasury for consideration of an acceptance under section 46 of the Audit Act.
Naturally, this sum includes expenditure on living and representation costs and servants’ wages. These living and representation costs cover the items of £2,985, £6,183, £5,393 and £4,896. However, it was the representation expenditure which, in the first place, was limited to £2,500, and not combined living and representation expenditure which the figures of £5,393 and £4,896 represent. The figures £2,985 and £6,183 purport to be representation expenditure, but living and representation are very closely interwoven, and servants’ wages influence the position ; and the figure of £6,183 is very much open to question. The fact remains that the sum stated to be not covered by receipts is not additional to the amounts recorded as allowances for four years. It would be impossible for any one to obtain receipts for the greater part of the £26,085. The figures recording the ambassador’s allowances are not those subject to the limitation of £2,500 per annum. The Minister’s covering approval referred to, particularly relating to the amount of £5.393 and £4,986, was not so much to cover an excess but to limit and confirm the figures at these levels, as it appeared that under previously existing approvals the ambassador was entitled to much more than the abovementioned two sums. The AuditorGeneral suggests that there are other cases of alleged considerable overpayments, but he has not acquainted this office of them, and the department is not aware of them.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Miscellaneous Services, Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £1,004,000.
– I desire to refer to item 1, “ International Labour Conferences - Representation - £11,500 “, item 2, “ International Labour Organization - Contribution - £63,500 “, item 5, “ United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization - Contribu tion, rep resentation and publicity - £52,900”, and item 6, “ United Nations - Representation - £140,700 “, under Division 190.- Department of External Affairs. I direct the attention of the committee to the ten dency of this Government to send to conferences such as these, with possibly one exception, representatives who are public servants. The Government has shown no tendency to send to important conferences members of Parliament from either side of the Senate or of the House of Representatives.
– There are two in New York at present.
– I was going to make that observation. As the AttorneyGeneral has reminded me, there are two in New York at present, but I direct his attention to a recent press report that Mr. Albert Monk is making his twenty-seventh trip overseas. Mr. Monk is, no doubt, a most skilled person. He may well be so, having made so many trips overseas. I understand that Mr. Monk is to represent Australia and use part of this vote. On the other hand, employers’ representatives are sent as well. I refer to representation at the Internationa] Labour Conference which is about to be held.
There also appeared recently in the press a report that a strong team of public servants was to go to Rome to represent Australia at the meetings of the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization. We read fairly frequently in the press of these teams of public servants going overseas to represent the Government and the nation on this level. I suggest to the committee that there are many occasions when Australia could be usefully represented by members of the Parliament. After all, we have the responsibility for voting money for a tremendous number of Commonwealth purposes. Any members of the Parliament who were sent overseas for this purpose could return and give valuable firsthand information to the Parliament. Matters that have been mentioned to us even within the last half-hour have come to us not from persons with first-hand experience, but throught he medium of information which has been passed on to the Minister. As we continue our discussions regarding representation abroad on matters of trade and commerce, we shall find that information will come to us from sources which are outside the ken of members of this chamber. The position could be improved if more attention. was given to appointing members of this Parliament as representatives at important international conferences. No matter how efficient are the public servants who go abroad in these capacities, I believe that there is scope for wider representation by members of Parliament. It is important for us to get to know people living, for instance, in the countries immediately to the north of Australia.
The United Kingdom is within an hour’s flight of three or four European countries, and consequently members of the British Parliament are frequently travelling about the countries qf Europe. As Australia is in such an isolated part of the ‘world, it is even more important that members of this Parliament should act as representatives of the nation at important conferences. Although I do not object to the vote that is sought for these services of the Department of External Affairs, I invite the attention of the Attorney-General and the Government to the need to follow a precedent that was set for the first time last year, and has been followed this year, in sending members of this Parliament to important conferences. A start was made by sending two members of the House of Representatives to the United Nations organization last year, and again this year there are two members at that organization. I submit that it is time that members of the Senate were chosen as representatives at conventions overseas. It is rather a pity that two persons from this chamber were not chosen to visit the United Nations organization this year. I believe it to be tremendously important for the welfare of Australia that members of this Parliament should become acquainted, at first-hand, with the problems that exist, especially in the near north. There could be no greater opportunity to achieve this object than in the sending of members to represent Australia at such important organizations as the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization. Members could learn at first-hand of the great hunger problem that exists in the world to-day, and could tell the primary producers of Australia about that problem. Civil servants who attend, by virtue of their appointment, most not express their opinions except to their departmental chiefs, whereas mem bers of Parliament could tell the electors throughout Australia of the hunger problems of the world, and so make some practical move, to solve them.
– 1 direct the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to item 2 of Division 190, “ International Labour Organization - Contribution, £63,500,”. Will the Minister give, from the Government’s viewpoint, a brief appreciation of the work and worth of that organization? I recognize that it is desirable that there should be an interchange of views between employers and employees from all countries. Somebody must benefit from that, and I suggest that by reason of the higher standard of living and working conditions in this country, Australia has a good deal more to contribute to than to get from an organization of this kind. I am not complaining about that; our contribution is still worth while.
It is some years since I had occasion to look at the list of conventions that had been agreed upon by the International Labour Organization Conference. Its constitution provides for these conventions to come into operation on their adoption by a specified number of countries. Having regard to the vast amount of money that is spent upon this organization, I was staggered to find how few conventions had been adopted by any country. I say at once that in the great majority of cases the standards that were set by the conventions had been accepted in Australia, and we had very little to gain by adopting them. I found that, over a period of something like twenty years, only one convention had, in fact, been ratified by Australia. Speaking from memory, I think it affected only a few workers in a bottle factory - an insignificant number. Can the Minister say whether it is the duty of any department or organization under the Commonwealth to examine thoroughly these conventions, and if they are approved, and even if the standards they set are lower than our own, to forward formal adoptions? After all, if it is worth while being a member of this organization, then, in the interests of all merribers. it is worth while making it work and giving some practical effect to conventions that are agreed 11 Don by the majority of the nations attending the conference.
But the resolutions that are agreed to seem to be ignored, and I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether this organization is to provide merely a forum for talking or the means of making a real contribution towards setting lip better working conditions, not only in our own country, but also throughout the world? Whose function is it to study these resolutions and circulate them in the appropriate quarters? Whose duty is it, under the Government, when a particular convention is approved, to attend to its formal ratification? What objection could there be to Australia’s taking the matter seriously and adopting conventions, even though the standards set are lower than those we enjoy ?
– In this division various contributions are listed for the United Nations Organization, but I cannot find any for the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund. It may appear in another section, but if not, can the Minister say what contribution Australia makes to that fund? Under item 16, it appears that last year Australia had representation at the World Health Assembly in Mexico City, but this year no vote is provided. I am wondering whether a World Health Assembly is to be held this year, and if so whether Australia is to be represented.
.; - I was interested in the question that Senator McKenna posed to the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) concerning, the International Labour Organization. Before coming into this Parliament I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the International Labour Organization at Geneva, as a representative of the State of Queensland. I thought it was a particularly good idea that, instead of the delegation on the Government side consisting only of representatives of the Australian Government, the system should have been adopted of inviting, in yearly rotation, and in order of seniority, a representative from the component States of the Australian federation. I am referring now only to the group which was the Government delegation. Honorable senators are aware that there were groups representing the employers and employees also.
– In what capacity did the honorable senator attend?
– I represented the State of Queensland, and I was then an employee of the State Department of Labour. It was « good practice, particularly in view of the constitutional differences that lay within the provinces of the Commonwealth and the States. When Senator McKenna asked about the ratification of a convention, he laid his finger on a difficulty which arises from the division of constitutional powers sometimes requiring the approval of the Commonwealth and of each of the six States. That difficulty is generally overcome by the spirit of goodwill between the Commonwealth and the States.
My impression of the one conference I had the honour to attend was that Australia has rather more to give than to take at these international gatherings. Among all the nations we are, perhaps, the most advanced in industrial matters, examples being our factories and shops legislation and arbitration procedure. The nations of Asia are able to gain from our practice and experience, but nevertheless the value to Australia of these international labour conferences is still great.
When I attended that conference al Geneva, I was made acutely aware of the fact that my daily allowance was considerably different from that of the Commonwealth delegate because my salary as an employee of the Queensland Government was much lower than his, although our positions were equivalent as delegates. The rate of living at Geneva, Switzerland, was the same for both and social calls were almost the same. The only persons on a different social level were the leader and deputy leader of the delegation. I considered it was an unfair discrimination that the representative of a State should receive a smaller daily allowance than his Commonwealth counterpart. It was a practice which I thought should be discontinued, and I trust that in the intervening years it has been discontinued.
I now wish to make some observations regarding Australia’s contribution to industrial relations and the social and cultural development of Asia. The International Labour Conference is a meeting place in which ideas are exchanged. It is true that from these conferences conventions sometimes emerge, and that these are ratified in countries which have not had industrial conditions embodied in their legislation. I thought that Australia could make a major contribution to Asia’s reconstruction by way of the trade union movement, because a well organized trade union movement is an integral part of modern society and performs a tremendously important function not only in the interests of its members but also to the nation as a whole because it is an integral part of the social pattern of a people. I thought that our experience in this field could be drawn upon, by our fellow workers in Asia who are building from the ground up.
– How can we help them?
– I see no reason why, perhaps under the Colombo plan, we should not invite young technicians, university students in the field of agriculture, science, education, or law, to take part in our academic training schemes. There is no reason why young potential Asian trade union leaders should not be brought to Australia and given training in industrial universities similar to that given to Australian trade union leaders.
– That would bring external influences into the trade union movement.
– Our trade union leaders should be able to pass on to them much that would be of value, and our leaders, in turn, would learn much from them, so that there would be gains of immense value to both sides. The International Labour Conference is a meeting place where Asian trade union leaders and Australian trade union leaders could meet on common ground and exchange ideas. There is no reason why we should not provide opportunities for some young men from Asian countries to come here and see our trade unions in operation. Among our trade union leaders are many competent men, and they should be given an opportunity to pass on to the workers in Asian countries the benefits of their experience in a movement of which we have reason to be proud. Something along these lines would be a major contribution to the development of Asia on a firm and sound basis. I commend these suggestions to the Attorney-General, and I should be pleased if, when he replies, he will give me the information I asked for regarding the present scale of allowances, which is a matter of some moment to me personally.
– I cannot remain silent after listening to the speech of Senator Byrne which was full of praise for the trade union leaders of Australia. The honorable senator would have done better if he had advocated that Vincent Tewson, or Charles Geddes, should be invited here to give us the benefit of his real leadership, for the benefit of the working men of Australia, so that they could learn something of a policy which would make the working men of this country accept responsibility for their conditions and prosperity. However, I support the honorable senator’s proposal that trade union leaders should be brought here, because in that way we would have an opportunity to absorb their advice and benefit from their leadership. One of the disasters that has overtaken Australia is that we have suffered from completely misguided leadership in our trade unions.
However, I rose to speak more directly about the International Labour Conference. I have yet to understand why this Government contents itself with the representation that it sends to the conference every year. I cannot understand how this Parliament is expected to bring informed minds to bear on industrial subjects when its members are denied participation in such conferences. I believe that if some of the more informed minds among the political representatives of this country were sent to such conferences they would enter a most provoking educational field of great importance to Australian activities. Public men would do well to spend some time and effort to learn other techniques in scientific and other fields, in order to improve conditions generally in industry. Let us take, for example, the problems associated with the stevedoring industry, a matter which has engaged a committee set up by this Parliament for some months at great cost of both money and effort.
– With what results?
– We shall await the results with great interest.
– And with great fortitude.
– The Government, which the honorable senator supports, is responsible for appointing the committee.
– In reply to that misguided interjection, I inform Senator Grant that the Government acceded to a request from the trade union movement to set up a committee of inquiry, in order to provide means of informing the trade unions of Australia on every aspect of industry. We shall indeed await the result with, interest. How advantageous it would be to hear the representatives of the dockers and of the steamshipowners from Great Britain contribute their views on the subject of stevedoring practices at an international labour conference. I understand that stevedoring in the River Thames is almost entirely don« on a piece-work basis; I believe the proportion of piece-work is 9S per cent. Year after year the Tariff Board has advocated the increasing use of incentives, and we as public men could learn much from a debate on that subject at an international labour conference. I have no fixed ideas on that subject, but I am greatly interested in it.
I should like the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to be good enough to inform the committee of the nature of Australia’s representation at the last international labour conference. I hope that he will tell us who represented the Commonwealth Government, and, particularly, that he will offer to the Senate; any views he may hold regarding the advisability of allowing members of Parliament to participate in such discussions. I propose to conclude on a somewhat personal note. My brother, Professor Roy Douglas Wright, recently visited Oxford. After he had been there for about six months, he wrote a letter to me in which he said ‘ that he thought he had kept himself ‘fairly well informed about current world matters, but that the developments that he had found outside Australia had amazed him. He concluded by expressing his wonder that the Common wealth could expect guidance on matters of policy from politicians who are kept at home in isolation.
– I draw attention to Division 190, Item 8, which relates to representation at minor conferences. Last year the vote for this item was £2,540, of which £2,163 was expended. This year the provision is only £600. I ask the Minister to indicate the reason why the vote was so seriously reduced, and why only £2,163 was expended on this important item during the last financial year. We hear much about international conferences, but many of the decisions reached by those most important bodies have to be implemented by minor organizations. Minor conferences are organized, and the decisions of the major conferences applied to the particular sections of the populations that they are designed to affect. Therefore, I suggest that this vote could be increased rather than decreased as is shown in the bill. I believe that minor conferences should be encouraged, so that the decisions and policies arrived at by major conferences may be quickly implemented.
– I was much interested in Senator Wright’s remarks, but while listening to them I thought of the old saying which could be applied particularly to him. It is that practical experience without theory is blind, and theory without practical experience is futile. I suggest that this applies to Senator Wright and that he dealt with international conferences only, purely in the abstract. He saw the subject-matter of his speech subjectively, or as he wanted to see it. If he had worked on the waterfront, as I have done, he would have seen the matter in a completely different light. I worked on the waterfront for two years, not from choice but from necessity. In those days I received ls. 3d. an hour., but with that money I could purchase more than awaterside worker to-day can purchasewith his 8s. 10d. an hour. That may seem impossible to some honorable senators, but it is perfectly true. Therefore, it is no wonder that we cannot get better resultsfrom the work on our waterfront than we do obtain, more especially when it is- remembered that the approach of many members of the Parliament, and of employers, to waterfront problems is similar to the approach of Senator Wright. All those persons should try to understand the economics of the matters they are dealing with, because the science of economics is the basis of all social sciences, and I regret to discover that Senator Wright does not view that particular matter from the stand-point of economics.
I have attended many conferences, strike meetings and similar meetings and I have met the graduates of many different schools of experience. As the result, it is my opinion that our educational system in Australia is, as are educational systems elsewhere, years and years behind the times. We merely teach our children methods of training their memories and muscles, and certain social manners based on established custom and law. We teach them above all to worship persons with prestige and athletes. Today our system may be compared with the system of Nero in ancient Rome, although our system is a little more up to date. The policy of the Government and all our educational authorities with reference to important conferences that take place, is to divert attention from the things that really matter and to concentrate attention on the things that do not matter.
Graduates of our various universities, such as Senator Wright, approach important matters in that way, but, of course, there are the more intelligent sections of the population, who are better informed. Senator Wright cannot understand our current problems because most academicians are as blind as bats. ‘They should have two or three years compulsory employment on the waterfront or down the mines, in order to educate them or to broaden their outlook. If Senator Wright had such experience, he would view economic and political matters in a different light from that in which he at present views them. I am constrained to speak as I am speaking to-day, because these purely academic persons who pose as intellectual collossi and supermen, are so many neonhytes lacking practical experience. If they would study the human document as it should be studied and with the same diligence as they study the written document, their viewpoint would be much different and they would be far better educated men than they are to-day.
.- I should like one important matter of procedure to be explained by the relevant Minister. During the debate on this bill it has become the practice for a Minister to whom questions are addressed, to refrain from answering those questions until all of them have been asked, and then to answer them all at the one time. It seems to me that Ministers have adopted that attitude in order to close the subject, and prevent any further reference to it.
– That is not so.
– I noticed that practice on the part of Ministers last Thursday, and I hope that it will not continue. I had hoped that the Minister would have made some interim statement about the matter at present under discussion, because important questions have been raised, particularly in relation to the International Labour Office and the meetings of important but minor conferences. I had the opportunity of representing Australia at what might be called a minor conference, although it was a very important one that dealt with the rehabilitation of transport in Europe immediately after World War II. Representatives of governments, employers and employees from nineteen or twenty different nations attended that meeting, but despite reports being furnished by important conferences like that one, we very rarely have an opportunity of discussing them.
Unfortunately, there has been a tendency to regard attendance at such meetings as something in the nature of a jaunt. Sometimes it even happens that when honorable senators visit the mandated territories, or remote parts of Australia, to make themselves conversant with the problems associated with those regions, certain criticisms are levelled at them. I can appreciate the efforts of Professor Wright in writing to his brother regarding the situation and the statement that Australian members of Parliament have been living in seclusion from world affairs. I did not waste much time while
L was abroad, and I did not incur much expenditure on behalf of the Government, but I had a wonderful opportunity of learning more of the position of Australia abroad and the conditions that exist among workers and employers. Therefore, I believe that visits to the International Labor Organization conferences should be encouraged. I regret that the Government proposes to reduce the vote in this connexion compared with expenditure last year, and I hope that the Attorney-General will be able to give the committee a satisfactory explanation.
We should know more of the conditions in other parts of the world so that we can represent the people in this Parliament to better advantage. The suggestion of Senator Byrne that trade union leaders should be brought to Australia from Asia should not be ridiculed by honorable senators. Such ridicule is a relic of the days when the trade unions were looked upon as something to be opposed and thwarted at every turn. Even todaythere are some persons who oppose vigorously the efforts of trade unions to improve the conditions of their members. That is obvious in almost every discussion that takes place in this chamber on matters connected with the economy of the nation. If the Government wants to develop a community enjoying higher standards of living, it should make funds available so that visits can be made abroad to study conditions there. Whenever these matters are discussed, speakers on the Government side refer to a reduction in working hours and an increase of wages as the major factors contributing to a high cost structure. If the Government made it possible for honorable senators to study the position elsewhere, the attitude of many of them would he different. They would agree that the Australian workers are entitled to a higher standard of living and a reduction of the working week as a result of the introduction of machinery. When conferences to which 1 have referred are held, those who attend can hear the different points of view pf the governments, the workers and the employers. The workers’ representatives can show the employers where they are wrong. They play an important part in the dissemination of knowledge. Therefore, I believe that if there is no con stitutional bar, the conventions agreed upon at the conferences should be put into effect.
I remember in the early days of the International Labour Organization the question of the elimination of lead from paint came under discussion because of the danger of lead-poisoning to workers. The proposal was strenuously opposed. It seemed that the opponents of the suggestion believed the paint industry would be ruined. The International Labour Organization convention decided that lead was detrimental to the workers engaged in the industry. If honorable senators take the trouble to read the reports of the International Labour Organization that are presented from time to time, I am sure they will agree that the money expended on it has been well spent. It is not wasted, and the community derives great benefits from it.
– (Senator Pearson). - Order! Senator Sheehan implied that honorable senators had not been allowed to rise after Ministers had replied to questions asked during this debate. That is not correct. It has been the practice to call any honorable senator who rises, irrespective of whether a Minister has replied or not, and that practice will be continued. The greatest latitude has been extended to all honorable senators. If anything, it ha? gone to extremes.
– I wish to refer to the comments that were made by Senator Sheehan on the conduct of this debate. It is not always easy to obtain, in a second or two, information that honorable senators are seeking. It is convenient to ask honorable senators to express their views on a number of problems and then to deal with them as I am attempting to do now. The Standing Orders provide that honorable senators may continue to ply a Minister with questions even after he has answered those already put to “him.
I should not like to undertake the task of praising the work of the International Labour Organization because I am not sufficiently familiar with the subject to do it justice. Frankly, I do not intend to attempt to do so on an occasion .such as th is when no notice has been given to enable me to prepare or such an undertaking. It is proper for me to say, however, that the Government does attach great importance to the work of the International Labour Organization, just as past governments have done, and it has played an active part in all the deliberations of that organization. As honorable senators know, the delegations to the International Labour Organization consist of three representatives - one each from the Government, the employers and the employees. At recent meetings of the i rganization in Geneva, the Government has been represented by officials. I had the pleasure of attending the last day of meeting of the final session of the International Labour Organization at the end of June this year when the Australian Government delegation was led by Mr. R. L. Harry, who was officer in charge of ihe Australian Consulate-General in. Switzerland at that time. From what I could hear, he was doing very efficient work.
– He certainly would do so.
– I believe that is true. Apparently Senator Wright knows Mr. Harry. I welcome his commendation, because those are my sentiments, too. T am informed that, included in the last delegation, there was one member of Parliament, the Honorable E. E. White, a Tasmanian Minister who was selected as a workers’ delegate and went in that capacity.
– Was he of the Commonwealth delegation?
– No. The Government does not select the workers’ or employers’ representatives. As I have said, he was a workers’ representative.
I am informed that sixteen International Labour Organization conventions have been ratified in this country. It is the function of officers in the United Nations Division of the Department of External Affairs to make themselves familiar with recommendations that come from the International Labour Organization and to consider whether it is appropriate for this country to adopt those recommendations. With regard to Australia, one always has to remember that a number of matters, in relation to which conventions are entered into, are subjectmatters in which the States are the more appropriate legislators, and while there may be some argument that the Commonwealth could enter into such obligations under the external affairs power, and that it could implement such treaties in law, as a matter of the practical working of the federation, when a treaty impinges particularly upon a realm which is peculiarly the realm of a State, it seems desirable that the views of the State should be ascertained. That, in large measure, may affect the question whether a particular convention should be implemented. I mention that merely to indicate that in this country it is not a simple matter of the Commonwealth, having had presented to it a convention which has been adopted at the International Labour Organization. considering the question whether it, of its own accord, will implement that treaty by legislation which might be necessary for that purpose.
asked some questions about the contribution which is made to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. The honorable senator will find that that contribution is included in Division 203 - International Development and Relief, item 2 of which is “ United Nations technical assistance, relief and rehabilitation, £610,000 “. Included in that sum is an amount of £253,000, which goes to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. That fund provides assistance usually in the form of supplies and equipment for health and nutrition programmes, for the benefit of children in under-developed countries. Programmes are jointly operated and financed by the local authority and usually one specialized agency, for example, the World Health Organization or the Food and Agriculture Organization. The proposed contribution is an increase of 25 per cent, over the contribution of last year and will restore Australia’s contribution to the level of that of 1950-51. The contribution is in convertible Australian currency.
The assembly of the World Health Organization for the current period will be held at Geneva, and Australia will be represented by officers on the spot and by an officer -of the Department of Health who will travel from Canberra at the expense of that department. In 1954-55, however, the assembly was held in Mexico City, and there were the expenses of two officers of the .Department of External Affairs who travelled from the United States.
asked a question concerning the expenses that are paid to delegates at conferences of this kind. I am informed that delegates receive a uniform allowance, but that public servants who attend as advisers often receive a. lower rate of .allowance, it being a rate which is related to their salaries in their Public Service departments.
– ls that still the practice?
– Yes, that is still the position.
Senator Cooke referred to the difference between the amount provided for minor conferences this year and that provided last year. In 1954-55, the amount covered meetings of the Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference at Manila, the British Commonwealth Consultative Committee at Ottawa, and a meeting of the Institute of Pacific Relations at Kyoto. This year, it is expected that there will be only one minor conference and, of course, the Treasury will not allow provision to be made for mere future contingencies. In other words, if it appears that only one minor conference is likely to take place, provision will be made only for that conference.
– In view of the Minister’s statement that only one minor conference will take place this year, may I ask what has happened to the various committees that were set up under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization? As the Minister is no doubt aware, a number of such committees dealt with important matters. I myself attended a transport conference, and I know that one or two other conferences were held. Have those committees been eliminated? Is it that we in Australia are no longer taking an interest in the matters that are referred to committees by the International
Labour Organization, or has the International Labour Organization itself been responsible for their elimination?
– The position is that a number of these matters are covered by the items “United Nations - Representation “, “ United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization - Contribution, representation and publicity “, and “ International Labour Organization - Contribution “. Item 3, “ Representation at minor conferences “, is intended to cover conferences that do not come under any of those other headings. The plain fact of the matter is that it is contemplated that only one such conference will be held this year.
– There may be others, but they would come under other headings?
– As honorable senators know, recently I travelled overseas. During that time I visited the United Nations Organization at Geneva, and also the World Health Organization, with representatives of which I spent an afternoon. From a parliamentary point of view, 1 found that contact tremendously valuable. I also attended, with the Australian representative, meetings of the special agencies in New York and in Geneva, when Sir Douglas Copeland was in the chair. I think it is most important that the members of this Parliament should know what our Australian representatives are doing in connexion with world problems. Even in my modest and humble way - and at my own expense - I found that it was tremendously valuable to me to inform my mind on these very important matters. For instance, I ascertained what the World Health Organization was doing in connexion with cancer research and the building up of a library on the incidence of cancer. It is interesting to get to know what that organization is doing in relation to malaria. Having regard to - our trustee responsibilities, this is very important from our point of view. As I have said before, as it is necessary for our legislators to try to assimilate the information contained in a colossal volume of literature, they do not. get a proper conception of the tremendous amount of work that is being done by the wonderful Australian officers who represent us at Geneva and. New York in the various organizations of the United Nations. I think that wherever practicable - I shall leave the matter on that level - opportunity should be given for members of this National Parliament to attach themselves as I did in an individual way - without any status really - to those officers in order to study the work that they are doing - to sit in behind them and observe how these vast problems are discussed in this world-wide organization. I urge the Government to adopt my suggestion, which I consider very important.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Miscellaneous Services, International Development and Relief, £5,500,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote- £1,547,000.
.- I refer to Division 55 - Court of Conciliation and Arbitration - for which the proposed vote is £73,000. I do not know whether the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) is proud of the work that has been performed by the court during the past yeal or two, but many people do not consider that value is being received for the expepnditure on it. I do not say this disparagingly, and I am not saying anything against the principle of conciliation and arbitration. I am directing my remarks to the work of the court, and to its attitude.We have reached a stage at which we are giving consideration to the court because we realize that it cannot continue to function as it has been functioning. As we know, its main function is to establish and maintain industrial peace. It may be said, of course, that the court can do only certain things in that direction, that its powers are limited, and that the actual maintenance of industrial peace is left to certain organizations. That is not so at all. The court is not contributing very much towards industrial peace, and there will have to he a big improvement. Let us consider possible alternatives to the court. None of the alternatives that suggest themselves would ‘ be more satisfactory than a good arbitration system. I shall not. particularize the drawbacks of the court at present, because we are considering the proposed vote for it. However, the delays that organizations are experiencing to-day, due mainly to the costly procedures associated with the work of the court, are becoming intolerable. If it is the purpose of the Government to establish peace, order, and goodwill in the community, the Government itself will be forced to do something about the work of the court.
I am interested in a matter that has been referred to me by the Meat Inspectors Association, Commonwealth Public Service. It may be thought that this is not a very large association, but I should like to point out that if performs very important work on behalf of the Commonwealth. Our export market for meat is considerable, and no meat is exported from Australia until it has been passed by these inspectors. In a letter that I have received from the secretary of a branch of the association, he states -
Our claim was lodged on December 20th, 1951. Our present salary is £1,018 per annum for the Grade 1 Meat Inspector. The Melbourne City Council pays its meat inspection staff £1,199 per annum, Queensland State inspection staff receives £1,150 per annum, New South Wales State inspection staff receives £1,139 (approx.). The present case before the Arbitration Court involves a pay rise of £92 per annum, leaving the Commonwealth Service well behind in the salary scale . . All the salaries quoted above are comparable to that of Grade 1, Commonwealth Meat Inspector, so that our resentment is understandable when it is remembered that State inspectors and local authorities’ inspectors in many instances only inspect carcases rejected from export by Commonwealth inspectors. In the midst of the present arbitration mire resignations from the Commonwealth Service have been heavy, particularly in South Australia, where almost 50% of the Commonwealth inspection staff have resigned because of the present salary anomaly.
The letter goes on to quote decisions made by the Public Service Arbitrator in connexion with the work performed by this body of men. It sets out that, in 1949, Mr. G. B. Castieau, the Public Service Arbitrator, had this to say -
In order that the position should be perfectly clear at the outset, I think it should be stated that, in Mr. Birkett’s opinion, the opinion of the Chief Veterinary Officer for the Commonwealth, the opinion of certain executive officers responsible for the inspection of meat for local consumption, and the opinion of a meat inspector employed by the N.S.W. Meat Industry Commission (who was called as a witness), the inspection undertaken by meat inspectors in the Commonwealth Service is more intensive and of a higher standard than that required of meat inspectors employed by authorities other than the Commonwealth on the examination of meat for local consumption.
I have mentioned lie arbitrator’s comments in order to stress the importance of the work that is carried out by these workers. In 1951, they lodged with the court an application for consideration of their claims; it has not yet been determined. Obviously, this body of workers must be aggrieved by the delay on the part of the court.
It is all very well to speak in a condemnatory way of the work of the court without offering constructive suggestions. Perhaps the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has already given consideration to this matter, in -view of the amount of the proposed vote. I said at the outset that many people believe that we are not getting value for our expenditure on the court. It is the duty of the Government to improve the court so that the service that it will render to the people of Australia will be in some way related to th? high expenditure provided for. I suggest that, in the first place, the industrial unions of Australia be invited to outline an ideal conciliation and arbitration act from, their point of view, and that the employers’ organizations should then be requested to do likewise. Those proposals could later he considered, not only by the members of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, but also by the presidents of the State arbitration courts. A conference could then be held, and legislation could be drawn up that would ensure the establishment and maintenance of industrial peace. If we continue the present position we will not have very much industrial peace.
– I desire to refer to item 6, “ Law books - £1,500 “, under subdivision B of Division 50 - Administrative. I hope that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) will forgive me if this is not the right time to mention this matter. Recently I was in Darwin, and I saw that the legal library available for use by the practitioners of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory was in a very bad state. The books were very old and badly in need of repair. The majority of them were so old that they needed scrapping altogether. There was no table at which practitioners could sit down and study these important books. I direct the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the possibility of establishing a library for use of practitioners of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory when the new court building in Darwin is completed. I believe that the progress of the Territory will bp enhanced by the existence of an active legal profession.
I now refer to the provision, under Division 50, for a magistrate for the central administration of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I notice that this magistrate is to receive a salary of £2,271. Will the Attorney-General tell me the purpose of appointing a magistrate in the central administration of his department, as this is the first year in which provision has been made for this position?
– I desire to take the AttorneyGeneral’s mind now from Darwin to Hobart. Recently I asked him a question regarding the appointment of a deputy crown solicitor at Hobart, and also regarding the Registrar in Bankruptcy. I rise now because I see no provision has been made for a deputy crown solicitor, although I notice that provision has been made for a registrar in bankruptcy, t ask the Attorney-General whether he can inform the Senate when a deputy crown solicitor will be appointed and will take up his duties in Hobart. I know that when the idea was first mooted there was some opposition to the proposal, but I am confident that there is no opposition now. The services of a deputy crown solicitor are needed by Commonwealth public servants in Hobart. They are the one who will seek his advice and who will gain from his work and his learning. At this time of the year, with Christmas and the law vacation approaching, and in the particular political atmosphere of the moment, I urge the Attorney-General to make the appointment and get the officer working. I believe that there are applicants for this job from outside the Public Service. They have waited some months for information, and they deserve to be told whether their applications have been successful, or whether the position will be filled by a promotion within the service. I understand that owing to departmental difficulties the services of a registrar in bankruptcy cannot yet be made available in Hobart. From the information that I have, that position is no!: quite so important as that of deputy crown solicitor. I would appreciate a statement from the Attorney-General on this matter.
– I refer to item 4, “Publication of Commonwealth Statutes and Statutory Rules - £17,500 “. under subdivision B of Division 50. - Administrative. Can the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) give us any information regarding the recent consolidation of these statutes and statutory rules? We Iia vo now received the first four volumes. I have no information about the fifth volume and the index. The Clerk of Papers has told me that he has written to the publisher, who publishes the consolidation privately in Melbourne, and that he has received no answer. I found the name of the publisher, and rang his office twice. I was informed that the person handling the matter was away. Can the AttorneyGeneral let us know when we are likely to receive the last volume and the index, because the consolidation is not of much value without them?
– I do not think it will bc very long before the remaining volumes of the consolidation will be available. It may be that a limited number has been made available, but I have received my copies, and it should not be very long before the honorable senator receives his. I shall make inquiries and try to find out something more definite.
Senator Marriott referred to the appointment of a deputy crown solicitor at Hobart. Applications for this position have been received and are being considered by the head of the department at present. It should not be very long before a decision is made. It is our desire to get the office established as soon as we can. Premises are available, and we shall appoint someone to the position as soon as possible.
I appreciate the reference made by Senator Laught to the Darwin legal library, and I shall consider what he had to say about it.
– I was hoping that the Minister would occupy the remaining time until the suspension of the sitting, because 1 wished to raise a matter concerning one of the sections of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Legal Service Bureau.
– A vote of £60,000 a year is provided for the purpose of making legal assistance available to exservicemen by the Legal Service Bureau. My representations on this subject are based upon two principles - economy and efficiency. In my experience, this bureau alfords only the most elementary legal assistance to ex-servicemen and by no means warrants the expenditure of this large sum. I am quite confident that if the legal profession were approached, exservice members, and I am sure others as well, would be willing to make their services available at a reduced fee to any ex-serviceman in need of legal assistance. If such a practice were established it would be infinitely more efficient than the present tattered system, and would save this country £60,000 a year. I hope that even in 1955 it is not too late to make another plea for the Government to adopt a suggestion such as I am making, and save the country the unnecessary expenditure of an enormous sum.
– I wholeheartedly endorse the remarks of Senator Wright. The sum of £60,000 is out of proportion to the value of the service rendered to ex-servicemen by the Legal Service Bureau. This body operates through its branches in capital cities only so that if an ex-serviceman lives in any other town or city, or in the country, he has either to travel to the capital city or engage a local solicitor. During the nine years since I have been discharged from the services, by arrangement with the returned ex-servicemen’? organizations in the part of Western Australia where I have my own legal practice, my fellow practitioners and I voluntarily and gratuitously supply legal advice and service to any ex-serviceman requiring it. We are both willing and anxious to do this free of charge.
I am confident that if the suggestion were made to extend that service throughout Australia, all ex-servicemen in the legal profession, and others as well, would be happy to provide such a service. I invite the Attorney-General to make a personal investigation of the work that is being done by the Legal Service Bureau. From my observations, it hardly warrants the expenditure of £60,000.
.- The Commonwealth Investigation Service is only one of a number of similar bodies - by whatever name they are called - and according to the vote this year, £110,000 is deemed necessary for their work. This is a service additional to that of the Commonwealth Investigation Service directly controlled by the Prime Minister’s Department, which is a counterpart of the British top-level security organization. I am not aware how much that costs the Commonwealth. There are also intelligence organizations within the Public Service, which probably extend their activities into outside fields as well. The total amount spent on all these services is very great and I am not satisfied that their overlapping, which is inevitable, is necessary.
I am doubtful about the kind of security service which is sacrosanct even to Cabinet Ministers. It is dangerous to have any government service of this kind which can place itself behind a curtain and if it thinks fit, withhold information from even Cabinet Ministers, to which they are entitled. It was my experience as a Cabinet Minister that it was impossible to elicit information from the Security Service. Surely a Cabinet Minister should be credited with probity and trustworthiness. He occupies his position because of the confidence reposed in him by the electors and it is only reasonable that he should be entrusted with the results of inquiries. I have thought that, even if it were not possible or desirable for all Cabinet Ministers to have access to this kind of information, there is no good reason why, say four or five members of the Cabinet should not have access to it if the necessity arises.
There is no more overboomed department than the so-called security service. In saying that, I refer not only to Australia, but to other countries as well, such as the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom. We all know that some of the most tragic happenings in connexion with security have occurred almost under the very noses of the people who are supposed to safeguard a nation’s security. The McLean and Burgess case, which is well known to honorable senators, is an example in the United Kingdom to show what can happen. When I was in Great, Britain and a Cabinet Minister in 194S, I had with me an officer of the Department of Supply whom I took with me so that he could acquaint himself with the conduct of affairs in the United Kingdom by its security service. I wanted to be sure that there was in the department under my control at least, one officer who would know what they were doing, and would accordingly be of great value to the Commonwealth, and especially to the important Department of Supply at that time. But when I looked at what was happening in the United Kingdom I was more convinced than ever that the service given to the United Kingdom by its security service was not particularly good. I do not like to be a prophet in retrospect, but things there have proved that my f-ars were well founded. The Attorney-General is the Minister who might well make it his personal responsibility to satisfy himself that at least the security service over which he has control gives complete satisfaction. In my opinion, there is a deliberate attempt on the part of security officers to remove themselves from control by Ministers. If the Minister in charge of security is weak, and does not insist on knowing what is happening, by meeting and knowing as many of the top personnel as possible, the department tends to become more absorbed in itself and more independent of ministerial control.
This is not the first time that I have mentioned the matter when discussing the Estimates. I raise it again to-night because I regard it as a serious problem.
I hope that the Minister will not misunderstand me, but I say that, once ministerial responsibility is removed from an organization, that organization is very likely to let the Government down. That has been the experience in other countries. It is true that Australia does not run the same security risk as do countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada, but even in those countries, it is clear that, despite the efforts by the security authorities, secret information was gained by spies under the very noses of the men who were supposed to provide efficient counter-espionage. .1 do not know the Attorney-General’s personal contact with the security people, whose services cost the country £110,000 per annum, but I point out to him that unless he has good reason to have complete trust in the security personnel, things are likely to blow up under his nose.
The Attorney-General’s Department is responsible for the expenditure of £80,000 this year in connexion with the Peace Officer Guard, whilst for the Commonwealth “as a whole, the expenditure will he £440,000, spread over all departments during the year. Of that sum, £360,000 will be repaid to the Attorney-General’s Department by the Departments of Defence, Repatriation, Supply, and others. That is a big sum of money, and we should be sure that it is expended wisely. It may be that some of the peace officer organizations in Commonwealth factories are not necessary. This service has grown, rather than diminished, in recent years. It was established in wartime, when it was important that Commonwealth plants should be guarded, but peace officers are now generally to be found at the front gate of Commonwealth establishments. In war-time not all the people who desired to enter Commonwealth property walked in through the front door. One would have thought that, so long after the end of the war, the Peace Officer Guard would have been reduced in strength, but, on the contrary, the expenditure on this service has increased down the years. Recently, Ministers have stressed the need for economy in expenditure, and it seems to me that this is an item of expenditure that the Minister could well investigate, with a view to making certain whether the £440,000 proposed to be expended on the Peace Officer Guard is justified.
– Replying first to Senator Armstrong’s comments on the Peace Officer Guard, I think it is pertinent to point out that if we did not have members of the Peace Officer Guard performing their duties as watchmen to protect valuable Commonwealth property, we should have to employ watchmen. If that were done, I think it would be found that the cost to the Commonwealth would be greater than it is now under the present system.
The honorable senator made reference to the investigation service and to the security service. I feel that he has not clearly separated the functions of the two bodies, lt is important that they be separated. I confess that I have become a little disturbed at times when the investigation service, which after all is a Commonwealth detective service, carries out an ordinary detective, job in relation to the enforcement of Commonwealth law, to find that reports to the effect that the security police have been active are circulated. The fact is that in such cases security has nothing whatever to do with the matter. The task is being performed by the body which is properly described as the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and which for the Commonwealth performs in substance the same kind of tasks as are performed by the detective force of a State in the enforcement of State law. That body ought not to be confused with the body that is properly referred to as the security organization, and which carries out an entirely different task. It is an intelligence organization which collects information and makes it available to the Government. I believe that, in recent years, the Australian public has reason to be very grateful for the excellent service that the men associated with that organization have rendered in protecting Australia from subversive activities.
– Could it not be called the Commonwealth Criminal Investigation Branch?
– That is the kind of organization it is.
– Is there any reasonable objection to calling it by some such name?
– The organization Las always had its present title, but there is something to be said for the honorable senator’s suggestion. The Government has given some thought to the Peace Officer Guard and the investigation service, and it may be that in the not-distant future we may have a set-up which is slightly different from that of to-day. I agree with the honorable senator that the present title is not the most appropriate one, but the naming of the organization goes back a good many years. Some reference has been made to the Legal Service Bureau. I know that there may be differences of opinion about how the task of providing legal service for soldiers and ex-servicemen can be performed. In my early days in the practice of the law I had a lot to do with a legal service bureau which was operated during World War I., by the legal profession in Melbourne, in order to meet the needs of men who were going to the war and of their dependants while they were away. That service was very successful, so it may well be said that I have no prejudice against this particular task for ex-servicemen being performed by the legal profession itself.
The Legal Service Bureau was established under the authorization of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 194.5, and it is our function to carry it on under the terms of that legislation. 1 keep the activities of the bureau constantly under review, and, indeed, honorable senators may remember that in 1951-52, as the result of some reorganization of my department, a reduction was made in the staff,, and that coincided with some falling-off in the work. However, the work still remains considerable in volume, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. While it may well be that members of the legal profession would perform services for ex-servicemen for a reduced fee - and many ex-serviceman members of the profession do that work - nevertheless the incidence of the work has been such that it may be a mistake to assume that it should all be done for nothing by members of the legal profession.
If this particular service is to be rendered to ex-servicemen, it is a service which must be rendered by the community. If the community is going to render the service it is proper for the community to pay the piper, and the volume of work performed by the Legal Service Bureau is so great that it would be difficult to conceive of it being done for nothing. In those circumstances I suggest that the amount expended is not excessive, and is perhaps not a great contribution to make to meet the legal needs of ex-servicemen and their dependants.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Miscellaneous Services, Attorney-General’s Department, £8,000 - agreed to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed vote, £4,449,000.
, - I desire to pay a tribute to the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, particularly to its activities in regard to agriculture. Australian agriculture has had the benefit of excellent facilities in research during recent years, particularly from 1949 to 1955. The Menzies Government can take much credit for the development of our primary production through its support of the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The scope of the activities of this organization is very wide. It embraces animal health and production, plant industry, entomology, soils and irrigation, food preservation and transport, forest products, mining and metallurgy, wool textile research, dairy research, land research and regional survey,, and many other matters.
Its most spectacular’ achievement has been the introduction of myxomatosis, which has virtually wiped out our rabbit population. It has been estimated that the organization, through this one field of activity, has saved this country about £100,000,000 a year. I, myself, have noticed a. great difference in the pastures since the myomatosis virus was introduced, and we shall benefit for many years to come from this work. The Commonwealth Scientific and industrial Research Organization has also interested itself in dairy research, and in tobacco research. Its extension services expenditure will increase from £200,000 to £300,000 this vear, and it will increase continuously until it reaches £500,000 in 1960.
During a recent visit to the Northern Territory I saw something of the achievements of the organization in increasing production of peanuts, sorghum and rice, particularly at Katherine. The work of the organization throughout Australia has been spectacular, and has meant hard cash to the agriculturists of the Commonwealth. I, therefore, commend the efforts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and I am glad to notice that the amount of money allotted for research has increased since last year. I hope that it will continue to increase.
– I desire to refer to Division 101 - Administrative, subdivision C - Investigations. I should like it to be explained what “ (a) Includes expenditure from contributions from outside sources “, means. What are the outside sources, and is the Government going to spend £361,500 on fisheries investigations which are of no value to our fishing industry in Australia? The investigations mentioned are merely the carrying out of biological experiments in the laboratory, and the investigations are not concerned with finding out the habits of fish in Australian waters. I strongly object to £161,500 being thrown away without its expenditure having any benefit for the fishing industry. I hope the Minister will bring my remarks to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) who is concerned with this matter. This is a matter which I have mentioned a number of times in the Senate, and I shall continue to raise it until something is done about it.
– I direct the attention of the Minister to Division 101 - Administrative, subdivision C. - Investigations. The proposed vote for building research is £131.400. I should like to know what research is being done in the building industry and whether any consideration is being given to an investigation of the best type of homes to build in tropical and sub-tropical areas. As we have a large number of people living in hot climates, it is most necessary to have some research directed to finding out the most suitable types of houses for comfortable living in these areas. I should also like to know what contributions from outside sources are included in the proposed vote. _^
– I join with Senator Wardlaw in paying a tribute to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I am pleased to testify to the work of this organization because I have criticized the undeveloped state of the country around the Australian Capital Territory between Goulburn and Canberra, and the areas between Alburv and Melbourne. I had the good fortune to go to the Dickson Experimental Station near the road to Goulburn recently and what I saw there bore out my contention. I must admit that my previous criticism was based on experience in Western Australia, but when I went to the experimental station recently, I saw the most magnificent pastures growing there. The- grasses that have been introduced are growing profusely, and give a wonderful illustration what this country can produce if the people would only take advantage of the experiments in the sowing of pastures and contour ploughing to stop erosion. I have noticed bad erosion around Canberra. Paddocks have been cleared of timber years ago, and nothing has been done to stop erosion. Gutters and rivulets are wearing the soil away. The Dickson Experimental Station shows what can be done if the soil is treated properly.
We frequently hear it said that if the population continues to increase at its present rate, we shall not be able to provide enough food for our own people, let alone export it, in ten years. That is sheer nonsense. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is showing plainly that we are only scratching the surface of Australia in an agricultural sense. I direct attention to the prediction of the late Sir Olive Steele who stated in Melbourne twelve months ago that, by the use of trace elements, pastures could be improved to such an extent that we could produce another 1,000,000 bales of wool. I am sure that he under-estimated the position. It is obvious what would happen to the export trade if we had another 1,000,000 bales of wool to offer to the world. It would allow us to reduce import restrictions to a minimum, if not to abolish them altogether. A similar statement could be applied to meat production. It would be wonderful if we could apply approved methods to meat production and get good quality meat instead of the stuff that is served up in hotels under the name of meat.
I saw Sir Clunies Eoss at the Dickson Experimental Station and he informed me that he had visited the Meekatharra and Wiluna areas in Western Australia with the idea of establishing experimental stations there. I went to one of those areas when they were experiencing a drought, and there was as much pasture growing in that country as there is on the floor of this chamber. There was not a vestige of grass to be seen, and T am referring to properties which ran 20,000 head of cattle twenty years ago. They have been ruined by drought. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is sending officers to Wiluna to see if they can establish a station there to show pastoralists what can be done if the proper grasses are sown and the soil is given appropriate treatment.
I join, therefore, in the tribute that lias been paid to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It is doing wonderful work and it must be a great help to all pastoralists and farmers who take the opportunity to see what is ‘being done and what can be done by proper methods.
– I wish to refer to Division i01, and particularly to the pro.vision that is to be made for animal health and entomology. The question was asked in this chamber to-day about the serious problem of bloat in sheep in Tasmania. I do not know whether the complaint was supposed to be suffered in this case by sheep or by dairy cattle, but I know that losses throughout Australia as a result of disease among domestic animals have totalled millions of pounds each year. I am pleased to note that an increased amount is to be devoted to combating these problems. Great strides have been made in the control of various diseases in domestic animals. I have had personal experience of some of the remedies that have been discovered as a result of the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in connexion with farm animals, and I should like to see further investigations made. Some of the results have been spectacular.
I should like to see more concentration on those diseases and pests which cause tremendous losses throughout Australia, and, in particular, I wish to refer to entomology. A serious problem in South Australia is the plague of locusts which threatens a vast area. Plagues of grasshoppers or locusts are very serious, and one of these plagues is threatening in South Australia now. An infestation of grasshoppers reached serious proportions in the autumn and gave warning that there would be a bigger infestation in the spring. Unfortunately, favorable hatching conditions have resulted in hordes of grasshoppers emerging, and when they can fly, they will cause tremendous damage throughout the more settled areas where grass and herbage is still green. I do not know what can be done to control these grasshoppers because the infestation is on such a vast scale. The hatching areas largely are in the north of South Australia in the dry areas. Periodically, there are favorable hatching seasons which result in millions of grasshoppers coming into existence. They are hatched in the form of tiny hoppers a fraction of an inch long, and as they mature they consume everything within their reach. As they hop along they consume the herbage and, at the same time they are growing rapidly. Weeks elapse before they actually take wing, and in that stage, it is necessary to effect control if possible. The great difficulty is to find the areas where they are hatching in great numbers. They hatch out mostly in remote areas, and it is very difficult to attack them because they are very small, and not much warning is given of their presence.
There should be further concentration, on the work of controlling grasshoppers and locusts while they are in the hopper stage, because once they become airborne they are virtually uncontrollable. Various methods of attacking them have been used. At the present time, sprays are being used, and we have had the cooperation of the Department of the Army, which has sent jeeps to the northern areas where the hatching grounds are. The locusts are being attacked by sprays while they are still in the hopper stage. Previously, edible baits were used, and although the results were effective, they were not so effective as those achieved by the use of sprays. I believe that the possibility of attacking locusts from the air, and spraying them from low-flying aircraft, should be further investigated. We know what has been done by that means to control insect pests in pea-fields and flax-fields.
The locust infestation is on the increase. When I was a boy it was rare to see a plague of locusts, but nowadays, unfortunately, we see them much more frequently. I think that this is a problem which can best be dealt with by a body such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I am glad that a large sum of money is to be voted this year for research services, but I should like to see an even larger sum voted, because stock diseases and insect pests do immeasurable harm to the community. If we lose stock through disease^ we attack the cause, and I think we should do the same thing in respect of the locusts that are threatening South Australia at the present time.
– I was pleased to hear the remarks of Senator Hannaford concerning the serious locust plague in South Australia. I agree with everything the honorable senator said. As one who knows the northern part of the State. I agree that this pest is increasing each year. Only the other day I read that nests and ‘breeding grounds of locusts had been found as far north in South Australia as the ‘Cockburn line, and on the west coast around Cowell and other places. This plague is of no small dimensions. I agree with Senator Hannaford that assistance by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization would be most effective. I am sure that the South Australian Government is doing everything possible to combat this unusual plague as it has occurred each year. From all reports, it is obvious that unless some control measures are taken, the plague will cause enormous damage in primary producing areas, and may even cause damage in home gardens. I hope that the plea made by Senator Hannaford will be heeded by the Government.
On two or three previous occasions Senator Hannaford has made eloquent pleas to the Government to have the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization tender reports to the Parliament indicating that something was being done to check the scourge of mistletoe, which is affecting our natural trees. I am sure that all honorable senators who travel throughout Australia and who are tree-lovers, as I am, are amazed at the extensive damage which mistletoe is causing. That damage is increasing each year. I hope the Minister will be able to assure honorable senators, particularly those from South Australia. that something is being done in this connexion.
In Division 101 - -Administrative - item 25 refers to a proposed vote of £92,700 in respect of wild-life, the expenditure last year being £83,117. I should like the Minister to indicate how that money is to be expended. Is it to be used for the preservation of Australia’s native birds and animals, the extension of sanctuaries, and things of that nature? As a lover of nature, I sometimes feel that not quite enough prominence is given to our natural fauna and flora,although I believe that the average Australian loves the national bird and animal life. I hope that the Minister will say that more and more provision will be made for sanctuaries and that every opportunity is being taken to instil into the minds of Australians who are assisting with the development of the country the necessity to -maintain, if not to increase, our bird and animal population. Unfortunately, with our increasing human population, our birds and animals tend to decrease in numbers, and I sometimes think that governments are not doing sufficient to ensure their preservation.
.- Senator Kendall had some queries in relation to the item on fisheries. This money is devoted to the study of commercially important fish, and of whales, crustaceans and molluscs. That study is being carried out by the Marine Biological Laboratory at Cronulla, with four field stations in various parts of the Commonwealth. Chemical, physiological and biological studies of the environment - the waters and muds, and their inhabitants - are also being made. Two research vessels are at present working, F.R.V. Derwent Hunter on tuna, barracouta, and their environment in south-east Australian waters, and F.R.V. Gahleru on pearl oysters in Torres Strait. Two research officers of the division have been working at whaling stations, one in Western Australia and the other in Queensland. Estuarine investigations are being concentrated on Lake Macquarie,. New South Wales, where fish production is said to have declined. A small contribution to the. work is made by the New South Wales Government; the New South Wales Fisheries Department contributes £250, and the Department of the Navy contributes £3,234.
asked several questions in relation to building research, for which the proposed vote is £131,400. By agreement with the Department of Works, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is responsible for long-term research on building and related engineering, whereas the Department of Works, through the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station, is responsible primarily for shortterm and developmental work in the same field. The Building Research and Development Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives of the Commonwealth departments interested in building research, the trade unions, and private architects, builders and manufacturers, advises the departments concerned on matters relating to building research and development. In addition, an interdepartmental building research committee co-ordinates the building research development undertaken by Commonwealth departments, and so avoids any danger of overlapping.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Division of Building Research at Highett, Victoria, is investigating a number of urgent problems pertaining to housing and to building generally. These include investigations on large pre-cast gypsum plaster wall slabs, that offer great promise in reducing the cost, not only of houses, but also of commercial and industrial buildings. Another line of work that is likely to lead to a worth-while reduction of costs is a study of the manufacture and properties of light-weight aggregates for concrete and plaster, the use of which in commercial and industrial buildings can result in marked savings in dead-weight, and therefore in cost.
Investigations are also being made into the reasons for the rapid deterioration of flat roofs in Australia, and the possibilities of saving costs by the use of concrete floors in direct contact with the ground. Organic caulking, materials, which are essential to the success of many forms of prefabricated construction, and which are widely used in civil engineering structures, are also being studied. The division is fully equipped for investigations relating to the heavy clay industry, and is being of very considerable assistance to the industry in investigating the properties and best methods of utilizing clays. In addition to its research programme, the Building Research and Development Advisory Committee has an information service, which is proving of considerable value in bringing the great volume of scientific information available in various publications throughout the world to the attention of the building industry. Last year, it dealt with some 4,200 inquiries. In this case, also, a small contribution of £2,500 was made to expenses by the Associated Fibrous Plaster Manufacturers of Australia.
Both Senator Hannaford and Senator Critchley referred to the locust pest. I direct their attention to the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization fm 1954-55. On page 5, section 9, they will find a description of the investigations that were undertaken by that organization in connexion with this matter during that year. At page 16, section 3, of the same report, they can read a description of investigations that were conducted into mistletoe. I shall not burden the Senate by reading the relevant extracts, but I commend them to honorable senators.
Senator Critchley also referred to the wild life section, which is perhaps a little different from what he believes it to be. The programme of the Wild Life Survey Section for the year 1955-56 consists, in the main, of investigations having a direct or indirect bearing on the problem of control of animals that are important as pests, notably the rabbit and the kangaroo. -Eighty per cent, of the research staff is engaged on such investigations, and a good deal of work has been done in relation to the effect of myxomatosis on rabbits. Work is also being conducted in connexion with kangaroos, and in relation to certain birds which have some beneficial effects as well as some harmful effects on production in Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Miscellaneous Services, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £100,000; Department of Territories, £180,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £3,386,000.
.- Perhaps belatedly, I wish to refer to the recent decision of the Government to curtail the building of houses in Darwin. I regard this decision as a retrograde step and I cannot understand why the Cabinet “agreed to it. The battle to develop the Northern Territory has been terribly difficult right down the years. But when something was about to be done in the erection of houses in Darwin, even if only the building of 100 houses was contemplated - the first thing that the ministry did when considering works cuts was to spread the time for the building of these 100 houses, which will cost about £800,000, over a much longer period than had been previously decided. The great trap in administration is that by delaying such matters, ultimately they are not done at all.
Darwin is one place that must be encouraged at all costs. Our economic future is bound up with the development of the Northern Territory, and our future from a defence point of view is closely related to the development of the Territory. The more people that we can encourage to live in the Northern Territory, the better it will be for Australia.
Yet, when faced with an economic crisis, the first thing the Government has done has been to slash the home-building programme in Darwin. Surely it is not too late to ask the Minister to impress upon the Cabinet the necessity to reverse its decision to slash this item. This is one avenue of activity that should be expanded rather than retarded. The importance to Australia of the development of Darwin is so obvious that it is not necessary for me to emphasize the matter. When the Government looks around for directions in which expenditure can be cut, probably because no Minister is strong enough to fight for the Northern Territory, it is in connexion with proposed expenditure on the Territory that cuts are imposed. I appeal to the Minister to urge his colleagues in the Cabinet to restore the full appropriation for the house-building programme in Darwin, and to make sure that the money is so expended as quickly as possible.
– I desire to say a few words in support of the appeal made by my colleague, Senator Armstrong, regarding housing in Darwin.
I wish to refer to item 14, “ Railway freight - Concessions - £29,200 “ in subdivision D of Division 247 - General Services. I notice that the expenditure on this item in 1954-55 was £24,039. I ask the Attorney-General to indicate the kind of goods upon which those concessions were granted.
I refer now to item 8, “ Municipal expenditure - £61,200 “, which appears under the same subdivision. I do not. for one moment question the advisability of making this allocation. I realize that such expenditure is necessary if places like Darwin, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs are to develop, and it is the duty of the Government to do all that it. can to safeguard the health of the people in those places by introducing modern sanitary services. I have had the opportunity during recent months of seeing just how much some towns in the Northern Territory, such as Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, have progressed, but the water supply at some places, particularly at Tennant Creek, is very poor. I have seen the development in mining at Tennant Creek, and any honorable senators who take even the slightest interest in mining activities would be surprised if they could spend two or three days inspecting the fields at Tennant Creek. It is rather an old settlement, and the main concern of the people there is in connexion with the supply of water. There is a small supply available, and an exorbitant price has to be paid for it. I also found that some of the residential parts of Tennant Creek have not advanced beyond what they were 50 to 70 years ago. Tennant Creek has great prospects so far as the mining industry is concerned. It is becoming quite important to the Australian economy, and many companies and businesses have invested capital in the area. Three or four mines in the vicinity have provided modern conditions for their employees, and they are a credit to the people who have undertaken the development of that part of Australia.
The National Parliament has some responsibilities towards these areas, and the amount of £22,500 under item 7, “ Sanitary and garbage services “ in subsection I) of Division 247 - General Services, is money that will be well spent. Having regard to the increasing population in these places, I am rather perturbed that the amounts shown under these items are so small. I ask the Government in all sincerity to consider seriously the facilities and amenities aA’ailable to people in these places, and particularly at Tennant Creek. I refer now mainly to the sanitary and garbage services. The time is long overdue for an organized effort to be made by this Government, or by the Administration of the Northern Territory, to give the residents of such places more modern health services and to improve their standards of hygiene. I am not ques tioning the allocation of these amounts, but, having regard to the rapid development of these areas during the last few years, I am surprised that more money has not been spent in providing for the residents the amenities that they so richly deserve. It should be the first duty of any government which is desirous of having this vast continent developed to provide those amenities.
– Senator Critchley asked a question regarding railway freight concessions. The concessions allowed include, first, freight charges on the north Australia railway. Since 1935, the freight rates on the north Australia railway have been reduced to the level of those operating on the central Australia railway, in order to reduce the disabilities suffered by residents of the Northern Territory due to the heavy cost of transport. The estimated cost of this concession in 1955-56 is £12,000. There are also “ long distance rebates “. This concession is allowed on goods consigned to localities at long, distances from a railway station. It was introduced on the 1st July, 1934. The estimated cost of this concession in 1955-56 is £16,000. The third concession is a reduction in freight charges on fencing materials. Since the 1st July, 1935, fencing materials have been carried over the central Australia railway to Alice Springs at half the ordinary freight rates. The cost of the concession in 1955-56 is estimated at £1,200. The increase of £5,161 over the actual expenditure of £24,039 in 1954-55 is due to a general increase in railway freight charges as advised by Commonwealth Railways.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £27,100.
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South Wales [9.7]. - The Government has granted, in the last few weeks, a licence to fish for whales at Norfolk Island. I wish to ask the Attorney-General whether the Government receives any royalty payments as a result of licences issued to fish for whales around the coast of Australia and at Norfolk Island.
– I know that there is no such charge at Norfolk Island. I shall confine my answer to that matter at present.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Papua and New Guinea.
Proposed vote, £8,943,900.
– I “wish to refer to item 1, “ Grant to . Administration towards expenses, including native welfare, development, war damage and reconstruction - £8,570,000 “, under Division 259 - Miscellaneous Services. I realize that the time that I may devote to this subject is quite inadequate. The subject is very wide, and I cannot cover adequately all the matters mentioned in this item. As honorable senators know I was appointed leader of a parliamentary delegation that visited Papua and New Guinea last July. We had a fortnight’s intensive tour of the aTea, and one of the first impressions I gained was the vital importance of this territory to Australia. Few people in Australia realize that. It is adjacent to the northern part of our continent, an area that is, to a large extent, unpopulated. It is proposed to make available almost £9,000,000 for the work of developing Papua and New Guinea. Australia will not receive much financial return, nor do we expect it, but we have accepted, through the United Nations, the responsibility of developing New Guinea, and the main purpose of the -work will be to lift the native peoples from their primitive condition to a higher standard of living. The Australian taxpayer will provide something like £9,000,000, and the local administration will supply another £3,000,000. The internal income of these territories is derived from customs duties, post office revenue, and a few other incidental services.
In recent years, considerable development ‘has taken place throughout the island. It has been most rapid at Port Moresby, the capital, which is now a thriving and important centre. As far as I could see, there were no great anomalies in the treatment of the native people. The Administration is most sympathetic to them and is working for their welfare in an extremely wise way. This was particularly evident in matters of education, hygiene, technical advancement and agricultural development. In various parts of the Territory, including New Britain, the native people themselves have done an extraordinary amount of developmental work. I say without hesitation that the intelligence of the New Guinea natives is very high, and their instructors report that they are equal to any people on the mainland. I was astonished to see the technical skill that was evident in their handiwork. They make splendid carpenters, and their management and control of motor vehicles and their ability to assimilate mechanical knowledge is of a high standard.
Members of the delegation were unanimous in the opinion that if Australia failed to improve the living standard and improve their knowledge of these people, they would be left in an intellectual vacuum that would react to Australia’s detriment. To help in their development, a policy of white settlement throughout the Territory has been followed with satisfactory results. Some people may hold that the introduction of white settlers among dark people lays the foundation of a racial problem, but there is no other way of providing the .natives with that means of instruction. The natives are most amenable to instruction in agriculture, and wherever the white man has given them help in this direction there has been an immediate improvement in their agricultural methods. Of course, their old primitive methods still exist to some degree, but in large areas, particularly in the highlands, we saw evidence of the natives being influenced by the white man’s methods, and under a sympathetic administration, doing good work on their own blocks, where they are now growing more food than they did previously when employing old methods. I believe that in New Guinea we have an area of great potential value as a supplier of certain of Australia’s requirements. I have in mind particularly New Guinea’s production of copra. That Territory is capable of producing large quantities of copra, and has done so since the reconstruction which has followed the Japanese occupation. I am given to understand that most of the coconut plantations have been restored, and that the production of copra has practically resumed its former place in the economy of New Guinea. That remark applies to other products also. For instance, good rubber can be grown there successfully. There are several rubber plantations, one of them being situated at Koitaki not far from Port Moresby and another at Kokoda where rubber of excellent quality is being grown. Some progressive planters have introduced new trees from Malaya, with the result that the output of rubber is likely to be increased very considerably in the future. As climatic conditions are suitable, New Guinea is a great potential source of rubber.
The highlands of New Guinea are also capable of producing good coffee. The coffee-growing industry is being expanded in New Guinea, but not to the same degree in Papua. One of the most interesting features of this industry is that a good deal of the coffee is being grown by native agriculturists under the tuition of wise administrators who devote their time to improving cultivation methods. The same may be said of cocoa. There is a distinct possibility that cocoa will become a major product of New Guinea in the very near future. We saw in various places, both in New Guinea and in New Britain, that cocoa of good quality can be grown satisfactorily.
The amount of money that is being expended in these areas may seem large, but is it not Australia’s responsibility to do what it can to assist these primitive people to raise their living standards? I fear that we are inclined to judge these things by what we can get out of them. We must do al) we can to uplift these people and raise their standards of living. Surely that is our responsibility. I believe that that responsibility is recognized by the Administration, and is a primary factor influencing its officers. The main thins; is not to exploit these people but to help them, and I believe that that is the policy being carried out by the Administration in New Guinea.
– That has not been the experience of aborigines in Australia.
– We are doing all we can to help them.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like the Minister to explain why £66,000 is set down this year for payment under clause 14 of New Guinea Timber Agreement when only £4,S74 was expended last year, lt may have something to do with a refund of customs duty, but I should like the Minister to give the reason.
– I rise to present a view which is the opposite of that presented by Senator Hannaford, who would have us believe that the sole purpose of the Government is to raise the standard of living of these primitive people. The whole of our experience in Australia, to say nothing of New Guinea and Papua, has been quite the reverse, as is evidenced by the fact that the standard of living of the aborigines of Australia was never lower than it is to-day. I refuse to accept the contention that the policy of the Government in connexion with Papua and New Guinea is different from what it is in Australia. We have only to reflect that the policy of the first white settlers in this country was exactly the same as that of white settlers in other countries, namely, to exploit to the maximum the primitive peoples among whom they settled, and to impose on them conditions which would enable investors to make the greatest profits possible at the expense of the primitive people. The position of the native peoples of New Guinea and Papua is not different to-day from what it was in the past, or what it was in the early days of Australian settlement. I believe that Senator Hannaford, in trying to make his point, was deceiving himself or trying to deceive others. The expenditure proposed in these Estimates is calculated to increase the profits of those who have capital to invest, rather than to raise the standard of living of the native people, as he suggested. What has been the experience of most Eastern countries such as Egypt, Burma, India or China, where western capital has been invested? That capital has been expended, not in the interests of the native peoples of those countries, but in the interests of investors. The position is much the same in connexion with the sending of troops to Malaya. That is being done, not in the interests of the people of Malaya, but in the interests of British and American investors, who would control the economy of Malaya, just as they would control our economy, if they could. If Australia were as thickly populated-
– The honorable senator would not be game to repeat his statement in Perth. He was run out of Perth on a former occasion, and he would have the same experience again.
– I am speaking to the butcher, not the block.
Government senators interjecting,
– The remark is appropriate to people who, far from having hearts of oak, have heads of reinforced concrete. Their interjections make me think of animated megaphones.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - The honorable senator should get back to the item before the Chair.
– I hope to do so Mr. Chairman. I was replying to interjections. The honorable senator’s remarks about raising the standard of living of the primitive people do not reflect the true position. I defy the honorable senator to show me any country where invested capital has raised the standard of living, and in that challenge I include Australia. The aborigines of this country are a dying race, and the reason for that is that they have been so greatly exploited that they are now unable to survive. Those remarks also apply to the natives of Papua and New Guinea, and all the posturing and posing of honorable senators opposite to lead us to believe that they are benefactors, is quite misleading. It is misleading to the people and is possibly misleading to themselves. I have not visited Papua and New Guinea, but I have lived all my life in Australia and have seen what has happened in this country as the result of the policy advocated by honorable senators opposite. I have also read very widely among the books of reputable English writers such as Morrell, who wrote about the black man’s burden.
– Has the honorable senator ever been in New Guinea?
Sena tor CAMERON. - No, I have said that I have not visited New Guinea; and if I had, I do not suppose that I would be any better informed about the natives there than Senator Vincent is at the present time. The point I emphasize is that it is not true that the money that it is proposed to be expended in Papua and New Guinea by this Government is designed to raise the living standards of the people. The reason for this expenditure is to increase the profits of the white investors, who are represented by the honorable senators on the Governmen side. Those same honorable senators pose as great patriots, whereas they are merely stooges for the exploiters.
– I lived in that country for six years, and I know what I am talking about. Why does not the honorable senator talk about the budget instead of insulting people?
– Order ! Senator Cameron should ignore the interjections, and address his remarks to the bill.
– If Senator Kendall were as well behaved in this chamber as I try to be, he would not make stupid and ignorant interjections while other honorable senators are speaking. By so doing he is merely projecting his own ignorance into the debate. However, it is necessary to emphasize that the case presented in the name of the Government amounts to so much misrepresentation. The primitive people in New Guinea are being exploited.
– But the honorable senator has never been there, he does not know what he is talking about.
– I am not talking about the primitive people of Kalgoorlie, I am talking about the primitive people of Papua and New Guinea.
– Order! Senator Cameron should take no notice of the interjections, and confine his remarks to the budget.
– I would certainly take your advice, Mr. Temporary Chairman, if you would control the interjectors.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. Order! I have asked honorable senators to maintain order, and I ask Senator Cameron to confine his remarks to the measure before the Senate.
– The honorable senator is at present in the wilds of New Guinea.
– Order !
– And now we hear from the idiot from Tasmania.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! Senator Cameron must not call honorable senators idiots. I ask all senators to keep order, and I ask Senator Cameron to confine his remarks to the Appropriation bill.
– I am confining my remarks to the bill by speaking of Papua and New Guinea. The economy of this country is designed to provide maximum profits f or the holders of capital and minimum consumption for the nonholders of capital. There are holders and non-holders of capital in New Guinea, and the owners of capital are becoming fewer and wealthier and the non-owners are increasing and becoming poorer. That is why in all exploited countries there comes an inevitable reaction. That has already occurred in Malaya and other countries, and it will occur in Papua and New Guinea because there is a limitation of the degree to which those people can be dominated. But this Government intends to subordinate the people and dominate them, and that end is also sought by the people who have capital invested in the country. Senator Hannaford has stated that the Government is expending money to raise the standard of living of the natives. I do not believe that, and [ would be sadly remiss in my duty to human beings, whether they are in Papua or New Guinea or anywhere else, if I did not express my views on this matter.
– I am sorry now that I raised a storm in a tea cup by introducing this matter and giving the Senate what I thought was a correct impression of New Guinea. Of course, I do not exclude from my remarks New Britain, which has been settled for much longer. I remind Senator Cameron that his views were certainly not those of the Labour members of the party that accompanied me on my trip to Papua and New Guinea. They were impressed in the same way as myself, and the thought that we were intruding into New Guinea to exploit the natives was far from their minds. Senator Cameron’s ideas are completely out of line with modern thought on this subject. Indeed, the last Labour Government was very vitally interested in Papua and New Guinea. In fact, it had an interest in the timber resources in that part of the world.
– Did the honorable senator say that the Labour party was interested in timber?
– I said that the last Labour’ Government had a bit of interest in that area. They were exploiting the timber resources of the Bulolo area. I do not think that can be denied.
– I rise to order. I am reluctant to interrupt the honorable senator, but I suggest that his line of argument on the timber interests of the previous Labour governments is out of order, particularly as it borders on references to individuals. He is getting away from the discussion on the development of Papua and New Guinea.
– I made no reference to individuals, but to the policy of the Labour Government regarding the Bulolo timber stands. That policy has been continued by this Government, but it has made a sensible arrangement with a powerful financial group which is doing wonderful work in the Bulolo area in obtaining hoop pine and other timbers. One of the finest plywood mills exists in that area.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask Senator Hannaford to confine his remarks to the Appropriation Bill.
– I am speaking to the item which provides for the development of New Guinea. The term “ miscellaneous services “ covers the whole range of activities in Papua and New Guinea. Senator Cameron was a member of the previous Labour Government, and he has claimed self-righteously that I am presenting a false picture of the conditions in New Guinea. He has stated that this Government is using its obligations under the United Nations Charter to exploit the people of Papua and NewGuinea. Nothing could be further from the truth. New Guinea is a magnificent country of vast potentiality, but the deepest impression I received on my visit there was in connexion with the work that is being done for the native people. They are living under a sympathetic administration conducted by efficient officers. The story is well worth telling. I pay the highest tribute to those in charge of native affairs in New Guinea.
In connexion with education, I have referred to the technical advances made >>y the native people. I saw striking examples of the improvement in their heath. In the remote areas, tragic conditions exist. The people suffer from tropical ulcers, rabies, yaws and tuberculosis but they are being brought under control. All this is being done to give them a higher standard of living. They are being taught the arts of animal husbandry and how to grow better food. I cannot agree that we are exploiting them. We derive practically no revenue from the islands, and we are spending about ?9,000,000 on the development of the Territory. As I have shown, the administration of the Australian Government in Papua and New Guinea deserves the highest commendation. I believe that the proposed expenditure there is entirely justified. It is all very well to spend millions of pounds on the Colombo plan. I am a strong advocate of that plan, but why should we not do something for the people who are our neighbours and our responsibility? They are living under most primitive conditions. We are not exploiting them but are helping them, and I hope that we shall continue to do so.
– Order ! Some honorable members are referring to matters which do not come within the scope of the Appropriation Bill that is before the committee. I ask honorable senators to confine themselves to the bill.
– May I reply to Senator Hannaford who has just resumed his seat?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. Order! I have asked honorable senators to direct their remarks to the Appropriation Bill. I cannot allow more second reading speeches in the committee.
– Senator Hannaford referred to the Labour Government’s timber policy. Its timber policy, like its general policy-
– I rise to order. There is nothing in the Estimates about the Labour Government’s timber policy.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I uphold the point of order. I have directed attention to this matter before. The subject to which the honorable senator has referred is outside the scope of the Appropriation Bill.
– I would not have referred to it, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but you allowed the previous speaker to do so.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Honorable senators have been getting away with a good deal of irrelevancy.
– I drew attention to this matter myself.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask Senator Cameron to direct his remarks to the measure before the committee.
– I propose to keep within the limits of the rules of debate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the proposed vote that is under discussion.
– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I shall not refer to timber policy to which reference was made by Senator Hannaford. He spoke also of tuberculosis and other diseases that were being controlled in Papua and New Guinea through the Government’s administration. There was never a time in the history of Australia when the physically and mentally ill were in such bad condition as they are to-day. If the Government cannot manage health affairs within the nation, it cannot do so among the primitive people who are not in a position to protect themselves or to help themselves. Senator Hannaford has entirely misrepresented the position. He might be unaware of the fact, but that is so. We judge these superadministrators by what they do at home, not by what they would like to do abroad.
– The honorable senator should read the United Nations report on the subject.
– If the honorable senator’s articulation were only as clear as his voice is loud-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! Senator Cameron should not take notice of interjections.
– A good many of the gentlemen who interject are victims of uncontrolled malice, which is very undesirable.
– Order ! The honorable senator will proceed with the debate and ignore interjections.
– I hope that I can do so. The previous speaker said that the Government had nothing to gain from the administration of Papua and New Guinea. I do not suggest that it has anything to gain. “What I have said all along is that the private investors, protected by the Government, have everything to gain, just as they have here in Australia.
– Order ! I think that the honorable senator is getting off the track. I cannot see where private investors come into these appropriations, and I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the appropriation with which we are dealing.
– I repeat that I do not think the Government has anything to gain, but that the people the Government represents have everything to gain. That is why the policy of the Government is condoned and supported in every way. These people who have everything to gain become very wealthy. Then they become supporters of the Government, and naturally, the Government feels favorably disposed towards them.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable senator to get away from that line of debate. Otherwise, I shall be obliged to ask him to resume his seat. I do not think his remarks have anything to do with the appropriation which the committee is considering.
– I am pointing out that the appropriation is not for the purposes of the Government itself but for those of other people who have capital invested. Therefore, I think that the appropriation, in those circumstances, is not justified.
Senator KENDALL (Queensland) [9.52 1 . - I notice in Division 259 - Miscellaneous Services, reference to credit facilities to native organizations for agricultural and other purposes, in respect of which expenditure last year was £56,722, and for which no vote is proposed this year. I appreciate that some alteration has been made and that this item is probably shown elsewhere in the Estimates, but I ask the Minister whether he could tell me why there is no vote for this item in Division 259 this year.
– As far as Senator Kendall’s question is concerned, I point out that the Australian and New Guinea Production Control Board was created under the National Security (External Territories) Regulations with the object of restoring and expanding production, particularly of rubber and copra. This board was being wound up as at the 3l3t December, 1949, when the National Security (External Territories) Regulations lapsed, and the functions it was then performing are now carried on by the Copra Marketing Board, which was established by Territory ordinance. The National Security (External Territories) Regulations provided that the surplus funds of the board, at the cessation of its operations, would be expended for the benefit of agriculture generally in the Territory, or otherwise in such manner as the Minister directed. Because the regulations are no longer in force, it. was necessary to pay the surplus funds to Consolidated Revenue in order to comply with the Audit Act, but so that the intention of the regulations could be observed, an amount equal to the amount paid to revenue was placed on the 1954-55 estimates of expenditure. In addition, the amount of £199,350 that was paid to the Copra Marketing Board in 1953-54, as the surplus funds of the Australian and New Guinea Production Control Board, included £56,722, representing the accumulated profit earned by the board from native stores set up during the war years. This amount of ?56,722 has been made available to the board, to be set up under ordinance, to make loans to native organizations for agricultural and other purposes.
Senator Kendall also asked about Item 8, Division 259, which refers to a payment under clause 14 of the New Guinea Timber Agreement, the proposed vote for which this year is ?66,000, as against expenditure last year of ?4,874. - This amount is in the nature of a bounty which is paid under clause 14 of the New Guinea Timber Agreement as a subsidy equal to the amount of import duty which is paid by Commonwealth-New Guinea Timbers Limited. The subsidy payable is equal to the amount of import duty paid by the company on plywood imported into Australia.I can only suggest that the quantity of plywood imported into Australia during the period that these Estimates cover will be much more than was the amount imported in the previous year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Self-balancing Items, ?836,000- agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, ?1,543,000.
Miscellaneous Services, Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, ?8,963,000.
– I think that attention should be directed to the fact that our population is becoming more and more unbalanced, in that the rural population is declining, according to a very exhaustive survey, made between 1942 and 1952, by the” British Farm Equipment Company Limited. That survey showed that the Australian rural population had declined by 70,000 persons, which means that the city population is becoming ever more overcrowded. This Government is inviting immigrants to come to Australia, and I have no objection to that. But what is the Government doing for those people? Housing for immigrants was never so short as it is to-day, and neither this Government nor any of the State governments is attempting to make up the deficiencies in that respect. Partly because of immigration, and partly because of rapidly increasing mechanisation of primary production methods, our city population is becoming ever greater.
Immigrants who come here with the object of improving their conditions are being disappointed and disillusioned, because they soon find themselves in a position very similar to that in which they were in the countries from which they came. I have yet to learn from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt), or from any other member of the Government, that it is proposed to rectify this state of affairs. What is the Government’s policy regarding decentralization and the proper balancing of our rural and urban population? The lack of balance is going from bad to worse and is approaching the position that developed in the ‘20’s. In those years, we invited immigrants to come here from England and other countries, and when they came we were unable to provide them with employment, housing, or anything else. If the Government were sincere, constructive and sufficiently courageous
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I think that the honorable senator is well off the track. The matter which the committee is considering is the proposed vote for administrative and general expenses of the Department of Immigration.
– I am referring to the fact that sufficient provision is not being made for immigrants who are coming to this country. That is an administrative matter. I am not referring to expenditure.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.This item relates to expenditure on the administrative side.
– With respect, I suggest that I am directing my remarks to an administrative matter.
– I think the honorable senator’s remarks would be more appropriately directed to the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services.
– But the word “ administration “ covers a very wide area, indeed.
– The honorable senator is off the track.
– Does not the word “ administration “ includes the administration of the immigration policy? How should administration be organized? Am I not correct in suggesting that it should be organized in a way that will make proper provision for immigrants who are coming to this country?
– The provision of houses is a matter for the States; it is not a Commonwealth matter.
– Another moron from Victoria!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable senator should ignore interjections.
– I certainly will ignore unworthy interjections. If I may do so without transgressing the rules of debate, I want to stress the point that adequate provision is not being made for immigrants who are coming to this country. Proof of this assertion is found in the fact that immigrants are nocking to the cities, where they live under conditions which are a menace not only to their own health, but to that of the community generally. That cannot be denied. Almost daily, newspaper reports refer to the congested living conditions in the Sydney metropolitan area. Therefore, I contend that the Government has been grievously at fault in relation to immigrants. As far as I can gather from newspaper reports and Government pronouncements in this chamber, nothing is being done to improve the position, which is going from bad to worse. I should like the Minister to inform me what the Government intends to do in order to improve both the living conditions and the working conditions of immigrants.
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria [10.5]. - Immigration is a very important subject. I am amazed at some of the figures with which I have been supplied in relation to the health of immigrants. I should like to make it clear at the outset that I am not speaking disparagingly of immigrants who, unfortunately, are inmates of mental institutions. According to information that I have taken the trouble to obtain in relation to immigrants in New South Wales, in the year 1951- 52, S4 males and 50 females - a total of 124 persons - were admitted to mental institutions in that State; in 1952- 53, 124 males and 68 females - a total of 192 persons - were admitted; in 1953- 54, 114 males and 50 females - a total of 164 persons were admitted: and in 1954-55, 101 males and 47 females - a total of 148 persons - were admitted to mental institutions in that State.
The proposed vote makes provision for senior medical officers, and interviewing and selection officers. The figures I am citing have reference to medical examinations of immigrants. The following figures relate to the number of immigrants who have been admitted to mental institutions in Queensland. I have been unable to obtain the figures in relation to each sex. In 1952-58, 238 persons were admitted to mental institutions in Queensland; in 1953-54, 239 persons; and in 1954-55, 226 persons were admitted. I am amazed at the laxity of the medical examination of prospective immigrants that these figures reveal.
The figures in relation to tuberculosis are equally bad. I have not been able to obtain complete yearly figures in relation to the number of immigrants in New South Wales in whom tuberculosis has been found to be present, but for the June to September quarter of this year, 63 immigrants in that State were found to be suffering from tuberculosis. On that basis, it is logical to assume that tuberculosis is found to be present in from 240 to 250 immigrants in New South Wales each year. In Queensland, also, many immigrants have been found to be suffering from tuberculosis. Admittedly, some of them could have contracted the disease since coming to this country, but I think the number in that category would be relatively few. Form time to time, the immigration authorities have stated that prospective immigrants are subjected to strict medical examination before they are given authority to come to Australia. For Queensland the figures were as follows: - In the year 1952-53, 71 immigrants were found to be suffering from tuberculosis; in 1953-54 there were 53; in 1954-55, 61. In Victoria, in the year 1954-55, there were 101. Do thosefigures indicate that the medical examination that these people are supposed to undergo is what we should expect? I regret to think that any people, whether they are new Australians or old residents, should be unfortunate enough to surfer from either of these two diseases, but the figures I have quoted, which were given to me as official figures of the various States, lead to the conclusion that the medical examinations must be very lax. It behoves this or any other government, irrespective of political colour, to be more careful with these examinations, in the interests of the people concerned and also of this country. While we welcome the people who come here, we should at least require that they have a clean bill of health. What will be the outcome if the immigrants who come to Australia continue to suffer from these diseases to the extent that they have in the past? The Commonwealth certainly plays a big part financially in the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, but it certainly does nothing, from a monetary point of view, to help the States to care for the unfortunates who suffer from mental illness.
I have knowledge, as other honorable senators probably have, of investigations recently carried out in my own State into the living conditions of immigrants, and while it is true that Australia needs more population, I believe that we should be more careful as to the type of immigrant that we allow to come here. I think that everybody will agree that we should at least insist that each immigrant have a clean bill of health, especially in regard to the two diseases I have mentioned. We must also ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue bringing in immigrants who are mostly males. The whole immigration scheme is ill-balanced. The people we bring here are at least entitled to ordinary living conditions. They want the company of immigrants of the opposite sex, with whom they can mix and enjoy the normal things of life. I do not go to dances, but I have heard enough from people who do to realize that the majority of our own girls will not dance with new Australians. When we spend so much money on the immigration programme, surely we should try to preserve some balance between the sexes, so that they can enjoy the normal things of life. I believe that it would remove a lot of the worry that one hears is experienced by many mothers of young girls. I do not want to imply that there are any more cases of wrongdoing among new Australians than among the other members of our population, but I believe that the immigration scheme is ill-balanced. We are not attempting to bring to Australia the tradesmen that this country needs. I do not think that we can overcome the present housing lag with the immigrants that are coming out here at present. If we want to help the development of Australia, particularly in the housing field, we should try to bring in, not only men of the ordinary labouring classes. If I were in charge of the immigration programme, having in mind the need for housing, both for new Australians and others, I would endeavour to induce building tradesmen to come here by saying to each of them, “ The first house that you build is yours, to keep as long as you remain in the building industry”. There is not much hope of getting people of that kind to come here if we put them into hostels and leave them to compete with the great mass of people who are without homes.
I rose only for the purpose of bringing to the notice of the committee what appears to me to be the frightful position in respect of the health of immigrants. I trust that the Minister will at least say to honorable senators that he will inform himself regarding the accuracy of the figures I have given. I am just as certain as I was when I announced them that they are correct, and the Government has something to answer for. I hope, in the interests not only of the unfortunate people themselves, but also of those of our own with whom they will naturally come into contact when they arrive here, that the medical examination they are supposed to be given will be better supervised, and that all who come into the country in future will have a clean bill of health before they are allowed to land.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The matter with which Senator Kennelly has just been dealing should more properly be discussed under Division 199, sub-division D. - “Medical and Hospital Treatment for Migrants in Initial Period of Settlement”. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind the range of subjects covered by “ Miscellaneous Services “. The division under discussion relates to administration and general expenses, whereas matters relating to the Department of Immigration come under “ Miscellaneous Services “.
– Obviously some honorable senators are keenly interested in the question of immigration. As. the divisions, “ Administrative “ and “ Miscellaneous Service? “, both cover the subject of migration, I suggest that both these divisions, be taken together. That course would obviate any embarrassment. I notice that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) agrees with my suggestion.
Ordered that Divisions 97 and 199 be taken together.
. -I direct my remarks to Division 199, subdivision H, item 6, “ Assimilation activities”. The mere fact of bringing people into the country, valuable as they may be, can do an injustice both to the immigrants and to the nation to which they are brought unless some positive steps are taken by both sides to achieve their rapid assimilation into the community. For the benefit of honorable senators I shall read a definition of “ assimilation “ which was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is as follows : -
Assimilation is a psychological, social, economic and cultural process resulting in the progressive attenuation of differences between the behaviour of migrants and nationals within the social life of a given country.
Although, that definition may appear to be rather involved it covers all aspects of assimilation. It is important to give some thought to the point at which assimilation should start, and also where it can best start. It is a common view that assimilation starts in the first instance at the cultural and social level. I am not propounding or defending a thesis, but I suggest that the point at which assimilation can best and most effectively start is possibly at the point of economic assimilation. Every immigrant should take his place in communal life on a footing of equality, and it is important that at the earliest possible time he should integrate, economically and financially, into the society to which he has come.. If that is done the cultural and social integration and assimilation can effectively follow. It. may not come in the first generation because the tremendous barrier of language has to be overcome, and many elderly people have not the capacity to achieve this. In the first generation, because of the tie-back with the country of origin, and because of the language difficulty, assimilation at the cultural and’ social level is rather difficult, but it becomes progressively easier in succeeding generations. In the first generation, economic assimilation can possibly be most effective, and I propose to place before the committee some figures as well as some suggestions contained in a paper that has been prepared authoritatively. It is based on experience in Queensland, and can be regarded as an analytical and documentary treatment of the subject.
– What is economic assimilation ?
– If a labourer from Europe comes to Australia he finds it is easy to obtain employment at a higher wage than he could get in his own country, and so he immediately achieves economic assimilation. He immediately raises his economic standard, and can fit into the financial and economic pattern that surrounds him, play his part and make some social progress. Correspondingly, a difficulty faces the immigrant who comes here as a professional man, but is not able to follow his profession. He is obliged to engage in an occupation at a lower income than he has been accustomed to, and this creates in his life a sort of economic imbalance. It will be extremely difficult for him to persist in following that occupation for which he was not trained, at that lower income. But economic assimilation in the sense that I have used the term can be illustrated in this way: If a dairy farmer from Holland, who was working for wages, is able to take up land in Australia almost as soon as he arrives, and works it with the help of his family, he becomes rapidly integrated into the society to which he has come. The owning of land is a firm indication of the extent to which economic assimilation has taken place.
In Queensland, for many years, the only process by which aliens could become qualified to hold land was the promulgation of a particular and specific order in council with the consent of the Attorney-General. To find some figures of land-holdings in Queensland under this old system is rather difficult.
– Order ! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Chairman having reported accordingly,
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - 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 affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1955/19551025_senate_21_s6/>.