22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputy appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening ofthe Parliament - the Honorable Sir Wilfred Kelsham Fullagar, K.B.E., a Justice of the High Court of Australiahaving been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took hisseat on the dais.
The Deputy,throughtheClerk. directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives, who being in attendance.
The DEPUTY said–
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives :
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, constituting me his deputy to do in his name all that is necessary to ‘be ‘performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read.
The letters patent naving been read by the Clerk,
The DEPUTY said-
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives :
I have it in command from the Governor-General to let you know that as soon as members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will he declared by him in personatthis place; and it beingnecessary that a Speaker of the Houseof Representativesshall be first chosen, you, members of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you are to sit,andthere proceed to thechoice of some proper person to be your Speaker : and thereafter you will present the person whom you shall so choose to His Excellency, at such time and place as he shall appoint. I will attend in the House of Representativesfor the purpose of administering the oath or affirmationof allegiance to honorable members of that House.
The Deputy and members of the House of Representatives having retired,
New Senator, Senator N. E. BUTTFIELD, Sworn.
– I wish to inform the Senate that I have received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governor of South Australia, certificate of the choice, at the election held on the 10th December, 1955, of Nancy Eileen Buttfield to fill a casual vacancy existing in the representation of the State of South Australia.
The certificate of election was then laid on the Table by the Clerk.
Senator Buttfield made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Sitting suspended from10.47 a.m. to 3 p.m.
GOVERNOR-GENERAL entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives :
You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The House of Representatives having been dissolved and a general election having occurred, the twenty-second Parliament is now duly constituted.
The election has left my Government with a substantially larger majority in the House of Representatives but with a Senate in which the Government will by July not have a majority. This brings into sharp relief the very important constitutional problem of the relationship between the two Houses - the problem of producing a workable parliament. The present position is that any conflict between the two Houses can be resolved only by the slow, cumbrous and not very satisfactory procedure of a double dissolution such as occurred in 1951. My advisers believe that the relations between the two Houses should be reviewed. They are of opinion that a government requires a reasonable term of office and a reasonable period of stability in which it may give effect to its long-range plans for the nation. They will, therefore, propose the setting up of an all-party committee of both Houses to investigate the constitutional problems which may be referred to it. One of these problems is that of the Senate and its powers and the procedure to be followed in the event of a dispute between the two Houses. My advisers believe that such matters are not merely party matters; they can readily affect any party at any time in the future; they can be solved only by securing some agreement between the parties upon the proper course to be followed. They are of opinion that should agreement be reached by the suggested committee the electors may be more disposed to vote for any constitutional amendment which would” subsequently be submitted to the electors by referendum.
In the session of Parliament which . 1 am now opening, there will be two important groups of matters which will call for consideration.
The first embraces foreign policy and the related defence measures which can make that policy effective. - The second can be described broadly as the economic problem. It has particular relation to internal development; the increase of production; restraint upon the rising costs of production which threaten to impair our international trading position; the encouragement of our exports; the control of our imports; the restoration of a sound balance of trade; the preservation and building up of our internationalfinancial reserves; and the protection of our currency.
My Government has constantly sought to make a contribution to international peace by the building up of friendship and mutual understanding with other nations.
A further meeting of the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth will be held in London this year, beginning towards the end of June. These meetings of Prime Ministers are believed by my advisers to be of great value to all the member conntries of the Commonwealth.
My Government is determined, as in the past, to adhere to the United Nations. Australia was recently elected to the Security Council. My Government has ta ken an active part in the formulation of such regional agreements as the Anzus Treaty and the South-East Asian Treaty, and was also the original promoter of what is now called the Colombo plan. By the establishment of overseas posts, particularly in Asian countries, it has sought and will continue to seek friendship, goodwill and understanding. It believes that, as a result of these various activities, Australia enjoys a real friendship with the countries of South-East Asia.
There are threats in the world to the peace and freedom of the democracies. My Government believes that these threats come essentially from the Communist nations, whose modern history has shown them to be aggressive and willing to resort to both external pressure and internal subversion to achieve their ends. It would, in the opinion of my advisers, be folly to accept Communist protestations or gestures at their face value. Every offer must be considered on its merits and in the light of past experience. What has happened in the Middle European countries and subsequently in Korea and In do-China is not to be forgotten by us except at our peril. It is for these reasons that my advisers have co-operated with other free countries in treaty organizations, designed not only to increase our contacts with other free countries, but also to marshal our combined strength for resistance to any further Communist aggression. My Government believes that, for example, it is false to say that the presence of British Commonwealth forces in South-East Asian countries is a threat to self-government. Great Britain has a record of converting colonies into selfgoverning nations, unequalled in recorded history. The truth is that the things that are vital to the defence of Australia are equally vital to the defence of the free countries of South-East Asia. The concerting of military plans and provision in respect of any one of these countries is of moment to all the others. Australian troops are not in Malaya as trespassers or for some purpose hostile to the self-government of Malaya. On the contrary, the constitutional growth of the Malayan people can proceed upon democratic lines only so long as the Malayan people are the masters of their own destiny. They cannot be such masters if they are at any time subject to molestation from within or without.
Like Australia and any other country whose defensive power is limited, they need friends, effective arrangements and joint action if they are to survive. The Australian soldier in Malaya is therefore engaged in a joint enterprise in which his Malayan opposite number is also engaged. They are both defending the freedom not only of their own countries but of others. They are each defending the principle and application of democratic self-government and of freedom from external fear.
Our ties with the Asian members of the British Commonwealth, are particularly close. The influence and. importance of India-, Pakistan- and Ceylon in world affairs is- growing daily. We were particularly glad to welcome the admission of Ceylon to the United. Nations. Our relations with the new Governments of Malaya and -Singapore are developing satisfactorily.
Tha second’ meeting of the Seato Council! will take place in Karachi in March, of this year and. will be attended by the Minister for External Affairs:
No external! policy will possess reality unless- it’ is backed: by adequate defence provisions My advisers, are, therefore, resolutely pursuing’ the improvement of the training and equipment of our armed services and of research into the. design and use of modern weapons. They are seeking to maintain, a balance between man-power and equipment, and between defence: preparations, and economic stability. They have, with the approval of Parliament and: in partnership, with the United Kingdom-, expended large sums on research, and development of guided weapons at .the. Weapons Research Establishments in South Australia. In addition, my Government, is co-operating with the Government of the United Kingdom in. the testing of nuclear weapons. They will,, consistently with- the- safety of. the civil population, continue to do so. The whole- of their defence policy has been constantly kept under review so that both in the: Navy, the Army and the Air Force-, the constitution of forces, their, training and their equipment will be related to the kind of war in which, they would have to engage should a- war come.
Until the occurrence of the recent waterfront strike, the prospect of bringing our international payments into balance was materially improving. It is unfortunatelytrue that the strike has, by grievously reducing our export flow, dealt: a serious blow to- those prospects. Nevertheless^ my Government is determined to adopt measures- to . arrest, the decline in our international, reserves. That decline is not in itself the cause of our problems.; indeed, normally, a fall in our overseas balances would tend to have a counterinflationary effect at home. The truth is that the decline in our overseas balances is primarily the result of inflation at home. Private incomes and total purchasing power are at record level’s. Our local production falls far short, of satisfying the demand’s so established. There is, therefore, a call for imports and, in recent times-, at a level which we cannot as a nation pay for out of our current earnings. We have, therefore, been drawing upon our reserves. It needs no economist to toll us that such a process cannot go on for long.
As an immediate measure my Government imposed further import restrictions. But such restrictions are not in. themselves a complete cure.
Recently my Government re-organized its departmental structure to enable particular emphasis to be given to trade:
Under the new Department of Trade-, both primary and’ secondary industries are being- encouraged to increase- Australia’s export earnings: The Trade Commissioner Service and associated publicity campaigns are being expanded. My advisers- are re-examining Australia’s overseas trade agreements in the light of present-day requirements..
An export insurance scheme will be established to provide cover to exporters against certain risks of non-payment. Parliament will be invited to- pass- appropriate legislation early ins the session. Legislation will be introduced as soon as agreement has been reached- between all interested parties to give- effect to a stabilization’ scheme for.- the dried.’ vine-fruits industry:
The Prime Minister recently made an appeal not only to the public generally but to representatives of many sections of industry for restraint in expenditure; a restraint which would do more to preserve the value of earnings, by counteracting inflation, than any other single factor. It is not yet clear how far these appeals have been successful. But my advisers want to make it clear that, limited as their powers may be, they will be prepared to use them to the full to counteract an inflation which threatens to inflict deep injury upon our true prosperity. They believe that, prosperous though Ave are, we cannot sensibly seek to satisfy all our demands at the one time. There must be some balance between demands and resources. In our present state, either our resources must be materially increased, and. that means a far more urgent understanding of the importance of increased production than is now visible, or the demands themselves must be reduced by appropriate fiscal and other measures. Government expenditure itself must be sedulously watched and, wherever possible, pruned. But there are limits to the extent to which public works programmes can he cut back, since those programmes, if properly chosen and planned, largely represent the foundation upon which expanding private enterprise builds. In the last three years, public works expenditure has not been a growing contributor to inflationary pressure since, in terms of money, it has remained approximately static, and has, therefore, in physical terms, been smaller.
My Government has decided that it should regularly make available relevant statistical information on the state of the economy. The first publication of this Treasury Information Bulletin was issued recently.
In addition a comprehensive statement on the condition of the economy will be presented to Parliament at an early date.
There are three features of the industrial position in Australia which deserve mention.
The first is that we have no unemployment except when some strike is on; on the contrary, we have, by and large, quite a substantial unsatisfied demand for labour.
The second is that average weekly earnings are not only high, but rising. The industrial tribunals have granted a very substantial increase in all marginal rates of pay, while competition for labour has raised pay still further.
The third is that, apart from the circumstances attending the waterside trouble, working days lost through industrial stoppages have been at a minimum.
Each of these elements is intrinsically good. But there is another side of the picture. Though production is in many instances increasing, it is increasing too slowly to meet demand. This has inflationary consequences. Costs are rising; our competitive position in the world is being weakened. Security of employment should, if allied to a proper social consciousness, lead to more effective work and therefore to lower costs.
An extensive programme of migration has undoubtedly added to the labour force available in Australia and will, in due time, make a strong contribution to the national security. But, in the meantime, the migration programme gives rise to substantial demands upon capital resources for industry, houses, schools, hospitals, transport and public services generally.
Added to these elements there is the fact that .great confusion exists in the industrial field because of conflict between the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the State industrial tribunals and, in some cases, direct industrial legislation by ‘the State Parliaments.
My advisers feel that the problems so presented possess both reality and urgency. They are giving careful study to the ways ami means of increasing production and lowering costs while, at the same time, producing both stability and justice in the industrial field. It would be a nal- iona! misfortune if our people looked at such problems merely from the point of view of immediate self-interest. My advisers will, at the earliest possible date, give some lead in these matters. It is not to be forgotten that the direct powers of the Commonwealth are both limited and sketchy. There is, therefore, great room for intelligent co-operation between Commonwealth and States, and between employers and employees.
The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement negotiated in 1945 expires within a. few months. My Government is pro rising a new housing agreement with the States to operate from 1st July, 19.”J6. Negotiations have commenced with the States and on agreement the necessary legislation will be introduced into Parliament.
An efficient, manufacturing industry requires amongst other things adequate supplies of steel, power and fuel. The problem of coal shortages has been solved; four great petroleum refineries have been completed in the past two years; steel production has nearly doubled in recent years and the industry envisages a very large programme of development. Yet Australian production falls far short of satisfying Australian demand.
The entry into Australia of overseas manufacturing firms, which my Government welcomes, has contributed and will contribute to the development of our manufacturing industries.
Electric generating capacity is increasing. During last year we saw the completion of the Guthega unit of the Snowy
Mountains scheme. My Government will continue to press on with this major development.
The Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s works at Bell Bay have now been completed. Production is at the rate of 8,000 tons per annum and will increase as soon as possible to an output of 13,000 tons per annum.
My Government is active in developing the peaceful uses of atomic energy both by fostering the search for and production of uranium oxide and by establishing research facilities in- Australia.
My Government will maintain a substantial and balanced immigration programme during the coming year.
My advisers report that, as a result of their policy in the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, private enterprise is demonstrating confidence and initiative and making a larger contribution to development and trade than in any previous period. My Government will continue its policy of investigation, development and provision of facilities to assist thi3 expansion and ensure that the indigenous people share in and benefit thereby. On 23rd November, 1955, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands came under the authority of the Commonwealth and are now administered as an Australian territory.
My Government will continue to contribute to the programme of scientific research being conducted in the Antarctic in connexion with the International Geophysical Year. It will maintain the two existing research bases at Macquarie Island and Mawson, and w,ill establish a third base in the Vestfold Hills area of Princess Elizabeth Land. My Government also contributed to the British Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
My Government will continue to follow its practical health policy. The research work on poliomyelitis, in which our scientists played a notable part, will shortly yield important practical results with the commencement of production of Salk vaccine at our Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
The social services structure will be kept under continuing review. My advisers report that the scheme of financial assistance to churches and charitable institutions for homes for the aged has proved most successful. A programme of research into the special problems of the elderly will be undertaken shortly by my Government.
The public demand for postal and telecommunication services has reached new record levels. My Government’s programme of works is designed as far as possible to overtake arrears and maintain post office services at a high level of efficiency.
Consequent on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Television, my Government has decided to proceed with the introduction of television into Australia and, as an initial step, to establish national stations in Sydney and in Melbourne and to authorize the setting up of two commercial stations in each of these cities. A bill to amend the Broadcasting and Television Acts to meet the requirements of television will be presented to Parliament in the near future.
My Government will continue its programme of reviewing and bringing up to date the law of the Commonwealth relating to industrial property, bankruptcy, copyright and designs.
In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.
HIS Excellency thegovernor- general and members of the House of Representatives having retired,
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair, and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Appropriation Bill 1955-56.
Appropriation (Worksand Services) Bill 1955-56.
Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay (Lands Acquisition) Bill 1955.
Coal Industry Bill . 1055.
Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1955.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1955.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1955.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1955.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1955.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1955.
International Finance Corporation Bill 1955.
Lands Acquisition Bill 1955.
Loan (Canadian Dollars) Bill 1955.
Loan (Consolidation and Investment Reserve) Bill 1955.
Loan (Housing) Bill 1955.
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1955.
Meat Export Control Bill 1955.
National Health Bill 1955.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1955.
Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1955.
States Grants Bill 1955.
States Grants (Mental Institutions) Bill 1955.
States Grants (Special Financial Assistance) Bill 1955.
Tobacco Charge Bill (No. 1) 1955.
Tobacco Charge Bill (No. 2) 1955.
Tobacco Charge Bill (No. 3) 1955.
Tobacco Charges Assessment Bill 1955.
Tobacco Industry Bill 1955.
Tradesmen’s Eights Regulation Bill 1955.
Western Australia Grant (Water Supply) Bill 1955.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1955.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the Opening Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament this day.
That consideration of the speech he an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Motion (bySenatorO’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 3 p.m.
! Senator the Honorable A. M. McMullin.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I am sure I echo the sentiments of all honorable senators in extending to you, Mr. President, a very cordial welcome home from the important mission abroad which you have fulfilled on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament. As honorable senators know, our President represented the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia at the seventh meeting of the ‘General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held at Kingston, Jamaica, last month. That conference was attended by representatives of all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I am sure that you, Mr. President, conducted yourself and represented Australia not only with great distinction to yourself personally, but also in such a manner as to add considerably to the prestige of the Parliament of Australia.
– On behalf of the Opposition I cordially endorse the remarks of Senator O’sullivan in relation to. yourself, Mr. President. I understand that in addition to attending- the meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, you visited America twice- and also went- to the United Kingdom and the Continent. Members of the Opposition are certain that in whatever part of the world you were, Australia was well represented and that in all circumstances you upheld the highest traditions of your office and. of this chamber. On behalf of my colleagues of the Opposition I am delighted to welcome you back to Australia and to find that you are safe and sound after your very extensive travels. 1 take this opportunity also to assure you of the respect and regard in which you are held by all members- of the Opposition.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. (McMullin) - I thank the Leader of the Government (Senator O’Sullivan) and the- Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) for their- kind remarks. It is a signal honour- for any parliamentarian to be privileged to attend a meeting of the Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It is an important association, and the work carried out at its last, meeting laid the foundation for a worth-while conference which, it is expected, will- be held in 1957 at New Delhi, India. It is hoped that before long the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will have representatives of the parliaments of 100 free, selfgoverning countries, with members elected in the- same way as are members of Australian parliaments,, and all thinking along the same democratic lines and appreciating the privileges of the parliamentary system as we know it.
Oh a later occasion, I intend to present to a branch meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association a full report of the work done at the meeting in Jamaica. I am most enthusiastic concerning the work, of the association, which can, if the organization is developed, make a tremendous contribution to the work of all democratic parliaments, and expand further the influence and ideals of the British Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.47 p.m. A
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation inform the Senate what progress, if any, has been made in connexion with the erection of a new ward at the Dawes-road military hospital for the treatment of exservicemen suffering from war neurosis, and can he say whether there is any truth in states ments published in the press of South Australia late last year to the effect that tenders would be called, and that the work would be put in hand ?
– I cannot give the honorable senator details of the progress that has been made, but I shall obtain a report on what has been done and let him know the present position.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that, owing to the insular position of Tasmania, that State not having the rail or road communication with other States that is enjoyed by all other parts of Australia, the recent waterside strike has more seriously affected that State’s economy than that of any other State? Can he say whether it is a fact that a huge backlog of cargo has accumulated; and will he, when considering the priority system, give special consideration to the requirements of the island State? Will he endeavour to make available any extra ships that may be needed to ensure that the back-log of cargoes, both in Tasmania and in ports on the mainland, awaiting shipment to Tasmania, will be cleared as early as practicable ?
– I am aware of the particular difficulties which confront Tasmania as the result of the strike on the waterfront. Senator Guy will no doubt be relieved to know that the claims of Tasmania are at present under consideration by the special committee which has been set up to arrange priorities, and to look after the shipment of goods in accordance with those priorities, as soon as ships get moving properly again. That committee will give special consideration to the claims of Tasmania. Only this morning I gave consideration to arrangements for the shipping of steel to Tasmania. If the honorable senator desires to have details of those arrangements, I shall be pleased to let him have them.
– About twelve months ago a committee was formed to inquire into the transport of cattle or beef by air. I think it was known as a Commonwealth advisory panel. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate say whether that committee ha3 yet concluded its inquiries and, if so, whether it has submitted a report? If it has not done so, is the Minister in a position to say when the committee’s report can be expected?
– I understand that the committee has completed its inquiries, but I am not aware whether it has yet furnished its report. I shall ascertain the position and let the honorable senator know.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me of the approximate cost that has been incurred up to date in putting into effect the Cabinet’s decision of the 26th May, 1955, to proceed with the’ establishment of national television stations in Sydney and Melbourne? Is if now expected that the two stations will commence operations at the end of this year? Has the Cabinet decided to proceed with the establishment of a national television station in Brisbane during 1957 ? Is it expected that any of the four successful applicants for licences for commercial television stations in Sydney and Melbourne will commence to transmit programmes before the end of 1957?
– It would be impossible for me to furnish the honorable senator with all of the information that he seeks. However, I can inform him that the only two capital cities in Australia at which television is being introduced at present are Sydney and Melbourne. I understand that, probably during this session of the Parliament, a bill dealing with television generally will be introduced in the House of Representatives. I shall direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the honorable senator’s questions, and request that a considered reply be forwarded to him.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me of the total broadcasting periods that were allotted to the various political parties by the Australian Broadcasting Commission during the recent general election campaign? Where certain broadcasting periods were allotted only in respect of certain States, I should be glad if he would furnish the relevant details. Will the Minister also supply me with details of dates and times at which broadcasts were made by representatives of the various political parties during the recent federal election cam’paign ?
– As the honorable senator seeks detailed information, I shall bring his questions to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, in order that a full reply can be prepared for him.
– In the absence of the Attorney-General, I direct a ques- tion to the Leader of the Government. In view of the position which will arise in June next in relation to the Senate and the House of Representatives, and also in view of the public interest in this matter, is it the intention of the Government to table the papers indicating the reasons why the Governor-General granted the last double dissolution of the Parliament?
– I am not aware what decision, if any, has been arrived at by the Government in this regard, but when a decision has been reached and it is thought appropriate to make that decision public, I assure the honorable senator that that will be done.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether the Commonwealth railways authorities recently had discussions with the South Australian Government on the question of new rates for the carriage of Leigh Creek coal to Port Augusta? Oan the Minister now make a statement concerning the result of such negotiations? If he is not able to do so now, can he say when he expects to be in a position to do so?
– Negotiations concerning the matter referred to by the honorable senator are proceeding at present between the Australian Government and the South Australian Government. When those negotiations have been concluded, I have no doubt that a suitable statement will be made.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government. In view of the very difficult economic and social problems that are facing Australia in relation to inflation, industrial unrest, marketing difficulties, interstate transport deadlocks, and other matters, will the Government hold a referendum to alter the Constitution in relation to terms and conditions of employment, prices control, organized marketing, and section 91, relating to transport ? Will the Government consider also including other amendments of the Constitution which were defeated at a referendum conducted previously on purely party lines, as such amendments are now . obviously necessary for the good order and government of Australia ?
– I am quite sure that Senator O’Byrne knows that it is not appropriate at this stage to indicate precisely, and in terms, the policy of the Government regarding the matters referred to by him. I commend to him a study of the statement made by the Prime Minister recently regarding the problems which affect us internally and internationally. I also urge him to read again the speech delivered here yesterday by His Excellency the Governor-General.
– In view of the inability of searchers to find any trace of the Anson aircraft and its passengers recently lost in the Kimberleys district of Western Australia, and having regard to the difficult terrain of this area, will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation consider issuing a regulation instructing all captains or persons in charge of aircraft travelling over remote ureas to carry the necessary means of making a light at night which could be kept burning? In that way, searchers in aircraft could operate during darkness. I believe that such methods would be far more effective in the areas concerned than those used recently.
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s suggestion to my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government by saying that I understand that approximately £1,000,000 worth of imports will be required before television can be instituted in Australia. I wish to know whether it is proposed to issue import licences from the established quotas of present importers, or whether special licences will be granted to people who wish to import equipment necessary for television.
– In my former capacity as Minister for Trade and Customs I gleaned a little information on the subject raised by the honorable senator. Some fresh provision will be made in regard to the importation of parts and accessories necessary for the manufacture of television receivers. It is hoped that a substantial proportion of the parts will be made in Australia, and the difference between the quantity specially licensed for importation and what is made in Australia will be obtainable through existing licences. Broadly speaking, that is the position.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government. In view of the marked success and real worth of the Colombo plan, and in view of the value of that plan not only to countries which may receive direct financial, technical and other assistance, but also to countries such as Australia, in terms of goodwill and appreciation, will the Government give earnest consideration to the need for extending Australia’s responsibility and general activities in other directions under the plan?
– 1 am glad to hear the remarks of Senator Pearson with regard to the efficacy of the work under the Colombo plan. It is a fact that Australia has made no small contribution towards that work. The question raised by the honorable senator comes within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and I shall be happy to bring the honorable senator’s remarks to his notice.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply noticed a report in the Australian press that the Australian Government, in conjunction with the British Government, is planning to establish an aluminium industry in New Guinea? Has he observed that the report states that owing to the high cost of production at Bell Bay, the present plant will be placed in cotton wool as a defence reserve once the New Guinea plant is in operation? Will the Minister make a statement on this report to the Senate at the earliest possible moment?
– I shall be pleased to refer the honorable senator’s question to my colleague, the Minister for Supply. I am sure that he will prepare a statement, and V will convey it to the honorable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that, prior to the shipping strike, there was a considerable lag in the carriage of commodities to Tasmania, and from Tasmania to the mainland ? ls it a fact, also, that for years past, every senator fr om Tasmania has been makin0. continual representations to the Government in regard to the inefficient transport that has been available to Tasmania since this Government has been in office? ls it the policy of the Government to use the excuse of the waterside workers’ strike to cover the inefficient transport service and the disruption in the economy and commercial activities of Australia since the Menzies Government has been in office?
– It is true that all Tasmanian senators continually make representations to the Minister for Shipping and Transport concerning shipping transport facilities for Tasmania. It is not true, however, that the service to Tasmania has deteriorated since the Menzies Government came into office. Indeed, the position in regard to shipping to Tasmania - and this applies also to other parts of Australia - is that shipping services have greatly improved since this Government has been in office.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Is there any truth in the report that negotiations are taking place with respect to the dispersal of units of the British reserve fleet to safer harbours in Canada, South Africa and Australia ? If the Australian Government is willing to cooperate in this matter, will he assure the Senate that the claims of Hobart harbour and the Derwent estuary will be fully considered in view of the fact that safe and spacious anchorages exist there for a very large proportion of Britain’s “mothball” fleet?
– As the honorable senator knows, I have been Minister for the Navy for only a few weeks, and at this stage my knowledge of the subject matter raised by him is confined exclusively to newspaper reports. With the substance of the honorable senator’s question I am strongly in agreement. I know the Derwent, and I think it could accommodate practically the whole of the British fleet. If there is any question of such a dispersal, it could be partly effected in that area.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I preface it by pointing out that a taxation rebate allowance of up to £75 per annum is provided for the education of a taxpayer’s children. As this amount is hopelessly inadequate, will the Government consider increasing it in the next budget by at least £75 for each child?
– I shall have very great pleasure in bringing the honorable senator’s suggestion before my colleague, the Treasurer, so that it can be taken into consideration at the time the next budget is being framed.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by pointing out that Taroona is the only ship providing a regular passenger service between the mainland of Australia and Tasmania.
– Shame !
– It is a shame. The service provided is unsatisfactory and unpredictable. After a survey lasting six months only two trips were made before the vessel broke down again, causing disastrous repercussions on the economy of Tasmania. I should like to ask the Minister whether it is a fact that during the last four years the Australian Government has provided over £600,000 in subsidies to keep the vessel running. In addition, is it a fact that this year the Government has paid survey costs, which have been stated to be in the vicinity of £300,000, in respect of this vessel? Does the Minister not think that these large sums of money would be better employed in paying for a new vessel rather than in persevering with an obsolete one? Finally, can the Minister say what stage has been reached in the negotiations for the construction of a new and suitable vessel to replace Taroona, as was promised by his predecessor?
– I am aware that in recent years the Australian Government has accepted a commitment amounting to many thousands of pound? to keep Taroona in service and so provide the Tasmanian people with that service. 1 am also aware that during last year this Government undertook a further responsibility, which amounted to £330,000, to keep Taroona in service. With regard to the replacement of the vessel, there has been some preparatory examination of plans within my department and by the Australian Shipbuilding Board. I have also taken the opportunity recently of having informal discussions with the Premier of Tasmania, and rather more formal discussions with the Chief Secretary in that State, and 1 hope that in the not far distant future I shall be able to go back to the Chief Secretary in Tasmania and discuss with him certain further aspects of the replacement of Taroona.
– The 1 el)1, which the Minister for Shipping and Transport has given to Senator Guy indicates that he is in possession of some special information regarding shipping. Will the Minister advise the Senate whether it is the Government’s intention to expand the line of Commonwealth ships, or whether it is proposed to dispose of that line to private interests and so perpetuate the present trouble of which honorable senators from Tasmania have complained ?
– The last reliable statement about the ownership of the Commonwealth fleet of ships was made in the policy speech of the Prime Minister, who repeated his assurance that in any arrangements made with regard to shipping on the Australian coast the special needs of Tasmania and of isolated ports would be taken into consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I understand that because of the recent strike on the Australian waterfront, much-needed goods, including steel and galvanized iron piping, are in very short supply in Western Australia. Will the Minister please give the Senate an outline of any action that he may be taking to meet this difficulty?
– As I indicated in a reply that I gave to a question asked of me earlier to-day, as soon as it became apparent that the waterfront strike was to collapse, the Government set up a priority committee to examine the shipping needs of the various ports of Australia. That committee is now operating, and is allocating ships to the various ports on the Australian coast. I have not the details of the Western Australian position in my mind at present, but if the honorable senator will interview me later to-day, I shall give him details about what is happening in relation to Western Australian shipping.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that inflation of the currency and increasing costs in general have forced up the cost of living in Australia during the last two years? Is he also aware that legallyconstituted industrial authorities in the States have increased the basic wage in accordance with the increased cost of living? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether it is a fact that on the 7th February, at a Liberal party convention, the Prime Minister severely criticized such properly constituted industrial tribunals for passing on to the workers increases of the basic wage to meet this increased cost of living? Will the Minister also inform the Senate whether it is the policy of the Government to criticize industrial authorities who carry on according to precedent and increase the basic wage in accordance with the increase of the cost of living, or is the Government’s policy as outlined by the Prime Minister? Will the Government ensure that future increases of the cost of living, as indicated by the C series index, will be reflected by increases of the basic wage?
– I am sorry to say that the honorable senator’s question is based on completely false premises, although I am sure the honorable senator did not know that. The Prime Minister did not criticize arbitration, the system of arbitration or arbitration tribunals. This Government stands strongly and firmly for the system of industrial arbitration. The Prime Minister, in the course of some remarks, did say that it was rather unfortunate that we should have seven systems of arbitration in Australia, all. of which are not running in the same groove. “We have six State systems and a federal system. The whole purport of the Prime Minister’s remarks was the expression of a desire for the co-operation of the States - which, unfortunately, has not been forthcoming, particularly from those States with Labour governments - so that there would emerge, for the benefit of Australia, a system of arbitration under which existing anomalies would disappear. Under such a system, persons working under a federal award would not be at an advantage or a disadvantage in comparison with persons working under State awards, doing the same work and, in some instances, working for the same employer under the same roof. Anybody with the interests of Australia at heart would like to see industrial harmony and uniformity in arbitration. That was the purport of the Prime Minister’s statement as I understood it.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware that hundreds of returned service personnel, whose loans for war service homes have been approved on m set day, have been informed by the War Service Homes Division that the date cannot be met, and the loan has been put back in some cases up to six months? Does the Minister realize that this is fa lsing very serious embarrassment to returned service personnel who have made fixed contracts with architects, builders and others? Will the Minister take action to have the payment of loans brought back to the original date in each case in order to save applicants from expense and from legal and other embarrassments ?
– It is a matter of public knowledge thai; the Minister who administers tie War Service Homes Division has stated from time to time that those who apply for advances for war service homes cannot get them immediately. They have” to take their turn. All who are interested are aware of the position, and I am sure that the Minister who administers the War Service Homes Division will ensure that it is administered fairly.
– I was referring to loans that are granted on a set date. In some cases, the applicants have been informed by the War Service Homes Division that the date of the loan has been postponed for as long as six months, although it had previously been granted and a specific date given.
– I ask the honorable senator to put his question on the notice-paper so that the facts may be ascertained.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate read a statement which appeared in the Melbourne Herald about a week agc to the effect that Australia had changed its attitude to the claims of Indonesia to Dutch New Guinea? As I am confident that the statement is untrue, will the Government issue a statement so that no doubts will be left in the mind? of our friends, the Dutch, or the gang of pro-Japanese quislings led by Soekarno who control Indonesia and are trying to thieve Dutch New Guinea to which they have no just claim?
– As the honorable senator has- implied, the attitude of the Australian Government towards T:utah New Guinea has not changed at all. I do not know whether the Minister for External Affairs has made a statement recently on the matter. If he has not. done so, I 3hall direct his attention to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– I thank the Leader of the Government for the information he supplied in relation to the basic wage. I sincerely desire harmony in industry and, therefore, I now ask the Minister whether he, or the Prime Minister, believes that harmony in industry is brought a.bout when the 0 series index of prices, reveals that the worker receiving the basic wage is entitled to an increase, and yet either the Prime Minister or the arbitration authority refuses to pass that increase on to him.. Does he also agree that greater harmony in industry would be brought about if the policies of governments, both Labour and Liberal, in State and Federal spheres, provided that when the C series index, which is the only statistical register on which we can base a claim, reveals that there has been a rise in prices, the basic wage worker would immediately receive the increase when the statistical information is handed to the arbitration authority, either Federal or State?
– The people of Australia know well that the Government now in office believes in high wages ; but unless there is also increased* production the money to pay high wages must come out of thin air, or the exchequer will become bankrupt. As far as increases generally are concerned, there is some comfort in knowing that, although the cost of living has gone up since the present Government came into office, the wages of workers have gone up considerably more. The result is that workers to-day are better off relatively than they were when this Government caine into power in 1949. The granting of increases indicated by the 0 series index is not a matter for legislation by the Australian Government. That power rests exclusively with the Arbitration Court, and this Government believes that that is a proper function of the court, and not a matter for legislative action.
– If the Leader of the Government is.not prepared to say that the Government will intervene on behalf of those Commonwealth workers who are suffering under the decision of the Arbitration Court to freeze quarterly rises in the basic wage, a decision made eighteen months or more ago, will he, or the Government, take some action to control prices, which have risen by from 14 to 16 per cent, since the quarterly adjustments were discontinued? If it is not possible for the Government to intervene, I believe that it is possible for it to seek powers to control prices, and so keep the purchasing power of persons working under Commonwealth awards in line with that of persons who are working under State awards and who are now receiving increases as the result of quarterly adjustments.
– I thank the honorable senator for his suggestions as to how the Government should run the country, but I remind him that on the 10th December last the Government parties and the party to which the honorable senator belongs placed before the people their views as to how the country should be run, and the people of Australia then overwhelmingly showed their preference for our way of doing things. “We shall therefore, continue to do things our way.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether it is a fact that negotiations for the disposal of a 49 per cent, interest in the Commonwealth shipping line have taken place? Does he not think that, if negotiations have taken place, or are taking place, some consideration should be given to press statements, which have not been denied by the Government, so that this important asset, which belongs to the people, shall be protected; and that the people of Australia should know what is likely to happen to the shipping line, and the effect that its sale would have on the economy of Australia, and particularly on those engaged in primary and secondary industry?
– I have seen newspaper reports that negotiations along the lines indicated by the honorable senator have taken place, and it would appear that the honorable senator has based his question on such reports. I now inform him that newspaper reports concerning the sale of the shipping line are notoriously unreliable. For a period of six and a half years reports have appeared in the press that the Commonwealth shipping line is about to be disposed of in one way or another. In order to indicate the degree of unreliability of such reports, I mention that, just after the general election in December last, one newspaper stated quite definitely that the line would be sold within six weeks. Had that report been correct, the ships would have been disposed of before now. 1 suggest that the honorable senator should pay less attention to newspaper reports.
– Can the Leader of the Government inform the Senate of the changes in departmental administration following the decision of the Government to increase the number of Ministers? Can he say what departments are affected by the Government’s policy, in what manner and by what method the alterations will be made, and when the new policy will be initiated?
– At a later stage to-day I propose, with the leave of the Senate, to make a statement on the new set-up occasioned by the ministerial changes to which the honorable senator has referred. That statement will, I think, satisfy the honorable senator, at least in part.
– I again ask the Leader of the Government a serious question, and I hope that this time he will give a serious reply. He says that the Government wishes to have harmony in industry. So do we on this side. But when we find that the shipowners can demand, and get, increases in freights, that the members of the Master Hairdressers Association have only to say that they want to charge 6d. more for a haircut for the price to be raised, while the worker in industry is bound by decisions of the Arbitration Court - and if he protests against the action taken by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, he is called a “ Com.” - it is time that the Government gave serious consideration to overcoming the existing difficulties, so that harmony may be brought to industry, and industrial unrest prevented among people working under federal awards who are denied adjustments to which they are entitled. I refer to the quarterly cost of living adjustments which workers enjoyed for many years.
– The speech which has just been delivered by the honorable senator does not call for any further answer.
– by have - I desire to inform the Senate that it is proposed that the Sixth Menzies Ministry will be constituted as follows: -
Vice-President of the Executive Council; Leader of the House and Minister for Defence Production - The Right Honorable Sir Eric Harrison, K.C.V.O.
Minister for Trade - The Right Honorable John McEwen.
Minister for External Affairs and Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - The Right Honorable R. G. Casey, C.H., D.S.O., M.C.
Minister for Defence - The honorable Sir Philip McBride, K.C.M.G!
Minister for the Navy and Leader of the Government in the Senate - /Senator the Honorable Neil O’sullivan.
Attorney-General - Senator the Honorable J. A. Spicer, Q.C.
Minister for National Development - Senator the Honorable W. H. Spooner, M. M.
Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honorable W. J. Cooper, M.B.E.
Minister for Primary Industry - The Honorable W. McMahon.
Minister for Shipping and Transport - Senator the Honorable Shane Paltridge.
Minister for the Army - The Honorable J.-O. Cramer.
Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works - The Honorable A. Fairhall.
The representation of Ministers in the Senate will be as follows: - Senator O’Sullivan will represent the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Customs and Excise. Senator Spicer will represent the Minis ter for Labour and National Service, the Minister for Immigration, the Minister !for External Affairs, the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the Minister for Territories. Senator Spooner will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for the Army, and the Minister for Works. Senator Cooper will represent the Minister for Supply, the Minister for Health, rand the Postmaster-General. Senator Paltridge will represent the Minister for Defence Production, the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Minister for Air, the Minister for Primary Industry, and the Minister for the Interior.
In the House of Representatives, the Minister for the Navy will be represented oy Mr. McMahon, the Attorney-General will be represented by the Prime Minister, the Minister for National Development will be represented by Mr. Fairhall, the Minister for Repatriation will be represented by Dr. Donald Cameron, and the Minister for Shipping and Transport will be represented by Mr. Townley.
Experience in the previous Government has amply demonstrated that the pressure of work on Ministers is increasing. The Prime Minister has therefore decided that the following arrangements shall apply with regard to the Cabinet and ministerial work:
In the first place, the Cabinet, as such, will consist only of the first twelve Ministers whom I have named. The other Ministers will be co-opted to attend Cabinet meetings as required, but normally will be left free to attend to other ministerial duties.
Secondly, three new departments have been created out of a re-organization of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Customs. The new departments, as I have already indicated to the Senate, are the Department of Trade, the Department of Primary Industry, and the Department of Customs and Excise.
The net result of this change, insofar as it concerns the Ministry, would be the proposed addition of two Ministers, making a total of 22. As honorable senators are aware, the Ministers of State Act at present provides for only twenty Ministers. The Parliament will be invited to consider an amendment to the Ministers of State Act in order to increase the number of Ministers to 22. In the meantime, Sir Eric Harrison will be Minister for the Army and Mr. McMahon will be Minister for Social Services. Mr. Cramer and Mr. Roberton, who have already been sworn in as Executive Councillors, will be sworn in as Ministers immediately after the passing of this legislation, but until that time they do not, of course, possess the standing of Ministers.
As in the past, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will, in addition to leading the House, continue to assist the Prime Minister.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that I have been appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate -and that Senator Kennelly has been appointed Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Senator Critchley has been appointed Opposition Whip.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications. - Senator K. M. Anderson, Senator D. C Hannaford, Senator A. Hendrickson, Senator P. J. Kennelly, Senator T. M. Nicholls, Senator A. B. Robertson, and Senator R. H. Wordsworth.
Motions (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That a Standing Orders Committee be ap pointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, and Senators Cooke, Kendall, Nicholls, O’Byrne, Vincent, and Wright, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
That a Library Committee , be appointed, to consist of the President and Senators Arnold, Kendall, McCallum, Robertson, Sheehan and Tangney, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representa tives.
That a House Committeebe appointed, to consist of the President and Senators Amour, Marriott, O’Flaherty, George Rankin, Ryan, and Wordsworth, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives. printingcommittee.
That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of Senators Benn, Buttfield, Hannaford, Robertson, Scott, Tangney, and Toohey, with power to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1051, the following senators be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz. - Senators Benn, Seward and Wedgwood.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, the following senators be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public works, viz. : - Senators Henty, Maher, and O’Byrne.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - - agreed to -
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 p.m. in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. in the forenoon of Thursday.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the noticepaper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast, and at 11 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn- which question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate or the committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the notice-paper for the next sitting day.
Tha PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - I direct the attention of honorable senators to the terms of a question without notice that was asked by Senator George Rankin this afternoon in which he made reference to the President of Indonesia and to the Government of that country. Had I fully heard the statement at the time it was made, 1 would have called the honorable senator to order, as the terms of the question did. not conform with the requirements of our Standing Orders. Neither did the question conform with the practice in the British House of Commons, which is set out clearly in Moy, 15th edition, a t page 438 as follows : - . . opprobrious reflections may not be vast in debate on sovereigns and rulers over, or governments of, dominions or countries in amity with Her Majesty, or their representatives in this country.
Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) [8.T. - I moves -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of Hits Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May It PLEASE Youn EXCELLENCY
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency fur the Speech, which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I deeply appreciate the honour that has been conferred upon me in asking me to initiate this debate. I also appreciate the honour of being able to reaffirm our loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and, through her, to the British. Commonwealth of Nations. I feel that in Australia, because of our geographical isolation, we have been tending to forget the importance of those loyalties, but since the visit of Her Majesty to this country, I believe that we have been drawn very rauch closer to the Royal Family and, through the Royal Family, to the British Commonwealth of Nations.
It is essential that we should cement our loyalties in order to combat communism. During the recent general election, it was alarming to hear people saying that communism was not something to be feared in Australia; that it was merely an election bogy. The GovernorGeneral stated in his speech that it must be emphasized that there were threats in the world to the peace and freedom of the democracies. His Excellency said -
My Government believes that these threatcome essentially from the Communist nations, whose modern history has shown them to he aggessive and willing to resort to both external pressure and internal subversion to achieve their ends.
I believe, very strongly, that we cannot afford to take our security for granted. Neither can we afford to be apathetic about the spread of communism throughout two continents and, more recently, through our near-north. To overcome this apathy in Australia, I suggest that we could, perhaps, start with the young and encourage our children to take much greater interest in work! events. We should train them, if necessary, in the schools to realize the tics of loyalty and the importance of 111al n.taining a strong British Commonwealth of Nations.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the splendid victory that was achieved by the Government at the recent general election. I believe that it was a personal victory for him, for his leadership anl his strength of character. Certainly he has led us through a difficult period. Wo arp very fortunate to have such a man tn lead us through this period of development and economic adjustment. I hope that he will be with us for a long timeto continue his good work.
The Governor - General mentioned intelligent co-operation, and that is the theme that I wish to stress to-night. That intelligent co-operation is a commodity that is very easily promised but not always so easily realized. I feel very keenly that an outstanding need in Australia to-day is for a strong national pride; the feeling that, to each one of us, Australia is first and foremost. That is something that our new citizens notice very quickly. They think that there i? a lack of patriotism in Australia, and 1 believe that we must have more co-operation and compromise if we desire to overcome that apparent lack. We need co-operation between the Commonwealth and State Parliaments, co-operation between State Parliaments and leading citizens, co-operation between leading citizens and the man in the street and finally, we need co-operation between the man in the street and his family. I congratulate the Prime Minister on the example he has set us in this field. His co-operation with other nations and his personal efforts have made Australia internationally respected. When the national financial situation required urgent consideration recently, the right honorable gentleman co-operated with financial experts and discussed with them their views on a solution of our problems. He had similar discussions with the hire-purchase chiefs and after those discussions, they voluntarily agreed to impose certain restrictions. We know that the Prime Minister is co-operating with his back benchers who are eager to co-operate with their leaders and take an active part in policy-making. It is a natural and human need to want cooperation. We all like it and appreciate it when we meet it.
One particularly interesting experiment in co-operation is being carried out in Australia to-day. That is the Citizenship Conventions. These conventions have been arranged by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Harold Holt) during the past six or seven years in co-operation with the Department of Immigration. Those conventions bring together in Canberra a complete crosssection of the whole Australian community to discuss problems and ways of making our immigration programme continue as successfully as it has done in the past. The extent of this co-operation is interesting. Those conventions are attended by delegates from 22 different religious denominations. There are delegates from all political parties, from the trade unions, from press, radio and educational organizations, from commerce and industry, from voluntary organizations, co-ordinating councils, sporting bodies and from the immigrants themselves. They all come together and are encouraged to air their views on the way that they think the immigration programme should be helped.
I believe that State authorities would: appreciate an extension of this cooperation with their Cabinet Ministers, particularly the smaller States which fear, perhaps rightly, the influence of the-
Bigger States if they are not represented on various councils and commissions. There is one outstanding example of thispoint that I should like to mention. It is a matter of national importance, in my opinion, and is of particular importance to South Australia. I refer to the development of atomic energy. It is evident that every State which is actively concerned in uranium-mining should be represented on a Commonwealth commission on the development of atomic energy. The States have a particular interest in nuclear power because of their major function in generating electricity. Again,. South Australia is particularly interested in that field because of the almost complete lack of substitute fuels in that State. Undoubtedly, we are on the threshold of the era of nuclear power. South Australia has led the way, thanksto the State Premier, Mr. Playford. I believe I am not wrong in saying that, had it not been for his far-sight and tenacity, Australia would not to-day be as far advanced in this field as it is.
It is interesting, however, to note what other nations are doing in financing nuclear research. The government of the United Kingdom last year budgeted for an expenditure of £50,000,000 on nuclear research. The United States of America budgeted for an expenditure of. £500,000,000, but Australia could afford only £2,000,000. That is less than the South Australian Government is already spending on nuclear projects. Yet since the Atomic Energy Commission was set up in 1953, there has been no representative of .South Australia on it in spite of the fact that we were the first in Australia to develop uranium projects and to send scientists abroad to study the generation of nuclear power. Later, when a scientific advisory board was set up to co-operate with the commission. South Australia was not given a representative on that board. South Australia rightly expects that the first nuclear power station in Australia will be set up in that State, and for that reason the people of South Australia feel that a committee of State departmental officers to meet the commission is not adequate, because there is no provision there for consultation on policy. Further co-operation between South Australia and the Commonwealth is reasonable in this field. South Australia would appreciate having a representative on the commission, and I hope that the Parliament will amend the Atomic Energy Act 1953 in order to allow that to be done.
Most of us will agree that co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth in matters which vitally concern both is the essential way to develop national unity and pride, just as most of us agree that it is essential for State parliaments to co-operate with their groups or sectional leaders, and, perhaps, to incorporate them in public boards. I make particular reference to the women’s organizations which have leaders able and willing to co-operate with governments on such matters as housing, health, education and hospitals, and even wages, which they feel are their particular field and interest, but in many cases these organizations are deliberately overlooked.
There are still some fields for cooperation between sectional groups. I shall mention a few of them which come to my mind. There should be further cooperation between producers and consumers to the advantage of both and of the nation as a whole. There could be further cooperation between farmers and manufacturers, and between employers and employees. Tremendous strides have been made in the field of co-operation between employers and employees, but there is still room for further co-operation, and if it were forthcoming we would all benefit very much from it. One of the things that could be done is for trade unionists to endeavour to break down the feeling that there are two classes of people in Australia. It is true that some people work with their hands whilst others work with their brains, but that does not mean that all do not work. Indeed, Australia is one country where every one works, and therefore it would be most beneficial if we could break down the feeling that two classes exist in the community. Unfortunately, that idea is an outstanding fact. There could still be further co-operation between managers and employees to add to the efficiency of our industries, particularly some of our smaller industries. Recently, I visited about 30 of the major industries in South Australia, and I was struck by the fact that, generally, the bigger the industry the more efficient it was, and the more co-operation there was between employers and employees. There is still a field for development in relation to our smaller industries, as a result of which they would benefit greatly, and not only add to their efficiency but also reduce their costs of production.
It was alarming, however, to hear during the recent election campaign such propaganda as “ Vote out the traditional enemies of Labour “. In all sincerity, I say that I do not know who the traditional enemies of Labour are. The only enemies of Labour that I know of are those disruptionists who are trying to create a feeling that there are two classes of people in this country. There is room for realization at top levels of the fact that co-operation would make for a more contented people and a more united Australia.
The thought of a united Australia leads me to another sphere of co-operation in which more might be done ; I refer to the need for greater co-operation between Parliament, government departments and private enterprise. There is a tremendous number of fields in this category in which there could be more co-operation. One of them that is frequently discussed is that of letting out road contracts to private enterprise, and so obtaining greater efficiency in this vital matter. But one that I wish to stress to-night is one which is of vital importance to the nation at the moment. I have in mind the development of our overseas trade. I compliment the Prime Minister and his Cabinet on what has already been done in this field, such as the enlargement of the Department of Trade, the expansion of the trade commissioner service and the bringing forward of a plan for export payments as an insurance against non-payments to the exporter.
Linked with this drive, and to expand it, we must improve our efforts to attract more people and money to this country. It is a well-recognized fact that the travelling population in Australia is very badly served in the matter of first-class hotel accommodation. Perhaps the time is ripe for us to develop a positive policy towards hotels. The situation, which at the moment is desperate, has developed because of the almost complete absence of new hotel construction and substantial modernization of hotels during the last 50 years. War-time restrictions and building controls have added to the difficulties, but to-day high costs are a major obstacle to making up the leeway. Minor alterations, such as alterations to bars and dining-rooms and bath-rooms, cost almost as much as the original hotels cost when they were constructed, but the fact that there is no depreciation allowance for such expenditure in our income tax law is a vital and contributing factor. A reasonable depreciation allowance for construction, alterations, and additions to hotels would be an added incentive. Action along such lines is essential to attract the owners of capital and to induce them to expend their money in extensive building of hotels. I feel strongly that firstclass hotel accommodation is an essential community service and one which is vitally linked with the economic development of the community. There is an overwhelming case for an adequate depreciation allowance for hotel construction. It may even become necessary for the Government to lend money at low rates of interest for hotel building, in the same way as it has done for housing.
Allied to this need for hotels is the necessity for further development of our overseas publicity for travel. In 1929 the Australian National Travel Association was launched without statutory assistance but with the blessing of the Bruce-Page Government. It was to be run by private enterprise with an honorary board, because it was thought that private enterprise would act with less formality and with a more friendly approach than a government department would. It was also thought necessary to have a united voice speaking for Australia rather than that the several State tourist bureaux should act in competition with one another. Last year the National Travel Association was subsidized by the Government by a grant of £15,000, but there is still no representative of the Government on the board. Nor is there on the board a representative of Australian railways, although general business, airlines, shipping and rural industries are adequately represented. There are opportunities provided by tourists for new spending, for added investment, for increased trade and for new residents, and it seems to me that these are adequate reasons why .the Government should pay more attention to the tourist industry and, in particular, to this association. We have in Australia an overseas airline with a splendid reputation. This airline, too, has an office in a central position in New York and 1 believe it has offered street-level floor space in this building to the Government for the assistance of the tourist industry. It would undoubtedly pay us to set up a branch of a tourist industry there, and, in my opinion, the Government would do well to consider accepting the offer. It would, while promoting our tourist industry in New York, also assist our Australian airline which, though run by private enterprise, is competing with at least one heavily subsidized airline. I should like to see the Australian National Travel Association constituted by act of Parliament, with a government representative on the board and a great deal more financial assistance given to it. Because of this restricted finance, it has been necessary of late to halve the amount of publicity being sent abroad by this association, in spite of the excellence of its publications.
It is interesting to consider what other countries are doing in this respect. In the United Kingdom, there is an organization known as the British Travel and Holiday Association, which the British Government subsidized last year to the extent of £941,000. South Africa subsidized the travel industry in that country by £207,000, and New Zealand subsidized its travel industry by £150,000. Even Hawaii subsidized the travel industry in that country to the extent of £112,000. Yet Australia last year spent only £15,000 on its travel industry.
Whilst we could gain undoubted economic advantages by developing our travel industry, there is another aspect of the matter which makes it particularly desirable. I refer to the furthering of international goodwill and friendship per medium of visitors to Australia from other countries. Our immigration policy provides’ still another means of bringing people and their money to this country, and so furthering co-operation between other nations and Australia. It was interesting at the last Australian Citizenship Convention, which was held in Canberra last month, to hear the unanimous opinion of the convention that we should continue with our immigration policy and plan confidently to bring still more people to Australia. It has been proved impracticable to turn on and off, as a tap, the flow of immigrants. It is too difficult, once the flow has been turned off, to turn it on again. We learned to our cost the truth of that statement in 1952 when we drastically curtailed our immigration programme, and we have only just recovered from that curtailment. Just as fishermen cannot expect to bring in a full catch every time they cast their nets, neither can we expect to obtain a full catch of immigrants at will, because other nations are competing with us in the same fields. I consider that we would be well advised at this stage to abandon the system of annual targets and adopt a long-term plan extending over three, or even five years.. By this means we could maintain a steady rate of recruiting even if we had, periodically, to adjust the rate of sailing to Australia. Such a scheme would provide a more flexible programme and overcome the dangers associated with the annual target system.
Undoubtedly, immigrants have made a very material contribution to the advancement of Australia, particularly by means of their skills. It is interesting to note from the statistical bulletin the percentage of skilled immigrants. The figure shown is 268 per 1,000, compared with 161 skilled workers per 1,000 of the Australian work force. In addition, I noticed that 71 per cent, of the immigrant workers who came to this country in 1954-55, were skilled or semi-skilled. Immigrants have undoubtedly kept skilled occupations staffed, and have contributed greatly to the history-making epoch in which we are now living, and of which we are justly proud. Increased production in both primary and secondary industries, with the help of immigrants, is assisting to balance our overseas trade. In addition to increased production, new investment is developing new industries which, in turn, are reducing our dependence on imported goods.
The Governor-General, in his Speech, made reference to some of our new industries, such as the aluminium, oil refining, paper, and motor manufacturing industries. The production of steel has been almost doubled and, in most cases, the price of Australian steel is lower than that of steel produced in other countries. These additional goods are reducing our dependence on overseas goods. In the recent Treasury information bulletin issued for the six months ended December last, it was interesting to see that our exports had increased in value by £21,000,000 compared with a similar period in 1954, and that only £3,000,000 of the increase was accounted for by wooli- Undoubtedly, the immigrants contributed greatly to the increased production which made possible the increase of exports.
I wish to refer again to the necessity for a long-term programme in relation to immigration. We have set ourselves as a target the bringing of 20,000,000 people this country in 25 years. It is not really a. set target, but rather a hope, and we shall come much closer to reaching our hope if we adopt a long-term plan, which would enable producers in industry to plan ahead because of a steady rate of population increase for future production. In turn, this would eliminate the shortage cf goods which is at present causing inflation. Furthermore, many countries would co-operate more fully with us if they were themselves able, through our plan, to plan against the economic effects of emigration. In this manner we could well keep in mind the views that were expressed by the Premier of South Australia at the Australian Citizenship Convention to which I have referred when he urged ns to continue confidently with our immigration planning. Mr. Playford said -
We should not be frightened of our great internal prosperity.
I cannot conclude my remarks without making reference to this Government’s wonderful achievement in the field of social services. I do not think that any other government has done so much for so many people. The Governor-General said that this Government would continue with its practical health policy. He also said that we could not sensibly seek- to satisfy all our demands at the one time. There are only 3,000,000 payers of income-tax in Australia, and it is impossible for that number of people to provide all that is desirable for 9,000,000 people. There probably are still more things to be done. As a woman, my interest in this sphere will certainly continue in the future, as it has done in the past. Personally, I believe that it is advantageous to leave with the people an incentive to improve their own conditions. This is their national birthright. I believe in helping people to help themselves, but I also believe that it is the duty of a government to make provision for people who, through ill-health, old age or disaster may have been overlooked.
It was very pleasing also to hear in the Governor-General’s Speech that there will be progressive research into the special problems of elderly people. I was very pleased when going through many industries recently, to notice how many of them are making provision to retain their elderly workers. They are also providing employment for physically handicapped people. I believe that this Government should offer further encouragement in that connexion. There are further fields for old people which might well be exploited. They could easily do something in hospitals to help. They could pv en act as baby sitters for young families and so release young mothers for more active community work. This, I consider, would make elderly people feel more useful in the community, something that is essential. The minute they feel that they are not useful or wanted in the community, they lose interest and their hold on life.
I also think that the mentally sick people in the community need further assistance. This Government, bearing in mind the revelations in the Stoller report, has recently made available the sum of £10,000,-000 for capital improvements to mental hospitals. However, nothing has been done for the maintenance and rehabilitation of these people. It seems to me to be wrong that there should be any stigma on mental illness, nor should there be any differentiation between mental “and physical illness. I should like to see this Government take the lead, and provide a hospital benefit for these people. A large percentage of our mental patients are under active medical and surgical treatment, similar in extent and skill to that received at general hospitals. Yet, no hospital benefit of 8s. a day, asin other cases, is payable to the Statesfor patients in mental hospitals. I should also like to see this Government review the pensions scheme in their favour. Some 30 per cent, of patients admitted to mental hospitals are in receipt of age or invalid pensions when they are admitted, but the moment they are admitted the Commonwealth ceases to pay age and invalid pensions to them. If such a pensioner patient were admitted to an old folks’” home, the pension would still be payable. In order to remove this differentiation, I should like to see the Government takeurgent notice of this need of mentally sick people. Frequently, cures are effected in this field, and all mentally sick patients should be encouraged to come forward and have their illness treated.
Sickness and fitness affect all ages inour community, particularly, perhaps, our young people. We are constantly confronted with juvenile delinquency in the nation. Our National Fitness Councilsare doing splendid work in this field, but if they could have greater financial assistance they could, by engaging additional’ trained leaders, do much more to encourage our young people to put their leisure hoursto better use. This would, in turn, encourage them to be better citizens and, eventually to be better parents of future generations.
I conclude, Mr. President, by stressing that the main need in Australia to-day is a great deal more co-operation, if our endeavour is to continue, and if we are to build a greater Australia. We need co-operation between individuals, the States and the Commonwealth to induce stronger national feeling. We need cooperation between governments and private enterprise for national development j
W-operation in industry between workers and management for increased production and shared prosperity, co-operation between the various sections for economic tolerance and understanding; cooperation between old and new Australians to cement a national pride in our great country; and co-operation between governments and voluntary organizations, and while leaving incentive to remain useful, we should assure our citizens of assistance in time of need, and in removing fear of undue hardship in old age or ill-health. With such co-operation, I feel sure that a feeling of national unity will develop, as well as a feeling of unity between the Government and the people, which is so essential in a true democracy.
– I offer hearty congratulations to Senator Buttfield on her election as a senator to represent South Australia in this Parliament* Having listened to the very intersting and capable address which she has delivered in the chamber this evening, it is clear to me why the electors of South Australia recorded an outstanding vote in. her favour. I am sure that 3he will remain here to represent her State for many years to come. I must also congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Sir Arthur Fadden) on the recent record-breaking election result. Whilst I am in this felicitous mood - I do not often become so generous in my approach to the debates in this chamber - I take the opportunity to compliment Senator O’sullivan on his re-election to the Senate, the renewal of his appointment as Leader of the Government in the Senate, and also his appointment as Minister for the Navy. T am very pleased indeed to see Senator McKenna back again as Leader of the Opposition. The honorable senator is a hard fighter for his cause, but he commands our respect as a most courteous and gentlemanly opponent. On an occasion such as this, I think I might even go a little further and say, “ May he long reign as Leader of the Opposition ! “.
The recent general election was notable for the crushing defeat of the Australian Labour party and the near-defeat of its leader, the right honorable member for
Barton (Dr. Evatt). The electors of Australia made it abundantly clear that they did not intend to march to Moscow via Hobart. The people of this country were not slow to recognize the close affinity between the Evatt Labour party and the Communist party, as shown by theadoption of the full Communist programme at the Hobart conference last year.
– The honorable senator should ask Senator McCallum about that.
– Senator Hendrickson cannot escape the facts, which are that the points of policy on which the Australian Labour party and the Communists linked hands together were: (1) socialization of industry; (2) recall of the Australian troops from Malaya; (3) recognition of Communist China-
– Hear, hear t
– (4) Admission of Communist China to the United Nations—
– Hear, hear !
– Despite the fact that the United Nations, comprised of nationalities from all over the world, of all colours and of all creeds, rejected the application of Red China for admission to the United Nations, apparently Senator Hendrickson is opposed to the majority decision of the United Nations. I say that those are the facts which identify the close link between the Evatt Labour party and the Communist party.
Mr. Sharkey, general secretary of the Australian Communist party, writing in the Tribune on the 11th May last, said -
These progressive decisions at Hobart opened up tremendous possibilities for united front work with Labour party members.
I am reading from Mr. Sharkey’s letter. A “ progressive “, in the twisted lexicon of the Communists, means “ one who follows the Kremlin line”, so that when Mr. Sharkey says “ these progressive decisions a t Hobart opened up tremendous possibilities for united front work with Labour party members “, that illustrates the close association which has now developed.
Since the Hobart conference, the Evatt Labour party and the comrades have become very matey indeed. When I was speaking at Cairns, in the Leichhardt electorate, during the recent general election campaign, a bystander handed me a pamphlet issued by the Waterside Workers Federation at Cairns, calling on the people to vote either “Labour 1, Communist 2 “, or “ Communist 1, Labour 2 “. That is the united front in practical operation.
– Birds of a feather flock together.
– That is true. This direction was signed by Mr. L. Brophy as secretary, and by Mr. J. Howe as president. I lay the pamphlet on the table of the Senate.
Since the Hobart conference, the new federal executive of the Australian Labour party has approved the issue of Labour-Communist unity tickets in tradeunion ballots. Senator Hendrickson cannot deny that the Communist use of these tickets has restored Communist control of many trade unions. Under the unity ticket Communist candidates were grouped under the heading of “ Labour “, and this misled many good trade unionists into voting for Communist candidates because they appeared to have the support of the official Labour party. These tactics are clearly part of the plan evolved by Dr. Evatt and his leftist supporters to build a new Labour party - “ Labour “ in name, but Communist in policy. The Australian elector noted the shift of Labour under Dr. Evatt into the Communist orbit; hence the overwhelming defeat of Labour at the recent election.
There are ample signs and portents that the economy of Australia will be subjected to severe stresses in the life of this Parliament. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech makes it clear that a fuller statement on the economic position of this country will be made in the near future, and honorable senators will then have ample scope to debate the subject. Consequently, I propose to defer my comments on this important matter until that occasion.
– When does the honorable senator think that statement will be made and debated?
– It will be made during this session, without doubt. On the important subject of foreign affairs, I have no doubt that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) will make a statement later in the session, and I shall defer the expression of my views on matters of world importance until that takes place.
The Governor-General’s Speech raises the question of the relationship of the Senate to the House of Representatives. Through the years, and at the present time, many people have been searching for some useful institution to abolish, and have sought to effect some kind of change not dictated by the needs of experience. No matter how well disposed they are they must have originated from the vandal genus. For years many people of this type, some of whom are representatives of the Labour party in this House, have been clamouring to abolish the Senate.
Opposition SENATORS - Hear, hear! Senator MAHER. - Obviously hypocrisy is not dead. It may be a relief to the “ Senate abolitionists “, particularly those who have high blood pressure, to know that a recent gallup poll indicated that the proportion of the population favouring the abolition of the Senate in this country is less than one in four. To be precise, they constitute 23 per cent, of the population. Those in this Senate who talk with their tongues in their cheeks in favour of the abolition of this chamber can continue to clamour, because their political seats are pretty safe. I wholeheartedly support the Government’s proposal set forth in His Excellency’s Speech to appoint an allparty committee to investigate the constitutional problems involved in modelling the Senate to reflect public opinion more clearly from election to election.
– The Communists have Senator McCallum to represent them in the Senate.
– I am glad to say that the Communist party has no representation in this Parliament except for its allies and close associates.
– On a point of order. I regret having to interrupt Senator Maher’s speech, but I direct your attention, Mr. Deputy President, to the fact that Senator Hendrickson has not once. but at least a dozen times uttered a deliberate untruth concerning myself, and 1 ask for a withdrawal of it.
– Mr. Acting President, I do not know what Senator McCallum wants me to withdraw. I have made reference to the 80,000 Communist preference votes which made it possible for him to be a senator.
– The facts are that I was elected with a majority of 150,000 votes over the next succeeding candidate. Even if it is true that votes recorded for Communist candidates came, 11Ot to me personally but to the whole of the Liberal team, and only the votes-
– Mr. Deputy President, surely this discussion is out of order.
– Senator Hendrickson was allowed to make a statement after his interjections, and it should be replied to. . As I do not want to interrupt the proceedings at this stage, [ shall reserve further observations until later.
– In what position did the Communists place the honorable senator on the ballot-paper?
– The Communists placed me last on the ballot-paper, but the names of both Labour candidates, who were unsuccessful, were placed above mine on the Communist “How to vote” ticket. The interjections by Senator Hendrickson are a deliberate attempt to create a false impression throughout the Commonwealth, and advantage has been taken of the broadcasting of these pro,ceedings to do so. I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy President, for redress.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - I agree with Senator McCallum that the statement made by Senator Hendrickson is not a very acceptable one, but I must take into consideration also that the statement is true that 80.000 votes were cast in the recent elections, the benefit of which were gained by Senator McCallum, and at this stage I would not class it as being offensive. I warn honorable senators that frequent interjections and exchanges across the chamber must cease so that Senator Maher may -resume his speech.
– I wish to direct your attention, Mr. Deputy President, to the definite statement made by Senator Hendrickson. He admits the interjection he made, and when Senator Maher said that the Communists had no representative in the Senate, he called out, “ They have Senator McCallum “. That is a deliberate, calculated, cold-blooded lie.
– On a point of order Mr. Deputy President, any interjection in this chamber is out of order, and surely no honorable senator has the right to interrupt the speech of another honorable senator by raising a point of order as a result of an unruly interjection. I submit that this discussion should not be allowed to proceed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! I ask Senator Maher to continue his speech.
– I hope, Mr. Deputy President, that the time taken in this digression will not be deducted from the time that I am allowed to speak. The Prime Minister received an overwhelming mandate to govern in the elections for the House of Representatives, but under the proportional representation system of voting the Government is placed in a most unhappy position in -the Senate because, after the 30th June, it will be without a majority in this House. No government can be expected to tolerate such a position for long, and I am certain that the Australian people, if consulted by referendum, would not tolerate it, either. Therefore, I welcome the suggested appointment of an all-party committee to examine the best method of electing the Senate and I look forward to the implementation of that proposal.
I direct the attention of the Senate to the devastating floods which have occurred throughout the State I have the honour to represent. They have brought loss, disaster and fatalities over wide areas of Queensland. The watershed of the Maclntyre River on the borders of Queensland and New South Wales, in which the towns of Inglewood, Yelarbon and Goondiwindi are situated, was subject to torrential rain, and the most destructive floods in the history of white settlement throughout that river system occurred. I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for his ready undertaking to share with the Queensland Government on a £l-for-£l basis the cost of relieving personal distress and hardship caused by the floods, and also his offer to dispatch suitable equipment to assist in the removal of debris and silt. Also, the prompt visit ‘of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) to the area was warmly appreciated by the flood victims and the district people. Public funds have been generously supported in Queensland since this disaster and much has been done in this way, too, ‘ in the northern areas of New South “Wales contiguous to the border rivers, the Dumaresq and Maclntyre. Splendid public support has been accorded in this direction.
I discovered that in New South Wales a flood relief committee is already functioning and ready for action in emergencies. This, I regret to say, does not apply in Queensland, which has always been backward in the matter of flood relief organization although that .State is subject to cyclonic visitations, heavy monsoonal rains, and vast floodings over the whole of its area. It is rather remarkable that Queensland, under Labour rule over a long period of time, has not instituted some scheme of flood relief organization. As a result, when colossal floods, these acts of God, occur in Queensland, victims have nowhere to turn when they are deprived df their possessions by such floods. I hope that the Queensland Government will, take action modelled on the system which prevails in New South Wales under which a special committee has been functioning for some time and is ready to meet these emergencies when they occur. That committee aims at alleviating distress occasioned in towns and villages as the result of damage by water and deposits of silt and rubbish. Also, the committee assists primary producers who are affected by floods and whose crops are washed away. In Queensland, tobacco-growers have had the whole of their crops, and with them the whole of their income for twelve months, washed away. That is not a very happy position for any man. The New South Wales committee also gives consideration to getting farmers in such a distressing situation restored quickly to useful and full production. In addition, the committee endeavours to restore structural improvements on farm properties and to restock properties to a reasonable extent. These are important points which, I regret to say, are completely neglected by the Labour Government in Queensland. Arising from the tremendous damage which is done, involving loss of stock, property and possessions, I sincerely hope that the Government of Queensland will be stirred to take immediate and active steps to establish a flood relief committee modelled on the New South Wales relief scheme. The present flood in the Macintyre River at Goondiwindi is, since 1950, the tenth major flood in that river affecting that town and the water frontages to the point where the Macintyre runs into the Darling. That fact surely highlights the need for immediate action by the Queensland Government.
Another important matter referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech, which is uppermost in the minds of us all at the present time, is the introduction of a uniform Australia-wide system of conciliation and arbitration to help solve industrial disputes. Reference was made to many inconsistent decisions by Commonwealth and State arbitration courts and conciliation commissioners which create a sense of injustice among workers. If it is possible - it is certainly most desirable - the Commonwealth and the States should get together on this important matter. Amendments might be drafted at such talks which could have the effect of making our industrial laws more workable.
Down through the years the Parliament has provided machinery for the settlement of industrial differences by ensuring that the evidence and the facts shall be taken into account. This system of arbitration, which has been patiently developed and improved by LiberalAustralian Country party and Labour governments alike, does not appear to find favour to-day with some of the major trade unions which want no truck with the industrial court unless some assurances are given in advance at parleys that they can get what they want before they approach the court. If these talks fail and the court rejects a union’s application, the technique to-day, I say with great regret, appears to be to raise a hue and cry, a loud ballyhoo, and to call the members of the union out on strike. In Queensland, the Australian Workers Union has instructed its members not to shear at the reduced rates awarded by the Queensland Industrial Court. Wool dropped in price last year by 25 per cent. To meet this big drop in the value of wool the Queensland Industrial Court reduced the shearing rate by 10 per cent. The Australian Workers Union now stands in open disobedience of the court’s decision.
The principle of arbitration in this country arose out of the shearers’ strike?; in the nineties of last century. Levelheaded men in the shearers’ union of that time turned right away from the strike weapon in favour of the rule of law and reason. The Australian Workers Union has championed the cause of arbitration ever since the disastrous strikes in the pastoral industry before the turn of the century. That union has had the good fortune to be led by responsible and common-sense men of the calibre of the late Mr. W. G. Spence, who sat in this Parliament for many years, the late Mr. Donald Macdonnell, who sat in the Sew South Wales Parliament for many years. Mr. Clarrie Fallon, of Queensland, and many other fine men. The late Mr. Spence held the office of president of the Australian Workers Union for many years, and in. his book entitled History of the A.W.U., at page 118, chapter f), he used these words -
The Australian Workers Union has always “taken an active and aggressive part in political matters and has been most active and persistent in fighting, for compulsory arbitration. While steadily building up its organization it has patiently awaited the time when an Arbitration Act would become law.
Now the wheel has turned a full circle, and the Australian Workers Union, which cherished the principle of arbitration - which, indeed, fathered the system of arbitration as we know it to-day, and fought for and secured the first Arbitration Court which ever functioned in this country - has now repudiated the very system of wage justice which it helped to establish.
– That is not so.
– I say it is so.
– The honorable senator is speaking only about the shearing industry.
– The Australian Workers Union has turned its back upon the Arbitration Court, and it would appear to me, judging by the statement of the present federal president of the union, Mr. Davis, that under its present leadership it is swinging across to the Communist dictum of direct action and collective bargaining. That union sold out the principle of arbitration which had been observed since the turn of the present century.
That is the sad story of a great union, rooted in the Australian soil, the creator and founder of our arbitration system, and led for 50 years or more by reasonable and fair-minded men who accepted the ups and downs of arbitration court decisions. That union has fallen from its -high place in the estimation of Australian citizens by adopting the stand-over methods of the Communist-led unions. I suggest that Senator Benn, who has interjected during my speech, cannot deny those facts.
In Queensland, the electricians, through their union, declared everything about the place black, and went out on strike in disobedience of their industrial award. The Minister for Mines in Mr. Gair’s Queensland Government entered into discussions with the strikers while they were engaged in an illegal strike, thus ignoring the court and usurping its authority. In the case of the strike by waterside workers, Mr. Justice Ashburner gave an undertaking to the shipowners and the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia to refer the claim of the workers, and the shipowners’ offer, to the court for an immediate hearing. The shipowners agreed to enter the court but the Waterside Workers Federation rejected the judge’s offer.
At this point came the vital hour of decision. With great respect for an esteemed and distinguished Minister, I consider that the Minister for Labour and
National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) would have done the right thing by the people of this country who were being held up to ransom by the Waterside Workers Federation, . if he had recommended to the Australian Government that it should declare a state of national emergency and should follow that action by immediate deregistration and other appropriate steps that it might have considered proper and necessary. I hold that our industrial courts, and the judges who preside over them, must be fully and properly supported and upheld against the present-day evidence of continual industrial lawlessness.
This country is to-day spending millions of pounds to halt the spread of communism in other parts of the world, but our local Communists, exercising power through the trade unions which they dominate, are making deliberate war on the economy of Australia, causing unbelievable hardships and financial losses to all classes of the community, and a vast amount of unemployment. The majority of waterside workers are, according to my experience in Queensland, quite good citizens who want to work. However, they are directed, bossed and pushed around by the stand-over tactics of their Communist leaders. The waterside workers, as distinct from the leaders, the unfortunate people thrown out of work in industries obliged to close down because of waterside strikes, the businessmen and the farmers, are all looking to the Australian Government to take the strongest possible action against industrial banditry.
Our industrial laws, both Commonwealth and State, should be amended to provide that every industrial organization shall be forced to choose between the law of the jungle and the law of the people. If industrial organizations want the tooth and claw of the jungle they can be accommodated, but they must automatically forfeit all the benefits of the people’s law which accrue to those who obey the industrial courts and industrial laws.
I have spoken strongly about these matters because I believe, as I am sure the great majority of my fellow-Australians believe, that action must be taken against industrial lawlessness. We are thoroughly fed up with the extremist action of those trade unions which defy our industrial courts and hold our governments in contempt. In conclusion, I say that the Australian Government has done an extraordinarily good job. It has successfully overcome many thorny problems in the past six years. However, I believe that its greatest test lies ahead when it has to tackle the problem of increasing costs and reduced export incomes with their associated implications for the whole of our people. I wish the Government well in its most important task, and I have great pleasure in seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– At the outset of my speech I desire to associate honorable senators of the Opposition with the motion that has been moved by Senator Buttfield. The only comment I wish to make at this stage is that I do not believe that many honorable senators will agree that hotels in some States where they are mostly owned by the brewers should receive money at a low rate of interest, when throughout the nation there are at least 80,000 people who need homes. Having said that, I desire to compliment Senator Buttfield on the very nice speech that she made.
The speech of Senator Maher, who seconded the motion, was interesting, insofar as it was similar to the kind of talk that one hears at election times and which fills the columns of the press. But, upon analysis, one is at a loss to discover where the facts lie. I suppose that Senator Maher would say that Sir Winston Churchill is a Communist because the government of Great Britain which he led recognized the Government of Communist China. He would also, no doubt, refer to the Prime Minister of India as a Communist, because he is in agreement with the Labour party’s desire to withdraw our troops from Malaya, and has stated that he is not in favour of any Indian troops being permitted to go to Malaya. When one realizes that Senator Maher would accuse Sir Winston Churchill and, no doubt, Sir Anthony Eden of being Communists, one realizes how little attention should be given to his speech. However, the Labour party has been used to that sort of abuse for many years, but we have never .deviated from what we believe is right irrespective of the abuse that people have hurled at us.
I now desire to deal with, a remarkable document, if I may call it that. I understood, because of the limited political experience that I have had - particularly in this chamber - that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech would have at least set out the legislation that is to be brought before the Parliament during the current session. One looks in vain for any definite statement that a bill will be sub’mitted to implement any particular policy. Perhaps I may be pardoned for being optimistic enough to expect that I would be able to tell exactly what was in the mind of the Government. I should like to know, for example, whether there will be a supplementary budget, and whether We can expect an increase of sales tax. At least, we have been given to understand that the mass of the people will have to carry the burden of the present economic crisis, just as they have carried the burden in every other way.
Perhaps I might turn from this remarkable document for a moment to refer to the method of electing honorable senators to this chamber. I do not believe that any honorable senator is pleased with the great number of informal votes that was cast in all States during the recent election of honorable senators. In Victoria, there were more than 130,000 informal votes, and I believe that they represented 13.5 per cent, of the total number of votes cast. I am not blaming the people. To be quite honest, I am not blaming the present Government either, any more than I am blaming the Labour Government that preceded it.
The system of voting is known as the Hare-Clark system. It is true that I have heard it called by other names, but under any name it seems to me to be rather fantastic. I believe that it originated in Australia in the island State, and I give credit to those who introduced it in Tasmania. Those who introduced it there said, in effect, “We believe that all sections of the people should have an opportunity to be represented in the State Parliament, but we will not place upon them the great burden of voting for 26 candidates if only six are wanted. We will not say that their vote is invalid if they vote for only 25 “. If we have copied this system from Tasmania, let us copy also the practical .common-sense method that is adopted there in the casting of votes. As I understand it, they have six members in the State Parliament for each electorate. The electorates are the same as the Commonwealth electoral divisions. There may be fifteen or eighteen candidates for six seats, but if the voter records only first, second and third preferences, the vote is formal. The voters are not compelled to vote for all the candidates.
The elderly people have been blamed for most of the informal votes, but I do not think they are responsible for all of them by- any means. I suggest that the electoral law should be examined. I agree that representatives of what I may term all legitimate political groups have a right to representation, but at present we are countenancing informality in voting for the Senate by compelling the voters to put a number in all the squares except one. The Government should feel as much concern about this matter as does any other political group, because if we desire the democratic way of life to continue, we should at least make the choosing of the people’s representatives as simple as we can. For that reason I suggest that if there are five senators to be elected, it should be sufficient to vote for three. If there are ten to be elected, because of a double dissolution, it should be sufficient for the voter to cast a vote for six. In essence, that would mean that the voter would be voting for the candidates he favoured.
– Not one of them might be elected.
– I know that.
– Why limit the number to five?
– Otherwise the voter would have to go from one group to another on the ballot-paper. Let us face facts. We live under a system of party government, based on the major political parties. ‘ If the people want to vote for the Labour party - and I say “ Labour party “ with great pride—-
– Which one?
– There is only one. Every political party has had its splinter groups, and my friends on the Government side have had more over the years than we on the Opposition side ever dreamed of. If the electors are voting for the official Labour party, they should be required to vote for only the three Labour candidates. If they desire to vote for the Government parties, they would do likewise but they could go further. If they wanted to vote for the whole lot, I would allow them to do so. In fact, I would recommend optional preferential voting.
– Why not label the candidates according to their political parties?
– I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for the suggestion that the candidates representing political parties should be labelled on the ballot paper. I admit that we should have to be careful because my friends] on. the Government side might find a splinter group on their hands, too. One never knows when it might happen, and I do not want to see them in such a position, any more than I want to see votes for the Australian Labour party being taken away from it under false pretences.
I have tried, particularly between the years 1941 and 1949, to find some method by which the names of political parties could be protected. I hoped that it might be possible to take out a patent, so to speak, so that the names could not be used by others. Unfortunately, I was informed that it was -not practicable, or possible, to do so. I hope that during the term of office of this Government some consideration will be given to altering the provision of the Electoral Act that compels electors to vote for all but one of the candidates for the Senate. I have seen as many as 26 names on a Senate voting paper in New South Wales.
Almost the first paragraph in the. Governor-General’s Speech commences with these words -
The election has left my Government with a substantially larger majority in the House of Representatives.
That is true, and we on this side always accept the will of the people. The people have decided, and the result is that the non-Labour parties have been given the responsibility to govern.
Government Senators. - Hear, hear !
– To those honorable senators who say, “Hear, hear ! “ I point out that in Victoria the vote for Government candidates decreased by 4.5 per cent, compared with the figuresfor the preceding election.
– There was a decrease of the Labour vote also.
– There may be reasons for that, and the honorable senator may know them; but at the moment I shall not discuss them. The fact is, aa I have said, that in Victoria the vote for non-Labour candidates was not as great as it was at the previous election. I admit that Labour’s figures showed a decrease;. I have never attempted to evade facts. On the contrary, I believe in stating them -T but for supporters of the Government parties to say that an overwhelming majority of the people of this nation supported them is not a fact.
– What about Queensland ?
– When making a speech I always prefer to deal with the facts as I know them, and not to delve into figures relating to States of which my knowledge is not so great. I. believe’ that the Government has been given a mandate by the people, and I believe alsoit has the right to carry out the policy that it told the people it would put intooperation. That would be all right in normal times, but, unfortunately, during the last general election campaign neither I nor anyone else could get any preciseinformation as to what policy the Menzies Government would follow, if it were re-elected. All we heard from Government candidates was that the Government, if returned to office, would carry on inthe same way it had been doing. Now, the Opposition is to be asked to agree tothe appointment of a committee to consider altering the Constitution in order to avoid deadlocks between the two Houses of the Parliament. The Government will find that the Opposition is not averse to that. However, we must go farther than has been suggested. We believe that the Constitution needs careful examination, and that the appointment of a committee is not the only matter that should be discussed. I realize that we cannot expect the Government to agree to all the alterations that we on this side desire. We recognize that the Government parties are afraid of change. It has never been the desire of the opponents of Labour to effect changes ; they do so only when change is forced upon them. However, I certainly hope that when this committee is appointed - and I have been authorized to say that the Opposition will agree to the appointment of the committee - it will discuss other matters also. I do not say that with a view t6 prolonging the discussion; but we recognize that after the 30th June next the Government will be at the mercy of people who, at one time, espoused certain principles, but to-day may espouse other principles. I do not know what principles they now espouse. Therefore, I leave the Government to their tender mercy.
In another paragraph of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, His Excellency said -
In the session of Parliament which I am now opening there will be two important groups of matters which will call for consideration. The first embraces foreign policy . . .
The Labour party has seen no good reason for changing its views on Australia’s foreign policy. The policy that seems to upset Senator Maher is the foreign policy of the Labour party, but it will remain its policy until it is altered at a properly constituted conference of the party. What is wrong with that policy? We seem to have a lot of important people on our side. I do not want to be over-hard when speaking about the recognition of China; but, according to what appears in the press, it is likely that the Government of the Soviet will apply for the- restoration of diplomatic relations with Australia. Should it do so, it will be for the Government to decide what shall be done. I have no doubt about what the decision will be, but when I hear honorable senators opposite and their friends speaking loudly in condemnation of China, I wonder what they will have to say, possibly before the end of this year, should the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics desire to reopen its embassy in this country. I repeat that the Labour party has no desire to depart from the foreign policy that it has adopted. I have said in this chamber on other occasions that I cannot understand why Australia should be a party to the Colombo plan- and, at the same time, should send armed forces to Malaya. No one has any quarrel with the Colombo plan. Indeed, we all agree that it has done some good in helping the backward peoples of Asia, and, therefore, should be a factor in establishing friendly relations with the people of Asia. But why do something that will, make it difficult for friendly relations to be established? If there were reason to believe that, by sending troops to Malaya, we would stop the onward march of communism, or give this country a little time,, however brief, to prepare to resist the attacks of people who wish to hurt us, I, for one, .would change the opinion- I now hold. Unfortunately, the Government will not let the people know the facts. All we ask is that it should do so. Surely, it is not thought that one Australian battalion in Malaya will stop the onward march of communism. We are creating in South-East Asia a position that is not helpful to Australia. Whether we like it or not, this country is a part of Asia, and therefore we should do all in our power to help the people ‘of Asia, particularly the Malayans. We might have some right to attempt to influence the British Government to grant Malaya its independence.
– Does the honorable senator consider that the British troops also should be withdrawn?
– As soon as Malaya is granted its independence, if it is the desire of the people of Malaya that the British troops should leave, yes.
– The honorable senator has not answered the question.
– I am not responsible for British foreign policy, and I consider it would be presumptuous of me to say in this chamber what I consider Great Britain should do. But I have a perfect right to say what I believe the Australian Government ought to do. In my belief, the presence of Australian troops in Malaya is causing enmity between Australia and its near neighbours. When all is said and done, we have a hurdle to get over, but in some quarters the position is misunderstood. Although I believe in the white Australia policy from an economic point of view, I do not consider that it helps to maintain our friendship with South-East Asia.
– Then why did the Labour party advocate it?
– I believe that, from an economic point of view, the white Australia policy is fundamental because, to use a colloquialism, the conditions that we enjoy in Australia did not grow on trees ; they had to be fought for. From what I saw of Fiji, and from the inquiries I made in relation to the sugar industry of that country, I am convinced that, from an economic point of view, Labour’s attitude in relation to the white Australia policy is the correct one.
– That is only shelving the issue.
– I am not shelving it ; I -am merely stating a principle. In my opinion, the token force of Australian troops in Malaya can do only harm. I am living for the day when common sense will prevail, and this Government will withdraw our troops from Malaya. Honorable senators on the Government side certainly take a long time to read the signs on the wall.
– Does the honorable senator want Malaya to have independence ?
– Yes. The Opposition advocated the granting of self-government to M’alaya a long while ago, when the interests that honorable senators opposite represent in this chamber and elsewhere were opposed to it.
– But Labour had no policy on that subject.
– If the opponents of Labour were not opposed to the granting of self-government to Malaya, I have yet to hear of their advocacy of that course.
– But Great Britain has announced that it will grant Malaya its independence.
– Attlee acted promptly in relation to India, Ceylon and Pakistan instead of saying what Great Britain would do in relation to those countries; let us hope that the British Government will cease talking and act, and that when self-government has been granted to Malaya our troops will be brought home because, in the final analysis, there will then be no need for our troops to bo stationed in Malaya to protect the tin and rubber interests of people who have never lived there.
– Malaya is to he granted complete independence next year.
– Does the honorable senator who has just interjected believe that all of the “ Corns “ will be out of Malaya by then? He implied in his speech that there is a tremendous number of “ (Joins “ in Australia.
– He said about half of Australia’s population.
– That is right. Labour’s attitude in relation to defence is well known ; we desire to defend this country. The Government parties’ record in relation to the defence of Australia is very poor by comparison. 1 should not like honorable senators to think that the remarks I am about to make are personal - I shall merely state the position. The anti-Labour Government that was in office in 1941 made such a holy mess of Australia’s war effort that it was voted out of office by two of its own supporters. Thereafter, until the end of the war, the people endorsed the war effort of a Labour administration. I admit readily that the people co-operated whole-heartedly with the Labour Government.
– The Labour Go- ‘vernment did not establish one new industry.
– Surely Senator Mattner does not want me to embark upon a discussion in that regard. All I want to say is-
– That Labour yelled for the Yanks.
– How grateful you are when the danger has passed ! You were the same as I was - delighted that they were coming, because you knew that this country could not be saved without them. It is pretty ungrateful when the danger has gone to say that we yelled for the Yanks. We are pleased to admit that we “ yelled for the Yanks “, because by doing so we saved the honorable senator and others like him. I hope that there are not many honorable senators opposite who would make an interjection of that kind.
The record of the Australian Labour party concerning the defence of this country is well known. For instance, it was a Labour government which commenced the establishment of the Navy. The forefathers of honorable senators opposite would not have anything to do with that proposition. They said it could not be done. Similarly, it was a Labour government which introduced citizen military training, although its supporters later split on the vital question of conscription.
– And they said, “Let those who volunteered to serve in France swim home “.
– No, they did not. Our record in two world wars shows that, in time of trouble, the people look vo the Australian Labour party to gat them out, of trouble.
– What did the late John Curtin say about the defence preparations of the Menzies Government?
– No doubt the honorable senator will have an opportunity to speak later and will tell us what Mr. Curtin said. If he does so, I shall be delighted to hear him. At least we on this side of the chamber revere the memory of that great man.
I come now to the following passage in the Governor-General’s Speech: -
The second can be described broadly as the economic problem. It has particular relation to internal development; the increase of production; restraint upon the rising costs of production . . .
It is most interesting to read of “ rising costs “ in this connexion. I remember what the Government said in 1949 about putting value back into the £1. Instead of restoring value to the £1, the Governnent has allowed value to flow from it ever since. Therefore, I suggest that the Government bad better solve that problem itself. As honorable senators are aware, on more than one occasion the Government has told us that rising wages were the main cause of inflation in this country. So the Government pegged wages. Yet even to-day, 60 per cent, of the people have no margins, and there are very few people”, taking the whole population of the onntry, who are receiving quarterly adjustments of the basic wage. To all intents and purposes, the theories of the Government again have been proved incorrect. The people are seriously concerned about the economic position of the country, and it is the duty of the Government to find a method of stabilizing it.
The Governor-General’s Speech continues -
My Government is co-operating with the Government of the United Kingdom in the testing of nuclear weapons.
I regret that the Australian Government is co-operating in such tests. I know it will be said that if we did not experiment with these weapons the Russians would do so and that, therefore, in the event of a conflict between the Western democracies and the Soviet bloc, one side at least would have the value of the experiments whilst the other would not, but responsible people all over the world, including His Holiness the Pope> have condemned such experiments. A report in the Melbourne Sv,n of the 26th December, 1955, reads -
The Pope to-day called for international agreement on the suspension of atomic war experiments, the outlawing of nuclear weapons, and the control of armaments.
At the Bandung conference in April last, the Prime Ministers of India, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ceylon are said to have reiterated their grave concern in respect of the destructive potential of nuclear and thermo-nuclear explosions for experimental purposes.
– What would the honorable senator do ?
– I certainly would not be a party to having experiments conducted in this country. From a rough calculation, I take it that the Monte Bello Islands are approximately 800 miles from Perth. According to scientists, atomic explosions represent a grave danger to people as far as 3,000 miles away from the scene of the explosion. It is futile to ask the other fellow to stop experimenting with nuclear weapons if we are not prepared to do so ourselves. If I had any power in the matter, 1 should say, “ There shall be no experiments in Australia “. Then, at least, our Minister for External Affairs, when he went to the United Nations, could say, “We have not permitted these experiments to take place “. If the other nations of the world were honest in their desire for peace, they would follow suit. I have in my hand a large number of statements made by scientists in the United States of America, Great Britain and Europe, as well as in iron curtain countries, concerning the dangers of such experiments. In the interests of humanity, we should take the lead in this matter and say that we will not permit the experiments to go on.
It was most interesting to hear the remarks of Senator Maher this evening regarding Commonwealth and State laws in relation to industrial matters. The honorable senator supported the contention that it is wrong to have seven arbitration codes, some of them conflicting, such as those of the State arbitration courts or, as in my own State of Victoria, State wages boards, in addition to those of the’ Commonwealth Arbitration Court. However, T remind honorable senators opposite that in 1946 the Australian Labour party submitted to the people, by way of referendum, the question of giving power to the Commonwealth over industrial matters, and that the parties which honorable senators opposite support opposed that proposal. I am delighted to know that some honorable senators have at last seen the error of their ways. I hope that at last wisdom will prevail, and that there will be only one set of laws governing the industrial life of this nation. I now refer to the waterside workers whom I heard condemned in this House to-night. I say without equivocation that I support them. What is their fight, in the main? It is only to have restored to them the purchasing power that they had in 1948-49. They are not asking for an increase of their purchasing power.
– How much longer does the honorable senator intend to delay the .Senate ? He knows the convention of this chamber that speeches are restricted to half an hour when proceedings aire being broadcast.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, if I have transgressed the forms or practices of the Senate I apologize most humbly. I understood from my Leader that I had the right to speak for an hour. I assure honorable senators that, however strong my views on any subject may be, I always attempt to adhere strictly to the rules of the Senate. My Leader informed me that I had the right to speak for an hour.
– Every honorable senator has the right, under the Standing Orders, to speak for an hour.
– My Leader assures me that I am right in assuming that 1 was entitled to speak for an hour.
– Did the honorable senator make an arrangement with his Leader to speak for an hour?
– The arrangement is that honorable senators should restrict their speeches to half an hour except in the case of leaders, deputy leaders and Ministers, who are entitled to speak for an hour. That arrangement has stood for years, and Senator Kennelly is now Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this House.
-Unless wage justice is given to the waterside workers and all other workers, more industrial trouble may develop in this country. Their only alternative is to fight.
– Who decides what is . justice ?
– I _ am glad that Senator Maher is again in the chamber. I was pointing out that all the waterside workers are seeking is a restoration of the purchasing power they had in 1948. To obtain that they are entitled to an increase of ls. 0-£d. an hour. They have been willing to forgo the half-penny.
– Why do they not go to the court and establish their case?
– Why did not the shipowners approach a tribuna.1 when they first desired to raise freight rates by 10 per cent., and finally, under protest accepted an increase of 7-J per cent. ?
– The workers have to- go- to the court now.
– Have they? 1 advise Senator Vincent not to hold that view too seriously. He needs to be certain of his facts. He will find how far the workers will go. If they go to the court it will be in their own time.
– What about “ Comrade “ Healy ?
– The honorable senator is resorting to his old “ Commo.” stunt of leading out the “ red pup “. “Another matter for which the Government will have to answer is its proposal to give the major newspapers of this country a monopoly in commercial television. I ask the Minister why that is being done? The real answer is that the newspapers backed the Government during the election campaign.
Tha ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Pearson) .-Order! The honorable senator must address the Chair, and I am not doing anything of which he is accusing the Minister.
– My reply to that observation, Mr. Acting Deputy President, is that you, as a supporter of the Government, are enjoying benefits gained as a result of newspapers that backed the Government during the election campaign.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator can address me only as Acting Deputy President of. the Senate at the moment.
– I can understand why the Government has taken this action, but is it right that the newspaper monopolies of this country should receive such a magnificent gift? I am informed on reliable authority that television licences in Melbourne and Sydney are worth about £1,0.00,000 on the commercial market.
– Who told the honorable- senator that ?
Senator- KENNELLY. - I may be wrong.
– Judging by what the honorable senator has: said to-night, he would believe: such a statement.
– The Minister cannot escape the fact that the Government is giving this advantage to its backers.
– The Government called tenders.
– The Government called for tenders, but it also gave the licences.
– Every interested party in Australia had an equal opportunity to tender.
– The Government is giving licences in Sydney and Melbourne mainly to newspaper monopolies.
– Nonsense! .
– It is true.
– It is perfectly true.
– I am interested in radio station 3KZ, which is a labour broadcasting station in Melbourne, and according to the latest reports, at a meeting of its controlling body information was given which is contrary to that contained in the Minister’s interjection. I have attempted to state my views forcefully on. the matters that have been discussed, and I hope that, whatever legislation is brought down, the welfare of this country will be advanced in the manner that all honorable senators desire. I only hope that it will not be sectional in character but that the great mass of the people will receive at least some consideration from the Government.
.- I had no intention of touching on the subject of defence, but in view of Senator Kennelly’s wild statements on that subject it is right that I should remind him clearly that it is on record’ that when the Curtin Labour Government took over, Mr. Curtin, paid a very great tribute to the Menzies Government in respect of the forward state of Australia’s defence preparations. That is on record, and no one can dispute it despite what Senator Kennelly and1 his colleagues may say. Let us look back a little further to the time when Mr. Lyons, as Prime Minister, brought in a defence budget involving an expenditure’ of £15,000,000. What happened on that occasion? John Curtin yelled to high heaven and said, “ What on earth do we wa..t to be spending £15,000,000 for? Wl.o on earth is going to attack this country ? “ He said at that time, “ You oau. .lot in your wildest dreams imagine that Japan is going to attack this country “. The same sentiments were expressed by his Labour colleagues in another place. 1 remind honorable senators of those metters. Go back to the time when we on this side were trying to do things. What view did honorable senators opposite take then? I have simply taken the opportunity to make these remarks in rebuttal of what Senator Kennelly has just said. I had no intention of speaking along those lines.
In supporting the Address-in-Reply, I desire to refer to one very important feature which affects this chamber, namely, the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives. In resent times some very silly twaddle has been spoken over the air and published in the press of Australia, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, about the Senate which indicates clearly that newspapers and radio stations, which put out such piffle, are so poorly represented in this chamber that really they do not know what this chamber stands for. Reporters often send news about the Senate to their newspapers but sub-editors do not use it because it is not sensational enough. The attitude adopted by the press is that if something is sensational it is news but if it i3 true, solid stuff about this country, it is not news. We in this chamber should recognize that fact, and when we read or hear statements derogatory of the Senate we should speak more strongly in support of this chamber than we have done in the past.
Recently, Mr. Crayton Burns, a lecturer in the University of Melbourne stated that the Senate has been a complete flop. The Melbourne Herald said something similar - that the Senate is a useless arrangement, just like the House of Lords. The Sydney Morning Herald has published articles of a similar nature. It is rather strange that the strong voices for the abolition of the Senate and those which cry down debates that take place in this chamber emanate from the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
Such attacks remind us of the main reason for the creation of this chamber. Probably there would not have been a Commonwealth parliament if the establishment of the Senate had not been agreed to by all of the States. The Senate was created to ensure that all the States, irrespective of the population and size of any of them, would have equal voting strength and thus prevent the more populous States from completely running Australia. There is no question of how Australia would be run if the Senate were abolished. It would be run from Sydney and Melbourne. There is no doubt about that. Even to-day, Parliamentarians from those two cities admit, when they speak sincerely, that if there were no Senate those cities would run the country. So, the fear that was in the minds of the people at the birth of federation and those who drafted the Constitution, would still be alive to-day if there were no Senate. It is well for us to realize that the Senate still plays a very important part in our parliamentary system. Its importance is fully realized whenever the necessity arises for it to act. It is said that it is useless as a States House, and that it does not review legislation. In this respect a very good simile comes to mind. We have fire brigades in all our communities throughout Australia. How often does a community require the services of its fire brigade? The people pay for its upkeep but for most of the time they see the firemen sitting around, apparently not doing very much. Such expenditure might seem to be a waste of money. However, fire brigades are always available and ready to protect the lives and property of the people. In the same way,- the Senate exists to protect the States, and, when needed, it will always do so regardless of party politics.
Honorable senators will recall that only about fifteen or eighteen months ago my party colleague, Senator Wright, who comes from Tasmania, brought forward a motion to take £1,000,000 a year from the sugar industry of Queensland and the northern part of New South Wales in order to help the berry fruits growers of Tasmania, who, at that time, were in dire straits. What happened on that occasion? In the division that took place on that motion Liberal and Labour senators voted together on both sides of the chamber. If my memory serves me aright, the Leader of the Labour Opposition (Senator McKenna) voted with Senator Wright whilst other Opposition senators voted on this side of the chamber. That issue involved State interests, those of Queensland on the one hand and those of Tasmania on the other hand. That incident proved that honorable senators will, first and foremost, protect the interests of their respective States whenever a crisis of that kind arises. No honorable senator would he prepared to permit his State to be penalized.
So far as the review of legislation is concerned, when this chamber does amend measures, does the press publish the fact that the Senate is acting in its capacity as a chamber of review? Of course, it does not. Whenever the Senate amends a measure the press comes out with such headlines as “ Government beaten in the Senate”. The press does not capitalize the fact that the Senate is reviewing legislation. Since I was elected to the Senate in 1949, amendments to many measures have been made in this chamber. Only last year, in the closing stages of the Parliament just before the general election, honorable senators will remember that the Lands Acquisition Bill was amended in this chamber to such a degree that it was returned to another place looking as if it had been put through a mincing machine. Hardly any clause of the original bill could be recognized. Senator Wright, of Tasmania, and Senator Seward, of Western Australia, moved numerous amendments. That is evidence that when the occasion arises, this chamber thoroughly reviews measures that come before it. However, if the Government is reasonable, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of measures that are submitted to us will not require to be amended. But this chamber does amend measures when such action is justified. However, the point that our critics forget is that just as honorable senators can review legislation, private members in another place can also review legislation when it comes before them. But, since I entered the Senate in 1949, they have seldom altered any legislation before it has come across to the Senate.
The people who write so often about the abolition of the Senate, and call it a flop, a costly luxury and so on, should consider the position of the Senate and ask themselves how the smaller States would fare if the Senate were abolished. Let us consider Tasmania, for example. I believe that there are five Tasmania.n seats in the House of Representatives, but there are ten senators in this chamber to represent Tasmania - the same number as represent the other States. The ten senators and the five representatives give Tasmania fifteen voices at party meetings. Let us ask ourselves how futile only five voices would be to represent the interests of Tasmania, when those five voices come from both Government and Opposition. Tasmanian representation is much stronger in party meetings when ten senators can be added to the five Tasmanian representatives. The same thing applies to the other less populous States of South Australia and Western Australia. Even Queensland, which has a larger population than these States, is not comparable in population with the two largest States, Victoria and New South Wales. Queensland has ten senators to represent it, and eighteen representatives in another place. Again, theaddition of the senators helps that State to withstand pressure from the powerful cities in the more populous States.
One of the features of .the Senate is that it carries out its parliamentary duties in the spirit in which they should be carried out. I believe that the Parliament should be a place of dignity, where debates are conducted on a high level. The dignity of this chamber is certainly not equalled by that of another place. Moreover, on the average, debates in the Senate are on a higher plane than those of the House of Representatives. In saying that, I am not talking about the lofty people in either chamber. I am talking about the debates as conducted by the members generally. I say again that the debates conducted in this chamber are better because the average senator keeps more closely to the point of discussion than the average member of another place.
We have a striking illustration of that fact in our budget .debates. During the debate on the budget before last, the Sydney Bulletin, which has on occasion published articles attacking this chamber, stated that the standard of debate here was excellent, and on a much higher level than the standard of debate in another place. I suggest that our standard is higher because here we deal with the actual figures of the budget in the same way as the directors of a company or the heads of a large business would deal with their affairs. In another place, instead of dealing with the budget during the budget debate, the members may deal with anything under the sun. I venture to say -that if we were to ask the heads of the departments of State, they would say that the budget debates in this chamber were far more valuable than those in another place.
I am heartily sick of the silly comments about the Senate that we hear over the radio and see in the press. I believe in the rights of the Senate, and I believe that it is an efficient guardian of the rights of the States. It is a reservoir of wisdom, available to be drawn upon when any emergency arises. Many people who listen to the broadcasts of the parliamentary proceedings say that they prefer to listen to the debates in another place, because they say that the debates here are too dry. Of course they are dry, but that is because we keep to the point in issue. Every one agrees that law and legislation and allied subjects are dry subjects, and if we keep to those subjects our debates must he dry.
It is very -difficult when we keep strictly to the point, to make our debates colorful and full of phrases that might tickle the ears of the average listener. Indeed, I cannot remember any scene that has occurred in the Senate since 1949 which could be called sensational.
I have never heard honorable senators use expressions such as “ mongrel “, “ liar “ and so on, but such expressions may be heard in another place. Unfortunately, the standard of thought of the people is such that they lap up these exchanges, and that is why they do not listen to the proceedings of the Senate. It is unfortunate that the press desires to headline only sensational matter. Although outstanding speeches are delivered here by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and some honorable senators of the Opposition, they rarely find their way into the press. On the other hand, if a senator says a silly thing it is immediately headlined. While most people say that they do not listen to the debates that take place in the Senate because they are too dry, I suggest that that is an unconscious compliment to us. It indicates that we are properly debating matters that are too dry for the average person.
One matter that has impressed me since I have been a member of the Senate is the number of honorable senators who, before they entered this chamber, took an active part in local government. .1 believe that the men ;and women who enter local government work do a great service for this country, and very often they do it in an honorary capacity. Nobody would criticize members of local government bodies in the press and call them nincompoops and fools, and yet many such persons ‘graduate to the Senate. Senator Henty, for example, was at one time mayor of Launceston, and many other honorable senators have been mayors and aldermen in local government bodies. Surely when such men enter the Senate they do not change from men of public spirit into mere fools.
There are also in this .chamber men of high qualifications in other spheres of activity .and, in general, the quality of those who enter the Senate is comparable with that of .the members of any. other body. In .saying that, I am talking about the average senator and not the tall poppies and intellectual giants. Therefore, when we hear criticism of the Senate we should repudiate it and stand up for the Senate wherever it is necessary.
We often hear silly statements made about old senators. I suggest that any one who makes such a statement should look around the Senate and he will see men just as .young as those to be found in another place. Aboutt eighteen months ago I investigated the respective ages of the members of the two Houses of the Parliament, and the result turned out to be very interesting. At that time the average age of the senators was 56$ years, but the average age of the members of the House of Representatives where, we are told, there are many vigorous young men, was 52$ years* When it is remembered that senators are elected for a six-year term it is seen that there is not such a great disparity in the ages of senators and the members in another place.
– Who said that age was a drawback?
– Age often brings greater wisdom, but disparaging statements about age are very often made in the press and over the radio. When we hear such statements let us analyse them and, if necessary, refute them. It is interesting to note that during all-night sittings and other long sittings of the Parliament, the attendance in the Senate is much better than the attendance in another place, and the quorum bells are not rung here as often as they are in the House of Representatives. I remember that during a debate that lasted for 38 hours the Sydney press reported that senators were asleep. There were two or three senators asleep, but every member of the press gallery was asleep. At that time most of the senators, including the lady senators, sat throughout the whole of the debate, and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) remarked upon the marvellous attendance that we then had. If honorable senator? want to sleep on the couches of the library or the lobbies or anywhere else during an all-night sitting, it is impossible for them to do so because those places are all occupied by the members of another place.
I have now placed before honorable senators some of the matters that I felt I should mention, but I repeat that the main thing to be remembered is that the Senate is here to act, and that just as the members of another place have a right to review legislation, so have we. The difference between us is that we exercise our right more than they do. We are here to put the viewpoint of the States, and. also to rise to the occasion when U is necessary to preserve our rights.
Before I conclude, there is one point that I would like to stress, which arises from the Governor-General’s Speech, in which His Excellency referred to the programme of the Government. I should like to have heard some mention of the war service land settlement scheme, and some indication that the programme of settlement will be carried out at a faster rate. Those remarks apply also to schemes for closer settlement. I believe that the more we can do in the way of land settlement the better, not only for our own people but also for immigrants who wish to settle on the land. The Australian Government might act in this matter in liaison with the State governments. In any arrangement that it makes with the States it should see that adequate safeguards are provided to prevent racketeering in land rents and leases, because that sort of racketeering has occurred. I have been amazed to read in the press statements made recently by Mr. Bukowski, one of the leaders of the Australian Workers Union in Queensland, in which he made charges involving certain people in government positions in racketeering in land lease rents. He is not a man of my political faith, but his accusations have been very strongly worded. The charges appeared in three consecutive issues of The Worker. The Minister for Lands in Queensland repudiated the charges, and Mr. Bukowski felt so strongly on the matter that he asked to be allowed to come before the bar of the Queensland Parliament to substantiate them. The Opposition moved that he be given permission to do so, but the Government refused to allow him to appear. It is for such reasons as this that I suggest that when any negotiations are being carried out by this Government with any of the State govern-‘ ments, appropriate safeguards should be provided. The accusations that Mr. Bukowski made were of a serious nature. Unfortunately, he was not able to disclose the full details. It is well known, however, that the stock and station agents in Queensland accept the fact that people who wish to renew their pastoral leases must pay racketeering charges of from £2,000 to £10,000, according to the value of the property. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’S’ullivam) read a first time.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I understand that Senator McCallum is upset because of the verbal exchanges that took place between him and me in the Senate earlier this evening. I am sorry that that should be the case. My interjections were prompted by wholly slanderous utterances of Senator Maher in which he sought to link the Australian Labour party with the Communist party. Mr. Deputy President, if all honorable senators spoke the truth they would acknowledge that there is not one Communist or one Communist sympathizer in this Parliament. It should be beneath the dignity and honour of any honorable senator to aver that there is such a. person in this Parliament. I know and aver that Senator McCallum is neither a Communist nor a Communist sympathizer.
– Hear, hear!
Senator HENDRICKSON The reason for my interjections was to indicate that, at the recent Senate election in New South “Wales, Senator McCallum would not have been elected but for the transfer of a large block of Communist votes to ‘the Liberal party group, and ultimately to its representative, who happened to be Senator McCallum. “Without the transfer of Communist votes Senator McCallum would not be in this chamber to-day.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation. I am very pleased to hear the statement made by Senator Hendrickson. I think the facts should be known. The facts are, simply, that, in the allocation of preferences, votes which gave first preferences to Communist candidates were allocated, on second preferences, in many instances to Libera] party candidates. Everybody knows, because it has been a matter of common discussion in the newspapers and in this House, that many people voted straight across the paper, and such votes were not necessarily those of people who wished to vote for Communist party candidates. The Communist party had a ticket, on which I was placed last. Therefore. I should be the last person to be in any way associated with the Communist vote as such, or with the deliberate Communist votes that followed the party ticket. I think that those facts should be known and recorded. I do not wish to labour the matter. I wish to apologize to the Chair for my part in the incident. I intervened solely in order to prevent the continuous repetition of what seemed to me to be a libellous statement. Under the Standing Orders it is very difficult to refute a statement that is made merely by way of interjection. If this occurrence had been regarded merely as a joke I would have taken no action whatever, but, as every one present knows, the statement was made again and again, my name being coupled with a political party with which I believe every one of us is in complete disagreement.
Finally, if, in interjecting, I said that Senator Hendrickson was deliberately making a false statement, in view of his explanation that he did not wish to link me personally with the Communists, but merely wished to refute a statement to which he objected, I shall withdraw that imputation.
Debate resumed (vide page 45).
. -When the debate was adjourned I had been speaking of land settlement and the necessity for the Australian Government to expedite its programme and to provide safeguards in. any agreement that it might make with the States, in order to prevent racketeering. I had mentioned that Mr. Bukowski, a leading member of the Australian Workers Union in Queensland, had made charges concerning a serious state of affairs in that State. It is evident that stock and station agents in Queensland recognize the situation so clearly that when a grazier requires a renewal of his lease, he is advised that he must pay from £2,000 to £10,000 according to the value of the property. The position is such that Mr. Bukowski was refused an opportunity to approach the bar of the State House so that he might have the protection of the House in exposing the racket. The example I shall cite shows how easily these things are done. There is a man named Peter Fleming who holds a slaughtering licence from the Queensland Meat Industry Board. He is this type of man : When a man cannot get a lease by one means or another, he is put into touch with Fleming. The man is told, “ Fleming is the man to go to “.
– Senator Wood seems to know all about it.
– Senator Courtice should ask Mr. Bukowski. In a case such as the one I have mentioned, Fleming will say, “You leave it to me. I know somebody who can fix it”. Then he will say something like this, “ That is a. bit of a tough nut to crack. It will cost you from £2,000 to £10,000”. Fleming was a poor man a few years ago. To-day he is well to do. It is rotten to think that people on the land have to pay such exactions, but that is what is going on. That money is going into the hands of certain people in the Parliament of Queensland. Certain Ministers are involved, and the matter is of such a serious nature that it should be exposed. Mr. Bukowski has been trying to get the protection of the House to expose the racket. Men in the Queensland Parliament cannot expose it, but that is the racket. Mr. Bukowski has given details of persons concerned. One is Irish. One is a Scot. One is in Goondiwindi and another is in the Gulf country.
That is the racket in connexion with the renewal of pastoral leases in Queensland. The position is so serious that this Government should ensure, if it has any dealings in such lands, that all arrangements are water-tight in every respect. Money was supposed to have gone to Labour party funds at one time. Now it does not go to that party. Certain Ministers in Queensland know where it goes, and nobody else knows.
– That is a libellous statement.
– It is a real racket. I am talking in this chamber.
– You would not say it outside.
– This is a serious matter. I make the charge, and this Government should watch the position.
– I rise to order, Mr. President. The Standing Orders provide that no honorable senator shall cast any reflection on any other house of parliament. Senator Wood has cast serious reflections on Ministers of the Queensland Government, and I ask for a withdrawal. He reflected on a house of par- *liament and on Ministers of the Queensland Government.
– Order! Since I have been in the chamber, the honorable senator has not reflected on the Queensland Parliament. He has not directly referred to the Queensland Parliament. Senator Courtice. - He mentioned Ministers in the Queensland Government.
– Much of this material, but not in such detail, has appeared in the press of Queensland. Individuals are concerned.
– That is down the sewer.
– No, it is not. 1 am speaking against a practice that is wrong and should be exposed. If it is not wrong, why has Mr. Bukowski - who is as far apart from me in politics as the poles - made such a scream about it in the Queensland press ? Why has he asked the Queensland Government to allow him to appear at the bar of the House, and why have Queensland Ministers refused him permission? I- wish to add that these charges of graft and extraction do not apply to the State public servants of Queensland, but they do apply to certain men in the Parliament and certain Ministers know about the situation
– I sincerely regret that the Senate has been used to-night as the forum for libellous and unfounded statements by an honorable senator without any evidence except an argument that may be going on with a. Mr. Bukowski and some statements tb at that gentleman wishes to make public. I believe that Senator “Wood should have withdrawn the statements he made about the disposal of funds, but I do not propose to continue along that line. I merely wish to record that, in my opinion misuse has been made of the Senate.
– I am merely standing up for honesty.
– I wish to refer to the Speech that was delivered by the Governor-General yesterday, and I congratulate Senator Buttfield on the speech she delivered in initiating the AddressinReply debate. While I do not agree with all that she said, I believe that it was an excellent and constructive speech. Insofar as the Governor-General spoke of the policy of the Government, it was disappointing to note that the Queen’s direct representative has been made responsible for a document which can be classified only as a political propaganda sheet. There is nothing positive in it. We must agree with Senator Wood that we looked for a more positive statement in relation to government action. I can assure Senator Wood that he will not find in the Governor-General’s Speech any specific reference to proposed legislation for war service land settlement or closer land settlement. In that respect, the Speech is barren and nebulous.
The Governor-General stated that the election had left the Government with a substantially larger majority in the House of Representatives, but with a Senate in which the Government would not have a majority by July. The Government’s majority represents less support for the Government proportionately than that accorded to any previous government in Australia. The fact that a majority for the Government appears in the House, of Representatives is not a true reflection of the wishes of the people. The political situation that exists as between the Government and the Senate is not a new issue. The previous Labour Government and the Australian Labour party in Opposition, through the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna), put forward very positive proposals for the consideration of the Parliament. Those proposals have been rejected by this Government consistently.
It has begged the question. I hope that something will be done about it now. The Governor-General has announced that an all-party committee of both Houses is to be set up to investigate the constitutional problems which may be referred to it. His Excellency stated -
One of these problems is that of the Senate and its powers, and the procedure to be followed in the event of a dispute between the two Houses.
It is quite clear that the Government proposes to take up a line of inquiry for which the Labour Opposition has been pressing for some time. I hope that other matters in connexion with the powers and the conduct of the Senate will be taken up as well. This Government has studiously avoided allowing the Senate to consider matters of vital importance to the States. On at least three occasions I have asked for the papers dealing with discussions between Commonwealth representatives and the Premiers of the various States to be tabled in this Senate. On at least two occasions those meetings have proved to be most unsatisfactory - the majority of the Premiers disagreeing with the programme that the Commonwealth has put to them in connexion with their economic policy. The Commonwealth Government has put a stranglehold on the States. The majority of the Premiers, and not all of them are Labour supporters, have objected to the standover methods adopted by this Government. Because of this Government’s policy, the development of the States had been seriously restricted.
The Premiers have had no power whatsoever at the meetings to which I have referred. They have merely come here, cap in. ha_nd. and submitted their proposals ; and they have been told by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and others who constitute the Commonwealth’s voting power, that they will get so much and no more, and then have been sent back to their respective States. That position is most unsatisfactory. Despite the fact that those members of the Government who sit in this chamber boast that the Senate has the interests of the States at heart, finance, which is the matter of most vital concern to the States, has never been made a subject for discussion here, although we have asked for it. We have tried to make opportunities for that question to be discussed here but, as the Government has refused to table the papers, we have been unsuccessful.
The Governor-General’s Speech really is only a statement of submissions by the Government to the Queen’s representative. The Governor-General merely states those submissions, although he does it very well, and I have no doubt that he is just as regretful as we in the Opposition are that on this occasion, it is such a poor document. When we analyse it, we can see that it is an apology by the Government for the fact that it will not be able to carry out the promises it has made. We realize it is a threat of economic disaster. It is the Government’s excuse for restricting the wages of industrial and other workers. The Speech also contains a threat that the workers can expect more restrictions, more tightening of belts and more punishment, because of the inflation which the Government now openly admits is running rife in this country.
In the course of his Speech, the Governor-General says, on behalf of the Menzies-Fadden Administration -
The truth is that the decline in our overseas balances is primarily the result of inflation at home.
This from a government that was going to stop inflation over six years ago, a government that has said continually that inflation had no effect on this country, n government that consistently refused to adopt methods to correct the condition! Wow, after a threatening speech from the Prime Minister and a statement from the Treasurer predicting that this position would arise, the Governor-General says -
Our local production falls far short of satisfying the demands so established. There is, therefore, a call for imports and, in recent times, at a level which we cannot as a nation pay for out of our current earnings. We have, therefore, been drawing upon our reserves. It needs no economist to tell us that such ii process cannot go on for long.
That is the first honest statement we have had from the Government in connexion with the position. It has consistently denied that our overseas reserves have been eaten up because of bad government policy. It has consistently denied that inflation has been gradually forcing our costs of production up to the point where they exceed world parity, with the result that -we cannot sell our goods overseas.
– The Government says that costs have been up because we are not producing enough.
– That is what the honorable senator is saying now, whereas I have just read what is stated in the Governor-General’s Speech. The fact is that, at the moment,, we have on hand a season’s wheat that is being eaten by weevils. Next season’s wheat cannot be shifted into silos, let alone exported. The cost of production of wool is high. Only three months ago we were told in this chamber by Ministers that costs of production in Australia had risen to an alltime high. They mentioned meat, wool, coal and wheat. The workers and producers of Australia are not responsible for this position, and it is ridiculous to suggest they are-
While this position exists, and while the Government is calling for greater production, shipping companies upon whom we rely to carry our exports and bring our imports are holding the Government to ransom. This Government has done nothing more than go down on its knees to them. Fruit production in Australia has been good. The price at port is no higher now than it was two years ago but, once shipping freights are added, it becomes so high that the fruit cannot compete on the markets of Great Britain and other countries which normally absorb that type of production. The same position exists in connexion with wheat, wool, and indeed with the whole of our commodities. Yet the Government makes a hypocritical statement such as this through the mouth of the Queen’s representative ! We all know full well that it -has made no real effort to correct the position. On the contrary, it has encouraged and. compromised with those people who are bringing this nation to its knees. If the Government sincerely desired to secure the reduction of overseas freights, insurances and other costs which we have to pay on our imports and exports, it would have made a definite effort and come forward with a positive policy. Instead, it is giving us only lip service and has no policy. Instead of considering selling the Commonwealth shipping line, as it quite obviously has been doing, the Government would be talking about introducing a maritime bill with a view to impressing upon the shipping companies the threat that if they were not reasonable in connexion with freights and other services, the Government would establish a national shipping line to compete with them. Actually, the Government, despite its denials, is eager to sell the people’s interest in the Commonwealth shipping line. The Government has said that this is not its policy, but it also made such a statement in connexion with the Commonwealth Oil Refineries and other profitable undertakings before it sold them.
Another statement in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech seems to me to be quite wrong. I refer to that part in which the Governor-General’s advisers say that -
They are giving careful study to the ways and means of increasing production and lowering costs while, at the same time, producing both stability and justice in the industrial field. It would be a national misfortune if our people looked at such problems merely from the point of view of immediate selfinterest.
What has the Government done about lowering costs ? When it was found that there was over-spending; when it was known that certain combines were making profits far in’ excess of those made either in peace-time or in war; when it was realized that these combines were making such profits as enabled them, while building up reserves and paying taxation, to declare dividends of 50 per cent., 60 per cent, and even 120 per cent., nothing was done. The Government did promise tointroduce an excess profits tax, but nothing was done to give effect to the undertaking. All the Government did was to go to these people and say, “ Look, fellows, be decent. Do what you can to reduce your profits “. These huge combines merely laughed, and treated the Government with scorn. Nothing has been done about the position yet. The economic position and spending power of only one section of the community has been restricted. I refer to the wage-earners. For several years, the workers of the community were deprived, unjustly, of marginal payments, but re cently approval was given tor the payment of marginal amounts to them from the date of the application to the court. As I have said, marginal payments were frozen. That is one instance of action taken by the Government to restrict, spending. The workers of this country were cheated of something to which they would have been legally entitled had the arbitration system operated normally. However, the State industrial arbitration courts, recognizing that there has been an increase of the cost of living, have conceded it to be right and proper that the workers should receive an increase. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has criticized properly constituted legal authorities - the State arbitration courts - for granting to the workers rates of pay to which they are entitled in order to enable them to maintain a decent standard of living. The right honorable gentleman has also criticized Mr. Hawke, the Premier of Western Australia, who stated that never again would he see a family man deprived of wage rates to which he was legally entitled. Mr. Hawke stated that the Western Australian Government considered it unjust to withhold appropriate increases of marginal rates from the workers. The Prime Minister, when addressing a conference of his supporters, said that it was wrong of Mr. Hawke to make such a statement.
It is idle for honorable senators opposite to say that this Government’s policy 13 likely to lead to industrial harmony, because the Prime Minister has criticized the State arbitration courts and has stated that the Government has no influence on the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The right honorable gentleman has consistently made statements which indicated his willingness to continue to permit base wage workers io be deprived of money which they needed in order to live decently. While this attitude persists, industrial disputes will continue to occur. The Opposition supports arbitration, but we contend that the base wage should be adjusted; otherwise the standard of living of the workers will be lowered, with consequential industrial trouble.
I come now to the matter of shipping freights. Recently, the overseas shipping interests imposed a 10 per cent, increase of freights.I point out that this increase is the last of successive increases since the war, totalling nearly 43 per cent. The Government has done nothing about the matter beyond pleading with the shipping interests and obtaining a slight concession inasmuch as the increased freight on exports will be7½ per cent. The shipping companies are making tremendous profits. I do not disagree with the principle of profit, provided profits are devoted to the development of great Australian industries. There are financial and other big combines in this country, and industry is allowed to make huge profits without check. Yet the wages of the workers are frozen and not allowed to rise in accordance with the increased cost of living. In effect, the workers are being cheated. As it is now almost 11 o’clock, I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by SenatorO’ Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Time Limit on Speeches.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to make a little explanation - perhaps an apology - to Senator Kennelly. I interjected during his speech to the effect that he. was going beyond the recognized time limit. At the time, I thought that I was correct, but I have since found that I was incorrect. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) came into the chamber, he expressed an opinion contrary to my interjection, and I unhesitatingly accepted his opinion. I had been under a misapprehension. I thought that only the Leader of the Government in this chamber, the Leader of the Opposition, and a Minister in introducing a bill could speak for one hour. Indeed, on many occasions I have cut short my remarks when winding up the debate on a bill, in order to finish within half an hour. Having expressed myself somewhat abruptly during Senator Kennelly’s speech, I thought that I should do penance by saying that my interjection was wrong. However,I think that I was correct in principle because, apart from prima donna occasions when the leaders speak for an. hour, I think, in order to maintain interest in the debates in this chamber when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, we should restrict our speeches to half an hour.
– I thank the Minister very much for his remarks.
Senate adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 February 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560215_senate_22_s7/>.