29 February 1956

22nd Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator McKENNA:

– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate recall justifying to the Senate, in October last, the extension of special facilities to Senator Cole on the ground^ that, although he was the sole representative in the Senate of a political party, he represented in the Senate a political party, which, with seven members in the House of Representatives, was recognized by the Parliament as a political party? Is it not a fact that the said political party now has no representative in the House of Representatives? Further, is it not a fact that Senator Cole is now the sole representative of that political party in the Parliament? Can the Minister say what facilities, if any, not available to honorable senators without party office of any kind, are now extended, or are proposed to be extended, to Senator Cole? Tn particular, will he state what facilities are extended, or are proposed to be extended, to Senator Cole, in the matters of staff, office accommodation, for himself and for his staff, car travel for himself and for his staff, and air travel for himself and for his staff? Will he also tell the Senate the annual salary cost of each member of Senator Cole’s staff.- If any such special facilities are granted, will he say on what ground, or grounds, they are justified by the Government in favour of the sole representative of a political party in the Parliament?

Minister for the Navy · QUEENSLAND · LP

– I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition would not expect me to give an impromptu answer to a series of seven questions, although I can quite understand the reasons why those questions have been Submitted to me. Senator Cole is a person for whom I have a great regard. He served his country well in peace and in war. But his politics are quite opposed to mine. Therefore, I expect no help or support from him, and he can expect no help or support from me. I believe he is capable of looking after himself. 1 can quite understand the bitterness with which he is regarded by his former colleagues. I shall examine the questions submitted by the Leader of tho Opposition and give him a considered answer in due course.

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Senator LAUGHT:

– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the Senate when he expects to introduce the legislation relating to bankruptcy that was foreshadowed in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General at the opening of the Parliament? Bearing in mind the practice adopted a year or so ago in connexion with the Patents Act, when legislation was introduced some months ahead of its anticipated final passing, will the Minister so arrange the timetable for the passage of this legislation through the Senate as to give honorable senators adequate time for its consideration?

Senator SPICER:
Attorney-General · VICTORIA · LP

– I fear that, during the last sittings of the Parliament, one day I innocently misled the Senate by saying that a committee had, at that time, been appointed to consider amendments of the Bankruptcy Act. The fact was that the committee had not, at that time, been appointed. It was in process of formation, and that process is now almost complete. “We expect that a committee to review the whole of the Bankruptcy Act shortly will enter upon its task.

Senator WRIGHT:
TASMANIA · LP; IND from June 1978

– What will be the nature of the committee?

Senator SPICER:

– The chairman of the committee will be the Chief Judge of the Bankruptcy Court, and it will include persons who have been nominated by the Law Council of Australia and other bodies interested particularly in bankruptcy matters. It will make a complete review of the operation of bankruptcy law, and as a result, I expect that a new consolidated act ultimately will be presented to the Parliament. Senator Laught can rest assured that ample facilities will be given to both Houses of the Parliament to consider that measure fully. I shall be in charge of it in this chamber,, and I shall deal with it. in precisely the same way as I deal with. Patents; Acts.’,. Trade Marks Acts- andi matters- of that kind, which sometimes, come before: the: Senates

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Senator TANGNEY:

– In view of the statement of the Minister representing the Minister for’ Trade that the assets, of. the. Whaling Commission in. Western Australia are to be sold shortly; can the Minister inform the Senate whether” steps have been taken, to protect the interests of the present’ employees of the commission, such as by arranging to absorb them. in. other branches of the Commonwealth Public Service, so as to ensure that their continuity of government employment shall not be interfered’ with?

Senator SPOONER:
Minister for National Development · NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

-I think that the- honorable senator has referred to a position, that can arise onLy when and if the. whaling, station in Western Australia is sold. I should think that if it were sold, the purchaser undoubtedly would require the services of a very substantial number1 of the employees, if not all of them, becauseit is an undertaking in which a good deal of experience is required. Therefore, 1 think that it is rather- anticipating eventst’o raise’ questions such as that’ at this stage.

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– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that the Western Shipping Company of Western Australia has announced that if will cease operations in its trading: between Fremantle and north-western ports- because’ of the enormous cost, of stevedoring,, and also because of trouble on the wharfs? If the Minister is aware of this situation can he say whether any endeavour will be made by the Australian Government to» encourage the retention, of the ship Comara., owned by the Western Shipping Company, oh this run in orderto’ help the people in the far- north by transporting! the provisions they require?’

Minister for Shipping and Transport · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I have not, as yet, seen anything which indicated1 that the Comara would be taken out of commission, for the reasons stated by the honorable senator. As she has drawn my attention to that possibility, and as I appreciate the importance of shipping, to the north-west of Western Australia I shall cause immediate inquiries to be made in order to ascertain the facts and the steps which may be necessary, or which are possible, to keep the ship in commission.

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Senator COOKE:

– Can. the Minister tor Shipping, and Transport say whether it is a fact, that he was chairman of’ a meeting of the- Australian. Transport Advisory Council, which was held in Hobart last week? Is it also a fact that after bemoaning the high, cost- of transpout, and the- desperate, position of. motorists in this country, and after spending a considerable- period of time discussing, matters connected with transport, tho meeting concluded with the following resolution : -

That the Commonwealth consider an additional taxi upon petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport : such tax to be.- wholly divided between the States, solely for the new construction of roads.. The division of the collections to’ be subject to the approval of thi; States.

Does the- Minister consider- this resolution to be a proper one, and does he give full cognisance to the fact, that the distribution of petrol tax is made according to a- formula based on area and’ population.? Is it proposed to depart from that formula? Is the Minister also aware that the Opposition, for many years, has pressed” for the whole of petrol tax collec-tions to be. applied’ to the construction of better roads and the improvement of motoring and motor transport?


– Tes; . if is a fact’ that” I was chairman’ of’ the recent’ meeting- of the Australian TransportAdvisory Council held at Hobart. It is also a; fact thai I myself and other- representatives at that conference did: refer to the cost of transport, has Australia and its effect’ on: our economy. It is further a fact that the resolution mentioned bv the honorable senator was carried by the conference. I particularly direct’ the honorable- senator’s attention to the fact, that that conference was attended by the

Transport Ministers of all the States, representing all shades of political, opinion, and that they supported that resolution. The resolution does not. in any way affect the method of distribution of the proceeds of the petrol tax. It has nothing to do with that matter at all. I am aware, that all the proceeds of thapetrol tax are not returned to the States for use on road maintenance and construction, and I remind the honorable senator that that has been the practice ever since there has been a tax on petrol. I am sure that he will be interested to know that when the party to which he owes allegiance was. in office, it returned to the States, for expenditure on roads, 45 per cent of the- money collected, by way of petrol tax. This Government returns 73. per cent.

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Senator LAUGHT:

– Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform, me- whether there are any technical or engineering difficulties associated1 with the construction of a ship for Antarctic exploration in Australian shipyards generally,, or at Whyalla- in. South Australia in particular?


– I shall be pleased to make inquiries, in. respect of the matter mentioned by the honorable senates, from the: technical officers of the Australian Shipbuilding Board. I shall ascertain whether there, is any particular difficulty- which cannot be overcome in building, such a ship in an Australian shipyard, and inform the honorable senator of the result of my inquiry.

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Senator BYRNE:
QUEENSLAND · ALP; QLP from 1957; DLP from 1968

– My question, isdirected te the Minister representing tin?Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the success- of the: Australian Government in developing in Western Australia a whaling industry that i&< making available: valuable- export’ commodities from the processing of whales;, willi the- Government consider using- thi* proceeds of the sale of this industry to develop the: pelagic fishing industry ofl the: T’asmanian coast, where huge shoal* of pilchards- and other- exportable fish arc*known to exist?


– The. honorable senator’s question, could best, be asked after a decision has been made that: the- establishments- under the control o£ the Australian Whaling Commission will be sold, and after the proceeds of such a sale have been collected hy the Government. I notice that the Premier of Western Australia has. shown some interest in this industry, and I think that he for one might take exception to any suggestion that any of the proceeds from this- commission be diverted from- WesternAustralia to Tasmania.

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Senator KENDALL:

– Is the Minister for Shipping, and Transport aware that professional fishermen in Australia pay the same price for petrol and other fuel and oil as road users ? As this means tha t fishermen are at present paying a road tax, will the Minister discuss this matter with his colleagues, the Treasurer and tha- Minister for Primary Industry, wit a view to doing away with this anomaly ?


– I am aware that the facts are as stated by the honorable senator. There is in the act provision that a certain proportion of thu petrol tax shall be distributed for use on jetties, approaches to jetties and the like,, for the purpose of returning to fishermen some of the proceeds which they pay by way of. petrol tax.

Senator Wood:

– Boat harbours itanother aspect.


– That is. so. I shall look, into the question asked by the honorable senator to see if there should be any adjustment of the amount- nowdiverted for the purpose.I have indicated.

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– (QueenslandMinister foi- the Navy). - by- leave - 1 wish to inform the Senate that His Excellency the Governor-General has bee;i pleased, to: accept the- resignations of the Right Honorable- Sir Erie J.ohn Harrison, K.C.V.O*, M.P., and the Honorable William McM’ahon, M.P.. from the offices of Minister of State for the Army- and- Minister of State for Social Services, respectively, and has made the following appointments : - The Honorable

John Oscar Cramer, M.P., to be Minister of State for the Army, and the Honorable Hugh Stevenson Roberton, M.P., to be Minister of State for Social Services.

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Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 194G, the following senators be appointed members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings: - The President of the Senate (Senator McMullin) and Senators. Arnold and Marriott.

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Debate resumed from the 28th February (vide page 125), on motion by Senator SPICER -

That the Senate concurs in the resolutions transmitted to the Senate by Message Ko. 5 of the House of Representatives (vide page 123), relating’ to the appointment of a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.

That Senators Gorton, Maher. Pearson mid Wordsworth be members of such joint committee.

That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

– The resolution now before the Senate is one that proposes to give concurrence to a message from the House of Representatives in relation to the appointment of a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. This is not the first occasion on which a resolution of this sort has been before the chamber. The appointment of such a committee was first mooted in 1949 by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but it was not until almost three years later, in 1952, that a motion to give effect to that promise came before the Parliament. A resolution in similar terms was before the Senate after the Senate election of 1953, and once more after the election for the House of Representatives in 1954.

The Opposition, on each of those three occasions, has put a viewpoint on behalf of the Australian Labour party. In 1952, it moved a number of amendments affecting the constitution of the proposed committee. Those amendments were not accepted and, for one reason or another, all of which have been elaborated by me in this Senate on three previous occasions, the Opposition declined to co-operate in appointing representatives to the committee. I say at once that, on perusing the proposals for the appointment of this committee, I have found that there is no change of substance affecting the objections of the Opposition, and accordingly there is no change in the attitude of the Opposition to the matter.

I do not propose to traverse the whole of the proposals set out in the resolution contained in the message received from the House of Representatives, but I want to advert to two aspects of the matter. The main burden of the criticism of the Opposition is that the activities of the committee are altogether too circumscribed by, and in favour of, the Minister for External Affairs. That is the chief burden of our criticism and complaint. I point out, first of all, that the committee is appointed by the Parliament and, accordingly, one would expect it to be an instrument of the Parliament, but the truth is that the committee is not to report to the Parliament - the body that creates it and gives it power to function.

I realize that the committee is now to be free to study any aspect of international relations that might appeal to it, but it may not submit any report at all, even to the Minister, unless upon an aspect of international affairs that he has specifically committed to it for consideration. Therefore, the wide scope for study that is now to be afforded to the committee does not, without the express concurrence of the Minister, enable it in any way to widen its power to report, not to the Parliament, but to the Minister for External Affairs. I repeat that its report will not go to the Parliament, the body which is to set it up, but merely to the Minister for External Affairs.

It is true that, under the terms of the resolution we are considering, the committee is to have power to submit a report to the Minister and to inform the Parliament that it has submitted a report. If my reading of the terms of the resolution is correct - and I refer in particular to paragraph 4 (d) of the resolution submitted to us - the Foreign Affairs Committee may not even inform the Parliament of the subject-matter of the report that it has submitted to the Minister, because paragraph 4 (<2) requires that not only shall the committee sit in camera, but its proceedings shall be secret unless the Minister lifts that ukase. If the proceedings, including the subject-matter of the discussions, cannot be disclosed, and the committee reports to the Minister as is provided - and not to the Parliament - the Parliament strictly may not be informed even as to the subject-matter of the report. That divests the Parliament of even the semblance of control of this committee because, denied information about the subject of any report that may have gone forward by the committee, how could this Parliament even make an intelligent request of the Government or ask the Minister to table the report? Again, the Parliament will not be in a position to require the Minister for External Affairs to table the report; it will have no power to do so.

So I put this to the Senate for consideration : Why pretend that this is a Parliamentary committee, when the Parliament’s power over it ends with the appointment of the committee? Why pretend that it is an instrument of the Parliament itself, when it is merely a ministerial toy, to be picked up and played with, or to be tossed aside at will. Accordingly, the first objection of the Opposition is that the committee proposed to be set up will not serve the Parliament.

My second point is, that it will not serve any party in the Parliament. We are asked to appoint representatives of our party to this committee. The point is, that those representatives would cease representatives of the party from the moment they were appointed. They would be compelled to sit in secret, unless the Minister chose to arrange otherwise, and they would be obliged to keep secret the subject-matter of their discussions, the evidence, and any reports they made. They would be prohibited, except with the express sanction of the Minister, from even reporting to the people whom they purported to represent. It seems to me that they would be very poor representatives, indeed, who were not free to report to the people who had appointed them and whom, in terms of the resolution, they were supposed to represent. In fact, the members of any party, acting as representatives on the committee, would not be free even to convey the information that they had submitted a dissenting, or a minority report. So, in addition to not serving the Parliament, I put the second point, on behalf of the Opposition, that this committee will not serve any party in the Parliament.

I make a third point - that the requirement of secrecy could be exceedingly embarrassing to the members of the committee. It may well be that, in the wide sphere of international relations, a member of the committee could, from studying current affairs, glean from any source information identical with that which may have been conveyed to him in committee. What would be his position in the Parliament, or in the party room, if he announced that particular piece of information, and it had also been put before the Foreign Affairs Committee? He at least would be at once open to the suspicion that he had committed a breach of trust.

The same difficulty applies to the Leader of the Opposition, in the terms of this resolution. The Government proposes that if the Opposition does appoint representatives to the committee, then a copy of every report to the Minister shall be made available to the Leader of the Opposition for his confidential information. Supposing the Leader of the Opposition who, in this particular person and case, has a very wide knowledge and experience of international affairs - he has very wide contacts all over the world - it may well be that from sources quite apart from the report which he has been allowed to peruse on a confidential base, he may have certain information, but if he uses it he is instantly open to an attack for an alleged breach of faith - one which would be very difficult to rebut.

I concede at once that a committee of this type certainly has value from the point of view of general study and discussion of foreign affairs. There can be no question about that. It must improve tho minds which address themselves in concert to consideration of these matters; but the requirement of secrecy defeats an even more important purpose. More important than informing the minds of a selected number of members of this Parliament is the moulding and shaping and informing of public opinion in Australia on international affairs. This committee might we’ll conduct ‘the great bulk of its sittings in public It might attract the offering of opinions from outside ; but a’bove all, in addition to educating and informing itself, it might play a very real role in the Australian community by stimulating interest, inquiry and understanding among the .members of the public. In the final analysis, the foreign policy of this country will depend upon the viewpoint of the community at large, slow as that may be in developing, and inarticulate as it may be from time to time. But since that is the case, it is of vital importance to the future of Australia that it should be at least as fully informed as possible. This Senate committee, functioning after the style of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States of America might well conduct the bulk of its sittings in public.

Senator Maher:

– Good Lord deliver us !

Senator McKENNA:

– To the honorable senator who so sonorously interjects, let me say that the Minister for External Affairs intimated that there were very few matters or secrets that have to be kept from a body of this type. The only secrets that have to he kept from it are those which are ,not Australia’s own property, but are shared with other countries. I think I quote the right honorable Minister with exactitude in sense, at any rate, when I say that he intimated that there was no limit to the information that would be available in a most intimate way to any member of this committee. I assure Senator Maher, who was shocked at my suggestion, that he has, first of all, the example of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the United States of America, which, I believe, has far more public than private sessions, and also the word of his own Minister that there is very little that needs to be kept secret. The honorable senator might add my thought, expressed to the Senate a few minutes ago, that the committee could, in that way, be of great educational value to the Australian community. The Minister himself indicated that even in a case where there was a secret which, in addition to !being the property of Australia was part of the property of other nations, that element o’f secrecy was very evanescent and remained for only a few days at t-he ‘most. What is top secret to-day may we’ll be public knowledge to-morrow.

I invite honorable senators to appreciate that I have not suggested that a committee of this type should sit in public all the time. I recognize that there are matters that ought to be discussed in camera, but the power of the committee to sit in public should not be subject to the arbitrary discretion of the Minister for External Affairs, particularly in view of his statement which I have quoted We of *the Labour party recognize “the value of joint study. As an earnest of that, I inform the Senate that for years we have had our own foreign affairs committee. It was set up by the party at Canberra, and is engaged continuously in the -study of every aspect of foreign relations. The party, therefore, has the advantage of joint study and discussion, and the stimulation of mind by mind. I venture to say that the members of the committee derive as much benefit from that study as do the members of the Government parties who alone sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Our own party seeks information from time to time from those who are reputed to be experts in the subject of international relations. I have already indicated that we will not co-operate under the existing terms of the motion in appointing members to a committee, and I now make the point that, although it may be called a joint -committee of both Houses, ultimately it comes down to being entirely a Government party committee.

Senator SPICER:

– That is the Opposition’s fault.

Senator McKENNA:

– The AttorneyGeneral and I differ on that point. I have indicated that it is the fault of the Government which has circumscribed the committee in favour of the Minster for External Affairs. I have already addressed argument to the Senate on that point. The Attorney-General and I will have to differ upon the ‘proposition as to whose fault it is. I say that if our objections were met we would be happy to co-operate.

I come back to the point that, since the Labour party will not co-operate on this committee - let us ‘leave, for the present, .the question of whose fault it is - the committe will be a Government parties’ committee, and accordingly we hold that it should not be a body that carries on its affairs at the expense of the country. Let it be a party committee the. same, as the Labour .party’s committee is. Let its members carry on -their studies and arrange their own affairs at the expense of the ;party. The Opposition is not .prepared to participate in a committee of this kind, and we say that it should not, in effect, be regarded as a joint committee df both Houses. It should concentrate its efforts in the privacy of its own party sphere, as the Opposition committee does.

When introducing the proposal on behalf of the Government, the AttorneyGeneral said that he would be glad if Labour would co-operate on this committee. I .believe I am justified in expressing the view that I doubt the bona fides of that statement. Having said that, 1 realize that the Senate is entitled to ask for my reasons for that belief. I shall give my reasons. J say -with great sincerity that many of us on this side, indeed a majority of our party, were, as far back as 1953, very eager to co-operate on this committee. We pressed hard in our party -room to do so, with the result that the -party appointed a committee of leaders to interview the Minister for External Affairs. We sought, and were given, a conference with the Minister in November, 1953.. in <the course of which we raised our objections to the set up of the committee. The Minister heard us with great patience, and. gave us some reason to hope, because he indicated that he was inclined to agree with some of our propositions, using the phrase that Ite would have a look ‘at certain of our proposals. As I have said, we left the conference with the hope that something was going to be done to meet the objections of She -Opposition. But the point I make mow is that, presently, the Government came to the Parliament with a motion in set terms, without any further reference :to, or discussion with, the leaders appointed ‘by the Opposition. There was no communication to the

Opposition, indicating the result of tha further consideration that the Minister undertook to give to certain matters. That is the first point that destroyed our belief in -the bona fides of the ‘Government in desiring to have ‘‘Opposition members on the committee.

The second reason for my doubt is shown in the circumstances in which this motion was introduced in the ‘Parliament. There was no effort to consult the Labour party before it -was introduced. There was no proper discussion. The motion in almost identical terms, at least in regard to all the terms that mattered to the Labour party, was launched in the Senate without any consultation with, or reference >to, the Labour party at all. That .kind of conduct is notconsistent with a sincere desire to .have the Labour party’s co-operation on such a committee.

Senator Maher:

– There were two or three discussions.

Senator McKENNA:

– If the AttorneyGeneral will give reasonable consideration to the objections of the Opposition in relation to the shape of this committee, he will see how readily members on this side will co-operate. “

Another ground for my attack on the bona fides of the Government in this matter is the very speech made by the Attorney-General in this chamber. The normal practice when introducing a matter of this kind is for the Minister to read a prepared speech, and .then to give an opportunity for proper consideration of that speech. I make no complaint about the length of time allowed for consideration, but I point out that the Attorney-General, who begged for our co-operation, took the very unusual course in a matter of this kind of giving a perfunctory and extempore speech to the Senate an support of his motion.

Senator Wright:

– The more of such speeches we have from Ministers the better.

Senator McKENNA:

– That depends on the Minister and the subject matter of his speech. I merely make the .point <that ia Minister who really wants, and is striving for, the co-operation of the

Opposition in a matter of this kind would not introduce a resolution in such a casual - I shall not put it on a higher plane - or cavalier fashion. These are all little points when assessing the tons fides of the Government in this matter.

I come now to another point that weighs heavily with the Opposition. The Government indicates to the Parliament, and to the nation, that it will accept any nominee of the Labour party, from its leader down to the humblest member that the party cares to nominate. The person so nominated will share in whatever secrets there are, and will have the advantage of all the information in the most intimate way, as the Minister for External Affairs has said, regarding every phase of importance in the international sphere. The Government parties are prepared to accept any nominee of the Labour party; yet when on the hustings during the recent election campaign, the Government, its members and supporters slandered our leader and his supporters in what I have no hesitation in describing as the worst character assassination campaign Australia has ever witnessed. I ask how hypocritical can members of the Government be, when the truth is that they summoned calumny to their aid to win an election, and now they toss it aside and ask us to forget their public insults - insults which they never repeat in their personal relations with us in this chamber or outside.

Senator Grant:

– They, do not themselves believe what they said.

Senator Maher:

– What bearing has this little digression on international relations?

Senator McKENNA:

– It is neither little nor a digression. It is a matter that, first, looms very largely; and, secondly, it is my fourth point in dealing with the proposition that I doubt the sincerity of the Government in seeking the co-operation of the Opposition in this matter. I am very sorry for the supporters of the Government when I think of the grave moral responsibility they incur in this matter. Quite frankly, I prefer to lose any number of elections, one after another, to facing that responsibility and the ultimate accounting.

Senator O’sullivan:

– The honorable senator amazes me.

Senator McKENNA:

– It is obvious that those who embark on this type of calumny, slander and character assassination have no realization of the harm that they do, and of the moral responsibility that they incur in doing so. The interjection of the Leader of the Government (Senator O’Sullivan) is only one indication of their total lack of understanding of that basic fact.

I say to the Senate that Labour will not co-operate in this matter, for two reasons. The first is because of the demerits of the Government’s proposal, and the second is because of the grievous public slanders by the Government of the Australian Labour party before the nation. I wonder whether the supporters of the Government appreciate that, when they insult the Australian Labour party, they are insulting approximately one-half of the electors of Australia, who know that untruths are being spoken and who know also that what is being said is slander. We hear, from the supporters of the Government, statements to the effect that Labour’s foreign policy is entirely in line with that of the Communist party.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– And so it is.

Senator McKENNA:

– All I wish to say to the Senate is that I was challenged, on a previous occasion, I think by an honorable senator who has been interjecting to-day, to say what was the policy of the Australian Labour party on foreign affairs. I accepted the challenge very readily, and with pride, because, in fact, I had a hand in shaping the exact words and ideals of that foreign policy, at the Hobart conference. I affirm what I said then : That I approve every single word of it. As honorable senators may remember, on that occasion I took up the challenge and read to the Senate every word of the foreign policy adopted at the Hobart conference. I wonder how many people remember that honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber interjected freely throughout the earlier part of my speech. When I came to read the foreign policy - they had in mind the newspaper headlines - as I took each item, I turned to honorable senators opposite and asked, “ What is wrong with that?”, but although every honorable senator opposite was in his place, not one of them said a word. When faced with the facts, they had nothing to say.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– We were bound by the rules of debate.

Senator McKENNA:

– Honorable senators opposite are not shy about interjecting when I speak, and I do not mind their doing so. On the occasion to which I refer, I gave them an opportunity to say something, asking time after time, “ What is wrong with that? “, but there was the silence of the grave.

The truth is that the foreign policy of the Australian Labour party is one that, in all of its progressive aspects, the Government not only is approving, but also, in fact, has been adopting since the federal conference of the Australian Labour party in Hobart in March of last year. Let us consider only two points. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) recently advocated a free exchange of visits between the Western democracies and the countries behind the iron curtain. That is the very proposition that Labour averred in March, 1955, and which was repudiated by this Government as being a part of the Communist line. Now, because they have had time to think and to weigh that proposal - their mental processes, apparently, are a bit slow, as they have demonstrated throughout the last six years in more fields than one - they have realized the virtue of that proposal. In addition, they have seen the United Kingdom step into that field. They also have seen New Zealand not only penetrating the iron curtain, but also doing a lot of trade with Russia and the iron curtain countries, until to-day, Russia is the second most important customer for New Zealand exports. The truth is, as the Government now is beginning to recognize, that if we are going to break down the barriers and to break through the iron curtain, we have to meet people; we have to understand their point of view, and they, for their part, have to learn about the views of the democracies. That is the only road to understanding. Accordingly, that is the only road to salvation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Pearson) .-Order ! .1 think that this discussion should not develop into a general debate on foreign affairs. I have allowed the honorable senator considerable latitude, and I now ask him to connect his remarks with the motion before the Senate.

Senator McKENNA:

– Yes, Mr. Acting Deputy President, I shall do so. The motion before the Senate deals with a very important aspect of international relations. At the moment, I am putting my point of view and am stating the reasons why the Opposition declines to appoint representatives to the Foreign Affairs Committee. I am developing the theme that one of our reasons and objections is the fact that the Australian Labour party’s foreign policy has been misrepresented and maligned by the Government. In the process of developing that theme, I have referred to the nature of our foreign policy.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I cannot allow the honorable senator to develop that theme any further.

Senator McKENNA:

– I accept that ruling, and I conclude with this comment. Every point that Labour advocated has been adopted by the Government. For instance, Labour advocated, in March, 1955, the admission of sixteen new nations to the United Nations, and the Government later helped to secure their admission. I have put forward the views of the Opposition in this matter. There are aspects of the proposals before the Senate that I do not want to traverse now; I have covered them adequately on similar occasions previously. The Labour party and the nonLabour parties accord mutual support to the Commonwealth of Nations. They believe in co-operation with the great United States of America and the maintenance and extension of that cooperation. That objective is in the foreign policies of both the major political parties in this Parliament, but the fundamental difference between those parties is that the Government parties prepare for the worst, whilst the Australian Labour party strives for the hest in the field of international relations.

Senator GOB/TOW (Victoria) [3.25J. - This debate started out to follow a wellworn path which it has. followed on. two or three previous occasions in the Senate, but to-day it digressed, towards tho end, into paths- which were somewhat new. In spite of. all the words and all the arguments used by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), it is as well, I.’ think, to see exactly what the facts this matter. The facts are that, in thu great field of : foreign policy, which we all recognize to be of prime importance to Australia, the Government is proposing the appointment of a joint committee of both the major parties, that committee to be given special facilities for the study of this subject, and the Opposition is refusing to take advantage of that offerand to appoint representatives to the committee. No amount of words, excuses or arguments can alter those facts, and that, I think, is to be greatly regretted, not only from the point of view of thu Senate, but also from the point’ of view of the country.

Those being the facts, it is well to look’ at some of the arguments which have been put forward, in justification of this refusal to participate, in a joint study of foreign) policy, by- the. members of the Opposition, in this chamber. It. seemed to me that the greater part of the. speech which the Leader of the Opposition devoted to. foreign policy consisted of the most: remarkable reasoning I have ever “heard- in. this- chamber. What it boiled down to was that the Government did not like the- foreign policy of the Opposition. Because the Government has expressed, its dislike of the- foreign policy of the Opposition, the Opposition has said, in effect, we shall refuse to join a, committee upon which, if we were men]bers; we- might be. able to. persuade some supporters of the Government, that our ideas were right.” Simply because the Opposition believes, that the Government dislikes its policy, is that, a reason to refuse to co-operate with, the Government in joint study of international affairs? Tt could be that the. Opposition is- afraid that its- members; if given- special facilities indi if able to- participate- in special interviews on foreign affairs; might be weaned’ away from the official line- which the. Opposition believes that they should follow. It seems to me that that is the only possible logical reason which can be advanced for the refusal of the. Opposition to participate in a special study of this kind.

Now let us consider the other excuses put forward by the Opposition for not joining the committee. It has been said that the committee does not serve the Parliament which appoints it. I suggest that this Parliament, through having such a committee with members of all parties upon it, could not be better served, because; the members of the committee hare access to information, and have contacts with individuals, that they would otherwise not have. The Foreign Affairs Committee has had before it such people as the members of the Joint- Armistice Commis-sion from Indo-China. They came direct from Indo-China where they had. been supervising the truce, and told us exactly what was going on in that part of the world. We have had statesmen from the United Kingdom who have been ableto speak much more- freely in a small room; among a small group of people under a pledge of secrecy, than they could possibly have done in a meeting like a party meeting. We have had before us representative statesmen from France, England and America as well as from various United Nations- bodies, and we have had the benefit of the experience of officers of the Department of External Affairs who have returned from postings throughout Asia and other parts of the* would’.

The committee has had all those people before it, speaking quite freely, and there is no other group within the Parliament before which they could have spoken so freely. That being so, the refusal to take advantage of the opportunity given to the Opposition to join with us can. only weaken this Parliament, and, can only do a dis-service to it by denying to it ;v further group of men who have hail special opportunities to listen to opinions, so freely given,. Indeed, it is the Opposition which is doing- a. dis-service to the Parliament by its refusal to allow it? members- to have the same opportunities to learn about foreign affairs’ as have been given to other people.

The same argument that I have just advanced, with regard to the service of the Parliament, applies to the other excuse that has been put forward by the Leader’ of the Opposition (Senator. McKenna). He said that to have members of his. party on the Foreign Affairs Committeewould be of no- service to his party. It is almost impossible to imagine- an honorable senator saying that the dissemination of information of all kinds: to members of his: party would not be of service to it. That argument. -will not hold, water for a moment.

The other points raised by the Opposition have all been put forward before, but let me- deal with one that has been laboured time after time by the Leader of the- Opposition when this matter has been before: the Senate. That is that tieForeign Affairs Committee sits in camera, and cannot of its own will make public reports on the matters that come before it. Surely the most elementary examination of. the matter will show that that is an absolute necessity for a. committee, of this kind, if it is to be supplied with information from the top: We have seen the world in a state- of. complete turmoil for the last two or three years, and that turmoil still continues. We have seen how one of the factors, that led- the Chinese, to enter- the Korean war’ was their knowledge of the attitude towards such an act which, would, be adopted by the American and British Governments. Itwas obviously necessary for people, in the position of the Chinese at that time, to know the attitude of other governments concerned, and if we are to learn the attitudes of such governments - as a. com?mittee of this kind should in order, to function properly - it. is essential that, the Minister for External Affairs should, have complete charge in order to be able to ensure that such, information is not made public

It is quite true, as the Leader- of. the Opposition said, that: this necessity for secrecy may exist at one time- and that some months1 later secrecy may not be so necessary ;. but it would be impossible to. lay down in the terms off reference of a committee a time limit during; which, certain, things will- be. secret and after which they could; be- made: public. All such matters- should, be- left- in the hands of the Minister, who is responsible to the Government, and would be so left if Labour was in office with its own Minister in charge of. the Department of External Affairs; It is with the greatest regret that L see once again, the Opposition refusing to give the Parliament’ the benefit of having some of its members informed on foreign affairs and of giving its members a chance of putting forward the views of the: Opposition to such a committee on the facts, figures and information which might, come before them. We are all the. poorer foi: the- attitude of the Opposition, but I suggest that the Opposition is poorer than we are*

It appears to me to be the height of impertinence for the Opposition to refuse the Government’^ offer to join a committee of’ the- Parliament to study foreign affairs on. the grounds that it is sulky because the Government does not like its foreign policy: Although the offer is still- open, the Opposition has- refused to join the: committee and will not make a joint approach to the great problems dealt with, in the: committee, but prefers to say that the committee should be abolished because, it refuses to have anything to. do with- it. Tha* certainnly appears to me to be also impertinent.

Senator COLE:
Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party · Tasmania

[4.3 1 . - The party that, I represent in this Senate, which showed during the last- general election that it had the support of about 3.00,000 people in four States- of. the Commonwealth and will’ to grow and will spread to other ?.’;?.[<:.:, 3ia3 requested me to seek nomination as a. member of such an im.portant committee as” the Foreign Affairs Committee of this Parliament. One of the most’; important planks in my party’splatform, is- that Australia’s defence is a. matter of first priority. That beingso,, we desire- to learn just what is takingplace in) the- international! sphere.


– How many members will the honorable” senator’s party have on the. committee ?

Senator COLE:

– I am hoping that I shall be nominated because the other member of my, party who has been elected to- this chamber has” not yet taken, his plane here.. We believe that the- defence of this country has first priority. The arguments put forward a short time ago by Senator McKenna are merely eyewash, because I am aware of Labour’s position in this matter. When the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Committee was first mooted, Senator McKenna and the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) were very willing to become members of it. It was because, shall we say, of political animosity that such a thing did not occur. The arguments brought forward by the Labour party have no basis because it is to the benefit of the whole Parliament that all members understand what is going on in the field of foreign affairs ; and the only way in which that can be done is, as Senator Gorton has mentioned, by consultation with the people who know the facts. It has been said that members of the committee cannot report back to their party because they are bound to secrecy, but if an honorable senator is selected as a member of the committee and a certain subject comes up for discussion, surely to goodness if he is prepared to say “ Yes “ or “ No “ to a proposal, his party should have enough confidence in him, as he has inside information, to accept his stand without obliging him to give an explanation.

So, Mr. President, I desire to be a member of the proposed committee. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) told us about how he stood up for the Labour party’s policy. That policy was given to it by Dr. Burton, and it was brought into being at the Hobart conference by a rump that did not have the people of Australia behind it. It is only because of what we might call a “ double-cross “ that that policy is in existence now. I hope that the Government will find some way in which I can be nominated to this committee, because I believe that it is worth while to the running both of this country and of this Parliament.

Senator HENTY:

.- I feel confident that honorable senators on the Government side feel that Senator Cole has brought a breath of fresh air into this debate. We are most disappointed, as Senator Gorton has said, that the Opposition still refuses to join this committee, although that opportunity is still open. I am sure that the people of Australia feel that the Opposition has made a wrong decision in still refusing, after five years, to join senators on this side of the committee. The case put up by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) contained a great deal of repetition of what he has been saying for some years. However, on this occasion he used a new phrase which I thought was rather interesting. He referred to what he called the character assassination of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives during the last general election campaign. Can any honorable senator opposite deny the continual attempts that Labour party members have made at election after election for years past to assassinate the character of our present Prime Minister ?

Senator Gorton:

– Lie after lie.

Senator HENTY:

– Lie after lie about the greatest Prime Minister Australia has had.

Senator Sheehan:

– Since when?

Senator HENTY:

– Since federation. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned one of the reasons why the pure boys on the other side - they have never done anything by way of character assassination although they are past masters in the art - will not join this committee. It is a spurious reason. He said that this proposal is a result of the Government winning the 1955 general election, but the fact is that the present Government parties won the 1949, 1951 and 1954 general elections as well. The people of Australia cannot have been wrong on all those occasions. The present Government parties could not have achieved that series of victories without having had the full confidence of the majority of the people. Therefore, I reject the reason which the Leader of the Opposition has put forward.

The Leader of the Opposition went further and said that he doubted the Government’s sincerity in this matter. There is one way of calling the Government’s bluff if the Opposition genuinely thinks the Government lacks sincerity, and that is by nominating some of their number for membership of the proposed committee. In that way the Opposition can test the sincerity of the Government. I rather agree with Senator Cole that the Opposition’s foreign policy was given to it by Dr. Burton at the Hobart conference at which the majority of accredited members of the party’s executive were not present. The Labour party has been given that policy and it is afraid to allow its members to join the proposed committee lest when they learn the facts in secrecy they might question that policy in the party room. That is one thing which the Labour party does not want to happen an any circumstances.

Although the Leader of the Opposition says that the committee is circumscribed, he admits that it offers a wide scope for the study of foreign affairs. Then, why not join it if it will provide a wide scope for study? Such an opportunity was not made available when Labour was in power because there was no such committee in existence then. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who was Minister for External Affairs at that time, roamed the world and established a reputation as a great traveller in foreign parts. We have never seen any other Minister travel ns extensively as he did. No committee was in existence then, but we have since made a step forward.

Assuming that the proposed committee is circumscribed, it may nevertheless develop as time goes on, and there may be no limit .to the heights to which it may vise. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in the United States of America. Who knows that out of this committee the Leader of the Opposition may see develop the very thing he is seeking. But the Labour party refuses to co-operate in establishing the committee on a proper basis. However, a breath of fresh air has come to us from tho Anti-Communist Labour party representative in this chamber. He is willing to join the committee.

Opposition senators interjecting,

Senator HENTY:

– I know that Opposition senators do not like to hear the facts. But Senator Cole represents 300,000 people who voted for his party at the last general election, which was the first time it went to the polls. Thirteen per cent, of the electors in Victoria voted for his party, which will have another representative in the Senate after the 30th June next. One honorable senator at present in this chamber will not grace the Opposition pews after that date. Voting for the Anti-Communist Labour party in the other States was 8 per cent, in South Australia and 9.4 per cent, in Western Australia. The 300,000 Australians who voted for that party are well entitled to the cognizance of this House. Therefore I have much pleasure in moving -

That the name of Senator Cole be added to the names of senators proposed to be members of the committee.

Senator Kendall:

– I second the motion.

Senator SHEEHAN:

– The matter under discussion is rather important, and I do not know exactly what the events during the last Senate election campaign have to do with it. Honorable senators are being asked to co-operate with a committee that is to be appointed to deal with foreign affairs. All honorable senators will agree that foreign policy is one of the most important national matters to any country. The Government has asked the Opposition to appoint representatives to this committee. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) has given the reasons why, up to the present, the Opposition has not appointed representatives. This is not the first time we have given those reasons to the Government.

Senator Henty:

– They do not sound any more genuine now than they did before.

Senator SHEEHAN:

– The Australian Labour party has always shown an interest in foreign affairs, but the Government has failed to make the scope of the Foreign Affairs Committee worth while. Senator Gorton and Senator Henty have told us that if we were represented on the committee, we would be well informed on foreign affairs. Senator Gorton and other honorable senators have been members of the committee for a long time, and have had all the information at their disposal. To what extent has the Senate benefited from their .knowledge or as a result of the deliberations of the Foreign Affairs Committee?

Senator MAHER:

– The honorable senator has not been here to listen.

Senator SHEEHAN:

– One of the features of the committee is that after that august body has investigated the various phases of foreign ,policy and examined witnesses so that the members df ‘the committee can be well informed on foreign affairs and the policies of various nations, the members of the committee must not tell any one about these matters. Senator Gorton and the rest of the committee strut about the stage and claim to be in possession of all the wonderful secrets ‘they have garnered as members of the committee, and yet they cannot tell any one about them.

I j>ay a tribute to Senator Gorton in that I believe he is an enthusiast and wants to ‘know about foreign affairs, but what has happened? Did the Government send Senator Gorton to a recent conference concerning foreign affairs? Was the Senate recognized by the Government in that connexion? The representatives of the Senate on the Foreign Affairs Committee have had to sit in this chamber keeping to themselves all the wonderf.ul information that they have obtained as a result of their ‘association with the committee.

T do not wish to delay the Senate. This matter has been discussed on previous occasions, but if the Government is genuine in its desire to have the Labour, party represented on the committee, it should make co-operation on our part possible. It should make the committee worth while - make of it something that can guide the people of Australia. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has paid, that the Government is coming round, slowly but surely, to accept the policy of the Labour movement in foreign affairs. Events are moving so quickly that, the Government cannot do anything else. New developments are taking place throughout the world among other members of the [British Commonwealth of Nations and among foreign nations. They can see what is going on all around “them, and many of them. are falling into line. I suggest that the Government should make the Foreign Affairs Committee one that will inform and guide the Australian people on foreign affairs.

I object to supporters of the Government making statements by innuendo about the policy of the Australian Labour party. Supporters of the Government know that there. are many genuine Labour supporters who oppose communism for what it is, but they malign the Australian Labour party and try to tie mp everything it does with the Communist line. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) and many other members of the Labour .caucus, -want to co-operate in the consideration of foreign affairs, but they cannot .get anywhere with the Government. Until the Government makes it possible for the Labour party to co-operate, the Opposition will not be represented on the Foreign Affairs Committee. ‘We will not pose as those who know all about foreign affairs but cannot tell any one what we know.

Senator McCALLUM:
New South Wales

– I did not intend to take part in this debate, but I must answer the absurd statement made by Senator Sheehan that honorable senators who attend meetings of the Foreign Affairs Committee must not talk about it or allow any of their knowledge to be made public. Since the committee was formed, every honorable senator who is a member of it has .spoken in the Senate. None has been under any obligation not to reveal what he “had learned. The only obligation on them was not to reveal the source of their information or anything that would jeopardize our relations with other coun- tries, and the speeches made by members of the committee were much more valuable than they would have been if they had not sat on the committee. That would be true, also, of honorable senators of the Opposition side if they joined the committee.

The personal associations we have had with representatives of other nations have been of incalculable value. There is nothing -more important than personal contact. The absurd misrepresentations we often read in the press about other countries are dispelled when we- have an opportunity to meet, the representatives of those- countries. We have met the Minister- who was responsible for IndoChina1 in the French Cabinet of the day. We have met other persons who werefamiliar with the whole situation in IndoChina. F have benefited greatly from- a long talk I had with- the Leader of the Indonesian delegation that visited Australia. The misinformed- talk that used to take place in the Senate, and in another place, before the Foreign Affairs Committee was formed has almost entirely disappeared! The mere fact that the committee exists, and’ that honorable senators on this side of the chamber- have been, able to be well informed on foreign affairs, has had an; effect already upon the Opposition. If Honorable senators on the Opposition side joined the committee the effect would! be much more marked.

Senator SPICER:
AttorneyGeneral · Victoria · LP

in reply– - The arguments that have been raised against the adoption of the motion, more particularly by the Leader of the Opposition. (Senator McKenna) have,. I think, been most effectively answered’ by Senator Gorton and. Senator McCallum, who ha.-ve served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and who know, first, the kind of work that the committee performs, and secondly, the worth of the committee to them as senators. They know better than do honorable senators who are not members of the committee, the real worth of this body. I was not surprised by their utterances,, but because of what they have said one regrets all the more that the Labour party once again declines to serve on this committee. It declines to serve on it for no good reason at all.

Senator Cameron:

– The committee has been gagged.

Senator SPICER:

– The Loader of the Opposition stated that the Labour party would never serve on a body sworn to secrecy in relation to its proceedings. I am surprised, in view of that statement, that any member of the Labour party has found it possible in. the past to become a member of a ministry. We were told by the Leader of the Opposition that when proceedings are held in camera, it is- very embarrassing’ to those who take part in the proceedings not to be able to mention certain, things afterwards to persons with whom, they- come in contact. This is really just plain nonsense. Usually, grown-up men are able to understand- what is meant by the holding of proceedings in camera. They do not find it embarrassing to be able to make, use, in their own way - as a matter of background - of information that they receive in those circumstances. Of course, that is what has taken place. Since Senator Gorton and. Senator McCallum became members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, they have contributed to debates in this chamber on international affairs. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that their contributions, to such debates were more valuable by reason of their being mem: bers of- the Foreign Affairs Committee and the possession of information that they had obtained in that capacity, because they were able to make use of that information as a background to the discussions.. It is a. great pity that theLabour party will not nominate some of its number to serve on the committee.

The Leader of the Opposition has referred’ to the importance of the moulding of- public- opinion in relation, to external affairs. What a part both this chamber and- the other House can play in the moulding of public opinion ! Surely, if we are to do that job effectively, it is desirable that- as many members of the Parliament as possible should be informed as fully as they can be on the subject, in order to be able to contribute to the moulding of public opinion with the advantage of all the information that

I hey can get by serving on this committee. We Have done our best. We have repeated this performance time and time again, urging- the Opposition to join the committee. It may well be that,, having got to this stage, the Opposition will force the Government itself to fill the vacancies on the committee. Perhaps some day the Opposition will see the light and agree to join the committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

page 174



Debate resumed from the 28th February (vide page158) on motion by SenatorButtfield -

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -

May it Pleaseyour 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 for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

SenatorHENDRICKSON (Victoria) [4.31]. - Since His Excellency delivered his Speech, honorable senators have had an opportunity to study its contents carefully. In my opinion, the Speech contains no more or less than did the policy speech which was delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the last general election campaign. Despite the fact that import restrictions have been imposed, the economic situation is deteriorating almost hourly. Yet the Government has made no announcement of what it proposes to do to remedy the position. Although many supporters of the Government have addressed the chamber during this debate, very few of them have even referred to the state of the economy.

I should like to comment on certain statements that were made by Senator Maher, who is a real old-type tory. He reiterated statements that have been made time and time again in this chamber. He stated that he was surprised to think that the leader of the great Australian Workers Union, Mr. Davis, who is the Victorian secretary as well as the general president of the union, had begun to couple that great union with the Communist party. The honorable senator referred to a pamphlet which had apparently been handed to him somewhere in Queensland, in which there was mentioned the fact that certain Communist preferences had gone to Labour candidates, and vice versa, during the recent general election. Senator Maher, after referring to the great job of work that had been done by the Australian Workers Union in the past, said that he was surprised that that union was now turning to the Communist method of control. I should like to make it clear both to the Senate and to the people of Australia that there are no greater fighters against communism than the members of that union, and that Mr. Davis is prepared at any time to reaffirm his attitude against communism. Senator Maher said that he agreed with the policy that was adopted by the Australian Workers Union years ago in order to obtain certain amenities for its members, but that the time had come when a halt should be called. That great union, as well as other trade unions in Australia, will never cease trying to get improved amenities for its members. I emphasize that the Australian Workers Union, as well as other unions, is anti-Communist in its industrial outlook.

Senator Wright recently asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) a quite legitimate question about the cost to the country of the waterfront strike earlier this month. But the honorable senator did not ask what was the loss to the members of the great waterside workers’ union to fight for this principle. Honorable senators on this side of the House are always loath for the workers to go on strike because they realize that everything lost during a strike is difficult to recover in the future, irrespective of the gains that may be made through direct action.

SenatorHENDRICKSON. - Yes, but when the honorable senator realizes that the Waterside Workers Federation had used all legal means to obtain an adjustment of their wages in an effort to gain the privileges to which they were entitled, and on many occasions had been refused by the Arbitration Court, they were forced to take the alternative of direct action. The shipowners used exactly the same means of direct action. They said, in effect, that if this Parliament was not prepared to allow them to increase their fares and freights by a certain amount, they would not be prepared to carry merchandise or passengers either around the Australian coast or overseas. I remind honorable senators that the extra cost to the wheat producer in outward freights, as a result of the 7-J per cent, increase of shipping freights, is about £16,000,000 a year.


– Yes, to carry one year’s wheat crop out of Australia.

Senator Wright:

– Offhand, that seems to be ridiculous.


– It may seem ridiculous to the honorable senator, but even if it were only £6 I say again that the shipowners resorted to direct action to obtain that increase of freights. But they are not accused of being “Corns”, or of using direct action; neither are the authorities who are responsible for increasing train and tram fares or rents. What does their action amount to except direct action directed against the worker? The master hairdressers in Victoria have decided to increase the price of hair cuts in that State. I do not know whether that increase is justified, but they are indulging in direct action. They are saying to the public, “If you want your hair cut, but are not prepared to pay the increased price, you may stay away”. The transport authorities are offering the travelling public the alternatives of paying increased fares or walking, and if a person is not prepared to pay increased rent for his house, he may live in a tent so far as the rent authorities are concerned. But because the waterside workers, after eight unsuccessful approaches to the Arbitration Court, resort to their only alternative of direct action they are accused of being in league with the Communists.

All that the waterside worker has to sell to the public is the labour of his hands. I have here a pamphlet issued by the Waterside Workers Federation, which (contains the statement that the wharfies have had no increase of wages since the general rise in 1952, and no increase of margins since 1948. If this Parliament is prepared to allow shipowners, who have paid huge dividends on their capital, to make big increases in their freights, surely it should do something to allow the waterside workers to receive at least a quarterly adjustment in their cost of living, to which they are rightly entitled. Their wages were pegged by the Arbitration Court in 1953.

Government senators argue that we should believe in arbitration. Our reply is that we do believe in it, but not in onesided arbitration. If there is a dispute, or something amiss with the conditions of the workers in the various trade unions, everything possible should be done to expedite the hearing of their claims in the Arbitration Court. But that sort of action has failed, and it is likely that the great trade union movement in Australia will be forced to resort to other means if the damage that has been done is not repaired. No one could say that the rank and file of these two great unions - the Australian Workers Union and the Waterside Workers Federation - are Communists, any more than they could justify such a charge against any member of this House. If the Government wants to have harmony in industry, for which Ministers ask every day that Parliament meets, it must realize that it will be impossible to have that harmony if the worker is not given fair and just treatment.

If ever there were two just causes for redress they are those of the Australian Workers Union in regard to shearing rates, and of the Waterside Workers Federation for an increase of their wages, on which they took a stand five or six weeks ago. Although the watersiders have returned to work, the. Arbitration Court is still dilly-dallying and unless some satisfaction is soon forthcoming they will be forced to take further action which will not meet with the approval of the Government. I wholeheartedly support the waterside workers in their efforts to improve their wages and conditions. A reporter from the Melbourne Herald visited the waterfront at Williamstown, Melbourne, where waterside workers were loading wheat. He said he would not be prepared to take a job as a wharf labourer even if he were offered double the wages they were receiving.

In the past 27 years, 25,000 men have been recruited to the wharf labourers’ union. Of that number, 19,000 are not to be found on the waterfront because they can .prove conclusively that they cannot earn as much as ,a .waterside worker us they can earn in industry away from i he waterfront. That alone is a justification for the action taken ,bv these .men li-ve or six weeks ago.

Senator Wood referred to defence. Al »0 time sinGe federation has the Australian Labour party ever been opposed io defence in ‘this country. At all times it has stood out above every -other party in preparing for -defence. Senator Kennelly .was criticized by Senator Henty because he mentioned that an Australian Labour government founded the Australian Navy. That is true, .and a Labour Government also introduced compulsory military training and established a small arms factory and .a Commonwealth clothing factory.. That was done in ‘the socalled “ horse-and-buggy days but the defence policy of Australia ha3 been brought up to date in keeping with the needs that have arisen. Senator Henty said that prior to the -outbreak of World War LT. we were not prepared to support the defence policy of the then Government. I say that at all times we :on this side of the chamber are entitled to .our views on what the defence policy of this country should be. Our expenditure on defence is now about £200,000,000 a year, but when we criticize that expenditure, or ask the Government to tell us what is being done with the money - we .do not ask to be given secret information - we are classed- as opponents of Australia’s defence policy. We are not opposed to tile defence of Australia, but we are opposed to some of the ways in which the Government proposes to expend money to defend this country.

Li order to show that the Labour -party had a positive policy for the defence of Australia prior to the outbreak of World War LT., I propose to read some extracts from the policy speech of Mr. .John Curtin, the leader of the party in .1937. Speaking at Fremantle as Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Curtin, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 21st September, 193,7, said -

Increased aerial defences, banking reform, an unemployment scheme and a wider pensions system, were ‘features of Labour’s election policy announced to-night by the Leader nf the Federal Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in his speech at -the Town Hall, Fremantle.

Mr. Curtin said Labour promised more docks for the Navy, more aerodromes, additional oil stores, landing bases and the exploitation of possible oil sources.

Labour’s policy was to defend Australia with nu compulsion on any citizen to serve on foreign battlefields. Australia could have an Air ForGe.of 300 .machines - equal to any .force which could ho brought against the Commonwealth.

Mr. Curtin said that from its very inception the Labour movement had stood for Australian national defence. Labour’s defence policy was designed not for the purpose of aggression against foreign countries, but to -maintain Australian security.

As a first principle Australia should aim at the establishment and maintenance of friendly relations with all other countries, and should not -be provocative in its international policies and contracts.

The primary need in Australia was the building up of industries until every possible requirement, for self-defence could be supplied within the Commonwealth.

How true that was, yet Mr. Curtin’s statement was scorned by the government in office in 1937. Mr. Curtin went on to say that the doctrine of self-sufficiency was no longer an industrial ambition ,but had become the supreme national necessity. He added that self-defence had become increasingly a question of industrial preparedness. He pointed out that Australia must have the essential industries to feed, clothe, and transport by sea land and air the forces of the Commonwealth. The report of his speech continued -

Munitions of all kinds must be manufactured in Australia. There was need for more docks for the navy, more aerodromes and aeroplanes, oil storages and reserves, and a line of landing bases for repairs, replacements, and refueling away from the coast.

We must exhaust every possibility in exploiting -the natural and artificial sources of oil because oil was undoubtedly an indispensable commodity in modern effective defence.

In the light of what happened as the war went on what was wrong with that policy? Mr. Curtin made a strong point when he said that expenditure for defence must not be allowed to become a mere market for profiteers. That is our objection to-day to the Government’s proposals for the defence of Australia. Mr. Curtin then added that as the safety of Australia and the peace of the nation were fundamental obligations, the Labour party insisted that the country should not be committed to warlike activities outside

Australia without the consent of the Australian ‘people ‘having first been obtained. What was wrong >with -that? Will any member or supporter of -the Government say that, in a democratic country, >the people should not decide whether its forces should ‘be sent overseas? The report of his speech ‘continued -

Our position renders it impracticable that we -min exercise -any ‘decisive influence, either as a police or as a salvage corps, in the problems of Europe. We make that perfectly plain. The Labour party’s policy involves, first, a paramount obligation to defend Australia, nml, secondly, no compulsion ‘to be exercised upon any citizen for service on foreign battlefields

It is our view that by being self-reliant in our own defence we make a notable contribution to the defence Of the British Commonwealth of Nations. By ensuring the safety of Australia we ensure the safety of nearly 7.,0D0,000 British subjects. When we defend Australia -we defend not only these 7,000,000 British subjects, but also 3;000;000 square miles of British territory and one thousand million of British investments.

This is our contribution, and it is on a higher scale than that of any sister dominion in the British Empire. In .1U3G the per capita expenditure on defence by Australia was 21s. 10d., by New Zealand 12s. 7d., by Canada 5s. 7d. and by South Africa 3s. 5d.

For years the Australian Commonwealth has accepted a financial burden far in excess of that of the other Dominions of the British Empire. And the ‘Labour party asks if that is not a major contribution, what is a major contribution ?

Mr. Curtin said that the Labour party would maintain the Australian Navy and reminded the country thai Labour .’founded the Australian Navy; but it was foolish to say that Australia could sustain a sea-going Navy adequate to Australia’s needs. Australia’s expenditure on defences, which were within Australia’s ability to sustain should be on those forms of defence which had become increasingly important and which were within our capacity to provide, while at the same time ensuring at least an approximate equality with the forces an enemy could employ against us.

T come now to the most important part of the speech where Mr. Curtin said that the strength of Australian defence lay in aviation. He pointed out that a member of the then government, Mr. W. M. Hughes, had declared that aerial defence was the only defence within Australia’s capabilities. He went on to show that the Lyons Government had up to that time provided only eight squadrons, or 96 planes, while not far away from us there was a nation equipped with not -less than 300 planes which .could be sea-borne. Notwithstanding that definite -statement, honorable senators -on the Government side of this chamber tell us that Mr. Curtin had no idea that Japan would attack Australia. In refutation of that charge I have -quoted from his speech, which is on record. It ‘showed what he thought should be done to ‘defend Australia.

Senator KENDALL:

– lt is a ‘great pity that his colleagues did not agree with him.


– We supported him. whole-heartedly. A few days ago the ‘honorable senator who has .just interjected did not interject when one of his colleagues put the blame on Mr. Curtin. Now the honorable senator tries to blame some one else. If there is any body of people who want to defend the British way of life it is the great Labour party, which has shown its sincerity in two world wars. Mr. Curtin went on to say that, for a capital outlay of £7,500,000, Australia could have an aerial fleet of 25 squadrons, or 300 aircraft. What a boon those aircraft would have been in helping to repulse the Japanese! “Instead, we met the great aerial forces of Japan, the Zeros .and other aircraft, with Saturday afternoon pleasure-flying “ kites “, and our men were shot down like birds. Had the defence policy of the Australian Labour party been heeded, ships of the Australian Navy also would have been more -effective against the Japanese. Instead, ships of the Australian Navy, which cost double the £7,500,000 referred to by Mr. Curtin, had been towed out to sea and sunk because they were regarded as being obsolete. I hope that when Lord Mountbatten comes to this country shortly, he does not try to pass off on us obsolete ships of the Royal Navy, because we have quite enough junk in our Navy as it is.

Mr. Curtin also said that, if Australia could not afford a floating Navy equal to that of .a world power, it was still within our means to sustain an aerial fleet equal to any that could be brought against us. He contended that aerial defences represented one of ‘the features of the Australian defence -services which the Labour party would develop and strengthen to the utmost efficiency while, at the same time, maintaining land and shore organizations of the greatest strength within Australia’s powers and resources. In addition, problems of internal supply in respect of equipment, and munitions, and problems in relation to rapid transportation would be grappled with resolutely. The standardization of railway gauges would provide much useful employment, and that work would he proceeded with as vigorously as possible.

I say to honorable senators opposite who have expressed the opinion that the Australian Labour party has not always been behind the defence of our British way of life, that we shall always he prepared to defend this country. Nevertheless, we must be able to express our views on defence, and we believe that it is the duty of the Government to tell the people of the Commonwealth what is being done to defend the nation. The supporters of the Government surely must agree that it is not solely because of the defence policy and the economic policy of the Government that it has been in office for the last six years. On the contrary, I suggest that it is because the Government parties have always had a red herring to drag across the trail. “We saw such a red herring being used this afternoon, when an honorable senator, who had been slimed and slobbered over by the Government, became a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I refer to Senator Cole. Let me have something further to say about the honorable senator. He reminds me of Petrov. Only to-day, he related in the Senate incidents that occurred in the Australian Labour party caucus when, unfortunately, he was a member of it. Those were the tactics of Petrov and of those who support Senator Cole.

The people in Victoria who support me - and there are many of them - believe that, had it not been for an accident, Senator-elect McManus would not be coming to this Parliament. I was never more alive to the truth of that contention than I was when I heard Senator McCallum speaking in this chamber last week. On that occasion, I informed the honorable senator that Australian Country party senators from New South Wales had received 80,000 Communist preference votes at the recent general elections, and the honorable senator stated that that was due to the accident that he happened to occupy a certain position on the ballotpaper. Had Senator-elect McManus not been placed No. 1 on the ballot-paper, he now would be where Mr. Morgan of Tasmania is - outside this chamber for all time. Because people are a little careless in exercising their vote on election day, and because Mr. McManus was No. 1 on the ballot-paper, he was able to get votes.

I wish to know why Senator Cole has been accorded privileges in this Parliament. Unfortunately, when the matter was discussed prior to the general election, I was in hospital. Nevertheless, I had a radio and was able to listen to the debate in the Senate. I was astounded to hear the reply of the Leader of the Government (Senator O’Sullivan), when he was questioned on this matter. The excuse advanced by him was that Senator Cole had colleagues in the House of Representatives. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber predicted, at that time, that Senator Cole would have no colleagues in the House of Representatives after the 10th December last, and the people confirmed that prediction by their votes. To-day, Senator Cole is a lonestar ranger. Incidentally, Senator Cole was elected to this chamber as a Labour senator. Had he the courage of his convictions, he would have submitted himself to the electors of Tasmania at the recent election. Had he done so, we should not have the discomfort of having Cole in this chamber on such a hot day. He would have suffered the same fate as did his secretary, Mr. Morgan.

We of the Opposition desire an explanation from the Government concerning what they propose to do about Senator Cole in the future. I agree that Senatorelect McManus will have some rights in this chamber, and what is done in relation to him will be the affair of the Government, but Senator Cole has no more prior rights here than I have. I am looking forward to the explanation that I expect to be made by the Leader of the Government.

Senator GORTON:

.- One of the pleasures of the debate on the Governor-General’s Speech is the great area over which the debate is able to range. If an honorable senator is a member of the Opposition he may, of course, speak of the gracious, but, as far as he is concerned, completely unacceptable Speech from the Throne and complain that it does not contain something that it ought to contain, or that it contains things that he thinks should not be there at all. Therefore, there is no limit to the subjects which, normally, may be discussed. But I should have thought that, at least, there would be some reticence amongst those debating the Speech, and that they would not so openly, as Senator Hendrickson has done, bring into a discussion of vital national matters such a spiteful attack on an individual in relation to matters that have really nothing to do with national policy or national thinking. That, of course, is a matter entirely for Senator Hendrickson’s own choosing, but I think that it is a little regrettable that we should have to listen to it during a debate of this kind.

  1. do not propose to follow any of the matters raised by Senator Hendrickson. I wish to deal, first, with the matters stated at the beginning of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, concerning the appointment of a committee to examine problems of the Senate and the procedure to ba followed in the event of a dispute between the two houses of the Parliament. It seems to me that it is true to say, as the Governor-General has said, that a government, whatever its colour, should have a reasonably unimpeded length of time in which to impose its policy, to test that policy and to see whether it works, and that that testing is impossible if it is able to be frustrated at any moment by a hostile Opposition in this chamber.

If our system is to continue as smoothly, under proportional representation, as it has in the past, then this is a matter which should occupy the attention of all of us and will, I trust, occupy the attention of a joint all-party committee. I hope that, when this matter is considered by such a committee, the committee will not confine itself to tinkering with some particular problem which happens to be uppermost in its mind at the moment. The idea is that there should be agreement on proposals which could be put before the people at a .referendum.

The whole field of the constitution should bt- looked at by such a committee. It should not confine itself in any way concerning the recommendations it may make or the matters into which it may inquire. For instance, I believe it would be well within the powers and province of such a committee, as well as being a matter with which it should concern itself, to consider whether the present system of election of people to this chamber is better than was the preceding system, or whether or not the system could be improved upon. Should the committee come to the belief that the present method of election is better than was the preceding one, there appears to me to be no reason why conclusions of that kind should not be written into recommendations which could be submitted to the people at a referendum. At the present moment, it would be quite competent for any government, with the requisite majority, to alter, at any time, the method of election of senators from the various States. Seizing an advantage, a government could alter the method of election to suit itself, and so work evil indiscriminately to both sides of th, chamber. That is one matter which could well be looked into by a committee of the kind that we are discussing.

Another and most important matter is that of filling casual vacancies in the Senate, so that no longer can a motor accident, advancing age, or any other cause lead to the loss of a majority to a government, and its consequent inability to carry out a policy that had been endorsed by the electors. If that matter is to be tackled, then closely associated with it is the question of whether or not candidates for the Senate should be able to have on the top of the ballot-paper upon which their names are put before the people, an er,planation of the party in whose interests they are standing for election. I know that there are some quite valid theoretical objections to such a course, but in real and practical terms we should ask ourselves who we think we are kidding when we raise such theoretical objections. For weeks before the polling day of a general election, literature is sent out to the electors asking them to vote for X, Y and Z, who are Labour candidates, and for A, B and C, who- are; perhaps, Liberal’ candidates. Moreover,, how-to-vote cards, giving1 the- electors the same- information, arc handed- out in front of all the booths- on polling day. The same sort of information is poured out over the. radio and’ through the press during election cam:paigns; so just who do we think, we are. kidding when we say. all that may be done,, but that when, tha people get into- the polling booths they must not be allowed to know the parties to which, the candidates belong? I am not violently espousing any particular course of action in that. regard, but I believe that here is an avenue which such a committee could well explore. If if were explored the number of invalid votes, which is a disgrace to Australia, could be greatly decreased.

A major problem: at present is, andmust remain, the definition of the powers of the Senate and; the ‘procedure to be followed in the event of a dispute between, it and another place. We could well spend some time on that matter,, and 1 suggest that the committee could make a careful examination of the powers of this place. It seems to me to be incontrovertible that a government which has placed, its policy before the people- at a general election for the House of Representatives and has been returned with a workable- majority in that House; should be able to implement its policy. The only method by which such a government’ should be overthrown,, is by a vote in the House of Representatives by members who were elected by the people. It should not be the province of the Senate to make or unmake governments, or to .say who should rule the country. If. my contention is correct, it follows that from the Senate should be taken some of the power that it now has to deny supply at its whim to the government of the- day,, and thereby to overthrow that government. Such a diminution of the powers- of the Senate follows inevitably from the acceptance of the argument that we should not have the power to overthrow a government. On the other hand, the Senate should have completely untrammelled, powers to amend or reject any government proposals, the amendment or rejection of which would not automatically lead to the overthrow or, resignation, of that go vernment - in other, words, proposals, thatdo not- relate to supply, or budgetary policy.

One suggestion is- that power to delay any. ordinary legislation would be sufficient,, but I completely- and. utterly disagree with that contention. A poweto delay, particularly a power to delay a disagreement which is ultimately solved, by. a joint sitting- of the two Houses of the Parliament would, in fact, mean handing over complete legislative authority to the House of Representatibes. A complete- handing over of legislative authority, of that nature would not only be directly opposed, to the spirit of the Constitution, but, in my opinion, it would also be against all. the accepted tenets of good government. That’ is because in such a case there would benothing, to stop a majority in the House of Representatives, elected on: a particular programme, from carrying out any programme which it. might choose, and’ carrying it out by gagging through that one House any proposals that it desired to put through, without proper discussion and’ without any right of appeal.

I’ do urge that the committee might well consider a diminution of the power of this House as regards supply, but 1 say that it should also insist that the Senate must keep a complete power of veto and not’ merely a power to delay: If it is to keep that power, which it now has, there should Be allied to the power a responsibility which the Senate does not now have. If we are to have power to reject or amend legislation, then we should have responsibility matching that1 power. I believe that if a majority in this House rejects legislation that the Government regards as sufficiently important, then instead of going through all the paraphernalia of a double dissolution, and the overthrow of the Government, it should, be within, the provinceof the Government to send the Senate to- the electors, to ascertain whether the people approve the rejection by this House of such legislation. A. proposal, like that would do a great deal to prevent irresponsible action in. the Senate by anopposition which was in the majority in this place1 - a situation which we must expect to- arise from time to time from now on.

Great advantages accrue to an opposition which has a majority in this place. Such an opposition is able to bring forward and debate matters that could not otherwise be brought forward, and which could not possibly be brought forward in another place. An opposition in majority in the Senate is able to adjourn the Senate, appoint select committees and have a real say in the conduct of the chamber. I do not believe that any majority would lightly cast away those advantages merely for the sake of blocking legislation which was not of great significance. It might be argued that a government faced with an opposition in majority in the Senate would hasten to send the Senate to the people at the first opportunity in order to rid itself of an embarrassment, but I do not consider that argument to be valid because an opposition in that position would not reject any but important legislation, which it believed was against the will oi the people and not included in the policy upon which the Government was elected. I think that if that responsibility were added to the undiminished power of this chamber it would work more satisfactorily than it does at the present moment. In the event of the Senate under such circumstances having to face the electors, then those elected should be divided into two, and half of them should hold their seats until such time as the next election of the House of Representatives, thereby avoiding elections for the two Houses at different times, as has been the case previously.

Another suggestion, which I have been canvassing although it is not original, is that there should be certain fields in which the Senate should have its own specific functions. One cannot expect that those fields should be foreign affairs or other matters of great significance, but they could well be the new semi-governmental public services which are springing up in Australia, such as the Bell Bay commission, Qantas Empire Airways Limited and the Commonwealth Bank. They are, in effect, public services but are not subject to public service control, because Parliament has delegated to their managements certain autonomy.

Senator Laught:

– Public corporations.

Senator GORTON:

– Public corporations and, as in England, nationalized industries - matters over which Parliament ought to exercise some control because they use public funds and because the public is concerned as to whether or not they are run efficiently and on a sound financial basis hut matters in which the Public Service Board should not interfere. That i? one sphere in which an all-party committee could be appointed to maintain Parliamentary control, which has recently been slipping into Executive control and through that into Public Service control. That has come about not through anybody’s fault but merely because of the growing complexity of these matters and the growth of our Public Service and semi-public service bodies. I hope that such a committee when it is appointed will carefully take note of those and many other things as well, and will not confine itself to a narrow field in trying to smooth out a few matters which are in dispute at the moment or have been in dispute in the past.

There is another matter contained in the Governor-General’s Speech about which I should like to speak. I shall read to the Senate the passage which engages my attention. His Excellency, when speaking about defence, said -

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.

To that, as a statement, I can take no exception;, but. I urge upon those who may hear’ this discission or read about it, that it would be of the greatest benefit to this Parliament and to the Senate if, at the earliest possible moment, the Government were to state to it, or state for purposes of debate, its opinion of the kind of war in which our forces would be engaged should a war come, because it is essential that we, as representatives of the people, should, know what the Government’s opinions on this matter are - whether it thinks we will be engaged in an atomic war, in a war in which local atomic weapons will be used, in a largescale war in which atomic weapons willnot be used, or in frontier skirmishes of greater or smaller strength. I suggest that when that statement is made, as I hope it will be, it is a matter which the Senate should debate.

I should also like to know, for instance, with whom it is believed our forces are likely to be fighting, and beside whom they are likely to be fighting should we find ourselves engaged in another war. Would we find ourselves fighting alongside British forces in the Middle East or in Europe as we always have in the past? Would we find ourselves fighting beside British forces in the Far East, in Malaya, or in Australia itself, or would we find ourselves fighting beside United States forces in Australia, the Philippines or in other areas of the Far East ? Opinions on that subject should be clearly expressed to the people of Australia through the Parliament as soon as possible, because in the answer to those questions lies the decision as to what sort of ammunition and armaments our defence factories ought to be making in Australia now. It is obvious that it will be of no use making 303 ammunition if the forces beside whom we shall be fighting, and from whom we shall be receiving equipment, will use .300 calibre rifles. It is also obviously of little use to make 25-pounder guns and ammunition if the forces beside whom we shall be fighting, and whose supply lines we depend on, use 30 mm. howitzers. I have my own opinions as to the places from which we can expect to draw supplies, and the places from which we can expect to find troops to fight beside us should we find ourselves engaged in another war. If my beliefs are right - and they are only my individual beliefs - we cannot expect in the event of hostilities to get forces or supplies from the United Kingdom, a depleted country half-way across the world from us. I believe that, as in the last war, United States troops will be beside us and that United States equipment will be supplied to them. If that is so, it is absolutely essential that in our defence production programme we must standardize armaments, munitions, spare parts for planes, trucks and tanks, and. all the multifarious things which would be needed, with those of the troops with whom we will be likely to find ourselves. Therefore, I urge that at the first possible moment a statement should be made to be debated in the Senate. Such a statement should explain the kind of war in which we would find ourselves engaged should war come, and the kind of preparations which are being made in anticipation of that fact.

Those are the two main subjects with which I wish to deal today. There is a third and most complex one, namely the economic problems which face the country; but that, I think, will be the subject of an economic statement, and from my point of view can be better debated after the statement is made. Whatever that statement may disclose, we all know that we are faced with most highly complex decisions in very difficult circumstances, and that, indeed, we will need as soon as possible to rectify our position. I am happy to leave what I have to say on the matter until such time as the economic statement, which was promised a month or so ago, is made to the Parliament.

Senator BROWN:

– I suppose that many electors are listening to this debate on the radio, and for their information and so that they may know what the debate is about, I shall repeat the motion that was moved by Senator Buttfield. It reads -

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -

Mat it Please YOUR 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 for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

That motion was ably moved by the new senator from South Australia, Senator Buttfield. She made an admirable speech. Of course, we could not agree with her views in their entirety, and much of what she said was not practicable, but it was enjoyable to hear her speak as she did. Every member of the Parliament will agree with the terms of the motion, because the expression of loyalty that was demonstrated when the Queen visited us showed that the heart of Australia is sound. I have lived under many sovereigns and I believe that King George V., King George VI., Queen Elizabeth the Second and the Duke of Edinburgh, by their devotion to duty, have raised Royalty to a very high plane indeed. That has not always been the case, as any one who has read history knows. I know it because, as a boy, I lived in England when Royalty was not as popular as it is to-day; not so much among the workers as among other classes. But I do not want to labour that point. There is no doubt that the members of the Royal Family to-day are the focal point of the British Commonwealth of Nations and are doing their duty by the Commonwealth. They remind all democrats that we have duties as well as rights.

I believe that in this Parliament, we should try to reduce some of the antagonisms that appear in debate. Instead of continually decrying one another, we should try to get on with the business of the Parliament in a proper way. After nearly a quarter of a century in this Senate, I get a little tired of the recriminations and the constant interjections from one side to the other. Sometimes’ they are rather childish. They remind me of a child saying, “ My father is better than, your father “. I am reminded, too, of one child saying to another, “My father when he died left £10,000”, and the other replying, “My father when he died left the world “. We should try to avoid foolish recriminations about what the Labour party has done and what the tory parties have done. I believe that the Opposition should fight intensely’ for the principles it espouses, and that we should be constantly on the attack to protect the interests of our people as we see them.

Having said that, I wish to refer to some matters that are not so erudite. First, I wish to thank the Senate for the leave that was granted to me to absent myself from my place in this chamber for a number of months. I took advantage of that leave to visit England, a country I had not seen for 43 years. Any one who goes back to the land of his birth is able to speak with greater authority of the advances or the recessions that have taken place there than can a person making a first visit. As a result of impressions gained during a stay of several months in England, I am convinced that social tensions in that country have been relieved. There is now a better spirit abroad. Social and economic conditions as they are to-day, contrasted with those of 1912, are a triumph for parliamentary government. There is no police state in that country. Men can speak freely, as they can in Australia, and without fear among their friends. They can vote a political party into power; they can vote a government into political oblivion. Between 1912 and 1955, there has been virtually a revolution.

When I left England in 1912, after paying a visit of five years to the United States of America and Canada, the poverty in England was simply degrading. I often wondered how the people could possibly endure it, and yet they were born into that poverty. I remember as a boy, in the three-storied building in which we lived in the main street, hearing the miners come down the street at 4 o’clock in the morning, winter and summer, to catch the “Paddy’s mail” to go to the various mines in the surrounding district. It was a plain, austere train, without windows or cushions. When they got to some of the mines which were old, they had to walk a mile and, sometimes, 2 miles to the pits down below.

I know the industrial conditions that existed because I left my job as a pattern maker in an engineering shop to spread labour and socialist propaganda, and T am proud of it. I did so in order to mix with the miners and to advocate the principles that were espoused by the labour organizations at that time. I had many occupations. I left the warmth and comfort of the engineering shop, where we made the patterns for the moulders, to work in the degrading conditions so thai f could rouse those men to a sense of their obligation to themselves, their wives and children to fight for better conditions. The poverty was absolutely degrading For my job in the mine, 1 was paid 5s. a shift. I had four shifts a week and I had to go from one butty ganger to another to get my pay. Sometimes, I had to visit four public houses to get my wages from four butty gangers, but never was ti butty ganger known to beat a man for his money.

I travelled in every part of England on the track. I slept in work houses and cheap lodging places. I walked from one end of the country to the other because I was possessed of a spirit of investigation, and I wanted to know how the bottom dog lived. I saw how people lived in the work houses, old men and young men, and I could tell honorable senators of agonizing experiences that they would not believe. Thousands of men were able to get employment only when war broke out. Just imagine that state of affairs in England with all its great aristocracy and wealth! On many occasions, I contrasted the difference between the conditions enjoyed by the wealthy aristocrats and poor people. Thousands of men who were helpless and hopeless, and whom God had forgotten, travelled from one end of the country to the other without the possibility of anything being done for them. When I returned to England from Australia during a period of leave that was granted to me by the Parliament I did not see one badly clothed or ill-fed man, woman or child. At the first place .1 came to in my journey by car from Southampton to London and on to Stevenage, where I stayed with my nephew, 1 marvelled at the improvements th at had been achieved during my absence. It was necessary for me to travel by car, because a transport strike was in progress.

Senator RYAN:

– So they have strikes there too?

Senator BROWN:

– Yes. Only by striking from time to time have the workers in England progressed from the degrading conditions of years ago to the standard of living that they enjoy to-day. I admire them for fighting for their rights. One of the first things that impressed me when I walked through Stevenage was the number of women who were pushing perambulators. As honorable senators might imagine, I was happy to be there; it was like turning back the clock. I said to a friend who was with me, “ Look at those lovely perambulators). T wonder bow much they cost? “ He told me that they cost anything from £7 to £30. I looked into several of the perambulators and saw the bonniest babies that I have ever seen. I could not help contrasting those conditions with the conditions that existed in England when I lived there years ago. In those days, the majority of the babies were half-starved and suffering from rickets. Many of them did not develop properly and grow to heights appropriate to their ages; some* of them died al a relatively early age.

On one occasion, 1 spoke to a number of minet.- <md discussed present-day conditions. I could not help recalling that when I lived in England years ago the miners used to come out of the mines a few miles from the town into the cold of a winter’s day after sweating down in the mines. They then had to travel by vehicle four or five miles to their home town, and walk perhaps upwards of half a mile to their homes before they could remove the grime from their bodies. When I visited some of the mines, I found that facilities are now provided there to enable the miners to clean up before going home. Indeed, many miners, instead of going straight home from their work, now make social rounds on the way home.

I also took the opportunity to speak to many railway workers. Years ago, when I worked on the railways in England, a railway worker was paid 25s. for working a seven-day week. Out of that low wage, an amount of lOd. a week was stopped for sick and benefit fund contributions. The wage for a five and a half day week was £1. I have seen railway workers almost in tears when they were not able to obtain Sunday work in order to make a - little extra money. What a tremendous improvement has been brought about in the conditions of railway workers ! That improvement has been gained, not by the introduction of an oligarchy, but try thousands of men and women banding together and promulgating their ideas throughout industry. They formed trade unions which, as they grew strong, forced improved conditions from the employers who had exploited the workers. As I have said on previous occasions in this chamber, 1 raise my hat to the thousands of earnest workers in both the industrial and political wings of the Labour movement whose efforts have revolutionized conditions in industry. I should not like honorable senators to think for a moment that I believe that all industrial troubles in England have been solved. On the contrary, I acknowledge the existence of grave industrial unrest in that country to-day. However, there has been a wonderful improvement of the conditions of the workers in England.

I come now to the question of employment; of women in industry. As in Australia, a tremendous change has occurred in England in this sphere. Many thousands of women go out to work in the old country. The wife of one of my nephews goes out to work for a half of each week day, and she rather likes it. If this trend continues under our capitalist system, ultimately the position will become similar to that in Russia under communism. On one evening, when I was watching a television screen, it comely wench - a very intelligent girl - whose mission it was to travel from town to town interviewing both management and workers in industry, told me that in Birmingham more married women than single women were working in jobs. Many workers see television sets being manufactured, and naturally wish to acquire one, but as television sets cost between £80 and £120 each, in many instances workers hire them. In order to be able to save to buy their own sets, many wives and children go to work to supplement the family income. Speaking of the children, Senator Cameron recently showed me an excerpt from an English newspaper, which contained a photograph of a child worker with a latch-key tied around his neck so that he would not lose it. Although tremendous improvements have been effected in the conditions of the workers in England by trade unions and Labour governments, much remains to be done in that country.

Briefly, I should like to refer to the ethics of certain newspapers in Great Britain. I was very disappointed in the newspapers, particularly popular publications which enjoy a tremendous circu lation. Mr. Aneurin Bevan, in his book In Place of Fear, had this to say about; English newspapers -

The British people have never been less informed about what is happening in the rest of the world. A large proportion of the tiny space left to the national dailies and weeklies is devoted to deliberate pornography or a retailing of the minutest details of the lives of the Royal family. The latter is a national, disgrace. It must be deeply repugnant to the persons immediately concerned, who are carrying out difficult duties with commendable dignity and restraint.

While I was in England, the whole ofthe front page of one of the newspapers - with the exception of the space occupied by the name of the journal - was devoted to a picture of what purported to be Princess Margaret dancing the can-can, or some other dance. Apparently an American newspaper had photographed a dancing girl, and substituted Princess Margaret’s features for those of the dancer. It was a vile thing to do. The English newspaper, which had a circulation running into millions, quite properly resented this vile attempt to besmirch the Princess. My complaint is that, not content with denouncing that action, the newspaper republished the picture. This demonstrates the depths to which some English newspapers descend for the purpose of profit. In the fight and struggle to get as much money out of the public as possible, some newspaper proprietors are prepared to sacrifice their virtue - if ever they had any! As in Australia, the newspapers in England are controlled by monopolies.

Sitting suspended from 5.^5 to 8 p.m:

Senator BROWN:

– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, I was dealing with my visit to England and* Scotland and also Switzerland and Paris. I was commenting on the great change in social and economic conditions of the English people between 1912 and 1955, and I pointed out that a great deal of splendid work responsible for the improvement in the welfare of the people in the Old Country was due to known and unknown men in the Labour movement, political and industrial, who had worked without pay or preferment to bring that about. I referred also to the monopoly of the press, and how newspapers were being controlled by fewer firms. A similar situation exists in Australia. Many newspapers are being crushed out of existence. In England, 51 journals have ceased publication since 1951. This constant squeeze and concentration of the press in the hands of a few monopolies augurs ill for our democracy. A free press is essential if democracy is to work.

Honorable senators are aware that the owners of these newspapers control not only the press, but also many broadcasting stations, and when television is established they will control much of that, also. One writer has said, commenting on this concentration, that democracy is being strangled more effectively by the operations of the capitalist system than by the military threat of Soviet communism. A monopoly of the press is growing in America, and although America has only one-fifteenth of the world’s population, it is using two-thirds of the world’s newsprint. Many newspapers cannot obtain newsprint except at an exorbitant price. In New York, the Sunday editions of newspapers are fantastic, and have as many as 100 pages. That is an absurd position. In Australia, the Sunday editions of newspapers, as well as some weekday numbers, use far more paper than is necessary.

In England, I found a lack of general knowledge concerning Australia. In the matter of cricket they were very knowledgeable and were very proud of their exploits. When they found that I came from Australia they were at pains to tell me that Australians could not play cricket. I think I attended more cricket matches in England than I had done in my life before. On one occasion I had the pleasure of seeing Johnny Wardle score 74 runs in half an hour at Bromley Lane. One of the balls he hit went over a high wall near where I was sitting and a Yorkshire lad called out, “ Eh, lad, tha. as broken a bloody window “.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - Order! It would be a good idea if the honorable senator returned to the subject of the AddressinReply.

Senator BROWN:

Mr. President, surely I am not to be stopped from recounting my experiences to show what, forces are at work in England as in this country concerning the monopolizing of the press. In this debate, speakers have covered all kinds of matters, from sausage casings to the abolition of the Senate. Surely I can tell my story in the few minutes at my disposal without being asked to come back to the AddressinReply. I am addressing myself to it.

It is necessary that relations between country and country should be improved, and that there should be a greater knowledge among the people of each country concerning one another. I should like to see a greater knowledge of Australia imparted to the English, Scottish and Irish people. To illustrate that point, and if I am permitted, I wish to mention an incident which occurred while I was in England. My brother spoke to a man in the market square of my home town and asked him if he knew Gordon Brown, to which the man replied, “Yes, I once worked with him. Know him? Of course I know him. He is the President of Australia “. That is the kind of knowledge some of those people have concerning Australia.


– Some English people still think that all Australians are aborigines.

Senator BROWN:

– That is true. When I first arrived in Australia, some of my fellow travellers carried revolvers because- they thought they would meet wild blacks when they landed at Fremantle. Travel is essential for the peace and understanding of the world. Every young man in this country should see Australia first, and then make an effort to see other countries, as hundreds of Australian girls are doing by hitchhiking through the Continent. In Germany, many years ago, apprentices were made to travel from one end of Germany to the other. I notice that, in the publication News from America, which every member of Parliament receives, this statement was published in the issue dated the 14th February last -

The State Department to-day voiced gratification over acceptance by the Soviet Government of United States’ suggestions for the planning of exchange visits on a reciprocal and orderly basis.

That is good, and I should like to see the principle extended. This Government, which is spending £200,000,000 on defence, should make a few thousand pounds available to send abroad, not only the “ higher-ups “ and very important personages, but also rank-and-file members of the trade unions of this country. Only recently, when speaking to General Cariappa, I pointed out how a greater understanding could come about if the Government of his country and the Government of this country were prepared to spend a few hundred pounds in exchange visits of the people. I firmly believe that members of this Parliament could add to their knowledge by visiting various parts of the world. It is impossible for all people to travel. That privilege is enjoyed only by people of means. I notice that my time has almost expired and so, in conclusion, I say emphatically that the defence of this country can be advanced by an interchange of visits between some of our people and the peoples of other countries. I repeat that if we can spend £200,000,000 a year on defence, we can spend a few thousand pounds in the direction I have indicated. I am sorry that I am not able to deal with the Governor-General’s Speech as you, Mr. President, would desire, but as the Speech contains very little, it really does not matter much.

Senator PEARSON:
South Australia

– I join with other senators who have preceded me in this debate in expressing my intention to support the motion now before the Senate - a motion moved by my newly-elected colleague from South Australia, Senator Buttfield. I was glad to hear the tributes paid to the honorable senator by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, who complimented her on her speech and the manner in which it was delivered. My old and esteemed friend, Senator Maher, seconded the motion in his usual capable way.

The motion reaffirms our loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen, in person and as the occupant of the Throne, and I am glad to associate myself with that sentiment. I also, in the words of the motion, would like to thank His Excellency the Governor-General for the Speech which he saw fit to deliver at the opening of this Parliament.

I appreciate the sentiments expressed before the dinner suspension by Senator Brown regarding the high place which Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family occupy in our thoughts. Such sentiments are all too infrequently voiced, and therefore I am glad to think that, for once at least, I am in agreement with Senator Brown. The Royal Family has, as the honorable senator said, become the focal point of the people of the British Commonwealth because its members have set a high example of service and devotion to duty which we would do well to try to emulate.

Early in the Governor-General’s Speech His Excellency said -

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.

The victory of the Government parties in the House of Representatives was won because the people of Australia recognized the real worth of the present Government, led by an outstanding Australian, Mr. Menzies. They endorsed its record of achievement over a period of seven years - a record of sound administration in all the various ramifications of government activity for which the Commonwealth Government is responsible. At the same time they completely rejected, as they did on former occasions, the series of quite irresponsible promises put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in order to win votes for his party. I claim, with confidence, that in this chamber also the Government parties easily won the election. It is a fact that those parties won the election definitely in five out of six States. That is something with which we, on this side, have reason to be satisfied. Had it not been for the accident - I quote the term used by Senator Hendrickson - that occurred in Victoria, the Government parties would have won the election in all of the six States. It can, therefore, be said that we, on this side, have every reason for gratification at the attitude of the electors towards the Government in their voting for senators. It is equally true that the Labour party lost the election in all of the six States.

That is- something which honorable senators opposite can scarcely view with satisfaction.

I welcome the reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to the intention of th.e Government to set up an allparty committee of both Houses of the Parliament to investigate the constitutional problems that may be referred to it, particularly those affecting the relations between this chamber and another place. I am glad to have Senator Kennelly’s assurance, speaking as Deputy Leader of. the Opposition and on behalf of the Opposition, that the Labour party would join readily in the formation of a committee, and assist in its deliberations, and I express the hope that the committee will-go to work with at least the intention to find a solution of this very great and important problem without any desire on the part of any member to gain a temporary political advantage for his party. I am’ sure that the whole Senate is indebted- to Senator Gorton for the- very valuable, thoughtful and able contribution which he made on this subject earlier to-day. : -1-3 shall not discuss that matter at length, except to say that I am largely in agreement .with many of the opinions expressed by ‘Sena tor Gorton. I do not like to think that this chamber is to be deprived of any of its present privileges or authority which are enjoyed under the Constitution,- but I am. inclined to agree with Senator Gorton that the. Senate should not he <able to force an election on the House of Representatives under certain conditions, as is now possible, and itself still remain unaffected by the decision of the electors. If the Senate is to have the power to reject Supply, or do something of that nature, which would enable it to force a House of Representatives election, I suggest that at least that half of the Senate which has been longer in office should also face the electors. I say that for the reason that in 99 cases out of 100 it would be that section of the Senate which would be responsible for defeating the Government. I think it will be agreed that if the Government party, or parties, won the House of Representatives election, and also the election of half of the total membership of the Senate but still was without a majority in the Senate, those senators constituting the Opposition majority would be senators who had not recently faced the electors. Therefore, I submit that that section of the Senate should bc sent to the people at the same time as the House of Representatives is elected.

Senator Vincent:

– Why should only the older half of the Senate have to face the electors?

Senator PEARSON:

– That is a matter for debate; but, in my opinion, at least the older half of the Senate should have to face the electors.

Senator Critchley:

– That would include the honorable senator and me !

Senator PEARSON:

– The honorable senator’s interjection almost frightens me, but it does not deter me. There should be some responsibility attaching to the Senate as a whole, or at least that portion of it which exercises its right to function on certain occasions with the result that an election for members in the House of Representatives is forced on the people, t also find myself very much in agreement with Senator Gorton who, I think, suggested that, in the event of the Senate unduly holding up legislation for reasons of its own, the House of Representatives should have the power to force a Senate election so that the people could endorse or reject the Senate’s action. These are very involved matters, and far be it from me to indicate what should or should not be done. I am merely expressing a layman’s opinion. Nevertheless, I trust that the committee from both parties and both Houses of the Parliament will investigate these matters.

I agree with some of the minor details put forward by Senator Kennelly in his speech in the Senate recently, such as the need to indicate on the ballot-paper the flag which candidates fly, or the banner under which they stand, at elections. We must help the electors, as far as we possibly can, to know which candidates are contesting the elections in the interests of the various political parties; I cannot see any practical difficulty in marking the ballot-papers in such a way as to indicate to the elector quite clearly where, for instance, my friend Senator Critchley stood in the matter of party allegiance, although I feel that the honorable senator would be rejected out of baud if the electors knew that he stood for Australian Labour party interests. I think I am not alone in agreeing with Senator Kennelly’s proposition in that regard. I also find myself somewhat in agreement with his suggestion that it may not be necessary for the elector to complete the ballot-paper; that is, if there are, for instance, 25 candidates contesting the election, it should not be incumbent on the elector to fill in preferences for the whole 25 candidates.

Senator Vincent:

– For how many does the honorable senator suggest the elector should vote?

Senator PEARSON:

– I suggest that the elector should be compelled to indicate at least the number of candidates to be elected. It might be necessary to count the card further down, but for purposes of a valid vote; - and that is my only concern - I think it would be sufficient to vote only for the number of candidates required to be elected. Nothing less than that would satisfy me, because I think that the elector might be expected to acknowledge his responsibility and to indicate clearly those whom he wanted. If there were five persons to be elected, the elector should at least express a preference for five, in the order of his choice, and if there were a double dissolution or an extraordinary vacancy, he could vote for the requisite number, whatever it might be. For all I know, that suggestion may not bear examination, because of the difficulty of arriving at quotas, and so on, and I stand to be corrected in this connexion. Again. I am merely expressing a layman’s view, with the obvious desire to avoid the large number of informal votes which, unfortunately, we always see under the present system.

I wish to congratulate the new members of the Ministry, and I do so very sincerely. I believe that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has selected a band of capable and enthusiastic men. I endorse the action of the Government in enlarging the Ministry to a total of 22. At the risk of appearing parochial I say, however, that I feel that if Cabinet representation is to be regarded in any way on a State basis-

Senator McCallum:

– There is no doubt about that!

Senator PEARSON:

– That may be so, but if Cabinet representation has a State basis, then I say that perhaps South Australia has a claim to the appointment .’ of a second Minister, especially as the , Cabinet has open enlarged to 22. Prior1 to the untimely death of Senator George McLeay, two of the nineteen mem’bers of the Cabinet came from South Australia. Now, we are represented by only one Minister in a Ministry ‘of’ 22, and , we ‘ have eleven members in the House of Representatives. On the-‘ other hand, Tasmania has one member in the Cabinet and sends only five members to the House of Representatives. Western Australia, at the present time, has two Ministers in the Ministry and sends only nine members to the House of Representatives, whilst Queensland has five members in the Ministry and returns eighteen members to the House of Representatives.

When South Australia’s representation was reduced from two Ministers to one . Minister by the death of Senator George McLeay, I endorsed privately, and also as publicly as I could, the appointment of Senator Paltridge to the Ministry. I now say that the appointment of a . Western Australian in the person of Senator Paltridge had everything to commend it. on two counts. First, Senator. Paltridge is undoubtedly a person who can fill capably the position to which he has been appointed. T have up doubt that every honorable senator will agree that,, since his appointment, he has fulfilled the confidence we had in him.

Senator Mattner:

Senator Paltridge also has South Australian connexions.

Senator PEARSON:

– I have no doubt that the honorable senator is proud of those connexions, and perhaps that fact accounts for the success he is making of his portfolio. Secondly, after 1949, for a time, Western Australia did not have a single member in the Cabinet. Later, Mr. Hasluck was appointed as Minister, for Territories, thereby giving Western Australia its first representation until the appointment of Senator Paltridge. I think that the Prime Minister, probably quite rightly, decided that it was time to even up the nom-tion as between Western Australia and South Australia, and gave the appointment to a Western Australian, an action which I commend, but with the enlargement of the Ministry, following the recent election, South Australia’s representation should have been restored.

The Government, of course, has very stern tasks to face. “No one on either side of the chamber has any doubt about that. Those tasks will require strong action before we are completely out of the wood, and their performance may take a long time. Being an exporting country, Australia is confronted with the fact that, although the volume of exports is being increased, the total financial result of the sale of those exports is declining, and we are being left with leS3 money. Consequently, in spite of the efforts that are being put forward by those who produce the things we sell, our trade balance is still running down. That is a most unfortunate position. I need only cite to the Senate the case in relation to wool, to support that contention. Although the production of wool is still rising - the production this year was a record for the number of sheep shorn, the weight of wool per sheep, and in addition, I believe, the quality of that wool - the total cheque received from the sale of our wool was considerably less than that” received last year. In addition, we are confronted with a cost structure which is becoming a very great problem indeed. Without discussing this subject very fully, because my time is limited, I want to endorse the views expressed in this chamber by Senator Buttfield recently. The honorable senator made a very able plea for peace in industry and co-operation between all sections of industry. I want to repeat that plea to-night. Surely, in the interests of all who live in this country, not merely the interests of any one section of the community, it is time for us to try to co-operate with each other. I beg those people who go about the country preaching the old outworn doctrine of class hatred to stop doing so. I do not want to refer to individuals, but T consider that we had a very unfortunate speech in the Senate from Senator Cameron last night. The honorable senator’s speech consisted of a. rehash of the old conditions, and I am sure that he did not even do that accurately. The fact is that the people of this country, in every walk of life, have never been so prosperous as they are now. I strenuously refute Senator Cameron’s contention that, in Australia, the rich are getting richer and fewer and the poor are getting poorer and more numerous. That is not the truth.

Senator Cameron:

– It certainly is the truth.

Senator PEARSON:

– I say it is not. Surely the deposits in the savings banks of this country prove that what I have said is the truth. Honorable senators should also remember that more of the people of this country own their own houses than ever before, more of them own motor cars, and more own new home appliances that were not even thought of a generation ago. Those facts disprove completely the class-conscious charges made by Senator Cameron in the Senate last night. I speak very earnestly indeed when. I say that it is high time that all sections of industry got together in order to work out plans for carrying on the business of this country as cheaply as possible with our cost structure kept down to a minimum and our production kept up to a maximum.

We have heard a great deal recently from Senator Cameron and other honorable senators about the attitude of the Opposition towards industrial arbitration. If the system of arbitration needs perfecting, and it may, let us get together and do the job of perfecting it. But I shall not entertain the suggestions that have been made that the arbitration system has failed because it is at present doing things that are unpopular with some of my friends opposite. Let us consider the story of arbitration during the last ten years. It seems that while the arbitration tribunals, quite rightly, increased wages because of the increase of the cost of living and so On, and while, they, perhaps quite rightly, increased the basic wage by £1 a week, now when the time is probably coming when it may be right for the tribunals to lower wages in pertain circumstances, the arbitration system is said to be faulty.

I am thinking at present particularly of the recent award made in respect of the shearing industry, when the rates for shearers were reduced. If we ask why the piece-work rate for shearing sheep was substantially increased some time ago, we find that the answer is quite simple; there was a considerable increase of the price of wool. I believe that everybody in this country endorses the proposition that the persons who shear the sheep should share in the prosperity of the industry. But at present the price of wool has receded from the high average price of 120d. per lb. to about 60d. per lb., and because an arbitration tribunal recently reduced the piece-work rate for shearing by 7s. 6d. a hundred sheep, it was said that the arbitration courts were not doing their job, and that the whole arbitration system was failing. I suggest to those who criticize the arbitration system that arbitration cannot be a one-way system, although, as I have indicated, some people in this country expect it to be all their way. If there are delays in the hearing of cases before the tribunals, let us consider those delays and try to obviate them. But, on a matter of principle, arbitration can never be one-way traffic, because if it becomes such it will have failed.

Senator Cameron:

– The honorable senator should examine the arbitration system, and then he will understand it.

Senator PEARSON:

– I understand the case of the shearers, and I defy Senator Cameron to show that what I have suggested is not correct in that particular case. I now wish to reply to some of the statements made recently by Senator Kennelly about Labour’s- foreign policy. Senator Kennelly said that the Labour party has seen no good reason for changing its views about Australia’s foreign policy, and I do not think that I shall do Senator McKenna an injustice if I consider him to be in the same camp as Senator Kennelly because to-day he advocated the same things. I find myself in complete disagreement with them. I am sorry that the Labour party is adhering, in regard to defence and other kindred matters, to the policy put forward in Hobart. Senator Kennelly also said that Labour’s present policy would remain its foreign policy until it was altered by a properly constituted conference of the Labour party. I do not know when that will be, because it seems to me that the Labour party has great difficulty in arranging a properly constituted conference^ - or at least it did in Hobart, if what I have read is correct.

Senator Kennelly dealt with certain aspects of the Government’s foreign policy, particularly the stationing of our troops in Malaya, a policy that he severely criticized. I am in total disagreement with him on that point. Why should not Australia shoulder its responsibility in this matter, together with our great ally and our Mother Country, Great Britain? It is as simple as that to me. If it is right for Great Britain to put troops in Malaya at the present time, it is right for us to stand by the Mother Country and shoulder a similar responsibility.

Senator Gorton:

– At the request of Malaya.

Senator PEARSON:

– I thank Senator Gorton for his interjection. That action was taken at the request of Malaya. Tt has often been said that we are doing a dastardly thing, and acting against the wishes of the people of Malaya, by sending our troops there. That is not correct, and perhaps the silence of the Opposition at present means assent in regard to that matter. Senator Kennelly also_ spoke about testing nuclear weapons in this country. According to Hansard of the 1 6th February, he said -

If I had any power in the matter, I should say “there shall be no experiments in Australia “.

He went on to say -

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 “.

I thought, while listening to those remarks, that I was listening to the speech of an innocent abroad, but when I looked up and saw Senator Kennelly I realized that that certainly was not the case. He is no innocent abroad, and he made those statements on behalf of his party in the Senate. I say that the Government would be remiss in its duty to the people of Australia if it did not cooperate with Great Britain and our other allies in the testing of these weapons, and in any other defence project that is necessary for the welfare of this country. If this Government were to be remiss in those matters the Labour party would be the first to charge the non-Labour parties with being unprepared if another war should occur. They would level that charge against us, just as they have said that we entered the last war unprepared.

We are carrying our share of responsibility in the defence of this country by training men, building ships, producing and equipping aircraft and testing nuclear weapons. So long as I am a supporter of the Government I hope that the day will not come when Australia will cease to do its duty or cease to accept its responsibility in matters such as those about which I have been speaking.

My time has now almost elapsed, and consequently I cannot deal with certain other matters that I had hoped to put before honorable senators. I shall, therefore, conclude by expressing the hope that I have already expressed that we shall have less and less class hatred preached in this country, and shall get down firmly to the job of doing something constructive, not for the benefit of any single section of the people, but for the benefit of all our people.

Senator COLE:
Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party · Tasmania

– I should like to congratulate the mover of this motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, Senator Buttfield, on her very excellent speech and the sentiments that she expressed. The Governor-General’s Speech can be divided into three parts. It dealt, first, with constitutional problems regarding the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives; secondly, with foreign policy and defence measures; and, thirdly, with economic problems. I should like to deal with those matters in more detail.

For many years the Senate has been considered a rubber stamp for the House of Representatives. No doubt, when that claim will not hold good after the 1st July next, some people will describe the Senate as a house of reactionaries. The situation arising from the last general election will, during the next three years, lead to the passing of excellent legislation for the simple reason that the people on the extreme right, who are inclined to force their Government to bring in measures which, to my way of thinking, aire ‘not in the best interests of Australia, will necessarily have to curb their enthusiasm, and no measure will be brought in except after due consideration and unless it is for the benefit of Australia as a whole. On the other hand, the Labour party in this chamber will not be in a position foolishly to reject measures, as was the case during the session prior to the last double dissolution of the Parliament. That double dissolution was forced on an issue that really did not matter in the least, because banking administration in Australia to-day is still, as it was at that time, under the sole control of the Treasurer. E am afraid that on that occasion eminent constitutional lawyers tendered wrong advice that led to the granting of the double dissolution.

The committee which it is proposed to set up to inquire into Senate representation should have a number of problems to consider. The first of them is whether there should be a joint meeting of both Houses of the Parliamnet to resolve deadlocks. If the Senate surrenders any of its powers at all, it will deserve the criticism that many people have made of it. In that event the Senate could not justify its existence and should be dissolved.

A number of other matters should be discussed by the proposed committee, and certain proposals should be given effect to by the Parliament or, if need be, through a referendum. First of all is the technique of voting at Senate elections. The number of informal votes cast in elections for the Senate is appalling. In large measure that is due to the fact that electors have to vote for every candidate whose name appears on the ballotpaper. Some people are not greatly interested in voting at all. We have in Tasmania, I think, the fairest method of voting, and I suggest that that method should be employed in Senate elections. I refer to the Hare-Clark system. That system enables the people through their vote to indicate their real thoughts and desires in electing their parliamentary representatives. Under it, an elector is required to vote for three candidates only in order to record a valid vote. That system should be employed in Senate elections. Even in the event of a double dissolution, it should be sufficient to require an elector to vote for a minimum of three candidates. Most people go to the polls to vote for one candidate only. Some are more thoughtful and may have two in their mind ; but the great majority do not go beyond three and they simply place their other preferences haphazardly on the ballot paper..

A tremendous number of informal votes were cast at the”) last general election, but I do not think we can take the voting at that election’ ‘as a criterion of the intelligence of the- people of Australia, because a number of factors were operating. However, we must get rid of the high proportion, of informal votes. Another way in which that could be done would be by abolishing compulsory voting. Australians pride’ themselves on their education system, and it is a good system. Under it, only those who are not educable are not getting .any. “education. No person should be coinpelled to vote. Under those conditions, only thoughtful people would bring governments into being. We all. know the’ ramnifications of electioneering. Some people are coerced into voting although’ they do not care what party is elected “or what its policy is. This country should be controlled by people who are” willing to think about their responsibility in this respect and who desire to ‘Cast a truly thoughtful vote.

Another worthwhile lesson which could lie learned from Tasmania, and which would add dignity to polling day, is the abolition of canvassing on polling day. A further result is ..that electors are nor, badgered, by all types of canvassers. In . Tasmania electors are being educated to come to a. decision the day before polling day instead of at the polling booth, and the result is that in that State polling is conducted in a dignified way. That could be recommended bv such a committee.

The proposal to place the names of the parties on. the ballot-papers would lead to an interesting situation. If such an important proposal were adopted, which party would ;<be recognized as the Australian Labour party? In Victoria, the existing organization is recognized as the Australian Labour party. It controls all the. officers., the funds and the property nf tho party. A committee to consider these matters would find the recognition of the Labour party an interesting subject, however.

Such a committee would also have to consider additional functions for the Senate. I do not believe that the Senate is fulfilling now the functions for which it was established. We should have committees, such as the Foreign Affairs Committee, or a committee of the whole Senate to deal with various aspects of legislation and national life. The Senate would then be filling a definite function in the legislative programme, and such a. proposal is worthy of close investigation. When the recommendations of the proposed committee on the relationship of the two Houses are submitted, I hope that they will include a recommendation that the powers of the Senate be increased and not reduced. Honorable senators should be prepared to perform, definite functions in the legislative life of the nation. The Senate was established as a States House to prevent control of the nation falling into tho hands of the more populous States. But for agreement on that matter, there would not have been federation in Australia. The sovereign rights of the States have to be jealously guarded by their representatives in the Senate.

If this Senate is to survive as a House of review, party politics must be outlawed. They should not supersede national interests which can best be safeguarded if the 60 senators lui ve an unfettered outlook. The suggested committee could examine that, matter closely and, in particular, give some attention to the oath that is taken by honorable senators. We have party government in Australia and apparently elections will always be fought on party lines, but we should free our minds of party interests when we represent, the States in this Senate. If the powers of the Senate are to be abrogated, i should prefer to see the Senate abolished.

I wish to direct my attention now to references that were made in the Governor-General’s Speech to foreign affairs and the defence of Australia. Senator Kennelly, who was the spokesman for the Australian Labour party Opposition in this debate and who, T suppose. expressed the policies and ideas of the Opposition, tried very valiantly but unconvincingly to justify the foreign policy of the Australian Labour party that was brought into being in March, 1955, by the notorious Hobart conference. I know very well that a great number of supporters of the Australian Labour party do not believe in that policy. It is a policy that will sell out Australia. It is unAustralian, and I hope that the Australian Labour party will never become un-Australian. I hope that the phase through which it is passing because of political pressure will be only a temporary one. “When Senator Kennelly supported the recognition of red China he was recognizing aggression as a means of enforcing international relationships. That si ay be his own way of thinking. Red China will merit recognition only when it puts its house in order and forgets aggression. The time for Australia to recognize red China will arrive when it is recognized by the United Nations.

Senator Tangney:

– What about Churchill and Eden?

Senator COLE:

– The British recognized red China because they owned property and trading rights there, and thought that they could salvage them. They hoped to hold Hong Kong. They lost their self respect in China and their trade as well.

The Australian Labour party is opposed to the despatch of a battalion of Australian troops to Malaya. Supporters of that party ask, “ What is the use of a battalion of troops ? “. The answer is that they are being used to fulfil our obligations, just as the Australian troops fulfilled an obligation when they went into Greece in World War II. We must get behind the Seato and Anzus pacts and not allow somebody else to do the job that Australia should shoulder. Senator Kennelly was denying this important fact.

Since I have entered the Parliament, there Lave been frequent references to the Brisbane line. Supporters of the Australian Labour party have described it as a terrible thing. Senator Kennelly has put forward Labour’s view which, apparently, favours the Alice Springs line. We do not want to have to fight a war in Australia. We know that communism is hurtling down through Asia and SouthEast Asia. We must make sure that Malaya and Singapore, when they gain their independence, will adopt a national outlook - not the outlook of red China, because once Malaya became red or Communistdominated, it would not be very long before a similar state of affairs came about in Indonesia where, already, there exists a strong nucleus of communistic idealism.

I come now to the question of longrange weapons, which were mentioned in the foreign policy that was enunciated by Senator Kennelly. We should not be merely experimenting with long-range weapons. Only by possessing a thorough knowledge of these weapons can Australia prevent aggressors from invading its shores.

Senator Vincent:

– Hear, hear!

Senator COLE:

– The only way to project Australia from attack by the use of long-range weapons is to establish emplacements for long-range weapons with atomic warheads along our coastline. During the last war, guns had a field of fire of only a few miles. I suggest that the proposed long-range weapons emplacements should be located so as to provide fields of fire extending over hundreds of miles. Behind those emplacements, mobile forces would be needed. The Air Force - mainly the fighter and transport wings - would need to be at the peak of efficiency. The Air Force provides a means of transporting paratroops rapidly from one place to another, but I do not think sufficient attention is being paid to the training of paratroops, who form an important part of the defence force. They could be used to deal with invaders if they managed to break through the outer defences. But, as I have said before, even a huge invasion force advancing towards Australia could be dispersed by long-range weapons equipped with atomic warheads. Smaller advancing invasion units could be dealt with successfully by the meagre forces that we have at our command.

Senator Kendall:

– The honorable senator has not mentioned the Navy.

Senator COLE:

– I do not think the Navy would be of any value in such a war. It is obvious, therefore, that the policy that was outlined by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Kennelly to-day would, if given effect, do great harm to Australia. It is to be hoped that, in the very near future, another Labour conference will introduce a little bit of sanity into that party in its approach to foreign affairs.

I come now to a consideration of the economic problems that confront this country. The present precarious state of the economy is due to the fact that the Australian Government has not used its constitutional authority to control the monetary and banking systems. Bank credit should be utilized to achieve balanced development. During the last twelve months, a considerable proportion of bank credit has been used to pay for unnecessary imports and to finance hire purchases. Much of the money that is being used in the field of hire purchase should be used for developmental purposes. I consider that there is no more iniquitous system than the hire-purchase system. Recently, I made inquiries about the rate of interest charged, and other aspects of hire purchase. I made a specific inquiry in relation to the hire purchase of a refrigerator priced at £172. I was informed by the shopkeeper that if I paid a deposit of £20 on the refrigerator, and undertook to pay the balance by instalments within twelve months, 1 would be charged £19 5s. interest. I inquired what would be the position if I undertook to pay the balance by instalments extending over two years, and was informed that an additional amount of £10 5s. would be payable as interest. In other words, although onehalf of the balance owing would be paid during the first twelve months, the same amount of interest would be chargeable in respect of the second twelve months. It is no wonder that plenty of money is available to finance hire purchase.

It is high time that the States cooperated with the Commonwealth in drawing up of an order of priority in relation to public works, on the basis of first things first. Only by so doing can we hope to see many projects which have been commenced brought to completion within a reasonable time so that they may produce revenue. It is imperative to develop our export industries. The woollen industry, which is our greatest export industry, and contributes most to our overseas funds, is passing through a precarious phase.

Senator Hendrickson:

– Why ?

Senator COLE:

– Unless shearers’ grievances are rectified in the very near future, it is doubtful whether they will continue shearing.

Senator Cameron:

– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done?

Senator COLE:

– The shearers have been asked by the Arbitration Court to accept “a reduction of 7s. 6d. a hundred sheep.

Senator Pearson:

– Why?

Senator COLE:

– The rate that they have enjoyed was granted because of the prosperous state of the wool industry. As the price of wool has fallen, the court considers that their remuneration should be reduced. They are not being starved; they are still making big money.

Senator Sheehan:

– Are not the woolgrowers making big money?

Senator COLE:

– Most of the shearers are willing to continue shearing operations on an equitable basis.

Senator Hendrickson:

– What about the woolbrokers in London who are selling our wool to Russia and making a profit of 30 per cent. ?

Senator COLE:

– I am not talking about Russia, but Australia.

Senator Hendrickson:

– The honorable senator is talking about reducing the workers’ wages.

Senator COLE:

– That is not so. I am saying that if the wage were uneconomic for the workers it would be a different matte]1, but it is not uneconomic for them. If it were not for certain union officials the shearers would be willing to continue with their job.

Senator Hendrickson:

– They would be starving.

Senator COLE:

– It is stupid to say that they would be starving.

Senator Hendrickson:

– They were starving 50 years ago, when there were no union officials to look after their interests.

Senator COLE:

– But they are not starving to-day.

Senator Hendrickson:

– Thanks to the efforts of the union officials.

Senator COLE:

– Another important factor in Australian life is shipping, and it seems that the Australian Government is prepared to sell the great Commonwealth shipping line. If that is done it will be disastrous for Australia. This shipping line has developed profitable services, and has helped in the advancement of Australia. It must be kept going. During the past five or six years, the Government should have done much more to improve the shipping line. It should have expanded the work of the line not only on the coastal runs, but also overseas, and it is imperative that this should be done. If my vote can influence the fate of the Commonwealth shipping line it will be cast against the sale of the ships.

Shipping is of vital importance to Tasmania, and I am confident that every senator from that State, whether Liberal or Labour, will agree with that statement. It is impossible for Tasmanian produce to be marketed successfully in mainland States without the assistance of the Commonwealth shipping line. It is the only line that can be requested to carry uneconomic freights, and it does so. Shipping is the lifeblood of Australia, and can best be controlled by the Government. The Commonwealth shipping line will remain under the control of the Government if I have anything to do with it.

The standard of education in Australia is equal to that of any other country, and in Tasmania it is on a higher level still, because the education authorities in that State are willing to try new methods. Owing to the influx of migrants and the rapid expansion that is taking place everywhere, our schools and universities are overcrowded, sufficient education facilities are not available and the working conditions and remuneration offered to teachers are not good enough to attract an adequate number of students to embark on a teaching career. The Commonwealth Government will have to do something in this matter which, primarily, is a State responsibility. I wish to read a letter that I received from the Tasmanian State School Teachers Federation, dated the 17th February, 1956-

It is part of the official policy of the Australian Teachers’ Federation to support the view that “ The Commonwealth Government should establish a Commonwealth Ministry of Education which, in consultation with the State Education Department and other appropriate advisers, including representatives of the Australian Teachers’ Federation, shall advise the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of ensuring that adequate finance shall be provided to the State Government so that education at all stages - pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary - is available and free for all Australians.”

This opinion is held in the belief that education is essentially of national importance, and therefore properly the concern of the Federal Government, oven though administration is loft to State Governments. The extent and nature of the education provided in schools and other institutions is fundamental in determining the nature of the Australian culture, the way of life of the people, their character, and their capacity for developing the country. This means that it is a Commonwealth Government responsibility to require certain minimum standards and facilities throughout the nation and to ensure that adequate finance is available and spent for education. In addition the Commonwealth Government immigration programme is making heavy new demands on the educational systems.

The Annual Conference of the Australian Teachers’ Federation (representing teachers from all States) held in the House of Assembly at Hobart during January, sent a telegram to the Prime Minister expressing regret that he had not seen fit to appoint a Minister for Education to his new Cabinet. Members of the Tasmanian State School Teachers’ Federation would be pleased to know your attitude to the appointment of a Federal Minister for Education and to request that you will endeavour through your Party and the Parliament to gain support for such appointment.

Although the appointment of a Minister foi” Education would increase the number of Cabinet Ministers to 23 I would be willing to vote for it. It is obvious that teachers, and those dealing with education in Australia want something done, especially in the provision of facilities. E agree with them that it is most important that the Australian Government should assist financially to do everything possible to facilitate the education of the people.

The subject of immigration was dealt with in the Governor-General’s Speech, and His Excellency said -

The migration programme gives rise to substantial demands upon capital resources for industry, houses, schools, hospitals, transport and public service generally.

Elsewhere, His Excellency said -

My Government will maintain a substantial and balanced immigration programme during thu coming year. lt is gratifying to learn that the stupendous and humanitarian task of nationbuilding will be prosecuted by the Government through its immigration policy. We are sure that if the flow of immigrants to this country continues they will do a great deal to build up Australia from both an economic and a defence standpoint. It is interesting to note that only this month, President Eisenhower in a message to Congress said -

Throughout our history immigration to th i. land has contributed’ greatly to the strength n rid character of’ our Republic.

In recommending an increase of the annual quota intake by 65,000, the American President said -

This would enable thi,1,1 to give greater assistance to persons abroad who have undergone suffering and hardships resisting Communist aggression, and who would make beneficial contributions to this country.

We must be just as realistic as President Eisenhower has shown himself to be. 3 emphasize that Tasmania, would receive warmly a much higher percentage of immigrants, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled, than it now receives. Both the Premier of that State and its Minister for Immigration keenly desire Commonwealth co-operation in a long-term scheme of rural development for new Australians, and also in housing them after our own people have been provided for. The economy of Australia is in a state of flux. lt is hard to say what the future has in store, hut if we continue the way we are going, and are willing to work and produce more, then I am confident that Australia has a future to look forward to; but if we are not prepared to share the trials that may await us, and to do our utmost to produce more, and so adjust the adverse trade balance, I am afraid that Australia will not be worth saving. From a defence point of view we .have te make sure that the great open spaces of this country are filled, and the sooner that ‘is done, the more secure we shall feel.

Senator GRANT:
New South Wales

– One thing has been particularly noticeable in the speeches of honorable senators opposite, because every one of them, without exception, has shown that he is not prepared to deal with anything worthwhile, especially the important subject of inflation. In 1949, the Menzies Government came into power with a promise to restore the value of the £1. Senator Pearson told us this evening that the present Government was a sound government. That is true; it has been a government of sound. Mr. Menzies has travelled from one end of Australia to the other addressing the people, but the country has gone from worse to worse since he and his Government came into office.

Senator PEARSON:

– If that is so, why did the people support him and his Government in succeeding elections?

Senator GRANT:

– They did so because the honorable senator and the party to which he belongs entered into an unholy alliance, said things they knew were lies, allied the Opposition with the Communist party although in their hearts they knew that was a lie. As in days gone by, the people, referring to Christ, said, “Away with Him; release unto us Barabbas “, so the Government parties have treated the Opposition.

Senator Pearson had something to say about the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It does not matter whether there is arbitration or not, because so long as wages are pegged and prices remain unpegged, arbitration is a farce. Mr. Menzies has tripped around the world many times. When he is at home, he calls himself a simple Presbyterian, but when he gets within a mile of a Scotsman, he claims to be a Scot. I understand that he is an Australian of the fourth generation. Once again he is indulging in his habit of procrastination and running away from awkward questions.

Senator Pearson also spoke about defence and referred to what Senator Kennelly and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) had to say on the subject. Senator Gorton is a man for whom I have a great admiration - at least I admire him for his intellect - and I understand that he is one of the leading members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Yet the honorable senator wanted to know when the next war was to take place, and he had something to say about sending troops to Malaya. He also wanted to know whom we were to fight, and what stocks of munitions we were to use, if we fought. Those are rather strange questions for one of the most prominent members on the Foreign Affairs Committee to ask. It would appear that the honorable senator thinks that Mr. Menzies has overlooked him, and so he tells a somewhat different story to-day. Senator Gorton has too much intelligence to be in the inner group of the Ministry. As honorable senators know, there is an inner Cabinet and an outer group. If you penetrate far enough through the outer group, and then the inner group, you come at last to big chief Menzies.

We are told that everything in the garden is lovely because the Government has appointed some wonderful economists to help it. The Government seems to have forgotten that economists have been the joke of the world for about 100 years - ever since capitalism came into existence. I remember the time when there was a hold-up in connexion with wheat because of some dispute about an extra penny a bushel. One of these great economists named Jevons said that the rise in price was not due to the causes stated by other people, but was caused by spots on. the sun. Now we have another great brains trust called in to help the Government. A friend of mine, speaking of one of them., said that he was reminded of the time when Caligula, the Emperor of Rome, appointed his horse to be a consul of Rome. When Mr. Hoover was President of the United States of America he had economists around him. So satisfied was he with them that he assured the people of America that if he was returned to power there would be a car in every garage. At that time there were not so many cars in America as there are today. He also promised the people that there would be two chickens in every pot. Despite those promises, within a very short time 14,000,000 people in America were out of work. There was a great depression. The Menzies Government, which has been in office for about seven years, has not solved one economic problem. When it suits the Government, it believes in doing business on a trader-to-trader basis; at other times it espouses capitalism, or advocates individual enterprise, but whenever it is confronted with difficulties that it cannot solve, it resorts to socialism. As has been ably said by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), we are suffering from profit inflation. I, in my own way, have tried to point out the same thing for the last five or six years. Apart from Marx, the only bourgeois economist that I know of who put forward a method whereby depressions could be prevented was Keynes. If this Government had been wise in 1949, 1950 or 1951, it would have given effect to Keynes’ proposition that if capitalism is to work, you must impose heavy taxes when things are booming, and when things are bad, the Government must open up public works and put the people to work. When we were experiencing the great boom of a few years ago, and the graziers were making millions of pounds, that was the time to put Keynes’ theory into effect. Indeed, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) started to do so when he took £100,000,000 from the graziers. It may have been unfair to take the surplus money from only one section of the coram unity-

Senator Pearson:

– Did the honorable senator support- that action at the time?

Senator GRANT:

– Yes, I did support it at that time. Of course, it would be unfair to confine such action to the graziers. The theory should also be put into effect, perhaps, in relation to people who produce motor cars and other things in this acquisitive society. At that time a grazier said to me, “I gave my son a little property. He has been on it only a few months, and already he is emancipated “. As honorable senators know, in those days the graziers went on to the share market. They bought anything they wanted. They went for trips abroad, and they went in for luxuries. “When the Australian Labour party was in office, its policy included controls, but when the present Government parties got into power they wiped out controls. They said that there was plenty of money, and there should be an open go. When the referendum on prices control was being put to the people, the pompous Sir Eric Harrison, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, told the people, “We do not want any more controls. The States can do a better job than can the Commonwealth “. Imagine any man outside a lunatic asylum believing that! Indeed, quite a lot of people inside lunatic asylums would not believe it, either. There were no controls, and people were paying as much as £25 for shoes made in Czechoslovakia; money went into the production of all kinds of fancy goods, such as ear-rings and bangles, which were not necessary.

If the Australian Labour party had been returned to office in 1949, knowing the trades union movement as it did, it would have said to the Australian Council of Trades Unions, “ You agree to the pegging of wages and we shall agree to peg prices “. That would have been done. Instead of that, there was a boom which forced restrictions to be imposed. In 1952, there was an economic setback, and some unemployment, and the controls went on again. All that is before the Government now is boom and bust. We in Australia speak as though we are able to dictate to the whole world about what we intend to do, but if the price of wool falls, as it must, the heavens will fall on us. We have had the same government in office for a good many years, and I challenge any honorable senator opposite to tell me of one economic problem that it has solved. Nationally and internationally, it has been a complete and absolute failure.

Honorable senators opposite have been speaking to-day about foreign affairs. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has delivered the same address, twice a year, for the last five years. T know it by heart. He speaks about the free nations of Asia. Which free nations ? I happen to have been born in Scotland and you can believe me, Mr. President, that if anything were free, I should see it. But I cannot see the free nations of Asia. Let us consider the happenings in Siam recently. The Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) should have been in charge of those naval exercises which we and our wonderful allies have been conducting in Siam and the Gulf of Siam. Those allies include the Philippines, a country which is owned by two people. Three-quarters of the people of the Philippines can neither read nor write. Yet, it is one of the great free Asian countries.

Mr. Nehru is opposed to Seato, but of course we are not interested in Mr. Nehru. It seems that he does not count at all. Whenever there is discussion in the United Nations, we take the side of the reactionaries. If there is a possibility of war - and I know there is not going to be a war - the first step to be taken in trying to prevent it is to earn the goodwill of the coloured peoples. But what do we do? When there is discussion in the United Nations about, for instance, apartheid - and I know something about this system which the South Africans are trying to put into operation - we again vote with the reactionaries. As honorable senators may know, the United Nations appointed a committee to go to South Africa and make investigations of the problems there, but Strijdom and his fascists have refused the United Nations the right to investigate.

The Portuguese, a wonderfully civilized people at one time in their history, have occupied Goa, in India, for two or three hundred years, and it has been suggested that, in the interests of peace, they should get out. How did Australia vote on this question ? Nehru was for it, so of course Australia was against it. When there was a protest against the brutality of the Foreign Legion in North Africa - which consists mostly of Germans, by the way - again Australia voted against investigation of conditions there. And so it has gone on. Our position in foreign affairs is worse to-day than it ever was.

The last time that Senator Gorton spoke on this subject in the Senate, and also on the occasion before that, I said, “ In a year’s time the situation will be worse than it is now”. A year ago, the problem concerned Indo-China. What has happened to that country? One of the “ brave “ gentlemen who represented free Asia at that time was named Bao Dai, and gentlemen called Syngman Rhee and Chiang Kai-shek also represented free Asia. Every member of the Government knows that Chiang Kai-shek has not a million to one chance. Indeed, everybody except Senator Cole knows that that is so. The 500,000,000 people in China and the 10,000,000 people in Formosa are being kept by the Americans. If we wish to know what Australian foreign policy is, we should read what Foster Dulles says to-day. Then we shall know what Mr. Casey will gay next Pancake Tuesday.

We have been told by the Foreign Affairs Committee about how well we are getting on. Let us consider the events of the last twelve months. Are we progressing in the fight against the Communists, or are we losing? During the last twelve months, we have lost any influence that we might have had in Egypt, and that is true also of Saudi Arabia. We are very interested in freedom in that country. It is a peculiar thing, but wherever there are oil well we are interested in freedom. The Baghdad pact is not worth a bumper. Yugoslavia has gone back into the Bolshevik orbit, and with the demise of Stalin the butcher and the broadening of Communist leadership, in all probability many more people will be inclined to support the Communist regime, foolish people who are opposed to capitalism and who flunk that they may get something better by embracing bolshevism. For myself. 1 am exceedingly doubtful.

I ask honorable senators who went on to the hustings and said that the Australian Labour party was controlled by the Communists, whether they really believed that to be so. This Government came to office at the end of 1949. There was an election in 1951, and in the election speeches of Government supporters it was said time and time again that the Labour party was run by the Communists. Did the people who said that believe what they said? Now they have the audacity to say to the Labour party, “Come in ‘and help us”. On the one hand they say that everything in the garden is lovely, while they call in experts to tell them what to do to get them out nf their economic trouble, and on the other hand they say that the Labour party is run by Communists, but they want us to join them on the Foreign Affairs Committee and help them with Australia’s foreign policy. I ask honorable senators on the Government side what would they’ have done if we had called them Communists, and then had asked them to come on to a committee and help us.

Senator Wright:

– That depends upon where the honorable senator’s national sentiment lies.

Senator GRANT:

– It is not a matter of sentiment with me, it is a matter of logic.

Senator WRIGHT:
TASMANIA · LP; IND from June 1978

– Perhaps I can say that it depends where the honorable senator’s loyalties are, if he prefers the challenge direct.

Senator GRANT:

– If Senator Wright wishes to make inquiries into the loyalties of people, ho should make inquiries into the loyalties of those who supply munitions to all the countries of the earth, and into the loyalties of the shipowners who increase freights without any reference to arbitration, before he questions me. about my loyalties.

Senator WRIGHT:
TASMANIA · LP; IND from June 1978

– The persons that Senator Grant has mentioned are not members of the Parliament.

Senator GRANT:

– Who is protecting members of the Parliament?

Senator Wright:

– The honorable senator is.

Senator GRANT:

– I suggest that Senator Wright certainly needs protecting. 1 urn in no need of any protection.

Senator Henty:

– It seems to me as though the honorable senator needs protection from something.

Senator GRANT:

– I say to the honorable senator who interjected that I have been talking to the butcher, not to the block. I was under the impression that T was replying to an intelligent interjection from Senator Wright, but as for the microcephalic morons from Tasmania, I treat them with the contempt that they deserve.

The PRESIDENT (Senator A M McMullin:

– I suggest that Senator Grant would be wise to moderate hie language.

Senator GRANT:

– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President.

Senator MAHER:

– The honorable senator should apologize to the Chair.

Senator GRANT:

– I shall apologize if it will do any good to Senator Maher. As a matter of fact, every time I look at the honorable senator I feel like apologizing.

Senator MAHER:

– That is not original.

Senator GRANT:

– There is nothing in the world that is original, but the honorable senator is a very near approach. I do not know whether Senator Maher is an advertisement for birth control or an advertisement for the Darwinian theory. A few years ago, in the councils of the United Nations, whenever there was a line up of power, 46 nations stood behind America, six nations stood against America, and five were absentees when a vote was taken. Then, for two years, the nations argued whether they would allow Yugoslavia and the Philippines to be represented. That matter has been resolved by allowing those nations to take turn about in the United Nations, and I believe that sixteen new members have been admitted, increasing the membership from 60 to 76. Now, due to the machinations of Chiang Kai-shek, the Russians are in a key position in the United Nations to veto any proposal to admit Japan as a member. That indicates that within the United. Nations, instead of having a majority of 40, the Western Powers now share influence on a 50-50 basis with Russia.

Mr. Foster Dulles seems to run this country. Have we no foreign policy of our own? Honorable senators from the Government side have asked what is the Labour party’s policy. I ask what is the Government’s policy. At present Australia has no policy towards foreign affairs and, indeed, no policy towards internal affairs. If that is not so, then it is pertinent for me to ask what the Government intends to do to counter inflation in this country. There is not one intelligent man or woman in Australia to-day who is not afraid of what is going to happen. I do not care who a person votes for, I say that he does not know what is going to happen. _ Yet, this is a time when the Prime Minister (Mr.

Menzies) says, “I stand for stability; everybody is doing all right “. I suggest that if the Prime Minister were on the basic wage and had a wife and a couple of children and was the only bread winner of the family, be would then know how well off the workers are. They are only well off to-day because the home hardly exists. The wife and, in some cases, the children go to work because the cost of living is so high that if they did not work they would not be able to live at all. If that is prosperity then it is prosperity at the expense of breaking up the home, and that being so it is certainly a very poor sort of prosperity.

Unlike the previous speaker, I do not desire to take up all the time allotted to me, as well aa most of the time of the speaker who will follow me, and so I must confine my remarks to essentials. Perhaps I have said some fairly hard things in my speech to-night, but surely we in the Senate are entitled to say things that may appear to be harsh.

Let us now consider what happened during the last Federal elections m Victoria. Wherever the groupers stood in constituencies that were predominantly antiLabour, the groupers polled the highest vote. Surely that indicates the alliance between the groupers and the anti-Labour forces. We are told that the Prime Minister is a simple Presbyterian. Just try to get a quid from him, and you will find how simple a Presbyterian he is. As a simple Presbyterian he told the electors about tho good work of the groupers, and in the process of doing so he spoilt the chance- of one of his own candidates for the Senate.

The Prime Minister has spoken all over the country since 1949. One night he speaks to the women of the country, the next day he speaks to the boys’ brigade, and the following night to somebody else. He has talked to every section of the community. The Prime Minister has been full of _ talk, talk, talk, and with all his exhibitionism the country is now fundamentally in a worse state than it has ever been since Captain Cook landed here. The cost of living has increased since 1949 to a proportionately greater degree in Australia than in any other country in the world.

Senator Maher:

– But wages have also increased.

Senator GRANT:

Senator Maher is always upside down, and he is upside down about this matter also.


– Order ! Honorable senators must not interject.

Senator GRANT:

– The reason why wages have increased is simply that prices increased first. The workers have not received any advantage since this Government came to office. They have succeeded merely in holding their own. In some States, where wages have been pegged, the workers have lost up to £1 a week. The reason I have said that this country is in a very bad state is that I have never known a government to be as hopelessly incompetent as is our present Government. I suppose that in order to make some sort of attack on inflation the Government will increase taxes on the commodities that the workers buy, and apparently there will have to be heavy taxation.

Recently, some people have inquired into what should be done, and they have suggested that high taxation will solve our problem. It seems that everybody is in favour of increased taxation, but not in favour of it applying to them. Those great patriots, the manufacturers, say, “Let us have higher taxation, but not on us “. The importers and the graziers say, “ Increase taxation, but not on us”. In this country, there are hundreds of millions of pounds worth of paper money which I might call watered money, and the Government will have to raise loans in real money to soak up that water. When a Labour government was in office in this country under the late Mr. Chifley, Commonwealth loans were always oversubscribed, but after this Government assumed office the value of stocks and shares increased and nobody would bother about investing in Government loans. To obtain money the Government increased interest rates. The result of that was that when loans became profitable people put their money into them, and then as the bank rate of interest went up again the price of the loans went down. Senator Cole spoke about our great education system; but it was unnecessary to tell us about that.

We had only to listen to him to know how highly educated we are. We hear talk about Australia being the greatest country in the world - the country whose Government has repudiated the best people in the community, the people to whom it appealed to put their money into war loans ! Where is that money now It is true that subscribers will get it back, but when they get it back it will not be worth even half as much as it was when they invested it in loans.

Without being facetious I say that I have never seen such a hopeless Government. This country is in a very bad way indeed. In England, another democratic country, things are very bad but at least it can be said that England has some sort of an excuse for its present circumstances. England was subjected to terrific bombing; it lost its resources and investments in most parts of the world and had to get raw materials and food cheaply so that it could continue to manufacture. This Government came into existence when there was a great demand for foodstuffs, when production and prices were high, commodities were plentiful and money was flowing into the coffers. The Chifley Government was from £500,000,000 to £600,000,000 in credit in its London funds; but look at the position now. It is no wonder that Government supporters say that this Government is a “ sound “ Government, because that is all it is.

For myself I see no way out of our difficulties unless more controls are introduced. The Government is against controls except when they suit it. When it suits it, it believes in socialism, in import controls and in controlling the “cockey” who is the producer. Now, it has to get itself out of the mess in which it finds itself. It will try to get out of its difficulties by putting the burden on the worker and by reducing his standard of living still further. That is what the experts are going to advise; and then Mr. Menzies will say, “I did not do it, I took the advice of my experts “. He has been in office for seven years, and things are worse now than when he came into office. He said he would put value back into the £1 but value has been going out of the £1 every minute he has been in power. He has created a condition of complete uncertainty in Australia; nobody knows where he is or what he is doing. Parliamentarians pay £4 10s. a week for a pension upon retirement, but when they get it, it will not be worth taking because it will not be worth half that amount in real money. The same state of affairs exists throughout the community which this Government has wrecked. Mr. Menzies has been talking and talking, but the country is in a pitiful condition. Under the Chifley Government, Australia was the soundest country in the world.

On my last visit overseas, I came home from America with two divines, one of the Roman Catholic Church and the other of the Protestant Church. I shall not mention their names. One of them said to me, “ I was against controls before I left Australia, but since I have been in America and Canada I think that the controls in Australia were the wonder of the world “. Look at the position to-day. It is “ open go “. If a person has money, he can do what he likes, and the devil take the hindmost. That is the way in which the party opposite is governing this country in a time of crisis. The only way out for Australia will be to return a Labour government. I am waiting patiently for the report of the economic experts whom the Government has called to its aid. The appointment of such a committee is an insult to the intelligence of Australians, and to that of our public servants. We have great minds in the Treasury; yet the Prime Minister has found it necessary to bring men in from outside to tell his Government what it should do. That action alone condemns the Government. If I have transgressed. Mr. President, I apologize, but having had so many interruptions to contend with, I think I will bo excused on that score.

Senator MARRIOTT (“Tasmania) [9.551. - In rising to take part in the Address-in-Reply debate, I desire to make passing reference to the speech we have just heard from Senator Grant. I do not intend to answer his absurd accusations against the work of the Government during the last five or six years. All I would say is that the honorable senator was doing his best to tell the people of Australia that they are stupid and that Grant is the only one who has any common sense; because while he said such frightful things about the Government, he kept reminding honorable senators that the people had returned this Government to power on each occasion that it has gone to the country. Such talk as that is an insult to the people of Australia, the intelligence of whom is greater than that of the honorable senator.

The Speech we are considering is possibly the first delivered by a GovernorGeneral in recent years in which the Senate takes prominence in the main opening paragraph. It is a sign of things to come during the next three years. 1 remind honorable senators that prior to the general election critics of the Senate - and there will always be critics of the Parliament - said that it was a mere rubber stamp of another place. After the 30th June next, by the free vote of the electors, there will be 30 members of the Government parties on one side, 2S members of the Australian Labour party on the other side and, in the metaphorical middle benches, two members of the Anti-Communist Labour party. The press and other critics say that something must be done about the Senate because the Government will not have control in this chamber. In other words they say one day that the Senate is a rubber stamp, and the next day that it is wrong for hot being a rubber stamp. I express the opinion quite sincerely that as a result of the vote of the people a lot of good will accrue to the Senate and to the National Parliament as a whole; and whatever good comes to the Parliament benefits the nation.

It must be remembered that as a result of the ejection the Australian Labour party has almost disintegrated in another place. It is a weak, small Opposition. Honorable senators on this side, who are believers in private enterprise, know that where there is competition there is better service; and the Senate will be in the position at the beginning of the next financial year on the 1st July really to play its proper role as a house of review. I believe that a constitutional all-party committee should be set up to consider certain aspects of the construction of the Senate. At the same time, the Senate should turn its eyes upon itself to see whether or not improvements can he made so that the work of the Parliament can go on steadily. In this respect I offer a. couple of suggestions. I believe that a house of review is essential, and I.’ am a firm supporter of the bi-cameral system of government. Tasmania is fortunate in having a house of review which is an example that could well be followed in any other State or in the Federal sphere where the- bi-cameral system of Government is in operation. I support my colleague, Senator Henty, who last night suggested that it would be better if we had no Minister in the Senate. I say that not as a reflection upon the present Cabinet Ministers or their predecessors, but because I believe that the work of the Senate could be improved. Cabinet is the heart of the Parliament, and the heart should not be split into two parts.

I believe that the Cabinet would be better if its members were confined to the House of Representatives. Naturally, there would be a leader of the Government in the Senate, and when a bill came to the Senate for review, he would appoint a member of the Government party most fitted to pilot that measure through the Senate. That practice is in operation in the Legislative Council in Tasmania. I believe that the bi-cameral system of government does not operate efficiently when there are Ministers in the two Houses of the Parliament. There are now five Ministers in the Senate. All have important portfolios, and big departments to administer, and, in addition, they have to represent between them in this Senate seventeen Ministers from another place. The seventeen Ministers in the House of Representatives, who have to contend with a bigger House and who have big departments to administer, have to represent in that chamber the five Ministers who are members of the Senate.

If we had no Cabinet Ministers in the Senate, this chamber could have less interruption in its sessions. The Senate could sit for longer hours, because honorable senators would not be called away tc> Cabinet or ministerial duties and legislation could be reviewed more thoroughly. That would avoid the end-of-session rush that we always experience. It is not peculiar to this Government because a similar rush occurred at the end of each session when other governments were in office. That practice should be “stopped. If we could spend longer time on legislation, the work of the Senate would be improved.

I have another proposal which could not be put into practice by legislation, but which I advocate strongly. It is in connexion with party meetings. Every member of the Parliament knows, even after brief experience, the importance of party meetings in shaping the policy of the Government and the Opposition. There are now 104 members of the Government parties in this Parliament, and they attend party meetings. The individual member does not have much opportunity to express an opinion at a party meeting and my proposal, which is designed to give the Senate a more important role, is to have party meetings open only to members of the House of Representatives.

Most legislation is initiated in that chamber. Therefore, members of the House of Representatives should shape policy, and the legislation based thereon would go to the Senate. Under my plan, all honorable senators would have copies of the legislation to consider, and they would’ hold their own party meetings as senators. If senators who supported the Government considered that legislation should be amended, they could ask the Prime Minister, or the responsible Minister, to attend the Senate party meeting and discuss with him the reasons why the Government wanted the proposed legislation to remain unaltered. I believe that we could get a more thorough examination of legislation in that way. Members of the parties would be completely free to review legislation, and the status of the Senate would be raised.

From time to time, we hear a cry for the abolition of the Senate. I agree with Senator Henty that the smaller States will not agree to that suggestion. If there were no Senate, the House of Representatives would consist of 79 members from the two bigger States - New South “Wales and Victoria - and the four smaller States combined would have only 43 representatives in the National Parliament. Without the Senate, there would be every possibility that New South Wales and Victoria would dominate the government of Australia. Although the smaller States admire New South Wales and Victoria, they would not sell their birthright by agreeing to the abolition of . the Senate. The objections are so obvious that it is a waste of time to consider that matter further.

I wish to refer briefly to the important matter of the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings. That is a comparatively new service, and I believe that it is widely accepted by the people. I donot believe that the polls ta.ken to discover the percentage of radio listeners who listen to the debates reflect the position accurately. I believe that, at times, the Parliament has a large listening audience, and that the people appreciate the service. It is proper that the proceedings of the Parliament should he broadcast throughout the nation, particularly as we have a national capital so far removed from most of the people. Unfortunately, however, we are reaching a position where the microphone is ruling the Parliament, and that is not a healthy state of affairs.

For example, I believe that before microphones were installed in the Parliament, the budget was introduced at 3 p.m. Now it is introduced at 8 p.m. The programme of legislation and speeches to be delivered are altered to fit in with broadcasting arrangements. The Senate, in particular, suffers from the rule of the microphone. Usually, the Senate proceedings are broadcast on Wednesday, but if the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has to deliver an important speech or make a statement, 8 p.m. on Wednesday is selected as the best time for broadcasting. The Senate loses that time. Usually, the debate is then adjourned until the following Wednesday at 8 p.m., in accordance with democratic practice, so that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evat’t) will be given an equal opportunity to speak. Therefore, the programme of the Parliament and the hours of sitting are ruled by the microphones. I have some novel ‘ suggestions for overcoming these difficulties, but, as I have been appointed to the joint committee to deal with this matter, I propose to put those ideas before the committee at the proper time.

In closing my speech, I wish to make a plea on behalf of Tasmania. . One of my colleagues said earlier that he intended to be parochial and to speak about his own State. I do not believe that I am being parochial when I speak for Tasmania, because the electors of Tasmania sent me here. This is the States House, and the proper forum for an honorable senator to make an appeal. Tasmania has been in an unfortunate position. Although this Government has been particularly generous in the provision of loan funds to Tasmania, the State has had to spend most of the money on the development of its hydro-electric resources. Frankly, I believe that the State has wasted a lot of money, but the Senate cannot cure that ill. There has not been made available to Tasmania for expenditure on ordinary capital works anything like the amount that has been expended on hydro-electricity. It must, be remembered that, during the war, the mainland States benefited considerably by expenditure on roads and other facilities. During the war years, not a penny was expended in Tasmania for war purposes on anything of lasting value to that State. Two aerodromes were established in isolated parts of the State, but they are now used only by rabbits. Furthermore, during the last few years, most of the mainland States have benefited from the expenditure of a huge amount of money for defence purposes. I urge the Government to adopt a sympathetic and generous attitude towards Tasmania instead of cold-bloodedly assessing the needs of that State on a pro rata population basis.

A new airport is under construction near Hobart. The strip, which has been laid for some considerable time, is used by aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force when visiting Hobart. However, as a terminal building has not been erected at the Llanherne airport - presumably due to a shortage of government funds - commercial aircraft cannot use it. I point out that the people of Tasmania are air-minded, and depend to a great extent on air travel. I urge the Government to complete Llanherne aerodrome, so that the travelling public may enjoy the comfort and convenience of Viscounts and DC6 aircraft, for which the facilities provided at the old airport are inadequate.

I come . now to the urgent need to complete approved additions to the repatriation hospital in Hobart. At present, although this Government provides war widows with free hospital treatment, accommodation is not available for that purpose at the repatriation hospital I have mentioned. I trust that this matter will be attended to without further delay.

Commonwealth office accommodation in the city of Hobart is inadequate. The premises occupied by Trans-Australia Airlines are most unsuitable for the purpose. They are situated in the main block of Hobart. When the airline buses pull up at the curb, they hinder the free flow of traffic, and passengers have to struggle through a continuous stream of pedestrian traffic to the office. Aircraft passengers arriving there frequently have to walk three blocks to obtain a taxi. .1 consider that better office facilities should be provided.

I understand that, some years ago, the Department of the Interior purchased two buildings in a central position in Hobart at a bargain price for use as Commonwealth offices. One of the buildings is very old, and it is not now used for that purpose. The other building is most unsuitable for use as Commonwealth offices. The opinion I hold now in connexion with this matter is different from the opinion that I expressed some months ago. I consider that the Government should either sell these, buildings - which occupy a very valuable site - to private enterprise and purchase land outside the city area for new Commonwealth offices, or else demolish these eye-sores and get on with its building plan. It is most disheartening to the people of Hobart that the Commonwealth has not yet provided decent office accommodation for its employees in that city. There is another aspect of this matter. If the premises were sold to private enterprise, and the site was then developed as private enterprise would undoubtedly develop it, the rates payable to the city council would probably »able the council to reduce its present rate by 3d. in the £1. As honorable senators know, no rates are payable on Commonwealth property.

I wonder at times whether we realize that we are living in the automobile and aircraft age, and not only in the atomic age. Although large amounts of money are made available for a variety of developmental schemes, insufficient money is provided for roads. I am speaking particularly with reference to Tasmania, because I am intimately acquainted with the condition of the roads in that State. When I have occasion to visit other States, I usually travel by air. It is disheartening to people who pay their taxes regularly, and many of whom subscribe to government loans, to see the roads deteriorating. They are entitled to modern transport amenities and facilities. I urge the Government to give serious consideration to the matters that I have mentioned, from the point of view of justice to the ordinary men and women of Tasmania.

Senator HARRIS:

– I should like to associate myself with the congratulations that have been extended to Senator Buttfield who, in a very interesting speech, moved the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. In seconding the motion, Senator Maher dished out his usual references to communism. Of course, we have become so used to his approach to this subject that we do not take much notice of his remarks. The honorable senator based some of his comments on the recent waterfront strike. He is an extreme antiCommunist, and spoke viciously about the Labour party, to which I am proud to belong. I sometimes wonder whether extreme anti-Communists are worse than Communists; both are dangerous. If Senator Maher had had any real experience of industrial matters, he would have approached the subject from a different angle, and not trotted out the red pup. During this debate, honorable senators may discuss many subjects. Since the end of this debate has almost been reached, it is hard to find new ground to break, having regard to the speeches that have been made on both sides of the chamber. Over the past years it has been my pleasure to listen to many speeches of the kind delivered by the Governor-General a few weeks ago at the opening of this, the Twenty-second Parliament. The speech was not very interesting, and honorable senators had heard much of it before. There was little or no public interest in it. Generally, when the Governor-General’s Speech is delivered, the press makes many comments either adverse or favorable, and the public are informed by this means of its contents. They are thus able to form an opinion of the policy of the Government. Lack of comment on this occasion emphasizes the fact that the Government’s policy is not interesting to the people of Australia.

His Excellency, in his opening remarks, referred to the need to review the relationship of the two Houses of the Parliament, and stressed the difficulty with which the Government may be faced when the new senators take their places. This constitutes a problem with which the Government is seeking to deal. His Excellency said -

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 . . My advisers believe that the relations between the two Houses should bo reviewed.

That subject is no great novelty to honorable senators. It has been mentioned in this House on more than one occasion. The .previous occasion on which the Governor-General made a speech in this chamber was when he opened the last Parliament on the 4th August, 1954. He then stated -

A proposal will be submitted to the Parliament for the appointment of a committee of the Parliament representing both Houses and all parties, to review certain aspects of the working of the Constitution, and to make recommendations for its amendment.

Among other matters which it is hoped that committee will consider is the method of ensuring in the future some coincidence between the dates of elections for the House of Representatives and of elections for the Senate.

Naturally, that statement and the Prime Minister’s knowledge of the situation gave rise to the expectation that the Prime Minister would act immediately, and set up a committee to deal with this matter.

It was not a new subject even prior to the Governor-General’s Speech of August, 1954. In 1950, a committee was set up under the chairmanship of Senator McKenna to deal with this matter. It was appointed to consider the alteration of the provisions of the Constitution relating to the election of senators consequent upon a double dissolution, and to the Senate’s relationship with the House of Representatives. It was also authorized to review the constitutional arrangement for settling disputes between the two Houses, and to make recommendations for preventing such disputes and overcoming any deadlocks on a basis which is just and democratic. That committee considered these matters and delivered its report in 1950, but in 1954, two years ago, the Governor-General made the statement that I have just quoted. Subsequently, members of the Prime Minister’s party were concerned about the lack of action by the Government up to that time. In September, 1954, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) asked in the House of Representatives -

Is the Prime Minister in a position to give any further information to the House regarding a proposal to set up a joint all-party parliamentary committee to examine the matter of constitutional reform ?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) replied -

That matter has engaged the attention of Cabinet, and all that is needed now is that I should find an opportunity to have a talk with the Leader of the Opposition, with whom I should like to confer on the subject. I have one or two proposals which I desire to put to him about the constitution and the functions of the proposed committee. As soon as that is done, we shall proceed.

That was on the 30th September, but nothing was done for several weeks. On the 10th November, 1954, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) said -

My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the growing interest in the proposal to create more States in Australia, can the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the progress that has been made in the formation of an all-party committee to review the working of the Australian Constitution and to make recommendations for its alteration?

The Prime Minister gave this reply - 1 regret that there lias been some delay in relation to this matter, for which 1 accept responsibility, . . .

It is a wonder that the Prime Minister did not throw the responsibility into the lap of some one else. I have never known him to accept responsibility for anything. lie added - . . although there have been other preoccupations. I hope to be able to say something about the matter quite soon.

Members of his own party were very patient, and waited for a while. Then, six months later, one of his supporters, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), asked -

Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact that he promised in his policy speech to take steps to appoint an all-party committee of this House to consider proposed amendments of the Australian Constitution?

One would have thought that the Prime Minister would try to carry out the promises he made to his own supporters, but nothing was done. Then, in September, 1.955, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) asked the following question: -

Can the Prime Minister say whether, following upon a recent statement by him and subsequent discussion, any decision has yet been reached with regard to the proposal which he’ originally made for the appointment of a joint committee on certain possible proposed constitutional changes?

In reply, the Prime Minister said -

I owe the right honorable gentleman an apology in connexion with this matter. Following our oral exchanges I should have sent him a memorandum in writing before now. Unfortunately, other matters occupied my attention. However, I shall do so within the next few days.

I think that was the only time that the Prime Minister ever apologized to the Leader of the Opposition. That was in September last, but the Prime Minister has not yet sent that memorandum. In that matter, as in others, the Prime Minister acted true to form in connexion with his promises.

When the final results of the Senate election voting were announced recently, the Prime Minister found that, instead of having a sweeping majority in this chamber, there was the possibility of a deadlock, and he wondered how he would get on. The composition of the Senate caused him some concern, and so the matter occupied a prominent position in the Speech with which the GovernorGeneral opened the Parliament. As every one knows, the Governor-General’s Speech is compiled by the Government; His Excellency merely reads the policy of the Prime Minister and his colleagues. I wonder what will happen in connexion with this all-party committee. After witnessing the performance of the splinter party last week, and the utterances of Senator Cole to-day on the subject of international affairs, it is clear that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in this chamber can rest satis fied that they will have the support of one jr two senators in the corner after the 1st July next. Indeed, I expect the Government to make preparations to accommodate them on the other side of the chamber. I hope that the Government will go on with the appointment of this committee. When Senator McCallum spoke, he congratulated the Government on its promise to set up a committee. It would appear that the honorable senator is unaware of the history of this subject, as otherwise he might not have offered his congratulations.

Some honorable senators have spoken about elections for members of the Senate. I wish to refer to this matter, and to deal with the form of the ballot-paper. I believe that the proposed committee could submit to the Parliament proposals which would eliminate much of the informal voting that now takes place. In the past, under both the preferential system of voting and the system now in operation, there has been a large number of informal votes - about 8 per cent, or 10 per cent, of the total votes cast. There must be something wrong with the ballot-paper for so many informal votes to be cast. I am sure that a committee such as has been suggested would be able to submit a better ballot-paper for use at future elections. A few days ago Senator Kennelly, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, spoke at some length on this subject, and gave details of the results of the election in Victoria. He pointed out that in that State informal votes numbered about 130,000, representing 13.5 per cent, of the votes cast. That was a big percentage of informal votes in one State. I have not the figures for Western Australia, but honorable senators will agree that so many informal votes is not satisfactory to any political party. I know people who go to the polling booth because they arc compelled to go there, and they deliberately make their votes informal. Perhaps 1 per cent, of the voters do that, but of course nothing can be done about it. If it is true *hat between 8 per sent and 10 per cent, of voters vote informally, then I suggest that Senator Kennelly’s proposal to indicate on the ballot-paper the parties to which candidates belong, should he adopted in order to reduce the number of informal votes. In Western Australia, at the last general election the ballot paper was 8 inches long, and it contained the names of seventeen candidates. It was very difficult for the electors to follow, particularly if the candidates for whom they wanted to vote were in the third, fourth or fifth groups. Because of that difficulty, no doubt many people failed to vote for all the candidates, and that, of course, would have made their votes informal. I support those honorable senators who have contended that the present system should be altered.

The Governor-General, in his Speech to Parliament, said -

In the session of Parliament which I am huw opening, there will be two importantgroups of matters which will call for consideration. The first embraces foreign policy and the related defence measures which can make that policy effective.

That matter has been dealt with at some length by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. His Excellency went on -

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: . . .

Similar statements were made by the Treasurer ,(Sir Arthur Fadden) in his budget speech. The right honorable gentleman referred continually to the need to increase production and restrain expenditure. In addition, the Prime Minister, later in the parliamentary sessional period, made a speech concerning the financial position of the country generally. What we heard in the Governor-General’s Speech was not new. We all are aware of the situation. As a matter of fact, members of the Opposition, in both Houses of the Parliament, have been warning the Government nf the drift in the economy for the last three or four years. It seems that the Government is prepared to let things roll along in the hope that something will happen to improve the economy. No attempt has been made to stabilize the economic position.

As honorable senators are aware, last year the Government called to Canberra all the economic experts it could muster in New South Wales and Victoria. The Prime Minister asked those people for cooperation, but whether that co-operation has been given, I do not know. Included in the experts who came to Canberra were persons concerned with hire-purchase business. They were asked to increase deposits on goods bought on time payment, such as refrigerators and washing machines, and also to increase the weekly repayments, with a view to reducing the volume of hire-purchase business. I do not know whether the request of th.Prime Minister had any effect on those people, although I do know that, in Perth, it is possible to purchase a washing machine or a refrigerator, without deposit, for repayments of 7s. 6d. or 10s. a week. As far as I can see, little or no attempt to assist the Government has been made by the people who were approached by the Prime Minister. Indeed, I do not think that it was reasonable of the Government to expect those people to co-operate. If the Prime Minister wanted to act in the matter, why did he not introduce the necessary legislation to compel those people to do the things the Government wanted them to do, instead of going cap in hand to them ?

Although the Prime Minister said, m ] 949, that value would be restored to the £1, I believe that the right honorable gentleman never intended to interfere with prices. He was pleased to see prices control go overboard, although that control, which was introduced by a Labour government, was of vital importance tj Australia during the war. When a referendum was held on the subject of prices control, the supporters of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party advised the people to vote against it. I believe that if prices were fixed now, as they were during the war, wage fixation would follow automatically. Honorable senators may remember that there was very little increase of the basic wage during the war and, indeed, right up to 1949. In Western Australia, the basic wage was approximately £4 18s. in 1940, and it was £6 3s. in 1949. Within a few years of prices control being abandoned, the basic wage rose, in Western Australia, from approxmately £6 to more than £9 a week. To-day, it is slightly more than £14 a week, but of course the people are not receiving the full benefit of thai wage.

The Australian Government has made no attempt to improve the economic situation and has failed to restore value to the £1. Had the Government attempted to do so, I am sure it would have had the assistance of the Opposition in this Parliament. We of the Opposition are very interested in this matter, because the people we represent are most affected by high prices and depreciated currency. As I say, had the Government made some attempt, after its election in 1949, to arrest the economic drift, we should have assisted it. Perhaps we could have at that time submitted proposals that would have been of advantage to our own supporters, and to the people of Australia generally. If that had been done the Government would not now be facing its present economic troubles.

My time has almost expired, and as I do not desire to take more time than that to which I am entitled, I shall content myself by saying that His Excellency’s Speech was of very little interest to any of us. Indeed, it is very hard to find anything in his Speech which has not been exhaustively discussed previously in the Senate, either during the debates last budget session or earlier than that. T hope that at the end of three years we shall be able to see that the Government has honoured the promises that it made to the electors during the last general election campaign, and if it has not done so the people will then know what to do. This Government has made more attempts to borrow dollars from overseas countries than any other government in our history, and even at present it is in a difficult position because some of its loans are falling due and interest has to be paid on others. Therefore, it is quite likely that at any time the Government will be seeking another 100,000,000 dollars from America.

Senator SEWARD:
Western Australia

– In rising to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I desire first to congratulate Senator Buttfield who moved the motion. I congratulate her upon an excellent speech, and upon the way in which she delivered that speech. The electors of South Australia chose very wisely when they chose Senator Buttfield as one of their representatives in this chamber, and I hope that she will be here for many years to carry out her important duties. I also congratulate that old warrior - if I may call him that without disrespect - Senator Maher, for the very able manner in which he seconded the motion. He is one of the old school in politics, and I am glad to know that he still retains his fighting spirit and is still able to do complete justice to the people that he has represented here for many years. I also congratulate the Government on being returned to power with an overwhelming majority in another place, although I am aware that big majorities are not usually an asset to any government.

During the last five years, the Government has dealt with many difficult problems, and the problems that face it in the coming three years will, I am sure, be no less difficult. Nevertheless, the members of the Government have the will to cope with those problems, and I believe that they will overcome them. The overwhelming majority secured by the Government at the last general elections was due in no small part to the disunity which exists in the ranks of the Labour party, and I express my very keen regret at the defeat of Senator Byrne in his candidature for a position on the Public Accounts Committee. In doing that 1 in no way criticize the honorable senator who has taken Senator Byrne’s place, but I must say that I have been associated with Senator Byrne on the Public Accounts Committee since that committee was established. The honorable senator was the vice-president of the committee and one if its most valuable members, and he has contributed greatly to any success which the committee may have been able to obtain. I feel sure that the Public Accounts Committee will be the poorer through his having been removed from it.

The actions of the Opposition will certainly have results, because we must nil be impressed by the fact that the Communists are returning to the places that they previously occupied. Soon after the present Government attained office it introduced legislation which gave the trade unions power to put Communist holders of union office out of their places, and the unions exercised that power very effectively. But now the Communists are coming back again.

Senator Cooke:

– They are coming back like the rabbits who are getting over the effects of myxomatosis.

Senator SEWARD:

– Yes, it is a pity that the Labour party does not have some sort of myxomatosis to use on the Communists, because it is most alarming to see how rapidly they are returning. I desire to refer honorable senators to an article which appeared in the West Australian, of the 18th February. That article read -

Communism has become a serious threat to Collie’s future, said Dr. Walsh at the Collie Road Board meeting last night.

Dr. Walsh said that a well organised group of Communists were active in the town, and had almost gained control of the Miners’ Union. The Communists had worked their way into the coal industry very cleverly and insidiously, and now no industrial firms will start new industries in Collie because of the risk of being sabotaged.

It is tragic that the Communists have been able to become so well established on the coal field. They are much stronger than most people think. Dr. Walsh said that the people of Collie would have to organise to combat the growth of Communism in the il district

I read that article only a few days ago, and since that time I have heard of something that is unparalleled in the history of Collie. That is that a Communist intends to contest the State seat in that area against the Labour candidate at the next Western Australian general elections. We in Western Australia are proud of the Collie coal-field, and we are proud of the miners who work there.

That field has been free from trouble for a long time, and when we could noi get any work done on the coal-fields of the eastern States, work continued steadily at Collie. It is disappointing to see that the Communists are getting a firm footing there.

I have noted the remarks of Senator Kennelly, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He blamed the Government for sending troops to Malaya. Apparently Senator Kennelly would not send troops to Malaya to prevent the Communists there from coming to Australia ; he would wait until they got here and then attempt to keep them. out. I suggest that he would have quite a job to keep the Communists out, with other Communists in the country attacking his back. He would not get far under those circumstances. The only way to deal- with the Communists is to keep them as far from this country as possible, and that is the reason why this Government has sent some of our troops to Malaya. I invite Senator Kennelly to go to Collie and use his persuasive eloquence to get the Communists out of Collie, and, indeed, out of all Western Australia. Such an action on his part would carry much more weight than mere speeches in this chamber.

I disagree with one of Senator Buttfield’s remarks, made when she was moving the motion that we are now debating. She suggested that the Government should make money available at a low rate of interest for the purpose of building hotels. A few days ago a circular was sent to me by a tourist organization in Sydney, seeking my support for its attempts to bring tourists to Australia. I said that I could not possibly take part in any such activity.

Debate interrupted.

page 211


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) . - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 212




Debate resumed.

Sena cor SEWARD. - I said in reply to that circular that I could not possibly take part in any such move until such time as hotel accommodation in Australia was brought up to a reasonable standard. Government money is required for much more important matters, and I have yet to learn that hotelkeeping is in such a state that good profits are not to be made from a well-conducted hotel. It is not a matter for the Federal Government but for State licensing courts. On my way through Melbourne I have noticed two hotels under construction which when finished will be five or six storeys high. One will have seven or eight bedrooms and the other about a dozen. I know of many suburban hotels in which, although accommodation is allegedly provided for guests, no accommodation is, in fact, provided for the public generally. Those are things that must be looked into before the Government provides money to erect hotels throughout Australia.

In the Governor-General’s Speech there were two important groups of matters which call for consideration. The second is the economic problem which is certainly a major question today. As it has, in fact, been a major question for some time, it was not very heartening to read in the Speech’ the mere statement that the Government is giving careful consideration to ways and means of increasing production and lowering costs. We have continually been told that it is necessary to increase primary production. Unfortunately, official statistics tend to convey the impression to the people that our primary production is increasing; but that is not the .case. Furthermore, the fact is overlooked that the volume of our primary production has been maintained at its present level principally us a. result of a series of very bountiful seasons. As prudent people we cannot rely solely on bountiful seasons to keep up our production.

In support of my statement that primary production is not increasing I remind honorable senators, as I- ‘have fold them before, that the number of people engaged in primary production and manufacturing has exactly changed places from 1930 to the present time. Whereas in 1930,. 24 per cent, of the population was engaged in primary production and 20 per cent, in manufacturing industries, today 30 per cent, are engaged in manufacturing while only 15 per cent, are engaged in primary production. Of course, I know that some people will , immediately tell me that that is due to the effect of improved farming methods and that we do not require the same amount of labour to-day as we did formerly. That may be true to a certain extent; but against that I remind honorable senators that the number of individual holdings has fallen by 6,540 since 1939 due to the fact that owners have purchased the property adjoining them in order to enlarge their holdings, and in so doing have reduced the number of individual holdings to that extent.

We, in Western Australia, received a rather alarming report a few weeks ago from an Englishman, Professor Stephenson, who was brought out here by the City of Perth in order to draw up a town planning scheme for that city. In his report, Professor Stephenson estimated that within 30 years the population of Western Australia would be 1,750,000, of whom 1,400,000 would be in the City of Perth and 350,000 would be spreadover an area of 950,000 square miles in that State. That is surely a most alarming position, but lest our friends in the eastern States might think that Western Australia is a- bad example of centralization, I remind them that at the present time Melbourne is adding to its population each year to the extent of a city of the size of Ballarat, with all the amenities, of transport, gas, electricity and everything- else required by a city of that size. According to the last census, the population of Melbourne is 62 per cent, of that of the whole of Victoria. That, unfortunately, is not the only * instance of centralization. People are- leaving our country districts and going to. live in the metropolitan areas, and that will not contribute to the agricultural production of Australia. ,

Retread. in the Treasury Bulletin No. 1 recently, issued, that our exports were worth £23,000,000 more than in the last half of 1954. Wool exports are stated to have been worth £3,000,000 more than in 1954. The value of butter exported was up by £5,000,000, the value of wheat and flour exports was maintained at the same level as for the second half of 1954, and that of meat exported was maintained at the same level as that for the last half of 1954. According to the Commonwealth Statistician’s index of rural production, the total value of rural production has increased by 23 per cent.


– Is the honorable senator referring to quantities or to cash values?

Senator SEWARD:

– Those are the figures in cash.


– They have to he devalued by about 50 per cent.

Senator Wright:

– Over what period have those increases occurred?

Senator SEWARD:

– Over a twelvemonth period. In those calculations no allowance has been made for the increase that has taken place in our population. If that increase is taken into account, obviously we should be producing a considerably greater volume of foodstuffs than we produced before the additional people came here. Allowing for the increase in population, our rural production per head of population has really fallen by 6 per cent., so that our primary production has not kept pace with our increase in population. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, if we continue absorbing immigrants at the present rate of 100,000 a year, as is the case at present, we shall need, by 1975 - that is in 20 years’ time - to increase our rural production by 56 per cent, on what it was in the 1952-53 period, or an increase of 88 per cent, on pre-war figures. When we consider those figures tj e realize that we are not making the progress in production that we should be making.

We are now producing, per head of population, 4 bushels of wheat compared with 5 in 1939, 6 gallons of milk as against 7, 3 lb. butter as against 4, and 10 lb. of meat as against 11. As I said before, those figures are in respect of a series of bountiful seasons so that if the seasons should change our production will


decline even further. In twenty years’ time, we shall practically have to double our. primary production if we are to feed the people of Australia and, at the same time, maintain our volume of exports which, of course, we must do in order to remain a solvent country. It would appear, therefore, that the then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was correct when he said, in 1952, at a meeting of the Agricultural Council, that the target of -5 per cent, increase fixed by the council was too low. The figures I have just quoted proved that he was correct. Unfortunately, no effort has been made, even now, as far as I know, to increase that target.

Surely, it is time some effective measures were taken. It is time that the department, or the Minister, considered the advisability of appointing a director of primary production. Such a position was created some years ago when a Queenslander, whose name I have forgotten, was appointed in that capacity. I think he has since gone to England. I visualize a man who could travel from State to State and confer with the State agricultural ministers with a view to stepping up production- I do not suggest, of course, that he should instruct farmers what they should do, But there is any amount of land that is not being used to its full capacity hut which, with a little co-operation and a little endeavour in the direction I have suggested by the appointment of a director of primary production, could be brought into full production,

I asked a question a few days ago about the Government’s policy in connexion with the wheat industry, and I was not very encouraged by the reply I received. Everybody knows that the country is virtually choked with wheat. We have enough wheat to last us for the next two years if we do not grow another grain, and we are engaged in finding temporary storage. We seem to be getting into a position similar to that of the United States of America where there is an enormous amount of wheat that cannot be handled. Much of our wheat will be eaten by weevils. When our customers overseas order wheat, they do not want to buy grain from last season or the season before. They want new season’s wheat. Something must be done about the accumulation of wheat in Australia.

I asked whether the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) would call a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to deal with . this matter. He replied that it was not his intention to do so at present because some State Ministers found it inconvenient to attend. A meeting was called for the 13th February last. The production of wheat had been referred to the standing committee by the council at its previous meeting, and the report was to have been considered at the meeting on the 13th February, but that meeting was cancelled. It is vital that a meeting should be called without further delay. It might have been inconvenient for two Ministers to attend earlier because elections are to be held in their States next Saturday; but other States, too, will he having elections, and this matter might be shelved for some time, “Wheat-growers are planning operations now, and they want to know the policy -of this Government towards wheat-growing. Does the Government want them to grow wheat or reduce the output to obviate expenditure on additional storage? The growers must have that information before they start operations.

The former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) said it was not his job to tell the farmers what they should do. I agree with him, and we do not want him to do that. We merely want an assurance that if the farmers grow wheat and additional storage is required, the Government will find the money for it or, on the other hand, that it will not do so. If we had a definite statement, the farmers’ organizations could arrange for any reduction of production that might be necessary. They must have the information first. It has been said that the farmers will act on their own initiative, but while some farmers have reduced their acreage under wheat, others have increased their acreage and so we are producing as much wheat as ever.

The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) stated recently that we were reducing production of wheat. We are not. Certainly our acreage shows a slight reduction but there has been no marked decline in the number of bushels produced, as the following figures show: -

While it is true that acreage has been reduced, production has remained about the same. Production this year from the 1955-56 crop will probably be more than 200,000,000 bushels. That will mean that additional storage will be required. If the Australian Government wants wheat grown, it should find the storage. If it is not prepared to do so, the farmers’ organizations must draw up a plan for a reduction of wheat production, not by restricting acreage, hut by allowing each grower to market a percentage of his crop in proportion to the average that he has grown over the past five years. If we do not do that, we shall be heading for trouble and the unfortunate farmers will have to pay the price.

I have heard a suggestion that wheat should be sold to pig-raisers at a reduced price, but who will pay the farmers the difference ?

Senator Cooke:

– What if it is eaten by weevils ?

Senator SEWARD:

– Why should the farmers have to offer wheat at reduced prices? They have produced the wheat, and if those responsible for its storage allow it to be eaten by weevils, they will have to make good the loss.

I wish to refer now to our exports, because the Government is continually asking us to reduce the cost of production. I am sure the farmers do not want any instruction in that direction. They will reduce costs if they can, but there are certain avenues through which the Government can lend a hand. One method would be by a remission of tariff duties.

We have placed tariff duties on various goods, but no consideration is given to whether those duties should be allowed to remain for ever or be reduced. Last year, a tariff duty was placed on the axles of motor vehicles of up to 20,000 lb. in weight. That immediately increased the price of every motor car and truck up to 3 tons with a consequent increase in production costs.

Senator McCALLUM:

– Refer the matter to the Tariff Board.

Senator SEWARD:

– The Tariff Board is there to advise us on action that we might take, but we do not necessarily have to follow that advice. Some of the manufacturers who are being protected employ only twenty people, and their maximum employment, with expansion, would total only 200. When they reach that maximum, the tariff duty should be revised because efficient management should reduce the cost of production and allow the manufacturer to compete with the imported goods.

The Minister for Trade has been urging manufacturers to endeavour to capture outside markets. I heard on the radio recently that English manufacturers had secured contracts to the value of f50,00Q,000 to supply steel plant to India. A manufacturer in Western Australia has been tendering for works overseas. He has been supplying railway wagons and similar rolling-stock to India. He has been able to undersell competitors from other countries, and he could still do so if he could get Australian steel. India and South Africa are our potential markets. The man I have mentioned went to India for a contract to supply railway trucks, and was confident that he. could supply double the number of wagons required, but he could not get Australian steel. I am not criticizing the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. All Australians are proud of that company, but it cannot supply all Australia’s steel requirements. I do not think the company will be able to do so for some time. The disquieting fact is that it has secured practically a monopoly of th<» iron ore deposits in and around Australia, so that other steel manufacturing concerns cannot start to operate here. Therefore, I think the Government should consider a removal of the duties imposed on steel coming into Australia. if necessary, it should subsidize imported steel to a certain extent, so that our manufacturers can- be placed on a footing comparable with manufacturers in other countries and so secure some of the contracts that are available. I am certain that valuable contracts would be obtained by our manufacturers if they could get adequate quantities of Australian steel, or of imported steel at approximately the price of Australian steel.

I see that my time is running out, but I feel that I cannot finish my speech without referring to the answers that I received from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) to some questions that I asked about the Stevedoring Industry Committee of Inquiry, which has been going on for the last twelve months. I must say that the replies to my questions were most discouraging and disappointing. We met the Minister a considerable time ago. He told us then that he intended to appoint the committee of inquiry and that he expected the report would be available by about the following April - that is, almost twelve months ago. In my first question,

I asked -

Has tile Stevedoring Industry Committee of Inquiry finished taking evidence yet?

To that question, the reply was “ No “.

Then I asked -

If not, when does it expect to finish taking evidence ?

The Minister’s reply to that question was -

Judged from recent procedings, it does not seem that much further evidence will he presented.

I ask honorable senators to note the words “ judged from recent proceedings “. Is not the Minister sufficiently interested to make some inquiries to find out what is going on? He said in his replies to my questions that the committee had finished the organizational inquiry and was going to turn its attention to the financial aspect. In view of the tragic state of affairs on the waterfront in this country, one would think that the Minister would try to find out for how long this inquiry was going to continue.

Are we expected to put up with the intolerable position on the waterfront forever? I read only a few weeks ago that the liner Iberia had returned to England, carrying 2,000 tons of cargo which it had brought to Australia but which had not been unloaded here. Many other vessels are in the same position. ls there any wonder that shipping freights are going up? Personally, I wonder why shipping companies send any of their ships to Australia, because they do not know whether the ships will be kept here for a week, two months or six months. The present position is intolerable, yet the Minister says that he does not know for how much, longer the inquiry will go on. I asked the Minister also how many witnesses remained to be examined, and he replied that he was unable to say. I asked, further, when it was expected that the committee would be in a position to furnish a report to the Parliament, and he replied again that he was unable to say.

It is about time the Government realized the tremendous damage that is being done to the trade of this country. Our exports are being held up, and we are losing customers. As I told the Senate some time ago, I know of one occasion when it took waterside workers eight days to load 500 tons of cargo. The captain of the ship concerned said, “ We simply cannot continue to come to this country under those conditions. The ship cost £1,250,000, and I must go where I can earn enough to pay, at any rate the interest on the cost of. the vessel “. How can we expect ships to come here when they may be tied up in our ports for indefinite periods - when they may have to take their cargo all the way back to their home ports because it cannot be unloaded here ?

The position is intolerable, yet the Minister says that he does not know for how much longer the inquiry will last, what it will cost, or anything else about it. It is about time the Government faced up to this problem. If the present position continues, we shall have hardly any customers left overseas. According to the last report that I had, there were 20 or 30 wheat ships waiting here to load wheat. Prom the day the first of those boats began to load, detention money at the rate of £300 would have to be paid for each ship until it sailed. It may be a month or more before they sail.

I hope that the Government will take a realistic view of this inquiry. Why on earth the committee wants to waste all this time, I do not know. I read that, somebody had alleged that our wharfs were not in good condition. Surely it does not take fourteen months to find out whether a wharf is in good condition. We should be able to find that out very quickly. I do not suggest that all of the blame should be laid on the waterside workers, but I do think, that some of the people on the opposite side of the chamber should go down to the wharfs occasionally to have a look at what is going on there. Some of them could do more in five minutes than some waterside workers do in five weeks. On one occasion-,, it took eight days to put 500 tons of cargo into a ship. In Brisbane, watersideworkers loaded 500 tons in a day, and in New Zealand they loaded 600 tons. The whole thing is a tragedy. No wonder our overseas balances are going down ! They will never go up while this intolerable position continues. If it does continue for much longer, we shall lose our overseas customers, and shall not be able to dispose of our products.

With those remarks, I conclude my speech, and commend the motion to thefavorable consideration of the Senate.

Senator TANGNEY:
Western Australia

– I regret that the lateness of the hour will prevent me from discussing several matters that are of vital importance to Western Australia. First, I want to join with all the honorable senators who have supported the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the speech delivered by the Governor-General at the opening of this Parliament, although I believe that, if His Excellency had been left to himself, he would have prepared a much betterspeech than the one he delivered.

There are some aspects of the work of this Government to which no referencewas made in the speech. A matter of particular interest, not only to the people of Western Australia, but also to peoplethroughout Australia, is the sale of the whaling station which is located in Western Australia. I shall take advantage of the few minutes available to moto bring the most salient features of that matter tq the notice of the public.

Some weeks ago, I asked some questions about the proposed sale of this great national asset. The questions were placed on the notice-paper, but the replies, which I received yesterday, were not very convincing. In another place, however, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) made the remarkable assertions that, not only was the sale contemplated, but also that negotiations were going on, and had been going on for some time, with interested parties, whose attention had been drawn to the proposed sale, not by advertisements in the newspapers, but by letters. Those letters were sent to people who, it was thought, would be likely to have some interest in the sale of this vital industry.

We should like the Government to answer some questions. Who are the persons who are interested? What was the form of the letter that was sent to them? What measuring stick was used to decide that certain people were likely to be interested in this industry and that others were not likely to be interested? We should like to know how it is that some people who have never had an interest in the whaling industry have received preferential treatment in this regard. The books and details of the operations of the Australian Whaling Commission were made available to all those interested parties before anything was said to the Parliament about the projected sale.

The history of the industry is very important. In 1945, at the close of the war, the Chifley Government decided that something had to be done to revive an industry which had played no small part in the development of Australia in the past, but which had been allowed to fall into disuse. It was decided that the western coast of Australia provided the best opportunities for the development of the industry. Negotiations were set on foot to develop an industry of which the country could be proud. The object was, not only to show that whaling operations could be carried out successfully here if an efficient industry were established, but also to develop an asset for the people of Australia. After the developmental period had been passed through successfully, the Australian whaling

Commission was set up under the chairmanship of a very fine man, Mr. Bowes, who had considerable experience, during the war years, of the organization, of various branches of industry. He was able to get, not only good machinery, but also good technicians. He went abroad and brought back with him people from Norway who were able to assist i» the development of the industry. The taxpayers of Australia contributed about £1,000,000. At that time, the members of the present Government parties were critical of that expenditure of public money on an industry such as that. They prophesied that the industry would fail as, according to them, other industries run by governments had failed. They have been proved entirely wrong, because the industry has been a great success, lt has repaid almost all of the money that was invested in it. It has repaid £850,000 of the original £1,000,000 that was expended on its establishment. In addition, it has paid interest amounting to £147,000, as well as sales tax and primage. Et has also paid all of the whaling fees, and so on. Last year, it made a profit of £223,000, which was a great improvement on the profit of £434 in the first year of its activity. For an industry to have developed from making a profit of £434 in its first year to £223,000 in the fifth year of its operations is surely a record.

This year, its profit is likely to be in the vicinity of £200,000, because last year the number of whales permitted to be treated was reduced. This industry gives work to no fewer than 120 men. It has established an excellent station - one of the most advanced, not only in Australia, but in the world. In addition, it has enabled a number of companies to be established successfully on the west coast. All this has been accomplished within the relatively short space of five years. Furthermore, the employees of the station at Carnarvon have earned the goodwill of all people in that district. We find now that, very quietly and secretly, negotiations have been taking place over the last few months to dispose of this asset. Had it not been for the intervention of the federal general election on the 10th December last, this asset would have been already sold. As the election came upon us rather suddenly, the negotiations which were in train at that time were interrupted; otherwise, the sale would have been a fait accompli before this Parliament knew anything about it. As the whaling industry was established by a Labour government we, the members of the Opposition, raise our voices in protest against the wanton disposal of its assets, which belong to the whole of the people of this country. I ask leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted ; debate adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 11.34 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 February 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.