22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator SCOTT presented a petition from 39 citizens of the State of Western Australia praying that the proposal to remove the Mundiwindi Post Office be abandoned.
Petition received and read.
– I preface a question to the Attorney-General by stating that a report appeared in the press recently that various legal officers of the State law departments had met in Canberra to discuss some matters related to company law. Will the AttorneyGeneral make a statement about the conference and, in particular, will he inform the Senate whether any decisions were reached at that conference on matters such as uniform company laws or, alternatively, the issue of prospectuses?
– It is true that a. meeting was held in Canberra last week of legal officers from the various States to consider questions in connexion with company laws. Although I have, not had a full report of the meeting yet, I believe that some useful progress was made towards working out uniform provisions with regard to certain matters such as prospectuses. I shall make further inquiries, and endeavour to get a full report of the position for the honorable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior aware that some Continental numerals, notably the figures 1 and 7, differ from the usual Australian figure formations? The figure 1 is written very much like our figure 7 and the’ figure 7 like the letter F. As this has resulted in many, votes cast by naturalized new Australians being queried by returning officers and, in some cases, being, declared invalid, will the Minister take steps to correct this position ?
– I shall refer the matter raised by the honorable senator to the Minister for the Interior, and obtain his comments.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Territories inform the Senate whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that the Administrator of the Northern Territory is to retire from the 30th June next ? If so, does that mean that the Northern Territory will lose the benefit of the knowledge of tropical vegetation that the Administrator acquired during his recent visit overseas ? Will the Minister make a statementgiving the reasons for Mr. Wise’s retirement if the reports are true?
– I am unable to give the honorable senator a specific answer. I shall make inquiries, and supply the information to the honorable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the United Kingdom Government has instituted a plan for raising much-needed money by the issue of premium bonds? Does that project embody some form of lottery ? Is the Australian Government in possession of details of the premium bond issue in the United Kingdom ? If so, will the Minister give those details to the Senate ? In view’ of the financial straits of the Government and the love of the Australian people generally for a gamble or, should I say a speculation, would not the issue of premium bonds by this Government be of great assistance to the financially embarrassed Treasury?
– I have no doubt that my colleague, the Treasurer, and his advisors have seen details of the new issue of bonds in Great Britain and the; means.that are being adopted there toincrease subscriptions. I have no doubt that they have given it careful consideration and have formed their own conclusions about it. The Commonwealth Government itself recently has placed a new loan on the market at what are most advantageous terms for investors. I hope that that new loan will meet with the success that it deserves. It is in the interests of every Australian to subscribe to it and make his contribution to carrying our works programmes forward. I think that, until we see the results of that new loan issue, it is not appropriate to consider and discuss other matters.
– By way of preface to a question to the Attorney-General, I point out that it is reported in to-day’s Adelaide Advertiser that His Honour Mr. Justice Ross, of the South Australian Supreme Court, has referred to the High Court of Australia the important question, raised by counsel for the defence in a fisheries act prosecution of a couple of Kangaroo Island fishermen, of whether State fisheries legislation is limited to the waters inside low-water mark and whether other territorial waters accordingly are covered by Commonwealth legislation. Will the Minister cause an examination by legal officers of the Crown to be made of the question being submitted to the High Court? If this question involves jurisdiction over a valuable area of sea surrounding the Australian continent, will the AttorneyGeneral consider intervention in the appeal by the Crown?
– The honorable senator directed my attention to this newspaper report as I came into the Senate. I had no knowledge of it before then. I am not in a position to say whether the circumstances are such as to call for intervention by the Commonwealth, but I shall have the matter examined by departmental officers and let the honorable senator know the result.
– My question, which concerns automation and, therefore, has no party-political significance, is addressed to the Leader of the Govern ment in the Senate. I hope that you will pardon me if I explain the question, Mr. President, but I think it is necessary to do so. I have no doubt that you, sir, and other honorable senators have seen reports to the effect that a lot of industrial unrest has occurred in England due to the introduction of automation, and that many workers are out of work. It has already been called a second industrial revolution, the first, of course, having occurred some 150 years ago. At that time the workers did not understand machinery developments-
– Order ! The honorable senator must ask his question.
– Might I be pardoned for saying that the industrial workers appreciate that the introduction of automation probably is inevitable, and no doubt most of the entrepreneurs do so too. This is a momentous question-
– Order ! The honorable senator must come to his question.
– I know that an important question cannot be dealt with here. Indeed, the more stupid the question is, the more discussion there is of it. However, on this momentous problem I want to ask this question : Will the Leader of the Government get in touch with the Cabinet, the Prime Minister, or some of the other supporters of the Government with a view to seeing whether a committee could be appointed to start preliminary inquiries with the trade union movement, with the capitalists, as they are called, with physicists, and with any other people connected with this matter, so that when automation is introduced, as it inevitably must he introduced, it will be done with as little inconvenience as possible to the small man who will be pushed to the wall, and to the industrial worker who will be vitally affected; and so that it will be done as quickly as possible, particularly now that the Communists are introducing this method of production, and as we have to compete with them ? Will the Leader of the Government introduce this matter to the Cabinet with a. view to seeing whether something can he done as quickly as possible?
-! am quite sure that industrial leaders, industrial workers, and governments are just as much concerned to-day as were the people during the first industrial revolution 150 or 120-odd years ago. At that time it was thought, particularly by the workers, that, the introduction of machinery inevitably would lead to. their destruction, but in the scheme of things it turned out that it brought about a richer and n fuller way of life. I think it is very important that the introduction of automation in industry, and its implications, should be understood by the mass of industrial workers, by the mass of industrial leaders, by the mass of our technicians, and, above all, by governments, and that a thorough understanding of its complete implications should be obtained if at all possible. Just what precise steps will he taken in that direction, I am not in a position to say, and I am quite sure that the honorable senator would not expect me to know at this stage. The matter that he has raised is of considerable importance. I assure him that it will not be lost sight of by the Government.
– In view of the complaints that have been made by Australian travellers overseas that they cannot obtain Australian wines on overseas passenger vessels trading to and from Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade cause the trade promotion section of the Department of Trade to investigate the possibility of ontaining a portion of this valuable trade for the Australian wine industry?
– I have always held the view that inquiries about trade matters are better made in the particular rather than in the general. In other words, if the honorable senator will let me have some information about the particular ships and the particular shipping lines on which Australian wine was not available, I shall be very glad to confer with my colleague, the Minister for Trade, to see whether he is prepared to get in touch with one of the wine companies with a view to having it supply wine to the shipping line concerned, so that those who like good wine - that is, Australian wine - will be able to obtain their requirements.
– The question that I direct to the Minister for National Development relates to a question that was asked by Senator Laught last Thursday, in which he directed the Minister’s attention to a statement that had been made by the National Electrical Industry Convention at Canberra recently, pledging its support for the Government’s policy of expansion and increased production at the rate of 2$ per cent, a year for the next three years. In view of the expressed policy of the Government substantially to increase secondary industry production for export purposes, will the Minister arrange for the officers of the Department of National Development and the Department of Trade to make a survey of industries manufacturing products suitable for export? Will the Minister ensure that they will seek the full cooperation of manufacturers both in the matter of presentation and of quality, so. that the prices of the goods exported will be such that they will be able to compete overseas with similar goods produced elsewhere, even if to do so necessitates the manufacturers spreading a part of the cost over the balance of their production ?
– I am aware that a good deal of work has been done at the departmental level in order to ascertain the ability of particular Australian industries to export from their present industrial potential, or the likelihood of their being able to do so if their industrial potential were increased. My colleague, the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen. has made a number of requests to Australian manufacturers to become more export-minded and to seek out export trade for the national benefit even if by taking on export trade, they deny themselves the opportunity of obtaining local trade which might be even more profitable to them than export trade. Those are the general principles. The work is being carried on departmentally. The Minister for Trade has made the requests publicly. I do not. know whether he intends to submit particular proposals for the approval of the Government, but I rather suspect that he does. I do not know the extent to which they apply to the electrical industry. I hope that they do because, as I think I said last week, the policy enunciated in the statement made by the representatives of the electrical industry at their recent conference was very encouraging from the viewpoint of all Australian manufacturers.
– Will the Attorney-General inform the Senate when it is expected that an announcement will be made concerning the appointment of a Deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitor to take up duty in Tasmania? Have applicants for the position from outside the Public Servicebeen advised of the rejection of their applications?
– This matter is at present in the hands of the Public Service Board, and I believe that a final selection will be made shortly. It is unlikely that any applicant has been informed of the rejection of his application, unless perhaps it was some one who obviously did not have the necessary qualifications. I do not know of any one whose application has been rejected, and as thematter is now in the hands of the Public Service Board it is unlikely that such rejections have been made.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question about the refusal of the application of two persons, one the brother and the other the son of deceased Victoria Cross winners, to join in the celebrations in London. In view of the early departure of Victoria Cross winners and their wives for London, can the Minister say whether any further consideration has been given to those two cases ?
– I regret that I am not in a position to give the honorable senator any information on those matters, but I shall get the information without any further delay.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the general scare which has arisen from the circulation of counterfeit £5 notes in one State, and which has caused the loss of thousands of man-hours by people checking every £5 note presented, will the Minister inform the Senate whether a fund could be set up out of the profits of the Note Issue Department of the Commonwealth Bank to stand the risk of a limited number of counterfeit notes, and thus restore to the community confidence in accepting the notes.
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply: -
The proposal that the Commonwealth Bank should reimburse innocent holders of forged £5 notes has been fully examined, but it is considered that such action would be unwise; indeed it would be likely to encourage and make easier the operations of present and future forgers. It is always a major problem for the forger to distribute his notes, and if they were readily encashable this problem would be largely solved for him. Clearly the best way of overcoming present difficulties is to detect the forger, and any person who has information that might be helpful in this respect is urged to make that information available to the police authorities. The Commonwealth Bank has offered a reward of £1,000 for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person, or persons, making or uttering the forgeries.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development, replied as follows : -
New South Wales (4). - Three tenanted, one vacant (in process of sale to civilian).
Victoria (4). - Three vacant (two in process of sale to eligible applicants, one in agents’ hands for disposal on open market).
Queensland (18). - One re-allotted to eligible applicant, five sold to civilians, eleven tenanted, one vacant (contract let for completion of repairs).
South Australia (1). - One sold to civilian.
Western Australia (2). - One sold to civilian, one tenanted.
Tasmania (1). - One sold to civilian.
SenatorKENNELLY asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
. What was the total of shareholders’ funds held in General Motors-Holden’s Limited as at the 31st December, 1955?
How much of this amount was held as (a) ordinary shares, and (b) preference shares?
What percentage of the total shareholdings is held as preference shares?
Is it a fact that, although all preference shares in the company are held wholly or mainly by Australians, virtually all of the ordinary shares are held by the United States company, General Motors Corporation?
What were the company’s total assets as at the 31st December, 1955 (a) not including subsidiaries, and (6) including subsidiaries?
What were the total profits of the company for 1955?
What percentage of profit does this represent on the amount held in ordinary shares?
What sums were paid as dividends to (a) ordinary shareholders, and (6) preference shareholders? 9.. What percentages do these represent on amounts held in (a) ordinary shares, and (b) preference shares?
– The Treasurer has supplied the folowing answer : -
The only information available to the Go vernment about the financial affairs of General Motors-Holden’s Limited is that contained in public documents. Most of the information sought by the honorable senator may be derived from the company’s published annual report for 1 955 and from the company’s share register. If the honorable senatorhas not seen the company’s annual report, I shall endeavour to arrange for him to be supplied with a copy.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report read and - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator McCALLUM agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1953 for the purpose of omitting the provisions relating to compulsory voting.
Debate resumed from the Srd May (vide page 540), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) [3.36J. - This bill is most interesting because under it the Government seeks power to set up a fund into which will be paid the moneys received from the sale of the assets of a whaling station which has been run profitably by this nation since 1949. Certainly, one cannot complain at the Government’s intention to help in the development of the fishing industry of Australia. The States have played their part locally in providing harbours and so on ; but I should imagine that the proposed assistance is to be given to what is known as deep-sea fishing. The Labour party has not now and never has had any objection to helping in the development of any industry at all, especially a primary industry. But we are worried about this bill because we believe that the alleged purpose of assisting in the development of the fishing industry is only a camouflage being used by the Government to divert the people’s interest from the sale of the whaling station.
The bill states, in effect, that no help can be given to the fishing industry unless the money comes from the sale of a station. No one could have any objection to the Government’s helping to develop the fishing industry, but, surely, the Government cannot possibly be serious when it says that a whaling station that has been so successful since its inauguration in 1949 must be sold before the Government can discharge its palpable duty in this respect. Surely, the Government does not mean to tell the people that no help can be given in the development of the fishing industry of this nation, an industry that can be of tremendous importance in balancing our payments, unless the requisite money is obtained hy the sale of a very successful whaling venture? For that reason we on this side are convinced that the establishment of a Fisheries Development Trust Account as proposed under this bill is a device adopted by the Government to divert the mind of the people, at least of Western Australia, if not of other parts of the Commonwealth, from a transaction which, to say the least, has not been as open as every one would have liked.
Let us trace the history of these transactions. Questions have been asked in this chamber and in another place during many months relative to the sale of this whaling station. Any one who has taken the trouble to read not only those questions but also the answers to them can only say that the answers have been most evasive. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), in his secondreading speech on the bill in another place said that officers of the Department of Trade had interviewed quite a number of people in connexion with the proposed sale. Would it not have been more open if tenders had been called not only in this country but also throughout the world for the purchase of this enterprise? Is not that the usual practice in the sale of government instrumentalities or other government transactions? Does this follow the pattern of the Commonwealth’s interest in Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited or in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited? Is it the forerunner of the sale of other profitable assets of the people. Is this the forerunner, for instance, of the sale of the Commonwealth’s interest in TransAustralia Airlines?
– It is most surprising to hear a suggestion from a senator who comes from Western Australia that it is not profitable. It would seem that he has taken little or no interest in this whaling venture.
– I am talking about Trans-Australia Airlines.
– We will deal with that in a moment, too, if my friend wishes it.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. President, to Standing Order 419, which says that no senator shall digress from the subject of any question under discussion or anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the notice-paper. I direct your attention to the fact that item No. 2 on the notice-paper refers to the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill 1956.
– It is only a passing reference, and the senator is not out of order yet.
– I thank you, Mr. President, for your ruling. I do not want to be hard on Senator Henty, but, possibly, he was asleep when the. Minister introduced this bill and spoke upon it. Whatever I may have said about the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill, mentioned further down on the notice-paper, the point is that the Minister himself referred to it. He had to do so. The Government will obtain money for the establishment of this trust fund only by the sale of the whaling station. No doubt, I shall hear Senator Henty apologizing for the Government later. If he can discuss this bill without referring to the source of the money, I shall be happy to hear him. I wish to give Senator Vincent some information also about the source of this money.
– Oh !
– Senator Scott need not worry; I shall not deal with the pearl-fishing industry. If Senator Scott will keep out of this discussion, we shall be able to give all our attention to whales. For the purpose of this bill, whales become fish. That is stated in clause 3 of the bill. This is the first time that I have known that whales were fish. Apparently, this Government can change the meaning of anything and can make whales into fish. However, for the moment I wish to reply to Senator Vincent and give him some information about the whaling industry. I should have thought that an honorable senator from Western Australia would know all there is to know about it.
In 1949, £1,375,000 was advanced by the Chifley Labour Government to set up a whaling station. Since then, the industry has paid back to the Commonwealth £S50,000, including interest on the money borrowed. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said in the House of Representatives when he introduced this bill, that the Australian Whaling Commission was in a position to repay most of the remainder. I regret that the Government has seen fit to take the step it proposes. Everybody, including the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who introduced the bill in the Senate, has spoken in glowing terms of the administration of the whaling station. This Government talks about private enterprise. Does this measure mean that the Government will risk the money of the nation to improve conditions in the fishing industry, and will then hand it over to private enterprise? Supporters of the Government claim that they support private enterprise because it takes all the risks.’ Apparently, this is the exception that proves the rule for clause 6 (b) of the bill states that money to the credit of the account may be applied to - financial assistance, by way of loan or provision of share capital, or otherwise, to persons engaged, or proposing to become engaged, in the fishing industry.
I marvel when I read the provisions of this bill. It seems that the responsible Minister can give money to any one, or any body of persons, as he sees f’t in the interests of the development of the fishing industry. The Government proposes to set up a trust account into which will be paid an amount equivalent to the profits from the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. The trust fund will be administered by the Minister responsible, as he sees fit, to assist “ in the development of the fishing industry. If this bill had been designed to provide the money out of Consolidated Revenue, just as the Government advances money in other spheres of industry, nobody would have raised a protest, but it has taken the Government six years to recognize that the fishing industry needs some help, and it has acted at a time most convenient to itself; that is, when it proposes to sell a whaling station that is owned by the people. The Opposition opposes the proposal on those grounds. We believe that the measure is a subterfuge designed to distract attention from the sale of the whaling station.
– Ha, ha!
- Senator Scott laughs, but I repeat that the Government has taken six years to recognize that the fishing industry is of vital importance to the Australian economy.
– Slow, but sure !
– Yes, slow but sure. That is a most interesting observation at this time. As I have said, the fishing industry is important from an economic point of view. Last year, this country imported more than £5,500,000 worth of fish. On the other hand, we exported fish to the value of £1,750,000, together with £1,750,000 worth of whale oil. The latter figure indicates the importance of the whaling industry. It has taken the Government from December, 1949, until April or May, 1956, to work out how to support the fishing industry.
– Why not go back to federation?
– I shall go back even further than that, if the honorable senator wants me to do so, and we shall see who it was who played a part in helping the fishing industry, even in the years immediately following the war. All that I am saying is that we of the Opposition believe that the fishing industry is important, but we do not like the methods that the Government has adopted, in this instance, to assist it.
– Well, as I have said, if the Government as the standard-bearer of private enterprise, wanted to sell the assets of the whaling station, why were not tenders called?
– Each of us has a right to his political beliefs. I hare no doubt that honorable senators opposite think my political beliefs are more than wrong at election time.
– Only just wrong.
– Then I am improving, if the honorable senator is right. With some knowledge of what this industry means to the nation, I again say to the Government, “ If you thought this industry was so important, why did it take you such a long time to bring legislation here with which to indicate your practical interest in it ? “
– But apart from that, it is a good bill, is it not? (Senator KENNELLY.- I say quite openly, “ Take away the source from which you get the money and there should not be any one in the Senate or outside who could object to it “. But we say, in effect, that the Government is using this bill as camouflage, or for the purpose of putting up a front.
– Why does the honorable senator say that?
– Because it is true.
– Why is it true?
– All that I say to Senator Vincent is that members of the Labour party in the House of Representatives, over a period of weeks - indeed, months - kept on asking questions about the intentions of the Government concerning the assets of the whaling station.
– Why did they do that?
– Because they were entitled, on behalf of the people whom they represent here, to seek information.
– But they were told in 1952 that the Government was going to sell it.
– I think that subsequent speakers from this side of the chamber will be able to indicate, for the benefit of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), the evasive answers that were given.
– Nothing of the kind!
– I shall withdraw my remarks if I am proved to be wrong, but I suggest to honorable senators opposite that it is only necessary to read Hansard to see the evasive answers that were given to questions concerning whether or not the Government intended to sell the assets of the whaling station in Western Australia.
– That does not make the slightest difference. Where does the subterfuge come in?
– I say that if the Government intended to sell the assets of the whaling station - and it is now apparent that it intends to do so - tenders should have been called in the normal way. The methods adopted by the Government give people the right to say - and I do not wish to be personally offensive–
– The whole world knew.
– If the whole world knew, why did not the Government call for tenders?
– There were nine tenderers in this matter.
– But tenders were not called for in the normal way.
– Nevertheless, they were called for.
– If they were, they were not called for in the normal way. I suggest that if Senator Vincent is in possession of all the information on this matter, he should get up afterwards and speak himself. I invite him to do so, but if he does, I am sure that he will not be able to convince honorable senators on this side of the chamber that tenders were invited in the normal way for the sale of the assets of the whaling station. Therefore, I say that wc on this side of the chamber have the right to point out that however well the moneys to be derived from the sale may be expended, the fact remains that the Government is using this bill as camouflage.
If we can develop the fishing industry and so help to correct our overseas balance of payments position, that will be a good thing. I know that, at the present time, there is a fairly good market in the United States of America for certain kinds of fish from Australian waters. For instance, I understand that the market for crayfish tails is large and could be larger if we were able to produce more of them. The same also may be said in relation to our prawns. From what one reads, it seems that we shall have to pin our faith hi the advancement of this industry to the tuna. We in this country have not seen many tuna, and those we have seen .have been sold at an exorbitant price compared with the price of the average fish.
– Tuna is 9d-. per lb. in Queensland.
– Then, I wish that the honorable senator would send some to the State in which I live. We hope that the Government will redraft the bill in such a way as to give it’ the power it needs to develop the fishing industry, but that it will leave the whaling station alone. We know that if that station were unprofitable, the Government would not want to sell it. However, it is a valuable asset. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, praised its administration. He said that it was well run. This government-sponsored industry has not been a drag on the nation’s purse. The proposed sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission savours of political prejudice at its worst, and of a hand-out by the Government to its friends.
– Because the Government did not call tenders in the normal way.
– Would the honorable senator make that statement outside the Parliament?
– It is my practice never to say in this chamber what I would not be prepared to say outside. It will be proved that tenders were not call”**’ for the whaling station. Surely, in these times, the Government does not intend to use its brutal majority, which was obtained in dubious ways, in order to force this measure through this chamber. The Opposition desires to see the Australian fishing industry assisted, but it has taken the Government so long to acknowledge that the industry needs help that one is justified in suspecting that this reason has been advanced by the Government only as a cover-up for the sale of a valuable asset belonging to the people. I finish on this note: if it is possible, after the political wheel makes a complete turn and Labour again controls the treasury bench, the wrong done by this measure and by other measures that have been enacted by this Government will be rectified.
– The purpose of this ‘bill is to establish a fisheries development trust account, and to do certain other things connected therewith. Senator Kennelly is opposed, apparently, not to the purposes of the bill but to the proposed sale of the whaling station, which is conducted in Western Australia by the Australian Whaling Commission. Therein lies the difference between the policies of the Government and the Opposition. The Labour party has always been a socialist party and, of course, this has always been a socialistic venture. In 1949, Labour lost the general election on the banking issue and other socialistic issues. Tb, people voted out the Labour Government because of its socialistic tendencies, and Labour is likely to remain out of office for a considerable period of time.
This bill provides for the setting up of a trust fund to assist the Australian fishing industry. It is expected th,11 approximately £750,000 will Joe paid into the trust fund for that purpose. This money will be expended on the investigation of the commercial possibilities of new fisheries, to make loans to existing fishing enterprises that need assistance and, if necessary, for the pursuit of fishing activities similar to those at present conducted by the Australian Whaling Commission. Once the Commonwealth establishes successfully a fishing industry other than whaling, the Government intends to get out of that particular industry as quickly as possible, and then establish another industry with the proceeds of the sale. The Government intends, instead of retaining just one whaling station, to go ahead and establish with the £750,000 other fishing industries, such as the tuna fishing industry, the cultured pearl industry in Western Australia, the dugong industry and the prawning industry. I believe that these industries will go a long way towards developing our overseas markets, and will earn much-needed dollars for Australia.
It cost the Commonwealth approximately £1,375,000 to establish at Babbage Island, Carnarvon, Western Australia, the whaling station that it is now proposed to sell. In five years, the net profits of the station, after allowing for depreciation, interest charges and so on, amounted to approximately £1,000,000. Last year, Australia imported fish to the value of £5,612,000 and exported similar goods to the value of £1,865,000. Therefore, on balance, we are bringing in approximately £4,000,000 worth of fish annually. By utilizing the money in the proposed trust fund to develop certain aspects of the fishing industry in Australia, it is hoped to increase our exports of fish and, ultimately, to obviate the necessity to import so much fish. I believe that the development of the fishing industry will lead to a reduction of imports and an increase of exports.
The Australian Whaling Commission was established in 1949, but did not operate until 1951, although it conducted a trial run in 1950. In 1951, there were two whaling stations operating in Australia - the Australian Whaling Commission’s station at Babbage Island and the Nor’ West Whaling Company’s station. .
I understand that the money derived from the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s station will be applied to assist large-scale fishing operations, and to promote new fishing techniques on a small scale. For instance, a company operating from Albany might not have sufficient capital with which to buy vessels capable of staying at sea in the Great Australian Bight for a period long enough to determine whether the establishment of a big canning industry at Albany was justified. Such a scheme has already been tried in Western Australia by a small company which owned two vessels powered by coal-burning steam engines, and equipped with large ice-boxes. Those vessels were used to develop the fish-canning industry at Albany.
– What kinds of fish were canned ?
– Various kinds were caught and canned through the agency of those vessels, but it was found that the fish would not keep in the ice-boxes for very long, and also that by the time the vessels got from port to the schools of fish there was not much time left for them to operate. Indeed, they had to return after a few days at sea. Because of the fact that the vessels were obsolete, the company operating them could not carry on successfully, and after a very short period it closed down altogether.
Honorable senators are well aware that reports have been made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization about the development of certain fishing industries in different parts of Australia. Those reports refer to tuna fishing on the north-eastern coast and to the fact that experiments have proved that there is room for a big tuna fishing industry to be established there. We have also read in the press that off the north-west of Western Australia, within 100 miles of North West Cape, the Japanese are engaged in extensive fishing activities. I understand that the Japanese are using a fishing fleet of about 100 vessels, and have operated off North West Cape for a considerable period, frequently returning to Japan with large quantities of tuna. Those fish earn a big income in America for the Japanese. In view of the reports from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and because the Japanese are successfully carrying on a large fishing industry to the north of this continent, why should not Australia establish a trust account to carry sums of money up to about £750,000 with provision for additional sums to be placed in it when necessary ? Such a fund could be used to assist companies which were prepared to risk their money in the development of the fishing industry in Australia. Both the Japanese and American governments have established large tuna-fishing industries.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Indutrial Research Organization has carried out extensive research into the possibilities of a prawning industry in Australia. In referring to prawning I shall confine my remarks to Western Australia. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has carried out surveys in the Shark Bay, Exmouth Gulf and Cockburn Sound areas in Western Australia. It was found that in those places there were large quantities of prawns, 8 to 10 inches in length. The prawns were in such quantity that it only needed a company to be formed to catch them to provide an income for Australia in the vicinity of 10,000,000 dollars or 12,000,000 dollars a year. Therefore, honorable senators will perceive that if only the tuna, industry and the prawning industry were properly developed, they could provide Australia with an income of more than 20,000,000 dollars a year. I suggest that that is far more, in terms of dollars, than wc are earning to-day through any other industry. Outside the trawling industry we have only about £10,000,000 invested in the Australian fishing industry. Therefore, we shall have to develop large companies with sufficient capital to go into fishing ventures if we are properly to develop the industry. However, we have found that the capital is not forthcoming in this country because fishing is a risky business. The only fishing industries that have been established here, particularly on the west coast, have been failures. Consequently, we shall have to offer attractive terms to companies that are ready to conduct fishing operations in this country.
Another industry that could well be investigated and established in Western Australia is the cultured pearl industry. If we read the history of that industry, we find that a Mr. Mikimoto of Japan endeavoured to culture pearls as far back as 1890. He continued with his experiments, without success, until about 1908. He then succeeded in growing artificial pearls, and since that time the cultured pearl industry in Japan has developed so greatly that about 120,000 people are now living on the industry, and it is earning in the vicinity of 5,000,000 to 8,000,000 American dollars every year. When Mr. Mikimoto started his experiments, he was very poor and he and his family were conducting a chicken noodle shop which provided them with a livelihood for eighteen years while he carried on his experiments. His method was to insert various irritants into the oysters to ascertain whether the oysters would surround, those;; irritants with layers of pearly substance and eventually develop a pear]. He. carried out experiments in various parts of Japan, and those experiments included the insertion into the oysters of certain types of sand, broken glass, potters clay and ground up shells. For many years he was completely unsuccessful. After persevering with his work for many years, Mr. Mikimoto was eventually successful. His success came through using pieces of real pearl that had been ground up. “When he was almost driven to despair because of his failure, he had a final look at the oyster beds that had been treated with the real pearl particles, and discovered that his efforts had been crowned with success. From that time on, be gradually became one of the richest men in Japan. I suggest that an industry such as that can be established in the north-west of Western Australia.
I believe that experts can readily tell the difference between the cultured and the real pearl. However, if an industry were established and real mother-of-pearl oysters found off the north-west of Western Australia, at Thursday Island and Darwin, were U9ed, it would be very hard, even for the most expert pearl buyer, to tell the difference between a cultured pearl and an original pearl.
– Do we know the formula used by the Japanese ?
– We would have to obtain the formula, but, if it were obtained by Mikimoto in 1908 without the assistance of science, surely it would not be beyond scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, for instance, to find out how to produce these pearls. What one person with a small business did in Japan in 190S could surely be done by scientists in this country in 1956. We could establish the industry off the northwest coast of Western Australia under ideal conditions, using mother of pearl - the true pearl - as the ingredient to promote the growth of the cultured pearls. I believe we could produce pearls indistinguishable from natural pearls. Records show that pearls were produced and sold as far back to 1800 B.C. In Roman and Greek times they were used as ornaments.
The sale of pearls i is an interesting study. As much as 500,000 dollars has been paid for one pearl. Mikimoto was producing in Japan something like 20,000,000 pearls a year. If Australia produced 20,000,000 pearls and sold them on the American and European markets they would earn us up to 100,000,000 dollars a year. A measure of this kind can help to promote these types of industry. The proceeds of the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets at Carnarvon will he put into a trust account and used to promote the fishing industry in the way I have explained to the Senate. The tunafishing industry needs only capital to develop it. The prawning industry, too, can be established off both the east and west coasts of Australia. Only recently it has been found that large quantities of prawns abound off the east coast of Australia and any quantity can be caught. The main problem in the development of the prawning industry is to find suitable markets. An export trade will have to be developed, but once that has been done prawns could be obtained off both the east and west coasts of Australia. The result will mean dollars to this country. The money to be received from the sale of this whaling station i3 to be placed in a trust account to be used for the development of these industries so that we can augment our overseas funds.
I know very well that a bill of this sort hurts the Labour party because it does not like anything that is in conflict with its socialistic policy.
– The Government has not done anything yet.
– Its policy is not socialistic. It came into’ office in 1949 opposed to socialism and is now about to sell this whaling station. “ It is nice to know that this venture made a profit of £230,000 last year. No ‘ honorable senator opposite has complained about the profits of this venture. No 6ne can say, “Look, this concern is not worth more than £600,000”; because that is the amount the Western Australian Government offered for it. As I have said, last year it made a profit of £230,000, or 40 per cent.
– Who owns the land?
– Honorable senators opposite talk about the profits of other companies in Australia, such as General Motors-Holden’s Limited. An interjection has just been made as to who owns the land. The land, of course, is owned by the Western Australian Government, which has stated that it has not yet decided what it will do about it.
– What typo of government is that?
– It is a Labour government ; I am. not ashamed to say that. It has not yet said whether it is prepared to stop the purchaser of this whaling station from coming in and taking possession. Public opinion is so much with this Government in regard to this sale that I feel confident that the Western Australian Labour Government will not stop the purchasing company from taking possession.
– The honorable senator has admitted that the land is the asset of the Western Australian Government.
– Of course, it is. The proceeds of the sale will be used to promote the industries to which I have referred. The £750,000 will be only n initial amount to be placed into the trust fund for the development of these industries. The bill provides that further moneys may be placed in the fund from time to time. First, there will be the £750,000. Then, if somebody has established an industry which requires development, further moneys can be provided under the provisions of this bill. I have great pleasure in supporting the bill.
.– I imagined a while ago when I looked at the bill that it dealt with the provision of finance to assist the fishing industry of Australia, but after listening to Senator Scott, who has just resumed his seat, I can perhaps be pardoned for thinking that the bill is devoted entirely to the pearling industry. It is the definite intention of honorable senators on this side of the chamber to vote against the bill, for the simple reason that it smacks of political dupery. It expresses fairly clearly the policy of the Government in respect of the industry generally. At
Carnarvon, at the present time, there is a whaling station,, owned by the people of Australia. It is the intention of the Government to sell that station, and, if it obtains money from that sale - and that is questionable at the present time - it intends to use some of the proceeds in assisting the fishing industry. It is a nebulous measure. Recently a somewhat similar bill was before this chamber. It dealt with television - or one would have expected it to do so - but when it was thoroughly examined it went no further than to express this Government’s policy on the establishment of television in Australia. Now the Government has brought down this bill and says, in effect, “ If we sell the whaling station at Carnarvon, we will assist the fishing industry “.
The policy of this Government is to carry out a conversion programme. That has been its policy ever since it was elected to office in 1949, and how truly it has followed it. The Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited shares were sold to the public at basement bargain prices. The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited was disposed of, and so was the Glen Davis shale oil enterprise. The Government made sure that the lastmentioned industry would never be reestablished because the machinery and equipment were sold to an interested party in Tasmania. The Government boosts conditions so that it will be easy for private profit-making activities to flourish all the time. Whenever the Government is called upon to make a decision involving the interests of profit-making concerns on the one hand and the people of Australia on. the other, without exception it decides in favour of big business and profitmaking. It has never done anything else, and I do not expect it ever to conduct itself in any other way. Its policy is to destroy public ownership of assets, and make it impossible for future governments to establish similar assets to be owned by the people.
The bill can be likened to a social pill which has been rolled into the Senate. The core of it is made of a kind of social cobalt and it is coated with sugar which, in this case, is the promise of the Government to assist the fishing industry.
The Government thinks that the people will be duped by it, but they .ill certainly ask questions about this transaction, knowing that the Government is basically false and deceitful. The Government cannot justify its action. Senator Scott, who has just concluded his speech, said that this measure will assist the fishing industry, and that millions of pounds will be earned on the export market by catching fish in Australian waters, processing them and exporting them to other countries. The honorable senator has been living in a hind of dreams for years, but the people ff Australia look at matters of this kind in a matter-of-fact way. They are becoming case-hardened to the actions of this Government, and they will regard this proposal from a practical point of view. They will say to each other and to Government supporters, “ A whaling station was established at Carnarvon on a sound basis, and it was returning an annual profit to the Government of something like £200,000. Now the Government has disposed of the assets to private enterprise. Why did it do so?” Every one in Australia knows that the industry is in a flourishing condition. T know that another whaling station is operating in Moreton Bay. When it began about five years ago, its shares could be bought on the stock exchange for 5s. each, but now they have increased in velaue by 100 per cent, and more than 10?. each must be paid for them.
The whaling industry has developed slowly, but it is well known that there is a ready sale for whale oil on the British market. The plant at Carnarvon is in first-class condition because it has been overhauled annually. It has sufficient capacity to handle all the catches treated, and could take even more. It is known, also, that the supply of whales is assured. The number of whales allotted to each factory is authorized by a responsible body, and there is always an assured supply for all the whaling stations operating in Australia. The whales have been so numerous that the stations have become selective as to the whales they will treat. They allow a 30-ft. whale to go uncaught and are scarcely interested in treating one which was less than 40 feet in length. It is known that a whale weighs about a ton a foot. The Government has disposed of this whaling station at Carnarvon, which was owned by the citizenry of the Commonwealth, and which was operating a profitable industry. This station is one of the few remnants of Labour administration, but the Government’s policy is rigid and it must get rid of public assets in order to serve private, profit-making interests. In disposing of this whaling station the Government’s one thought has been to benefit one of its supporters - some rich company and perhaps a few others.
Has the Government considered the handling of by-products from the whaling sta dons ? How will this transaction affect the poultry industry in Western Australia? One of the best types of meat meals is a by-product from whales, and was readily purchased from the Carnarvon station by poultry farmers in Western Australia. Will they be able to get their supplies when the station is operated by private enterprise? I know that Government senators will say that all the meat meal produced at Carnarvon will be sold, but it is natural to ask at what price? Will it be the same as formerly? That station has been making a profit, but .no one knows what the profit will be once it is controlled by a private company. There is nothing to prevent a private company from increasing the price of meat meal to poultry farmers. Another important, by-product is fertilizer, and the sale of this from the whaling station at Carnarvon has greatly benefited Western Australia’s economy. But the people of that State have no assurance that they can obtain further supplies of fertilizer at the former price. I ask honorable senators to give some consideration to these matters.
I have heard no strong objection from the Australian Country party representatives about the Government’s engaging in the whaling industry at Carnarvon or elsewhere, but if they had the interests of the dairy farmer at heart one would have expected that occasionally there would have been a whinge or a whimper from them about whale oil being produced in Australia, because it is generally known that whale oil is exported mainly for the purpose of manufacturing margarine, which is a strong competitor in overseas markets with Australian dairy products. The Australian Country party has been singularly silent about that. Evidently it has taken a broad, national outlook concerning the whaling industry and has said, “ This industry has been established and it should continue “. [ now wish to comment on some of the statements made by Government senators from Tasmania. I endorse their complaint about high shipping freights on goods carried between the mainland and Tasmania. This is certainly a. burden on the economy of that State. The basicwage in Tasmania is higher than in any other State, and the reason is that Tasmania is an island State and has to meet high shipping freights. That condition is likely to continue for some considerable time. If T asm anion senators were as alert as they should be, they would argue that as the profits made by the whaling station at Carnarvon are made on products of the sea, it is only fitting that the whole of them should be devoted to subsidizing shipping freights between Australia and Tasmania. If the Government, put forward a concrete suggestion along those lines, I should be only too will-‘ng to support it, and I feel confident that other honorable senators also on this side of the chamber would be willing to support it. Tasmania’s economy is handicapped by high shipping freights, and those high freights will continue for some time. They have been a great obstacle to Tasmania in competing with other States on the Australian market, let alone on the world’s market, and in those circumstances Tasmania is entitled to some subsidy. This is not a small matter: honorable senators should consider it as a. national problem. It may be suggested that £200,000 is only a small amount to add to the subsidy, but I point out that this could be augmented from other sources. Tasmania should be helped by the Government, and if it puts forward a sound scheme for the transport of foodstuffs by Commonwealth ships between Tasmania and the mainland, it will receive the wholehearted support of honorable senators on this side. I leave that matter to the consideration of honorable senators from Tasmania. ‘
Of course, it is the Government’s policy to look upon excess profits as something sacred that ought not to be touched. The Government panders all the time to the monopolists in the community. That is why we distrust it and why the people’s distrust of it is increasing daily. The alleged purpose of the bill is to assist the fishing industry. Actually, the industry at present is comprised of three groups of fishermen. Those in the first group own small boats which can be used in harbours, inlets and shoals round, our coast. Those men catch fish with both nets and lines. At the moment they are the main suppliers of fish consumed in Australia. The second group comprises men who own and use ocean-going boats and trawl for fish as well as use lines. Some of those boats have refrigeration whilst others have ice-boxes only; and it is possible for most of them to remain at sea for four or five days. The third group comprises men who own ocean-going boats and engage almost exclusively in crustacean fishing - fishing for crayfish, or perhaps for prawns off the Queensland coast.
Which group does the Government pronose to assist in particular? Is it the first group of fishermen who have only small boats, sometimes only dinghies without any motor .power at all ? Those men do not want much assistance. From my experience of them, they are concerned mainly about sustenance during the long breaks between fishing seasons. They may require a net or two, but I do not think the Government proposes to assist that group. I do not think that it ha = given any thought to them at all. In any case, they are not the class of people whom this Government would be likely to assist at any time. We do not hear from the second group of fishermen, those who have ocean-going boats and trawl for fish, any clamour for financial assistance. Then, we have the third group. I should say that the Government could do a great deal of good for the fishing industry if it recruited more ichthyologists. More of these experts are needed in the industry. Over the year, we have developed a .system of providing guidance to farmers in matters such as herd testing, soil testing, the use of certain fertilizers for particular purposes, and so on. Thi3 has taken years and years to develop, but it is now on a firm scientific basis, and to-day the farmer who is independent of this scientific advice is a very rare individual indeed. Science is helping all kinds of producers on the land, but there are very few experts in the fishing industry, and whatever assistance is given is not constant. There ls no department of fisheries from which the fishing industry of Australia may obtain reliable information. If the Government concentrated its efforts upon that form of assistance and continued along those lines for a number of years it would do some good for the industry.
At the present time, nothing i3 known about the movements of fish, and very little is known about their breeding grounds. The States have some control over the industry, but only from a State and not a national point of view. Again, fish caught in the waters of one State are different from those caught in the waters of another State. The proposal to set up some kind of organization to assist the fishing industry generally is a good one ; but I am not convinced that it is necessary to sell the whaling station in order to obtain the finance for that purpose. The Government could very easily find the necessary finance without giving even a moment’s consideration to the sale of this whaling station. Although I know that in Queensland there are 6,000,000 head of cattle, 20,000,000 head of sheep, so many nigs and so many head of poultry, no . authority in the Commonwealth is able to give me any idea of the hauls of fish that are likely to be made in Australian waters during the next twelve months. There is no authority that can say with any degree of certainty just, how many tons of tuna or salmon, or how many pounds of prawns will be caught. That information is not available, and in my view the Government has been remiss during the last six years in failing to give consideration to the establishment of such an authority. The fishing industry is a food-producing industry and as such has now reached the stage of development in Australia when it must be given greater consideration.
I come now to the application of funds. I have no doubt that the Government will sell the whaling station. The price has already been fixed and, probably, a deposit has been paid. Clause 6 of the bill shows how the Government intends to assist the fishing industry. It is generally recognized that the fishing industry, to be successful, must have cold-storage premises. They exist now, and are used to the advantage of the owners of the premises for their own purposes. They use them to obtain great profits for themselves. When there is a genuine glut of fish, they buy supplies at the lowest possible rate, and put the fish into cold storage. It is really a case of cornering the fish market. They regulate the supply of fish going on to the market, and so they control the prices. There is a huge difference between the prices that are paid to the fishermen for their haul and those that are charged to the public. No doubt, the Government will concentrate on assisting the companies in the fishing industry that have cold storage, and they will profit as I have stated. I know, of my own knowledge, that, in the capital cities, fish is cheaper on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays than it is on Thursdays and Fridays, and that it is dearer on Friday than it is on any other day. Those prices are manipulated by the owners of the cold stores, because they can regulate the supply. Neither I nor the people have any doubt that those are the companies which will benefit from the Government’s actions.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has some good ideas, but he has been living in a land of dreams when he has been thinking of the fishing industry. In his second-reading speech, he said -
At a time when it is necessary to increase exports and replace imports, the fishing industry can be made to play its part. It is confidently expected that the stimulus given to the fishing industry by the Fisheries Development Trust Account will increase exports of fish products, particularly to dollar markets, and permit the replacement of imports of frozen and canned fish, thus providing a substantial saving in foreign exchange.
Apparently, the Minister believes that, at some time in the future, Australia will be able to export fish overseas. Ho is very hopeful, indeed. On some occasions, the Minister has told the manufacturers and producers of Australia that, to increase their sales overseas, they will have to do something about the packing and wrapping of their: products to make them: more attractive. Australians are matteroffact people. The every-day Australian who drinks beer is not concerned about the label on the bottle. He will drink it out of a blue bottle or a white bottle. If we have to sell to finicky people overseas, it may be necessary for Australia to go in for some form of advertising.
In case some supporters of the Government might believe that I am not speaking constructively, I shall pass on to them some ideas for preparing fish for export. I suggest that fish from the various States should he canned, treated and sold separately. Fish caught in Western Australian waters could be placed in cans bearing a picture of Albany Harbour under the words “Paltridge’s Pilchards”. At present the Australian market is almost flooded with salmon from Russia. It is branded “ Socra “. If honorable senators examine the tins, they will see on them a picture of a salmon jumping out of the sea of communism into the free world. We could go further. Fish from Tasmania could be marketed in cans bearing a picture of Bell Bay and the Public Accounts Commitee, and . labelled “ Townley’* Tuna “. If we want to capture the overseas market with Victorian fish, the cans could carry a picture of the Olympic Games, or the site of the games, and the label “ Menzies’ Mullet “. Fish from New South Wales could be marketed in cans bearing a picture of the St. Mary;s defence project, and marked “ Spooner’s Scallops”, or “Cramer’s Crabs”. We have fish for export in Queensland.
– Benn’s barracouta?
– No, we have prawns there. Fishermen have explored the coast, and have found that the prawns available can be exported profitably They are sending about 1,000 lb. away each month. Certainly, that is’ a small quantity, but it is going abroad. We can improve the fishing industry, and it will develop as Australia’s population increases. Developments that were not economically possible a few years ago are now feasible because we have a larger population and a bigger market at our door.
Honorable senators who have had an opportunity of visiting whaling stations know that all of them smell alike, but not one of them smells worse than the bill that is before the Senate. The Opposition opposes the bill for definite reasons. The principal reason is that the Government proposes to dispose of a public asset to allow private enterprise to make greater profits. This is a case of Liberal party deceit of the lowest order. The Government apparently believes that it is generous. Of course, it is generous; it would give the people every fish in the sea provided they caught the fish themselves. The whaling station is one of the remnants of the previous Labour Government’s achievements, and this Government is determined to get rid of it as quickly as it can. No honorable senator can tell me how the people of Australia will be better off as a result of this measure, nor can he tell me how it will benefit the Australian economy.
– I rise to support the bill. As the voice of Senator Benn rang in opposition to the measure, I think it would be as well for us to have a look at its provisions. It would be impossible to detect, from the rather paltry speech of the honorable senator, just what the bill sets out to do. Senator Benn’s remarks were not at all constructive. Almost every sentence contained sinister smears about the benefits that will come to Government supporters from the disposal of this whaling venture. Without going into details, he went from smear to smear, even going to the extent of predicting that companies which may be helped by the provisions of this bill will proceed to corner fish supplies to the detriment of the Australian people. I think that the time of the Senate is wasted in listening to remarks .such as those made by the honorable senator. For my part, I dissociate myself from them.
Senator Benn stated that the people engaged in the fishing industry have not been helped in any way. Why, since the foundation of white settlement in Australia, the departments in the various States have been giving assistance to the fishing industry. I agree that it is a good idea for the Commonwealth to be interested in the industry, and I support this measure because I think that it represents a milestone in the development of the industry.
– We agree with all of that, but why sell the assets of the whaling station?
– It is obvious, from the interjection of the honorable senator, that her mind is clouded by some issue concerning the sale of the whaling station. The primary purpose of this bill is to provide for the establishment of a trust account to be known as the Fisheries Development Trust Account. The application of the moneys in this account surely is the primary purpose of the bill. Let us examine clause 6, because it is apparent that the opposition of honorable senators opposite has been misdirected. Clause 6 states - (1.) Subject to this Act, moneys standing to the credit of the Account may be applied for any of the following purposes: -
E propose to examine the purposes for which the money is to be applied, without going into a long exposition of the points raised by honorable senators opposite concerning imaginary smears about the disposal of the whaling venture. The first purpose to which clause 6 refers is - the initiation or continuation of research or investigation in connexion with, or for the promotion of, the fishing industry;
I salute that as an excellent matter for discussion by this Parliament. I am conscious that research is absolutely essential in the fishing industry, and I do not mean research by the use of small motor boats, dinghies or yachts, but research in a very big way.
Last week, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I referred to the need to provide a ship for polar exploration. I wish to impose a little on the good nature of honorable senators by referring to that matter again this afternoon and by stressing, as I stressed then, that it is entirely wrong for the Commonwealth to have only the charter or the loan of a Scandinavian ship for a few months each year, that being the only ship capable of going into the vast water area south of Australia. I consider that the whole question of deep sea research should have No. 1 priority at the present time, whether that research be the responsibility of the Navy, thu Department, of External Affairs, the Department of Trade, in connexion with trade promotion, or the Department of Primary Production. The Department of External Affairs or the Department of the Navy should provide a ship to lake over from Kista Van when the charter expires. 1 do not think it would he possible to provide such a ship earlier than that. A properly designed ship would be capable of going to the farthest limits of our territory, that is, right down to Antarctica. During the winter months, when the ship could not go there, it would be invaluable for research and investigation in the fishing industry.
During the week-end, it was my privilege to discuss this matter with Sir Douglas Mawson, possibly Australia’s foremost Antarctic explorer, and Air. John Rymill, also a very distinguished mau in Antarctic exploration. Both of those gentlemen were firmly of the opinion that the Commonwealth should secure such a. ship and that, in the off season, it would be invaluable for survey work, especially fishing survey work. I believe that this legislation represents a start in that direction. NI am looking forward keenly to the initiation of the research referred to in sub- clause 1 (a) of clause 6. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization could come into the matter with great effect. One result would be the training of sturdy deep sea fishermen who would be of great benefit to Australia in time of war, as the North Sea fishermen and the fishermen who operated off the coast of Norway were of benefit to the United Kingdom during World. War II.
I come now to the subject of financial assistance by way of loan, or the provision of share capital, which is foreshadowed in the bill. Here again, T invite the attention of the Government to the importance of fishing as a primary industry. It will be recalled that, in the recent financial re-casting, homes v. <: permitted to raise their rate of interest, on overdrafts, but in respect of primary industries they were urged - and the lead is being set by the Commonwealth Bank - not to raise the rate of interest above 5 per cent. In connexion with financial assistance to the fishing industry, I urge the Government to regard the fishing industry as a primary industry and to regard fishermen as primary producers, so that the benefits that the Government and the Parliament have given to primary producers may be available to fishermen, also, both as regards interest rates and certain taxation measures with which I shall deal in a moment. The dissemination of information and advice relating to scientific, technical and commercial matters in connexion with the fishing industry is important. I expect that pressure already has been put on the Government to regard the fishing industry as a primary industry and to regard the people connected with it as primary producers. At the present time, the law with regard to concessions that are allowed to primary producers is somewhat amazing. For instance, city doctors, bookmakers and others who are engaged in avocations which are carried on close to cities or racecourses, qualify immediately, under our taxation laws, as primary producers if they have a little piece of land on which they can play at week-ends. I submit that.it is entirely wrong that the fisherman, the sturdy man who goes forth in all kinds of weather and takes great risks, should not be regarded as a primary producer. Admittedly, we cannot do anything about it in this bill, but I think that this is an occasion when one should speak up for the men engaged in the fishing industry. In passing, I invite the attention of the Senate to the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act in which, to my way of thinking, the definition of “ primary production “ is too limited. It reads as follows: - “ primary production “ means production resulting directly from the cultivation of land or the maintenance of animals or poultry for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce including natural increase, and includes the manufactureof dairy produce by the person who produced the raw material used in that manufacture.
From such a definition flows the various privileges that are granted by our taxation law to the primary producers. It will be recalled that there is provided in section 57aa, of the Income Tax and
Social Services Contribution Assessment Act what is known as the special depreciation allowance to primary producers, which has been of enormous advantage to them. This nation, because of the special depreciation allowances that are available to primary producers has benefited by great advances not only in the quantity of production but also in the welfare and mode of living of the people who are engaged in primary production, whether as principals or as servants. The type of accommodation now available to shearers and farm workers is far better than it ever was because of the imaginative taxation laws instituted by this Government. I submit with great respect that the Government could very well institute some sort of relief to those engaged in the fishing industry, and I suggest that the simplest way of doing that would be to include fishing in the definition of “ primary production “. Another great advantage to the primary producers is that they can average their income. There is no need for me to explain to the Senate the importance of that provision. I shall take the liberty for a minute or two of referring to the third report of the Royal Commission on Taxation. That important commission, which sat in 1934, dealt with the whole question of the ebb and flow of the income of the primary producer and suggested certain important amendments of the law. I submit that the ebb and flow of the income of the fisherman could well be taken care of in the same way as is the ebb and flow of the income of the primary producer. The royal commission made this comment in paragraph 639 of its report -
The primary producer, however, is in a different position. His income is affected by seasonal conditions that cannot be predicted or controlled. If he sustains a loss he will, of course, have the right to carry it forward in common with other taxpayers. But if his income fluctuates considerably without resulting in a lose he would, if averaging were abolished, pay considerably more tax than a taxpayer who received the same aggregate income during the same period in reasonably even instalments.
I suggest that if we hope to get stability into the fishing industry we should extend the averaging provision to these sturdy individuals who go out in small craft to win wealth from the sea. As I have already said, they should be able to claim special depreciation allowances similar to those claimed by the primary producers. I hope that, after research into the commercial aspects of the fishing industry has been carried out with money from the trust account, the Government will give very earnest and careful consideration to the taxation of fishermen.
As Senator Benn has said, there are off seasons for fishermen. To my way of thinking, the fishing industry is not at present very well organized, because the men can fish only in good weather. In winter time, particularly in the southeastern portions of South Australia, the fishermen have to pull their boats out of the water and go rabbiting. But only yesterday morning it was stated in the broadcast of the national news in South Australia that, due to myxomatosis, rabbits were not now available for the fishermen to get during the off season. I hope that when research takes place in connexion with the fishing industry there will be some work available through the co-operatives or organizations of the industry for the fishermen in their slack time, because I believe that many of the 1,000,000 new Australians in this country were formerly used to a fish diet. Because of religious and other reasons they have become great consumers of fish. In Australia, there is an enormous local market - greater than we have ever known before - for fish. I believe that by voting for this bill - not opposing it, as the Opposition is doing - this Senate will do a service to the community. By opposing the measure, the Senate would do a disservice to the community. If this bill is not passed by the Senate, the clock will be put back in the important matter of winning food for the people of Australia.
I conclude by outlining what is occurring in South Australia, in which I have no doubt the Senate is interested. I shall mention the South Australian angle, not only because I am a little conversant with it, but also to demonstrate to honorable senators that the State fisheries departments are already doing very good work in connexion with fishing. I hope that the- new trust account will enable the Commonwealth to collaborate with the States in the development of the fishing industry. Mr. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, has taken a great interest in the development of the fishing industry, particularly in relation to tuna. A number of statements has appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser concerning this matter. Mr. Playford arranged for two fishermen from the United States of America to visit South Australia recently and instruct local fishermen in the Port Lincoln area on the new method of catching tuna. One of these men, Mr. Svere Jangaard said that a major tuna fishing ground extended at least from Flinders Island to the Neptune Islands, and was capable of supporting a tuna industry of reasonable size. This area is within 150 miles of Adelaide. This matter ha3 been given considerable support by the South Australian Government. The Premier himself has gone out to the fishing grounds with the fishermen, and interest has been shown in the matter in other ways. Already, a canning works has been established at Port Lincoln, and fishermen on the whole of a rather inhospitable part of the South Australian coast - the far west coast - are now looking forward with great interest to the progress of this industry. What interests me about the west coast people of South Australia is that they have already set up a fisheries development council, which has appointed a sub-committee to investigate economic aspects of the’ fishing industry and methods of seeking finance for the purchase of boats.
At this stage I desire to pay a tribute to the South Australian Fishermen’s Co-operative Limited, which assists in marketing the produce of the sea in that State. In view of what I have said, honorable senators may understand that the State and the people of South Australia, especially some of the people on the far west coast and in the south-east of South Australia, are working very hard to expand the fishing industry, and I can assure the Senate that if this measure fails to be passed, through the action of the Labour party in this place, that action will go down to the very great discredit of the Labour party. I wholeheartedly support the bill.
Senator HARRIS (Western Australia)
T5.26]. - Last week, honorable senators listened to the second-reading speeches delivered by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) on the Fishing Industry Bill and the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill. The fact that the Fishing Industry Bill -was the first of the. two bills to be introduced into the Senate, gave an indication of the Government’s attitude o,n this matter. That indication was strengthened by the remarks of some Opposition senators in criticizing the Government for this method of placing the measure before the Senate. They pointed out that the action contemplated under the Fishing Industry Bill can be carried out only after the Whaling Industry Act Repeat Bill has been passed and the whaling undertaking has been sold. I agree with the remarks of a member pf the Opposition in another place,, when he criticized the actions of the Government in presenting the Fishing Industry Bill first and the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill immediately after. He said -
This bill is a gigantic: political fraud for the real purpose behind the establishment of this so-called Fisheries Development Trust Account is to hide or cover up as much as possible the fact that this Government is about to sell the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets, in Carnarvon in Western Australia.
Of course, the actions, of the Government clearly indicate the Government’s intentions, and show that there is something seriously wrong. It should also be noted that the typescript copy of the second-reading speech of the Minister for National Development on the Fishing Industry Bill covered eight or nine pages and took about half an hour to read. Yet, his second-reading speech on one of the most important bills ever to come before the Senate, the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill - designed to repeal legislation passed during the regime of the Chifley Government in 1949 - took about three minutes to read. It seems to be the Government’s attitude that the less that is said about the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill, the better it will be. but the more that is said about the Fishing Industry Bill the better it will be because that bill is designed to camouflage the sale of the people’s assets under the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill.
It is my belief that Government supporters, whether in the Senate or in another place, have not justified the actions of the Government in its projected disposal of the whaling industry in Western Australia and the setting up of a fisheries development trust account with the proceeds of the sale. Last week several bills concerned with sales tax were before the Senate. Through those bills the Government was seeking increased revenue by increasing the sales tax on motor cars, and other articles of every clay use. When those bills were being debated it was pathetic to see supporters of the Government trying to defend the endeavours of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to cope with the inflationary spiral which is afflicting us in Australia at present.
The Fishing Industry Bill is closely allied to the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill because the money received from the sale of the whaling undertaking under the latter bill will be used for the establishment of a certain trust account for the supposed development of the fishing industry. The Minister indicated that quite clearly in his second-reading speech when he said -
As investment in one undertaking is liquidated, the funds released will be invested in another sector of the fishing industry in which it is considered that it can make the greatest contribution to. fisheries development. The fund will not be restricted to one object, as was the case with whaling, but used to stimulate private investment in a number of developmental projects.. It will thus make an effective contribution to a broad expansion, of the fishing industries.
Then the Minister went on to make a statement which shows quite clearly why the Opposition objects to the sale of the whaling undertaking in Western Australia. He said -
The Australian Whaling Commission was set up by a previous government with an investment of £1.375,000. The venture was a (treat success, and, in five years of full operations the Commission made profits of about £1,000,000, besides paying interest on advances and making substantial provision for depreciation.
That statement of the Minister proved the argument advanced by the Opposition that in no circumstances must the whaling undertaking be sold, but the Opposition, of course, has no objection to the Government assisting the fishing industry anywhere in Australia. Some years ago a royal commission was appointed in Western Australia, to take evidence from those who were very closely connected with the fishing industry - that is, those who were catching fish and those who were manufacturing fish products. That royal commission collected quite a lot of important evidence to show that there is ample scope for improvement in the fishing industry. However, the officers of the Western Australian Fisheries Department and the fishermen themselves have been hampered and inconvenienced because of the atomic tests which have been going on at the Monte Bello islands. Those tests have interfered with the fishing industry to some extent. We all know that the Monte Bello islands are located in an important fishing and spawning area where fish spawn at certain times of the year. Fishermen are not allowed to take fish from the waters for some miles around the islands at the spawning seasons, and the atomic tests have interfered with the fishing industry and have confined fishing activities from Onslow south to the Great Australian Bight. I am sure that the evidence that was given by people lv 1, C knew all about fishing contained ample material in respect of assistance to this industry. It would be a very profitable industry if it were helped in the right direction. The Government of Western Australia has done a great deal over the years to assist the industry, but lack of finance has prevented it from going to the full limit. A lot of money was spent on jetties, improvements and amenities in Fremantle Harbour, and a bay was dredged in order to provide an anchorage for fishing fleets. First-class, efficient markets were also provided in Fremantle, and these have made a wonderful difference. Everything, possible has been done by the State Government to assist the fisherman but, of course, the limited amount of money available has prevented it from doing more. The present Labour Government in that State, which was returned with a substantial majority a couple of weeks ago - a shock to the Liberal-Country party - intends to do all it can for the fishing industry. The Minister concerned, ‘Mr. Kelly, is very interested and is prepared to go as far as he can with the amount of finance made available to him by his Government.
I agree that there can be no argument that the development of the fishing industry in waters adjacent to Australia would be a great contribution to our economy from both the import and export points of view. I understand we are paying in the vicinity of £6,000,000 a year for imported fish products. The development of this industry would reduce that expenditure and help to balance imports and exports. It is more than six years since the report to which I have referred was submitted to the Government, but no attempt has been made by the Government to assist the fishing industry. The Government has decided to set up this trust account to assist the fishing industry only because it desired to dispose of the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets prior to the 1st July, having regard to the possibility of its not being able to muster a majority in this chamber after that date. I am doubtful whether those engaged in the fishing industry will receive the assistance which the Government has indicated.
The Australian Government has a primary responsibility in these matters because, constitutionally, it has sole jurisdiction over the waters beyond the 3-mile limit. Waters within the 3-mile limit come within the jurisdiction of tha States, but the deep-sea fishing grounds are situated outside that limit, and prospects for the development of those areas are bright. The only Government that has developed the fishing industry has been the Chifley Government, which in 3949 established the Australian Whaling Commission to carry on operations at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. The present Government is disposing of the assets of that commission in order to finance the operations proposed under this bill. It proposes to sell a public asset which has been demonstrated to be efficient. The Australian Whaling Commission is a public instrumentality which every one must admit has been conducted efficiently and profitably and to the great benefit of Australia. The Labour party has no objection to the establishment of a trust account, as provided for in this bill, but even though the proceeds are to be put into this account it objects to the sale of a very valuable asset of the people. If the Government believes that funds are necessary for this industry why does it not provide them from Consolidated Revenue, or some other source, instead of selling the Carnarvon whaling station, which has been going along smoothly with profit to Australia and to this Government? I have stated the Labour party’s main reasons for opposing this bill.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that it is proposed to establish a fund in order to encourage the development of Australia’s fishing industry. He can expect a rush of proposals from people representing small and large fishing companies.
– The honorable senator means they will all go fishing?
– Yes, they will all go fishing. We know that in the past, when the Government has set up a fund to subsidize an industry, there have always been people lurking on the outskirts of the particular industry, looking for a windfall. I can assure the Government that it will find some sharks looking for a share out of this sum of £750,000.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to S p.m.
Debate interrupted under Sessional Order.
– I move -
That the Senate resolves that no senator shall be recognized by the Senate as leader of a party in the Senate if he is the only representative of that party in the Parliament.
There are two obesrvations I should like to make at the outset regarding the terms of the motion. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that I am speaking about recognition by the Senate, not recognition by the Parliament, nor recognition by the Government. In the second place, I am referring to the fact that the senator in question is the only representative of that party in the Parliament.
– The Leader of the Opposition does not mention the senator in question.
– I am referring to the fact that the motion asks that no senator shall be recognized as leader of a party if he is the only representative of that party in the Parliament.
– But who is the senator in question?
– The senator to whom I am referring in the motion.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition mean any senator?
– If honorable senators think that I am going to avoid acknowledging, instanter, that this is the case of Senator Cole, they will be disappointed, because I will not burke that issue.
– But the Leader of the Opposition is referring now to any senator.
– At the moment, in a general proposition, I am speaking of any senator. I have in mind an argument to develop on this motion, and although I do not ask senators to restrain themselves from interjecting, I should prefer to develop ray argument fully and then, with the concurrence of the President, I assure the Senate that I will have no objection to answering any question relevant to the motion or to my argument, but I leave that choice to the Senate itself.
My second point is that in relation to any senator in the position outlined by the motion, I am speaking of a senator who is the only representative of hip pa rty in the Parliament, and not merely in the Senate.
– Irrespective of the size of the party?
– I am speaking of a case where there is only one senator and he is the only representative of his party, not in the Senate, but in the whole Parliament.
– But that is quite irrelevant to the size of the party he represents.
– It cannot be, because my motion is confined to the presence of one senator in the Parliament, so that the Attorney-General’s proposition is one that I certainly cannot accept.
– The .motion must apply to everybody, irrespective of the size of the party he represents.
– Let me read the motion again. It is as follows:–
That the Senate resolves that no senator-
That is, no one senator - tfha.il be recognized by the Senate as leader of a party in the Senate if he is the only representative of that party in the Parliament.
– Irrespective of the size of the party?
– 1 submit that that motion carries in its .terms its complete justification. It ought really not to be necessary to add anything to it. Nevertheless I propose to address to the Senate, quite objectively, arguments in support of that proposition, which I believe is completely logical. For the sake of senators who seem to be afraid that I should not mention this aspect, I acknowledge at once that it is the position of Senator Cole that is directly in issue.
– “Why the vendetta?
– I hope that the matter can be ‘discussed objectively, and that it can be considered and debated apart from all personal considerations. That, .at all events, is the basis upon which I put the proposition to the Senate. If some other honorable senator wishes to import another aspect into the discussion, that is a matter for himself.
– It sounds to me like a Communist purge.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator hears strange noises from time to time. There are no rules or standing orders of this Senate dealing with the recognition of parties, their officers or their affairs, and when we look for help in this matter, we find it in two statutory sources. ‘The first is the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1947, sponsored by the Chifley Government, of which section 7a reads -
Til addition to any other .allowance ‘payable under this Act, an allowance at the rate of £400 a year shall be .payable to the Leader in the House of Representatives (not being the Leader of the Opposition ) of a recognized political party, not less than ten members of which are members of the House of Representatives,, and of which no member is a Minister of State.
I direct attention to the fact that there is the norm, or -standard that was laid down at a time when the Parliament was only one-half its present size. The Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952 gives some further help. It was enacted after the presentation of the Nicholas report and recommendations, and section 9 provides -
There is payable to the Leader in the Houseof Representatives (not being the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of theOpposition) of a recognized political party not less than ten members of which are members of the House of Representatives, and of which no member is a minister of state, an allowance at the rate of £500 a year.
Since that provision was enacted, the membership of the Parliament has been doubled, but that section is at least a guide to the recognition of leadership rather than to the recognition of parties.
– That is dealing with a parliamentary allowance.
– It is a guide, and at the same time it deals directly with the position of leader, and the allowance payable to a leader. It is far more a recognition of the post of leader than the recognition, prima facie, of a political party. It is directly related to leadership - certainly far more than it is to party recognition. Further help can be obtained from the (position in the Canadian Parliament, and I propose to take a few minutes to read some extracts from a most interesting article by a very distinguished Clerk of the House of Commons in Canada. It ia contained in the J Journal of the Society of Clers-at-the-Table in Empire Parliaments, volume ‘7, written in 1938. The writer is Dr.. Arthur Beauchesne, C.M.G., K:C, MA,., LL.D., Litt.D., F.R.S.C. The first extract is as follows . -
The .Progressives, from 1921 to .1925, were Bo strong, while the Conservative Opposition consisted of only 51 members. There w;ere two Labourites and two Independents. The total Membership of the House is 2*5. ‘ The Progressives, however., preferred not to be the socalled official Opposition and. although they formed an imposing separate group, they were never ‘considered as a real political party. Tilley were looked .upon as Independent Mem.bers. They were not given party recognition though they were over one-fourth of the House membership. ‘
A further extract - which honorable senators will bear in mind was written in 1938 - is as. follows: -
In the present Parliament,, however, the Government’s majority, is large- enough to allow us to adhere to the sound two-party system. There are 178 ministerial members in the present House. The seventeen Social’ Credit members, not one of whom had ever sat in this House-, have not had enough experience with its procedure to assume the duties of the Opposition.;, and the seven. Progressives realize that they cannot claim to be given party recognition,. The National Conservatives, 38 in number, have, been recognized is the Opposition. With these facts in mind, arrangements have, been made between the Government and the Opposition for the seating of members. Those who do not support the Government: and do not belong to the Conservative Party are considered as independents, and it does not matter where they sit as long as they are on the left side of the Speaker.
He continues -
Not only is the two-party system fundamental in British parliamentary practice, but in this country it. is sanctioned by Statute. Section 42 of the Senate and House of Commons Act Bays -
To the Member occupying the recognized position of Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, there shall be payable, in addition to his sessional : 11lowance. an annual allowance of ten thousand dollars.
Then, he continues -
Note the words ‘ in the House of Commons ‘. They show clearly that the additional allowance is not to be paid to the leader of a party if perchance he should either be a Senator or without a scat in the House. It is payable to the Member who performs in the House the onerous duties of Leader of the Opposition. Under this section, it is the Leader and not the Opposition that is official. If he is recognized as such either by agreement between opposition Groups or because he leads the largest Opposition unit, he becomes on matters concerning the business of the House, the spokesman of all the Members who do not support the Government, and the Prime Minister is justified in dealing with him alone as the Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. When at the end of a sitting the official Leader of the Opposition inquires as to the programme for the next day, or when he asks questions with regard to the progress of legislation, lie speaks on behalf of all Opposition Members. If the anti-Government Groups who do lint owe him allegiance are not satisfied with any arrangement mode between him and the Prime Minister, they are free to criticize, but they cannot expect the Government to give special consideration to them in its dealing with the Opposition.
In Standing Order 37, under which speakers are limited to 40 minutes, an exception is made in favour of the Prime Minister and tho official, Leader of the Opposition, which is an additional recognition of the British twoparty system. If the same exception were made in favour of each of the group leaders-, there would be, in this Parliament at least, three more exemptions to add, and the rule would be hardly effective. This Standing Order was passed in 1927 on the principle that the Opposition, no matter in how many groups it may bo divided, must be considered’ as a unit for the proper carrying out of parliamentary business.
– It recognizes group leaders.
– No, it treats them as independents.
– That is what the honorable senator read.
– No, there is no recognition of leaders there at all. That there is no recognition of the groups is the purport of the whole case built by the Clerk of the House. As he indicated, under the section, it is- the leader and not the Opposition that is official.
– I think the most interesting part of it is the 10,000 dollars.
– I can agree with that. One can be rather filled with envy at the 10,000 dollars. But what it adds up to is the fact that it ignores all parties apart from the official Opposition. Not only does it accord no recognition to parties apart from the official Opposition, but, a fortiori, it also ignores the leaders of those groups and treats their components as mere independents.
– It would be impossible to conduct Australian politics under those conditions.
– No, it would not be.
– No Country party !
– There is recognition of the Leader of the Country parry, according to statute, in almost similar terms to the recognition granted in Canada, although there the recognition is confined to the Leader of the Opposition.
That is the introduction to what I have to say. I come now to eleven points that I want to make in connexion with this matter. The first two are directed to declaring what I consider the motion does not say; sud I should like the
Senate to appreciate that. The first point is that the motion has nothing to do with the recognition by the Senate of a political party; and the argument I put to the Senate is that any honorable senator may stand up in this chamber and announce himself as a member of the X party, and 1 say that, except in the inconceivable case of a completely fraudulent statement, that is an inescapable fact. Who can deny it? The mere statement carries with it the force of fact which shrieks itself for recognition not only by. the Senate but also by the world. lt’ has no consequence in the Senate or in the Parliament. Nothing flows from it in particular, but nobody or nothing can prevent a member of this Senate from standing up and declaring that he is r.he leader of a particular party. Who nan deny it? The first point that I make is that the motion I am submitting to the Senate has nothing whatever to do with the recognition of a political party in this chamber.
– If he did not represent a party, it would be quite a falsistatement.
– It would be. That is what I said. My words were nhat except in the case of absolute fraud it is a statement that has got to be accepted and stands by its own force.
I come to the second point as to what r,he motion does not do. On this point, I say the motion has nothing to do with the facilities a government sees fit to extend to any senator. Governments of all complexions, with the unanimous approval of everybody, have, down the years, extended special facilities not available to the ordinary member to those who were sick, to those who were disabled and to members of the Parliament who have hail a long and distinguished parliamentary career, and have ultimately retired to the back benches. There can be no criticism of that. That is a recognition by the Government of special facilities. I should say, in the first place, that is both the Government’s prerogative and responsibility. It is open to criticism in the Parliament if criticism is desired. It can be rejected by the Parliament’s failing to make whatever financial provision is involved; but, ultimately, that kind of recognition and the provision of those facilities are not matters for this chamber but matters between the Government on. the one hand and the electors on the other.. The point that I make is that it is not within the power of this chamber to grant any facilities of that type to a senator. It is completely true that the President alone has power to give members accommodation in that part of Parliament. House that comes solely within his jurisdiction, being on the Senate side. So, I affirm the proposition that my motion, has nothing directly to do with the granting of facilities. That is not a matter within the competence of the Senate. I acknowledge that it has an indirect bearing, and I will return quite clearly to that point in a moment.
The third point I want to make is that there can be no leader without followers. I affirm that as a general proposition. There must be at least one follower. There can be no loader, as a matter of logic and English, unless he has got at least one follower. I develop the argument that in talking of a leader in this House we are dealing with a parliamentary system, with an office in the Parliament, and we are not dealing with anything outside the Parliament at all. Therefore, we look for a leader and, what is the essential function of a leader? It is to co-ordinate the actions of a group, and it is to be the vehicle for the expression of their common opinion upon any subject. Surely, it is implicit in the very word “ leader “ that there is a group with a leader, that there is a leader with followers. If there is any doubt about that, I should like to refer the Senate to the Oxford Dictionary, to its major work, and I shall read just a few of the definitions that are given there of “leader” so that my argument can be supported.
One who guides others in action or opinion; one who takes the lead in any business, enterprise or movement; one who is followed by disciples or adherents; the chief of a sect or party. In early use, occasionally a chieftain or governor.
Leader of the House of Commons: The member of the Government who has the official initiative in the proceedings of the House.
A counsel who “ leads “ in the conduct of a case before the court.
The foremost or most eminent member of a profession.
One who leads a choir or a band of dancers, musicians or singers.
The first man in a file; one in the front rank; one of the foremost in a moving body.
– “Why not produce a second-grade primer?
– I am glad that Senator Wright is so appreciative of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of a leader, and that he needs no further convincing. I take it that he accepts my argument that the mere use of the word “ leader “ imports followers. I am glad to have his support on that point. I believe that we could have one senator in this place as the leader of a party in the Parliament if he had followers in another place.
– Is not a general a leader ?
– Yes, of course; he has followers. If anybody had followers, it would he a general.
– Would he have his troops with him in his office?
– Allow me to pass to my next point. There could be one senator as the leader of a party in the Senate whose deputy leader . and followers were in the House of Representatives. Wc had that position last year after August, when Senator Cole was the one representative of a party in the Senate, but there were seven representatives of his party in another place. One was regarded as the leader of the whole party, and another as the deputy leader. I expressed the opinion that the party wai too insignificant in numbers for recognition, but the position was not contested in the Parliament. Accordingly, it must he recognized as a possible situation that the Parliament will acknowledge.
I do not want, to be faced with the case of the late Senator Gardiner and, therefore, I shall deal with it now. From 19.19 to 1922, Senator Gardiner was the only representative of the Labour party in this chamber. He was the Leader of the Opposition here, and was recognized as such.
– What Opposition?
– He was Leader of the Labour Opposition. The Labour party was in opposition in this place, out Senator Gardiner had 27 followers in another place in the Parliament out of a total of 75 - that is, 36 per cent, of the membership of the House of Representatives at that time. Nobody can argue in logic to me to-night that in the present situation Senator Cole, as the one member of a party in the whole Parliament, is the leader of anybody in this Parliament. Will somebody point out to me Senator Cole’s follower or followers in this Parliament? I hope the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’Sullivan) will not cite to me the case of Senator Gardiner.
– He was never leader of the Labour party.
– He was leader of the Labour party in this chamber, and was recognized as such, but he had 27 followers in another place. I recognize that, if there were two members of one party in the chamber, and one stood up and said, “ I am the leader of the party “, only one person in the Senate could deny it. He would be the follower of the claimant to the leadership. But. if one person in the Senate, who is the sole, representative of a party in the whole Parliament, stood up and declared himself as the leader of the party, I do not need to say more than that it is a stupid proposition to affirm. Will any body deny that?
My fourth point is that the leadership of a party in the Senate or the Parliament does not depend upon electoral support outside the Parliament, or upon the holding of party office outside the Parliament. If electoral support is to be the test, what is the minimum standard ? What number of electors should support the member? In how many States should he be supported? What percentage of electors in what percentage of States would be required? It is useless to affirm the principle of electoral support outside to bolster a claim for leadership in this chamber unless the minimum is determined. I see all sorts of difficulties in relation to that proposition.
Senator Cole’s own position emphatically poses the problem. Let us consider the electoral position of this party at the last general election for the Senate. His party received 271,067 votes of a total of 4,441,025 valid votes cast. I disregard the informal votes. The party he supports won 6.1 per cent, of the valid votes cast. How were they scattered? Of the total of 271,000 votes cast for the party throughout Australia, 209,000, or 77.4 per cent., were recorded in one State. I am disregarding the odd figures. His party received 13.3 per cent, of its votes in South Australia, 3.6 per cent, in Western Australia and 5.7 per cent, in Tasmania. The party had number one position in three States - Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. It attracted what the newspapers rather inelegantly but graphically described as the donkey vote. Even with the support I have reviewed, the party received little more than half the number of the informal votes, which totalled more than. 473,000. Therefore, if Government supporters want to rely on the electoral position in this matter, my reply is, first, that the argument is wrong in logic; and, secondly, this party, with an effective strength in only one State, lost in that same State at the same time all its seven representatives in the Parliament who stood for election at that time. This party secured the election of one senator. It lost seven seats in the House of Representatives. That does not sound like a great electoral victory. I cannot see how it would justify the recognition in this Parliament of a party, but that is not the question raised in my motion. The question raised relates to the leadership of the party, and electoral support of that sort certainly cannot justify a claim to leadership when there is only one representative of the party in the Parliament.
Tt is quite possible that another party might have gained a greater number of votes at the same election in every State of the Commonwealth without winning a single representative in the Parliament. What claim to leadership would that give, and to whom would it go? When we talk of a leader, we speak of the leader of a group in this Senate or in the Parliament. It has nothing to do with electoral support. The case I have nut to the Senate indicates the absurdity of relying on electoral support as the basis for a claim to leadership. If leader ship is to be the test, take the position of my good friend, Senator Ashley. He is a leader. He got some 700,000 votes: Does that electoral support, and the fact that his party received comparable support in every State of the Commonwealth, make Senator Ashley a leader? That iswhere the Government has to carry its argument if it relies on electoral support. Is not the plain truth of the matter this : When we talk of a leader in the Parliament, we mean the leader of a group of members in the Parliament, and we do not mean anything else. We cannot mean anything else.
– What about the chief of the party?
– I say to the honorable senator, “ Do not recognize the office-bearers outside the Parliament “. Federal presidents of parties, their officebearers and the rest, receive no recognition here, even though we recognizeparties in the Parliament, through the representatives of those parties here. Even when those officers come into theParliament they still get no recognition by the Parliament unless they are accorded some form of parliamentary office.
– The honorable senator is on record as saying that he accepts direction from them as to how he will vote in this Senate.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the question of leadership and recognition in this Senate. That is a proposition I do not deny, hut it is like the flowers that bloomin the spring, it has nothing to do with the case, and it has nothing to do with my motion. If electoral support is the test, what recognition does this Parliament or this Senate give to the Australian Communist party. It can claim electoral support. What standard does; the Government set that excludes that party? It is of no use arguing electoral support to me or to the members whosupport me unless honorable senators opposite tell me what is the standard. Ithas to be a defined standard.
As I said a while ago, my fifth point is this: That my motion, although it has no direct bearing on facilities, has an indirect bearing on facilities. I come at once to the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in which he said that the facilities extended to .Senator Cole were extended for three reasons. The first was that Mr. President had recognized him as leader of his party in the Senate; the second reason was that the Senate had concurred; and the third reason was that it was a matter for the Senate alone. Let me have a look at that position. The most interesting thing about that situation is that Senator Cole himself has never claimed he was the leader of a party in this Senate. He has never made the claim in the Senate.
– He announced it himself.
– He did not announce it himself. I shall refer to his announcement on the 24th August last, when he changed his allegiance and made an announcement about it in this place. He put the position about it very properly, I thought. At page 4 of Hansard of the 24th August, 1955, the following appears : -
– hu leave - 1 desire to inform the Senate that henceforth I shall represent in this chamber the AntiCommunist Australian Labour party led by Mr. Joshua, M.P., who is the leader of the party in another place.
That puts it impeccably. He is the representative here of a party with members in another place. There is no claim to leadership in that. Let me bring the matter-
– Let him say- what he thinks.
– I would not prevent him from doing so. Let me bring him up to date. On the 16th February last, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’Sullivan) stood up and announced the members of the Cabinet in the new Parliament. He announced the allocation of duties and the representation of Ministers in another place. I followed him and announced the office-bearers of the Opposition. Senator Cole made no announcement then. Senator Cole has made no announcement since.
– There had .been no change.
– There had been this change, that this is a completely different Parliament. The officers of the last Parliament have nothing to do with this one, and even if they had, on the point that I am making, let somebody point to the claim, by Senator Cole himself, of leadership. Show me where he ever made it. He never has made it.
– The Senate does not end on the 30th June.
– But the Parliament had ended. This is a new Parliament, with a new name and new officers. On the 16th February last the Leader of the Government in the Senate announced the new Cabinet. I announced the new office-bearers of the Opposition. What happened last year and in the last Parliament has nothing whatever to do with the officers of this Parliament, so far as parties, Government and Opposition, are concerned at least.
– We have the same President.
– This is a paltry show. This resolution is full of spite and is not worthy of a big party.
– The honorable senator should not say that. I have no knowledge of any announcement to the Senate by Mr. President of his recognition of Senator Cole.
– What has this to do with it?
– I am answering the statement of the Prime Minister that that was one of the grounds on which facilities were extended. I say that the Senate has never -concurred in the appointment of Senator Cole as leader, because it has never heard a claim that he is leader, nor has it ever heard a decision that he was so recognized.
– Has the honorable senator himself been recognized?
– If that has taken place, I invite the honorable senator who is interjecting to stand up and tell me: When did Senator Cole claim he was a leader? When was an announcement made to the Senate of any decision or ruling to the effect that he was the leader of a .party- It is quite true that his name appears in the weekly Hansard as leader of the party whose name he has taken, the party under which name he announced himself as its representative. How it got there, I do not know. It certainly did not get there as the result of any action taken hy this chamber, and 1. will say this quite frankly: The fact that it was recorded there did not come ;to my notice until the last few days, because since the advent of the daily Hansard I never bother to look at the weekly Hansard, and I doubt whether any other honorable senator, or very many honorable senators, was aware that the matter was so recorded. I should be interested to know how it got there, and I repeat that it certainly never got there as the result of any decision or action by this chamber. “What I think has happened is that the Prime Minister himself “has mistaken the recognition that was accorded to Senator Cole and his party in the last Parliament, without adverting to the fact that a new parliament had come into being in the interim, and that the matter drifted on until it became an entirely different situation factually. This is an entirely different parliament.
I acknowledge at once that if the Senate accepted my motion and the Prime Minister held to the grounds on which he based the grant of facilities, then Senator Cole would, under those conditions, lose a private secretary, with what facilities go for the private secretary, and he would no doubt lose some travelling facilities which are available to leaders. So I acknowledge immediately that although my motion has no direct effect on facilities, it does in that way “have an indirect effect.
But disregarding all arguments, let me make my sixth point. How can any one with any claim to intellect and common sense support the proposition that the sole representative of a party in the Parliament is the leader of that party in the Parliament? I want some honorable senator opposite to point to one follower.
– The leader in the Parliament of that party.
– If the honorable senator affirms that, then he has to take the next logical step and point to his followers - indicate the group.
– Three hundred thousand of them. ‘
– I have dealt with that interjection by destroying, in my view, the argument that leadership in this place bears upon electoral support outside. I do not want to repeat that argument.
– But the honorable senator affirms that it depends on numerical strength somewhere else?
– In the Parliament, and ultimately between the two Houses.
– So that the honorable senator keeps the Senate in a separate compartment as one leg of his argument, and he brings in the House of Representatives as the other leg of his argument.
– Oh, no. I talk of the -Parliament when I come to the question of leadership.
– But the honorable senator has to be logical, since he denies strength in the electorate.
– That has already been recognized. But at the moment, why fool ourselves? I repeat - how could anybody with any intellect or any common sense affirm the proposition that one representative of a party in the whole Parliament is the leader of the party? Senator Cole is the sole representative of the Anti,Communist Labour party in the Parliament; and that is the highest position that he is justified in claiming. The rejection of this motion would bring the Senate and the Parliament into contempt of any person with any degree of common sense in the electorate. I think that honorable senators ought to hesitate a long time before they reject the motion.
– In a house elected by proportional representation, the honorable senator would refuse recognition?
– Recognition of leadership, of course, because we are talking about a parliamentary office. I am not talking about leadership outside, but of a group in the Parliament.
– The honorable senator talks about parliamentary office only when it suits him.
– I have already put it to the Senate, as the Minister will doubtless recall, that somebody with great support - some party with great support - may elect no member to the Parliament. Who would be recognized as leader then ?
– The chap outside
– Then he would get to the completely absurd position that we were not controlling our own affairs. ;ind we would be cutting across the foundations and basis of the whole parliamentary structure and system.
– Evidently, what the Lender of the Opposition is trying to establish is that Gardiner could be a leader, but poor Senator Cole cannot.
– -Of course. In i he Parliament at that time, there were 27 Labour members in another place out of 75, and Senator Gardiner had a major job to do. Senator Gardiner, 1 believe, did that job with very great distinction in this place.
– “Who followed him in the Senate?
– Nobody followed him in the Senate. He was the one member of his party against 35 government members.
– How could he bta leader without followers?
– He did have followers in the Parliament. I reaffirm this proposition: I say there has been no instance in any of the parliaments of Australia or any of the parliaments of the British Commonwealth in which one parliamentary representative was regarded or recognized or treated as a leader of his party in the Parliament - not one. There have been instances in Australia where there has been one man representing a party in the Parliament. There was a Communist in the Queensland Parliament for a period, but he was given i:o recognition as leader, and no facilities that were not available to an ordinary member. In the Victorian Parliament, Mr. Mutton was for years the sole member of the Mutton-Blackburn party, but he was given no recognition and no special facilities. Mr. Blackburn, of the same party was a member, of this Parliament. Mr. Lang, the founder of a one-time powerful political party spent some taree years in this Parliament. He never sought or was granted the slightest recognition as a leader, and yet it is proposed to break entirely new ground in this particular case.
Now I come to a couple of procedural matters in the Senate in relation to this subject. Our Standing Orders requirethat no motion which is not seconded can be entertained by the Senate, but alongside that standing order has grown up a practice, hardened into a rule by custom, based on courtesy, that the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition may make a motion without a seconder. That is based upon the very practical consideration that they have responsibilities to the chamber, and they are deemed, when they make a motion, to have the acquiescence and concurrence of their colleagues. That has hardened into a rule in this Senate.
– Surely you would support Senator Cole!
– Is the privilege of a leader to be extended to him ? If it is, what about the base of the rule that he is deemed to have the acquiescence or concurrence of his colleagues in the chamber?
– I would second the motion, in order to give him a fair go.
– Will the honorable senator point to Senator Cole’s col leagues ? That is one problem in the procedure of this chamber that has to b<faced. I shall state another one. If Senator Cole is to be recognized formally by this Senate as a leader, will the’ arrangement that, on the days when proceedings are broadcast over the radio, a leader is not restricted to half an hour but has the privilege of running to an hour or an hour and a half, be extended to Senator Cole? I am pointing to where, in a couple of procedural matters, this subject leads us. I put this to the Senate : Under the system of proportional representation a Communist might very well one day enter this chamber. Will the Senate grant to him or deny to him the privilege of leadership? As matters stand, the Senate would have to grant him that recognition. That is a position that might well develop, hut 1 venture to suggest that the Government would do nothing of the kind. It would give him no facilities whatever, lt would introduce some new principle in order to overcome the difficulty.
I come now to the final point in. my submission. Let us assume for a moment that. Senator Cole’s defection had never taken place, and that I had put a motion of this kind to the .Senate before that time. I know what would have happened. Everybody in this place would have condemned me most roundly for wasting the time of the Senate with a perfectly obvious proposition. If that is the rule, and I am sure it is, the position is exactly the same to-day as it would have been then. There is no difference - no alteration in principle.
– That is a supposition.
– It is a supposition, but I think the silence of Government senators when I put it was a very eloquent acknowledgment of this principle.
– What is the honorable senator’s reason for moving the motion?
– First of all, it arises out of common sense. I think it is an outrage that we are asked to acknowledge as the leader of a party in this place a senator who leads no one. I think that is against common sense. I acknowledge that I am acting in accordance with a decision of my party.
– And the honorable senator is the mouthpiece for the caucus.
– I do not hesitate to acknowledge that. The recognition of Senator Cole as leader of a party is stupid and illogical.
– The honorable senator is concerned only with the dignity and prestige of the Parliament?
– I do not think anybody will deny that that is a consideration I always keep in mind. I accept the soft .impeachment. But that is only one of the reasons. Common sense is involved in the affirmation or rejection of this motion, and I think implied in a proposition of this nature is the dignity and prestige of the Senate. These are equally wrapped up with it. With these comments, I commend the motion to the Senate.
– I was rather astonished, as I am sure all honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been at the motion put before the Senate and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The motion reads -
That the Senate resolves that no senator shall be recognized by the Senate as Leader of a party in the Senate if he is the only representative of that party in the Parliament.
I now intend to deal with Senator McKenna’s arguments as far as possible in the order in which he put them, and according to the notes that I made of his remarks at the time. Senator McKenna < referred, in my opinion without any relevance, to the provisions of section 7a of the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1920-1947. and section 9 of the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952. The honorable senator certainly hurried over that part of his speech, but it is clear that those sections deal not at all with the recognition of political parties; they merely make provision for payments to party leaders. As Senator Cole is not receiving payment as a party leader, and as he has not asked for payment as a party leader, Senator McKenna’s references to the parliamentary allowances legislation are completely irrelevant.
The honorable senator also introduced the matter nf certain practices in Canada. The substance of his argument was that in Canada only two political parties are recognized in the Parliament. I hope again to show that that argument is completely irrelevant to the motion before the Senate. It is quite obvious that although the honorable senator proceeded to establish an argument with that as a starting point, the fact that only two political parties are recognized in Canada has no relevance at all to the position in Australia, because, since 1919, I believe, at least three political parties have been recognized in the Australian Parliament. They are the once great Australian
Labour party, the Nationalist or United Australia party - now the Liberal party - and the Australian Country party.
In 1940, there were four parties represented and acknowledged in this Parliament. Some honorable senators may recollect that time more clearly than I do, and they will remember that in May, 1940, Senator Amour announced in the Senate that he was the Leader of the Non-Communist branch of the Australian Labour party in New South Wales. Senator Armstrong, whom we all know well, announced that he was also a member of that party, and Senator Amour was accorded the amenities due to the leader of this additional party. That could not possibly happen in Canada.
– Is the honorable senator sure of his facts?
– I believe that I am right, but I am open to correction. According to my notes, on the 14th May, 1940, Senator Amour announced in the Senate that he and Senator Armstrong had ceased their membership of the Australian Labour party in New South Wales and that they were then members of the Non-Communist branch of the Australian Labour party in that State. He further stated that he had been elected the leader of the party in the Senate. That matter is referred to in volume 163 of Hansard at page 734. Nowhere and at no time during the life of that particular party was the leadership of it challenged by honorable senators of the non-Labour parties, and all the facilities and amenities of leadership, such as they then were, were accorded, to Senator Amour.
– There were no facilities or amenities then.
– I say that whatever facilities or amenities were at that time accorded to leaders of parties were accorded to Senator Amour. He was never refused any of those facilities, and he was never criticized for accepting them. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the procedures in the Canadian Parliament. There are three parties in this Parliament, not counting the Anti-Communist Labour party led by Senator Cole. They are the Australian Labour party, the Liberal party and the
Australian Country party. The nonapplication of the limitation of the time of speeches applies only to the Leader of the. Opposition and the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Cooper, who is the Leader of the Australian Country party in the Senate has never asked for that privilege. Those procedural difficulties which Senator McKenna said will arise, have not in fact arisen, and there is no reason why they should arise. Therefore, I find that there is nothing of real substance in the attack upon the Government made by Senator McKenna. That may be, of course, because the real reason for his motion has not been stated by him.
– The honorable senator’s reason for supporting Senator Cole has also not been stated.
– I arn coming to my reason. Senator McKenna has stated that any senator could say, “ I am the leader of X party “, and that that mere statement would carry the weight of fact. But that is not the position at all. The decision to accord Senator Cole the facilities of the leader of a party, was made primarily by the custodian of the rights of the Senate and of all honorable senators - the President of the Senate. His decision was not challenged by any member of the Senate, and. every one of us has the right to challenge any ruling, decision or action of the President. Not at any time since the announcement by Senator Cole that he was the leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party, and the recognition of him as a party leader by the President - and that goes back a long time - has the President’s decision been challenged.
It is futile for Senator McKenna to suggest now that no such announcement was made or that he was unaware of it, because on the 27,th October last, Senator O’Byrne, one of Senator McKenna’s followers, made a very bitter attack, not only upon Senator Cole but also on the Government, and imputed grossly improper motives to the Government for recognizing Senator Cole after his declaration that he was the leader in the Senate of a party which at that time had members in another place. That goes back as far as last
October and it is futile, in the light of past events, to make an attack now such as that made by Senator McKenna. If there was any suggestion of impropriety at that time, the matter could have been raised here by any honorable senator and the decision of the Senate taken upon it.
It is not correct to say that because a senator may rise and say, “ I represent X party, therefore I am entitled to recognition as a party leader “, the mere statement will carry the weight of fact. In this instance, we must . consider the l ights of more than 300,000 Australian electors. Those electors are not aggregated in one particular part of Australia; [hey are spread throughout the four States. Moreover, I am assured that there are some hundreds of branches i)f the Anti-Communist Labour party, And is any honorable senator of the Opposition prepared to lay a substantial wager that in the light of present-day events there will not be more branches of that party in more States of the Commonwealth in the not too distant tutu re? There is no suggestion that the acknowledgment of leadership in this case carries with it any personal emolument. As I mentioned, none has been claimed, none has been granted. The only amenity that has been granted to him is that which traditionally has been granted to a leader of a party recognized by either House.
The Leader of the Opposition goes on to say that there can be no leader without d follower or followers, and he tries to distinguish the case of Senator Gardiner. Senator Gardiner never at any time during his career in the Parliament was the leader of the Australian Labour party; he was a follower. We had the most ridiculous situation that he was leader of a party which, in fact, he was merely following in another place. One could not get a greater anomaly than that. 1 repeat that Senator Gardiner was never at any time leader of the Australian Labour party. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, a man cannot be a leader unless he has followers. Senator Gardiner had no followers in another place ; he was just the follower of a leader in another place.
– That is a curious way of putting it.
– I am glad that the honorable senator agrees with me; I think the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition was most extraordinary. Senator Gardiner had no follower in the Senate and he was not the leader of the Labour party.
– Then the Minister is not the leader of the Liberals.
– I am leader of a party in the Senate and I have followers behind me. Senator Gardiner had none. I am not leader of the Liberal party ; I am leader of the Liberal party in the Senate.
We were treated to a very interesting discourse on what the Oxford Dictionary has to say about leaders. I have deal with that. Does the Leader of the Opposition really mean that if this motion had been postponed, by some machinery of government, until after the 30th June, when Senator Cole will have a follower, it would still have been brought before the Senate? I gathered from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition that one man was not sufficient to constitute a party, but the honorable senator did not say how many were required. He has asked us to say how many people should a senator represent in the electorate before he should be recognized as the leader of a party. I shall come to that later. He has not at any stage suggested how many members of a party there should be in the Parliament, either in this chamber or in another place, before one of their number should be accorded the rights and amenities of recognition as leader. Somebody else might tell us that later, perhaps, but at the moment there has been no suggestion at all that this resolution would not have been brought in if it had been allowed to stand until after the 30th June next, when the party will consist of more than one man.
The Leader of the Opposition said that leadership does not depend upon electoral support. I contest that. I say that the very essence of leadership and the right to leadership does depend on electoral support. It depends upon it effectively and morally, although in expediency and in practice not so much as it does upon political support in the House. It has been suggested that over 300,000, or perhaps in a few days, 500,000 or 1,000,000 people, are not to have a voice in Parliament at all, or only one voice, which is not recognized ; be it only one voice, or two, three, or five voices - I do not know. The Leader of the Opposition implies that oneis to be wiped although two may be acknowledged. Is it not important if a huge, substantial and most impressive volume of the electorate, spread fairly widely throughout Australia, be denied a spearhead of political leadership in its approach to Ministers and heads of departments or in its representation of its cause wherever that cause should be pleaded? Is it going to be denied the right of acknowledged leadership because of the paucity of its members in this chamber and regardless entirely of the strength it has throughout the electorate of Australia? That is not democracy to my way of thinking.
– What about informal voters?
– He might even represent them. The Leader of the Opposition, just as irrelevantly as were most of his other remarks, said that Senator Ashley might just as well be acknowledged as leader. It was not Senator Ashley’s fault that he was not; at least, he had a go for it among the people who were entitled to acknowledge him as leader. The position may be quite different when Senator Cole’s party has ten, or twelve, members in this chamber. He may not then be the leader. To say that Senator Ashley, because he was at the top of the poll, had the right to be acknowledged as leader of his party is just sheer nonsense and is in keeping with the general line of comment that ran through the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in support of what I consider is a most absurd resolution.
The Leader of the Opposition asked what the attitude of the Government would be if a request were made by the Communists to have a leader recognized in the Senate. Again, it is entirely a matter for the Senate to decide; but at this moment there are no representatives of the Communist party in this chamber. The question of whether the Communists would be recognized would never become a. practical issue if honorable senators opposite had not lent their weight and support to the defeat of the Government’s effort, to have that . party outlawed. If the position does arise and if the Senate of the day in its wisdom decides to recognize a Communist, or some subCommunists as representatives of a party, I hope the consciences of those who allowed such a state of affairs to become possible will be duly stung.
The Leader of the Opposition said that Senator Cole, after the general election on the 10th December last, did not reannounce himself as leader of the party. I do not remember the President of the Senate announcing himself as President. The Government certainly announced certain changes in Cabinet because those changes had taken place. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), as far as my recollection goes, did not reannounce himself as Leader of the Australian Country party. As I have mentioned, the President and the Chairman of Committees have still stayed in their respective positions. After the 30th June, naturally, that situation will be dealt with in the normal COUrSe of business.
There is very little I propose to add. The position is perfectly clear. At what, stage should recognition be given to one who claims to be the representative of a party? If a man gets up and says that he is the leader of a bona fide political party, it is entirely within the discretion of the Senate to decide whether that claim is genuine and should be acknowledged, or is bogus and should be rejected. In view of the facts that have been elicited, in view of the fact that the party which Senator Cole leads is, at the moment, spread throughout four States of the Commonwealth, and has a very substantial electorate, I personally would not like to see it without an active and articulate voice in this chamber. Senator Cole’s political philosophy is much more akin to that of members of the Opposition than it is to mine. I believe in free enterprise and many other things that Senator Cole denies. The only thing that he has in common with me is his militancy against communism, the rock upon which he split with his former colleagues. Those of his former colleagues who claimed to fight communism, which he fights, too, are quite prepared to run unity tickets with the Communists, but it is because of his militant attitude towards communism that he has split with his old colleagues.
I have nothing further to add, except to say that on the facts as we have them, the circumstances and justice of the case warrant the continued recognition of Senator Cole as leader of a substantial political party in this country.
Senator GORTON (Victoria) [9.11J . - I. am encouraged to make a short excursion into this debate because it appears to me that the questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) are of some importance in principle, and of such a kind that they should be examined carefully by the Senate. At the beginning, I wish to make clear my point of view that what we are debating is not whether Senator Cole, should, or should not, be regarded as leader of a party. The motion is not concerned with Senator Cole or with any other individual senator. Perhaps, unfortunately, we are not concerned with trying to lay down principles on which we should recognize the leader of a party in the Senate. The leader of the Opposition has not said, “ These ought to be the principles which must be met before we recognize a leader of a party”. All that he has done is to ask the Senate to say that it will not recognize the .lone representative of a party in the Senate as the leader of that party, unless he ‘has followers or associates in the House of Representatives. That is the whole gist of the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition.
It is a recognized fact and precedent that in the Senate the leader of a party is recognized although he is the sole representative of that party in the Senate. Senator Cooper has been so recognized, as also was Senator Gardiner, and as far as I know, no argument has been levelled against that practice. The wording of the motion makes it clear that it does not matter:: whether there- are two or three representatives of a party in the Senate. The only principle it asks to be observed is that a lone representative in this House shall not be recognized as leader’ of a party unless he has associates in the House of Representatives.
This House ought not to tie itself to what happens or does not happen in another place. On the contrary, it should judge the claim of any member of this House to be leader of a party in this House, not by rigid adherence to what happens in the House of Representatives, but by the application of that common sense of which the Leader of the Opposition spoke. I will concede that if the representative of a party in this chamber has representatives in another chamber, that is a fact which bolsters his claim to be leader of a party, but it is only one of the facts that can so support it. Because there are not members of his party in another place, however, does not necessarily put that claim out of court altogether. All sorts of other tests can be applied, and a man of common sense knows what those tests are.
Is it a bona fide party with branches and organizations throughout the electorate in various States ? Has it a properly accepted constitution, and an executive which controls it? Does it follow proper propaganda methods to place its views before the Australian people, either by publishing a newspaper, or by other recognized means, such as radio broadcasting? Is it affiliated with other organizations, and has it groups of followers who pay into its funds and affiliate themselves with it? Does it provide candidates for election to both State and Federal parliaments? These are tests of whether a party is a bona fide political party or merely a figment of the imagination.
I have said that, properly regarded, this motion does not have any reference to Senator Cole, but at the moment he is an example in the Senate of a sole representative of a bona fide political party, and he would lose recognition as the leader of that party if the motion of Senator McKenna were agreed to. How does his party meet the tests which I have postulated? In the State of Victoria, which is one of the most populous States of Australia, this party has 250 branches, and a properly organized conference and executive. Some twelve or fourteen recognized and registered trade unions are affiliated with it, some of them large - I think the Ironworkers Union is one and the Clerks Union is another. It has representatives in other organizations, also. It has between twenty and 30 representatives on the Trades and Labour Council of Victoria, one of whom was recently chosen, in a free election, as the representative on that body of the Gippsland area. It publishes - certainly in Victoria, and possibly in other States - a newspaper with some significant circulation, and it engages also in other means of propaganda. It submits its candidates at election time for both State and Federal parliaments. In the last federal election its candidates contested every seat in the House of Representatives - which fact alone indicates an organization in being. One of its members was elected to the Senate with far more votes than the quota required by law for the election of such a representative. None of its candidates for the House of Representatives won a seat, but in Victoria the votes cast in favour of this party’s candidates represented a third of the total votes cast for Labour. All these facts indicate to any man of common sense that this is a bona fide party in being, which must be recognized by all reasonable men as commanding considerable support among the Australian population. A party of that kind, although it has in this chamber only one representative, is entitled to the privilege of having that representative regarded as leader of the party in the Senate. It would be wrong to deny him that position merely because he has no associates in the House of Representatives. Yet, the motion of the Leader of the Opposition asks the Senate to ignore the facts I have mentioned, and to say that it will not recognize this senator, because he has no associates in the House of Representatives. The absurdities which would flow from the acceptance of such a motion can clearly be seen from this example. If we accepted the motion of the Leader of the Opposition we would have to withdraw from Senator Cole recognition as a leader of a party in this Senate despite- the fact that he has, in fact, a supporter in this Parliament, according to the expression of popular will lastDecember, who is only prevented from being here at the moment by the formal rule of the effluxion of time. It would be quite absurd to adopt a resolution which would have such regard to pure formality while completely ignoring the expression of the will of the people so clearly given at the elections last December. After all, what does this recognition by the Senate of a leader of a party in the Senate entail? All it entails is that such a man shall be given the right of extended time as compared with an ordinary senator, that he shall be given some priority at question time and that he shall, in other small matters of rules and regulators, be ceded some advantage over the ordinary senator. Surely to goodness one man, even if he is only the one member of a party, if he represents 250,000 voters, as1 the Leader of the Opposition himself admits - and possibly he would have represented more had electors in certain States been given the opportunity to cast their votes for his party - should have these small advantages over ordinary senators who, if the total votes obtained by their party were divided among them, would represent only 80,000 or 100,000 voters at the most. I believe that once a group of Australian citizens have organized themselves in such a way as to elect a man to this chamber that man should be accorded some small advantages to be their spokesman in this Parliament. Applying all the rules of common sense as they would be applied -by a reasonable man, I think the Senate should reject this motion.
– I did not intend to take part in the debate because I felt that the sheer logic of the proposition would so appeal to the Senate that there would not have been the extraordinary lack of logic displayed by the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) and the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat. I listened to Senator Gorton carefully. He raised all kinds of Aunt Sallies and then proceeded to knock them over. The Minister carefully skirted round the address presented by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He did not reply to the latter’s arguments at all, and he gave such an illogical address that I felt we should look again at what the Opposition is really seeking to do by this motion. Mr. President, you have in front of you a row of books containing precedents in this chamber. From time to time, you quote from them to show how the Senate, in its wisdom, has laid down certain rules for guidance.
To-night, without laying down what ought to be the qualifications for a leader of a party in the Senate, we are simply submitting that the Senate ought not to accept one representative of a party in the Parliament as the leader of that party. That seems to me to be completely logical, and I submit that there has been no effective reply to the case put by the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, there are more than one, two, three or four parties in Australia. Parties are continually arising, and, under the system of proportional representation, it is possible for only one member of a party to he elected to the Senate from time to time. It will be agreed, therefore, that we could have a situation in which we could have a number of leaders, each representing himself and a minority of electors. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, Senator Ashley, although he received some 700,000 votes, is prepared to sit on the back benches as a representative of New South Wales and allow a leader chosen by a group of men giving allegiance to a party to be selected as his leader in the Senate. On the other hand, Senator Cole, who comes into question on this- motion, received. I understand, something like 250,000 votes as against Senator Ashley’s 700,000. Senator Gorton suggests that because another member of Senator Cole’s party received 250,000 votes at the last general election, Senator Cole and his new colleague ought to be extended far greater privileges than are extended to men like Senator Ashley who received 700,000 votes. That reasoning is just impossible.
Electoral support measured in numbers of votes received has no relationship to representation in this Senate. What we have to face is the fact that men are elected to this place and to another place. If they come in as a group giving allegiance to a set of principles, then, in order to express those principles, one leader is chosen from the group. He puts to the Senate, or to another place, the combined wisdom of that particular party. Because he does that, he receives the title of leader. He is the one who expresses to the Parliament the desires of a group. For the better working of the Parliament, we have accepted such a man as a leader. On the other hand, we simply ask that the Senate now lay down a principle whereby, if there is only one representative of a party in the Parliament, he shall be regarded only as a representative. He cannot be expected to speak for a group, because there is no such group in the Parliament. He is the sole representative of his party.
I submit that the Parliament can have no regard for groups outside. Much has been said about dictatorship from outside groups from time to time. Government supporters have been very strong in their condemnation of the Labour party’s admission that its parliamentary representatives have taken instructions from groups outside the Parliament. I put it to thb Government that the only people who are entitled to express a view in this Senate are the chosen representatives of the people who are sent here as senators. If there are a number of them, they can express their views through a leader. If there is only one, then he becomes a representative and nothing more. In those circumstances, I submit that it will be patently absurd if we reject a motion that simply lays it down that a senator, who is the only representative of a party in the Senate, cannot be regarded as a leader.
I listened carefully to both the Leader of the Government and one of his supporters denying that principle and suggesting that it is logical to say that a senator assumes a greater importance and becomes a leader when he is the sole representative of a party in the Parliament. An attempt was made to draw a red herring across the trail by suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition had said that in these circumstances, there had to be representative of a party in another place as well as in this chamber. He did not say that. He simply said that it is patent that the only representative of a party in the Parliament ought not to be regarded as a leader in this chamber. Sometimes, we get carried away on these matters and take a particular course for the purpose of gaining some special advantage. It would be wrong for this Senate to make a decision merely in order to confer an immediate advantage, and to reject a proposal that would set a desirable precedent for those who follow. It is most important that we should lay down guiding rules. Air honorable senator who votes against this motion for the purpose of gaining momentary advantage, and rejects the logic of the Leader of the Opposition, will do the Senate considerable harm.
– This motion, in effect, asks the Senate to bind its hands and lay down certain rules where no rules have been laid down. I admit that there is force in some of the principles or rules suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and by Senator Armstrong. In the colonies before federation, particularly before the rise of the Australian Labour party, and in the House of Commons in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, what they suggest might have been sound, because people recognized a party as a number of men sitting in Parliament; but, since the acceptance by the Labour party of the principle of solidarity, and since its acceptance of direction by an outside organization with a constitution, it is ridiculous in this country to say that those conditions do not constitute one of the tests of a party. The Labour party, in fact, is strong in its assertion that they are tests of the party.
In the past, the Senate has twice recognized one-man parties, and has recognized the single member of the party as its leader. This motion would lay it down that that should not have been done, and that it should not be done in the future. It is true that any man can rise and say, “ I am the leader of a party “, and it is equally true that a majority of the Senate could say, “We do not accept your claim “. That is where we stand at present and, by rejecting this motion, we shall leave the matter there.
The Leader of the Opposition has used
Borne very curious arguments and analogies. He cited some Canadian examples. According to his statement, which I have had no time to check, but which I do not doubt, the Canadian House of Commons does recognize political parties by statute, but we do not. Our Constitution recognizes no parties, and the acceptance of a party depends simply upon what each House declares to be a party. An outside organization is merely evidence of support. I do not recognize the right of an outside body to dictate to, or direct, members in this chamber or in another place, but its existence is evidence of support, and there can be other evidence of that support, also. We can learn of it by reading the press, and by discussing the matter with individuals who know a great deal about the matter.
I refer to the position in New South Wales. We know perfectly well that every man representing the State of New South Wales in the Labour party here and in another place is nominally behind Dr. Evatt and Senator McKenna but if, at a forthcoming conference, one section gains control, the situation may be wholly different. It almost appeared that it would be wholly different only a day or two ago. Only last night, a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Gordon Anderson, who was the highly respected member for Kingsford-Smith, presided at a meeting at which there was a very strong demonstration against the organization that has officially called itself the Australian Labour party. I accept that as evidence of support for the party that Senator Cole leads in this chamber.
I do not wish to labour the matter. We can go into all sorts of byways, and introduce ridiculous suppositions. In rejecting this motion, we shall merely refuse to tie our hands. If we accept the motion, we shall tie our hands and, in some future situation, we might not have the opportunity to recognize a man who really was the leader of a very great party, even though it were represented by only one man in this chamber.
I can give honorable senators one very interesting example from the history of the British Commonwealth of Nations, when a party completely dominated a country and yet had not one representative in the parliament. With that rare gift of expression, the British described certain events as the “ troubles “ in Ireland. That was in 1920, when a parliament was set up for Southern Ireland. A party outside the parliament dominated the whole country, but it did not have a single representative in the parliament. I am not saying that that is right or wrong, but I refer to it as an illustration of what can happen. It would be dangerous and wrong to bind our hands simply to fit the present emergency. It is not we on the Government side who want to do something. We want to prevent something.
One other fallacy was introduced in the arguments of the Leader of the Opposition. He spoke of this Parliament as a new parliament. That is true because, when we refer to a new parliament, we refer to the other place, but this is not a new Senate. There have been only three Senates in the history of federation m Australia. The first lasted until the double dissolution of 1914. The second existed until 1951, when there was another double dissolution, and we are now pi the third Senate. It is absurd to say that because there was an election in another place, Senator Cole would have to present himself for election before he could say that he was the leader of a party. The President of the Senate recognized Senator Cole as the leader of a party and nobody objected. If, at that time, Senator McKenna had submitted this motion, he would have had a better case. We accepted Senator Cole as the leader of the party when he was alone in this chamber. In two months’ time, there will be two representatives of the party in this chamber. How absurd it would be to say that one man alone can be a leader, but he cannot lead when there are two. We should reject this motion simply because we are not going to tie our hands. The only principle that can be laid down is that the Senate is always free to say whether it will recognize a man as the leader of a party, or reject him as the leader of a party.
Senator VINCENT (Western Aus by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) contains these allimportant words-
No senator shall be recognized by the Senate as the leader of a party in the Senate.
With great respect, I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should have framed the motion somewhat differently. He should have put it in this way -
No senator shall be recognized by the Senate as leader in the Senate of a party. and not “ as leader of a party in the Senate “. I believe that that is the whole gist of this argument. We have no parties, as such, in this Senate. All of us are here merely as representatives in the Senate of parties. I suggest that the whole argument of the Leader of the Opposition was an illogical fallacy because he was trying to argue that Senator Cole should not be the leader of a party in the Senate. If the honorable senator wants to argue in that way, I shall agree with him completely; but that is not the argument, and with the greatest respect to the Leader of the Opposition, his motion should have been framed to the effect that Senator Cole should not be recognized as the leader, in the Senate, of a party. There is a big distinction between those two propositions. I wish to elaborate on them briefly, because the whole problem revolves round the question: What is a party?
A party does not constitute a group of politicians sitting in this Senate. A party consists of representatives in the Senate, in the Parliament; it consists of an organization outside; it consists of members; it consists of electors, people who subscribe to its funds; and all importantly, it consists of a policy. That, I suggest, is a party. Senator Cole purports to represent the Anti-Communist Labour party in this Senate, and the Leader of the Opposition is denying him that right. Let us see where this takes us if we argue my proposition - and 1 think that Senator McKenna himself would agree with me that his proposition should have been framed along the lines that Senator Cole should not be allowed to be . the Leader of the AntiCommunist Labour party in the Senate. Where does that get us? The leader of a party in the Senate, or in the Parliament, has obligations and responsibilities. He has the obligation, the responsibility and the right to propound and bring forth the policies of his party. If the Leader of the Opposition is going to deny Senator Cole the right to be a leader in the Senate, he is going to deny Senator Cole the right to bring’ forth the policies of his party. Senator McKenna does not object to the fact that there is an Anti-Communist Labour party. He has said so. He postulated that point during his argument. He said, “We agree that there is a party to which Senator Cole belongs “ ; but in the same breath he denied to Senator Cole the right to be the mouthpiece of that party in the Senate. I have never heard of anything more undemocratic in this chamber.
– He is still the mouthpiece.
– No, he cannot come here as the representative of some other party to speak as the mouthpiece of the Anti-Communist Labour party. Every one would have the right to say, “ You cannot get up, Senator Cole, and say that that is the policy of the AntiCommunist Labour party. You have no authority. You are not the leader “. That is what honorable senators opposite are trying to do to him.
These emoluments, including the right to have a secretary here, the right to have a motor car, these little things, are not important at all. The important feature of this argument is whether Senator Cole is to have the right to say in this Parliament what his party thinks. That is the whole gist of this discussion. The Labour party in the Senate is denying Senator Cole the right to put his case and to state the rights and wrongs of his party in this chamber. That is the most undemocratic thing I have heard for years. Members of the Australian Labour party who1 are trying to put forward that most undemocratic proposition are doing their party no service. I suggest that they are not bona fide in this attempt to defeat and; belittle another party.
– I did not think there would be so many speakers in this debate.
The last speakers from the Government’ side of the chamber have moved so far from the terms of the motion that I think it is necessary for honorable senators to recall them. One or two matters have intruded themselves so violently into the debate that they need to be dealt with. First, there is the question of whether a. person in this Parliament can claim to be a leader merely because he has a certain following outside. In my opinion, that claim cannot be upheld. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was developing his argument, he posed the question of what would happen if a party received votes at the’ last general election, as the Communist party did, but had no representative elected to this Parliament. Senator Scott interjected and said, “ By all means recognize them “. I suggest that if that were done it would result in the introduction of something absolutely foreign to Australian parliamentary life. In the matters to which honorable senators opposite themselves have referred, such as wellorganized branches, the .nomination of candidates at elections, efficiency of organization, zeal and drive, we must hand it to the Communist party as being one of the most efficient political parties in Australia. Over a long period, that party has done all the things to which reference has been made by honorable senators opposite.
The only matter that we have to decide - and I want to deal with this question of tying the hands of the Senate - is whether we should recognize a person in. the Senate as a leader if he has no followers at all.
– What does the honorable senator .mean by a leader?
– The number of interjections during this debate has been amazing. You will remember, Mr. President, that I asked the Leader of the Opposition to stop speaking because hewas preventing honorable senators opposite from speaking. Some Government supporters seem to be getting hot under the collar about this matter, for no reason that I can see. The Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) raised the matter of approaching Ministers, of the necessity to take matters to Ministers on behalf of constituents. I suggest that any honorable senator has- the right to do that, without having to have the title of leader conferred on him. Every one of us, from time to time, goes to the Minister’s. We write to them, we ring them up, we interview their secretaries, and we go to the departments in order .to handle matters that crop up normally in connexion with affairs throughout Australia. We do not need to be leaders of parties or to have any special title to be able to do that. No one could stop Senator Cole from putting forward his views, despite the fact that they might disagree with those views, because to attempt to do so would be a complete negation of democracy and of the reasons for the existence of this Parliament.
The motion involves almost a hypothetical proposition, except, of course, that if it is agreed to, Senator Cole will be affected by it until the 30th June. In the meantime, we are dealing with the question of whether we should recognize as a leader a senator who has no following at all. We have beaten about the bush, but I suggest that the only people we can recognize in this Parliament are the members who have been elected to it. The moment we start to consider the following outside the Parliament we run into all sorts of trouble. Inferentially, if the Senate rejects this motion it will mean that every honorable senator who stands up here and says that he represents a particular party - the Win-the-War party, the fascist party, or any other party - must be accorded recognition of leadership.
I should like to know what recognition the Leader of the Government in the Senate, as representing the Government, accorded Senator Robertson when she defected from the Liberal party. It will be remembered that Senator Robertson rose . in the Senate and announced clearly that she had left the Liberal party.
– But would still support the Government.
– Whatever that might mean. It is entirely the prerogative of Senator Robertson to take whatever action she likes in this Parliament. On that occasion, she deliberately cut herself free from the Liberal party. She did not join the Australian Country party until some time afterwards. During the interim, she was suspended, like Mahomet’s coffin, between Heaven and earth. The question also arises, Mr. President, of the recognition that was accorded by you to Senator Robertson during that period. Did the Government recognize her as the leader of a party ?
– Did she announce herself as the leader of a. party?
– I point to the mute testimony that she sits here to-day, in spite of the efforts of the Liberal party of Western Australia to prevent her from doing so. She was returned to this Parliament, however hard I might have worked against her during the election campaign.
– But she is a member of the Australian Country party.
– Between the time that she left the Liberal party and the time when she joined the Australian Country party - that is the period to which I am referring.
– She had no party organization at all, and the honorable senator knows that to be so.
– She was good enough to defeat the Liberal party. I suggest, Mr. President, that if this motion is rejected, it will mean that any person who stands up in this Parliament, from now on, and says he is the leader of a party will have to be recognized as such. Every person who claims to be a one-man band will have to be recognized in this Parliament.
– In order to put the record straight for Senator McKenna, I hereby announce myself as the political leader of the Anti-Communist Australian Labour party. What has been brought forward to-night is just a show of malice and pettishness.
– Hear, hear!
– It is of no use discussing with these “hifalutin” ideas and quoting the Canadian system or anything else. The fact behind the motion that has been submitted - and Senator McKenna and those who sit behind him know this - is that Senator McKenna was ordered by the caucus to do as he has done.
– Hear, hear!
– How do you know?
– He said so.
– He acknowledged it.
– Senator McKenna was ordered by the caucus to try to put a nail in the coffin of the AntiCommunist Labour party. Of course, it does not make any difference whether J am its leader here or not. That party will go from strength to strength. Certain honorable senators have asked what it represents in this country. I shall tell them. It represents a great number of electors in Australia. Senator McKenna came forward with the idea that most of them live in Victoria. I admit that. During the last general election campaign, Victoria was the only State in which my party engaged in any organization. Even in Tasmania, after only three and a half weeks’ work, we nearly obtained the election of a senator. The result might be entirely different after the next election. We went very close, also, to victory in South Australia and Western Australia.
My party represents approximately 280,000 electors - that is, without taking into consideration our sympathizers in New South Wales and Queensland, although we have not really gone into those States yet. We took the view that New South Wales and Queensland could get rid of Dr. Evatt and the decisions of the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour party without our assistance. As is commonly known, the way that they are doing it is not leading to any cohesion within the Australian Labour party. The Anti-Communist Australian Labour party, which is the only party that is abiding by the rules of the Australian Labour party, needs representation in this Parliament, and I am the lucky person to represent it here. Because of my political leadership of that party, certain facilities are given to me. They are very necessary to me. All I get is a secretary. Certain honorable senators have referred to motor cars being made available to me. I inform the Senate that I do not receive as good a deal in that connexion as do certain other honorable senators on this side of the chamber. In fact, in Tasmania I get no car at all; I use my own. On the other hand, when Senator McKenna comes over, he can get an official car to go anywhere he likes. All I can get is a secretary to help me in my job. It is a very big job, because I am representing four States in this Parliament. ‘
– But the honorable senator has not faced an election since the party was formed.
– I emphasize that I am representing four States in this Parliament, and I have a tremendous amount of work to do. I frequently interview Ministers on behalf of residents of those States. It is almost impossible for me to attend to matters concerning those people, and see also that the Labour party - the Evatt Labour .party - is kept on the rails. That is rather a difficult task. It is of no use for certain honorable senators to contend that in the sittings of this chamber after the 1st July I will not need any secretarial assistance, because I will then occupy a most important position in this Parliament.
– The party might elect a newcomer as the leader of the party.
– It will be a case of first come, first served. After the 1st July, the fate of the Government will depend a great deal on the attitude that I adopt. As I have said before in this chamber, I think that very good legislation will be passed. I should not like it to be thought that my party is afraid of a double dissolution.
– -Of course not!
– We are not the least afraid of a double dissolution.
– But the Australian Labour party is !
– When pressure is brought to bear in the Senate, and certain propositions which I could not possibly support are brought forward by the Government-
– Out you will go !
– We will not be going out, but probably quite a number of my friends on the right will be missing; 1 know that. Therefore, I do not think there will be much chance of a double dissolution.
– This is all nonsense!
– I was saying that, after the 1st July, I will have a very important job to do, and I intend to do it. Of course, I shall need secretarial assistance. My present secretary is well fitted for the post because of his long experience in the game. I know that the motion that has been submitted does not meet with the personal approval of a great many supporters of the Evatt Labour party, but of course, in accordance with the decision of caucus, they will support it. However, I believe that they are adopting a wrong attitude. I presume that the Opposition had some opportunity of securing the election of one of its number as President of the Senate. What is going to happen now?
– You tell us.
– In the circumstances, I could not-
– We do not know.
– I could not even vote for my best friend on this side, because he has been ordered by caucus to see that I am not recognized in this Senate. Therefore, if any member of the Evatt Labour party is thinking of putting up for President, he might as well give away that idea. The Opposition might as well know where it stands. Senator Arnold mentioned something about having allegiance to his party. As the honorable senator comes from New South Wales, I am wondering to what particular party he owes allegiance.
– I still belong to the same party.
– Yes, but I wonder which one it is.
– I shall leave that party only when I have to.
– The honorable senator probably will eventually leave it. 1 would like to know whether Senator Arnold subscribes to a few of the points that were made last night in connexion with his party. We all understand just where the Australian Labour party is headed at the present time, and I shall quote some of the remarks made by members of the Evatt party about their own party. In that regard it has been said that the attempt now being made to capture the Labour party is aimed, not at converting Labour men to Communists and making them members of the Communist party, but at converting them to Communists without asking them to join the Government party. I repeat that those remarks were made by some of the members of the Evatt party who are still members of the Australian Labour party. It has also been said that the federal executive’s conduct of the New South Wales branch of the party was totalitarian, and had been prompted by those who failed to gain control of the New South Wales branch by constitutional means. It has also been said that in the Labour party, unlike the Communist party,, it was not necessary to claim something one day and deny it the next, nor was it necessary to repudiate things believed for many years past.. That is what the Evatt Labour party is doing at the present time, and I feel that I have a duty in this Senate to try to bring the Australian Labour party back on to the right track. That is my objective, and the objective of my party, and I believe that it will be achieved in spite of the fact that the present leader of the Labour party has been given the title of Moses.
– Why Moses ?
– It is, of course, a biblical reference. Honorable senators will remember that Moses led the chosen people through the wilderness for 40 years until they reached the promised land, but he himself was not allowed to enter the promised land. The people were led into it by a fighting man called Joshua.
I believe that I should be recognized asthe leader of a party in the Senate because of the party ‘ that I represent. That party is most important for the welfare of the people of Australia and the welfare of the Labour party in which we believe - the true Australian Labour party.
I come now to the malicious attemptmade by Senator McKenna to-night to discredit our party as much as he possibly can. I inform him that even if the motion before the Senate is agreed to, the party which I represent, and of which I am the political leader at the present time, will go on from strength to strength and will ultimately be a great instrument to benefit Australia. If the Australian Labour party will not follow its traditional role and fight the Communist party, some organization has to carry on that fight. Our party, being in a position to do so, will continue to carry on that fight.
I hope that to-night the Senate will give me the recognition that I seek because of the job that I have to do in the future. I believe that I heard an honorable senator say, some time ago, “ I suppose you are being bribed by the great facilities and privileges that are extended to the leader of a party”. Well, I get no facilities for myself; I only get a lot of hard work. I am quite sure that no person would have the courage to come to me face to face and attempt to bribe me. An allegation of bribery can be summarily dismissed. I hope that honorable senators, even those of the Opposition who have been told to vote against their own inclinations, will give me the recognition that I believe is due, not to me personally, but to the party that I represent in the Parliament.
– in reply - Perhaps I may begin my speech by re-stating what the motion that I moved earlier really means. It means, in effect, that a senator who has no follower either in this chamber or in another place, cannot be regarded as a leader of a party. That is the simple, sensible, obvious proposition which this motion puts before the Senate. Who can, in common sense and logic, deny that a senator who has no follower in either House of the Parliament, cannot be regarded as a leader ? All the words uttered by honorable senators on the Government side have sought to obscure that simple, sensible, logical proposition.
– Cannot be a leader of what?
– Senator Vincent had his opportunity to speak, and I shall say something about his remarks in a moment. I wish, first, to deal with Senator Cole’s statement, and his allegation of malice in respect of the submission of this motion. I completely repudiate that charge. I say quite frankly that there is political hostility by us towards Senator Cole and the party that he represents, but I, personally, and my colleagues on this side of the chamber, are infinitely bigger and wiser than to take to our bosoms any bitterness, malice or any other emotion of that kind. We have found as a result of our experience, that it is a very bad thing to hold malice, and I repudiate all suggestion of malice. If the honorable senator will have regard to the terms in which I introduced my motion, he will recognize the truth of my remarks.
– What did Senator McKenna say at the endorsements in Hobart ?
– We are now talking about the motion before the Senate. The honorable senator may rest assured that I feel even less political hostility towards him than I feel towards the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’Sullivan), and I feel no personal malice whatsoever. Senator Cole should be big enough to recognize that fact.-
The stupidity of the present position was exposed by the first sentence that Senator Cole uttered. Here is one of our senators who has never announced that he is a leader until this very minute, and who does not claim now to be the leader of a party. Indeed, he said that he is the political leader of his party. He does not ask the Senate for recognition of the position of leadership, he does not ask for the facilities of leadership, and he has never mentioned the matter until this minute. This is an attack far- more upon the Government for what it has been doing than an attack upon Senator Cole or his party. Our attack is concentrated on a government that concurs in providing facilities at a cost of some thousands of pounds per annum for the sole representative in this Parliament of a group of peo] .c, who has never even made the claim of leadership himself until to-night. Those facts show the falsity of the position. Senator Cole lias never preferred a claim for leadership, and Senator O’sullivan has never argued that he ever made one. Nobody has said one word in the course of this debate to indicate when the Senate had concurred in such a position. It is an extraordinary situation for the Government to be in, to recognize one member of the Parliament as the leader of a party without a claim of any kind by that individual, and to provide him with facilities of various kinds which, although Senator Cole attempted to belittle them, are of considerable moment. I say that there is very little distinction indeed between an allowance in cash and an allowance in kind, and very real facilities are extended to the honorable senator in the provision of expert secretarial assistance coupled with the travel involved in that, and the travel and other privileges connected with the honorable senator’s position. He is also established in a preferred post on the floor of the Senate dose to the chamber, a position from which he displaced the staff of the then deputy leader of the Labour party in the Senate. It is, unquestionably, a preferred position.
As Leader of the Opposition I am concerned with launching an attack against the Government which is in such a false, absurd and illogical position. It is accountable, as I said during the course of my address-in-chief, not only to the Parliament, but also to the electors for the stupid thing it does. I say to Senator McCallum, who said that if we accepted this motion we would be tying our hands, that if we reject it we shall, in effect, affirm the proposition that hereafter any man who declares himself to be a member of a particular party can claim all the privileges of leadership, including a Communist. I challenged the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan), if he relied upon the submission that electoral support outside this Parliament determines leadership within it, to name the minimum standards of that electoral support; and, of course, he never assayed to do that. There was no attempt to do it and one can imagine nothing more stupid than the allegation that leadership in this place depends upon electoral support outside.
– I would not be here if I did not have electoral support.
– Of course, the honorable senator was elected for a different party and he has not submitted himself to the electors although he had the opportunity. He has less claim to true representation than anybody in this chamber and he should not press that point. Senator Gorton said I was not trying to lay down any principle. I concede at once, as I did at the outset of my speech, that the whole question of party recognition, and recognition of leadership, was very deficient in this Parliament. It may well have been approached by the Government, or a Standing Orders committee even of the Senate, and a set of principles drawn up. We are completely without that, but at least I am affirming the first of the propositions based upon a factual position in the Parliament; and I am seeking to correct what is an absurdity in affirming this particular proposition. Of course, I do not seek to lay down a whole code, but I do face an actual stupid position in the Parliament which, I repeat, if affirmed and continued, now that it has been debated, will demean this Senate in the eyes of every common-sense person when he hears the proposition affirmed that one man in the Parliament, claiming to represent a particular party, is acknowledged as a leader in the Parliament and afforded the facilities of a leader. It is a small matter compared to the. great budget, but at least it is a matter which is understood by the ordinary person outside. I am afraid that the Government will incur more odium on a matter like that, which people are probably capable of grasping quickly and understanding, than even on a matter that touches them more dearly and more severely.
So I reject the suggestion of Senator Gorton that I am not laying down any principle. I concede that I am not laying down a whole code in the matter of leadership. I do not think it is the function of the Opposition to promote that. I think that it is the duty and responsibility of the Government in the first place, and that it might well, after listening to this debate, see the need a bit clearer and do something in the matter of legislative enactment. I hope that will be one of the consequences whatever the result of the particular vote. I decline to accept Senator Gorton’s suggestion that I was not trying to lay down a principle. There is that clear and first principle in the light of a factual position in the Senate and in the Parliament that I seek to correct as a first step.
He claimed that I had not faced the position as to what the situation would be if Senator Cole were supported by another member in the Senate. I said very specifically that if there were two senators and one stood up and claimed that he was the leader, nobody but the follower could deny that. I claimed that that established a fact that was inescapable but which had no consequences unless a government liked to step in foolishly, recognize it and provide facilities based upon that very small representation. That is a matter, as I indicated, between the Government and the electors in the final analysis; but I tell Senator Gorton that I did face up to that matter. I would carry it one step further and say that there could not be a. deputy leader if there were only two members of a party; I would suggest that there would have to be three.
– There will be.
– There may be. That, of course, I lay rather at the door of the Government than at the foot of anybody connected with Senator Cole’s party because that will be the responsibility of the Government and not of his party. I would not blame any senator for seeking all the facilities he can get, but T do blame a government which grants them without justification and without, reasons.
– What about the Leader of the Opposition’s own facilities?
– I have no complaint about my own. I get no more than those which have been always accorded to ‘ho Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I am not going into irrelevant matters. All I say is that the Government makes a profit out of the fact, which is my misfortune and not my choice, that I live outside the electorate, a position well understood by those who supported me and returned me at the top of the poll in Tasmania. They thoroughly understand the reasons and are not adversely affected politically by them.
Whilst I repudiate all suggestion of malice, I affirm that the Opposition believes that the party which Senator Cole represents is completely misguided. I do not question for one moment his sincerity, or the sincerity of those associated with him. I think they have been completely misguided in their approach to a problem, and have chosen the wrong set of values and principles. We differ, on that and we recognize it: but I repudiate any suggestion of malice on the part of my party or my associate*. I resent Senator’ Cole’s implied and snide criticism of our leader, Dr. Evatt, who ha3 the complete confidence of the overwhelming ‘majority of the members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party. An honorable senator opposite interjects: “Since when?” The answer is: Since the last election, and that is not very long ago, a matter of a few weeks.
The Minister for the Navy completely misunderstood my opening remarks when T was laying the foundation of my speech and pointing out that we could derive some little help from the 1947 legislation and some from the 1952 legislation in relation to recognition of leaders, but nm of parties. I concede that it had nr. relevance, as did the Canadian document that I read, to the recognition of parties. The one thing that any of those situations did was to recognize leaders. In our own Australian Parliament there was no recognition of a leader for purpose? of an allowance unless he was supported by at least ten members in the House of Representatives. That was the test, but what norm does this Government apply? lt leaves itself open to suspicion that it has other than proper motives when it proceeds without enunciating a principle, or without a claim by the individual member concerned to leadership, or to the emoluments of it.
– That is a fitting charge for the Leader of the Opposition to make in his reply! He did not make it in his original case.
– I made all these points, which the honorable senator would have heard if he had listened. When the Government allows itself to be put into the position that it recognizes a senator who has made no claim whatever
– But who is still the leader of a party.
– Why does the Leader of the Opposition suggest emoluments?
– Perhaps I should have used the word “ facilities “ instead of the word “ emoluments “ I said a moment ago that I do not see any vast difference between payment in cash by way of allowance and the provision of facilities in kind.
– But the Leader of the Opposition and myself get both, whereas Senator Cole does not.
– It is true that Senator Cole does not get both, but he gets some facilities that are not available to rank-and-file members of Parliament. He enjoys facilities which have never before been extended to the sole member of a party in this whole Parliament.
– Senator Cole does not have the same facilities as the Leader of the Opposition.
– So far as I know he has not, but apart from the fact that he does not get an extra parliamentary allowance, I believe that he gets exactly the same facilities.
– That is where the Leader of the Opposition is wrong.
– I do not know that I am wrong.
– The Leader of the Opposition should not say things thai he does not know are right.
– The position of Senator Cole was the subject of questions in this House a few days ago, and I am relying on what the leader of the Government said when he gave an indication that facilities which were extended to Senator Cole in the last Parliament were being continued in this Parliament. That was the very evasive answer given. The provision of a secretary, a secretary-typist and one room in Parliament House, is recorded. No special accommodation has been provided for staff. According to the answer, transport for the leader is made available in accordance with the rules laid down - I assume that that is in accordance with rules laid down for leaders.
– That is not so.
– Then for whom are they laid down? For Senator Cole alone ?
– The Leader of the Opposition knows that there are grades.
– No other leader of the Opposition has the same facilities as those available to Senator McKenna.
– I think that facilities in relation to travel have been reviewed during my time, and I am happy to say that that was done not at my request, but at the initiation of the Government. That fact might interest Senator Henty, and I challenge Senator O’sullivan to deny it. They are proper facilities, but will the Senate recognize the fact that whatever may be granted to me as leader of an Opposition, backed by 27 members in this House and a total of 78 in the Parliament, has not the slightest relevance to the first and simple proposition affirmed by this motion which, 1 repeat, is that no senator who has no follower either here or in the House of Representatives, can be regarded as a. leader? Who, in the names of honesty, logic and common sense can deny that?
– Why does the Leader nf the Opposition introduce the House of Representatives into Ids argument? I cannot see the point in laying down that the leader of a. party in this House must have associates in another place.
– T did not say that. My argument is that a senator who has no supporters either here or in another place - it could be one or the other or both - should not be recognized as leader of a party.
– That is not in the motion.
– It is in the motion.
-Order ! The Leader of the Opposition must be allowed to make his reply without interruption.
– Many irrelevancies and divergencies have been introduced by Government senators, but I think I have adverted to nearly everything that calls for a reply. I will never be able to understand how Senator Vincent could construe anything that I said into thepostulation of a principle that I wanted to gag SenatorCole or to restrict his opportunities for fair speech, and that, consequently, such a proposal was undemocratic.
– As Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna has done so.
– Anything that I have said to-night could not have the slightest effect on Senator Cole’s right to speak. How could I curtail his opportunities? I pointed out that he has not spoken very often in this Parliament, and that he seeks few opportunities to do so. He speaks rarely, but nevertheless he is entitled to speak here as often as the President will call him.
– As leader of a party.
– The carriage of my motion would not prevent Senator Cole from speaking on any motion in this chamber. I conclude by commending the motion to honorable senators in the interests of common sense, logic and the prestige of the Senate.
Question put -
That the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to raise a matter concerning the business of the country, if the Senate will engage itself in that direction for a few minutes this evening. It has particular reference to the recent announcement relating to an increase in sea freights. I refer to it because it affects particularly the island State of Tasmania. I remind the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) that before the 1953 elections freights were so gravely affecting Tasmanian trade that a special deputation was organized to wait upon the Prime Minister to direct attention to the everincreasing severity of sea freights. Since that time, not only has there been an. increase in the freights, but also, because of difficulties experienced in the turn round of ships, the effectiveness of available shipping has not improved. When it is realized that the proposed increase will mean a further cost of 5s. a ton on general cargo from Tasmania to Sydney and 7s. 6d. a ton in the freight on produce, and when we remember that since 1947 the general cargo freight between Sydney and Tasmania has increased by 161 per cent, from 48s. lid. a ton to 127s. 6d. a ton, it should be appreciated that an additional cost of 5s., or 7s. 6d., a ton is a matter of very serious import. It has a serious effect upon our secondary industries, such as paper and cement manufacturing. It will have a serious effect upon the cement industry in particular, and will more particularly affect industries, such as timber and potatoes, and other primary industries whose products are exported to the mainland. In Australia, our cost trend, generally speaking, is going crosswise. Prices for primary products are receding.
– Not for potatoes.
– Not for potatoes at the present time; but that is due to the fact that the greater proportion of the crop has been seriously affected by adverse seasonal conditions. However, generally speaking, the prices for primary products are receding while the costs of producing those products are increasing. Furthermore, prices of secondary commodities in Australia are increasing to an unjustifiable degree. To-day, the farmer has to finance his output on a secondary industry cost market. He is buying on an adverse market, and he is selling on an adverse market. Anybody who appreciates the importance of primary products to the country should be alarmed at that position. I should like the Minister, if he will, to inform us, with some degree of particularity, of the circumstances that justify this added impost upon the sea trade of the whole of the Australian coast’ line. with particular reference to Tasmania.
The second aspect of the matter that I wish to make quite clear has reference to the political bogy that was trotted round Tasmania during the last election campaign concerning the particular advantage of the Australian Shipping Board in keeping down costs. If I understand the position aright, not only have the private shipping companies agreed to this increase in freights, but the Australian Shipping Board has also been a party to it. That demonstrates to my mind the complete fallacy of the claim that the Australian Shipping Board has been a factor in balancing sea freights and tending to reduce them. I should like to know what factors have compelled the Australian Shipping Board to be a party to this increase in freights. The Senate should concern itself about a particular case such as this. It is illustrative of a trend that I am afraid is about to commence in many industries. If it gathers momentum, it will read to the serious detriment of the primary industries of the mainland and those of Tasmania in particular. When 1 point out that the freight for a ton of potatoes from the north-west coast of Tasmania is now £6 18s. and that, with the proposed increase of 7s. 6d., it will be £7 os. 6d. whilst, pre-war, it was something of the order of £1, honorable senators will see what an enormous menace these rising costs constitute to us.
The purpose of my rising to-night was twofold. First, I ask the Minister to give us with some particularity, if ihe will, the justification for this increase as it appears to the Australian Shipping Board, at any rate; and, secondly, I should like to know what advantage the Tasmanian trade has received from the participation of the Australian Shipping Board in trade, especially in connexion with freight charges.
– The remarks made by Senator Wright go straight to the heart of the biggest problem facing us in Australia to-day, that is, the problem of controlling and, where possible, cutting costs. The most valuable service that any organization in Australia can perform to-day is to direct positively its mind towards cutting down costs.
Senator Wright has directed hi? remarks to the incidence of the freight increases that were recently announced. He asked me to give, with some particularity, reasons for those freight increases.
La..=t week, just after the announcement was made, and in answer to a question in the Senate, I referred, in general terms, to the factors that had given rise to the freight increases. I said that, in the main, they had flowed from three industrial judgments in connexion with increases in margins, the masters, officers and engineers’ award and the seamen’s award. The first of those factors became operative as long ago as December, 1954. The masters, officers and engineers’ award came into effect in April, 1955, and the seamen’s award in July last. 1 mention those dates to show how the opportunity was not taken to increase freights immediately the extra costs were incurred.
In July last, conversations took place between the private shipowners and the Australian Shipping Board because of the effects of the increases which were already being felt. Although conversations began at that point, no increase of freight rates was approved on behalf of the Australian Shipping Board until the recent increase was made. It may be of assistance to Senator Wright if I tell him that action was delayed so that the actual effect of the increases could be seen in the books of the Australian Shipping Board. It has been shown clearly that the marginsaward of December, 1954, has involved the Australian Shipping Board in increased expenditure of £12S,000. The masters, officers and engineers’ award has accounted for increased costs totalling £ OS, 293. and the seamen’s award has cost minimum of £92,500. The increases totalled about £309,000 before any increase of freights was approved. That indicates that both responsibility and restraint were exercised before the increased costs were passed on.
– Has any percentage of the increased costs been absorbed?
– I shall answer that question in a moment. The Australian Shipping Board took the opportunity to examine, minutely and particularly, the effects of the increased costs before it passed them on. It would be unfair if I did not say that the private shipowners acted with notable restraint and responsibility, because there was nothing to prevent ‘V-m from applying rates other than those imposed by the Australian Shipping Board.
– The Government i could have used the Commonwealth shipping line against them.
– That is what happened. The private shipowners will tell Senator Ashley, if he inquires, that since December, 1954, the operations of the Australian Shipping Boar.d have been used against them to cut down their freights. To emphasize the. admirable way in which this matter has been handled, I remind the Senate that the last general increase of freights took place in May, 1953. In May, 1954, there was a reduction because of an alteration in the charges of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board.
– It was very small.
– It was ls. 6d. a ton, but when the reduction was effected, it was carried through to freights. Nothing could be fairer. The shipowners and the Australian Shipping Board carried these costs for fifteen months at least. Senator Byrne has asked me whether the freight rates have been designed, in effect, to do more than recover the position lost.
– Not altogether. 1 asked whether any portion of the increases was being absorbed, and that is slightly different.
– The fact is that the freight rate increases have been designed merely to recover the increased cost that has flowed from the three factors I have mentioned, and do not take into account all other factors, such as increased bunkering charges and cost of administration in other directions. The charges have been imposed of necessity, and merely to meet inescapable extra costs. I hope that my reply to Senator Wright leaves no doubt that both responsibility and restraint have been exercised, and I assure the Senate that they will continue to be exercised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 May 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560508_senate_22_s7/>.