22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– On 30th October, I undertook to make a statement regarding the operation of Standing Orders 271 and 423 relating to the taking down of words used in debate. In 1942, the then President, Senator Cunningham, ruled that the purpose of Standing Order 423 was to protect honorable senators from objectionable, offensive and disorderly expressions, and that it should be applied for that purpose only. He held that the reading of such words must be followed by an explanation, withdrawal or apology by the senator deemed to have offended against the Standing Orders. The ruling appears in “ Hansard “, volume 170, page 206.
Standing Order 271 is, in effect, similar to Standing Order 423, with this difference, that it applies to proceedings in Committee of the Whole, and requires words taken down to be reported to the Senate.
Taking down words is an ancient practice of the House of Commons, now in disuse, for considering disorderly words used by a member in debate. The modern practice is for a member, at the moment it occurs, to make application to the Chair for the withdrawal of an expression objected to. It is then within the discretion of the Chair to decide whether the expression should be withdrawn.
I suggest that the Standing Orders Committee give consideration to the question of either clarifying or deleting the Standing Orders to which reference has been made.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration inform the Senate whether there is any truth in the allegation that the Department of Immigration took any hand in securing the premature release of a murderer in New South Wales?
– The Department of Immigration did not initiate, nor did it take, any action to have John Sammut released from gaol for deportation to Malta. The decision to release Sammut from gaol before he had completed his sentence was solely the responsibility of the New South Wales authorities. The normal policy of the Department of Immigration is that persons convicted of serious crimes which would warrant their deportation are required to complete their sentences before action is taken to deport them. If, however, State authorities should decide to curtail the sentence of such a person, action for deportation is taken by the Department of Immigration.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Senate whether it is a primary duty of the press to print the truth? Is it a fact that two days ago the “ Canberra Times “ stated that travel agents who booked air passages received 15 per cent, of the fares? Did not Senator Wood declare the fee to be 7 per cent.? Has the Minister any knowledge of any correction or explanation having been made by the “ Canberra Times “.
– I understand that the “ Canberra Times “ was at fault in referring to the commission charged by agents as 15 per cent. Senator Wood immediately made a correction, stating that the rates charged were 5 per cent, for internal airlines, and 7 per cent, for international airlines. I have subsequently found that to be the case. Notwithstanding the variations from the figure quoted by the “ Canberra Times “, the whole question of agents’ fees will be a matter for consideration in relation to the wider question of fare fixation.
– Will the Minister answer the first part of the question as to whether the newspapers are compelled ever to print the truth?
– I do not think the question was whether they are compelled ever to print the truth. I express a personal view, in which I feel I have the unanimous support of all present, when I say I hope they will always print the truth.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, is supplementary to the question that was asked yesterday by Senator Cole in reference to the forthcoming visit of the Queen Mother to Australia. May I suggest to the Minister that, in making representations for the inclusion of Tasmania in the itinerary, he press the point that in view of the fact that the necessity for informality has been stressed, a few days spent in the restful and beautiful surroundings of Tasmania may be welcome to the Queen Mother after her strenuous visit to the crowded metropolitan centres of the mainland at a rather trying time of the year? Will the Minister make the necessary representations on behalf of Tasmania, and assure the Queen Mother that she would receive a warm welcome from the people of that State?
– When 1 mention Senator Cole’s suggestion to the Prime Minister, I shall be only too happy to add the honorable senator’s embellishment.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I had hoped to discuss the subjectmatter of the question during the consideration of the Estimates yesterday, but I was prevented from doing so ‘by the operation of the “ guillotine “. Is the Minister able to inform the Senate of the quantity of canned fish that is at present held by factories and cool stores in Tasmania, and the quantity that has been imported into Australia during the last two years? What effect has this importation had on our local industry? If the importation of canned fish from Japan is having an adverse effect on our local industry, as managers in the industry inform us, will the Minister refer the matter to the Tariff Board to see whether the position can be rectified?
– The Minister for Trade is responsible for the reference of matters to the Tariff Board. On 15th October last, I furnished particulars of imports of fish from Japan in a reply to a question by Senator Marriott. The figures appear in “ Hansard “, and Senator Aylett, if he is interested, may obtain the information from that source.
– Imports over the last two years?
– Yes, the figures you now ask for. I assume that the honorable senator’s question derives from my statement last night that I felt that the canned fish trade - British herrings and local and imported canned fish generally - was suffering from the new trade in packaged frozen fish which has developed. I shall ask the Department of Trade to provide figures snowing the stocks of canned fish held in Tasmania, and write to him. I shall do all in my power to help Tasmanian factories to quit their stocks as quickly as possible. While I was in Sydney at the week-end I noticed .that chain stores were getting rid ot the products of a New South Wales fishcanning factory. It is a matter of salesmanship, perhaps, and the line put up in Sydney was selling well over the counters. Perhaps if our fellows had a look at the sales methods employed in Sydney, they would help themselves. I shall do all in my power to assist in the matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he recalls that some time ago there was considerable conjecture in Australia about whether Formosan tea could be imported. As a result,- the price of tea dropped by 6d. or more a pound. Is the Minister aware that an announcement has now been made by the wholesale importers of tea that a rise in the price of at least 4£d. a pound can be expected when current stocks are exhausted? Since tea is an important item of diet in Australia, will the Minister make inquiries to ascertain whether the rise is justified and give an assurance that the import of tea which would sell at a price lower than that mentioned by the wholesale tea merchants will not be restricted?
– I have noticed that press reports forecast an increase in the price of tea. I have no knowledge of any variation of the arrangement which permitted the import of Formosan tea. If there is any variation of this arrangement. I will inform the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen a statement made by Mr. Richards, .secretary of the National Roads and Motorists Association, Sydney, that there is an urgent need for uniformity in road lighting and road signs, not only in New South Wales but also throughout Australia? Can this matter be urgently referred to the Australian Road Safety Council and, if necessary, could a special meeting of that council be called to consider this matter because of its importance in saving lives?
– Uniformity in all aspects of road transport is under continual examination by the Australian Road Safety Council and the Australian Transport Advisory Council. Some progress has been made in introducing uniform practices and procedures into the various States. I have seen the statement made by Mr. Richards. I propose referring it to the chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council and asking him for a report as to the extent of the diversity suggested by Mr. Richards. When I have received that report, I will consider the necessity of having the matter examined at a meeting prior to the ordinary meeting of the Australian Road Safety Council.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has seen a report that, despite Government policy, the cost of living has risen more in Australia than in any other country in the Western world. Is the Minister able to remember that, when the quarterly cost of living adjustments to the basic wage were suspended in 1953, the workers were told that the suspension was designed to halt the rise in the cost of living? Is the Minister aware that prices, profits, interest rates, dividends and reserves of capital have all steadily increased since 1953 and have contributed to the high cost of living, but that, according to statistics produced by Senator Cameron, the value of money has steadily decreased? Will the Minister say what measures the Government intends to take to restore cost of living justice to the wageearners? Furthermore, when does the Government intend to honour its election pledge to put value back into the £1?
– I have a recollection of having heard that question before somewhere. Dealing with the substance of the honorable senator’s question, I have seen _ only press reports of the Treasury memorandum; I have not had an opportunity to read the memorandum. I say instantly that I would prefer to accept the Treasury’s report as a foundation for my approach to the problem rather than the figures that emanated from Senator Cameron. It is difficult to reply to the remainder of the honorable senator’s question without having read the memorandum, but I direct his attention to the fact that the latest C series index figures showed a very healthy situation indeed. They disclosed that there had been very little variation of the cost of living indices in the various States, which, I suggest with respect, illustrates that the Government’s policy on this extraordinarily difficult matter is turning out successfully.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a most important article in to-day’s eastern States’ press to the effect that scientists at Britain’s atomic energy research establishment at Harwell have been successful in raising the temperature of deuterium, the scientists’ name for heavy hydrogen, to several million degrees centigrade? Does the Minister agree that this important step marks a significant achievement in relation to the peaceful use of power from hydrogen? Would the Minister care to comment on the significance of the announcement, either now or more lengthily at a subsequent time? Will he inform the Senate whether our own research school of physical sciences at Canberra is being kept in close touch with the achievements of these famous British scientists?
– I did read the newspaper article to which the honorable senator refers. I refrain from making any comment on it. I have a suspicion that Professor Oliphant knows a little more about the matter than I do. I think the interesting feature of the article is that it does not attempt to indicate within what period of time we may gain any advantage from this new step forward. That is a very material matter indeed because of its effect on the search for source materials and the design of reactors. All I can say is that I am quite certain that the Australian National University and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission are in close touch with the developments that are occurring.
– Did the AttorneyGeneral see the leading article in to-day’s “ Canberra Times “? Did he notice that the leader stated, amongst other things, that the people of the Northern Territory were protected by the express provision of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act that trade between that Territory and the States shall be absolutely free? Did he also notice that the leading article suggested that a provision of that kind should be applied to the Australian Capital Territory in regard to its trade with the States? Will the Minister, in his capacity as chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, ensure that this suggestion is considered by that committee before it concludes its deliberations?
– I have not read the article referred to by the honorable senator. The point raised by him is one of great interest, and without hesitation I assure him that a matter of that nature will be considered by the Constitution Review Committee.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate request Cabinet to consider the desirability of arranging all Royal visits at a time of the year - for instance, in the month of April - when the weather is pleasant over almost the whole of Australia?
– I have no doubt that matters of climate and atmosphere are taken into account in this matter, but I am bound to point out that we do live in a world that has different climates at different times. I am quite sure the point raised by the honorable senator will receive consideration, if it has not already done so.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I point out that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s ship “ Iron Monarch “ has been sold abroad and it is reported that the Seamen’s Union has been paid £3,500 as an indemnity payment to allow the ship to leave Newcastle with a Filipino crew. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is known how that money is distributed after it is paid to the union? I was under the impression that because an Australian crew was not engaged to take the ship from Newcastle this money was to be paid to men who would have manned the vessel in lieu of the wages they would have received had they taken the ship? Is that the arrangement, or is it not?
– I am not aware of any of the circumstances surrounding this alleged payment. The whole matter has excited considerable public attention in recent days, as will be well known to the honorable senator. It is also receiving the consideration of a number of people interested in the shipping industry, not the least of whom is my distinguished colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service. I have no doubt that he is considering the matter raised by the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question supplementary to that asked by Senator Mattner. In doing so, may I remind the Minister of the debate initiated by Senator McManus, during which I gathered that payments of this sort were admitted as payments in fact? Has the Minister seen the subsequent statement from Mr. Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, that there is no evidence that such payments have in fact been made? I ask the Minister whether he is able to give us up-to-date information as to whether such payments in fact have been made.
– I am quite unable to give the information sought. I repeat that the matter is not one which directly affects my own portfolio. I am aware that my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, is extremely interested in the matter.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 31st October (vide page 1098).
Department of Immigration.
Proposed Vote, £1,958,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Immigration.
Proposed Vote, £9,111,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed Vote, £43,791,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– One of the proposed votes before the committee is the important one for immigration. I am concerned that honorable senators have been unable to obtain reliable information as to the health of immigrants who come into this country. I have raised this subject in the Senate on a number of occasions, particularly in relation to those immigrants who suffer from mental illness. The only answer that one receives to questions on this subject is that these unfortunate people constitute no greater percentage of immigrants than similar unfortunate people who have been born in Australia constitute of the nativeborn population. I do not think that that answer is good enough.
I suppose that I have as much sympathy as any person for the mentally ill, irrespective of whether they were born in this country or in any other country. But the shores of Australia are open to about 100,000 immigrants a year and, to my mind, the most important consideration in connexion with their admission should be health. I realize, as other honorable senators realize, the tragic years that a number of these people went through. With them, we all sympathize. But each year, during the debate on the Estimates, I have cited figures on this subject from the Ministers for Health in the various States. The percentage of these unfortunate people in each State has been astounding. 1 am not happy about the method of checking the health of people who come to Australia from various countries.
In normal times we should have no desire to stop immigrants from coming into this country, but I do not class the present time as altogether normal as far as unskilled work is concerned. The Opposition does not want to raise a barrier against people coming into this country. We do not want to injure the immigration policy as long as there is work in Australia for those whom we bring here. I have been concerned, for a number of years, about the percentage of people who come here and then, after a short space of time, find their way into the mental institutions, particularly of my own State.
– The figure is 8,500.
– As the honorable senator has said, 8,500 have done so. 1 know that some people will say, “ Well, if one-half of a family is out here, what are you going to do about the other half?” Let us suppose that some members of the family are suffering from tuberculosis or mental illness. I think that before a person is allowed to come to Australia, particularly if he is married and the father of a young family, the health of those for whom he is responsible ought to be scrutinized.
No doubt in common with other honorable senators, I have had requests from people of all nationalities who have come to this country, some of them husbands, some with brothers here and sisters in their native land, seeking assistance to have their relatives brought out. In some instances, the department has been extremely wise and has refused the requests on health grounds. On the files of the department there will be found letters from me concurring in refusals that have been based on health reasons. But that does not absolve the officers of the department, particularly the health officers who examine the people who come here, when we find that, year after year, the various State Ministers for Health cite percentages to indicate that people in a bad state of health are being admitted. I know, of course, that the percentages stated by the health officers in the States are not accepted by the Department of Immigration. If one asks a question in this place about the matter, the departmental officers have a habit of writing a book on it, so that the object of the question is lost. That may be clever, but they do not gain many marks for it so far as I am concerned. I cannot believe that a State Minister for Health would give other than the facts. When I referred here last year to the percentages that the various State Ministers had submitted to me, it was suggested that I was exaggerating. However, I purposely refrained from producing the telegrams that I had received from the respective Ministers because, as I have said, 1 could not believe that the Minister for Health of my own State, for instance, would exaggerate in answering a simple question.
Another vexed aspect of the administration of the Department of Immigration concerns attempts to ascertain the number of British immigrants coming to this country.
– The honorable senator will never find that out.
– All I can say is that the figures supplied by the Minister, in answer to questions asked in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, are misleading. The Minister can get his figures only from the department. I do not know whether the departmental officers would willingly want to mislead him. I should not think they would. It seems that they have no reliable figures at all. The Minister has often said that the proportion of British immigrants to the total number if immigrants is 50 per cent., but authoritative statements by persons who have interested themselves in this matter indicate that the proportion has been less than 50 per cent. In this connexion I mention the statement by the president of the BritishAustralian Society, reported in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 30th May, 1957, and a later statement, reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, by the late Sir Thomas White. 1 have never known a department, Commonwealth or State, to be so loose with its figures as the Department of Immigration. I asked a question in this chamber some months ago, but I have not pursued the matter since then, because the Minister took almost fifteen minutes to read the answer, and I gave up in disgust.
– He gave a full answer.
– Yes, full of words, but designed for only one purpose.
– In this instance I do not think there was much propaganda for the department. I think that on this issue the department is putting the Government in a position where it must be subjected to criticism by those who want to get information about the matter. The only worthwhile figures that I have been able to obtain are to be found in the quarterly summary of Australian statistics printed and published by the Commonwealth Statistician. That document gives the information that of a net total of 850,000 post-war immigrants - being the surplus of permanent arrivals over permanent departures - only 290,000 were British nationals, the proportion being 34 per cent. Included in that number, of course, would be Cypriots, Maltese, and, I suppose, people for whom I have a lot of respect - Irish people. From all the figures that I have been able to obtain, I find that the proportion of British immigrants is no’ more than 33 per cent, or 34 per cent., but the department will persist in saying it is 50 per cent.
– It may be right.
– If Senator Pearson were to get up in this chamber and answer for the department, I suppose lie would not do any worse than the department itself has done up to date.
– The honorable senator has not been consulting Senator Cameron, has he?
– I can go no further, in my search for figures, than the official Commonwealth publication. It seems to me that when the department wants to make out a case it counts every one of the immigrants who come in. Then when we ask how many of those immigrants are British, we are told that the proportion is 50 per cent. If we then ask how many of the British immigrants return to their country of origin, we are told that the proportion is approximately 6 per cent., but if we ask on what figures the estimate of 6 per cent, is based there is a hushed silence. When all is said and done, this country is paying out a lot of money on immigration. I think the proposed vote for this year is about £11,000,000. We are entitled to get the information that we seek.
I now wish to raise a question that I have raised before, and to state the Opposition’s attitude towards bringing unskilled workers to this, country. We do not, as some people like to make out, oppose immigration’. Any one with sense knows that, if we do not people this country, in the years ahead we may have difficulty in retaining it. We need the help of migrants to develop and defend Australia, but we should not bring out people who will swell the ranks of the unemployed. I am as interested in bringing out skilled workers as is any other honorable senator or the Department of Immigration itself, but to bring out people who will swell the ranks of the unemployed is against every decent principle. It is of no use hiding our heads under official figures. Nothing could damn our immigration programme more than for migrants to return to their own land and paint the picture as they saw it. I have heard Senator Buttfield say that these people sign documents without reading them, and I do not deny that some of them do.
We should be able to apply the brake and to release it when conditions are suitable. lt is bad enough for a person who has a home of his own or is renting a home and has somewhere to lay his head at night to be unemployed, but it is infinitely worse for people who migrate from other countries to be placed in that situation.
Victoria’s intake of migrants is much greater than that of any other State. I am not bound to the figure, but it is commonly stated that Victoria is taking about 40 per cent, of the immigrants. One walks the streets of Melbourne and sees young people, particularly from Italy, searching for employment. I want it to be clearly understood that I have no racial prejudice against southern Europeans. For these persons to be unemployed is quite the reverse of what we want the position to be. Some people argue that we cannot apply the brake to our immigration programme and later release it. I think we can. I do not want to see any racial bitterness in this country.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [10.41]. - I refer to Division No. 227 - Department of Immigration, and, first, to the proposed vote for child migration, British and foreign. I always think that this is a particularly interesting aspect of our immigration programme. I was wondering whether I could be furnished with information showing the number of children who have come out, and whether they have come out under the auspices of such splendid organizations as the Fairbridge Farms, the Big Brotherhood Movement, the Shaftesbury Homes, and Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, or have come to Australian sponsors.
Provision is made for contributions to the States towards the establishment of reception depots for British migrants. Last year, the vote was £12,000 and expenditure amounted to £11,129; the proposed vote for this year is only £3,000. I understand that it is our desire to have more British migrants. Bearing that in mind, I should like to know why the proposed vote is so much lower.
I now direct the attention of the committee to a new item - the provision, in section H, of £3,000 for research into shortterm factors affecting migration. I feel that this research undertaking must be very important and would be of interest to those persons who are interested in migration. Can we be furnished with information showing what form the research will take, and can those of us who are interested in immigration matters be furnished at an early date with the findings of the people who are undertaking the research?
I ask the Minister, too, for information relating to the payment of grants to approved child and youth organizations, for which provision is made in section B. Last year, the vote was £12,000 and the expenditure only £3,465; this year, the proposed vote is only £2,500. Is this money to be paid to approved child and youth organizations that are doing particular work associated with immigration? If so, are many organizations receiving such grants? At this stage, I pay great tribute to all the church, charitable and youth organizations that are playing a magnificent part in helping young immigrants. One of the best ways in which we can assist these newcomers to Australia is to encourage them to come together with our own young people, and I hope that we shall always give whatever help we can in that direction.
Earlier, I overlooked the provision, under Section H, for the education of non-British migrants in the English language. I now direct the attention of the Senate to this item. I pay a very sincere tribute to those who are responsible for the broadcast education session for new Australians; they are doing a very great job indeed. But I again make a special plea on behalf of the older women who live in their homes and who do not have the same opportunity to meet old Australians as do the men who go out to work each day and who, once they begin to know the English language, have a splendid opportunity to converse with other people, or the children who go to school and meet other children. The young man and young woman who, in their daily work, contact other people also have an excellent opportunity to learn the language more rapidly than do the mothers of families who stay at home, where their work is. These older women do not go out so much and meet other people.
Such organizations as the New Settlers League and the Country Women’s Association are doing a great deal to help; but 1 hope that, when the education of nonBritish migrants in the English language is considered, special thought will always be had for the older women who spend most of their time in their homes. Probably the greater part of their conversation is had with the members of their families, and the most natural thing for them to do would be to converse in their native language. They have not the same opportunity to become proficient in the language. I believe that that is a very real problem. I know that much thought has been given to it, but I ask that, in the interests of new Australians, it receive further attention.
. - I am very interested in this matter because I am myself an immigrant, and came out to this country as long ago as 1912. First, I should like to seek some explanation concerning Division No. 118 - Overseas Transfers - £95,000. Item 1 of “General Expenses “ is - “ Fares, travelling allowances and expenses - £75,000 “. Item 2 is - “ Removal and other expenses - £20,000 “. Last year’s expenditure for fares, travelling allowances and expenses was £36,588, and that for removal and other expenses, £9,142- a total of £45,730. The proposed vote for this year is more than double that amount. What is means by “ Overseas Transfers “, and why has the vote been increased so substantially? I have mentioned this at the beginning of my remarks, in case, like many politicians, I should become engrossed in some other topic and forget the main point that I wished to make.
– Like the replies one receives from the departments!
– That is so, and from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) who probably holds the record for lengthy replies.
– No one can accuse the Leader of the Government of making lengthy replies!
– He is an expert in not replying at all. My visit two years ago to the Old Country, the land of my birth, convinced me that members of the Parliament visiting the United Kingdom could do splendid work for the Department of Immigration. If they had any time to spare they could contact various organizations and address meetings of people interested in Australia. I offered to do that and, though I addressed only one meeting in England, addressed two meetings on board ship. The idea could be cultivated, with profit to Australia. Immigrants and intending immigrants could be told the truth about this country, concerning which there are many false ideas. In my youth, Englishmen had very peculiar idea’s about Australia. I recall that when I first landed at Perth some of the children on the boat were almost in tears because they did not see thousands of blackfellows. I shared a cabin with four other men. One of them had two handsome revolvers so that he could look after himself. He thought that when he landed he would be attacked. A thousand and one other false ideas were prevalent.
The officer in charge of the immigrants on the ship on which I was travelling after my visit to Great Britain asked whether I would address them. I was not very anxious to do so because I wished to avoid speaking as much as possible. However, I did and afterwards a number of the immigrants expressed their appreciation of being told the truth. They had been under quite a false impression. An officer had told them that a carpenter had come to this country many years ago and, after five years, had built a home worth £10,000 and also saved enough to take a trip to Europe. I said that I hoped that story was true, but that it had taken me 40 years to save enough for a trip like that. In all, it was a rather far-fetched story. Another man said how happy he had been to go home again. He had met his first girl friend, but, unfortunately, she was then 57. I said that 1 had done likewise, but that my girl friend was mow 75.
J stressed the importance of forgetting that they came from England, Scotland or Ireland, and of trying to fit into the life of the Australian community. 1 told them that they ought not to tell Australians how they should go about their business. Many immigrants had come to this country and set out to show the Australians how wrong they were - how things were done at home. 1 believe that I have previously told the Senate what happened to me when I first went to Canada. I arrived in Winnipeg and searched the paper for a job. Pattern makers were required by a certain firm. I am a pattern maker by trade and decided to apply, but the advertisement ended with the words, “ No Englishman need apply “. However, I went along and applied for the job. The owner of the firm said, “ Aren’t you an Englishman?” I said, “ I am, but I am here to make money and if you give me the job I will do it your way “. He held out his hand and, using an American expression that I ought not to repeat in this chamber, said, “ You are first to come here and say that. I like your approach and you can have the job for as long as you like.” I said, “ If my work is not to your liking, tell me, and I will do it your way, whether I think it right or wrong. I am here to pay back the fare that was loaned me by my friend in the old country, where I have been out of work for some time.” I enjoyed my stay in Winnipeg, and I believe that immigrants to any country should put their heads down and do their work as it is done in that country, and not continually try to tell their work mates, or their boss, how it is done back home.
After the meeting on board ship several immigrants said how pleased they were to hear the actual experiences of an immigrant. I dare say my success in speaking to them was helped by my telling them a few amusing stories. In any event, they asked me to speak to them again. I said, “ I really don’t like speaking “, but they said, “ We want you to tell us more of your experiences. I am sure that they would be very interesting.” There was on board a bishop whose name I cannot recall. He also pressed me to speak again. I said, “ Really, I do not like speaking. As a matter of fact, I am the last man who should be called upon to speak because I landed in Australia on a Thursday, and on the next Monday I was in gaol.” He said, “ Well, you can explain that “. I said, “ I will explain it “. I explained that in this free country in those days under tory governments men were not allowed to speak on the street if they belonged to the Labour party or the socialist party. Representatives of other parties or of religious or charitable organizations could speak, but those, like myself, who were members of a political party that was opposed to the tory government were not allowed to speak on pain of being gaoled. I am rather proud that I was gaoled. As a result of our agitation and struggle in the Labour movement we improved conditions in this country considerably. We have elevated the workers to a high social plane as a result of the intense activity of men and women in the Labour movement. Through their propaganda and efforts, they compelled even tory governments to enact social legislation which had far-reaching effects on the welfare of the masses.
I do not wish to detain the committee further, but I endorse what has been said by our deputy leader on the subject of immigration. We are not opposed to immigration in any shape or form, but we say that there must be a reasonable rate of immigration. We must not flood the country with immigrants in times when unemployment is growing. This problem calls for the application of common sense and intelligence. I assure the committee that I and my colleagues in the Labour party are intensely interested in the question of immigration. We are fully aware of the danger to Australia if the population of our country is not increased in order to safeguard it for democracy against the encroachment of communism and totalitarianism.
– I should like some information from the Minister concerning Division No. 139. - A - Royal Australian Naval Reserves. I noticed the provision- being made for the current year is 61 per cent, less than the vote for last year. The sum allocated last year, was £326,000, and this year the estimate is £128,000. I imagine, of course, that the removal of naval trainees from the National Service Training Scheme would make a big difference in the expenditure, but I am a little concerned to notice that a large slice has been taken out of the money usually allocated for the normal training of naval reserves.
Although the role of the Navy might be changed considerably in a global war fought with atomic weapons, because its use in such a conflict would be very limited, it must be remembered that in a local war with conventional weapons it would still retain its place in the defence plan of any country, particularly of the United States of America, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries. In view of what happened in World War I. and World War II., each of which we entered so short of naval personnel and with very small reserves, and also bearing in mind the fact that in peace-time the average ship is not fully manned but is very much under its war-time complement, I should like the Minister to say whether, in addition to eliminating naval trainees from national service training, the Government is imposing any limitations on the normal enrolment of Royal Australian Naval Reserve officers and the volunteer officers that we used to have before national service training came into being. I suggest to the Minister that it might be a good plan to discuss this matter with his colleague, although I imagine that the Navy Office and the Chiefs of Staff will have looked very carefully at it. However, I should be interested to know whether the decrease of 61 per cent, in the vote has been caused completely by the removal of naval trainees from national service training and whether there has been a decrease also in the strength of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.
– I commend the Government for its immigration policy. It is realizing what we have tried to bring before the people of Australia, that we must populate this country so that we can safeguard it and vindicate our moral right to hold it. The policy put forward a few moments ago by Senator Kennelly showed a very foolish and short-sighted attitude. His policy may be framed for vote-catching at the present time, but it is not for the ultimate good of Australia. He takes the unemployment position as his reason for suggesting the stopping of immigration, or turning it off and on as he would a tap. Looking back a few years before the immigration scheme was brought into being and before there were any great numbers of people emigrating to this country, honorable senators will recall that the unemployment position was much worse than it is to-day. I should say that the presence of immigrants in Australia has helped to provide employment for both our own people and the immigrants themselves. Figures have been given in this chamber to indicate the contribution which immigrants have made in our heavy industries and also in rural production. The stopping and starting of our immigration programme would be very detrimental to the well-being of Australia.
It seems that when we say we need immigrants to fill our vast open spaces, some people contend that we will have no difficulty in defending our country. I should like to bring to the notice of the committee reports which have appeared in to-day’s press concerning Indonesia and the terrific outcry there to take over Dutch New Guinea. The feelings of those people are being worked up to such a frenzy that an attack on Dutch New Guinea might take place in the near future. What will Australia’s attitude be in the event of such an attack being made? A few Sundays ago one of our generals, when speaking on a television programme, mentioned that Australia will be greatly endangered by aggression from the north within ten or fifteen years. If we continue to go along as we are going now with our paucity of population and without developing Australia, we might as well give Australia away. I remind honorable senators that immigrants who have been brought to Australia have done a tremendous amount of developmental work. I do not speak with tongue in cheek. I honestly believe that a danger exists. At the present time we have less than 1 per cent, unemployed.
– That is official?
– Official and unofficial. I know from my own experience that a great number of the unemployed are married women. Any married woman who registers with the Commonwealth Employment Service for a full-time job, although her husband is working, is classified as unemployed until she obtains a position. A great many such married women are included in the number of people classified as unemployed at present. I do not like to see unemployment at all, but unemployment of less than 1 per cent, is not endangering our economic life. Although we have brought into this country over 1,000,000 immigrants, unemployment is less than 1 per cent., so our economy must be able to absorb immigrants. I should say that as the numbers of immigrants increase, so will the percentage of unemployment drop.
By a wise, forthright developmental programme, the Government can eliminate unemployment,, amongst either immigrants or our own nationals. We have tremendous potentialities. All we need is their development. If there are signs of a recession, it is up to the Government to organize developmental works in order to take up the slack. The Government can do that, even if it has to create finance for such works. As long as the works are developmental in character, the future will take care of the finance that is found. As I have said before in this chamber, such money would be returned a hundredfold in the future. A great number of examples can be found to support that contention.
I should not like to see the immigration programme curtailed in any way. I believe that the Government is doing a good job in immigration, but it should concentrate more on certain categories of immigrants, particularly skilled workers and rural workers. We are missing opportunities by not bringing out sufficient rural workers, because Australia’s economy is based almost solely on primary production. Without adequate primary production, developmental works cannot proceed, because for them we must have overseas funds, which can be earned only by the sale of our primary products overseas. I urge the Government to continue with its immigration programme and to forget about the short-sighted, foolish policy of stopping and starting. A slight breath of unemployment is no justification for stopping immigration or curtailing it in any way. That short-sighted, foolish policy could mean the finish of Australia as the democratic nation that we wish it to be.
– I thought I would take this opportunity to answer some of the important questions that have been asked during the debate. Senator Brown, who, I notice, is not here with us, said that I was very good at not answering questions. I thought that was rather unfair, coming from him, because he never waits to hear answers. He is not in the chamber now; he has not even had the courtesy to wait to hear the answers to the questions he asked. I thought that last night I answered every question that was asked in the three-hour debate on the departments for which I am responsible in this chamber. That was an unfair statement by Senator Brown. It is quite easy to make such a comment and then run away without even waiting to hear an answer. Therefore, I will not give him an answer; he is not in the running.
– Have you got one?
– Yes, I have one. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin is the only senator present . who has asked questions, so I shall proceed to answer her questions. She has always shown a very great interest in child migration and what happens to the children after they have come to Australia. This is an important point, because, after all, I think that most of us feel that the great hope for Australia lies in the children. Most of the immigrants who have come to Australia have come here for the purpose of giving their children a better future. The parents have in mind their children’s interests rather than their own.
Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin raised the matter of the reception and transit accommodation provided for British immigrants by the Commonwealth and the States in conjunction. The Commonwealth Government pays one-half the capital expenditure on those depots. The sum of £3,000 provided in the Estimates is to meet an account for £2,300 in respect of the Elder Park hostel in South Australia, and the balance of £700 is to cover contingencies.
The research vote which the honorable senator mentioned is for use by the Australian National University. I am sure that she will be interested in this matter. The plan is to interview immigrants before their departure from the United Kingdom in order to ascertain their expectations, and then to follow up the immigrants after arrival in Australia to see whether their expectations have been realized. If their expectations have not been realized, the research officers propose to ascertain the reasons, and to learn why some immigrants become dissatisfied and, in extreme cases, return to the United Kingdom. Knowledge of the causes of failures would help the department to plan measures to minimize such failures. That is very interesting research work, and the conclusions may be of great value to Australia.
The item “ Child migration, British and foreign, £50,000” in Division No. 227 is to cover the passage costs of 300 British migrant children during the financial year 1957-58. During the financial year 1956- 57, 262 British children arrived in Australia. These children are introduced to farm schools and other approved establishments controlled by denominational and non-denominational migration organizations.
Reference has been made to the item “Approved Child and Youth Organizations - Capital Grants - £2,500 “ under Division No. 227. I point out that at a Premiers conference in 1946 it was agreed that the State and Commonwealth Governments, together with the organizations concerned, would contribute equally to the cost of buildings for the accommodation of children brought to this country by these organizations. Most of the Commonwealth contributions have now been paid, but the provision of £2,500 has been included to meet any contingencies. These organizations provide ample accommodation for child immigrants.
asked a question relating to Division No. 139 - Royal Australian Naval Reserves. The amount provided for 1957- 58 is £128,000. The expenditure in 1956- 57 was £318,936. The decrease for 1957- 58 is therefore £190,936. That decrease is due to the decision to discontinue national service training in the
Royal Australian Navy. The estimated drilling reserve strengths at 1st July, 1957, are as follows: -
Royal Australian Naval Reserve (Sea-going) - 100.
Royal Australian Naval Reserve - 1,980.
Royal Australian Fleet Reserve (Retainers) - 110.
That makes a total of 2,190.
At 30th June, 1958, the figures will be-
Royal Australian Naval Reserve (Sea-going) - 110.
Royal Australian Naval Reserve - 2,210. .
Royal Australian Fleet Reserve (Retainers)- 130.
That is a total of 2,450. In addition the strength of the Navy League Sea Cadets will, it is estimated, increase from 1,370 at 1st July, 1957, to 1,430 at 30th June, 1958. These cadets receive no pay or allowances. Provision has been made for drill pay and retainers for members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve (Sea-going), and the Royal Australian Fleet Reserve. The provision made for the Royal Australian Naval Reserve is based on thirteen days’ continuous training, fifteen days’ home training, plus twelve days’ voluntary training.
I will answer the questions raised by other honorable senators when they are present in the chamber.
– I have considered the rosy picture painted by Senator Cole and honorable senators on the Government side concerning the immigration programme and the intake of people from various countries. My chief concern with regard to immigration is the capacity of our economy to absorb the migrants that are coming here, and to ensure that the arrival of people will not accentuate the existing housing shortage.
Whatever the source from which one takes figures on immigration to Australia, the trend is always in favour of non-British immigrants. Belatedly, the Government and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) have started a Bring-out-a-Briton campaign. There is a political reason for this. Mr. Townley has been shaken out of his smug complacency by the public criticism that has been levelled at the Government because of the large number of southern Europeans arriving in this country. Great harm has been done to the preservation of the traditional British character of Australia. Many of our early immigrants were British. In an endeavour to stifle public criticism and allay the concern that has been expressed at the strong bias of the immigration programme in favour of Europeans, the Government is now endeavouring to step up the intake of British migrants, but its efforts to date have completely failed. The campaign has not met with the response one would expect. The Menzies-Fadden Government has not faced up to its responsibility with regard to British immigrants.
I understand that part of the BringoutaBriton plan is for people in this country to look after these British immigrants until work is found for them. Senator Cole has said that only 1 per cent, of the people in this country is unemployed and that that figure should cause little concern. 1 reject that view. The man with a family who happens to be unemployed is 100 per cent, concerned.
– Senator Cole would be concerned if he was one of the 1 per cent.
– Yes, he would. The late High Commissioner for the United Kingdom made pointed reference to the dwindling percentage of British migrants arriving in Australia. I was present at a meeting of a returned soldiers’ organization and 1 heard the late High Commissioner comment strongly about this dwindling percentage. Figures given in Parliament disclose that the net intake of British migrants to June, 1956, was 32 per cent, of the total. It is known that the Department of Immigration juggles with the figures. That 32 per cent, includes Maltese, Cypriots and people returning from England after a somewhat protracted residence there. One reason for the failure of the campaign to bring out British settlers is the failure of the Government to keep the rosy promises that are made at Australia House concerning conditions in this country. Immigrants arrive here and find that there is no work for them. Recently in the press the Good Neighbour Council stated that there were 5,000 Hungarian refugees roaming around this country unable to get employment. These refugees were parking in the homes of relatives, who were finding it increasingly difficult to get rid of them. That has been stated publicly in the press, and it is a matter that calls for at least some investigation and rectification by the Government. I agree that the future strength of Australia is dependent on the unity of our people; but there can be no real unity if we depart from our strong family ties with Great Britain - England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Therefore, the real test of sincerity in the BringoutaBriton campaign faces the Government itself, whose scheme for mass immigration has led to the problem to which I have referred.
It is important in any immigration scheme that the picture painted for the intending emigrant, whether in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales or any other country, be a true picture. It is important that intending emigrants be not told that they will find employment immediately they land in Australia when, in fact, they may be ordered into camps for months, and in some cases for years. Present indications are that if the unemployment trend continues as it is to-day- immigrants will be in camps for considerable periods. It is most damaging to any immigration scheme to have intending emigrants given false information about conditions in the country to which they wish to go, and it’ is therefore* important that the Government’s immigration scheme should provide for intending emigrants to be told what conditions in this country actually are, so that they will not come here expecting to find employment and houses readily, and be disappointed.
The Mininster has said that few immigrants have returned to Great Britain. The fact is that great numbers of them have returned because of the unsatisfactory conditions they found here in comparison with the false picture that was painted for them in Great Britain about conditions in Australia. I hope that some action will be taken to remedy the position in order that immigration from the British Isles will be stepped up.
.- I wish to refer to the proposed vote for naval construction which, I note, is £5,833,000 - an increase of nearly 50 per cent, over last year’s vote. I am very glad to see that the Government has not been shaken by the panic merchants who have been declaring that the Navy is obsolete as a weapon. I ask the Minister what form the year’s naval construction is taking, and what class of vessels are being concentrated on. In this connexion, is it intended completely to modernize and refit the older aircraft carrier, H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “, which was recently put back into commission? Is the mirror landing aid fitted and, if not, are there any technical reasons why it should not be fitted to the older carrier?
We have heard quite a lot from honorable senators opposite to the effect that all we need for defence is an Air Force. The modern navy includes a mobile air force and mobile airfields, which is all that aircraft carriers are. These mobile airfields constitute an enormous striking force, can be moved from place to place and, in this atomic age, have very many advantages over land bases for fighting aircraft.
I note that the proposed vote for defence research and development in the Navy is £30,000 this year compared with £80,000 last year. Possibly this reduction of £50,000 in the vote is partly because of the* large amount of last year’s proposed vote which remained unexpended; but to the extent to which I am permitted to do so I would ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who represents here the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson), what progress has been made with guided torpedoes for the Royal Australian Navy and with the development for the Navy of ship-to-ship and ship-to-air guided rockets. I should like an assurance that the development of these weapons will not be prejudiced in any way by the cut in the proposed vote for defence research and development in the Navy.
– In referring to the estimates for the Department of Immigration I wish to. say that I do not agree with the somewhat caustic criticism that has been levelled against the department, particularly in regard to the figures for British immigration as contrasted with those for immigration from countries other than British countries. I think that all honorable senators receive invitations to attend the Australian Citizenship Convention, which is held in February each year. I have attended every convention to which I have been invited, and I suggest that any honorable senator who attended such a convention would get a new outlook on immigration, and certainly would find all these questions which have been raised in this chamber about immigration during this debate very effectively answered.
I think the Department of Immigration produces its figures regarding immigration intake in a very clear and comprehensive manner, and I have come to the conclusion that the attacks made on the department in conjunction with suggestions that the department’s figures are not correct emanate from people who discover that the figures do not tell the story that those people hoped they would tell. The comparable figures for Canada, South Africa and the other British dominions show quite clearly and conclusively that Australia is doing more in taking British immigrants than is any other dominion.
– That is only fitting.
– It is only fitting, and it means that the Department of Immigration has given this country the best record of any dominion in regard to British immigration.
The second thing I want to say is that I have never recognized that there was in the British Commonwealth of Nations a firstclass citizenship for people of Anglo-Saxon origin and a second-class citizenship for people from the island of Malta, or Ireland or other countries. I regret the sinister suggestion of racial prejudice that is brought into this matter by people who say, “ Well, of course, we will not include as British people those who come from countries that we do not particularly like “. After all, I did not hear of anybody objecting to the Maltese people when they were making that magnificent stand during the last war. There were no objections to them then. They were British subjects then, as they are now, and King George VI. rewarded them by awarding the island of Malta the George Cross. But it seems to me that once the war was over the gratitude disappeared. I regret the taint, or suggestion, that some people are to be regarded as British subjects, and others whom we may not like are not to be regarded as such.
The two main reasons why the figures for British emigration to Australia have not been as high as some people would like are, first, the fact that Australians are not sponsoring British immigrants in sufficient numbers. That is true, and nobody in the Senate denies it. The second reason is that the British Government does not want to lose many of its best people to the dominions.
Now, a speaker at the congress of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Hobart the other day made a complaint on that score. He said that we are not getting cooperation from the British Government in having these people come to the dominions. But why should we blame Great Britain for that? In the British Government’s place we also would want to keep our best people at home, just as the British Government wants to keep them to do the jobs that need to be done in Great Britain to ensure that country’s progress.
– Sir Thomas White said that there were 50,000 Britishers waiting to come to Australia but unable to get here.
– You people are blaming the British Government for wanting to keep its own people at home, when at present that government is importing immigrants from all the countries of Europe to fill vacant jobs in Britain. In addition, whereas the immigration of negroes from the West Indies into Britain six years ago was at the annual rate of only 1,000, the figure has increased now to between 25,000 and 30,000 a year. In Jamaica there are 50 agents and 150 sub-agents who arrange for the emigration of negroes into Britain. The reasons why more British immigrants are not coming to Australia are that first, Australians will not sponsor them; and secondly, the British Government does not want to lose many of its best citizens, even to help the dominions.
I am sorry that suggestions have been made of racial prejudice in regard to southern Europeans.
– You are the only one who is raising that.
– It has been raised time and time again by the Opposition. During the last war 0we fought against a dictator who suggested that northern Europeans were first-class people and southern Europeans were tenth-class people. Some of the discussions we have had in this chamber seem to smack of that kind of idea. Obviously, preference is given to British immigrants because they are our own people and we want them if we can get them; but if we cannot get them, let us judge an immigrant on what he is and not on his race or the country from which he comes. Is that not a Labour principle? Has it not been a Labour principle from the time the Labour party was founded, that all men are brothers? Has not the slogan been put before Labour men continually - “ Workers of the world, unite “T Is this suggestion, that some workers in the world are second-class people, in accordance with the original principles upon which Labour based its programme? During World War II. many American servicemen who came to Australia had Italian, Greek, German, Polish and Spanish names, but we did not say to the American service authorities, “ Will you please send home all the soldiers and sailors who have southern European names? “ We were very pleased to have them. In a few years’ time the children and grandchildren of new Australians will not be recognizable as being any different from our own.
A strong case has been made out regard- . ing unemployment. Since the war about 1,100,000 immigrants have arrived in Australia, and it is a counsel of defeat to say that because a few thousand have not been accommodated in jobs, “We will turn off the immigration tap “. I suppose Mr. Albert Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and a member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, would be an authority acceptable to the Opposition. He has said that immigration cannot be turned on and off like a tap.
– The Government is doing that.
– I do not think it is.
– It is reducing the intake.
– I believe Mr. Monk is right in supporting the existing immigration programme. If he is satisfied - and there does not seem to be any powerful move in the trade unions to disagree with him - then I am prepared to accept his view. At the last Citizenship Convention I heard such authorities as Sir Ian Clunies-Ross and Professor Copland say that the next ten years will be the greatest period of progress in Australia’s history, provided we do not lack confidence in Australia’s future. They said we were facing a period of intense development, particularly, in regard to our mineral production, and that interference with the immigration programme would adversely affect Australia’s development.
Difficulties exist with regard to housing, but that has always been so. When my father came to this country, he did not move immediately into a modern, selfcontained house or flat. When our forefathers came to this country they had to do a certain amount of pioneering, and many of them are proud of the pioneering they did. The housing position would be infinitely worse if the labour force supplied by immigrants was not available, particularly in the brick, tile, timber, steel and other industries.
I agree with Senator Kennelly that minimum health standards must be set. I do not know that the department has been lax in its standards, but I suppose that the privations endured on the Continent have caused weaknesses in some immigrants which were not readily noticeable overseas, but became apparent when those people were subjected to the stresses and strains of living in a strange land. I think the department has been very wise in its administration. There have been regrettable cases in which sons and husbands have been unable to arrange entry into Australia for mothers and wives, and I have often felt sympathetic towards those people; but experts who know the department have said, “ If you look at the files you will find we do not make many mistakes “. I am prepared to believe that the department is doing a very good job in the circumstances.
Recently, I read a statement by Mr. Calwell, who, when Minister for Immigration, played a big part in initiating the present immigration programme. Addressing a meeting of Italians in Northcote, he said he hoped to see a lot more of their people in Australia. But that seems to be in contrast with the attitude of members of his party in this chamber.
– That is not true.
– Mention was made to-day of difficulty in obtaining figures from the Department of Immigration, but it is even more difficult to find out, fairly and squarely, where the Opposition stands in regard to immigration.
– Senator Ashley raised the matter of the number of unemployed Hungarians in Australia. I can inform him that as at 9.30 o’clock this morning 290 Hungarians are in centres awaiting placement in employment. Of that number, 175 arrived less than one month ago, and 61 arrived between one and two months ago. All told, over 10,000 Hungarians have arrived in Australia, and if the committee does not think that is a good record, they are not being fair to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley), or to his department. These people came to Australia because of an emergency which arose suddenly in Europe. Only 290 are awaiting employment. Of that number, 175 have been in Australia less than one month and 60 have been here for less than two months. That is the proportion awaiting employment of the 10,000 Hungarians who came to us out of the blue because of persecution in Hungary. If honorable senators opposite are not prepared to give full marks to the Department of Immigration for its work on behalf of these Hungarians, they are so unfair and biased that they would not give good marks to anybody.
Senator Ashley referred to the proportion of British immigrants coming to Australia and to the Bring-out-a-Briton campaign. Contrary to what the honorable senator has said, the proportion of British immigrants coming to Australia is not dwindling, but is rising. The publicity associated with the Bring-out-a-Briton campaign has resulted in a 60 per cent, increase in personal nominations of British immigrants. More than 100 Bring-out-a-Briton committees have been formed throughout Australia.
– Having regard to the previous figures, it would not be difficult to increase the proportion of British immigrants.
– Senator Ashley has said that he has not been given the figures he sought. I am giving them to him now because I thought he was interested in this matter. The fact is that the percentage of British immigrants is rising, not falling. I had some replies to questions that were asked by Senator Brown, but as he does not appear to be in the chamber, I will not answer them now.
– I am here.
– Senator Brown is not in his usual seat, and I did not notice him. He asked for information about the provision of £95,000 under Division No. 118 - Overseas Transfers. That vote is to cover the cost of moving departmental officers to and from Australia in connexion with tours of duty at immigration posts overseas. It is usual for officers to serve a term of three years abroad. Expenditure under this heading is to cover the cost of fares, travelling allowances and expenses in the transport of the officers and their families. It so happens that a considerable number of officers are due for return to Australia in this financial year. That is the reason for the increase in the proposed vote compared with last year.
– Am I to understand that the debate on the proposed votes before the committee will be concluded within a few minutes?
– That is correct.
– I am sorry about that because I have several matters to which I wish to direct attention, but I cannot do justice to them in the time available. I want to speak about immigration generally. I have noticed that quite a good deal of organizational work has been done in various countries, but I have not noticed any attempts to explore the possibility of bringing to Australia immigrants from Norway, Sweden or Denmark. I believe that we might explore that field. My association with persons from those countries who have come to Australia has been most happy. They are excellent types of immigrants. I agree entirely with all that has been said about attempts to bring British immigrants to Australia.
– Order! The time alloted for the consideration of the proposed votes at present before the Chair has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 3 agreed to.
Postponed clause 4 (Appropriation of supply £534,462,000).
. -This is the operative clause of the bill and through it, from the point of view of the law, we shall carry into effect all of the past four and a half days’ consideration, if that is a word that one can properly apply to the debate. I should like to be instructed, Mr. Chairman, as to whether there is any time limitation in speaking to this clause.
– The Committee stage for the bill will conclude at 12.10 p.m.
– I rose to speak briefly because I thought that we should clarify in our minds just what we are doing. This clause gives effect, as a matter of law-making, to the appropriation of the amounts which are specifically detailed in the schedules to the bill. We have had experience of an abrupt limitation of time on this debate. To me it is a matter for great misgiving that a debate which proved to be so interesting and spirited was not allowed to run much longer, so as to permit earnest consideration of the Estimates. It has been a great advantage to have had before us information supplied by every department on Commonwealth Government activities.
I just wish to mention two matters which time did not permit us to consider previously. The Auditor-General’s report has revealed that the accounting procedures of the Army need great improvement and that proper legislative provision should be made for securing the safe custody of Commonwealth moneys and properties by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. Strictures of existing porcedures have been made by the Auditor-General over a number of years. I believe it is not necessary for me, in this committee, to dwell more fully upon that matter than make a passing reference to it. As a result of the consultations the Minister has been good enough to arrange, I am assured proposals are in hand to bring forward in the Parliament legislation which will include provisions thought to be proper to remedy that position. As that legislation will afford * us an opportunity to consider that specific matter, I do not wish now to occupy more of the time of the committee. My only purpose in rising was to enable us to clarify the procedure that is being followed and to explain my conception of the operation of clause 4 because, in the mists that prevailed when the committee began its consideration it seemed to me to be an advantage to understand that this clause gives legal operation to the whole bill, including the votes that are specifically set out in the Schedule.
– It is true, as Senator Wright has pointed out, that clause 4 is the legal operative clause of the bill. Let us have a look at what has happened during the past four days. By passing clause 4, we shall give legal sanction to the expenditure of the total amount of money involved in the Estimates. Due to the Government’s use of the “ guillotine “, there has been no discussion on the proposed votes of £15,318,000 for the Department of Supply, £12,372,000 for the Department of Defence production, and £4,207,000 for the Commonwealth Railways - a total of £31,897,000.
When the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) announced that the “ guillotine “ would be used, he stated that the committee would have an hour or so longer to consider the proposed votes than it had last year. Clearly, that statement by the Minister showed that insufficient time was provided for the consideration of this important measure. Most of the time of the committee this morning has been devoted to a consideration of the proposed vote for the Department of Immigration. As far as I can remember, only one speaker addressed his remarks to the proposed vote for the Department of the Navy.
I repeat what I have said on other occasions that a new procedure should be adopted which will ensure that honorable senators will be afforded more time to consider the Estimates; we cannot continue in the present fashion to authorize the expenditure of vast sums of money. The debate on an appropriation bill provides’ honorable senators with an opportunity to obtain information on many items of expenditure in which they are particularly interested. I am not criticizing the departmental officers who have remained in the precincts during this week in order to advise the Ministers on various points raised, but I. think the Ministers should have time to answer’ fully all questions that are asked by honorable senators relating to the Estimates. The Minister for National Development said, I think, that we would have a total of 32 hours in which to consider the proposed votes.
– The figure was 35 hours.
– But there have been some interruptions.
– Due to the Opposition.
– Nevertheless, I contend that insufficient time was allotted for the consideration of the bill. As I understand that the Senate will not sit next week, there is no reason why more time could not have been allowed for this debate. Having read the report of the debate on the Estimates in another place, I am sure that the Senate has nothing of which to be ashamed in this matter.
– Hear, hear!
– lt has nothing at all to be ashamed of. Many honorable senators have elicited from the respective Ministers much information concerning the various departments. I do not think that any honorable senator would quarrel with the Ministers about the answers that were given; our complaint is against the shortness of time allowed.
I should like again to voice, on behalf of my colleagues, a protest against the use of the “ guillotine “. There was no need at all for that course to be taken to curtail discussion. Why should not the Senate have been kept in session instead of knocking off for a week? The Western Australian Grant (Water Supply) Bill 1957 is on the noticepaper awaiting our attention. I know that it may be tedious to some honorable senators to sit through a lengthy debate, but the people expect us to consider these matters fully. If honorable senators want to obtain information concerning government expenditure, they should not be prevented from getting it by the limitation of time for the debate. Why should not honorable senators be informed fully on the subject that has been freely discussed this morning? If they cannot get the information they seek during this debate, they will have to take advantage of other procedures of the Parliament in order to obtain it.
I want the Minister to take notice of our protest that we have not had sufficient time to consider this bill. It is not good enough for him to say that the committee has had longer this year than in recent years to consider the many provisions of the bill. I do not know whether the Minister meant to imply that more time had been allotted this year than ever previously, or whether his statement referred only to the last few years. It is a matter for regret that, due to the severe limitation of time, certain items were not considered at all, while others were only scratchily alluded to.
I cannot emphasize too strongly my belief that there was no logical reason why the “ guillotine “ should have been used on this occasion. Every honorable senator should have been afforded ample opportunity to ask in short speeches for details of government expenditure and to express his views fully if he considered that Commonwealth money was not being expended to the best advantage. After all, this is the one occasion in the parliamentary year when honorable senators should be able to obtain from Ministers details of all aspects of the expenditure of Commonwealth money.
It is perfectly obvious that the time allowed this year was insufficient. I trust that in future, particularly next year, when the Government will still be in office - the subsequent years can look after themselves - much more time will be made available to honorable senators to consider appropriation bills. I believe it is the desireof all of us to do the nation’s work to the best of our ability; honorable senators should not be slammed down by the unnecessary use of the “ guillotine “. I put those views and hope that some consideration will be given to them.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the bill in committee has expired. The question is that postponed clauses 4 and 5, postponed First Schedule and Title be agreed to.
– Mr. Chairman-
– Is the honorable senator raising a point of order?
– No. I wish to speak to clause 5.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of clause 5 has expired.
Postponed clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Postponed First Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– It is, of course, possible to move that the bill be recommitted, but I wish to draw attention to what has taken place. The proper procedure would be to send the bill back to the committee with an instruction from the Senate as to what should be done. The Senate gave orders to the committee to consider the bill, but the committee departed from the orders in several ways. The Standing Orders which apply to the consideration in committee of a bill that cannot be amended by this chamber were not suspended, but the procedure laid down by those Standing Orders was not followed.
Because the Government applied the “ guillotine “ the committee was unable to deal with items relating to the Department of Supply. The committee should be given an opportunity to deal with those items. The Auditor-General has made some scathing comments about the Department of Supply, but the committee has not been given an opportunity to discuss that department. Consequently, an amount of £15,000,000 will be shown as having been passed by this House, but honorable senators have not discussed it because of the application of the “ guillotine “. Furthermore, the vote for the Department of Defence Production was £12,372,000, and the Auditor-General has made some very scathing comments about the administration of that department. Yet the committee has not had an opportunity to discuss it.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the bill has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Mr. President-
– Order! The time allotted for the third reading has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page 820), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill covers the estimates of expenditure for capital works and services amounting to £121,368,000. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that the bill appropriated £35,000,000 for war service homes, which is £5,000,000 more than the amount made available last year. He stated further that the bill included £34,000,000 for post office works and equipment. The question of using revenue instead of loan funds for capital purposes has been raised previously. My respected leader has mentioned it time and time again. The biggest doubt of all is whether sufficient loan money could be raised for all capital works. Therefore, because of the attitude of the Government to the loan market, if revenue is not used for this purpose, the work would not be done. We will all have an opportunity to discuss items included in the works programme during the committee stage and, having that in mind, I see no good purpose in continuing the debate at this stage.
.- This bill comes before us as a separate measure to appropriate moneys specifically for works and services of a capital nature. The Constitution refers to this as an appropriation for services other than the ordinary annual services of government. I state my understanding of the position only because I have heard it recently challenged in high places. My understanding is that by virtue of the Constitution we are guaranteed separate consideration of this measure. In dealing with this measure, the Senate has a full right to amend any proposed vote so long as the amendment would not increase the burden on the people. That is in marked contrast with the Senate’s rights in dealing with the bill that has just been passed for the appropriation of moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The Senate had no right to amend that bill, but it did have a right to make requests for amendments. If we were resolute in maintaining the traditions we have inherited, shown in the divisions of the Senate in past years, we could repeat such requests until we were satisfied with the answers we obtained, either in conference with the other House or without such a conference.
I do not pose as the possessor of special information upon these matters. I would, so to speak, go down the mine willingly with Senator Scott in order to absorb any special information that he may have. All I wish to do is to try to restate, for the purposes of the record, that the Senate has. in relation to this bill, complete power of amendment, so long as the amendments would not increase the burden on the people.
The bill seeks an appropriation of £121,000,000, which is a few millions of pounds in excess of the sum sought for these purposes last year. As Senator Kennelly said, the appropriation sought now is for Commonwealth capital works and services. I think it is well to remind ourselves that when the Australian Loan Council was constituted it was expected to raise, by way of loans, sufficient money, not only for the capital works of the Commonwealth, but also for those of the States. Due to a process which has been operating now for some twelve or thirteen years, and which seems to be accepted just on assumption, the Parliament is now providing from revenue finance for the whole of the Commonwealth capital works. I believe that that is an issue to which the Senate can fruitfully direct its thoughts.
I start with the proposition that revenue is available to a government so long as the people will permit it to take money from them for the purpose of carrying on the administration of the country. Perhaps I am conservative and outmoded in my outlook, but my view is that the party to which I belong has pledged itself jealously to guard the savings of the people, represented in capital form in a variety of investments, sometimes in deposits in a savings bank, sometimes in Commonwealth stock, sometimes in shares and sometimes in a house, a farm or a factory. A principle of public finance for which many people have contended strenuously is that the capital savings of the people shall be protected from the inroads of taxation, even when the taxes are imposed by the most democratic parliament. Capita] savings have been regarded as not being a subject for taxation.
We have abandoned this principle in one field by imposing estate duty, probably because the time chosen for the exaction of the duty is such that the victim has no lively opportunity for retaliation. Let me make one further observation. In 1942, when the mouth of the Treasury was opened very wide to swallow increased income taxes, imposed on a uniform basis, the government of the day introduced, as, so to speak, a watchdog for income taxation and estate taxation, a further capital tax in the form of gift duty. The punitive nature of that tax militated against the proper distribution of property among families. It militated, in particular, against one section of the community, the farming section. Farmers neglect to debit their annual earnings with debts arising from services rendered by a son, but now, when a farmer wishes to transfer his farm to his son in repayment for the son’s work, he knows that the Taxation Branch will classify the transfer as a gift, on which duty must be paid. So the gift duty is preventing the proper distribution of family property. It is a great misfortune for the community that there is this deterrent to the widespread distribution of property among individuals who, by the possession of property and by the independence of justice, are guaranteed the individual rights that constitute (he British way of life. Apart from the imposition of estate duty and gift duty, wc have set our faces steadfastly against capital taxes.
However, what is the position when a government does not finance capital works from loans freely raised - not, as in the seventeenth century, forcibly raised - but finances those works from revenue taken from the people by taxation? That government is preventing people from providing for their independence in old age - an independence much to be valued. Over and above the provision which I have heard, without dissent on my part, described in this chamber as a great social improvement - the provision of public finance to assist the construction of homes for aged people who are not independent - we are, by this policy of financing public works from revenue, increasing taxation by £120,000,000 a year. In my philosophy of politics, the individual members of the community should be entitled to save that amount. If the failure of the loan market, whether justifiable or not, prevents the raising of the money required for the financing of public works, then we have to face the situation four-square and admit that we are adopting a system of taxation of savings, even though we are intercepting those savings before they pass from the ready-money pocket of the individual to a reserve account in a savings bank. For these savings so taken each individual should be entitled to a development bond, or to some credit note which could be passed into the Treasury in payment of estate duty. I am disappointed that there has been no thoughtful analysis of the position that I have come across, and that no Minister, on whose ears I have obtruded this now tedious argument from time to time, has been good enough to refer me in any answer to an intelligent analysis that justifies its continuance.
But the position does not stay there. I have pointed out recently that, over the last six years, in addition to money for Commonwealth works, £458,000,000 has been appropriated out of Commonwealth revenues to supplement the deficiency of the loan market in respect of State works. That shows that something of the order of from £1,000,000,000 to £1,200,000,000 has probably been appropriated over the last six or seven years from the savings of the individual person to public ownership under this system. I hope this is not too rough an estimate; I just make it mentally whilst I am on my feet. I believe that the independence of our people derives, first, from the possession of private property, and, secondly, from the independence of the judicial system, it having a rule of law not a discretion of an official, by which to guard the rights of the individual.
In furtherance of my argument, and more particularly associated with the purposes of the bill, I now turn to another matter which I regard as of vital importance to this Parliament’s consideration of bills making provision for capital works and services. I refer to the processes that we have failed to set up adequately to give parliamentary supervision to these projects. I at once make it as clear as words can that I feel that Parliament is indebted to those of its members who have been willing to assume the responsibility of membership of the Public Works Committee over the years and who have fulfilled the functions of that committee, within the limits of its authority as set down by the legislation.
I lament that the limits of the authority of that committee leave it without sufficient power to be an ample and complete protector of this Parliament’s scrutiny of capital works. I come from a State which rejoices in the existence of a Public Works Committee to which must be referred every public works programme involving an expenditure over and above a certain figure. I think that, since the recent rises in costs, that figure is now set at £25,000. Let me say for the consideration of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), in particular, that we created a hydro-electric commission in Tasmnaia and gave it some independence from Parliament to develop the great hydro-electric potential of Tasmania. I think that potential, even now, is only about one-third developed. Although the Hydro-electric Commission is not subject to the Public Works Committee Act, the Tasmanian Parliament decided, by section 16 of the Hydro-Electric Commission Act -
Before any proposals for any new power development are submitted to Parliament in accordance with this section the Commission shall furnish the Minister with a report on the new power development, setting out, so far as is practicable -
the opinion of the Commission as to the necessity or desirability of a new power development, together with its recommendation thereto, and the reasons on which those recommendations are based;
the nature of the new power development;
the estimated cost of the new power development;
the Commission’s proposals for the financing of the new power develop ment . . .
the annual amount proposed to be set aside by way of sinking fund for the redemption of loans to be raised for the proposed works;
the estimated annual cost of working, maintenance, depreciation, and interest; and
the annual revenue likely to be derived from the new power development.
That section also provides that no new power development shall be undertaken or constructed by the commission unless and until it has been authorized by Parliament. Each power development comes to Parliament for specific approval, and is accompanied by a report of that responsible nature.
May I refer, in passing, to a matter in which Senator Gorton has shown special interest in this Senate of recent years? I refer to the fact that the act relating to this public works constructing authority, the Tasmanian Hydro-electric Commission, answered the problem of the relationship of these statutory authorities to the Parliament by providing that -
In any case where either House of Parliament orders any return to be made relating to the operation, business and affairs of the Commission, the Minister shall comply with the order of the House.
That is in marked contrast with the position which has developed under the aegis of Mr. Herbert Morrison and his colleagues, he being one of the philosophers of this principle, not one of its initiators, and his appreciation of the problem that has developed in relation to the nationalized undertakings in England.
If you will excuse that slight diversion, Mr. President, I proceed to say that the act governing the Hydro-electric Commission of Tasmania is a splendid illustration of the care taken to insist that before the State Parliament is to vote for authorized public works the proposal goes to the Public Works Committee, or, if a statutory authority is involved, to parliament on a special report from that authority.
The present position in Commonwealth parliamentary procedures, if I understand it aright - I hope honorable senators will correct me if I am in error - is that only those projects which are either the subject of a resolution of the House of Representatives or the subject of a direction of the Governor-General, which, of course, means in reality the Minister for Works, are referred to the Public Works Committee.
But that has not always been the position. The Public Works Committee was set up in 1913, and the legislation required that all public works projects involving an expenditure of more than, I think, £25,000, except only defence works and, I think, another bracket capable of exemption by proclamation, be referred to the Public Works Committee. Then a change occurred, and, as I understand the references in the “ Hansard “ report, the act was suspended.
I think honorable senators will be interested to refer to the “ Hansard “ report of the 1936 debates when an amendment of the Public Works Committee Act came before both Houses of the Parliament. The debate in the House of Representatives consisted of two speeches. Actually, I think it is an error to call the second one a speech; it was just an assent. Sir George Pearce introduced the measure in this chamber and 1 rather think that the tail of his speech bears evidence of his parliamentary experience. At the end of his speech he diverted attention from the substantial provisions of the bill by a sudden reference to the members of this chamber who were being nominated to act on the committee. I think it was Senator Collings who made the speech in reply, and he addressed himself only to the question of personnel. The fact is that that amendment of 1936 really torpedoed this committee. Instead of permitting a legislative requirement for all works to be referred to the committee, the amendment substituted a provision authorizing a reference to the committee, by resolution of the House of Representatives, either by virtue of that act or the 1951 amendment, at the direction of the Minister.
I want to make two points in relation to that matter after providing the committee with information which my inquiries, this morning, have revealed. In the civil works programme for 1957-58 with which the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall) was good enough to provide us for the further understanding of the schedules of this bill, appear the following items: -
My information is that in respect of none of these works has there been any parliamentary scrutiny by the Public Works
Committee. I believe that it would be a great credit to the Parliament if it gave this committee increased authority for the purpose, not of complimenting it, but of placing on it specific responsibility to under* take a parliamentary scrutiny of these projects.
– It would do better work than the Public Accounts Committee.
– I think that Senator Hannaford is right. It has been doing good work and, under my proposal, it would do better work. If anybody thinks that it would be overloaded by the volume of work and that the members could not afford the time to consider additional matters as well as performing their other parliamentary duties, there is nothing, in principle, I suggest, that would prevent the constitution of two committees.
I wish that Senator Cooke were in the chamber because my argument is not based merely on theory, and in view of the restricted ambit of the committee’s authority, I challenge what Senator Cooke said in this place the other day in derogation of the work of the committee. He said that it effectuated nothing and that the Minister took no notice of it, or words to that effect. I have been supplied with information which is just by way of illustration and which does not constitute a complete schedule of the works concerned. In 1954 the committee reported on the proposed Commonwealth centre in Melbourne, the estimated cost of which was £1,282,500. I hope that the Senate will forgive the full recital of the figures, but it is best to have figures recorded accurately. The following works have also been referred to the committee in recent years: -
My information is that reports have already been received on the two items which were referred to the committee only this year, and that action has been taken as a result of the approval of them. I understand that the committee’s recommendation in respect of every item that I have mentioned has been approved by the Minister. This information shows that the committee, within the restricted limits of its authority, is doing remarkably good work on behalf of this Parliament. I, who have not participated in its work, wish to express my measure of gratitude for the assumption of responsibility by the members of the committee and for the work they have done.
I plead that real consideration be given to the restoration of the Public Works Committee’s authority to embrace all public works programmes - other than, if it is so desired, urgent defence programmes - costing above a certain limit which I would leave to more practical people to specify. I have heard it suggested in this chamber that the figure would be £250,000. I would not think that it would be an insult to the committee to have thrust upon it projects which were estimated to cost above £250,000.
Will you permit me, Mr. President, to add one further thing? If the present situation with regard to the reference of works to the committee continues, that is to say if they are referred by vote of a House of the Parliament or by the Minister, I can see no reason why it is not within the competence of the Senate, by resolution, to refer to the committee a project which has come to us for scrutiny. I know that this would affect the original intention that the appropriation of money for these works should be the prime responsibility and prerogative of the Minister who controls them. But we have power to amend legislation in relation to these works and I see no reason, at the moment, why the Senate should not have the right to refer to the Public Works Committee such works as may come before it, or such works as may be expected to come before it. The Melbourne television studios, the estimated cost of which is £609,000, is a case in point.
I hope that that situation will be avoided and that the law will require the reference of all these public works projects, with the exceptions that I have mentioned, such as urgent defence projects and those that are to cost less than £250,000, to the committee before public money is appropriated by the Parliament at Budget-time. I think that that course is essential and that it would place a further hurdle in the way of gerrymandering. We speak of such matters only in principle, of course. I have heard no suggestion of anything of that kind in relation to public works since I have been in this Parliament, but the possibility of it needs to be foreseen, and only by closing the loopholes is it prevented and many good men saved from ruin. 1 think it will be admitted that in a committee of the whole House, while a bill of this kind is being debated, even though the time for debate may be unlimited, we have neither the opportunity nor the ability to scrutinize a project in the practical way that that can be done by a committee, such as the Public Works Committee, which has direct access to the responsible officers. I hope, therefore, that this suggestion will recommend itself to the Parliament.
– At the outset, I pay a tribute to Senator Wright for the case that he has presented in connexion with public works. It was stated most eloquently, and in my opinion is unanswerable. I hope that the members of the Cabinet on the Government side of the chamber will make it their business to raise this matter with the Cabinet, that being the appropriate level, with the object of having the act reviewed along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. It is comforting to note that quite a number of the projects covered by the civil works programme which has been presented to the Parliament by the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall) have been examined thoroughly by the Public Works Committee and have been recommended.
We may rest assured, therefore, that even though the time for debate of this bill in the Senate has been restricted, there are available comprehensive reports for any honorable senator to examine. If those reports covered the whole field of major works projects, the Senate could be doubly assured, but unfortunately, as Senater Wright has pointed out, many major projects are being undertaken without reference to the Public Works Committee, or any scrutiny by it, thereby leaving room for criticism that government departments have not placed on record the purpose and the details of expenditure of Commonwealth funds which, in the final analysis, are the funds of the taxpayers. Therefore, I hope that the speech that has been made by Senator Wright, and the remarks in this connexion of other honorable senators, including Senators Maher and Cooke, will be brought to the notice of the Cabinet. I trust that these speeches will result in something being done this year, so that by the time the appropriations come before us next year, it will be evident that major expenditure of public money by departments has been backed by comprehensive and reliable reports from the Public Works Committee.
The bill before the Senate provides for the apropriation of £35,000,000 for expenditure on war service homes, an increase of £5,000,000 on last year’s appropriation. Although this is a vast sum of money, its expenditure represents no more than the honouring of a promise that eligible exservicemen would be provided with homes. I believe that we have got into a rut in our thinking on this problem and that we tend to accept the inordinate delay that occurs between the making of an application and the granting of an advance as a part of the policy of the War Service Homes Division. If an applicant for an advance has to wait, say, fifteen months, it is likely that he will be driven into the hands of some other financing organization. Some of the stories that I have heard about the methods adopted by people to obtain finance during this waiting period have been heart-rending. I hope that the Government will appreciate that this delay is most frustrating for ex-servicemen. After all, many of these ex-servicemen are no longer young. In fact, a good proportion of them are now middle-aged. As we get older, the years seem to pass more quickly, and fifteen months seems an inordinately long time to wait for an advance.
Another aspect of this long delay is that some of the people who have to wait go to financial institutions and obtain a mortgage with a view to purchasing the home later through the War Service Homes Division.
The Government, in its wisdom or shortsightedness - I think the latter - has provided that the War Service Homes Division shall not redeem existing mortgages. This provision inflicts hardship on exservicemen who show initiative and purchase homes with the assistance of a mortgage from a bank or other financial institution. I believe that the Government was shortsighted when it told the general public, in effect, that funds simply were not available to build war service homes and more or less suggested that ex-servicemen should go elsewhere to obtain financial assistance. In those circumstances, it seems to me that those ex-servicemen who went elsewhere are just as entitled to the benefits of the War Service Homes Act as are other exservicemen. The division should look into this matter thoroughly, with a view, particularly, to redeeming existing mortgages in the most deserving cases. It is probable that the amount of money involved would not be very great, and after all, the division must be receiving a tremendous amount annually by way of repayments from ex-servicemen . who are paying off their indebtedness. I hope that the policy of refusing to redeem existing mortgages will be reviewed, because it is precluding ex-servicemen from obtaining the benefits of the War Service Homes Act.
The maximum advance of £2,750 that the division will make has been discussed widely in recent times. Because of continually rising costs, this amount is now inadequate and does not give exservicemen the opportunity to obtain homes of a reasonable standard.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the War Service Homes Division and the necessity to adopt a different approach to the question of discharging existing mortgages on homes that applicants wish to purchase through the division. I hope the Minister will consider sympathetically special cases that are presented to him for the discharge by the division of existing mortgages.
I shall briefly touch on one other most important matter. It is with great pleasure that I notice that a further amount of £600,000 has been allocated for rail standardization in South Australia. This move on the Commonwealth level for rail standardization is one of the landmarks of our generation. The work is at present being carried out in South Australia, and a move has been made to commence another rail standardization project on the line between Albury and Melbourne. I suppose no other problem has been crying out so loudly for attention on a national basis than that of rail standardization, which is the key to and the essence of our defence, our national development and our economy. For too long the Australian community and the Australian economy have had visited upon them the sins of our forefathers who, because of economic circumstances, found it expedient to construct railways of different gauges. Other countries have had similar transport problems and have evolved national plans for solving them. The countries of Europe have managed, even on an international basis, to overcome the difficulty, and goods may now be transported between those countries on standard gauge railways.
It appears that the railway, particularly since the development of diesel electric locomotives, is still, and will be for a long time, the most economical means of transporting materials in bulk. Our road problem is a tremendous one. We have not made provision for heavy road transport, and until we enter a peaceful era in which we can divert our national wealth to projects such as road construction, instead of letting it flow down the endless drain of defence, we cannot tackle our road problem in a satisfactory manner. We must, therefore, at least maintain our other heavy transport system, and to that end it is necessary to standardize rail gauges throughout Australia. That is the job of this Govern ment. It has been the responsibility of other governments over the years, but they have always found some reason for being unable to undertake the job. I commend the Government for having gone as far as making an agreement with the Victorian Government so that rail standardization may be undertaken in that State. I hope that the work will be commenced immediately so as to ease the unemployment problem that faces the Victorian railways.
The job of connecting all States with standard-gauge railways must be done on a national level. It will call for vision, foresight and courage on the part of the Government. Whichever Minister grapples with the problem and initiates a plan that results in a successful solution of the rail standardization problem will go down in the history of this country as a great man. 1 put it fairly and squarely to the Minister that he should be that man. I hope that before long he will be able to take the credit for having successfully standardized Australian railways.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- On page 10 of the works programme circulated by the Minister, I notice, under the Department of the Interior, an amount allocated for the new Commonwealth offices in Melbourne. I ask the Minister whether any preliminary work is being done on the second stage of the Commonwealth offices block. If so, has it reached the stage of calling tenders, or is it contemplated that in the near future tenders will be called?
– I am told that the first stage is under construction, but that no action has yet been taken in respect of the second stage.
– I trust that before the first stage is completed some preliminary work will be done on the second stage. I think that everybody in Melbourne is delighted to know that at last a block of Commonwealth buildings will be provided ?n that city. The Commonwealth is paying vast sums of money for rented premises in various parts of Melbourne, and I hope that the department will make plans to commence the second stage of the project before the first block of Commonwealth offices is completed.
I come now to page 12 of the programme, on which there is a mention, under the Department of Works, of the erection of a store building in Port Melbourne. The amount allocated is £25,000. I should like to know whether this building is to be erected on Commonwealth land or on State land.
– My information is that the building is being erected upon Commonwealth-owned property.
.- I wish to refer to Division No. 52, Commonwealth Railways. I notice that the ; projects covered by this proposed vote do not include the standardization of the line between Melbourne and Wodonga. I ask the Minister to give us an explanation of this. Will he also say what financial arrangement has been or is being made with the State of Victoria, through which this line runs?
Having propounded that request for information, I though I would be expressing the general will of the committee if I paused to say that, in my view, the Parliament has received a sterling contribution to statesmanship in the report that has been submitted to us by the committee of which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was chairman. That report, because of its breadth of vision in relation to the future and its practical co-ordination of presentday circumstances, is one of the stimulating documents of the year, and is the result of the comprehensive understanding and capacity of expression of the honorable member. Let me express ungrudgingly my appreciation of the sterling contribution that is made by that report.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to relate his remarks to the proposed votes now before the committee.
– I am referring to the proposed vote for Commonwealth railways, which are being made so much better as a result of the efforts of W. C. Wentworth. Of course, those efforts would have been ineffectual without the ready and valuable reception of a perceptive Minister.
.- In the civil works programme of the Department of the Interior, provision is made for the expenditure of £5,445,000 on the erection in Canberra of 960 houses and 250 flats. We do not know what kind of buildings these will be. I should like to know whether they are being erected on a costplus basis or by flat tender.
– I take advantage of this opportunity to reply, briefly, to Senator Wright. No provision is made in the Estimates that are now before the committee for the Wodonga-Melbourne railway line. The reason is that when the Budget was presented, a considerable amount of work remained to be done before agreement was reached with the Victorian Government. The Victorian Government, which will be the constructing authority, had considerable doubt as to how much could be spent. There is no doubt that money will be provided this year as required. It has been made perfectly clear to the Victorian Government that money will be provided in supplementary estimates as soon as the agreement is signed and the work is put in hand. To have included in the Estimates now before us a sum which subsequently might have proved to be inaccurate would not have been the best approach, particularly as there was this firm undertaking to have the money provided in supplementary estimates.
The Commonwealth will find, initially, all the capital that is required, and, over a period of 50 years, the Victorian Government and the New South Wales Government, between them - this is now the subject of negotiation - will refund 30 per cent, of the total Commonwealth advance. This arrangement is similar in many respects to the South Australian railways agreement.
– In reply to Senator Kennelly’s question, the houses that are to be erected in Canberra will be built on the basis of a firm price tender.
.- I should like to direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), who represents the Postmaster-General in this chamber. I have just received a copy of the bill, and I have been examining it to see whether provision has been made for the erection of a new general post office in Brisbane. A new building has been promised for almost 25 years. Can the Minister tell me whether the project is still only a thought in the minds of those who are responsible or whether there is any likelihood of its being built in the near future?
– No provision has been made in this year’s Estimates for the erection of a new general post office in Brisbane.
.- I rise to ask the committee to consider the proposed vote for the Postmaster-General’: Department. In addition to the provision of approximately £90,000,000 from revenue for the ordinary services of the postal department, we are now asked to approve a further vote of £34,380,000. Of that sum, £22,600,000 is for the telephone exchange services, £6,000,000 for trunk line services, and £1,400,000 for telegraph and miscellaneous services. If one looks a! the schedule of works, one will see a terrific variety pf projects for which this huge organization becomes responsible. However, I do not intend to canvass the merits or demerits of any of them.
We had occasion recently to refer to the expansion of the activities of the Post Office. We have all had experience of the fact that the inadequacy of supplies is retarding the satisfying of the ever-increasing requirements of the public. May I be permitted to say that Sir Giles Chippindall^ statements from time to time about the way in which Post Office methods are being kept abreast of modern scientific developments fill a person like myself, who possesses only a superficial appreciation of these things, with confidence - prima facie, at any rate.
But there have been quite a number of references to the activities of the Post Office in recent reports of the Auditor-General, who, we noted yesterday, is embarking upon an examination of the commercial accounts of this huge undertaking. If one looks at the overall profit-and-loss account of the Post Office for the year ended 30th June, 1956, which was the last one published, one notes that, before charging interest, there was a net surplus of £482,338 from the overall operations of all branches. After interest was charged, the postal branch had a deficit of £2,401,918, and the telegraph branch a deficit of £1,201,791, but the telephone branch had a surplus of £3,178,431. When we set off the deficits against the surplus, we are left with a net overall deficit of £425,278. I think I was wrong in saying that that was the last published account.
I believe that the Auditor-General has on record somewhere the fact that the overall surplus for the last financial year was, if my memory serves me correctly, of the order of £276,000.
I should like to know how these capital items are dealt with in the Post Office accounts. For the last few years we have approved capital expenditure in this direction of the order of £30,000,000 annually. It is necessary to understand how those capital funds, though derived from Commonwealth revenue, are being treated in the accounts. We should know whether they are regarded as expendable revenue and taken into account in the profit and loss statement, or as increments of new capital and funded on the basis of a sinking fund, with provision for interest.
I remind honorable senators that during this week attention has been directed to the States’ complaint that, although we provide from revenue, as a subvention for State works, £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 a year - the total payment this year from loan and revenue is £200,000,000 - and do not commit ourselves to the people from whom we extract it for the payment of interest, there is something wrong, from the point of view of responsibility in public finance, in regarding the States as receiving a loan. I hope that I have conveyed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General my concern over this matter. In short, I should like to know how this sum of £30,000,000 - derived from revenue and expended upon capital works for the Post Office - is being treated in the accounts.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 65, Australian Capital Territory - Department of the Interior - under control of Department of Works. I notice that the proposed expenditure for 1957-58 on buildings, fittings and furniture has been stepped up to £4,450,000 from last year’s vote of £2,845,000. That represents a considerable increase. The Administrative Building in Canberra has been under construction since before I was elected to the Parliament in 1950. I do not know how many public servants it accommodates now, but I am told that it is one of the largest buildings in Australia. The cost of this structure must be astronomical.
Could the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior give the Senate an idea of the total expenditure to date? I know that in the past there have been costly mistakes in the construction of some of Canberra’s public buildings. Evidence of that is to be found near the King’s-avenue crossing, where one sees the uprooted foundations of a building the construction of which was abandoned. It must have cost many thousands of pounds to put down those foundations and then remove them. I do not know which government was in office at the time. I am reminded of this matter by Senator Wright’s remarks concerning expenditure on capital works. I do not know whether the plans for the new building were originally referred to the Public Works Committee. In undertaking such monumental buildings we must remember that we are the custodians of the public purse, and should expect value for our money. I am afraid that the figures as to the cost of the building will prove that we have spent much more upon it than we should have.
Senator Wright has also referred to the cost of building flats in Canberra. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I firmly believe that a certain proportion of flats should be built. We have in front of us the tremendous job of housing the public servants whom we hope eventually to bring to Canberra.
– The process is going on at the moment. I commend the Department of the Interior upon the work that is being done to build flats in the Australian Capital Territory. The report of the Seriate Select Committee on Canberra drew attention to the fact that population density was far too low and that, as a consequence, the cost of providing services was much too high. The erection of a suitable number of flats will do much to remedy that situation. Part of the proposed vote at least should be devoted to the building of such flats.
I notice that engineering works in the Australian Capital Territory are estimated to cost £2,015,000 this year. I have no doubt that the cost of the engineering work being done at the rear of Parliament House will be met from that vote. I believe that the Government is acting wisely in transferring Commonwealth departments to Canberra. Expenditure upon the Australian Capital Territory has been greatly increased, but that is unavoidable if we are to offer transferred public servants suitable housing, office accommodation and the engineering services that are the concomitant of such a plan.
– I have been sitting here quietly listening to the speech of Senator Hannaford, but when I hear him and his colleagues simply getting up to say what a grand fellow the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) is I can bear it no longer. If Government supporters are merely throwing out a bait, they have got a bite The Government proposes to spend millions of pounds on the erection of flats in Canberra. I hope that the Minister notices that no one on this side of the chamber is applauding now. Honorable senators may not be aware that there is only one entrance to the flats at present under construction, and that is at the back. It is both the back and the front door. Moreover, it is impossible to carry furniture in through this door and get it up to the top flats. It is necessary to bring along a mobile crane to lift the furniture up and put it through the windows. Senator McCallum can confirm that. He spent some time inspecting these poky boxes that are described as flats. A little fellow like I am could reach up and almost touch the ceiling, but the honorable senator who has just spoken would bump his head going in the door. Yet, he says that the Minister should be congratulated on the building of those flats. I think that some flats should be built in Canberra, but it is time that an investigation was made into the class of buildings being erected. In the flats I have mentioned one goes in the back door and the front door at the same time. There is only one door; there is no other way in or out of the building and one has to go through it to go upstairs - a real trap in case of fire. But the worst feature of the flats is that the wash houses and rotary clothes lines are situated on the front street alinement. The housewife has to go out through the only door with her laundry and around to the front of the house to hang the clothes on the line. That sort of thing is happening in the flats near Civic Centre.
I am getting a bit fed up with the way honorable senators opposite congratulate Ministers on this, that, and the other. Those honorable senators remind me of some of the devices used for sound effects in broadcasting studios which use even a laughing machine which goes “ ha, ha, ha! “ Government supporters in this chamber are like mechanical clappers and laughing machines. It is high time an inquiry was held into the building of these flats so that the designs can be altered to provide decent buildings and a fair return for the £7,000,000 that the Government proposes to spend on the building of flats in Canberra this year.
.- I rise for other purposes than to administer a rebuke to Senator O’Flaherty. He is sour enough not to permit me to make one complimentary reference in a period of twelve months. He ought to return to the desert in South Australia and live on the sour native vegetation. I wish to ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for some information about Division No. 45, item 1, “ Expenditure under Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act, £18,350,000”. It is practically a year-long occupation of the Opposition in the Tasmanian Parliament to examine the annual vote for the Tasmanian Hydroelectric Commission which amounts to no more than this figure for the whole State.
I should appreciate it if the Minister would, at an early date, if he cannot do so now, take some note of the degree to which the Parliament might be properly informed of the expenditure on this gigantic project. It would be most interesting, for example, if, as is done in respect of the Tasmanian scheme, the commissioner would make a model of the project and display it in one of the rooms in Parliament House and explain it in an engineering fashion. He need do that not in detail but in substantial outline for the information of members of the Parliament. That practice is adopted in the Tasmanian Parliament every time a new developmental work is to be financed by parliamentary vote. We ought now to be formulating some view as to the ultimate cost of the Snowy Mountains project. I know that figures were stated when this tremendous project was first outlined. The appeal of the suggestion that the project would provide an immediate solution to the darg that existed upon the power sources of coal in New South Wales was exciting; and the foresight of the preceding government in initiating the project and the vigour of the present Government in prosecuting it are so commendable that there is no aspect of it about which even the Irish nature of Senator O’Flaherty could find to grumble. However, I would be much easier in my mind in justifying this vote if I had information from an authoritative source, such as the present distinguished engineer in charge of the project, as to the progress of the work and where we are heading financially.
I should like to ask the Minister also to give some explanation concerning Division No. 51, item 1, “Expenditure under the Atomic Energy Act (for payment to the Atomic Energy Trust Account), £2,674,000 “. So that I will not have to rise again, 1 should like the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) to tell me what is the present state of the finances of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. Under Division 34, the sum of £500,000 is being provided for the commission as additional capital. What amount of capital has already been voted to the commission, and what is the immediate need for this extra capital? How is it being taken care of in the accounts? I recall, of course, that the Minister was thoughtful enough, when introducing the bill to establish the commission, to point out that it would be a commercial undertaking and would be conducted accordingly.
– The question is: “That the bill stand as printed “.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I am not going to submit to this procedure. I have asked for information on three matters.
I had put the question, if further debate is to take place, the bill must be recommitted.
– I rise to order. What is the necessity to recommit it?
– I had put the question.
– When you put the question, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I was rising to speak. I did not hear the question put.
Now, Mr. Temporary Chairman, as the proceding was not understood by many honorable senators, I ask you to regard the debate as being still in progress. I have made a perfectly modest series of inquiries about matters involving millions of pounds, and they deserve some reply.
– As there seems to have been some misunderstanding, the debate may proced
– In reply to Senator Hannaford, the amount authorized for the erection of the Administrative Building is £4,402,321. The expenditure to 30th June, 1957, was £3,820,301. The expenditure so far for the year has been £600,840, and the balance remaining at 30th June, 1957, for further expenditure was £582,020.
– Speaking in relation to Senator Wright’s submission, the Minister should give a full reply to his questions. The widest possible information should be given by respective Ministers on these Estimates. The method adopted has not been satisfactory, because while legislation is passing through the Senate really important sub.misions made by honorable senators arc disregarded by the Minister and, as a result of either the “ guillotine “ or quick decisions being taken by the committee, matters are not being properly and adequately placed before the Senate.
– In answer to Senator Wright’s question on the accounts of the Postmaster-General’s Department, it is true, as I said yesterday, that the AuditorGeneral has not audited these accounts since about 1913, but they are now undergoing thorough investigation in accordance with the Auditor-General’s principles. Capital for the Postal Department is provided from revenue. No interest is charged on the money that is paid over, but the value of the capital assets of the department is increased, and I understand that that is in accordance with normal accounting practice. The money is paid in, the assets are increased, and the department pays no interest but is charged with depreciation.
– Senator Wright sought information on the capital of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. The average capital employed during the last six months has been in the vicinity of £12,000,000. I say “ average “ capital, because it has varied very considerably during that period as the commission took on charge ships from the Australian Shipping Board or ex survey. The amount of £500,000 now sought will be in addition to that capital, which is treated for practical purposes in the same way as the capital of any other trading concern, and a dividend is payable thereon. I think I mentioned the other day, as a matter of interest, that for the period ended 30th June last the commission made a profit of over £1,000,000 and will pay a dividend equivalent to 6 per cent. The need for this capital is largely explained as follows: Eleven vessels were being constructed in Australian yards to the order of the Australian Shipping Board when the Australian Coastal Shipping Act was proclaimed. Four of those vessels have now been completed and are being operated by the commission, whilst a further three vessels have been ordered through the Australian Shipbuilding Board for the commission. The commission is responsible for making progress payments in respect of vessels being contructed. During 1957-58 such payments are expected to total £2,883,000. The amount of £500,000 required under this item is therefore necessary to provide the commission with reserves to finance that type of operation.
– I should like some information in regard to the item “ Commonwealth Hostels Limited, furniture and fittings, £70,000”. Will the Minister explain whether that amount is for new buildings, or for an extension of the buildings which provided the accommodation necessary for the largest number of immigrants to come to this country? Why is there a need for the expenditure of £70,000 on equipment, furniture and fittings? Is it suggested that there are larger numbers to be housed, and that the present accommodation is not now sufficient? I should like information also on the costs of the flats that are being built in Canberra and the rents charged to the tenants.
I find myself in agreement with Senator Wright in regard to the financing of capital works from revenue. Some capital works should be financed by way of loans, which posterity will repay. I do not think it is right that the people should be taxed so heavily in order to pay now for capital works which should be paid for from loans, which would mean that those people who had the benefit of the capital works in future would pay their share too. I understand that the Government is compelled to impose very heavy taxation in order to provide the necessary funds because the people refuse to subscribe to Government loans. The huge amount of money that is expended on or is tied up in hire-purchase transactions is impeding the provision of finance for Government loans. Some time ago the Government made a feeble attempt to reduce the amount of money tied up in hire-purchase transactions, but it failed dismally. So the volume of those transactions grows and will continue to grow as the country develops. With the expansion of television, the latest form of entertainment, an increasing amount of money will be tied up in the hire purchase of television equipment. The savings of the people are being used for hire-purchase transactions instead of being invested in Government loans. I raise no objection to that, but some form of regulation of hirepurchase should be undertaken by the Government.
– Senator Ashley referred to the provision of £70,000 for Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Of that amount, £25,000 is required for the purchase of items of modern equipment and furniture, the use of which, as demonstrated by tests, would lead to economies in hostel operation. An amount of £45,000 is required for hostel site improvement by means of levelling, grading, drainage, construction of pathways, and minor works of a similar character.
Senator Ashley also sought information on flats being constructed at Canberra There are 114 flats in section 53, Braddon, on which the expenditure to 30th June, 1957, was £409,231; 212 in section 52, Braddon, on which the expenditure to 30th June, 1957, was £183,209; and 248 flats in section 8, for which the amount authorized is £1,320,000, and on which the expenditure to 30th June, 1957, was £54,340. I have no particulars of rents, but I understand that, in accordance with the usual practice, an economic rent will be charged.
– In answer to Senator Wright, I point out that the break-up of the £18,350,000 appropriated to the Snowy Mountains scheme is contained in a footnote on page 1 1 of the bill. However, there is a typographical error in that footnote. The first amount mentioned, £11,200, should read £11,200,000. This amount is set aside for contracts for construction works; £810,000 is set aside for stores and materials; and £2,300,000 is set aside for plant and equipment. That gives the arithmetical answer to Senator Wright’s question. However, to go beyond an arithmetical answer is quite a problem. It is quite difficult to give a description of the scheme. I think that the short and fair answer to the question is something like this: A major proportion of the work is being done by contract. Except in respect of one contract, all the contractors are ahead of schedule. To give the schedule would be to give a dissertation on all the works of the scheme, which is not easy to do. It is now expected that T.l power station will come into operation in March, 1959. I speak from memory when I say that the capacity of that power station is 320,000 kilowatts. The first run of water from Adaminaby to the Tumut River should commence about the middle of 1959. The scheme as a whole will, I hope, be given a very thorough airing in this chamber in the very near future when I shall bring down legislation for the ratification of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the participating States, the agreement having been signed-
– Is it all ironed out?
– It will be all ironed out only when it goes through this Parliament. Complications have continually arisen, but I hope that the difficulties which are delaying the ratification of “the agreement will be overcome. I hope that, before the Senate rises for the Christmas recess, the agreement will have been ratified.
A query has been raised about the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The capital works and services expenditure on the commission is £2,600,000, of which £2,400,000 is this year’s contribution to the cost of the erection of the experimental reactor at Lucas Heights, the total cost of which is estimated at £5,500,000. The Government hopes that it will be officially opened in March next year. Such good progress has been made that already some research work is proceeding in the laboratories that are associated with the reactor. Many of the staff are working at the present time at Harwell in England. They are being brought back to Australia, and other staff is being assembled here.
The items that make up the sum of £2,600,000 include £120,000 for some additions to the Rum Jungle establishment and £35,000 for plant and equipment used in the search for uranium, plus £40,000 for additional buildings for an institute, associated with the university, for the study of nuclear science. The institute building is to be erected within the grounds of the reactor at Lucas Heights.
– I do not want to be suspected of joining the ranks of the admiration society on the other side of the chamber, whose members so eloquently scratch the backs of Ministers, even of those in the other House. However, I congratulate the Government on providing an additional £5,000,000 under the War Service Homes Act for payment to the War Service Homes Trust. The only fault I find with this payment is that it is not enough. The amount should be doubled. If any section of the community deserves the opportunity to secure proper accommodation, it is our returned servicemen.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 12th November, at 3 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I should like to refer to a question without notice directed to me yesterday by Senator O’Flaherty. The question concerned a report which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ relating to an examination after office hours of the desks of officers of the Taxation Branch, in Sydney. I should like to amplify my remarks by informing the Senate that I have now received a report from the department concerning the examination. This report discloses that the Acting Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, Sydney, on the 15th October, requested the Commonwealth Investigation Service to investigate the suspected collection by unauthorized persons of tax refunds. As an result of inquiries made by officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service the Acting Deputy Commisioner of Taxation found it desirable to carry out an official examination of the departmental files at the Mary-street, branch of the Taxation office. The examination was carried out by nine senior taxation officials, under the supervision of the Staff Superintendent of the Taxation Branch, and in the presence of two senior taxation supervisors of the Marystreet branch. Two Commonwealth Investigation Service officers were also present in case any material which might have a bearing on the investigations then being conducted by them was discovered. As an uninterrupted examination of the files was necessary the examination, to be effective, could take place only in other than ordinary working hours. I understand also that special instructions were given to the examining officers to ensure that only official documents or property would be examined.
In further elaboration, I quite agree with the suggestion made by Senator O’Flaherty that if the desk drawers of any officers were opened and their contents examined, the officers concerned had every right to be present during such an examination.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 November 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19571101_senate_22_s11/>.