22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The SENATE met at 3 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
THE PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
GENERAL entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives, intimating that he desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who, being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to del’iver the following Speech: -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The second session of the Twenty-second Parliament having been prorogued, I am now opening the third session of that Parliament.
When I last addressed Parliament, I was able to speak of the happy visit to Australia by His Royal Highness, Prince Philip. It is more than pleasing to us all that this present occasion should coincide with the visit to Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Australians everywhere have looked forward to her second visit to this land. We have a special and personal interest here in the national capital, because of Her Majesty’s particular association with the first sitting of the Australian Parliament in Canberra. 31 years ago- It is the warm hope of ali that Her Majesty may derive as much pleasure from her visit as her presence in Australia gives us. We remember with pride and thanksgiving the historic work of Her Majesty’s late husband, the great King George VI., to which the Commonwealth and the world owe so much.
We congratulate the British Empire Service League on the honour Her Majesty has paid it in consenting to open its important conference here in Canberra.
Her Majesty’s visit allows us to demonstrate once more our affectionate loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen and to our Royal Family.
In addition to this, the visit of the Right Honourable Harold Macmillan, the Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, has evidenced and strengthened our practical unity with the United Kingdom. By their reception of Mr. Macmillan, Australians everywhere have expressed their appreciation of his visit - the first by a British Prime Minister in office - which was made too at a time when world conditions might reasonably have dictated a postponement.
While our ties with the United Kingdom, and with the Commonwealth of Nations, have been strengthened, we have demonstrated further our neighbourly interest in Asian development. Last year, we were paid a most happy visit by His Excellency President Ngo Dinh Diem of the Republic of Viet Nam. More recently, His Excellency Mr. Nobusuke Kishi, the Prime Minister of Japan came to Australia to repay the visit made to Japan by my Prime Minister - visits which have greatly assisted in restoring co-operative relations between the two countries.
Delegations from this Parliament have recently visited India and Japan, and at this moment preparations are being made to receive a delegation from the Japanese Diet. My Government will continue the policy of friendly co-operation in Asia, and we may hope to receive many visits by distinguished citizens from Asian countries.
While we may take some satisfaction from the consolidation of our friendships in Asia, the international scene in general is no less complicated than when I last addressed you. The “ cold war “ against the unity of the free world continues, and my Government will maintain this nation’s contributions to the security of the democracies.
My Government considers that the disarmament proposals submitted last year by the Western Powers offer a basis for settlement of outstanding issues, and will, therefore, continue to give the fullest measure of support to these and similar efforts to achieve a controlled disarmament; for herein lies a major aspiration of the people of the world. While we may congratulate scientists upon their remarkable achievements leading towards the conquest of outer space, my advisers believe that it is necessary to point out that these advances make all the more urgent an understanding which may ensure that all activities in space will serve the purposes of peace.
The scope of the work being done during the International Geophysical Year demonstrates that scientific research can be conducted on a truly international basis. It is a matter for pride that Australia has made, and continues to make significant contributions to the success of the International Geophysical Year, not the least spectacular being the use of special equipment at the Woomera Range for observing and tracking the artificial earth satellites.
Until there is agreement on disarmament, adequate defence measures of the free nations will continue to be a major factor in world stability. The meeting of Mr. Macmillan and President Eisenhower in Washington and the subsequent meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council in Paris, have strengthened the common purpose and defensive capacity of the democracies. These consultations have, however, demonstrated a purpose beyond the preservation of collective military strength, for they have enabled the heads of member governments to formulate principles upon which agreement - great or small - may be sought with the Communist powers.
Last year, my Prime Minister outlined the programme whereby Australia would make her contribution to the defence preparedness of the free world. The programme is proceeding satisfactorily. The Royal Australian Navy continues its ship construction and conversion scheme; the Army Infantry Brigade Group has commenced training as a composite force; and defence forces mobility will be greatly improved by the re-equipment later this year, of the air transport element of the Royal Australian Air Force with modern four-engined turbo-propellor transport aircraft.
Meanwhile, the defence scientific establishments will maintain their efforts. In this sphere, the more spectacular work is performed, in collaboration with the United Kingdom authorities, in the development of deterrent weapons; but impressive work is being done in the whole field of defence science.
Outside Australia, components of the three Services continue to serve in Malaya as part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, and later this year the Royal Australian Air Force component will be increased by two fighter squadrons and a Canberra bomber squadron. Our forces in Malaya are assisting in the action against Communist terrorists at the request of the Malayan Government.
We have been delighted to welcome Malaya into the Commonwealth of Nations as a free and independent partner, and while it is good that we should give assistance with armed forces, my Government looks forward to a continuing policy of cooperation with Malaya on a far wider scale.
In March this year, my Minister for External Affairs will lead the Australian delegation to the Seato Council of Ministers, which will meet in Manila. This meeting will review the progress made by Seato over the past year in preserving independence and assisting the development of countries of South-East Asia and will formulate the policy to be followed by the Organization in the coming year. My Government last year made the first delivery to Asian member countries of material supplied under Australia’s programme of Economic Assistance for Seato defence.
In South and South-East Asia, Australia is continuing to play an active role in the Colombo plan, and my Government has been gratified to know that at the annual Consultative Committee meeting held last October at Saigon, there were many warm expressions of appreciation from the other twenty countries represented for Australian help in training professional men. technicians and administrators.
Since I last addressed Parliament, there has been a pronounced change in world economic trends. In the United States of America in particular, business conditions have recently become less buoyant and in a number of other major countries the growth of demand and economic activity has slackened. We in Australia have felt the effects in reduced prices for a number of the commodities we export. Lower export prices have coincided with unfavorable seasonal conditions over a large part of our countryside.
My advisers report that, notwithstanding these adverse influences, a high rate of productive activity has been maintained. Industrial production has continued to increase, and investment, which is directed towards expanding our productive capacity, has also been at a high level. Fortunately, recent widespread rains have improved the outlook for rural production.
There has been some increase in unemployment, some part of which was undoubtedly attributable to the less favorable seasonal conditions. It still represents a relatively small proportion of our total work force; nevertheless it is a development which my Government continues to keep under closest scrutiny. The decisions taken at the recent Loan Council meeting will result in some additional finance being available to the State governments and some increase in the borrowing programmes of the local government authorities. This should assist in providing additional employment opportunities.
My Government has continued to support the widespread research activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which bear directly on many important national problems. Of particular relevance in recent months, has been the extensive programme of research concerned with water resources and the mitigation of the effects of drought. A comprehensive research programme in rainmaking is being pursued and during the latter part of 1957, the organization was able to achieve some success in rain-making operations in several areas of Australia. My Government is considering methods of providing a proper legislative basis for the continuation of this most important work.
It has been found possible to ease further the controls on imports, thus permitting a considerably greater inflow of goods than was possible in the previous financial years. These relaxations have been of particular benefit to users of imported machinery who have thus been able to help in the modernizing of Australian production methods.
Throughout last year my Government increased its activities in the international trade sphere and discussions and negotiations on trade matters have taken place with many countries. My Government will continue this policy in its aim to consolidate and expand Australia’s exports in a world in which trading conditions are more difficult and the protective policies of some countries are becoming more stringent.
The most important trade negotiation that has been conducted in the past year culminated in the signing of a trade agreement with Japan. This agreement has already provided benefits to Australia and it is hoped that greater benefits will ensue in the future.
Following the signing of the agreement steps were taken to ensure that Australian industry would not be damaged following the concessions given to imports from Japan.
My Government has agreed to take part in a Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference which is being convened on the suggestion of the Canadian Government. Certain preliminary work is already under way and the conference later this year should provide an opportunity for Commonwealth countries to discuss mutual trade and economic problems to the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole.
The inauguration of the . European Economic Community on 1st January, 1958, is of historic importance. The implications for Australian export trade are being closely watched.
The development of our primary industries is, of course, vital to Australia. My Government will continue to support this development, notably through a number of research schemes to which the producers themselves are contributing.
There are special financial problems which confront the Western Australian Government in the development of the northern part of that State, and my Government has announced its decision to make available, over the next five years, £2,500,000 to promote development in that area of Western Australia lying north of the 20th parallel of latitude. Legislation authorizing the grant will be introduced during this session.
In order to accelerate the search for oil in Australia, my Government has offered to subsidize on a pound-for-pound basis the cost of approved exploratory drilling. There has been an encouraging response to this offer from private oil exploration companies’ and, in addition, my Government will itself take an active part in a programme of shallow drilling.
The recent discovery of bauxite deposits in Arnhem Land and on the Cape York Peninsula will prove to be of historic significance. These deposits are still being tested, but there is no doubt that by world standards they are very large, and we can look forward to a most successful development.
Past activity in the search for other minerals will be continued, using the most modern techniques.
Last year, my Treasurer spoke of thi decision to assist in the standardization of the rail link between Melbourne and Wodonga. When agreement on detail with the State Governments concerned is reached, appropriate-legislation will be placed before Parliament.
The programme of planned migration will be continued. Parliament will be asked to consider a complete revision and consolidation of the Immigration and Emigration Acts, and an amendment to the Nationality and Citizenship Act, which will seek to banish certain discriminations between Australianborn and naturalized citizens in the matter of loss of citizenship.
During the past year there has been a remarkable record of freedom from industrial disturbance; in fact, measured by the time lost due to disputes, there has not been a better year since 1942. An important contributing factor has been the smooth working of the conciliation and arbitration machinery, following the changes made to it in 1956. Experience suggests that further improvement could be made, and for this purpose my Government proposes shortly to introduce amending legislation. There has also been marked improvement in shipping turn-round. My Government, in cooperation with other responsible organiza tions, will continue to work for the reduction of industrial accidents, which at present cause far greater loss to industry than do industrial disputes.
The progress made in territorial development can be properly described as exciting. In Papua and New Guinea, agricultural advances in the production of copra, cocoa, coffee, and rubber have reached the point where the Territory is beginning to enjoy an attractive export trade. The emphasis has been, and will in increasing measure be, placed on developing production by the native people themselves. At the same time, steady progress is being made in educating the people towards greater participation in the administration of the Territory. This challenging work, however, must be measured against plain facts. There are still areas in Papua and New Guinea classified only as “ penetrated by patrols”. The time that must elapse between the establishment of administrative controls and health services and provision of basic education, and the achievement by the completely primitive inhabitants of some degree of political maturity cannot be predicted.
In the Northern Territory further areas are being opened for settlement as a result of active pastoral and agricultural research. In developing such a vast area, however, there must inevitably be encountered social problems tending to discourage comfortable family life. My Government is giving increasing attention to these problems, and will provide, for example, facilities for secondary and technical education. The health and education of the aboriginal people and their children will continue to be regarded as of the greatest importance.
The development of all of the remote areas of the Commonwealth demands the provision of rapid transport, and the fostering of those aviation services which are such an essential to life in the out-back will continue. At the same time, my Government will pay no less attention to the general development of civil air transport. We have all been able to take pride in the negotiation of air agreements which have enabled Australia’s international operator, Qantas, to establish a globe-circling service through the United States and the United Kingdom.
On 1st April, 1958, a reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom on matters relating to social services will come into operation. This agreement was signed in Canberra on behalf of my Government and on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom during Mr. Macmillan’s visit. It will replace the 1954 agreement. Both Australia and the United Kingdom have made important concessions in the qualifications for benefits when residents of one country move to the other for temporary or permanent residence.
My Government is also negotiating with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments for a trilateral agreement to provide that residence in any one of the three countries may count as residence in any one of the others for the purpose of qualifying for social service benefits.
The Parliament will be aware of the inquiry, recently conducted by a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Keith Murray, into the problems connected with Australian universities. My Government has studied the report, and has announced its intentions. Appropriate legislation will be placed before you during this session.
My Government will continue its review of the functions performed by the Commonwealth Public Service and of the organization of the various departments. A committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Morshead, has already made two reports on its review of the defence group of departments. Those reports are under active consideration with a view to increased efficiency and effecting economies. Review of other departments will be made as rapidly as possible.
Last year this Parliament enacted legislation empowering the establishment of a National Capital Development Commission. I have already appointed a commissioner. Within a few days I shall appoint two associates who will assist the commissioner in the further development of Canberra as a city which will grow to be a living symbol, for all Australians, of our nationhood.
During the last session of this Parliament, bills connected with banking were rejected by the Senate. In this session, my Government will re-introduce the Reserve Bank Bill, the Commonwealth Banks Bill, the Banking Bill and the Banking (Transitional Provisions) Bill.
In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties. [His Excellency the Governor-General and members of the House of Representatives having retired - ]
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin) took the chair, and read prayers.
– by leave - It is with deep regret that I formally announce to the Senate the death, on 28th December last, of our former friend and colleague, Senator George Rankin, D.S.O. and Bar, V.D. It was not so long ago - indeed, in June, 1956, on the eve of his retirement - that in this Senate chamber his colleagues paid tribute to his magnificent record of service to our country in peace and in war. His military and political services were then recited in detail. They are now enshrined in “ Hansard “ of this Parliament and will ever remain a source of pride and admiration for his colleagues and of noble inspiration to those who come after him. On that occasion we expressed our regret on account of his then failing health, and we voiced the hope that he would enjoy a leisured, comfortable retirement, richly deserved. However, in the scheme of things his days were all too briefly numbered, and he passed away at the age of 70 years.
Though George Rankin in the flesh will no more move amongst us, his spirit will hover in and around this Parliament so long as there are here senators and members who were associated with him. The late George Rankin was a man of tremendous moral and physical courage and unswerving rectitude. All those qualities he made manifest in peace and in war. In politics, he was forthright and uncompromising in matters in which he considered that a principle was involved. In debate, he neither gave nor sought quarter, but beneath a rugged and, at times, aggressive exterior there was a kindly, sympathetic and generous soul. He will be long and affectionately remembered by those who were privileged to know him. I am sure our hearts go out in sympathy to his sorrowing widow. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Major-General George James Rankin, D.S.O., V.D., a former senator for the State of Victoria and member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Bendigo, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) has put to the chamber. In June last, on the occasion of the retirement of Senator Rankin, speaking on behalf of the Opposition, I paid tribute - and I meant it to be a very warm tribute - to the distinguished political and military careers of our late colleague. I do not propose to-day to traverse the same ground. F shall content myself with a few brief comments, the first of which is that Senator Rankin was essentially a man and a soldier. He was a most colourful per sonality. As Senator O’sullivan has just indicated, he was forthright in everything. His courage was undoubted. He was a tough debater with a devastating wit. I doubt whether I have heard in this Parliament anybody who was quicker and more effective in retort. His rugged manner was coupled with the geniality and kindliness that won for him the friendship and regard of all members of the Parliament. It was sad to see, in recent years, his great powers dimmed as a result of illness. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend to his widow and relatives our deep sympathy in their loss and, with my colleagues from this side of the chamber, deplore his passing from the scene.
– The members of the Australian Country party desire to be associated with the motion, proposed by the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) and seconded by the Leader of Opposition (Senator McKenna), expressing regret at the death of our late colleague, Major-General George Rankin. With his passing Australia has lost a man who had had a most colourful career. He was a successful farmer, soldier and member of Parliament. I would say that, of those three avocations, soldiering came first with him. However, he gave distinguished service not only in war but in peace.
He served in World War I. with the Light Horse, was wounded at Gallipoli and finished the war as commanding officer of his regiment, with the D.S.O. and Bar to his credit. His interest in military affairs continued after the war, when his experience was invaluable in helping to train men who were later to form the Second Australian Imperial Force.
In 1939, on the outbreak of the recent war, he took active service as General Officer Commanding a cavalry division, which he raised and led with distinction. By the time he retired from military service he had made a lasting impression as one of the great military leaders of our time. He earned the affection and respect of his comrades in arms. We tender our deepest sympathy to his widow in her .very sad loss.
– I desire to associate my party with the remarks of the Leader of the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Repatriation. The late Senator Rankin was a man whom we all admired. He was a tough soldier and a tough politician, who will be greatly missed both in this place and by associates in other walks of life. The members of my party will always remember him with respect. We tender our condolences to his widow and relatives.
– As an old associate of General Rankin, I would like to say that I support everything that has been said about our late colleague. My first association with George Rankin was in the Fourth Light Horse Regiment, in 1916. We served side by side in that unit, going through actions together from time to time, and I can support to the full everything that has been said about his service overseas.
My next association with him was in this Parliament, when I came here as a senator. He carried out his work as a senator with the same determination and the same desire to give service to the community as he did as a member of the Light Horse during the war. I think we all will remember George Rankin. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) have said, he was a rugged character. He showed no respect of persons; when he felt that a retort was warranted it was given, and we all accepted it in the spirit it was given.
As an old colleague of his, I support everything that has been said. We regret his passing. I also wish to convey my condolences to his wife and relatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - It is with regret that I inform the Senate of the death of the honorable Herbert Claude Barnard, who passed away on 6th December last at the age of 67 years. Mr.. Barnard was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Bass, Tasmania, at the general elections in 1934, 1937, 1940, 1943 and 1946. He was not elected at the general election in 1949.
During his long and meritorious career, he was a member of the Social Security Committee from 1941 to 1946, and acted as chairman of the committee throughout practically all that time. He was a member of the Broadcasting Committee from 1942 to 1943 and a member of the Australian delegation to the 26th Session of the International Labour Organization in Philadelphia in J 944. He was a Temporary Chairman of Committees from 1943 to 1946 and Minister for Repatriation from 1946 to 1949. He was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1950. He was past president of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Labour party and had served as federal president of the Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australia.
When I first entered the Parliament, Claude Barnard was Minister for Repatriation. He was a very humane and sympathetic Minister. Indeed, the most outstanding memories that he leaves behind will be those of his kindness, sympathy and generosity. He is survived by a widow and two sons, one of whom is the present member in the House of Representatives for the division of Bass. Another son was killed during World War II. Our hearts go out to the sorrowing widow and family in their bereavement. I move -
That the Senate expresses deep regret at the death of the Honorable Herbert Claude Barnard, a former Commonwealth Minister and member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Bass, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion that has been submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan). I take advantage of this opportunity to thank him for his very kindly references to our late colleague. Claude Barnard died on the day after the Senate rose for the Christmas vacation. Senator O’sullivan has outlined his political career, and I do not repeat it. Five of us in this chamber to-day - Senators Armstrong, Ashley, Cameron, Courtice and
I - had the privilege of serving in the Chifley Government with Claude Barnard. I repeat that that was a privilege.
Claude Barnard’s election to Cabinet in 1946 by members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party was the crowning point of his long parliamentary career. It was a fitting tribute to his ability, a lifetime of service to his party, and his well-deserved popularity. Federal Cabinet rank is a high honour, but it comes to very few in the Australian community. It was a crowning reward for meritorious service.
Claude Barnard gave a lifetime of service to others. Senator O’sullivan referred briefly to his trade union activities. They were very extensive. He was a senior officer of the Australian Railways Union; president and secretary, at one time, of the Trades and Labour Council of Launceston; and a member, State president, and even federal president, of the Hospital Employees’ Union. Generally, he played a most noteworthy part in the very important field of trade unionism.
But perhaps his greatest contribution was in the field of social security. As Senator O’sullivan has indicated, he was for some five or six years the chairman of an all-party committee. He presided over that committee in the richest period of the development of social security in this country. On many counts, the aged, the invalid, the sick, the widowed, the unemployed and all the underprivileged members of the Australian community have much to thank him for. He did much to prepare the way for the success of the referendum of 1946, which enabled power to dispense social services to be written into our Constitution and which gave sure power to this Parliament to function in that field. During the last few years of his service in this Parliament, he was concerned with the development and administration of repatriation benefits. He carried out this work in the difficult immediate post-war years. After his defeat in 1949, he entered State politics in Tasmania and served his constituents there right up to the time of his death.
Above all else, Claude Barnard was a religious man. His clear vision of the purpose for which he was created pervaded all his thinking and, accordingly, all his actions. He won peace of mind on the spiritual front. That explains his great tranquility and patience, his tolerance and absence of rancour towards others. He had the wisdom that comes only from contemplation, yet he had also a great persistence in keeping steadily on towards an objective until he got results.
Claude Barnard was a splendid example to all in his private life. He was a devoted husband and father. I am happy to think that he had the great joy of seeing his son, Lance, win back for the party he loved and served so well his old federal seat of Bass, and then of seeing his son acquit himself so creditably in this Parliament. With the passing of Claude Barnard, a Christian gentleman has gone from our midst, one who gave loyalty and service to his family, to his church, to his party, to his State and to Australia. To his widow - affectionately regarded by all of us who know her - we extend our heartfelt sympathy in her loneliness and loss. We offer our condolences to his son - our parliamentary colleague, Mr. Lance Barnard - and to the other members of his family. The great crowds which attended the funeral service in Launceston and followed Claude Barnard to his last resting place were eloquent testimony to the work and worth of a man who had served and loved humanity.
– The members of the Australian Country party desire to be associated with the motion before the Senate, which expresses regret at the death of the late honorable Herbert Claude Barnard, a former member of the House of Representatives.
I appreciate greatly the remarks which have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) concerning the work which the late Claude Barnard did in the field of social security. I can look back on a long association with him as a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security - of which he was the chairman from 12th November, 1941, to August, 1946 - and also as a member of the Standing Committee on Broadcasting. I served on both those committees with Mr. Barnard during that period and can call to mind the great work that he did during those years. I also held the firm opinion then that Claude Barnard was a man of very high
Christian principles. Throughout the whole of my association with him on this committee work, I was strongly impressed by his sincerity, especially when dealing with matters relating to social security. I noticed his keen interest at all times especially in work calculated to improve social conditions throughout Australia.
I should also like to pay tribute to him for the great work he did during his three years as Minister for Repatriation. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that this period - as a matter of fact, I think it was just one year after the war when Mr. Barnard assumed that office - was a very difficult one indeed. As his successor as Minister for Repatriation, I feel some need to express my gratitude for the great work he did, because it helped me considerably when I attained that office.
We tender our sincere sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their very sad bereavement.
– I desire to associate my party with the remarks of the previous speakers. From the Tasmanian point of view, I can say of the late Claude Barnard that he had the respect of all Tasmanians. Our party offers its condolences to his widow and his family.
– I should like to be associated with this motion of condolence to the widow and family of Claude Barnard, because I, too, was privileged to serve with him on the Social Security Committee. I am confident that all those who served on that committee during those years feel that it was a privilege to be associated with a man whose tact, sincerity and patience were responsible for so much being written into the statute-book of this country for the benefit of so many people who needed it.
As our leader (Senator McKenna) has said. Mr. Barnard was a very gallant, Christian gentleman who did his utmost to put into practice in the community those very high ideals which he so dearly loved and by which he abided scrupulously. In his own community of Launceston he did a great deal to help in connexion with hospital matters, and, to all his constituents in Tasmania, he was a very kindly counsellor and friend. He brought to a consideration of national problems that very sincerity which was inherent in the work he did amongst his own immediate friends, acquaintances and constituents.
Like Senator Cooper, I know that during the three years for which I was associated with Mr. Barnard on this committee, we had every reason to be thankful for his great patience. Never at any time was any decision of that committee challenged by way of a minority report. By his very great tact, sympathy and patience, he was able to bring together dissonant elements on any subject and, as a result, was responsible for placing on the statute-book of Australia something permanent for the benefit of the community in general. During my time in this Parliament I do not think any one displayed a greater practical knowledge of the needs of the sick, the suffering and the poor than did the late honorable gentleman. His name shall be written forever into the annals of this country for what he did during those years which brought so much benefit to so many.
I join with those who have proposed and seconded this motion of condolence and express my personal sympathy to Mrs. Barnard and the members of her family. I should like also to express my sympathy to the party of which he was such an outstanding member for the loss which it has sustained.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Acts Interpretation Bill 1957. Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill 1957.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1957.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 1) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 2) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 3) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 4) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 5) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 6) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 7) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 8) 1957. Sales Tax Bill (No. 9) 1957. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1957. Excise Tariff Bill 1957.
Commonwealth Aid Roads (Special Assistance)
Bill 1957. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1957. Commonwealth Police Bill 1957. Civil Aviation Agreement Bill 1957. Air Navigation Charges Bill 1957.
Air Force (Canteens) Bill 1957. Native Members of the Forces Benefits Bill 1957.
Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill 1957. Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Bill 1957.
National Health Bill 1957. Stevedoring Industry Bill 1957. Superannuation Bill 1957. Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1957. Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1) 1957. Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1957. Diesel Fuel Taxation (Administration) Bill 1957. Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1957. Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1957. Flax Fibre Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1957. Christmas Island (Request and Consent) Bill J 957.
Geneva Conventions Bill 1957.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the Opening Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of Parliament this day.
– 1 move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General bc agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I cannot help feeling, in common with other honorable senators and members of the Parliament as a whole, that since 1949, which, incidentally, was the year in which I was first elected to the Senate, the Federal Parliament has passed through probably one of the most interesting decades in its history. During this period, many things have happened for the first time, such as, for example, the visit to Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, the visit to this land of the Prime Minister of England, our Jubilee celebrations which, of course, could happen only once, and many other things as interesting as they were historical. Now, we are honoured by the visit of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Although she was here before, as the Duchess of York, nevertheless this is the first time that she has visited us as the Queen Mother. I am sure that this visit revives in all of us memories of her former visit. In me, in particular, it has awakened memories of her activities in England during the war. On many occasions I saw her with her late husband in the bombed parts of England, particularly in London, when her cheery smile gave a certain amount of comfort to the people who were going through such a bad time. I am sure that we all are very pleased to welcome the Queen Mother to Australia. I think that it is very opportune that there have been a formal opening of the Parliament, and other activities, during this week, and I am sure that I express the views of all of us when I say that I look forward to the events scheduled for tomorrow with a great deal of interest. At many of the functions we shall see the Queen Mother, and some of us will be afforded an opportunity to meet her. 1 should like to make brief comments on several matters that were mentioned by His Excellency the Governor-General. He referred to the part that Australia is playing in connexion with the International Geophysical Year. Undoubtedly, the reputation of Australia to-day stands very high in the scientific world. When I spoke to Dr. Bart Bok some six months ago, he told me that Australia’s radio astronomical team in Sydney was recognized as the best team of that type in any country of the world. That was an extraordinarily high compliment.
His Excellency mentioned, also, that we have carried out a tremendous amount of scientific experimental work at Woomera, many of the experiments being highly successful.
On the subject of defence, to which His Excellency referred, one can only say at this stage that we are re-organizing our defence on the lines that have been adopted by the United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries.
I have lived in Malaya and I know the country well. I offer my personal congratulations to the people of Malaya on attaining their independence; Malaya now emerges as a new nation.
I wish to make a suggestion in connexion with the Colombo plan, which undoubtedly has been very successful. In Indonesia, where the scout movement is quite strong, there are no fewer than 32 groups of scouts. I think that it is quite wrong to have so many groups. In England, there is one head-quarters and one group only. It was suggested by one of the British chief commissioners who visited Australia recently that the 32 groups in Indonesia should be brought together in a federation. It would be necessary, of course, for the Scout Commissioner in Indonesia to know how to go about establishing a federation. I suggest that, under the Colombo plan, one of the scout commissioners or scouters from Indonesia should attend scout head-quarters in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria or any other State for training in the formation of a federation. I make this suggestion because things that are instilled into the minds of scouts when they are young carry them through to fourteen or sixteen years of age, and may influence them up to the stage when they become rovers at eighteen or nineteen years of age; and frequently these boys rise to positions of trust in their own countries, positions in the various services and in parliament. By training these scout commissioners in the way I have mentioned we may assist these boys to take their place in parliaments in South-East Asia in the future. I suggest that this idea might be adopted.
His Excellency referred to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I regret that he did not see fit to mention anything about our fisheries. I am sure that my colleagues in the Senate would be most disappointed if I did not say something about fish and fisheries while I had the opportunity to do so. I have just attended a long fisheries conference in Sydney and Adelaide, which was convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I have come from that conference imbued with all sorts of ideas additional to those that I have previously propounded. In passing, I should like to congratulate both the Government and the people of South Australia on the extraordinarily fine co-operatives that have been established in that State, which are an example to the rest of the world. I was very interested in many of the things that I saw in South Australia. The conference was attended by 25 people, representing fourteen countries - mostly in South-East Asia. There were representatives from India, Pakistan, Malaya, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Formosa, Canada and, of course, Australia. Quite a number of interesting matters were mentioned, but I shall refrain from going fully into them until a more opportune time.
At this stage, I should like to make a suggestion. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) recently pointed out that the Senate was not doing its proper work. I recall making a similar assertion during one of my first speeches in this chamber about seven and a half years ago; that assertion has eventually been taken up by my leader. Suggestions have been made for the appointment of select committees. I cannot think of a better reason why a select committee should be established than for the purpose of finding out just why our fisheries in Australia are suffering. For example, over the last five or six years the mackerel catch in Queensland has dropped by 75 per cent, from 800,000 lb. to 200,000 lb. Neither the Fisheries Department nor I can say why that drop has occurred. It is time that we had some survey ships to find out why these things are happening - whether they are caused by overfishing on the part of the Japanese, by a bad year cycle, or - and this is not too far-fetched - by overseas currents. If you trace out the ocean currents from the vicinity of Christmas Island, it is seen that the currents find their way to the Australian coast. Nor do I think it is too far-fetched to suggest that there may be something in the fall-out from nuclear explosions that is having this effect. It is high time, and indeed past time when this matter should be examined. We are, as honorable senators know, buying the “ Princess Elizabeth “, a 400-ton trawler, or rather, we are waiting for the Treasury to give approval for its purchase. If that approval is not soon forthcoming, we may lose this opportunity and have to hunt around for another trawler. If the Treasury passes the amount of the purchase, the vessel will carry out survey work in the Bight, and will be based on Port Adelaide. I hope that she comes out very soon. When I think of the amount of tuna that we know are in our waters, in the Coral Sea, it seems to me to be simply crazy not to have survey vessels of this nature. The tuna is a very fine canning fish and is the only fish that we could use on a competitive basis with overseas canners. It is of no use trying to sell the Australian people barracoota and what are called Australian salmon, even though they are protected by tariffs and all the rest of it, if they can get good tuna and salmon from overseas. The time is fast arriving when overseas competition will kill our canning of barracoota and other fish. Indeed, we are already practically down to eating only whiting and shark. In Victoria, a terrific amount of shark is eaten under the name of “ flake “.
In connexion with this survey work, I would like to make another suggestion. In Australia we have no coast guard such as most countries have. In the United Kingdom, while there is no coast guard as such, the Fifth Minesweeper Flotilla goes out and performs the duties of a coast guard. There is no necessity in the United Kingdom for what the Americans call a coast guard because there is the lifeboat service and there are naval vessels doing other work. Surely we in Australia could use some of our fisheries vessels as coast guards, or set up a coast guard service which also could do survey work. We could either have vessels which were primarily survey vessels, built for fishing survey work, which would act as coast guard vessels, or we could have a coast guard service with vessels fitted out to act as survey ships. I do not mind which method is adopted, but let us do something in this respect.
I have been talking about this matter for about five years now. Nobody has appeared to take the slightest notice, but I shall go on talking about this survey work for as long as 1 am here, because I am sure that the seas around Australia, if not overfished, could make a very big contribution to our food supplies, particularly for export. To-day, we are importing 60 per cent, of our total consumption of fish. In the shops, one sees beautiful packets of fish sticks - sea bream, Danish flounder, deep sea cod and whiting - that have come from England and other countries overseas. These packets sell at 4s. 6d. and 5s. per lb., and of course the housewives rush to buy them. If they wish to buy schnapper, they have to pay 7s. 6d. or 8s. per lb. for it, but for 4s. 6d. or 5s. per lb. they can buy these beautiful little fish sticks or fillets which are all ready to drop into the pan. Yet, we are doing nothing to compete. We are importing 60 per cent, of the fish we consume while our own seas are teeming with fish that we could use. It is to be hoped that this trawler will soon get to work and that it will find good fishing.
I was very pleased to hear, in the course of His Excellency’s Speech, that Western Australia is to be given special assistance for the development of its north-west. I was also pleased to hear of the subsidy for oil drilling, which will affect the whole of Australia, but Western Australia particularly. Coming to the general advances in mining and the new bauxite deposits at Weipa, in the Gulf country, I sincerely hope that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and his department will investigate thoroughly the possibility of running a railway line straight across from Weipa, on the northwestern side of the peninsula, to the eastern side - for instance, to Portland Roads. I suggest that a short railway line and road be constructed to a harbour there, instead of carrying the ore something like 900 miles down the coast to some of the ports that already exist. Even in Gladstone at the moment there is talk about the ore being taken there.
– How far would it be across the peninsula?
– About 75 miles. If we were to run a line across there, it would be necessary to take the ore about 25 miles down the coast to Portland Roads. Already a water bore has been sunk there and is producing 6,000,000 gallons of water a day, so that it should be possible to find sufficient water to make alumina from the bauxite on the spot, and then send the alumina to Bell Bay to be processed into aluminium. It would, perhaps, be necessary to send the bauxite away for processing in the early stages. I hope that a thorough investigation will be made before the Minister agrees to the bauxite being taken a long way down the coast just because a port happens to be there already. For the expenditure of perhaps £200,000 or £250,000, Portland Roads could be made into quite a good little port. 1 suggest that expenditure of that magnitude, in connexion with a project such as this, would be very low.
His Excellency referred to agriculture. As honorable senators know, we in Queensland, in common with people in other parts of Australia, recently have suffered very heavily from a drought. In addition, we probably have on our properties more kangaroos and wild pigs than we have sheep. Some time ago I spent about three weeks at “ Gilruth Downs “, near Cunnamulla, which is an experimental sheep station run by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Everywhere I went I saw mobs of 40, 50 or 60 kangaroos. There were wild pigs that broke down the fences or burrowed under them, so that the dingoes could get through. In Queensland, the kangaroo is probably the worst enemy as far as our grasslands are concerned. In this connexion, I wish to make a suggestion. Why do we not send out our soldiers in platoons to the various districts of Queensland and other places where kangaroos are so numerous, and try to get rid of these pests When I say there are many kangaroos on Queensland properties, I mean that there may be as many as 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000 in an area of 10 square miles. They break down fences and eat the grass and everything else. After all, our soldiers might as well use their rifles now in some way or other, because I do not suppose that rifles will be of any use in the next war, if there is one. Control of the pests is quite beyond the farmers and graziers, and as far as I can see, the only way to control them is to let the soldiers shoot them and learn markmanship at the same time.
In spite of the small improvement we have had on our waterfront, I still hold that we should further investigate the New Zealand method of managing waterside workers. I have said that in this chamber before, perhaps half a dozen times, and I shall continue to say it until we get a really good service. I congratulate the department on the experiment with the roll-on, roll-off type of ship, because I think that in our coastal trade such ships may well help to solve part of our problem, at least so far as the time factor is concerned. By “ roll-on, roll-off “, I mean that trucks may be driven straight on to and off the ship. Of course, the new Bass Strait passenger vessel is to be so fitted that motor vehicles may be driven on to it. This method is working very successfully on certain routes overseas and I see no reason why it should not also be successful in Australia.
I should like to refer, under the general heading of health, to the various health insurance schemes conducted in this country by benevolent societies and other organizations. At present some 6,000,000 Australians are insured by one or other of the various medical benefit societies. I have been particularly interested lately to hear the whispering campaign that has been directed at the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited. I can only assume that it has been started by the Australian Labour party because the members of that party have always greatly disliked this fund. It has been whispered - and I have heard this from a number of sources - that the skids are under the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited. However, from the balance-sheets, that does not appear at all likely. Tremendous reserves, which would be most useful in the event of an epidemic in this country, have been built up by all the benefits societies. When Sir Earle Page propounded his health scheme at The Hague it received world-wide acclamation for its simplicity and general effectiveness. I mention that because I believe that whoever is conducting this whispering campaign is guilty of a most despicable act. It is an attempt to belittle and weaken a company which is doing very good work.
I should like also to say a word or two about New Guinea. I congratulate the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) upon the work that has been going on up there during the last two or three years. I have some knowledge of New Guinea, having lived there, worked there, and been there many times since the war. We in Queensland are still very concerned about the state of the plywood industry. The figures show that there is at the present time much unemployment in the industry, in Queensland particularly. Indeed, that may be the position throughout Australia generally. When Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited amalgamated with the Commonwealth Government to form a timber company, known as Commonwealth-New Guinea Timbers Limited, I was supported by my colleague Senator Wright in sounding a warning note. He could see, as I could, that the move might result in much trouble for the Australian industry. We were assured that it was a good move, that the plywood produced would be exported to other countries and would prove a fine dollar-earner. We were told that veneer, and very little plywood, would come to Australia. What we want in Australia is the veneer of white klinkii and hoop pine. We have plenty of timber suitable for middles and backs, but not good white pine.
What has actually happened has been that in the last year 7,100,000 square feet of finished three-ply has been exported for dollars. Although Australia’s total consumption is only 150,000,000 or 160,000,000 square feet annually 37,000,000 square feet has been brought in from New Guinea. Honorable senators will see what a tremendous slice of the industry that takes away. Now we are told that it is all coming down here because it is possible these days to make moisturerepellant. three-ply. I can remember moisture-repellant three-ply being made 25 years ago. There is nothing new about that. Any ply miller can tell you exactly how to do it and, in fact, we make quite a lot of it ourselves.
In 1954 the Tariff Board decided to allow 10,000,000 square feet of plywood into Australia and now, in 1957, a request is being made for unlimited entry. I hope that the Minister for Territories, and indeed the Cabinet generally, will have a good look at that proposal before agreeing to it. I realize that a recommendation on the matter will have to be made by the Tariff Board, but I understand that a recommendation of the board is not necessarily accepted by Cabinet. I hope that the Government, before it allows unlimited entry, will take into consideration the fact that there is great unemployment in the Queensland plywood industry. Moreover, T hope that the Tariff Board, in its wisdom, will not agree to any increase in the quota.
I should like to make a suggestion, though whether it is feasible or not I do not know. There are supposed to be 500,000,000 super, feet of timber in the Bulolo Valley. Of this amount, 200,000,000 super, feet has already been allocated to the amalgamated company, in which the holding is roughly half Commonwealth owned, and half privately owned, with the deciding vote on the side of the Commonwealth. Why not give the Australian ply millers the right to take 200,000,000 super, feet out of the 300,000,000 super, feet that remains?
That would bring an element of fairness into the matter. We must not forget that the Australian taxpayer is providing a subsidy for the people who produce this plywood. The relevant portion of the act reads -
If customs duty is paid upon the importation into Australia of the plywood, veneers, logs and other products of the Timber Company, and is not remitted, the Commonwealth will pay to the Timber Company a subsidy upon the exportation of those products from the Territory for entry into Australia of an amount or at a rate determined by the Commonwealth from time to time, but the amount of subsidy paid shall not exceed the amount of customs duty paid and not remitted.
In other words, the New Guinea concern can bring all the plywood it likes into Australia duty free. That, in plain English, is the meaning of the act. To me that seems to be quite wrong. The Australian taxpayer already meets the cost of providing toads and bridges for these people. The Markham bridge was erected almost solely for the purpose of transporting the timber down from the Bulolo valley to Lae for shipment, and the maintenance of roads and bridges in the area is paid for by the Australian taxpayer. I believe that the whole scheme is wrong, and hope that we shall see some endeavour on the part of the Government to give the Australian ply millers a fair deal.
I congratulate the Australian Government, and also the Government of the United Kingdom, on their reciprocal arrangement regarding social services. It is an excellent idea, and I understand that soon New Zealand may make a similar arrangement.
The proposals made in His Excellency’s Speech are certainly not world-shattering, but a number of them were very interesting. I have in mind especially the reference to the re-introduction of the banking legislation - an event to which I look forward with interest.
– I rise, with a good deal of pleasure, to second the motion proposed by my colleague. Senator Kendall, for the AddressinReply to His Excellency’s Speech upon the occasion of the opening of this third session of the Twenty-second Parliament. It is a motion which expresses loyalty to the Throne and to the person of Her
Majesty the Queen, and also thanks His Excellency for having attended here this day and opened the Parliament. It was inevitable that His Excellency’s Speech should contain early and appropriate reference to the current visit of Her Majesty the Queen Mother to Australia, and particularly to this city - to which, I understand, she will return this evening.
I think we all will agree that it is fitting that Her Majesty should be received in our Australian cities and in the Australian countryside with such spontaneous demonstrations of goodwill and loyalty as was the case, we are glad to think, during her visit to our sister dominion, New Zealand. She is welcome in every way. Indeed, Her Majesty is doubly welcome because, as His Excellency has this day reminded us, we recall that some 31 years ago she visited Australia and Canberra as the wife of the then Duke of York, who later became King George VI. of distinguished memory and who, on that occasion, opened the first session of the Parliament to be held in Canberra and in this very building in which we meet to-day.
The Australian people now look back on those intervening 31 years. During that period we have experienced prosperity and depression, progress and difficulty, gain and loss, and the joys of peace and sorrows of war. Particularly do we recall, as Her Majesty the Queen Mother comes to us once again, the shining example, to which reference has already been made to-day, that was shown by her late husband and herself during the great trials which the people of Great Britain were called upon to endure during the days of World War II. We think especially of the early days of that conflict when Britain stood alone against the full might and ferocity of the Hitler air force which strove mightily but vainly to subdue our Motherland and her people by bombing and raining from the air terror of a kind hitherto unknown. We rejoice to think that during those days and nights of death and destruction, a period which perhaps has already become known, as Sir Winston Churchill forecast, as constituting England’s greatest hour, Her Majesty, her husband and her family preferred to stay in London and decided to risk all and share fully the trials of their people rather than move to a comparatively safe spot. By their precept and example in those days they encouraged the people, not only of England, but also of the whole British Commonwealth to stand fast and endure, and finally to conquer. It is not too much to say that as a result of that effort the world was saved from a complete change in the course of history.
A grateful people in this continent remember those things. Speaking not only for myself but also, I am sure, for every other member of the Senate, I say with great feeling that there wells up within us at this time a sense of pride, gratitude and loyalty which prompts us to say from the bottom of our hearts to Her Majesty, “ We extend to you a warm welcome, a sincere welcome. May God continue to bless you and be gracious unto you and give to you and yours peace - peace of mind and spirit. May there also be that peace among all the peoples and nations of the world for which we must ever strive! “
Her Majesty will not fail to notice the development that has occurred in the years since she was last here. Indeed, in her broadcast to the Australian people last night, she referred to the growth and development that had taken place in this and other cities and throughout the countryside- the growth of our population, which is still predominantly British and which I choose to think will always remain so, and the growth and development of primary and secondary industry.
The attainment of nationhood that has occurred during those intervening years has made it necessary for us to realize our new responsibilities. We have become a nation amongst the nations, not only of the British Commonwealth, but also in this particular area in which our destiny lies. Undoubtedly our destiny lies in the Southwest Pacific area and, together with our sister dominion, New Zealand, we as a nation must increasingly have regard to that fact. The whole concept of our relationship with our friends and allies in this area has been altered as the result of the advance of science and its application to methods of defence. As the distinguished Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Macmillan, pointedly remarked in this city, Great Britain is 12,000 miles from Australia and we are 12,000 miles from Great Britain. Because things have changed, because of the comparative impotence of the British fleet, upon which we used to rely comfortably, to come to our aid, and because of the emergence of new weapons of war, we must accept full responsibility for our defence and for our relationships with our neighbours and allies in this area.
So it is with real satisfaction that we realize that Australia’s name stands high amongst the nations of the world, and particularly amongst the nations of the Southwest Pacific. We offer our congratulations to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for the great pains to which they have gone to ensure that our relationships with the people who are closest to us are of the highest standing and that Australia’s efforts are appreciated by those people.
Because of our realization of our own obligations as a nation, we have entered into pacts with other countries. Those pacts, let it be said, have been entered into solely for the mutual aid and defence of ourselves and our friends, and certainly with no aggressive intent. We have entered into the Anzus pact with the great United States of America and New Zealand, and also with our friends who are members of Seato. Let us continue to say that there is no aggressive intent in those pacts. That should be said as often as we think fit to say it, and perhaps even more often than that, because it may be that others misunderstand our purpose and intention in forming these alliances. Let it be said again and again that we threaten no one but that we have an obligation 1o ourselves and our neighbours for our mutual advancement and defence.
His Excellency referred to the cold war that is still being waged, whether we like it or not. Apparently, the ideologies of the East and the West remain irreconcilable. Strive as we might, there seems to be a deadlock. But I hope that this Government will never cease to pledge its utmost effort towards solving some of the problems that exist between the East and the West. His Excellency referred also to the vital question of disarmament, which causes all of us, surely, the greatest anxiety. He said that the Government supports those who believe that our hope lies in a controlled disarmament. I sincerely hope that we in this Parliament, whatever our political views may be, will subscribe to that view. I believe that it implies a reduction of all types of arms, including conventional weapons. Surely it is all too clear that we cannot accept a reduction in nuclear preparedness without making certain that a similar reduction applies also to conventional weapons. We have only to recall the remarks during the last few days of the Russian Minister for Defence in regard to Russia’s claim of superiority in conventional weapons to realize the truth of what I have just said. As a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or as a member of the alliance of Western Powers, we cannot afford to sanction an overall reduction of the severer types of weapons without ensuring that a reduction applies also to weapons of the conventional type. I think that is the belief of our own country, of our Western allies and of all those who seek to promote freedom in this world. We must ensure also that any such reduction is based on a policy of proper and adequate inspection. Any agreement for any degree of disarmament must be capable of being thoroughly policed to see that all nations honour the agreement into which they have entered.
I am sure we all support the idea of talks at the highest level between the leaders of the great Powers. The very thought of talks between the leaders of the great Powers raises the hopes of millions of people throughout the world who long for a lasting peace, but I, for one, agree that however desirable such talks might be, there must be adequate preparation for them. There must be an agenda of a type which will offer at least some prospect of agreement on specific subjects. Without that, the results might be bad.
Mention has been made of the Colombo plan, and I wish to refer briefly to the subject in passing. The Colombo plan is a magnificent concept. It is the type of thing in which we are particularly interested, because it is our desire not only to protect ourselves in the ordinary way by taking defence measures, but also to aid in their progress towards a higher standard of living peoples who are perhaps considered backward. A higher standard of living is, perhaps, basically the greatest hope of peace for the world. I repeat that the Colombo plan, in its concept, is a magnificent thing. It is working satisfactorily up to a point, but I regret to say that there is a possibility that the effort that has been made has not been made in the right direction.
I have heard suggestions to this effect from people whose opinions can be respected. They are people who have been in these countries and have seen examples of - I hate to call it waste, but of waste of effort. Machines and implements are being supplied which are not appropriate for the job required to be done. It may well be that the governments which make the requests have not a full knowledge ot the types of machines required, or that the governments which agree to supply the requested machines do not fully understand the purposes for which they are to be used. Then again, when a machine reaches its destination, perhaps no one there has the technical knowledge required to assemble it or to operate it so as to obtain the best results. I do not wish to criticize, but merely to be helpful, and I trust my remarks will be treated in that way. I suggest that the Government, while continuing to make the fullest effort under the Colombo plan, study this aspect of the situation, so as to ensure what is, after all, reasonable, that is, that there will be no waste either of money or of effort in making gifts. It is important that Australia should gain the credit which is its due for the effort it is making under the Colombo plan. What I have said of Australia might well apply to other donor countries.
– Australian prestige would suffer if it sent machines which were not fitted for the job.
– I am glad to be reminded of that. The stage could be reached when, instead of our prestige being increased, we should incur the risk of ridicule as a result of our efforts, lt cannot be suggested that we have not the real good of these peoples at heart. In the main, they are backward peoples, and it would be a tragedy if, despite our desire to promote their economic welfare and raise their standards of living, the plan were to fall short of what it could achieve.
Ft is true that the Parliament meets on this occasion under the shadow of an indifferent season. However, taking Australia as a whole, it can be said that the early prospects of a rather calamitous season have not been altogether realized.
The October rains which fell in South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and, I think, Tasmania will ensure reasonablereturns. They averted a complete failure in South Australia, where, I am glad to say, about 15,500,000 bushels of wheat and 13,000,000 bushels of barley have been garnered. It has been a moderate season in South Australia, but by no means a calamitous one. Returns have been much better than ever the agriculturalists themselves expected when they put their machines into the crops. Those returns have, to some extent, offset the unfortunate situation in New South Wales and Queensland. We were glad to be reminded to-day that rains in parts of those two States point to better times ahead, and we sincerely hope that better seasonal conditions will enable those two States to overcome the great difficulties they are now experiencing.
We have had brought home to us once again that Australia depends to a disproportionate extent - I was going to say to an alarming degree - on its agricultural industries. We have been brought face to face with that fact again as a result of the moderately bad conditions we have had during the last season. I trust that the serious consequences we are now experiencing as a result of an indifferent season wilt only a passing phase. There are, however, certain consequences which must inevitably flow from even a comparative failure of the cereal harvest in Australia. It is estimated that the overall farm income in Australia this year will be £370,000,000 - the lowest for many years. Government revenue, of course, must be affected, particularly in the financial year when the incomes from the present harvest will be the subject of taxation. Our balance of payments position will also be considerably affected, at a time when most of us had hoped that import restrictions would be further relaxed. We welcome the relaxation which has already occurred, to which reference was made in His Excellency’s Speech.
– Why not abandon them?
– Some of us hoped that we would reach a position where they could be abandoned, but, unfortunately, I can see no such prospect; and the prospect of any further relaxation is somewhat diminishing, to my mind, because of Australia’s decreasing export income. All these things have a direct bearing on that particular matter. Whilst it is true that our overseas balance of payments has been restored to a very considerable extent, I still feel that we can rely on some estimates that have been made to the effect that there may be a draw of anything up to £100,000,000 sterling on that favorable overseas balance. Further, the position has not been helped by the fact that the value of the goods which we have for export has diminished because of decreasing prices for those exports. Happily, wool prices, which have receded in recent months, are showing signs of recovering, but lower prices in general will reduce the value of the whole of the exports on which we depend so greatly. The same applies to our cereal exports. It has to be remembered also that the whole position is further complicated at the moment by the rather spectacular fall in the prices of base metals.
Unfortunately, all those matters to which I have made but passing reference have a direct bearing on the unemployment situation, and that is something which must be watched. I am glad of the references to it in His Excellency’s Speech. The unemployment situation is something to which we private members of this Parliament must pay some regard. Of course, it is something which must be watched by the Government. I trust that the situation is being watched and that steps will be taken, if they become necessary, to alleviate it.
But let me say at once that any suggestion of panic talk in this Parliament or elsewhere, the type of talk in which, unfortunately, some members of the Opposition seem to delight in indulging, does not help the situation; on the contrary, such talk rather hinders it, and if panic talking is done for political advantage, it is certainly most deplorable.
In my humble opinion - and I emphasize that I do not want anybody to put into my mouth words which I did not utter to-day - agitation at this time for reduced hours in industry while retaining existing rates of wages, an agitation which is being made by some people at the moment, will not assist the position. Nor will the payments of increased wages for the same quantity of production. I want those words to be carefully heeded, because I do not want to be accused by anybody of saying things which I have not said: I simply state what I believe to be the true position. But those suggestions I have mentioned merely tend at the present time to increase costs, and cost levels are already making the export trade in some commodities extremely difficult. I refer in particular to those lines which have to meet competitive markets, and I do suggest that in the long run the very people who are inclined to favour the adoption of those suggestions as palliatives will probably find that they themselves are the ones to be caught up in the whirlwind.
I do express the opinion, however, that some easing of the credit position would be of material assistance to private industry in which, in my own State, the bulk of unemployment lies. I feel that at the present time we are experiencing a deflationary spiral in Australia, and I suggest that an easing of credit would be like a shot in the arm to those people in industry who are trying to continue on an even keel. I hope the Government will give serious consideration to that matter if it has not already done so.
Together with that expression, I hope that we can expect the granting of some assistance to State governments. Here I pay tribute to the Commonwealth Government for the assistance that it has already granted to the States. I feel that more assistance from the Commonwealth would enable them to take up the slack, as it were, in connexion with the employment of a particular type of person. I refer now mainly to the unskilled and the semiskilled person who finds himself unemployed at the present time. I feel that there are works which are not inflationary in character and which could be undertaken by State administrations and local government authorities, provided the funds are made available. I do suggest that it will be necessary to carry out some of these works if State and semi-governmental authorities are to be enabled to take up the slack in connexion with the employment of the particular class of person to whom I have referred.
As I feel that this is the time and place for expressing one’s own hopes in connexion with the coming Budget, I express the hope that it will be found possible to ease the sales tax burden in some directions. I do not intend to indicate the particular directions in which that might be done, but I do make the broad assertion that at this particular time, we need to build up the confidence of everybody in the nation, and I feel that if some relief from sales tax could be given in certain directions it would encourage spending. As 1 see the position, we are going through a different period now from what might have obtained, say, eighteen months ago, when the Government definitely had to put the brakes on spending in order to avoid further inflation in Australia. I think that at the moment we are travelling somewhat in the other direction and that to-day we should encourage spending on reasonable types of purchases in order to ensure that people do not button up too much. The tendency at the moment is to avoid spending on anything that is not regarded as absolutely necessary. To stop spending on anything but essentials is looked upon by the average individual to-day as being prudent. We can go too far in that direction, and I suggest that an easing of the sales tax burden in certain directions might encourage the average individual to feel confident, first, that his job is safe and, secondly, that it is safe for him to launch out and buy those things of which he feels he has need.
T have already said that the provision of £5,000,000 as assistance to the States is greatly welcomed, as is the £3,000,000 which is to be raised by way of loan to assist semi-governmental bodies. Those people who would criticize this assistance should remember that it is actually a total of £8,000,000 for the remainder of this financial year and, in effect, amounts to a total of between £24,000,000 and £25,000,000 a year. That is much greater than would appear at first glance.
There is one particular matter connected with South Australia to which I wish to refer this afternoon, and I crave the indulgence of the Senate whilst I do so. I refer to the production of almonds, which could become a very large industry in South Australia. Like so many other primary industries, almond production must maintain Australian standards, and when we remember that it has received no increase in protection over the last 30 years, we should realize what this industry has to face in competing with imports from Mediterranean countries. The rate of duty fixed approximately 30 years ago was 8d. per lb. on a most-favoured-nation basis and 9d. per lb. on imports from other countries. That rate has not altered in 30 years. Representations have been made by the South Australian members to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) who have expressed agreement with the suggestion that this matter should be referred to the Tariff Board. I understand that a conference will be held in Adelaide early this year. The industry has requested an increase in the rate of duty from 8d. or 9d. per lb. to 2s. per lb. for almonds in the shell, and 3s. per lb. for almond kernels.
– Where can you get 3s. for them?
– I do not think the honorable senator heard what I said. I am referring to the amount of duty which the industry asks to be applied in South Australia. We hope that rate will be fixed as a result of the Tariff Board inquiry.
– From what countries are the almonds imported?
– They come from Italy and countries along the southern coast of Europe. I, with my colleagues from South Australia, have examined this matter and conferred with persons engaged in the industry. We look forward to an early hearing by the Tariff Board.
I refer now to the preparations in hand for a continuation of the wheat stabilization plan which expires at the end of this wheat year. If the plan is to continue for the next harvest, the requisite arrangements will have to be completed between now and then. I welcome the assurance of the Minister for Primary Industry that preparations are well in hand and I sincerely trust that we will have an ample opportunity, as a Parliament, to deal with the relevant legislation.
This is the last year in the life of this Parliament and an election will probably take place later in the year. I believe - and I feel the Australian people also believe - that this Government must be given credit for having been a courageous government. Varied circumstances have obtained during the life of this Parliament. At times we have received very high prices for our exports and, at others, prices have not been quite so favorable. Despite what Opposition senators may say, this Government must be given credit for its courage in facing up to the difficulties which have arisen, and in not shirking its responsibilities.
– The honorable senator is over-modest!
– I welcome such a remark from the honorable senator. I trust that he will repeat it when he participates in the debate. I am quite certain that the people of Australia will remember this period of unsurpassed prosperity and great development, and at the general election will ensure a continuation of those conditions by returning this Government to office.
I have much pleasure in supporting the motion proposed by my colleague, Senator Kendall.
Sitting suspended from 5.10 to 8 p.m.
.- One cannot but agree with the expressions of loyalty to the Throne by both the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. We were pleased to see His Excellency here this afternoon and we thank him for the Speech that he delivered. I am sure that we all endorse the words of welcome to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen Mother that were uttered by Senator Kendall and Senator Pearson. It is unfortunate that protocol denies to this gracious lady an opportunity once again to visit this chamber where, 31 years ago, her late devoted husband, who was then the Duke of York, opened the first session of the Federal Parliament held in Canberra. I am sure that all honorable senators would have liked to see her at this afternoon’s formal opening of this new session. The people of Australia have given Her Majesty a very warm welcome, and when she returns to the United Kingdom she will be able to tell all those with whom she is associated of the wonderfully loyal spirit that prevails in this country.
I feel that one is entitled to criticize the substance of His Excellency’s Speech. As we know, this is an election year. Usually, when the Parliament is formally opened by the Queen’s representative, the government of the day indicates in the speech its intentions for the future. It takes stock of the existing conditions, and indicates how it proposes to deal with various matters during the session. In the main, His Excellency’s Speech reiterated facts that are well known in this country, such as the attention that this Government has paid to the problems of South-East Asia. This Parliament is composed of representatives of the people, and consequently it was to be expected that the Speech would give an indication of the Government’s intentions, but there was nothing very constructive in that connexion. Paragraph after paragraph of His Excellency’s Speech referred only to events of the past. Of course, we were pleased to hear that delegations from this Parliament were well received in both India and Japan. It is pleasing to know that friendship is being evinced in those countries to the Commonwealth of Australia. This is a very important factor in these days of changing opinions in the world.
Conditions to-day are vastly different from those that obtained when the Federal Parliament first met in Canberra 31 years ago. The days of imperialism or colonialism have gone for ever, and consequently our outlook to-day is vastly different from what it formerly was. No longer can the march of certain peoples towards nationalism be thwarted merely by a display of strength. In earlier years, Australia was almost bound to abide by decisions of the Imperial Government; we were practically ruled from Whitehall. Slowly but surely we developed our own system of government and took unto ourselves a greater degree of responsibility. We have developed to our present position-
– Under the wing of the British Navy.
– Yes, we were under the wing of the British Navy which, in those days, was all-powerful, lt could, by a mere demonstration, prevent expression from being given to the desires of the colonies to obtain self-government. In the early days of Australian parliamentary government certain radicals - not Labourites - spoke of gaining some rights, but inferentially it was suggested that we just had to accept the position.
As I have said, the Governor-General referred to the fact that the Queen Mother was present in this chamber 31 years ago when her husband opened the first session of the Australian Parliament held in Canberra. That was a milestone in our history. The fact that the Duke of York opened the Federal Parliament was in itself indicative of the change that had come about since the introduction of responsible government into this country. Initially, Australia was composed of six self-governing colonies, and, as 1 have said, the Duke and Duchess of York came to Australia to open the first session of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia held in Canberra. Who would have thought at that time that the great British Empire would come to be known as the British Commonwealth of Nations? Since those days, India and other countries have attained self-government but have remained within the British Commonwealth of Nations, which is a tribute to the development that is taking place around us. We are all pleased that members of the Royal Family have made visits to countries of the Commonwealth of Nations and have been well received.
Reference is made in the Speech to the fact that a cold war is still in progress against the unity of the free world, and it is suggested that the Government will maintain the contribution that this nation is making to the security of the democracies. When one reads the remarks that are made from time to time by responsible leaders in various parts of the world, in the East as well as in the West, one wonders what the dissention is about. Who wants war? What is the necessity for it in these days? During our lifetime we have seen two world wars. The first was supposed to have been fought to protect the rights of small nations. It was said to be a war to end war. It is true that after World War I. there was a period of peace, but then World War II. broke out. World War I. did not end war. nor did it give the small nations the rights that they expected. No sooner was an armistice declared during World War II. than we began to prepare for another war.
I suggest it is time that the leaders of the various countries, both of the East and of the West, got together and spoke to one another as human beings, without all the by-play that appears to go on. We are continually hearing suggestions about summit conferences, conferences of foreign ministers, and so on; yet we appear to be getting nowhere. If we got down to tin tacks and had heart-to-heart talks with one another, as reasonable men, and tried to see the opposite point of view, the world position might be easier. We have noted the wonderful advances that have been made in recent years with man-made satellites, and we know that therein lies the potential for wholesale destruction. In view of the position of world affairs at the moment, there should be talks regarding: the future of the world.
I suggest that the omissions from the Speech speak louder than the words it contains. It has been my pleasure, as it has been that of other honorable senators, to listen to a number of speeches delivered on the occasion of opening of the Parliament. I should say that the speech we heard to-day was one of the most nebulous statements that have been made on behalf of a Commonwealth government, especially when one remembers the conditions which exist in our country at the present time. Two great problems are exercising the minds of thinking men and women. The fact that unemployment is on the increase and the fact that there are thousands of people who are unable to obtain homes present very serious problems. Yet, in this Speech, the Government has dismissed both of those important matters in a few brief words. In regard to unemployment, His Excellency stated -
There has been some increase in unemployment, some part of which was undoubtedly attributable to the less favorable seasonal conditions. It still represents a relatively small proportion of our total work force; nevertheless it is a development which my Government continues to keep under closest scrutiny. The decisions taken at the recent Loan Council meeting will result in some additional finance being available to the State Governments and some increase in the borrowing programmes of the local Government authorities. This should assist in providing additional employment opportunities.
The Government will keep the matter under close scrutiny! Has it not been keeping the position under close scrutiny for a considerable time? From time to time statements are issued by responsible Ministers to the effect that unemployment is not as bad as the spokesmen of the Australian Labour party make out, that it is due to seasonal factors, and so on. Such excuses are not being received with satisfaction by those who believe that it is the duty of the Government, not only to keep the employment position under scrutiny, but to spring into action and do something about it when unemployment occurs. We can scrutinize a thing and remain passive. What about some action by the Government?
The Melbourne “ Age “, which is by no means a supporter of the Labour party, has directed attention to the fear that the unemployment problem will become progressively more difficult. I noticed an article in which it was suggested that the number of unemployed was even greater than the figure stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in another place. According to the records, 74,765 persons are’ registered as unemployed. Honorable senators know as well as I do that she number of unemployed registered with the Commonwealth Employment Office never represents the total number of people who are actually unemployed, because a considerable number of unemployed do not register immediately. They hope that something will turn up, or that through their own initiative they will be able to regain employment. They perhaps feel that the work for which they are best suited is not available immediately, and so they refrain from registering their names for a considerable period. Eventually, of course, they are compelled to do so, and so a few more unemployed are added to the number of those registered, but in the meanwhile others have come on to the unemployment market.
We. might well ask: What does this figure of 74.765 represent? The supporters of the Government appear to think that the problem can be solved by keeping it under scrutiny. So far as the Government is concerned, this 74,765 seems to be just a set of figures, like figures in a ledger. Does it not appreciate that the people who are unemployed are human beings who desire the necessaries of life, and that, in many cases, those unemployed have wives and children who are dependent on them? Does it not appreciate that the unemployed want some of the amenities of life, such as food, clothing and shelter, to name the three main requirements of a family? But, of course, there are other things that cannot be enjoyed by a family whose breadwinner is unemployed. In view of the fact that statistics reveal that the trend of Australian production is upward, surely these unemployed people are entitled to some of the good things of life, too, such as recreation and enjoyment!
The Government, through His Excellency, has told us that it is continuing to scrutinize the position. I hope that before this session is many weeks old public opinion, and the voices of Opposition members both here and in another place, will force the Government to give us further details of what it is about to do. People who are unemployed cannot afford to house or clothe themselves properly and this, in turn, leads to a further extension of the unemployment problem. Reduced purchasing power slowly but surely causes unemployment to snowball, and before we know where we are we may find ourselves back in the bad old days of the 30’s, which we thought had gone forever. Such unhappy times should never again bc experienced in this country. When they came upon us the Government, and persons in responsible positions generally, were not equipped by experience to deal with them. It was a new situation. Devious means of alleviating the problem were tried and, with the passing of time, we have learnt how inadequate they were to deal with this great problem. One should surely be able to feel now that, as a result of the greater wisdom gained over the years, and better organization generally, we can deal with such a situation immediately. It is idle to say that unemployment has been caused by unfavorable seasonal conditions, or by some other temporary set-back. The past season has not been the best, but surely a government that was anxious to maintain full employment would immediately set about devising ways and means of doing so.
Reference has been made to the granting of additional financial assistance. Five million pounds has been split up between the six States. New South Wales and Victoria, being the most populous have, of course, received the giant’s share. When one looks at the amounts received by the smaller States one wonders what work they could put in train that would absorb the growing numbers of unemployed. This
Government has handed out another £5,000,000 as if that would solve the problem automatically. We are told that local government and semi-governmental bodies have been authorized to increase their borrowing powers. Such bodies have had extreme difficulty in raising loans in the last twelve months. Also, the rate of interest has been increased, and this makes the burden upon instrumentalities which approach the loan market even greater.
The amount that my own State of Victoria has received as a result of the meeting of the Australian Loan Council a few days ago has been a mere drop in the bucket. It has been suggested that portion of the money might be devoted to solving the great problem of housing. The great numbers of people who need homes warrants portion of that money being diverted for housing purposes, but other necessary and pressing problems demand a share of it also. I imagine that my State is not alone in needing, as well as more adequate housing, more adequate water conservation. In some of our largest centres there are fears that in a day or two the present water supply will be non-existent. This situation has been caused, not by the dry season, but by the absence of facilities for conserving water. Many more millions could be spent in that field alone.
Sewerage is now being more widely provided in the closely populated areas but it, too, needs a more adequate water supply than is at present available. Schooling, too, is being retarded for want of facilities. In the town where I reside I play a small part in municipal government, and I can tell honorable senators that not one of our six schools has an adjacent playing area. The municipality has available two small reserves and must try to meet, with these, the requirements of the six schools. The Education Department should have the finance to obtain its own land and develop it for playing areas. We are told that we should try to build up a strong and virile nation. There is no better way of doing that than by making available playing areas. But all this requires money which, so far, the State departments of education have not received.
Similarly, adequate hospitals cannot be provided without a great deal more money.
It will be useless for Government spokesmen to ask, as soon as I sit down, “What are the State governments doing about it? It is their job “. I realize that the States should do the actual work, but where are the funds that they need for that purpose? The Commonwealth, since embarking upon uniform taxation, controls the nation’s purse strings. It should appreciate that fact, and make money available in sufficient quantities to enable the States to carry out developmental work. However,, nothing of that kind seems likely to happen as a result of the speech that was soeloquently delivered to us to-day.
Let us consider the question of housing. Wherever one goes one finds young people- - and some not so young - struggling to obtain a home, lt has often been suggested that an Englishman’s home is his castle. We have given expression most eloquently tothe fact that ours is a sturdy and enterprising race, that we love to own property, and that our great desire is to becomepossessed of it. For young people and others to desire a home of their own isvery laudable, especially when there is such a demand for houses that all sorts of devices are employed by the owners of property to get rid of their tenants so they can place that property on the open market and obtain a higher price by offering vacant possession.
There is in existence a housing agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. Did His Excellency say anything to-day which would indicate that the Government intended to grapple with the housing problem in the manner in which it should be dealt with? We are bringing to this country thousands of people who have been dispossessed of their homes or estates in landsthat we have been told and which we know are not as free as is this Australia of ours. Surely those people have some right topossession of a home in this new land of theirs! But homes are not available for old’ Australians, let alone new Australians. The graphs that have been published from timeto time in relation to the housing situation show that the peak of house constructionwas reached in 1952. This Government assumed office in 1949, and I can recall that in 1951 and 1952 honorable senatorsopposite came into this chamber and said, “ Look at what we are doing. Look at the increase of the number of houses under construction and of the number completed.” lt is true that there had been a great increase, but the great impetus that had been given by the Labour government continued for the first two years of this Government’s period of office. Because of the plans that had been laid by the Chifley Government, this Government could not prevent homes being built in such large numbers.
But what happened after 1952? Slowly but surely a recession occurred. Never has the rate of house construction been lower than it is to-day. That is the record of a government that was described by Senator Pearson in his concluding remarks as being courageous, and a government that was prepared to grapple with the problems that confronted it. Where has it displayed courage in dealing with the housing problem? Government supporters talk about communism and all the other “ isms “ that are destroying the fabric of our society. Why has communism developed in other countries? lt has developed simply because the governments of those countries, such as they have been, ignored the conditions of the people and slowly but surely those people said that the existing system must be destroyed. That is what has led to the rise of revolutionaries and to support of the Communist movement in those countries. Unless the Government ensures that the people of this country are provided with proper housing conditions, the Communist movement and other movements in this country will gain further support. If those honorable senators who have recently visited other parts of the world where a great convulsion has taken place were to tell the truth, they would say that they had seen the conditions that had given rise to the ideology of communism.
I am afraid that this courageous Government, as Senator Pearson described it, has not the courage to grapple with the housing problem. Why is it afraid to do so? It is because it must serve another master - the financial institutions. That was suggested in the concluding stages of His Excellency’s speech. It was stated quite definitely that the Government would act in relation to the problem that has been forced upon it by those who have supplied the sinews of war and who possibly have told the Government, “ This is an election year, and elections cost a lot of money. Unless you are prepared to see that the banking legislation is placed on the statute book before the life of this parliament expires, not so much money will be available “. So the Government, through His Excellency, states definitely that the banking measures will be re-introduced. What is to happen with regard to unemployment, those people who are hungry, those who have not sufficient means of support, and those who are confronted with the problem of raising families? Those matters are under scrutiny by the Government! Yes, it is scrutinizing those problems, but is taking no particular action.
– The Government has already made additional grants to all the States to cover that.
– Yes, £5,000,000! Has the honorable senator looked at some of the Government’s own publications and noted the tremendous increase in the cost of building materials? The cost of those materials is rising almost daily. When an attempt was made to control prices and to ensure that people would be able to obtain building materials at a fair and reasonable price, honorable senators opposite said, “ Everything will right itself. The law of supply and demand will be in operation; that will bring prices to their proper level “. But they have not reached that level yet; rather are they still rising. Goodness only knows where the level is to be found! The philosophy of this Government is to keep things under scrutiny without taking any decisive action.
There was no reference in the GovernorGeneral’s speech to the working conditions of the people other than a suggestion that the Government was very pleased that on the industrial front the last year had been very peaceful, that all the unionists had behaved themselves, that production had gone on merrily, that there had been a decrease in the time required for the turnround of ships, and that the wharfies had been doing all the things they should do. The comparative industrial peace in the community has demonstrated that the workers are prepared to play their part when their conditions are favorable. But what do we find at the moment? Are those conditions likely to continue? Are we certain that within the next few months the industrial field will be as tranquil as it is at the moment? There are murmurings and rumblings to-day on the industrial front. For a considerable period the wages of workers have been frozen as the result of court action, inspired and supported by the present Government. It was possibly this Government that instigated the plan to freeze the wages of the working man. Members of the Government said, “ Inflation is getting out of hand; we must reduce production costs “. They did not suggest that the profits of companies should be reduced. They suggested that costs should be reduced by reducing the amount the workers received from the pool of production. The workers’ share had to be diminished, but the profits of the captains of industry could continue as before.
The newspapers disclose that in order to disguise the great profits that have been made in recent years stock-watering has been very prevalent. Whilst extra money does come into the coffers of the firms by this means, the fact remains that the fortunate shareholders are able to obtain additional advantages as a result of stockwatering. But the worker, who, after all, is an important cog in the industrial machine - I might suggest that he is the most important cog - has not received any benefit. I say that he is the most important cog because although capital may be available, if no work force is available to enable production to proceed, that capital is useless.
One might have expected the Government to-day to give the people of this country a message of hope by stating that it was not going to allow the economy of the nation to get into the doldrums, that it did have some plans to bring the economic structure back to equilibrium, that it was anxious that the great majority of those who are seeking homes to-day should be granted the necessary facilities to obtain homes, and that they should be able to obtain not only building materials but also land on which to erect homes. In many of our towns to-day it is almost impossible for people to pay the price that is demanded for the freehold of land on which to erect a home. This Government might have been expected to say something like that to-day, but instead, it stands condemned as a government without courage and a government which is prepared to allow things to drift. Let not members of the Government be misled into thinking that the
Labour party is not capable of turning the tables at the next general election and displacing them. After all, public opinion changes very rapidly at times. I feel sure that the great bulk of the people are disappointed at the performance of the Government. They will look at the records of achievements of governments from the Labour movement and will unhesitatingly turn to the Labour party again. That is borne out by history. Honorable senators opposite may laugh, but the history of this country shows that when the people have been in distress and have desired something to be done for them, they have turned to the Labour party. That position is arising at the present time.
I feel sure there is a great measure of disappointment at the speech which the Government placed in the hands of His Excellency this afternoon, because of the things that were omitted from it. As I said at the beginning of my speech, we thank His Excellency for coming here and for delivering the speech in the manner in which he did, but I regret that the material was not more satisfying from the point of view of the people.
– I should like to associate myself with the motion so ably proposed by Senator Kendall and equally ably seconded by Senator Pearson. It is -
We, the Senate o£ the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
It is a great honour for me to be in this Parliament on the occasion of the Queen Mother’s second visit to Australia. It is some 31 years since she came here as the Duchess of York, when the Parliament of the Commonwealth was opened in Canberra by the then Duke of York. I believe that the people of Australia are very pleased with her visit. The enthusiastic reception that they have given to a representative of the Crown demonstrates how loyal they are. I was in Sydney on Monday when the streets were lined fifteen or twenty deep by people waiting to see the Queen Mother, and I can assure the Senate that the people of Sydney gave her a most enthusiastic welcome. She has been given the same kind of welcome wherever she has been in Australia. I feel sure that another warm welcome will be given to her in Canberra to-morrow and also in the other States she has yet to visit. 1 wish to refer first to the speech delivered by Senator Sheehan, who has just resumed his seat. I think it was Senator Pearson who said that when there is a slight amount of unemployment it is not good for members of this Parliament to endeavour to magnify the position because the whole question of the employment of the people of the Commonwealth depends entirely on the sense of security felt by employers and the amount of faith they have in industryIs the employer given any encouragement to employ additional staff when he hears members of the Labour party say over the radio network, or reads in the press reports of their speeches in which they say that we have a large number of unemployed in Australia, that the position is going from bad to worse, that things could not be worse than they are now? He certainly is not; in fact, such a condition of affairs creates an adverse result, and that, in my opinion, is just what the members of the Labour party are keen to do. They hold the view that if there is a great deal of unemployment in Australia they may have some chance of being elected to govern at the next election.
– That is childish.
– It is not childish; it is the true position. In my view, the whole of the Australian economy depends upon a certain degree of security of employment and security to industry. The moment a person begins to think that conditions are likely to be a little worse he is discouraged from engaging extra employees, and so unemployment grows, and as unemployment grows so does the confidence of the employers recede. Note the snowballing effect. That is what Senator Sheehan and all members of the Labour party hope to see. So confident am I that this is their hope that I venture to say that we shall find that every honorable senator on the Opposition side who speaks during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply will discuss the unemployment situation. He will do that, not because he has any feeling for the unfortunate people in the street who are unemployed but because he and all other mem bers of the Labour party in this Senate are anxious to get back where it is warm after being out in the cold for eight long years.
The present Commonwealth Government does realize that there is a certain amount of unemployment in Australia to-day. We all know that statistics disclose that about 74,000 people throughout the Commonwealth are registered as unemployed. I should like to take honorable senators back to the time when the Labour party governed. I propose to refer to the year 1949.
– That is a long way back.
– It is a long way back, but there are many people who were unemployed then and who still remember those days. I point out that back in 1949 there were more people unemployed than there have been at any time since that date. As a matter of fact, the present figure of 74,000 registered as unemployed throughout the Commonwealth represents only 2 per cent, of the work force of Australia. If we go back to 1949 when the Labour party was in office-
– Go back to 1939.
– I am going back to 1949. The honorable senator can go back to 1939, or, if he wishes, even to 1931, when 25 per cent, of the people were unemployed during the regime of Labour, but for the purposes of my argument I shall go back to 1949, and in particular to the September quarter of that year, when 5 per cent, of the people registered with unions were unemployed. I am quite certain that no honorable senator on the Opposition side will say here, “ When we were in office we had frightful times because 5 per cent, of our people were unemployed “. All honorable senators who are members of the Labour party know full well that the 74,000 people registered as unemployed to-day represent only 2 per cent, of our total work force.
– Was the 5 per cent, mentioned by you the result of the coal strike in 1949?
– And that was only for one quarter.
– It was for the September quarter of 1949, when the coal strike was on, and that is the worst figure we have ever had in Australia since the war.
– Because of the coal strike.
– Because of the coal strike, and, if I remember rightly, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did make certain recommendations to the present Leader of the Australian Labour party in 1949. Had those recommendations been adopted, the problem would have been solved immediately, but I do not think the Labour government of that day had sufficient courage to adopt them.
– What were they?
– It would be interesting to read “ Hansard “ for that year and see what those recommendations were, but at the moment I should like to emphasize to honorable senators opposite that every time they speak of unemployment in this chamber, they help to weaken the confidence of employers throughout Australia and in that way may help to aggravate the unemployment position in the Commonwealth.
Let us now consider what the Government has decided to do in an endeavour to ease the unemployment position in Australia. This Government announced at the recent Loan Council meeting, not as the result of any action taken by the Loan Council, but purely on its own initiative, that it would make a gift of £5,000,000 to the States for the remainder of this financial year. Of that £5,000,000, New South Wales is to receive £500,000, and £500,000 is to be given to Queensland, because the unemployment position is worse in those two States at the moment.
– Are these to be loans or grants?
– They are not loans but gifts made by the Commonwealth to the States to help them with their unemployment problem. Of the £5,000,000, Queensland is to receive £500,000 and New South Wales £500,000, and the remaining £4,000,000 is to be divided amongst the other States according to the income tax reimbursement formula. In addition, the local governing bodies throughout Australia are to be allowed to borrow a further £3,000,000 before the end of this financial year. This means that by way of gift and permission to borrow, the States and local governing bodies will be benefiting to the extent of £8,000,000 over the next four months. That figure is equal to a rate of £24,000,000 a year, and I say that, judged by any standards, that is very generous treatment indeed. We have had unemployment for a longer period in Western Australia than in any other State, but surely it is not the responsibility entirely of the Commonwealth Government to solve the problem of unemployment. The States should make money available and accept the responsibility of eliminating unemployment.
During the slight recession in 1952-53, Western Australia, on a per capita basis, had fewer unemployed persons than any other State. At that time a State Liberal government was in office. Last year, under a Labour government, Western Australia had the highest percentage of unemployed in the Commonwealth. Until the last five years Western Australia, under a LiberalCountry party government, was prosperous, and new industries were being introduced. The oil refinery at Kwinana and the activities of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Cockburn Cement Proprietary Limited are just a few I can name off the cuff. All of these were ‘introduced during the term of office of an anti-Labour government. What has happened in Western Australia since the Labour Government came to power? What has the Labour Government achieved during its term of office in the matter of introducing new industries? I see that Senator Willesee is seeking to interject. He will have the opportunity to make a studied reply to my inquiry during his speech.
The Unfair Trading Act was introduced into Western Australia some time ago. People have come from all over the world with money to invest in that State, but, having looked at this horrible piece of legislation, have either invested in other States or have taken their money home with them.
– Does the honorable senator believe in unfair practices?
– I do not believe in unfair trading, but I do believe that the opportunity for profit making must be present before any company or organization will invest in a country.
– They want profits.
– Of course, they want profits, but the honorable senator should not forget that his party wants profits also.
– The act does not debar profits; it is only a protection against unfair trading.
– The name chosen for the bill was a most unfortunate choice. Organization from overseas, when they read the bill and become aware of its provisions, are not prepared to invest in Western Australia, and look elsewhere. Victoria, for example, is developing and expanding faster than any other State in the Commonwealth, including New South Wales. Last year, the port of Melbourne handled more goods-
– But not to-day.
– The port of Melbourne handled more goods than any other port, including the port of Sydney. Victoria is expanding so rapidly that it is absorbing some 30 per cent, of the increase of our population. Recently I took out some figures which indicate that the natural increase and the increase through immigration to Australia last year, taking into account departures and deaths, was some 200,000 persons, of which number, it is interesting to note, some 64,000 people accommodated themselves in the progressive State of Victoria. When a State such as Victoria gives the opportunity to outside capital to invest in it, then development rapidly follows.
– How many people are unemployed in Victoria?
– There are fewer unemployed there than in any other State in the Commonwealth. I was amazed recently to see the building programme being undertaken in Melbourne. Because of the Western Australian Unfair Trading Act I do not believe that the industries now being established in Victoria will ever be attracted to Western Australia.
Senator Sheehan has said that the rate of building in Australia is declining and that we would have to return a Labour government in order to have it stepped up again. That is the best joke I have heard since I have been a member of this chamber because, if my memory serves me aright, this year it is expected that between 70,000 and 80,000 homes will be built in Australia. lt is interesting to note that the Labour government, when it made its supreme effort, was able to build only approximately 35,000 homes. What a wonderful party to bring back to power! “ Bring back the Labour party to office “ they say, and then 35,000 homes will be built instead of 80,000.
I want honorable senators to cast their minds back to the years 1948 and 1949 and recall how this marvellous machine of the Labour party went about its building programme. I remember full well that in Western Australia bricks for home-building could not be bought. During that period, Australia was short of supplies of basic material. Coal supplies were about 4.000,000 tons short of requirements, and timber, also, was in short supply. We had insufficient cement for home-building purposes. The Labour government, even in its heyday, could not hope to build the number of homes that are now under construction, because it did not know how to go about obtaining the necessary supplies of building materials. Even to-day. Labour does not know how to do that.
– Well, you tell us how to do it!
– Although this Government has given a practical demonstration over the last seven or eight years of how to go about it. honorable senators opposite still do not know. I believe that to-day Australia is prosperous. This Government has pursued a policy of full employment. Although Senator Toohey is laughing, I am trying to be serious about this matter. During our term of office, the situation has changed from one of over-full employment to periods of unemployment, but there has been a balance between the two. That is pretty sound business. Too much over-full employment does not make for the development of a young country such as Australia.
– Do you mean that?
– Does Senator Hendrickson contradict it? I do not think that it is a good thing to have over-full employment in the Commonwealth. I know that steps are being taken to relieve unemployment in Australia. Sir, there has never been a greater opportunity for the development of Australia than there is to-day. If one travels from one end of Australia to the other he can see many opportunities for development. In his Speech this afternoon, the Governor-General said that, during this session, the Government will re-introduce the banking legislation, in the hope that it will be passed by the Senate. Of course, the Labour party is always opposed to any change of the banking system.
– It always will be opposed to a change.
– That is so, but I remind honorable senators that Labour fought an election following a double dissolution on the banking issue - the principle that it is now standing up for.
– We are prepared to fight another election on it.
– Labour might have an opportunity to fight an election following a double dissolution on the issues. Labour certainly would have that opportunity if 1 had my way. The Labour party fought an election on the principle of the existing banking structure - on the constitution of the Commonwealth Bank Board. Now, honorable senators opposite say, “ Leave the board as it is; we love it “. As I understand the position, the establishment of the proposed Development Bank would be a great thing for Australia.
– You would not know anything about that.
– When I recently travelled through the south-western corner of Western Australia, I was amazed at the lack of development on some of the dairy farms there, particularly in the heavily timbered areas. The farmers could not borrow any more money from the ordinary banking system. Many of them had not cleared sufficient land to enable them to run the necessary number of cows to provide them with a reasonable standard of living. I was informed that about 30 per cent, of the people living on dairy farms in the heavily timbered country received returns of less than the basic wage. I was told that one dairy-farmer received a gross income last year of only £700.
I have mentioned this matter because I believe that if more land was cleared the dairy-farmers could run more cows and so obtain additional income. The proposed Development Bank will have power to assist the development of farms and industries throughout Australia.
– Has not the Commonwealth Bank already got that power?
– Do you mean that the Commonwealth Bank has not the money to make available for the development of farms?
– AH of the banks in Australia to-day are able to lend money, provided there is sufficient security, but the proposed Development Bank will be authorized by the Commonwealth to make advances and take much greater risks than those taken by the trading banks at present. In other words, the Development Bank will make advances on a more liberal scale than those at present granted by the trading banks for the purpose of developing farms. That is one of the objects of the Development Bank. It was mentioned by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), in his secondreading speech on the Commonwealth Banks Bill 1957. I think that those who voted against the banking legislation should be reminded of the right honorable gentleman’s words on that occasion. He said -
It is intended that the Development Bank will provide advisory services, along the lines of those now supplied by the Industrial Finance Department, with a view to promoting technical and administrative efficiency in farming or industrial undertakings. This kind of service has proved to be a very valuable feature of the work of the Industrial Finance Department.
All in all, the Government considers that, established on these lines, the Development Bank will find ample scope for useful activity. Its role will be essentially that of assisting new people to start in industry and farming, of helping to promote new forms and methods of production and of adding to the productivity of existing enterprises. We do not intend that, in this field, it will cut across existing financial institutions to any significant degree but rather that it will co-operate with them and supplement the types of finance they provide.
– The State rural banks can do all those things now.
– But they have not done them.
– The State rural banks have only a limited capacity. That will not apply to the Development Bank if the legislation is passed. I think it is vital to Australia to have a Development Bank to come in behind projects that can be developed through the enterprise of an individual, so that the productivity of Australia may be increased.
Let us look at the position in the pastoral industry. At present, no pastoral institution will make advances merely on the security of pastoral leases. The proposed Development Bank will be able to make advances for the development of pastoral leases. The pastoral areas of Australia probably are less developed than other parts. I believe that this is attributable to the fact that the pastoral lessees have not been able to offer adequate security to financial institutions in order to obtain sufficient money with which to erect fences and mills and buy sufficient stock for the development of their leases. I believe that the lessees should be assisted in this way. The Development Bank could give the necessary help to enable people to make a start in the industry of their choice.
I sincerely hope that the Australian Labour party will look into this banking question and that it will decide to support the Government when the banking legislation is next brought forward. This nation has never been more prosperous. It is more highly developed now than ever before in its history. The progress that has taken place in the Commonwealth since I was elected to the Parliament in 1949 has been most exciting. I congratulate the Government on the progress that has been made and I feel sure that, provided that the people of Australia leave me and the Government in office, Australia will continue to prosper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Benn) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Thursday next at 11.15 a.m.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
. ; - I desire to refer to some facts which the members of this chamber would do well to remember. It is twelve years since World War II. ended. That war, unfortunately, was responsible for 50,000,000 people being killed and many million? of others maimed and scarred, lt resulted in the destruction of cities. We know what it did to the nations of the world, particularly those of Europe.
The war was brought about, in the first instance, by the passion for destruction that was nazism. We well know, from history, who were the political geniuses behind nazism. They were Hitler and his political colleagues, but I believe that those people were only the puppets of certain financial interests backed by the house of Krupp and the house of Farben.
That being so, I condemn this Government for issuing a vise to one, Krupp, and in fact, according to press reports, welcoming him here. Let us trace the history of the house of Krupp. I can understand honorable senators on the other side of the chamber wanting Krupp to come here, because they are kept where they are by people who would support the entry of Krupp to this country. Honorable senators opposite are supported by people who live for the profits that they can make. The house of Krupp has a long and ignoble record extending over 130 years. It forged weapons for the Franco-Prussian war, for World War I. and World War II. The house of Krupp built the gas ovens where more than 11,000,000 people were destroyed. It built the gas containers that held the poison that was produced by the house of Farben.
It is interesting, too, to go into the history of the house of Farben. We find that this firm is connected with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, which produced lead, in the war years, in order that weapons could be made for use against the people whose countries were our allies. One reads another remarkable thing, too, on going into this question. Although Frankfurt was severely bombed during the war, and although the house of Farben is a magnificent factory built on a hill, near Frankfurt, the house of Farben, despite all the destruction around it, was left untouched, ls it any wonder that when wars commence, some of us are sceptical and try to look underneath the apparent causes for the actual reasons? Is it any wonder that we ask, “ Who is making the cop out of this? “
We go further and we find that, during the time that the Krupp-created engines of war were ravaging Europe, Alfried Krupp, the man to whom this Government has given a vise to come here, became the controller of the big Krupp firm. He is landing in Australia to-day, and it makes me wonder, because I remember becoming interested, some few months ago, in the case of a Maltese who, although he did not want a vise, nevertheless wanted to come to Australia. His brother, who was already here, came to me and said, “ I would like to get my brother out here “. I asked, “What are the facts?” He said, “ He has been refused admission “. I said, “ ls his health all right? “ He answered, “ Yes “. I asked, “ Is he a member of the Communist party? “ He answered, “ No “. I said, “ Well, can you think of any reason why he should be debarred from admission? “ I crossquestioned him further, and the only thing I could get out of him - and I believed him - was that his brother in Malta took a more than important part in one of the large unions in the city. I do not blame the Department of Immigration in this instance, but I think it is weak. The Minister who administers the department is weak, too, in allowing the security people, in the final analysis, to say who will come into this country and who will not. While that man has been barred from coming in and becoming a citizen of Australia, this Government has issued a vise to Krupp; otherwise he could not come here.
Let us look at the matter further. What is the record of this man Krupp who, according to press reports, is to be met by the Prime Minister of this country, by the Minister for Trade and by other Ministers of the Government? He became the head of the house of Krupp in 1943. He joined the Nazi party in 1938. In 1948 he was brought to trial as a war criminal. He was convicted by the United States
Military Tribunal for crimes such as the employment of 75,000 foreign slave labourers from France, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Yugoslavia and Russia. In his factories he used, in defiance of the Geneva Conventions, 25,000 prisoners of war. What was worse, he also used 5,000 inmates of concentration camps. He not only accepted them, but actively sought them. He even built his factories close to two of the largest concentration camps.
I am quoting from the Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals and I suggest that those who had any say in the issuing of a vise to this individual should glance through those reports in their spare time. The victims of this man were beaten and sick, but were denied medical assistance. All of us who profess to be Christians will be shocked to learn that according to the evidence, they were denied religious consolation. Both the Dechenschule and the Nerrfeldschule camps belonged to, and were managed by, the firm of Krupp.
This Government does not seem to care whether 6,000,000 people were slaughtered simply because they were born Jews. They had no say in the nationality or religion of their parents. Is not the proposed visit a direct insult to the 60,000 Jewish people in this country? Has the Government no feelings at all? Is it so greatly dependent on the banks, insurance companies, shipping concerns and iron and steel firms - admittedly smaller than Krupps - that it must allow this individual to come to Australia? Have Government supporters no shame at all?
Krupp was convicted and sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment, but served only two years and six months of his sentence. According to the sentence, his properties and factories were to be confiscated. He came out of gaol after two years and six months - not six years as the Melbourne “ Sun “ has tried to suggest in attempting to back up the Government - and after all that he did the Government has the effrontery to grant him a vis6 to come to Australia.
– The American High Commissioner found him not guilty of any crime.
– Tell that to the relatives of the people who died in his ovens!
– History shows that he was not personally responsible.
– If he was no! responsible for any of these crimes, whywas he sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment?
– Sometimes people are sentenced though they have done very little.
– When it suits Government supporters to be hypocritical they are very ready to be so. They are willing to permit a convicted war criminal to come to this country. One could not imagine any one more inhuman than Krupp, bin, because he migh spend a few hundred thousand pounds on putting a factory here or there, the Government is prepared to welcome him. The history of Krupps reveals how the workers of that organization were treated. No only did Krupp himself treat them badly, but he also failed to correct the shortcomings of those who preceded him. When the German mark lost its value, he did nothing to correct the position.
– You would say the same thing about a British industrialist.
– I would, because they are all involved in the armaments race.
– lt is the same old story.
- Senator Hannaford is one who served his country in peace and war.
– I would not say that.
– If the honorable senator reads the history of the Gallipoli campaign, he will find that one firm made bullets for both sides. He and his colleagues will find reasons for backing up the Government’s action in giving this man a vise. He will vote with the Government on every division, whether it is right or wrong.
– Haven’t you always done that?
– Yes, but only because my party is never wrong. I invite honorable senators to look at the way Krupp treated those who worked for him. According to Keesing’s Archives, Krupp worked people as young as six and older than 80 years of age. He employed 520 East European women between the ages of 15 and 25. The “ United Nations News “ of April, 1954, has this to say on the subject -
Their clothing was replaced by a single issue of sack-like grey garments made of burlap, and by wooden clogs with fabric tops.
The court said that these unfortunate people were shown to have had to wear torn pieces of blanket around their legs, or walk barefoot.
The “ New Statesman “ said -
These people worked seven days a week, twelve hours a day, and had no medical treatment.
When they were too weak to work they were sent to the gas ovens.
As I have mentioned, the military tribunal found Krupp guilty of seeking this labour. It dismissed the plea of necessity and stated that he did not act under compulsion or coercion by the authorities of the nation of which he was a member.
Let us look at the other crimes for which this person must be held responsible. He plundered foreign countries and used the war to enlarge his industrial empire. He was sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment, but served only two and a half years of this sentence.
– Tell us who released him.
– I want you to rise and say why this Government gave him a vise.
– Tell us who released him.
– The Americans released him. I never said that the Government did. All I am saying is that the Government gave him a vise to come here. According to press reports, four Ministers, including the Prime Minister, will meet him and welcome him.
He was released in 1951. Although his property was supposed to have been confiscated, he was paid compensation amounting to approximately £30,000.000 for the properties that he agreed to dispose of, but which he has not disposed of. That reminds me of the incident involving Lord Inchcape in regard to the Commonwealth line of steamers.
Krupp is a former Nazi who was rewarded by Hitler for his services. He is a convicted war criminal and head, if one may say so, of the famous dynasty of death. As I have said, he comes here to-day. Honorable senators opposite would not claim that he was an honoured guest, but he comes here because the Government has issued him with a vise, and the Government’s principal Ministers will welcome him.
– Has Labour Premier Cosgrove invited Mr. Krupp to Tasmania?
– I am not in the Tasmanian Parliament.
– You said that the Labour party was never wrong.
– You are not a bad magpie on behalf of the Government. All I ask you to do is to rise and say whether you agree that the vise should have been given. That is all I am concerned about. I am not making an attack on the German people who live in Australia. In a great number of instances they have done a remarkable job for this country, particularly in relation to dry farming in certain wheat-growing areas. My remarks are directed against one man for whose entry honorable senators opposite - because they keep the Ministry in office - are responsible. If Government supporters do not agree with the action of the Government, let them rise in sufficient numbers and say so. If they remain silent, they are in the bag with the front bench.
– Not in the bag exactly.
– Not in the bag at all? They are only in the bag when it comes to a question of votes. To allow this man to enter the country is a shocking thing, particularly as it affects the Jewish people in this country. It is shocking to think that a vise should be granted to this individual who was responsible for the misery or destruction of millions of people just because they were Jews. I remind the Senate that there are 60,000 Jewish people in this country. They are good citizens, and we fraternize with them every day. But just because this man has money, the Government grovels at his feet.
– Why does not the honorable senator rise and say whether he agrees with the issue of a vise and the giving of a welcome to this man? The people would then know where he stood rather than have him yapping “ Rubbish “ all the time.
– You would kiss a Russian who murdered millions if be came here.
– I would not! When honorable senators opposite have no other argument, they bring in the little red pup.
– He is not a little pup; he is a mastiff.
– They say that it is all right to issue a vise to Krupp irrespective of what he has done. I assure Government supporters that no war criminal, irrespective of whether he came from Russia, China, Rumania or anywhere else, would step into this country if I were in a position to say that no vise would be issued.
– I shall remember that.
– You will remember it, because I am just as strong on that point as you are; but I do not always apply it as do you and your colleagues who bring in the red pup.
– Be careful now!
– We will deal with you later. Just wait till the banking legislation is introduced, and then we will have another go at you. Do we forget all the sufferings that this man Krupp has caused? Is it not a disgrace that a government should permit a vis6 to be issued? Some people may say that I adopt an unchristian attitude. It is true that we are taught to forgive, but we do not forget. If forgiveness means mixing with this man coming here, then I shall be doing extremely little forgiving. This man is not fit to step on to the shores of this country. He is not the only war criminal whom I would not have here - I know that the Government had one here a few months back - but as far as I am concerned he may eat on his own. They are all the same.
One thing that I expected of this Government was that it would have respect for the citizens of this country who lost relatives during the last struggle. I know that the Government will not withdraw his vise and that he lands in Australia to-day, but I leave the Government’s action to be judged by the people at the right time.
– The Senate has just been treated to a typically narrow-minded attack by a representative of the remnants of a party that has always been steeped in a policy of class hatred. The members of that party have lived on that policy all their lives, and to-night’s episode is another instance of what they always have done and always will do while the remnant of the party remains in a position to do it. I may be wrong, but I thought that the Evatt Labour party supported the United Nations. Whether or not it has meant what it has said I do not know, but it has always mouthed its support of the United Nations and quoted the Declaration of Human Rights.
– Hear, hear!
– Human rights, yes.
– Let me read Article 13, clause (2). It states -
Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
That is one of the articles for which honorable senators opposite mouth their support in professing to support the United Nations, but the honorable senator who has spoken has given voice to the tawdry, bitter class hatred - soap-box stuff - to which we have just listened. Honorable senators opposite mouth their support of the United Nations and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but they deny Article 13 (2), as was done in the miserable little speech that we had just now.
Do they support the United Nations? Do they support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Do they concede to every individual, as they say they do, the right to do all these things, or do they merely mouth their support of the document? The speech we have listened to was the most hypocritical speech that I have ever heard in this House from one who professes to support the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What miserable stuff! I have never heard worse.
– Just political propaganda.
– Of course it is. In the hope of getting a few votes, they are prepared to stir up the misery of the past. It is done so that Evatt and his mob can get back into power at the next election.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself, calling this political propaganda. Do you approve of what Krupp has done?
– You will have a chance to have a go yourself. Do not worry yourself, you loud-mouthed thing; you can have a go if you want to.
– That will be all right, but if you get up in your place and defend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then support this miserable thing - this miserable speech - you will be the biggest hypocrite I have ever seen.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister entitled to point to another honorable senator and use the words “ this miserable thing “?
– Order! The Minister is out of order.
– I withdrew the word “ thing “ and said “ this miserable speech “, pointing to an empty chair.
– The honorable senator said “ miserable thing “.
– I corrected myself and said “ miserable speech “, pointing to an empty chair. We do not approve of the bestiality that occurred in the last war, whether committed by people of the Left or of the Right. We saw misery and bloodshed; we saw dreadful things done during the course of the war by both the Left and the Right. It is war and the dreadful political systems of fascism and communism that breed the people who do those things. We have no more time for that type of thing than have any other decent persons in this world. When Senator Kennelly suggests that we have, he shows clearly his ignorance of the members of this side of the Senate and what they stand for. We believe in and we stand for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We
Stand for Article 13 of that declaration. We say that we do, and we have the courage to act accordingly.
– Will the honorable senator say whether Article 13 would permit Krupp to enter any other country?
– You will have plenty of time to have a go. I want to deal with the points that have been made. Let us have a look at the history of this fellow. Alfried Krupp became head of the famous Krupp steel firm and munitions industry in J943.
– Infamous, you mean.
– You call it one thing, and I am reading from a report which 1 obtained from a magazine. It is as follows: -
Alfried Krupp became head of the famous Krupp steel firm and munitions industry in 1943 in succession to his father. After the war he and eleven directors of the firm were convicted by the United Nations court at Nuremburg of plundering the industries of conquered countries and exploiting slave labour. He was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and to forfeit his property. In 1951, however, his sentence was commuted by the United States’ High Commissioner for Germany who said he could find no personal guilt in Krupp. The latter’s property was returned to him on condition that his industrial empire would be separated and sold to others by March of this year. He has since been granted vises to visit the United States and other democratic countries.
A vise for a man to enter a country is granted by any democratic country, irrespective of whether one agrees with his politics or with, what he has done or has not done. Krupp was tried and sentenced. He served his sentence, as varied by the United States High Commissioner, and he has been released. One of the first tenets of British justice is that a person expiates his crime when he has served his sentence.
It is interesting to note that this matter has been raised by people who are prepared to recognize the representatives of other countries who have been accused of. and have committed, just as dastardly crimes, and are still doing so. Members of the Evatt Labour party have fraternized with the people who were responsible for the murder of 15,000 Polish officers and men in the Katyn forest. Members of the Evatt
Labour party have gone to their country and fraternized with the people responsible for that.
– Where was that?
– In Hungary.
– Who were they?
– You have stood with their fellows on unity tickets here in Australia. You have done that almost every day in the week. You are prepared, not only to stand with them on unity tickets, but also to fraternize with them and to say that you recognize the governments they support. Honorable senators opposite say, “ We stand for the United Nations; we stand for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “. Yet they would not grant this man a vise. What a narrow-minded continuation of hatred.’ I do not think we have seen anything like it for a long time. I trust that we will not see it again in this Senate for many a long day. Honorable senators opposite, in their narrow bitterness, cannot see beyond the past. They cannot see that the world must develop and that we must learn lessons from the dreadful things that have been done - dreadful things born of war and systems of government, both fascist and Communist. Never have I heard such nonsense in my life as was spoken to-night when this matter was raised. It could never have been raised except by a profound hypocrite, and it would not have been raised but for the fact that there is to be an election within a few months and some people hope to gain a few miserable votes by raising such a matter.
Mr. President, I am one who believes that we should stand by the United Nations declaration, that we should allow these things to take their natural course, and we have done so.
– I did not propose to enter this debate, and I would not have done so but for the statements made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty). I pin-point the two allegations made by Senator Kennelly. The first is that this Government allowed a vise to be given to Baron Krupp. That, the Minister has not denied. That is the first point.
– Quite right.
– The Minister accepts that. The second allegation was that this man was to be welcomed by Ministers of this Commonwealth Government. That, too, is not denied. That is the complaint made by Senator Kennelly on behalf of many, if not all, honorable senators on this side. 1 support most emphatically the protest that has been made by Senator Kennelly. It is an insult to not only the Jewish people in this nation but also every right-thinking person in this community that one who was convicted of atrocious crimes should be permitted to enter the country.
– And is welcomed by the Prime Minister.
– That is admitted, as the Minister for Customs and Excise indicated.
– No, it is not.
– The two complaints that Senator Kennelly has made - first, that the Government has given this man a vise, and secondly, that he is to be welcomed by the Government - are acknowledged by the Minister who spoke on behalf of the Government. I need not pursue that matter any further when the Government admits the two allegations that Senator Kennelly made, but I want to take the Minister up for his complete misrepresentation of Article 13 of the Declaration of Human Rights, a magnificent document completely supported by the Labour party and affirmed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10th December, 1948. Senator Henty would have this Senate believe that anybody has the right to enter any country, that he is free to move around the world and that we are breaking Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration when we suggest he should be denied a vise.
Article 13, I point out to Senator Henty, has nothing whatever to do with Baron Krupp or the entry of the national of any other nation into this country. It is in two parts, and I shall read it. The first paragraph reads -
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
That is right. The second paragraph, which the Minister quoted alone, reads -
Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Senator Henty presents to this Senate the argument that the right of a person to leave his country and to return to his country confers a right of entry into this country. I invite the honorable senator to tell me now, or at any time, where that confers the slightest right upon the national of any other country to enter this country. The honorable senator knows perfectly well that there are very tight vises to the entry to any country, the democratic countries in particular. France is very particular about the entry of people from other countries. I put it to the honorable senator, through you, Mr. President, that he was indeed bankrupt for argument when he pretended that Baron Krupp’s right to enter this country depended upon Article 13 of the Declaration of Human Rights. It has nothing whatever to do with his right of entry into any country. It confers upon him the right to leave his own country and, having left it, to return to it. It confers no right whatsoever upon him to enter any other country. Entry to every country in the world is a matter for the government of that country.
I find it difficult to believe that Senator Henty so misunderstood the article. I concede that, pleading guilty as he has done, on behalf of the Government, to the two charges that have been levelled by Senator Kennelly, and being bankrupt of ideas, he had to resort to two things. First, he had to resort to the distortion of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and secondly - I do not know what- this had to do with Baron Krupp - he resorted to abuse of the Australian Labour party.
– in reply - I am surprised at the rather violent attack that has been made to-night on the attitude of the Government in doing what, in the normal scheme of things, is quite a normal procedure. I do not know what would happen in countries behind the iron curtain, but countries that are members of the free world have, in fact, issued vises to the gentleman under discussion.
Allegations have been made about his personal brutality. Of that I know nothing except what I read, and I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) was quite ungenerous in his attack. He certainly placed before the
Senate the fact of the man’s conviction, but the honorable senator is impugning the integrity of the American High Commissioner in Germany. It was the American High Commissioner in Germany who reviewed the whole of the case and found that this man had no personal guilt.
– The honorable senator may call it rubbish, but I am quoting facts. If Senator O’Byrne, knowing absolutely nothing about it at all, and with all the valour of complete bigotry and ignorance, is prepared to put his illinformed, uninformed and biased mind against the mind of the American High Commissioner who examined the case on the spot, let that be as it may.
– What about the tribunal that sentenced him?
– The point which, very ungenerously, was not mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that on a review by the same authority as was responsible for the prosecution and initial conviction, that sentence was commuted, and the man in question was found to have no personal guilt. We proceed from that. I would not suggest for one moment that infinite blame did not attach to the firm and those responsible in Germany for the shocking brutalities that were inflicted on not only the Jewish people but also other people and sections of people who showed the slightest resistance to the brutal Nazi regime. Indeed, any people to whom this brutal regime took the slightest objection were, without any other rhyme or reason, sent to the gas chambers. Such brutality as that exists in Russia to-day.
– But you can go back to 1914-18 with the Krupps people.
– We are not dealing with that; we are dealing with a particular case. I cannot understand why this violent attack is made now. War, and the elements that make war, whether they be nazism or fascism of the extreme Right or communism of the extreme Left, are all elements which destroy decency in humanity, which inflict the grossest inhumanities of man against man. It is not something belonging to a person or to a particular race; it is part and parcel of that wretched disease upon which dictatorships thrive and live. They suck the very blood out of those who should be citizens but are merely serfs. Why does not the honorable senator and those behind him who call out, “ Hear, hear! “ condemn with equal bitterness the slave camps that exist in Russia to-day? Why do they not condemn Russia for betraying Nagy, the erstwhile Premier of Hungary? He and others were invited to a parley to discuss whether brutalities in Hungary could be stopped, but after the banquet, typical of what has happened in Russia over the years, they were kidnapped and have not been heard of since. Did any honorable senator opposite rise to his feet and attack the actions of Russia with equal violence?
It is part and parcel of the Opposition policy to recognize Communist China. Can honorable senators opposite assure us that the grossest brutalities and murders are not occurring from day to day in Communist China? Are not Christians of all denominations, non-co-operators with the Government, being killed and liquidated? Yet supporters of the Evatt Labour party are shrieking for diplomatic recognition of Communist China! Let us get things in their proper perspective.
We on this side of the chamber have no reason to champion indecency wherever it may occur or by whom it may be perpetrated. This is a particular instance where a vise has been granted to a man who in 1948 was found guilty of a war crime, and sentenced. In 1951, on review by the authority in charge at the time- (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– I can quite understand why honorable senators opposite shout, “ Hear, hear! “ and cheer for Soviet Russia and yet cannot say anything bad enough against America. Shame on them!
– I rise to order. I object strongly to the Leader of the Government, who has no case to put to this chamber, saying that we on this side shout “ Hear, hear! “ and cheer for Soviet Russia.
– I withdraw and substitute “ Communist China “ for “ Soviet Russia “ because it is part of the policy of the Labour party to recognize Communist China.
– I rise to order. I object to the Leader of the Government, or any one else, saying that I shout “ Hear, hear! “ in support of any Communist.
– I did not mention the honorable senator’s name. If he walks like a duck and travels with a duck he must expect to be treated like a duck. Any criticism of the release of Krupp should be levelled against the American High Commissioner in Germany who reviewed his case and found no personal guilt at all in this man. If honorable senators opposite, without any first-hand information, are prepared by innuendo and inference to say that the American High Commissioner in Germany is corrupt, let them get up and make that charge. The findings of the American High Commissioner in this matter must be accepted at their face value as being complete, honest and full of integrity.
An application was made for a vise and we did what every other civilized country, other than those behind the iron curtain, would do. We granted the vise.
The suggestion that a welcome is being prepared is a complete distortion of fact. This gentleman is coming here as a private citizen and not at the invitation of the Australian Government. In any case, is it suggested that we should behave like boors and pigs? Should we be rude to him? There has not been the slightest suggestion of any official governmental welcome being accorded to this gentleman. My first knowledge that such a proposal was believed to be envisaged came from the very wild but delightfully eloquent speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I said that a statement to that effect was reported in the press as coming from the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade, and other senior Ministers.
– Speaking personally, if I have the opportunity of meeting him I shall be delighted to avail myself of it. I make no apology for that intention. The Government will not be deliberately rude to this gentleman or to any other person to whom a vise has been granted.
– The question is, “ That the Senate do now adjourn “.
– Mr. President, for only a few minutes, I want–
– Order! The Minister proposed the motion that the Senate do now adjourn and, having replied to the debate, has now closed the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 February 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580225_senate_22_s12/>.