22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. By way of preface I advise the Minister that there is a strong and growing interest in Tasmania, particularly in the northern part of the State, in the passenger and cargo ferry services to be established between Tasmania and Victoria, and great activity is in evidence in the ports of Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. The proposed services will virtually link up the road systems of the States concerned and will be of immense value to Tasmania, particularly in regard to the transport service and the general economy of that State. Tt is important, therefore, that the ferry services be established at the earliest possible time. Will the Minister make a statement to the Senate, before the end of the present sittings, as to the progress being made with the establishment of the services? In addition, will he impress on those concerned in the building of the ferries the importance to Tasmania of the earliest possible delivery, six months in advance, if at all practicable?
– I can assure the honorable senator, and indeed all other senators and honorable members from Tasmania, that I am very much aware of the interest being taken in these new ferry services in the northern part of Tasmania. As to the progress of the two ferries concerned, I can inform the honorable senator that the construction of the passenger ferry is right up to schedule, and at the moment there is no indication that it will not be completed on time; indeed, may I add that I have some hope that the ferry will be completed a little ahead of the contract date.
Referring to the cargo ferry, the decision in respect of which was announced only a few weeks ago, plans and specifications are now being prepared and tenders will be called as soon as possible for the construction of that vessel. All contractors, and others connected with the construction of these two ships, are well aware of their importance to Tasmania and of the desire of the people of that State that the ferries should go into service as soon as possible. If it is any comfort to the honorable senator. I can assure him that I add my weight to the project every now and again.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface, I should like to explain that Newcastle, in New South Wales, has a population of approximately 180,000 people and that the industrial importance of this the second city of New South Wales rates highly in Australia’s planned expansion. Because of those factors, I ask the Minister the following questions: - Is it a fact that the only airfield that is available for civil aviation purposes at Newcastle is that controlled by the Royal Australian Air Force at Williamtown? Is it correct that all non-R.A.A.F. planes are excluded from using that airfield during the major part of each day? If that is so. what are the hours to which use by civil aircraft is restricted? Will the Minister make an early submission to Cabinet, after departmental inquiry and report, for the construction at Hexham of an airfield adequate to provide for the largest aeroplanes in commercial use? In considering this question, will the Minister note particularly that a modern civil airfield at Hexham would be approximately 10 miles only from Newcastle and Maitland, that it would service an important rural area also, and that it would be an ideally situated alternative airfield in any national defence emergency?
– The Newcastle aerodrome is owned by the Royal Australian Air Force. Civil aircraft operate to and from that airfield, but the hours during which they are permitted to use it is a matter for negotiation between the R.A.A.F. and the civil aviation authorities. I cannot remember, offhand - I do not think the honorable senator would expect me to do so - the hours during which civil aircraft are permitted to use the aerodrome, but I believe that negotiations are now going forward between the R.A.A.F. and the civil aviation authorities to see whether any better arrangement as to hours can be made. Some little time ago the Department of Civil Aviation acquired a site at
Hexham with a view to reserving it for future use should the passenger uplift from Newcastle justify the building of an aerodrome. If the honorable senator knows the site, he will recall that it is very low lying and would need a lot of filling. Despite the large population of Newcastle, recent surveys conducted in that centre indicate that the cost involved in the construction of an airfield at Hexham is not warranted at the present time.
– Mr. President, I am not sure whether I should direct this question to you or to the Minister for National Development. I note that in King’s Hall, adjacent to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority exhibit there is a stand on which have been placed canned fruits and fruit juices, and canned meats, some of which are from Victoria and some from Queensland. I should like to know why South Australian canned fruits and fruit juices are not included in the exhibit. The absence of South Australian canned fruits and fruit juices makes my South Australian blood boil, because South Australia has the best canned fruit and fruit juices in Australia.
– If the honorable senator’s statement is accurate, I feel that he has just cause for complaint. I shall inquire to see whether something can be done about the matter.
– Has the attention of the Deputy Leader of the Government been drawn to the annual report on bankruptcy in the Commonwealth which was tabled in Parliament on 31st March? Is he aware that last year the number of declared bankrupts rose by 40 per cent., and was the highest since the 1931-32 depression years? Is this a sample of the prosperity and stability of which the Menzies-Fadden Administration continually boasts?
– I am afraid that I have not studied the figures with the same intensity as has the honorable senator. However I can, without fear of contradiction, make the general statement that, compared with past figures, the number of bankruptcies is exceedingly small at present. This is attributable - as the honorable senator himself suggests - to the prosperity of the country under the control of the present Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. As it is now some six months since strong Victorian representations were made to the Government for the purpose of preventing the demolition of Melbourne’s Customs House, a building of great beauty, I ask the Minister: Has a firm decision been reached to secure this building from the wrecker? If not, can the Minister indicate when its fate will be decided? Will he do his utmost to retain this fine old building for Victoria?
– Negotiations regarding the building of a new Customs House have been taking place for some time. The matter is in the hands of the Minister for Works, and I do not know what stage those negotiations have reached. However, I noticed this morning a press report to the effect that the Prime Minister has given Mr. Bolte an undertaking that nothing will be done about the existing Customs House until a firm decision has been arrived at regarding a site for a new building.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. On 29th April, in answer to a question in another place, the Minister said - . . Approval has recently been given to the issue of licences for the importation of machinery to enable cartons to be manufactured as containers for milk . . . and other dairy products.
In a letter to Senator Hendrickson dated 1st May, Mr. B. H. Gray, sales manager of the Australian Glass Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, asked the following question: -
When granting the licences for the importation of carton making machinery did the honorable member (Mr. McEwen) realize that milk packed in cartons costs the public lid. a pint more in Sydney, and did he realize that although the initial cost of a carton was less than a bottle, a bottle served its purpose for between 60 and 100 trips, and on that account cost much less per pint of milk than a carton ?
I have been reliably informed that milk bottles cost 5s. 6d. a dozen, and milk cartons 4s. a dozen. In view of this fact, and in view of Mr. Gray’s question, will the Minister consider withdrawing the licence granted “ for the importation of machinery to enable cartons to be manufactured as containers for milk “?
– I am sorry to say that 1 cannot - I should think the same applies to my colleague, the Minister for Trade - enter upon a discussion of the merits of packaging by glass, cardboard or other alternatives. If manufacturers desire to embark upon the activities outlined by the honorable senator, and want the plant and machinery to enable them to do so, the public should be given an opportunity to decide which of the methods of packaging they prefer and which is the most economical. I think it is only by experience that we can find out what is best in the interests of the public generally. That, I suggest should be the criterion.
– My question to the Minister for National Development relates to the base metals industry in Australia. Is the Minister aware of an important announcement by the United States Government that it proposes to subsidize the production of such base metals as copper, lead, zinc and tungsten? Can the Minister make available to the Senate the details of the American scheme? In view of the serious situation developing in Australia with regard to base metals, is the Minister prepared to convene a conference of State Ministers for Mines to discuss the problems generally and, in particular, to consider the advisability of giving assistance to the industry by way of subsidy, a stabilization scheme or otherwise?
– The honorable senator has asked a question which has wide ramifications. I shall deal with it as best I can. I do not know that the United States Government has announced that it proposes to subsidize the production of base metals or to impose import quotas. I have read the cables with interest and tried to keep up to date on the matter, because of its importance. As I understand the position, the American Tariff Commission has recommended that in certain circumstances base metals production should be subsidized and the President is considering the alternative of import quotas. I understand that the present thinking is that eventually there may be an arrangement which will embody both proposals, but I do not understand that any actual decision has been yet made by the United States Government. Therefore, I cannot meet the honorable senator’s request for details of the American scheme. I have seen information about it from time to time and I have seen press reports about it, but, as far as I understand the position, no scheme has yet been finalized. The question about what should be done in Australia raises matters which are so important that I am not prepared to attempt to deal with them in answer to a question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is there any truth in the allegation that virtually all Australian fat lambs offered for sale at the Smithfield Market in London are offered as being Canterbury, New Zealand, lambs? Does the Minister agree that for the proper and required expansion of the market for Australian fat lambs, action should be taken, if possible, to ensure that the Australian product is faithfully advertised as being a product of Australia? In view of the fact that Tasmanian fat lambs are recognized to be at least equal, if not superior, to Canterbury fat lambs, can any action be taken to have them advertised at Smithfield as Tasmanian lambs? Surely the people and the Government of the United Kingdom believe in, and should practise, truth in advertising.
– I have discussed this subject with the Minister for Primary Industry, who has informed me that legislation in the United Kingdom requires that imported lamb carcasses must be marked “ Empire “ or “ Foreign “, or with the name of the country of origin. The word “ Australia “ is the only indication of origin permitted by the Department of Primary Industry to be stamped on lamb carcasses. As this name must be stamped in six different positions on a carcass, there is a practical barrier to the Australian product being offered for sale as Canterbury lamb at Smithfield. As to the necessity for publicity in the United Kingdom, the Australian Meat Board has adopted the policy that no large-scale publicity in England should be undertaken unless regular supplies of the right class of meat are available. The position in respect of Australian lamb, particularly Tasmanian lamb, is that there is no continuity of supply to the United Kingdom market, and as the bulk of our best quality lamb is consumed locally there is wide variation in the quality of lamb exported. This position is likely to obtain until production increases substantially, which is not likely so long as the woolmeat price ratio continues to favour wool production. In regard to advertising Tasmanian lamb as such, there is no objection to the inclusion by exporters of the word “ Tasmanian “ or a map of the State on the covering or tags attached to the carcass. 1 understand that some Tasmanian exporters are following this procedure.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development in the absence of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that Mr. H. Souter, the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has claimed that union officials have been hampered in their routine union business, when interviewing members of their organizations at the Woomera and Maralinga guided missile ranges, by the presence of security officers? If the situation claimed by Mr. Souter does in fact exist - and I have no doubt that it does - will the Minister favorably consider taking action to overcome this unsatisfactory set-up? Would it not be possible for the powers-that-be at Woomera and Maralinga to issue entry permits to accredited union officials on their arrival at those projects in order to facilitate their work?
– I am sure the honorable senator agrees that it is necessary to have security officers at establishments such as Woomera and Maralinga, and I am certain that the officials in charge of them concede that union officials need to see the members of their organizations. It seems to me that all that is needed is the exercise of a little common sense and a spirit of give-and-take between both parties.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In the light of the declaratory statements that were made during the week-end in Washington and Canberra relative to the future and the importance of Antarctica, can the Minister state whether the plans of 1952 to build an Australian ship capable of making voyages to Australian Antarctica are still pigeon-holed? Is he prepared to make a statement to the Senate on the whole question of shipping to and from Australian Antarctica, paying attention to the question of Australia owning its own ship, or ships, in lieu of the present unsatisfactory method of chartering either of the Scandinavian ships “ Kista Dan “ and “ Thala Dan “?
– The construction and supply of a ship to engage in research work in the Antarctic would be the business of the Department of External Affairs. As the honorable senator has said, very rightly, in 1952 the Department of External Affairs did make preliminary inquiries concerning the possibility of building a suitable ship in Australia, and an exchange of views took place between that department and the Australian Shipbuilding Board. I understand that, unfortunately, the plans came to nothing, although they did reach the stage where preliminary blueprints were prepared. The honorable senator has asked whether I will make a statement regarding Australian shipping to Antarctica. That, again, moves into a field that is not strictly under my jurisdiction, but in view of the importance of the subject I shall have a look at it and see what information I can make available to the honorable senator.
– Would the Minister for Repatriation give the Senate the following information: What reciprocal arrangements exist in regard to pensions for British exservicemen who have settled in Australia? Are such ex-servicemen given the benefit of free hospital treatment in respect of warcaused disabilities? What provision is made for a British ex-serviceman who has settled in Australia to claim a pension? Who decides the issue? What help, if any, is given by our Repatriation Department?
– There is no reciprocity, in the true sense of the word, because ex-servicemen from the United Kingdom are not entitled to draw pensions at Australian rates. The Australian Repatriation Department acts as an agent for the British Ministry of Pensions. Pensions at the British rates, plus 25 per cent, as an allowance for the rate of exchange, are paid to British ex-servicemen resident in Australia. The reason that there is no reciprocity is that the basis of the pension system in Australia is entirely different from that of the United Kingdom. It would be impossible for us to incorporate the British system, under which pensions vary according to the ranks that the recipients held in the services. Under the Australian system the rates are more or less the same for all ranks.
With regard to war-caused disabilities, if a British ex-serviceman resident in Australia thinks that his pension, based on the degree of his disability, is insufficient, he may appeal to the British Ministry of Pensions, through the Australian Repatriation Department. We do everything that we can to assist him to put his case, such as by making available medical reports and so on, but the final settlement of the claim must rest with the British Ministry of Pensions.
I have referred to the United Kingdom throughout this answer, because it is from there that the greatest number of pensionable ex-servicemen come to Australia. Regarding hospital treatment, an exserviceman from the United Kingdom is entitled to free hospital treatment for war-caused disabilities that are covered by the provision under which the Ministry of Pensions in the United Kingdom operates. We look after a British ex-serviceman who needs hospital treatment in respect of war-caused disabilities. He is admitted to a repatriation hospital and a report is sent to the United Kingdom. Any expense involved in the treatment is debited to the British Ministry of Pensions.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organization by stating that he is doubtless aware that much of Victoria is suffering one of the most severe droughts on record. This fact prompts my question. Is the Minister in a position to advise the Senate as to what progress has been made with rain-making experiments? Have the results been sufficiently encouraging to warrant an expansion of these tests? If they have, will the Minister consider placing rain-making planes in the parched areas of Victoria?
– The home of the experiments in rain-making is the Snowy Mountains area, where conditions are better suited for this work than are those in other parts of Australia. There are hopes, or anticipations, that the experiments being conducted there at the present time will prove to be justified by results in the future. One cannot say a great deal more than that it is believed that these experiments will yield good results in the future. I do not think we have yet reached the stage at which we should contemplate rainmaking activities as a panacea for drought conditions. Rain-making experiments yield good results in particular sets of circumstances but I do not think there is yet justification for a wholesale increase in activities as would seem to be contemplated by the honorable senator in his question. I do not think that there is yet justification for providing planes in drought areas unless conditions are obtaining that justify the expectation that the experiments will prove successful.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether it is a fact that several hundreds of thousands of pounds has been spent on the purchase of what is claimed to be modern fire-fighting equipment? Was the Minister present when the new equipment was being demonstrated in Melbourne recently, and when it failed completely to put out a fire which had been lit to give an opportunity for the effectiveness of the new equipment to be demonstrated? Was the allegedly outofdate and antiquated fire-fighting equipment secured to extinguish this fire, and did it successfully extinguish the fire on which the new equipment was not effective? What are the conditions under which the department obtained the new equipment? Was advice obtained from fire-fighting authorities, and were tenders called outside Victoria for this new equipment?
-Senator O’Byrne has a question on notice which I propose to answer to-day and which largely covers the matters raised by Senator Ashley. However, I should like to take this opportunity to assure Senator Ashley that the equipment to which he refers is first class and that tests which have just been concluded indicate that it reaches the standards which were required when it was ordered, I think, in 1952.
– The first part of my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the Literature Censorship Board. Does the Minister concur with the recent strong press demands for the publication of a list of those books formerly banned and now released for publication? The second part of my question concerns the list of books actually banned. I understand a list of some of such books has been published. Will the Minister inform the Senate the reason why a list of all banned books has not been published?
– The honorable senator’s question falls into three categories. During the recent overhaul of the list by the Literature Censorship Board copies of approximately 100 books were not available in Australia for examination, and consequently those volumes were taken off the list, but their names were supplied to the officers at each port who will be in a position to examine the books if they come into Australia. The second part of the honorable senator’s question concerns the list of books not released from the previous list. I investigated that matter and decided that the Commonwealth Government was not in the advertising business. Booksellers, having examined the list of prohibited imports, know what books they may purchase and bring into Australia and, in the normal course of trade and commerce, will take the necessary steps to see that those books are available to the people of Australia who may wish to read them. If I were a press advertising manager I should take a pretty dim view of the advertisement of such books through the literary columns and not through the advertising columns of the newspapers for which an amount of money must be paid.
The last part of the honorable senator’s question refers to the list which includes the names of books restricted to the medical profession. Such books are available to universities and, I understand, in some libraries for restricted use.
I would point out that the Literature Censorship Board does* not feel that certain paper-backed novels, periodicals and so on, are of any literary value or worth examining. Such publications are examined at the departmental level and dealt with according to Item 22 of the Second Schedule of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth might request the States to take action to restrict or cancel the export of midget and small crayfish, for which Western Australia is famed? Has a careful investigation been made of the effect of this request on the industry in Western Australia, where, during the seven months ended January last, 30 per cent, of that State’s exports were midgets and 37.4 per cent, were small crayfish, making a total of 67.4 per cent., which forms a large part of Western Australia’s exports? Will the Minister give an undertaking that no such drastic curtailment will take place without due consideration of the claims of Western Australia?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Primary Industry.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice: -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following replies: -
Again, in the material which I have seen, and to which I assume the honorable senator refers, there is a roneo-ed statement under the name of the “ British Australian Association “, the organisation of which Mr. Clapperton is president. The information available to me indicates that the “ British Australian Association “ is not a registered organization. Inquiries have failed to establish the nature and scope of its membership or whether it has any properly elected officebearers. In the absence of such information, I am unable to accept Mr. Clapperton as representing any substantial body of public opinion.
Ft is interesting to note that a section of this statement has been crossed out. This section refers to the British Australia Society. Mr. Clapperton was, until the middle of last year, secretary of this society in Melbourne. The British Australia Society severed its connexion wilh Mr. Clapperton, who subsequently issued statements to the Sydney press as president of the British Australian Association. When this occurred the British Australia Society issued a statement to the press which stated in part: “ This Society dissociates itself from the irresponsible, damaging, inflammatory and unjust statements issued by another association bearing a closely allied title, which claims that the Bring Out a Briton ‘ scheme is a sham. Such accusations do the greatest possible disservice to a scheme which this Society is satisfied is genuine and which merits Australia-wide support “.
That statement illustrates the extent to which Mr. Clapperton’s views reflect the opinion of people genuinely interested in stimulating British migration to this country.
The enclosures to which 1 assume the honorable senator refers, include copies of correspondence between Mr. Clapperton and my predecessor, in which my predecessor declines to waste the time of his departmental officers in preparing voluminous information sought by Mr. Clapperton. This refusal was made to Mr.
Clapperton, not with any desire to withhold information, but because the department had already gone to considerable trouble in response to previous requests from Mr. Clapperton, only to find that the information supplied had been grossly distorted by Mr. Clapperton in subsequent public statements.
Mr. Clapperton has alleged, amongst other things, that “ at the present rate of immigration Australia will … be essentially foreign to us of this generation and predominantly Latin by 1980”; that the Government or the Department of Immigration is “ guilty of attempted racial murder “; that Australia “ is rapidly going foreign “; and that the total of post-war migrants who were actually born either in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales is likely to be less than 7 per cent, of the total (intake).
The following are the facts and I furnish them for the information of the honorable senator so that he may judge for himself how little reliance can be placed upon the statements of the gentleman in question.
Since May, 1956, the nomination of southern Europeans for admission to Australia has been restricted to close dependent relatives, wives, fiancees and unmarried sisters of persons already resident in Australia - even as full-fare paying passengers. We have given assisted passages only to limited numbers of skilled tradesmen from southern Europe and to workers needed on arduous jobs for which Australian and British workers are not available. These measures were taken to ensure a balanced immigration programme and imply no lack of appreciation of southern Europeans who have made and are making a valuable contribution to Australia’s development.
Between January, 1946, and June, 1957, we received 273,796 assisted migrants from Britain; 30,064 assisted Italians; 22,651 assisted Maltese; and 20,530 assisted Greeks.
The 1947 census shows that out of a population of 7,579.358, the number of persons born in Australasia, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland was 7,421,634, which represented 97.9 per cent, of the total population.
In 1954 - and T again give the census figures - out of a population of 8,986,530, the number of persons born in Australasia and the British islands was 8,409,742- or 93.6 per cent, of the total population. Thus, after seven years of largescale post-war migration, and after Australia had made an outstanding contribution to relief of the problem of displaced persons and refugees, the proportion of the population actually born in Australasia and the British Isles fell by no more than 4.3 per cent. If we were to take into consideration the people born in other countries of the British Commonwealth, e.g., Canada and South Africa, as revealed by the 1954 census, the comparison would be even more favorable.
Of the number of overseas-born people resident in Australia less than six years at the census of 1954, 41.6 per cent, were of British nationality, including 2.5 per cent, born in Malta and 0.7 per cent, born in Cyprus.
There is certainly no evidence in these figures that the Government or the Department of Immigration is “ guilty of attempted racial murder “ or that Australia “ is rapidly going foreign “, nor do they suggest that there is any substance in any of the other extravagant distortions of fact in which Mr. Clapperton indulges.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies: -
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers are as follows: - 1. (a) A decision to re-equip with modern firetenders was made in February, 1955, when approval was granted to call tenders in Australia and overseas for the supply of modern fire-fighting vehicles. Tenders were received and a contract was let in December, 1955.
The contract was let to an Australian manufacturer instead of the nearest serious competitor, an English firm which underbid the Australian manufacturer by 134 per cent., for the following reasons: -
The decision to pass over the overseas manufacturer was taken after a most careful and deliberate consideration of the tender prices in the light of these factors and after consultations between my department, the Treasury and the Department of Trade.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has the sum of £2,285,714, which was owing to the Commonwealth Government by the Government of Indonesia on 30th June, 1957, for war supplies and services, been increased or decreased in the past nine months?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
The sum of £2,285,714 owing as at 30th June, 1957, to the Commonwealth Government by the Government of Indonesia for war supplies and services was reduced to £1,142,857 in January, 1958, following the payment of an instalment of that amount. The Indonesian Government has now paid £7,357,143 out of the £8,500,000 due under an agreement reached in August, 1949, and has met fully its obligations under the agreement. The final instalment of £1,142,857 is due to be paid in January, 1959.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has furnished the following reply - 1 and 2. The amounts quoted are correctly derived from Statistical Bulletin No. 592, “Hire Purchase Operations of Finance Business in Australia for Goods Sold by Retail: Month of February, 1958 (Preliminary Estimates) “ issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. The Australian figure of “ Balances Outstanding “ at 28th February, 1958, is the highest figure recorded to date.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The reply to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
Motion (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Fraser be granted leave of absence for one month on account of ill health.
Debate resumed from 29th April (vide page 620), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this measure is to provide from Consolidated Revenue an additional £5,000,000 to the six States to tide them over difficulties during the current financial year. The sum will be made available in varying amounts. Of the total amount, £1,000,000 will be halved between New South Wales and Queensland. That allocation is made because of the difficulties that are being encountered by those two States as a result of the recent drought, and because of adverse conditions to which residents of those two States were subjected. The remaining £4,000,000 will be distributed to all the States in amounts varying from £1,489,000 for New South Wales down to £142,000 only for Tasmania.
The difficulties in which the States are placed were pin-pointed by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in his second-reading speech when he indicated that this year the States between them were budgeting for deficits amounting to some £9,000,000. It is quite obvious that, whatever reason actuated the Government in making this additional assistance available, the States will be under great temptation to use it to reduce their deficits. The penalty for not doing so would be that, if in the succeeding financial year, they applied loan moneys for that purpose, they would suffer a disability in two ways, both having an immediate impact upon their then current budgets and subsequent budgets. The Commonwealth makes no contribution to the sinking fund in relation to such loans. in other words, whereas in respect of normal loan moneys made available to the States the Commonwealth, over a period of 53 years, pays 5s. per annum and the State pays 5s. per annum, in regard to loan moneys used to cure revenue deficits the Commonwealth makes no subvention whatever. The full burden of the sinking fund contribution falls upon the Stales.
The second point is that, instead of having 53 years in which to pay off the loan by means of sinking fund contributions, the State is obliged to pay it off at 4 per cent., which reduces the period to 25 years. The two elements, combined, make a very severe impact upon the State’s budget - not only in that first year, but in the succeeding 24 years. The States usually endeavour to avoid budget deficits, for that reason in particular. We do not oppose the measure, which contemplates the granting of additional moneys to the States in the circumstances of the moment, but consider the amount granted to be entirely inadequate in view of the plight in which the States find themselves.
A review of their situation may be made under three headings, which I have discussed at length recently in this chamber. I refer, first, to existing unemployment. When a decision was reached to make this extra money available from revenue, and free of interest, to the States, unemployment in Australia was running, according to the Government’s own figures, at something like 70,000. The last figures published showed a reduction of some 6,000. It is very good to see a trend which has persisted from approximately March, 1956, until March of this year being reversed. I confess that it is also somewhat surprising because, owing to seasonal conditions, one would now normally expect the incidence of unemployment to rise. It may well be that the provision of this money - in no great quantity to any individual State - will do little more, if it is not applied wholly to reducing deficits, than enable the States to avoid spilling further Government employees out into the unemployment pool. One does feel some satisfaction in seeing the trend of unemployment reduced. I am sure that every one in Australia is awaiting with interest the figures for last month in order to see whether the trend is being maintained. We hope that it will but, on the Government’s own admission, Australia undoubtedly has an unemployment problem to-day.
– Other countries also have that problem.
– Yes, but fortunately we are not concerned with financing the activities of other countries. We are concerned only with financing our own affairs.
– Do we not rely on other countries to pay us for our goods?
– As the honorable senator knows perfectly well, we have to meet our own economic difficulties in the employment field and so on. I think I can speak for every Opposition member when I say that, having regard to the present state of the world, we may be proud that Australia has not sought economic aid from other countries; that it stands on its own feet. Australia even goes so far as to help other countries. I refer, of course, to the controversial Colombo plan. We have gone outside our own boundaries to support the economies of other nations. I take great pride in the fact that, right down the years, Australia has never had to appeal for economic aid. 1 hope that we can remain in that happy position.
The maintenance of immigration at the present high level is also having a severe impact upon State budgets. It demands the provision of additional facilities in almost every field of public activity - schools, hospitals, transport, roads and so on - and makes mounting demands upon State finances.
The third aspect is housing. The position in that field was debated at length in this chamber quite recently. It is quite clear that, despite the long term which has elapsed since the war - some twelve or thirteen years - there is a backlog of approximately 100,000 houses. We are overtaking the lag at a very slow rate. Indeed, in our approach to it we are slipping back. In recent years many fewer houses have been built than were built in 1952-53.
Those are the circumstances in which this loan is contemplated. The States are in difficulties because of budget deficits, unemployment, housing shortages, and the maintenance of a strong flow of immigrants to this country. The Government is now, at the insistence of the State Premiers, facing that position. At a meeting last February it was decided that, in addition to this grant from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, increased borrowing could be undertaken by semi-governmental bodies, municipal corporations and so on, to the tune of £3,000,000 for the remainder of the year. I have grave doubts as to whether that may be considered a concession of substance. Recent attempts to float large public loans have been unsuccessful. I have in mind what happened in March, when the State Electricity Commission of Victoria sought a loan of £2,600,000. The loan was undersubscribed by £985,250 - nearly £1,000,000. The story was repeated when the Electricity Commission of Queensland sought £800,000. That loan was undersubscribed by £168,000.
– Will the honorable senator tells us what happened in South Australia? It is a different story.
– I have no information on what happened there. Results are, of course, conditioned by the terms of the loan, and the circumstances in which it is sought. The results that I have cited do not offer any great promise that the sum of £3,000,000 will be forthcoming in the limited time left before the end of the financial year. If that sum can be raised it will be of considerable help, and will enable a good many people to be retained in employment. The Premiers have all expressed disappointment at the amount agreed upon by the Government. I suppose it is safe to say that that always happens and always will, but they have certainly expressed their disappointment individually and publicly. One can well understand their feelings. Between them they face deficits totalling more than the amount of the loan, and realize full well the difficulties which beset them. We do not oppose this grant. We feel it to be right that the Government should make the money available in that way rather than by way of a loan which would place an additional burden on the States in principle and interest repayments to the National Debt Sinking Fund. We should like to see the Commonwealth do more in the provision of revenue moneys, when they are available, so that the States will not be unduly burdened with interest payments and repayments of principal.
As I have indicated, the Opposition does not oppose this measure but it does feel that the Commonwealth could have been more generous. It is hard to imagine what was in the minds of members of the Government, in view of the concluding paragraph of the second-reading speech made by the Minister for National Development. Referring to the use that might be made by the States of this money, the Minister said -
The Commonwealth also had in mind that the grant could assist the States to take measures which would stimulate home-building activity.
Only a small portion, if any, of this £5,000,000 is likely to be made available, but it is obvious that the expenditure even of the full sum for that purpose would make no impact on the problem of finding homes for people in Australia.
– South Australia intends to devote the whole of its allocation to home-building.
– It is true that the position varies in the different States, according to circumstances. I think that over £1,000,000 of the money is to go to New South Wales. I am not complaining about that; I am merely indicating that, even if the money were used for homebuilding, it would make an infinitesimal contribution to the solution of a vast problem.
– The additional grant is intended to cover only the period to the end of this financial year.
– I admit that the grant covers only four and a half months of this financial year. This arrangement was made in the middle of February. Even if one looks at the grant from the point of view that it covers only four and a half months, it is still not a contribution of substance. It is relatively insignificant in the present circumstances. I am not denying that it will be of help; I am simply saying that a great deal more money should have been made available. How can we expect the States to devote much of this money to housing, knowing that they are faced with large deficits?
I resist the temptation to embark upon a discussion of the all-important subject of Commonwealth and State financial relation.?, although this bill offers an opportunity to do so. We shall have other, and better, opportunities for that before the year is very much older, particularly when we are discussing the budget. The Opposition appreciates the fact that, almost simultaneously with the introduction of this bill, the Commonwealth Bank released, first of all, £15,000,000 from the special accounts in which it holds money of the private trading banks and, subsequently, an additional £30,000,000. However, if we can accept the statements of the various economists and financial writers, those two releases are not likely to make a major contribution in the fields I have mentioned. It appears that, with the imminent collection of income tax and the onset of winter, those amounts will be required to make the ordinary seasonal adjustments of the banks’ liquidity at this time of the year. They are not likely to lead to substantial additional lending activity by the banks. All in all, we feel that, to the extent that the Government inspired those actions, or gave its approval to them, it is not addressing itself with sufficient vigour and imagination to the problems that confront the country at tha moment, particularly in the fields of employment and housing. However, we take the view that, as the Government has made at least a gesture, this is not the appropriate time to move to censure it or to signify our lack of confidence in it. There will be a better opportunity for that later.
– I rise to support this measure, which makes available to the States an additional £5,000,000 for the financial year 1957-58. I am pleased to hear from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that his party does not oppose the measure. I thought that in his speech he was looking for some way to attack the Government-
– What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with it at all. His chief complaint was about unemployment, but the figures disclose that considerably less than 2 per cent, of our work force is unemployed. I interjected when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking and said that unemployment in America and England was far greater, on a percentage basis, than in Australia, but the Leader of the Opposition avoided answering my point specifically. He said that he hoped that this country would never approach other countries for economic assistance. The fact is that in America 10 per cent, of the work force is unemployed, and that a similar situation exists in England. When there is a lot of unemployment in a country to which you are selling your goods, it must mean that that country is not in a position to pay the prices for those goods that it would pay if it had full employment. The reason is that there is not so much money about, and fewer people are able to buy the goods that they need. Unemployment in countries to which we sell our goods affects us, by causing a reduction of the prices obtained for our goods. The Leader of the Opposition will agree with me, 1 hope, when I say that this Government should be congratulated for keeping unemployment in Australia as low as it is at present.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– I venture to say that if the Labour party were in office under the circumstances operating to-day, we would have a far greater degree of unemployment than we have at present.
– That is not the history of the Labour party.
– Let us compare the position of Western Australia under a Labour government and under a Liberal government. In 1952 and 1953 we passed through a recession. During that time, Western Australia, under a Liberal government, had less unemployment, on a percentage basis, than the other States.
– Because it was getting help from a Liberal government in the federal sphere.
– At that time there was a Liberal government in Western Australia and a Liberal government in the federal sphere. With a Liberal government in the federal sphere to-day and a Labour government in Western Australia-
– They are still getting a good go.
– Yes, they are still getting very good treatment. In order to throw back the honorable senator’s words, I shall quote what was said in another place recently by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) -
The unemployed in Western Australia should be approximately 2 per cent, of the work force, which is a greater percentage than in any other State.
That is under a Labour government. As I said, the percentage of unemployment in Western Australia in 1952-53 compared favorably with the position in the other States.
There is a particular reason for the present unemployment situation in Western Australia. A State government cannot hope to relieve unemployment if it introduces measures that have the effect of checking civilian expansion. In order to reduce unemployment, it must adopt a programme of public works that will encourage private enterprise, to go along with it. If a State government does so, additional capital is attracted to this country and a condition of full employment can be maintained. But look at the position in Western Australia to-day. Since Labour came to office in that State, no big capital works have been started by private enterprise, the reason being that that government enacted the Unfair Trading Practices and Profit Control Bill. The effect of this measure was to prohibit capital from coming into Western Australia. As a result, the only expansion that has really taken place in Western Australia has been by means of public works undertaken by the socialist government in that State. I believe that the Premier of Western Australia intends to ask the State parliament to amend the legislation because he knows how fruitless it is. Until it is altered, I do not think there will be any further overseas investment in Western Australia.
In a recent speech in this chamber I challenged the Opposition to point to any capital improvements costing more than £500,000 that had been undertaken by industry in Western Australia since Labour came to office in that State. People come to Australia from overseas for the purpose of looking around and making investments. But what happens? When they go to Western Australia and hear about this vile legislation, they leave and go to Victoria or South Australia to settle down. In consequence, expansion opportunities are lost to Western Australia. Until the act I have mentioned is altered, we cannot hope to go forward again.
The bill before us provides for an amount of £5,000,000 out of general revenue to be given to the States in relation to a period of three and a half or four months expiring on 30th June next. When that amount is taken in conjunction with the amount of £3,000,000 that was made available to the local authorities under the loans programme, it will be seen that altogether £8,000,000 has been made available to the States within a period of from three and a half to four months, equivalent to a rate of £24,000,000 per annum. This is in addition to amounts that were granted under provisions of the last Budget. By means of tax reimbursements and supplementary grants, an additional £16,000,000 was made available to the States. Now, by the measure before us, another £5,000,000 is being made available. In making this gift to the States in respect of the period up to the end of the present financial year, the Government has taken into consideration the severe climatic conditions that have prevailed in Queensland and New South Wales. Of this amount, £500,000 will be given to each of the States of Queensland and New South Wales. The remaining £4.000.000 will be distributed in accordance with the tax reimbursement formula. When we remember that an extra £3,000,000 was made available to the local authorities, I should think that this is an excellent gesture to the. States. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, the £2,600,000 loan floated by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria was under-subscribed by about £1,000,000, while the £800,000 loan floated by the electricity authority in Queensland was under-subscribed by about £160,000. The Financial Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States provides that the Commonwealth may retain 20 per cent, of all loan raisings, but the present Government has never taken a penny of the loan moneys during its term of office. On the contrary, it has made available to the States for expansion all the loan moneys that have been raised.
The Commonwealth has contributed a lot of money in order to help the States. Large amounts have been provided this year for capital works, including an amount of £18,000,000 for the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric undertaking. It appears that all the loan money available on the market during this financial year has been taken up. That simply means that an extra burden has been placed on the people as a whole, because additional loan funds are simply not available. I think that the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit behind him agree that the States, as a whole, have been in a very prosperous condition since this Government came to office in 1949. We have had periods of over-full employment, and we have had periods, such as the present period, when there has been a small number of unemployed.
– Periods of minor depression.
– We have had minor recessions. We had one in 1952-53. One might be led to believe that the Opposition lives in the hope of a minor recession now.
– We do not live in the hope of one, but we fear one.
– The Opposition hopes to get back into government because of the unemployment situation. Ever since I have been here, I have heard questions asked in this chamber which gave that impression. During the period of recession in 1952, what did honorable senators opposite do? They tried to fan the flames and to make an explosive situation. They hoped that the Government would be thrown out because there was a large number of unemployed.
I am pleased to see that, in the FebruaryMarch period, the number of those registered for employment dropped. On 28th February, the number was 70,029, but on 28th March it had dropped to 64,406, showing a decrease on 5,623. These are the latest figures available to me. That means, therefore, the number of persons registered for employment dropped by 5,623 in 30 days, or by 12 per cent, or 13 per cent. If that trend continues, in a matter of six or seven months there will be no people registered for employment. When we look at the figures relating to unemployment benefit, we find that, on 1st March last, there were 26,879 receiving the benefit, in a work force of approximately 3,500,000 people. On 29th March, 28 days later, the number had fallen by 2,394, to 24,485, a completely insignificant number when compared with the total number of people in employment in the Commonwealth.
To my mind, the fact that we are paying out unemployment benefit to only 24,485 people indicates a remarkable achievement on the part of the Government. Every one should agree with that, particularly the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who said in 1945 that if ever a government could bring down the number of unemployed to less than 5 per cent, of its work force, that government would have achieved full employment.
– He is alleged to have said it.
– I read it in “Hansard “. J shall show the relevant passage to the honorable senator, if he wants to see it. That was said, of course, when the Labour party was in office. To-day, when we get .1 per cent, or .2 per cent, of our work force drawing unemployment benefit, the Labour party squeals, although it could not achieve such low percentages when it was in office, and it could not achieve them now, either. I remind honorable senators opposite that a great deal of thinking is needed to preserve the balance that this Government has kept. Only a government such as the present one could sustain such a performance.
I am very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has decided that the Opposition will not oppose this measure. We have a certain degree of unemployment, and this legislation will help to check it. It will be further checked by the recent release of £15,000,000 worth of credit by the central bank. Both measures will help to reduce the number of unemployed and to continue the downward trend, from month to month, that I indicated in respect of February and March last. Like the Leader of the Opposition, I am eager to see what next month’s figures will be. Also like the honorable senator, I hope that they will be considerably lower than they are at the present time. I am sure they will be. I have great pleasure in supporting the bill.
– Like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), I support the bill, but not for the reasons, and in the way, that Senator Scott signified his support. Unlike the honorable senator, I do not intend to devote the whole of my time on this measure to the alleged virtues of the Government that he supports.
– We would not expect the honorable senator to praise it.
– 1 am not praising it. I said “ the alleged virtues “. In the first instance, I think that the fact that an additional £5,000,000 is to be granted to the States under this bill indicates the deficiency that exists in the relationships between the Federal Government and the State governments. It is obvious that, when the Premiers met and the Federal Government decided to allocate to the States the sum of £190,000,000, it was known by the Premiers, and possibly also by the representatives of the Federal Government, that that amount would not be sufficient. That contention is substantiated by the fact that the Commonwealth now finds it necessary to allocate an additional £5,000,000 for the purpose of alleviating situations which have arisen in the States.
The point I want to make is that if a proper and just allocation had been decided on at the time when the major portion was distributed to the States, the States would have been enabled to go about their business of carrying on activities within their borders in a more ordered manner. Had that been done, probably they could have saved some money in respect of certain operations which, because of necessity, they have had to carry on in a disjointed manner, due to the fact that they were not sure whether they would have sufficient money for those operations. I think that that pinpoints a critical weakness in the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, in the matter of reimbursements. The States have to come, cap in hand, to the Commonwealth. It is rather amazing to read, in the second-reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), the following statement: -
It will be recalled that in the Budget for this year provision was made for tax reimbursements and supplementary grants to the States of £190,000,000, which was approximately £16,000,000 greater than the comparable payment in 1956-57.
That sounds very good. It gives the impression that the States are receiving £16,000,000 more than they received in the previous year - in effect, an extra £16,000,000. But the Minister did not tell the Senate that the Federal Government had derived, through taxation channels, some hundreds of millions of pounds more than it received in the previous financial year and that, as a consequence, it was in a position to adopt a somewhat more generous attitude to the States than it had previously. That, I think, destroys the intention of the Minister to give the impression that the States were receiving more generous treatment.
Secondly, most of the £16,000,000, allegedly given in addition in this financial year, would have been eaten up in added costs of all the services which the States have to provide. So, what appears on the surface of the Minister’s second-reading speech to be an addition, is nothing more than a payment to bridge the gap in costs which has occurred from year to year. That action has been taken by a Government which, as I have said, has taken hundreds of millions of pounds by way of additional taxation from the taxpayers in the same periods. When Senator Scott speaks of the generosity of this Government, I remind him that tax reimbursements are made to the States because most revenue comes from the taxpayers in the various States. In fact, the Government is not being generous; nor is it being even just in its attitude on this matter. I repeat that the adoption of a more generous formula by the Government in dealing with the States would do much to help their economies by enabling the authorities to carry out in a more ordered manner the services required of them from year to year.
– Get rid of uniform taxation!
– I am not discussing uniform taxation at this stage; all I am discussing now is the miserly attitude adopted by this Government in connexion with reimbursements to the States. The merits or demerits of uniform taxation have nothing whatever to do with the question, and I do not intend to be diverted by Senator Pearson, who comes from my State, into an argument as to whether uniform taxation is good or bad.
An examination of the formula laid down for the allocation of this money to the States discloses that New South Wales is going to receive £1,489,000, together with a special grant of £500,000, making a total of just under £2,000,000. Victoria is to receive £1,061,000. Queensland is to be given £265,000, plus £500.000. I do not disagree with the additional grant. Queensland has suffered disastrous disabilities in recent months, and I do not think any honorable senator considers that £500,000 is too much to grant the State as assistance in rehabilitating the areas which were ravaged by Nature.
I come now to South Australia. I represent that State in this chamber. I am particularly interested in the position. South Australia is to receive a meagre £368,000. Western Australia is to receive even less. 1 am sorry Senator Scott is not in the Senate at the moment, because I want to say a few things about his contribution to this debate. Apparently Senator Scott is perfectly satisfied that the sum of £315,000 will extricate Western Australia from the many difficulties he has outlined as confronting it. Be that as it may; I propose to deal with the position in South Australia. I note that the Minister suggested towards the end of his second-reading speech that the greater proportion of this money should be diverted to stimulating home-building in the States. I hesitate to believe that even honorable senators on the Government side who come from South Australia argue that the amount of £368,000 will do anything of a practical nature towards stimulating home-building in that State.
– It has all been applied for that purpose.
– Yes, it has all been diverted to the activity, but it will not do much to stimulate home-building in South Australia; it will be as a mere drop in the ocean. With building costs as they are, £368,000 will do little to improve the position. In those circumstances, it cannot be argued that homebuilding will be assisted to any marked extent by the grant, although, admittedly, it will help in some small way. I feel that any honorable senator from South Australia who says he is satisfied with the proposed allocation, and who claims that the amount represents a just proportion of these moneys is not adequately representing the State he is elected to represent in the Senate.
Housing is not our only difficulty in South Australia. We are in trouble with education, too, as Senators Pearson and Hannaford well know. Our schools are overcrowded.
– Not any more so than elsewhere.
– I am not prepared to say the schools are any more crowded than those of any other State, but the position is certainly as bad as it is anywhere else. I know of some schools in the metropolitan area of Adelaide in which the children were herded before the buildings were completed. The children had to wade through mud in order to get to the school rooms.
– They have not waded through much mud this year.
– Admittedly, but the situation to which I am referring happened last year. In certain schools in the western part of the city of Adelaide, the children were accommodated months before the buildings were finished. That indicates quite clearly that the schooling position in South Australia is indeed dire.
I should like an allocation to be made to assist the education position in South Australia. Anyone visiting any of the suburban schools in the State will find overcrowded conditions and acute lack of equipment. In some instances even the most elementary school equipment has not been installed, not because the Education Department does not desire to install every possible facility for the children but simply because it has not enough money to enable it to do its job effectively. This problem will become very serious indeed in time if practical measures are not taken to alleviate the position. It would not be too much to ask this Government to divert £1,000,000 to South Australia, and, indeed to other States, in order to raise the education system to the standard at which it can meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population.
– The position has to be faced.
– And unless it is faced in the not too distant future, we shall never catch up with schooling requirements in this country. Honorable senators opposite ought to join with honorable senators on this side in urging in their respective States that this be regarded as a national problem, and tackled accordingly.
I come now to another matter which I feel is of the gravest importance in my own State. Here again, lack of money prevents the situation from being handled properly. I refer to hospital accommodation. One major hospital in Adelaide is seriously overcrowded; in fact, people are being turned away from it day by day. Only the most urgent cases are admitted. That hospital has not the facilities necessary for handling the situation, even when things are going normally, and I am fearful of what would happen in South Australia, in Adelaide in particular, if an epidemic suddenly struck the people. The present hospital facilities, totally inadequate for normal conditions, would be impossible in such a situation. So, in this direction alone, another £1,000,000 could be spent and probably would hardly be noticed. 1 believe that these matters are entirely relevant to the suggestion that the Commonwealth should allocate the extra £5,000,000 to the States, and I repeat that £5,000,000 is only a drop in the ocean when we consider the needs of the States. We have been .told that in the not far distant future certain industrial activity by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited will take place in South Australia as a result of an agreement that has been entered into between the Premier of South Australia and the company to construct a steel works in that State. If the agreement becomes effective, the establishment of subsidiary industries will follow. Again, we will be faced with this problem of an ever increasing demand for housing and, again, the meagreness of the amount we receive from the Commonwealth will prevent South Australia from meeting the needs of the expanding population that will follow the introduction of such industries.
– How would the honorable senator raise the money, by means of heavier taxation?
– The Government could provide the money by refraining from making so many colossal blunders in the field of defence. Some of the millions of pounds that have been wasted could be diverted into those avenues where money could be spent in a very practical way. I make that suggestion to Senator Hannaford, and to the Government of which he is a supporter, in the best of faith.
I come now to the question of soldier settlement. South Australia is lagging far behind the other States for two reasons, first, because the Liberal Government of South Australia has never properly tackled this problem, and secondly, because South Australia has not received that degree of financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government to place on the land those returned soldiers who desire to go on the land. Hundreds of young men in South Australia wish to go on the land, and there are thousands of square miles of land which could usefully be utilized for closer settlement. However, lack of finance is the stumbling block, and once again it rs obvious that the States are not getting a fair go from this Government.
– Where are all those thousands of square miles about which the honorable senator seems to know so much?
– If Senator Hannaford travelled between Naracoorte and Kingston he would find in that area alone hundreds of square miles of land held, probably, by two or three families and carrying merely a few sheep. Those holdings, because they are so rich in soil value, would be very effective for use in soldier settlement, not only for the raising of sheep but also for the growing of any crops.
That is not the only part of South Australia to which I refer. There are thousands of square miles of land south-east of Adelaide which could be attached for closer settlement. Even Senator Hannaford would agree with me that such an area of land is available and could be used by the hundreds of people who desire to take up farming but are prevented from doing so, first, by the rather nebulous attitude of the South Australian Government, and, secondly, by the refusal of the Commonwealth Government to make available sufficient funds to establish a proper soldier settlement scheme.
– I do not think even the honorable senator’s colleagues would agree with him on that point.
– The honorable senator is quite entitled to disagree with me; in fact, there is nothing new in that. I find it difficult to recall the last occasion on which he agreed with me. Be that as it may, 1 am putting my point and endeavouring to apportion the blame fairly between the Commonwealth Government and the Liberal Government of South Australia. I hope I do not do an injustice to either.
I turn now to the question of roads which constitute a major problem in South Australia. The huge amounts reaped in by this
Government in the form of petrol tax are not being returned to the States to enable them to deal effectively with the problem of roads. Apart from a few main roads in South Australia, which are quite good, we all know that South Australia’s roads are generally in a deplorable condition.
– The position has never been better.
– Is the honorable senator satisfied about the condition of the roads in South Australia?
– They have never been better.
– Then that does not say much for what they were in the past. The honorable senator apparently is not prepared to answer my question whether he is satisfied about the condition of the roads in South Australia, so it follows that the position still is not good.
– Nothing of the kind.
– If anything, the position is slightly better than it was, but it is not good.
– The position is still better than it has ever been before.
– The honorable senator is talking nonsense. I am referring to the deplorable condition of the roads at the present time, not making a comparison with other States. I am not concerned whether the roads are better than they were last week, the week before, or last year. I am stating that, apart from a few main arterial roads, they are very bad indeed. If Senator Pearson is satisfied with the condition of the roads in South Australia, he may, when making his contribution to this debate, so inform the people of that State, because I am sure they will be very happy to learn that, despite what they may think about the state of the roads, Senator Pearson believes they are quite good.
– That is not what the honorable senator said. He said there has been a steady improvement in the condition of the roads.
– Then Senator Pearson must be the only person who holds that opinion. I can assure Senator Gorton, who is a Victorian and not, I understand, an authority on South Australian roads, that I have found some bad roads in South Australia.
Senator Scott, during the course of his speech, dealt not so much with the question of States grants, as, in the main, with unemployment. Apparently he was caught between two fires, his duty to the Government, of which he is a supporter, and his duty to the people of Western Australia. Whilst he complied with his duty as it affected his position as a supporter of the Government, he sadly neglected his constituents in Western Australia because he did not mention on any occasion, at least in my hearing, whether he was satisfied with the proposed grant to Western Australia of £315,000. He spoke about the alleged deficiencies of the Labour Government of that State, and then got on to the question of unemployment and, like the needle of a gramophone, remained in the groove.
One or two of his statements call for comment. He said that only 2 per cent, of the Australian work force is unemployed. 1 have noted that supporters of the Government make a habit of stating that only so much per cent, of the Australian work force is out of work. They tend to overlook human values. The 2 per cent, represents approximately 68,000 souls in this country. They are human beings, and it does not matter lo them whether the unemployed totals 60,000 or 600,000. The point really affecting them is that they are out of work and cannot get a job. That is the important matter. Whether they constitute 2 per cent, or 20 per cent, of the work force of Australia is immaterial; they are out of work.
I am glad that Senator Scott has now returned lo the chamber to hear some of the opinions I am expressing on the contents of his speech. Let us not talk in terms of percentages, but give some consideration to the question of human values when dealing with the problem of unemployment. In his reference to the unemployment position in the United States of America, Senator Scott said that approximately 10 per cent, of the American work force is unemployed. That percentage, on a national basis, represents about 5,000,000 workers. He said that because there are 5,000,000 employed in the United States of America and only 60,000 in Australia, that means that conditions in Australia are good. However, Senator Scott overlooked the fact that the attitude of mind that created this vast pool of unemployed in America is the same as that adopted by the Commonwealth Government, the attitude of “ let things correct themselves; do not take any measures of a national character to alleviate the unemployment position “. The present situation in the United States is the result of the American Government’s failure to do something to cure its growing unemployment problem. It is adopting the same easy attitude that the Australian Government is adopting; it is waiting for the problem to cure itself. This Government is not doing anything of a national character to remove the problem because, if it does, the big business people will be down on its neck.
The present unemployment problem in America has been caused by overproduction. The stage has been reached where private enterprise has failed to absorb the available work force. When such a situation manifests itself, only one thing can be done - it is the duty of the government to step in. lt has always been Labour’s policy that, if people are likely to become unemployed, the government should embark upon national developmental schemes.
– What did Labour do in 1949?
– We embarked upon national developmental schemes. As Senator Critchley has said, we embarked upon such schemes as the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme. Only Labour had the courage to inaugurate that scheme, the official opening of which, I do not like to have to remind Senator Scott again, was boycotted to a man by supporters of this Government, including the present Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner).
– He was not a member of the Parliament then. You do not know your history.
– If he had been a member of the Parliament then, he would have boycotted the function. You are nol going to tell me that he would not have danced to the tune.
– That statement is about as accurate as the rest of your speech.
– I am prepared to admit that I have done an injustice to the Minister by suggesting that as a parliamentarian he boycotted the scheme, but I am not prepared to make that concession to other supporters of the Government who were in Parliament at the time and who were so hostile to the scheme and so determined to smash it before it got properly under way that they publicly refrained from having anything to do with the opening ceremony. Now that the scheme is under way and has become one of the great adventures of this country, they are, as it were, riding on its back. They are trying to get a share of the glamour of a scheme which Labour inaugurated.
I leave the Snowy Mountains scheme and return to a consideration of the unemployment situation in America. Eighteen months or two years ago the American Government, when it saw that the great citadels of private enterprise could no longer keep the workmen of that country in employment because of over-production and failure to regulate hours and distribution of commodities, should have had the courage to step in and undertake national developmental schemes. And if the Australian Government had had any courage, it would have done the same. Unless something of that kind is done in Australia, we will discover that, despite Senator Scott’s hopes, the position will deteriorate still further in the not distant future.
– What about the rail standardization scheme that has been decided upon?
– That will have some effect.
– I thought you said that the Government had done nothing?
– I am not suggesting that the Government has done nothing. I am saying what it should have done. The Government had to be prodded for a long time before it decided to do something about rail standardization.
– You are hard to please.
– Let us be practical about it. I am a member of the Opposition and I am not here to be pleased by what the Government does; I am here to criticize. I am here to bury Caesar, not to praise him. It is not my function to agree with everything the Government does, even though the honorable senator hopes I 9hall.
– I accept that explanation.
– Thank you. In conclusion-
– Why not continue this accurate criticism?
– I am glad the honorable senator is satisfied with it. As I said at the beginning of my speech, the Opposition supports this proposed allocation of £5,000,000 to the States. But we certainly do not agree that it is enough, nor do we agree with the general scheme of reimbursement as between the Commonwealth and the States. I have attempted to outline some of the problems that are confronting South Australia. If honorable senators who participate in this debate after I resume my seat properly examine the requirements of the States that they represent, they will have to support the major contentions that I have advanced.
– I had not intended to take part in this debate, but I have since felt that some of Senator Toohey’s statements must be corrected. In fact, he has given a wrong impression of most of the developments that have occurred in South Australia and has painted a picture of gloom and pessimism. His statement about the housing situation is far from the truth. I do not think even Senator Toohey can deny that this Government’s housing record throughout Australia is immeasuraby superior to that of the Australian Labour party when it was in office. This Government’s housing record is one of which it can justly be proud.
– What about the natural increase of population?
– I intended to touch upon that matter. This Government was confronted with an influx of thousands of people from overseas and it knew that the task of housing them was one of very great magnitude. The Government’s record in the housing field, pursuant to both Labour’s original five-year agreement with the States and a more recent agreement, is without equal in the history of this country.
South Australia has played its part in the building of homes. That State is proud of the fact that its population is one of the best-housed communities in Australia. Any one who visits South Australia need only to travel about with his eyes open to realize that the housing situation in that State is comparatively satisfactory. I do not suggest that it is perfect. We have never reached the state of perfection which Senator Toohey claims would be achieved by a Labour government. But the quality of houses in South Australia compares more than favorably with that of homes in other States. If a person looks at the development that is proceeding at the new town of Elizabeth, which is some fifteen miles north of Adelaide, and the plans for which have recently been extended to embrace a greater number of homes than was envisaged originally, he can only come to the conclusion that South Australia is tackling the housing problem with the utmost vigour. I deny the truth of Senator Toohey’s reference to deplorable housing conditions. In making it he is performing a disservice to his own State and to its government. What of the private building that is taking place throughout South Australia? A moment ago I reminded the honorable senator of what was happening at Elizabeth. A further housing project is envisaged in connexion with the establishment of a new oil refinery just south of Adelaide. Before long the visitor to South Australia will see there the nucleus of a new town. In the main the money to build it is coming from the Commonwealth Government.
– It is coming from the taxpayers.
– That is so. Senator Toohey should remember that the finance needed to bring his grandiose plans to reality would have to be provided by the taxpayers. The honorable senator suggested that it could be provided by curtailing defence expenditure which, he said, was largely wasted. I remind him that we have never pretended that defence expenditure is other than wasteful. Plant and weapons of war become obsolete overnight; wastage is inseparable from defence. If Senator Toohey carried his argument a little further, and was honest about it, he would admit that the defence policy of the Australian Labour party is of a very negative kind and, if put into practice, would leave Australia’s defences in a deplorable condition.
To return to the subject of housing, in South Australia approximately 80 per cent, of all new private dwellings are provided by private enterprise. Private building activity throughout the State is proceeding apace. I could take the honorable senator to a dozen country towns where the housing trust is operating at full pressure. Housing activity of this kind is proceeding unceasingly throughout Australia generally. It is certainly incorrect for Senator Toohey to suggest anything to the contrary regarding South Australia.
The honorable senator also made great play upon an alleged failure to provide adequate education in South Australia. 1 do not suggest that we have yet arrived at a state of Utopian perfection in the education field. Education poses a tremendous problem for the whole of Australia. I remind the honorable senator of what this Government has done to solve it. One does not need a very long memory to recall its response to the Murray report, and its willingness to devote very large sums of money to the fostering of our universities. Surely that can be regarded as a contribution to education. The high birth rate which followed the depression years has produced a vast school population and has presented all the States with a special problem. South Australia’s approach to its solution is completely realistic. Everything possible has been done to augment the teaching staffs for, in the absence of enlarged staffs, additional schools are useless. In Adelaide, the main centre for teacher training, magnificent work has been done. The department has even had a “ pressure cooker “ section to help cope with the thousands of children who seek admission to the State’s schools.
– Everything in the garden is lovely!
– I do not suggest that. 1 am merely pointing out what has been done to meet the present problem. South Australia is fortunate to have as Minister for Education the Honorable Baden Pattinson, himself an educationist of very high qualifications. With the financial help of the State Government he has done magnificent work in bringing education to the young of the community. I remind Senator Toohey of the enormous sums spent upon the transportation of children to school. When we were children we had to walk 4 miles or so to school. The children of to-day enjoy the inestimable benefit of transportation - a condition which, I understand, is general throughout Australia. We must face the fact that all these aspects of education cost enormous sums.
The provision of educational centres in South Australia compares very favorably with the position elsewhere. My travels throughout the State have convinced me that accommodation for both teachers and children is at a very satisfactory level indeed. I deny that South Australian school children suffer the disabilities of which Senator Toohey speaks. The standard of education is also comparable with that of other States. This is evident from the way in which we have held our own in industrial and other fields of development over the years - a state of affairs brought about, in the main, by Liberal governments.
Senator Toohey also painted a gloomy picture of public health in Adelaide, and in South Australia generally. He said that our hospitals were completely overcrowded. That is not so. I have never experienced any difficulty in obtaining hospital accommodation for any of my family. Certainly, the public hospitals are in a somewhat different category, but over the years the State Government has improved health facilities to such an extent that no one who is really sick and in need of medical attention is now denied entry to a hospital. I remind Senator Toohey of the development of the great Woodville hospital which ultimately will cost about £4,000,000. This magnificent hospital stands like a splendid monument to the work of the South Australian health authorities. The money for that hospital is coming, in the main, from the Commonwealth Government, by way of tax reimbursement. I think South Australia’s quota is £375,000. It comes, of course, from the same source, and it, too, will help to develop South Australia’s hospital system. I invite honorable senators to see that system in operation in the country areas. It is perhaps unique in Australia. District hospitals operate throughout the State. It is an adequate and unique system, under which hospitals are subsidized. The principle of self-help has been adopted. I am very proud that we have hospitals that cater for people in every part of our State.
Further, campaigns are being carried on against prevalent diseases. We are carrying on an active campaign, with the Salk vaccine, against poliomyelitis. We are encouraging people to have X-rays taken, as a part of our campaign against tuberculosis.
Cancer research has been going on unceasingly through the years. Yet, notwithstanding all this, Senator Toohey has the nerve to say that our hospitals are starved of funds, that our health facilities are inadequate, and that he fears for the health of the people of South Australia if an epidemic should occur. We have had epidemics before. We had a polio epidemic, and we are doing all that we can to ensure that it will not occur again.
– Are you saying that the situation is completely satisfactory?
– I am not pretending that the situation is completely satisfactory, because we shall never reach that stage, but I am putting the matter in its proper light and giving credit where credit is due. It is due to the Commonwealth Government, which provides the funds, and to the State governments, which administer the spending of those funds.
Let us go a little further still. Senator Toohey made some rather extravagant statements about our roads. He directed his criticism mainly at roads which are not main highways. The main highways in South Australia are under the control of the Highways and Local Government Department, which gets its funds from two sources - from money paid by the Commonwealth as petrol tax reimbursements, and from motor vehicle registration fees. The department distributes money to localgoverning bodies throughout the State for them to undertake the work of constructing and maintaining district roads. The district roads are important arteries which feed the railways and the main centres of the State.
Without hesitation, I say that Senator Toohey’s remarks about the roads in South Australia were a reflection on work that is being carried out, in the main, by voluntary bodies. In effect, his remarks were a reflection on local government. Throughout the whole of the Commonwealth, there are roads boards and district councils, the members of which work without pay. They are actuated only by a high sense of duty. They have the responsibility of looking after our Toads. They have other activities, but their work is mainly concerned with roads. I do not agree with Senator Toohey that the roads in South Australia are bad. I know that in the more remote areas, great difficulty is experienced in maintaining good roads, but we cannot afford to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on maintaining roads on which, perhaps, only one vehicle travels during half the day. It is necessary to concentrate on the roads that serve the developed areas. In South Australia we have access roads to our new developmental areas. South Australia has a land development plan for the south-east of the State. Immediately land is opened up for development, it is necessary to provide access “ roads. The South Australian Government has never failed to provide those roads. It has thus enabled great schemes of land development to proceed. The work that has been undertaken by local government authorities in South Australia is something of which we should be justly proud. I, at least, take off my hat to the people who have voluntarily undertaken this great responsibility.
What is the record of the present Commonwealth Government compared with that of previous governments, as far as petrol tax reimbursements are concerned? The present Government has devoted more of the proceeds of the petrol tax to roads, under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme, than did any previous government. We should consider what has been achieved in Australia since the advent of the motor car. Notwithstanding all the criticism of Australian roads, I think it is nothing short of remarkable that we have a roads system, in this country of vast distances, which compares favourably with that in any other country in the world.
Senator Toohey also spoke about the employment situation. I remind him that in 1949, the last year of office of the Labour government, about 9 per cent, of our workers were unemployed, compared with the 2 per cent, to-day. Those figures provide a complete answer to the honorable senator’s suggestion that the employment situation is deteriorating. What about the great developmental plans that are being undertaken at this moment? Senator Cooke, who is interjecting, will be interested to hear of the shipbuilding project that is planned for Whyalla, the oil refinery south of Adelaide, and the steel industry expansion at Whyalla.
– What about the deep sea port at Kingston?
– I am not referring to the deep sea port at present.
– Why not?
– Because 1 am honest. A close investigation has been made of the possibility of the establishment of a deep sea port. The time will come when all the so-called undeveloped land in the south-east of South Australia will be developed. It will be necessary then to establish a deep sea port, but that would be premature at this stage. That is the considered opinion of the South Australian Government. The project is in abeyance at the moment. South Australia has every prospect of eliminating unemployment, despite the numbers of migrants arriving in the State every day. The record of the State Government cannot justly be challenged by the Opposition.
I believe that the grant to be made available by the Commonwealth will be of substantial help to the State governments. It will be of particular help to New South Wales and Queensland, the States which will get the lion’s share. As far as we in South Australia are concerned, we can do with the money, and the grant is a step in the right direction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 753), on motion by Senator O’sullivan -
That the bil! be now read a second time.
– The bill now before the Senate is purely a machinery one to amend the Bills of Exchange Act. It effects identical amendments to subsections (4.) and (5.) of section 98 of the principal act. Its real purpose is to put beyond doubt that either a bank holiday or a bank half-holiday when declared by an ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory or of the Northern Territory is treated as a dies non for the purposes of the Bills of Exchange Act. Although Commonwealth and State law declaring a bank holiday or half-holiday makes them in each case a dies non, there is some doubt whether the expressions used in the act include a declaration of a bank holiday or a bank half-holiday made by or under an ordinance of either Territory. The Minister’s secondreading speech contains a full explanation of the amendments. The Opposition supports the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 755), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As was the Bills of Exchange Bill 1958 that has just been passed, this is a measure largely of a machinery nature. It is one to amend the Bankruptcy Act in some relatively minor particulars, and it purports to validate retrospectively certain acts performed by the Registrar. I shall refer briefly in the first instance to the general machinery matters.
The bill provides for a separate seal for the Federal Court of Bankruptcy. It provides for the taking of shorthand notes of evidence before a registrar, and for the repayment to the Commonwealth of the cost thereof. The Registrar had the right to call upon shorthand writers up to 1954. The practice was then altered, and it is now to be resumed. From my own experience, I would say it is necessary and convenient.
The next matter is in relation to the delivery of a bankruptcy notice, which is a preliminary to the bankruptcy of a debtor. Where the debtor has a counter claim, an off-set or a cross demand, there can be some danger that argument upon his setoff or cross demand may not be disposed of before the bankruptcy notice becomes effective and his estate is sequestrated. An amendment to section 53 of the act makes perfectly sure that where there is such a setoff or cross demand an affidavit filed in the court will enable the postponement of a sequestration order until such time as that counter claim is disposed of. That is quite unexceptionable.
A new offence is created. The bill provides that if a bankrupt does not account to a registrar for a loss of a substantial proportion of his property in the year preceding the bankruptcy, he shall be guilty of an offence.
The remaining matter deals with quite an interesting little legal position. Back in 1957, the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation sought to have a man named James declared bankrupt for a debt under the income tax laws in the amount of approximately £13,500. A bankruptcy notice was taken out in January against this individual. It was not served until early in April. Some time after that, the Deputy Commissioner applied for an extension of the time for the serving of the bankruptcy notice. That is, long after a period of a month had expired and long after, in fact, the bankruptcy notice had been served, the Deputy Commissioner applied for an extension of the time, the rules providing that unless permitted by a court the bankruptcy notice had to be served within a month from the date of its issue or it died. I repeat, it was served after the expiry date, and the Registrar in Bankruptcy purported to extend the time.
James - a name rather famous in constitutional law in Australia - took the matter to the High Court. The High Court pointed out that section 27 (2.) (c) of the Bankruptcy Act provides that the court may extend the time for doing any act. Accordingly, the Parliament having committed that authority to a court, it becomes a judicial act, not performable by a court and certainly not performable by an officer in the category of the Registrar. The High Court held that apart from the fact that service took place out of time, the purported extension of the time for service by the Registrar was invalid. That judgment caused a great deal of inconvenience because the practice of the Registrar extending terms had gone on down the years. A great many people were made bankrupt by bankruptcy notices served outside the proper time.
What the Government is planning to do now is to validate all such acts that were done by the Registrar. This poses an interesting problem as to whether a particular act, having been committed to a court and treated by this Parliament as a judicial act, can retrospectively be turned by this Parliament into something in the nature of a ministerial or an administrative act. Although I have some doubt in the matter, I think it can be done. There is no doubt about the Parliament’s power to make retrospective legislation in any field that is committed to it, and I have little doubt that it can turn what was a judicial act retrospectively into a ministerial act. The court judgment in the James case conduces to that view. I shall read one brief passage to the Senate. The three judges who decided the case said -
One may concede that the issue of a bankruptcy notice is ministerial, and it may well follow that a power to extend time for service of such a notice might be committed by the Parliament to administrative hands. But that is not what Parliament has done.
Sec. 27 (2) (c) confides to the Court as part of its judicial power the extension of any time limited by “ this Act “, an expression defined to include the Rules.
That makes for quite an interesting legal argument. However, there is no purpose in pursuing it, in my view, because this amendment and this retrospective action to validate and treat judicial acts as ministerial acts does not go to the substantive matters at issue between the parties - the debtor and the creditor. This is merely a procedural matter which needs rectification, and I should say that the rectification will be provocative of no further constitutional arguments.
With regard to cases that are past, I should imagine that the main issue, as to whether a debtor ought to be made bankrupt at the instance of a creditor, is a concluded matter. In those circumstances, there is no objection to what the Government proposes. Very properly, the Government makes an exception about the retrospective effect. It is careful not to deprive James of the benefit of the victory that he won on the procedural matter. That is quite proper, but it does not help him very much at all, because there was nothing to have prevented the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation from taking out another bankruptcy notice, serving it within the specified time and proceeding to the sequestration. Although there is not a lot at issue in this matter, I thought I should at least devote a few minutes to discussion of a phase that, to me, is of interest.
Mr. President, it probably only remains for me to ask: What else has been done to prevent, in the future, the difficulties that have arisen in the past? Whereas before, the regulations limited the operation of a bankruptcy notice to one month - it had to be served within one month of issue, and that month could only be extended by a court, which position is not disturbed by this measure - the regulations nevertheless have been altered to provide that a bankruptcy notice is now viable for a period of six months. In my experience, a debtor who is being pursued with a bankruptcy notice is a very elusive individual. He is not anxious that it should catch up with him. But I think that the difficulty that was created by the High Court judgment - burdening the courts with numerous applications for extensions, and thus taking up their time - has now been cured by a simple regulation that enables a bankruptcy notice to live for a period of six months. I should imagine that the courts will not be bothered with many applications to extend that period.
The Government has taken the opportunity, in respect of the regulations, to clear away another difficulty. The regulations provided that an answer, either by payment or by way of objection in court to a bankruptcy notice, had to be lodged within seven days of service. In actual fact, the registrar was usurping the functions of the court and himself continually extending that sevenday period. Bankruptcy notices were issued giving individuals ten days, or fourteen days, instead of the seven days provided by the regulation. What is being done now in the regulation is to give the registrar a discretion to extend the time beyond the period of seven days, based on the distance at which the debtor resides from the registry of the court. If a debtor lives 50 miles away, he has so many days allowed to him; if he lives 300 miles away he has a good many more days allowed. It seems to me that a simple amendment of the regulations, coupled with the amendment proposed by this bill, will get rid of the administrative difficulties and prevent the court from being cluttered with matters which, the High Court has said, are ministerial unless they are committed by Parliament to the court as judicial functions. I see no objection to the measure, and the Opposition will support it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 757), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The tariff proposals now before the Senate envisage slightly amended duties, based on recommendations of the Tariff Board. The proposals cover, in effect, 43 different items. Honorable senators will see from the schedule that in some cases it is proposed to reduce the rates of duty and, in others, to increase them slightly. The amendments refer chiefly to components and spare parts for motor vehicles. It is difficult for honorable senators to decide whether amendments of this kind are either adequate or justified, but 1 point out that, in all these cases, there is a recommendation by the Tariff Board. Honorable senators will appreciate that the board gives very thorough and exhaustive consideration to every aspect of matters such as this, and invariably, I think, we can be guided by its recommendation.
I have had a look at the various items dealt with by the bill, but as I have said, it is difficult to appreciate whether the proposed alterations conform with the requests of industry. In most cases, however, I think that the Tariff Board has made a pretty good assessment of the situation. There is one aspect of the bill about which I wish to say a few words. Honorable senators may remember that, some time ago, the Tariff Board considered it necessary to refer to the excessive charges that were being made for spare parts for motor vehicles, particularly trucks and heavy earthmoving machinery. The board was of the opinion that the community was being exploited through such excessive costs. Although this matter really has no relation to the bill, let me say that I think it is the responsibility of the industry concerned to see that goods are retailed to the public at reasonable prices, in order to protect not only itself, but also the consumers.
The Opposition does not oppose these amended duties. We on this side of the chamber think they are absolutely necessary, particularly as the amendments are being made after exhaustive examination by the Tariff Board.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 757), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
. The provisions of this bill, as explained by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), are complementary to those in the Customs Tariff Bill 1958, which we passed just prior to suspension of the sitting. The principal amendments relate to motor vehicles and spare parts, and to components for the manufacture or assembly of motor vehicles.
The main point about this bill is that it provides for a preferential tariff margin of 7i per centum lower than the intermediate tariff rates of duty set out in the Customs Tariff Bill 1958. That means, of course, that we are putting Canada in the same position as the United Kingdom in respect of preferential rates. I cannot see any ground for opposition to the proposal. I know that painstaking consideration has been given to this and other proposals by the Tariff Board over a lengthy period. Because the bill brings Canadian preference into line with the British preference, and because we have been working to that end for some years now, I support the measure. I think it will make for the smoother running of trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 757), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
. The principle of this bill is exactly in line with that of the Customs Tariff (Canadian
Preference) Bill 1958, with which we have just dealt. Its sole purpose is to put New Zealand in a similar position to the United Kingdom in respect of tariff treatment. I cannot see any objection to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 758), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator COURTICE (Queensland) [8.51. - 1 feel almost embarrassed at having to agree continually with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) in these matters. One would think he had consulted me before putting the proposals before the Senate. It embarrasses me slightly, too, because one is inclined to feel that, when in opposition, one ought to have something to throw at the Government.
This bill is complementary to the Customs Tariff Bill 1958 and is in line with traditional tariff treatment by Australia. It brings the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland into line with the United Kingdom regarding preferential tariffs. I understand that the bill makes reference only to the importation of certain fruit juices.
– I know this proposal has been discussed at length by the authorities. The Opposition sees no objection to the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Clause 3 provides that the bill shall come into effect not only on a particular day but at nine o’clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory. I should like to know why it is necessary to be so precise in this instance.
– The Department of Customs and Excise opens for business at nine o’clock in the morning. We need to state precisely the time at which the bill will come into effect so that the duties will apply at the time of opening of the department for business.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 758), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– lt will be remembered that two or three years ago, for revenue purposes, the Government applied a duty to the importation of cathode ray tubes used in television sets. Since then, because there has been an attempt to establish an industry in Australia for the manufacture of television sets, the Tariff Board has recommended that the duty on each cathode ray tube be £5. This is recommended with a view to encouraging and protecting the Australian industry. The Government, in its anxiety not to forgo any revenue, will reduce the duty on the local product from £7 to £6 and, at the same time, increase the tariff to £11 on each tube imported into Australia. The Government contends that by this means it will protect the industry in Australia while safeguarding the revenue it requires.
I do not know much about this industry and the possibilities of its establishment in Australia, but I have unbounded faith in the Tariff Board because I know its work and that in matters of this kind it gives minute consideration to every aspect. On the assurance of the Minister, I feel that the recommendation of the board may be approved and accepted, and consequently the Opposition will not oppose the measure.
– in reply - I thank the Senate, and particularly Senator Courtice, for its reception of these bills. Having previously held the portfolio of Minister for Trade and Customs, Senator Courtice understands the ramifications of the department so well. I hope that if at any time I am in opposition, I shall be able to return the compliment.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 760), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this bill is to make available to the Western Australian Government £2,500,000 for the purpose of carrying out some special work in the northwest of that State. Western Australia will receive the money in equal instalments spread over a period of five years. This grant indicates that the Commonwealth Government has at last recognized the necessity of providing funds for the development of such remote areas, particularly in the Kimberley region, where great possibilities exist for closer settlement.
For many years the Western Australian Government, together with private enterprise, has endeavoured to encourage agricultural and pastoral pursuits in the more remote areas of that State, but the Government has been faced with a very difficult task for two reasons, first, the lack of finance, and secondly, the remoteness of the area, access to which is usually gained by means of one of the ships plying along the western coast, and then overland. Settlers in that area are faced, not only with the work entailed in the exploitation of the soil, but also with the necessity of arranging to transport the produce to markets.
Work has been progressing for many years. At one time it was suggested that dams should be erected along the Ord River to irrigate the area. Just before the Israelites returned to Israel I understand there was a suggestion that they should settle in Australia and establish here a community similar to that now in existence in Israel. However, nothing came of that suggestion, nor others that have been made from time to time with the object of encouraging settlement in the remote areas of Western Australia.
I understand that the grant will be used to regulate the flow of water to the experimental station now in existence and the station that will probably be established in the near future. Some regulation is necessary in an area with a rainfall ranging from 12 inches to 30 inches a year, and this will be done by means of dams. The grant will enable engineers to obtain the knowledge necessary to erect dams in other areas, and by this means rice-growing, for instance, will probably be carried on in the future. I hope that the honorable senators from Western Australia who may speak after me in this debate will not make a song about the necessity to import coolie labour from other countries because of the difficulty of obtaining Australians to engage in rice-growing. That is one aspect of the matter to be guarded against.
The Opposition is not opposing the bill, but in the later stages of the debate there may be some criticism of several aspects of the measure. A considerable amount of criticism may be levelled at the Government which has taken so many years to grant the paltry sum of £2,500,000. Every senator from Western Australia, even supporters of the Government, will realize that in an area in which such a huge amount of money may be spent, the sum of £500,000 each year will be like a drop in the ocean. The amount of the grant is not enough to do the job it is supposed to do. However, once the job is started the Government can be asked for more money until such times as the objectives set out in the bill are achieved. We do not oppose the measure.
– I was very pleased to hear Senator O’Flaherty say that the Opposition did not intend to oppose this measure, and I wish to thank him for his supporting remarks. I was a little surprised however, that on this occasion a Western Australian senator did not lead for the Opposition, because this is essentially and entirely a Western Australian piece of legislation. Although the Commonwealth is providing the money, Western Australians mainly are concerned with the proposal. Being a Western Australian, I am most interested in the bill, and I repeat that I was a little surprised that WesternAustralian members of the Opposition were not equally sufficiently interested to rise and speak.
There is no element of party politics in the measure. Although, measured by federal standards, not a great deal of money is involved - it is a lot of money for Western Australia - a very important principle in relation to development has been accepted by this Government. I think this is the first time in the history of federation that a Commonwealth government has accepted responsibility for the provision of funds for the development of a particular part of a State. The Government deserves some measure of praise for having accepted that principle. lt has been said that the sum of money involved is not sufficient. That is a popular form of criticism for a newspaper to publish, but such criticism must in all respects be related to the task that is involved. I am not aware of any plans having been produced by the Western Australian Government, so whether the amount of money involved is too great or too little cannot yet be determined. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) stated, in his second-reading speech, that the money would be made available for projects submitted by the State to the Commonwealth which could not reasonably be carried out without the grant of special financial assistance by the Commonwealth. I repeat that no detailed plan has yet been submitted by the State to the Commonwealth and most certainly no details of costs have been submitted, so how any one can say that the proposed grant is insufficient is beyond my comprehension.
Until such plans are submitted, no honorable senator is qualified to say that the sum involved is either adequate or inadequate. No doubt such authorities as the “ West Australian “ newspaper which assume a degree of specialist knowledge in these matters will claim that the sum is insufficient but they will be talking without any sense of responsibility. It is all very fine to be critical of the quantum, but that is a poor way of expressing satisfaction for the acceptance by this Government of a principle that has never before been accepted by a federal government - that is, financial responsibility for the development of part of a State which that State has failed, perhaps through no fault of its own, to carry out.
Having made those comments, I wish to offer some remarks about the area to which this grant is related. The region involved is that area of Western Australia which is north of the twentieth parallel. I am not familiar with the exact point through which the twentieth parallel runs, but to hazard a guess I should say that the area of land involved is about the size of Victoria and Tasmania combined, or perhaps a little larger. That area is known as the Kimberleys. The climate is tropical. The area has a very hot, wet summer in the tradition of the tropics, and a moderately cool, dry winter. Parts receive a rainfall of up to 55 or 60 inches a year, which fades to very much less than that in the arid region. The area is watered by two large rivers, the Ord and the Fitzroy, both of which carry enormous quantities of water in the flood season. There are practically no roads. There are two or three small towns, Broome being the largest and Derby the second largest. I think Hall’s Creek and Wyndham are the only other settlements in the whole area.
The question of white people living there has been raised by alleged authorities on the development of our northern areas. I have heard some people who pose as authorities claim that the area is not fit for white people to live in, and that for that reason the development of it is a dubious proposition. I do not accept that as being a good criticism. In such areas as Cairns, in north Queensland, which has a similar climate, people seem to exist and live quite happily. Although the climate in the interior is severe, it is not very much more severe than it is in many other parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory where white people are living and surviving quite well. Although the climate is not easy, I do not think it is a serious bar to the development of the area.
At the moment, there exists almost no conservation of water. There are no proper harbours, and harbour-making is a difficult and expensive undertaking. Industries are still in what one might call the primitive or early colonial stage of development. Perhaps the most important industry is the pastoral industry, which is followed very closely by the mining industry. There is a very large deposit of high-grade iron ore at Yampi Sound, and it is known that other large deposits of iron ore exist in the Kimberleys. Given sufficient enthusiasm and capital, there is a distinct possibility of oil being discovered, and coal is also known to exist. Gold has been found, and the presence of many other minerals is common knowledge. However, very little systematic prospecting of the area has ever been undertaken. The pastoral industry is akin to that found in most of Western Australia’s arid areas. The carrying capacity of some of the land could be increased very greatly.
No power of any kind is generated in the area, and it seems obvious that if intensive development is to take place it will be necessary to employ power derived from the atom. Living conditions are, to say the least, primitive. For example, there is no dentist in the very large area of country between the town of Geraldton and the settlement of Wyndham. Nor is there a secondary school of any consequence, and I believe that there is only one doctor - in addition, of course, to the well-established Royal Flying Doctor Service. I pay tribute to the magnificent work undertaken in remote areas by that service.
In short, there is not much incentive for a man to take his wife and children to the Kimberleys. The living standards of all except the wealthy pastoralists are, generally speaking, much below those of the average Australian. That is a challenge which must be accepted by the State and satisfactorily disposed of before a stable population can be expected in the area, where a similar state of affairs has existed for more than 100 years. In fact, 50 years ago the population of the Kimberleys was greater than it is now. I think it would be fair to say that the area has not progressed, in any material particular, for upwards of 100 years. The Government of Western Australia has, for the last 50 years, shamefully neglected the area. I include in that criticism governments of all political parties. They have not provided even a dentist or a proper secondary school - not even a decent road. The region lacks a hundred amenities that Australians elsewhere take as a matter of course. Many of these shortcomings could “be put right by the expenditure of much less than £2,500,000.
– Has there been closer settlement?
– No. Many people have looked at this vast region and gone away sadly disillusioned as to its possibilities. At the other end of the scale, there are the people who have, so to speak, discovered the area overnight, and come back describing it as a land flowing with milk and honey - needing the expenditure of but a few pounds to enable it to carry a population of millions. Both states of mind are dangerous and foolish. It is not a land that will ever flow with milk and honey. It is difficult territory to develop - perhaps the most difficult in the world, but, given public investment on a large scale, it can produce much wealth.
Some people have spoken enthusiastically of the possibilities of the area. I have in mind, especially, the Northern Development Committee, composed of wellmeaning people who spent a great deal of time endeavouring to solve the problem of the region’s development. I commend that committee for its splendid work. Its main argument was that tax remissions to inhabitants should be inaugurated. This was, of course, the main argument also of the State’s own newspaper, the “ West Australian “. The “ West Australian “ described it as the “ only practicable way “ to develop the north-western Kimberleys. I join issue with the newspaper on that point.
– It pre-supposes that development of the area will be left in private hands.
– That is so- The necessity for great public investment is not envisaged, though this is an absolute sine qua non for development and production. I am reminded of the economic development of the Western Australian goldfields, the area from which I come. Sixty years ago, when gold was discovered there, it was a waterless region, and John Forrest, the then Premier, recognized that the situation demanded tremendous public investment. It demanded the construction of 375 miles of railway - a big undertaking for a little State with a population, then, of a few paltry thousand - and the provision of a water pipeline for the same distance. The State Government of those days realized the extent to which public investment must precede private investment. The same kind of economic problem confronts us in the north-west of this country. Public investment on a very large scale is a pre-requisite to production- One can provide numerous illustrations of desirable and necessary avenues of expenditure. Water conservation is needed. The provision of this, alone, is a most expensive operation. There must be harbours, roads and even railways. There must be schools, hospitals and public instrumentalities.
– At what stage should these be provided? Should they follow the population, or be provided in order to encourage settlement?
– I shall come to the realities of the situation in a moment. I insist that the first prerequisite is public investment; otherwise, productivity will not increase. I suggest that the second stage is the attraction of private investment. If profits are sufficient, I do not think it matters very much whether the inhabitants pay tax or not. Where the profit is commensurate with the risk, people have always followed a wealth-producing project.
I feel that in the field of mineral exploration the first stage of development should be fostered. It has been shown in this country - in every State, with the exception, perhaps, of South Australia - that accelerated development has been achieved only through mining, as the first element in the growth. We found in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia that the mining industry was the forerunner of general development. We must accept that as a natural law in encouraging the development of the areas I am talking about. For that reason, I suggest that in the first place the mining industry should be fostered so as to encourage the natural growth of other industries as successors to it.
When we think the matter out, we see that it is very natural and reasonable that the mining industry should be, in a way, the forerunner of other heavy industries. In the first place, a mining industry is the cheapest industry to establish. It attracts labour. It requires water supplies, power, roads and railways. It requires all the facilities that are necessary for the subsequent establishment of secondary industries, and perhaps agriculture. Anyway, I put to the Senate that that has been the pattern of growth thus far in every State in Australia. I see no reason why that pattern should not be followed in the development of this area, which, in one sense, is as large as any State and could be treated as such within the context of my observations this evening.
There is every reason why a healthy mining industry should be established, and the prospects of establishing it successfully are quite favorable. Having established a healthy mining industry, the second stage is agriculture. I accept the authorities in that respect who state that tropical agriculture, entailing fairly intensive cultivation, can be effected in the valleys of the Ord and Fitzroy rivers, with proper water conservation and an adequate supply of power.
– That presupposes some breaking-up of the vast holdings of land.
– Not necessarily. There is plenty of land still available for every one. It might mean that some of the land along the river valleys would have to be taken from the pastoralists, but where a pastoralist holds millions of acres, he could afford to let, say, 10,000 acres go for intensive cultivation purposes. I do not suggest that all this could be done with £2,500,000, or that it could be done in five years. If any one suggests to me that the amount provided under this legislation is not enough, my reply will be that there is nothing to prevent Western Australia from adding to the contribution and accelerating the pace of development still further. However, I am prepared to accept the proposition that this money, if wisely spent, might be quite sufficient for what might be called the preliminary work of a large-scale planning of the north-west developmental area. After all, one cannot spend money unless one has the know-how and the plan. To date, there has been no plan.
The first essential before any of the money is spent is that there should be a fairly long-term, well co-ordinated plan, approved not only by the Western Australian Government, but also by the Commonwealth Government. It should be a plan that envisages not only the development of the pastoral industry, but also the development of an agricultural industry, and most certainly the development of a mining industry. We need to hasten slowly in this respect, because it is very easy to fritter away large sums of money without much productive result. Unless this money is spent wisely, the next Commonwealth Government that is faced with a request for additional money, when this money has been spent, might be inclined to adopt the attitude that as the State did not make the best use of this £2,500,000, it will be given no more money. Before any expenditure is undertaken by the State Government, a longterm, well co-ordinated plan should be evolved for the development of the whole area. Only in that way can the Commonwealth Government and the State Government, take an intelligent long-term view of the project as a whole.
There have been many investigations, of course, to find out what should be done. There was an investigation by an all-party committee, which came to Canberra some years ago. Prior to that a departmental investigation was conducted by Commonwealth and State officers. The latter committee evolved the only plan that I know of which might be regarded as a long-term plan of development, and I commend its report to the Senate. Incidentally, I do not think a copy of that report can be readily found at the present time. To my surprise, the library has not got a copy. There are only one or two copies known to be in existence, in unofficial publications. I have a copy. I commend the report to honorable senators who are interested in this matter. lt is the only report that attempts to offer an all-embracing, long-term plan for the development of this area.
That is almost all I have to say on this measure. There is nothing contentious in it. I place on record my appreciation of the Government’s interest in this problem. For 50 years the Kimberleys area has remained dormant. For many years pressure was brought to bear on many federal governments in an attempt to get them to accept some responsibility for the development of the north-west. I myself, two years ago, on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, discussed the development of this area. Many others have brought the matter up from time to time. But finally I think our pressure has had some good effect. For the first time in history, this Government has accepted a high degree of responsibility, as I personally know. I have great pleasure in supporting the bill.
– This proposal, as Senator Vincent has pointed out, is non-controversial as far as the bill is concerned, although if we examine the method of providing this amount of money we would be able - as we usually are in this place - to find a field of controversy. It was interesting to note the remarks of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) when he introduced the measure. He said that this bill was the result of proposals and views that had been put before the Government by the all-party committee some years ago. That committee was referred to by Senator Vincent, and it has been referred to on a number of occasions by members of both sides of this Parliament over a long period.
The Treasurer intimated that the proposal embodied in this legislation came forth after the views of the committee had been considered. If that is the case, and if the Government seriously considered those views, all I can say is that the mountain laboured and brought forth a mouse, because the proposals that have been put before this Parliament, the Cabinet, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) over a long period of time included a revolutionary process which has been mentioned many times by honorable senators on both sides of this chamber. Therefore, I shall refer only briefly to it.
It was the tax-free proposal which had as its objective the encouragement of capital into the North-West. The proposal was, briefly, that 60 per cent, of income would be tax free for a period of twenty years and that the other 40 per cent., if reinvested in this area, would also be free of tax. That was a revolutionary process or proposition, which the Government has not yet seen fit to accept. The reasons behind it were that it was felt that no matter how much development takes place in the north, the basic need is going to be capital, even if it comes from mining. I noticed that Senator Vincent said that this was rather a cheap form of development. I do not know what he had in mind, because when I look at mining machinery I think it is anything but cheap. The honorable senator might have been speaking relatively, having in mind the cost of other forms of development. No matter how many public works are carried out in this area, capital will not be attracted to it because of the climatic conditions, remoteness from markets, difficulties in buying and selling, and that sort of thing. People will not put big money into that area if they can get the same return from investments in other parts of Australia.
The basic underlying problem is not peculiar to Australia. Throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations there is basically a shortage of capital - a severe shortage of capital. Rhodesia, South Africa, Australia, and certain parts of India and Pakistan are still crying out for development, and naturally there is a race to obtain any capital available. Our problem was to try to get our share of the available capital with which to develop Australia.
We have a unique provision in our taxation laws. Under the zone system - the A and B zonal areas were recently varied - people living in certain parts of this country receive a tax concession. I do not think that it is material, but it is a recognition of the fact that difficulties are experienced in certain parts of Australia in earning income.
Senator Vincent has stated that there is no plan. I was at a loss in trying to follow his remarks, because a proposal which, I think, originated with the McLarty Government and was carried on by the Hawke Government which succeeded it in office has been before the Commonwealth Government for many years. This proposition was quite separate from the tax-free proposal. Incidentally, the tax-free proposal received the approval of every member of the Western Australian Parliament - every member of the Liberal party, every member of the Labour party, and every member of the Country party. The endorsement was unanimous! Quite apart from the principles embodied in the proposal, which has been left in a pigeonhole somewhere in the Parliament for a long time, the difficulty has been to carry out certain governmental works as a basis for further development.
– It was not a plan, but only nine separate and unconnected requests.
– My friend from Western Australia always likes to bandy words, if he had read the document carefully and noted the amount of money involved, he would call it a basic plan. However, I do not want to bandy words with the honorable senator; I merely suggest that this was the original plan. When for the first time a document sets out weaknesses that exist at certain ports and suggests that something be done, that is of the nature of a plan. It may not reflect the degree of efficiency that Senator Vincent sometimes displays in this chamber, but nevertheless it has been lying somewhere in this building for some time.
The bill provides for assistance of £500.000 a year for five years to Western Australia. The total amount involved in this assistance is exactly the same as the amount that was appropriated a little while ago for deep drilling in the search for oil in Australia. I think that almost all of this money will be spent on the Black Rocks proposal designed to improve one of the outlets of Derby and to improve the area at Wyndham. This is essential if we are to move in and improve the cattle industry and develop the Ord River scheme. Experiments have been conducted, but we have never gone on from that point. The time for talking has passed; the time for action has come, and this is where the money ought to be spent.
Western Australia is debarred somewhat from participating in schemes such as the Snowy Mountains scheme. That is a great proposition which should be a national responsibility because when it is completed it will immediately benefit certain parts of Australia and therefore, indirectly, the rest of Australia. No matter what the cost of this development, the Commonwealth will underwrite every penny of it. A statesmanlike approach has been made to this project and we all look forward to its completion. On the other hand, work on two great waterways - the Ord and the Fitzroy rivers - has not been pushed. They are remote from the centres of population and they lack the romantic history of the Snowy. A member of the House of Representatives has likened the volume of water in the Ord and the Fitzroy rivers to the volume in the Nile in Egypt, and everybody knows what a tremendous river that is. 1 think that it is one of the ten great waterways of the world. If we were to apply the same treatment to that section of Australia as has been applied to the south-east corner, we could do, without hesitation, many more of the things which the Ord River development scheme has proved can be done. The west could underwrite every penny spent on such development. Following that, of course, it would be necessary to improve the outlets, and money would be applied to that purpose by the State Government. Therefore, I say that we are dealing with two separate sets of proposals in regard to this matter.
I was both interested and pleased by the fact that previous speakers had dealt with the importance of mining in this area. I do not wish to repeat what has been said already, but we have only to look at the development of Australia, particularly of the outback areas, to appreciate that mining has always been the initial form of development. At Wittenoom Gorge, for instance, where blue asbestos is mined, there is that initial pocket of people which is so important. Senator Scott has taken a great interest in mining, and both he and I have asked questions in this chamber in the last few weeks in an endeavour to obtain from the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) some evidence of sympathy towards special consideration for mining. I do not expect an off-the-cuff answer from any Minister when a matter involving the principles of taxation is concerned, but both Senator Scott and I have tried to intimate to the Minister that the mining industry in Canada is in a much more favorable position, from the point of view of taxation, than is the Australian industry. J received a most extraordinary reply from the Minister only recently. First, he said, in effect, “ I think that the thing is overrated, but I will have a look at the two sets of circumstances and see whether I can make a report to the Senate “. When, later, I asked him whether he had had time to look at the matter, he said that he had had time but that, somehow or other, the departments did not agree on the taxation conditions that obtained in Canada and that, therefore, he could not make available information to the Senate.
Surely, after two years of calling for reports he is able to find out what taxation conditions apply in Canada! Surely we are not going to say, “ That is the end of it; we cannot find out what the Canadian taxation provisions are “, simply because some departments in Australia are disagreeing on the subject! The Canadian position seems pretty simple to me. It appears that there is a three-year taxation-free period for a person who is prepared to undertake mining operations. That, in my opinion, is a sensible thing. Usually, at the end of three years a mining venture either has gone to the wall or is producing. Mining is not a fly-by-night type of economic activity. Those who carry out mining operations are not the type of people to take a lot of money quickly from the ground and then get out, because they have so much money at stake that they have to proceed with development and extraction of ore. When the Government starts to collect money from them it does so at a fairly high rate. In addition, of course, the Government is collecting revenue from them all the time by way of indirect taxes, such as pay-roll tax, sales tax, petrol tax and all the rest of the indirect taxes.
Senator Vincent said that he would like to see special taxation provisions made in respect of mining, and with that I heartily agree. I think that the only hope of future development of many outback areas lies in mining operations. That has been proved so many times in the past. I do not know what kind of an economy we would have in Australia, or on how narrow a belt the people would be living, if the mining industry had not been doing the things it has done at places like Kalgoorlie, Broken Hill and Mount Isa. To me, the answer is very plain. As we move into the jet age, or at any rate, a more mechanical age, a mineral which may be despised to-day may be sought after to-morrow, because with the greater heat that is being generated through machines’, harder metals are being sought to stand up to that heat.
Instead of Senator Spooner’s reluctance to present reports to the Senate, and instead of the difficulty that he finds in understanding the Canadian scheme of taxation provisions in respect of mining, I suggest that the honorable senator would do well to seek a little further, to attempt to understand the position and to tell us clearly whether it would not be of benefit to this country to adopt similar proposals.
I believe that if we were to do so, people would be encouraged to go into these outback areas and develop the country.
I do not wish to discuss matters that many of us have spoken about in this chamber on previous occasions, in relation to bills of this kind. I am pleased to see that, at long last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is going to the northern part of Western Australia, and that he is showing some interest in it. I hope that honorable senators other than those from Western Australia will take part in this debate. I do not see very much difference between a national scheme, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme, and a national scheme such as this bill might bring about in the north-western part of Australia. When we spend money in the north-west of Western Australia, it is spent for the benefit of Australia as a whole, as was the expenditure of money in that area during the war on the building of airstrips at places like Corunna Downs and Potshot. Those airstrips were constructed to protect not Western Australia only, but the whole of Australia. When we spend money to-day on the development of that area, the expenditure is as important to the rest of Australia as it is to the area concerned.
We have had the position in which, through some mysterious line being drawn, we have been spending a lot of money in the Northern Territory. We have spent many more millions there than we have -even thought of spending in the west. We also have spent a lot of money in Papua and New Guinea. We have spent money in all kinds of places- Now, we are coming round to spending what, after all, is a very small sum, in the northern part of Western Australia. However, we can take heart from the thought that this may be the first of the few, as it were. I sincerely hope that it is. We have had put before us the unanimous view of the Western Australian Parliament, and we have also heard the -opinions of citizens who have lived in that area all their lives. Those voices should be heeded. The development of the northern part of Western Australia is a national project. It is something which the Opposition in this Parliament does not oppose As a Western Australian, however, I say that the approach that this bill represents is far too timid. Much more money should be thrown into the arena. Considerably greater reason for hope should be given to those people who have waited so long for something to be done. Nevertheless, on the principle that half a loaf is better than none, the Opposition does not oppose the measure.
– I support this measure because I think it is a recognition by the Commonwealth of its responsibility to give at least the appearance of occupying this continent. We all have a great responsibility to future generations to preserve the whole of Australia in our own traditions. I remember, years ago, the sentiment that was put so arrogantly in a Chauvinistic - Jingoistic, if you like - song which we all sang -
We are banging out the sign
From the Leeuwin to the line -
This bit of the world belongs to us.
Does it, and how long will it? We may be challenged within the lifetime of most of us by the threat of force. We certainly are being challenged and will continue to be challenged in the United Nations and in the public opinion of the world about our right to hold this continent.
From the purely economic point of view, the sensible thing is to develop the good areas, the areas which are reasonably wellsettled now, and not attempt to squander what capital we have, and what human wealth we have, over the whole continent. Therefore, I think we must have a national plan. But if we leave it to the ordinary motives that impel people, how many will go to Jive in this north-western area? There is nobody here, I think, who has ever lived there for any length of time. A few honorable senators have visited it, and some of them have interests there.
– It is too bally hot, anyhow!
– The honorable senator has put his finger on the point of the whole thing, and that probably applies to me more than it does to any one else here because, out of considerations of personal comfort, I do not want to go 20 degrees north. I do not want to be just 20 degrees from the Equator. I do not think that the interjections of honorable senators opposite add to the debate. I am merely admitting that I personally prefer moderate weather to hot weather, and I think that a great many of my fellow countrymen do. A much better person that I wrote some magnificent verses under the title, “ I Love a Sunburnt Country “, which we all learned at school. Some of us can recite them from beginning to end, but even the lady who wrote them and who loved this sunburnt country, lived most of her life by a quiet, cool bay on Sydney harbour. I certainly prefer that part of Australia where the greater population is; not the congested parts, but the eastern coast and the southern coast. In putting my proposition, I am not trying to prove that you cannot live in the hot parts; I am simply wondering how we are to induce a considerable number of our fellow countrymen, or immigrants, to live there. As Senator Willesee has asked, how are we to get capital to develop that area when we need even more capital to develop the areas that most people think desirable?
I am putting the proposition that we must, to a limited extent, forget economic considerations, that we must, even at the cost of a perpetual subsidy on the people living in the good areas, maintain outposts, token points of development. If we do not, we shall simply be asked, in the United Nations, or other places, “What right or title have you to this continent? You will not let us come in. You say you will not have Africans, you will not have Asians, you will not have Polynesians. You will not go to the north yourselves, and the migrants you are bringing in from Europe are not going there “.
I think all the suggestions made by honorable senators who have spoken already are very good, but I think we shall probably have to go further. We shall have to link this up with our immigration policy and see whether we can induce some groups of people to go there.
There was a proposal made some ten years ago, I think, which some honorable senators opposite who were in the Senate in those days may remember. Three honorable senators whom I notice now were in the Ministry at that time, and they may know more about it than I do. It was put to me privately. The proposal was that a Jewish settlement should be made in the Kimberleys. The people making it were prepared to find considerable capital for the purpose. The same people who, mainly in America, have financed the settlement of Palestine, were prepared to send their fellow countrymen to settle there. I talked it over with the gentleman representing them. I think his name was Steinberg. He was a man of great ability and knowledge, and he had a statesmanlike outlook. He had experience in Russia, from which country he was a refugee. The only objection to it was that it would be a settlement of people of one religion and one nationality and not a mixture of our own people.
I do not think that an isolated settlement of that kind in a remote area should have been rejected solely on that ground. Some honorable senators may know that the Mormons, a most peculiar sect, according to most people’s points of view - they were more peculiar in those days than they are because they have now abandoned the practice of polygamy, which was the central tenet of their faith in those times - marched across the desert in great numbers, under the leadership of Brigham Young, and established the present State of Utah. In the early days, it was a peculiar State, lt was not recognized by the Union and had no relations with it. To-day, it is a normal American State which has been admitted to the Union and is like New York, or any other State. The remaining Mormon influence is that some of the people who then established themselves are now, by force of character and ability, still prominent men there.
I believe that the proposal to which I have referred should have been examined more carefully than it was, and that if we get another proposal for settlement there by Europeans from abroad, we should look at it. I think we shall have to depart from most of the accepted standards of settlement in the rest of the Commonwealth if we are not to have vast empty spaces, which are a challenge and invitation to people from abroad.
This is urgent. Some people may prefer to adopt a policy of “ after us the deluge - this will last our time “. It may not. The other night I heard a gentleman say, “ You have fifteen years “. Quite a number of people have selected that particular term. I think we have a very limited time in which to make this Commonwealth secure.
– I give you sixteen years.
– The honorable senator is always cautious; he is probably right. lt is from that attitude that I approach this problem. There are many other parts of Australia more desirable than the Kimberleys - this little patch of Western Australia - but there it is, right at the extreme north. It is a country that can be lived in, but extraordinary efforts, and possibly unconventional methods will be required to make it a centre of settlement.
It is on this ground, as an Australian, not as a Western Australian, or a member of any particular State, that I support the proposal. I hope that the Government, every year, will look at some such proposal for settling small groups of people in various parts. The main object, I think, is to counter the enormous propaganda that is being made against us and that will continue to be made if we all live in what we consider the comfortable, good areas and leave this vast country unoccupied. If it is true that there are certain parts that will never be good to anybody, they cannot be occupied, but the little oases, the little pockets of fairly good land must be maintained and peopled, and I think that it is a legitimate charge on the Federal Treasury.
Cabinet is to be congratulated upon bringing the measure forward, and the Western Australian Government is to be congratulated on doing its part in bringing about development. I support and welcome the bill.
– I, too, rise to support this bill because, for many years, I have been most consistent in my advocacy of assistance for the development of the north-west of Western Australia. I was for some time secretary of the Labour party committee which had this objective in view. Although I regret that the amount proposed to be allocated is not more, I do not intend, on that account, to criticize the fact that something is being done in this way by this Government.
I was rather amazed, but also very pleased to note the trend cf Senator Vincents’ remarks. I thought that if he had kept going a little longer he would have proved to be the most rabid socialist in this chamber because the whole tenor of his remarks was directed to the fact that you could not expect to develop the north unless the Government gave a lead in expenditure. Coming from one who has been an apostle of private enterprise, this was indeed no less revolutionary than it was pleasing, but it does recognize that there is a responsibility on the whole of Australia to assist in the development of this vast area.
North of the 26th parallel of latitude in Western Australia, there is a white population of only 9,000, and they occupy an area more than half that of the State. In an area one-sixth the size of the whole of Australia, there is a white population of only 9,000! Within a few flying hours of that place is Indonesia, with a population of 78,000,000. These are facts that cannot be challenged. As Senator McCallum has said, the development of this northern section of Australia - not of just Western Australia, but this very important part of the Commonwealth of Australia - does present a real challenge to the people of this nation to whom is given the responsibility of holding and keeping the area an integral part of the Australian Commonwealth.
We all know that during the second world war this part of Australia suffered from enemy action for the first time. I visited the north during the last year of the war and was amazed at the amount of damage that had been done on this part of the Western Australian coast. For security reasons, that damage had not been reported in full. I was amazed to see bomb craters as far south as Port Hedland, to see ships sunk in the harbours, to see on the foreshores at Broome the graves of women and children, who were seeking refuge and safety in this country and who had been shot to death in the harbour. Those terrific disasters had come upon Australia and at that time all members, irrespective of party political colour, were loud in their denunciation of the lack of development of the north, and lack of a sense of responsibility in the past towards that area. They were firm in their decision that something would be done immediately to see that the state of affairs then existing was rectified and that the north received the incentive to develop that was so long overdue. However, with the end of the war came the end of most people’s resolutions in regard to the West. Western Australia is a vital link in the chain of Australia’s defence and, after all, that State is part of the Commonwealth, so this matter should be viewed on a national basis.
A great deal of hooey is also talked about the marvellous potentialities and the romance of the north-west. Before I visited that area I read quite a number of books about it and, to me, Broome represented something absolutely exotic. A glance at the atlas conjures up visions of the romantic past; Roebuck Bay which recalls to mind William Dampier and the pirate days, and so on. Unfortunately, one’s mind becomes filled with romantic ideas about the northwest when, in fact, one should realize what a rugged and difficult country it is. Whilst wealth exists there, it has to be won, not by any easy method but by hard work and co-operation between all members of the community.
Over the years various committees, composed of members of all political parties, have been set up. The Northern Development Committee, which Senator Vincent seems to think had only one object in view, namely to have a tax-free north, is one such committee. Surely any body of men and women who get together and act in an honorary capacity, and devote to that committee time taken away from their private affairs in an endeavour to find some solution to a problem of such national importance as this, deserves some credit for any solution it suggests. The Northern Development Committee has been worthwhile. lt has worked very hard and has been insistent in its proposals for the development of the north. The members have come to Canberra at their own expense; they have lobbied all members of the Government and the opposition leaders; they have used every facility at hand and have spared no expense or sacrifice in trying to bring before the people who can implement such action the importance of the development of the north.
The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in introducing this bill, said it had been brought down as a result of the approaches made to the Government, not only by the Northern Development Committee but also by an all-party committee of the State Parliament of Western Australia. To obtain from all parties in a State Parliament a concerted report, and to have that report presented as a unified whole, is an achievement. In addition, honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives have been endeavouring for a long time to get something done. Now we are making a start. We are all Oliver Twists in a matter such as this, and I quarrel with the amount of the grant. Quite recently, a person from the north-west, in conversation with me, made the suggestion in all sincerity that the north-west would be better off if it joined the countries receiving aid under the Colombo plan. By that means it would probably receive more from the Government. Although we are quite rightly spending such a large amount of money in helping under-developed countries overseas, we should spend a good deal of money in our own undeveloped regions which are not only a challenge to us as Australians, but from the defence point of view are vital to the life of this Commonwealth.
Senator Vincent dealt very extensively with the problems of the north-west. I should like to bring before honorable senators some of the difficulties facing women in that area because no district will progress without the co-operation of men and women working together in harmony. Women who go into these outback places face a terrific challenge. The climate, for example, present its own special problems. Although Senator Vincent made light of the climate of the north-west, I am sure if he were there for a year, away from the many modern conveniences he now enjoys, he would soon change his tune.
Education is another problem that must be faced. As there is no secondary school in the area the children have to be sent to the south at the age of twelve years or so, and are then practically lost to their families because they remain in the more populated centres of the south where work is available. That is another tragedy of the north-west. What prospects exist to encourage young people to return and make their homes there? That is where the wastage has occurred over the past years. It is distressing to realize that the white population of the north-west is now less than it was 50 years ago. I repeat, no really strong incentive exists to encourage young people to make their permanent home in the northwest.
All State governments that have been in power in Western Australia have done as much as they can to develop the northwest. However, Western Australia is a very large State with a very small treasury because of the small population scattered over such a large area. The Western Australian Government has done a great deal in bringing some amenities into the lives of those who go into this very difficult region. It has either under construction, or has already constructed, regional schools at Carnarvon and Broome where children may go for their secondary education and where they will be taught, not merely the subjects included in the conventional school curriculum, but also those subjects which will be of assistance to them if they remain in the north-west. That is a step in the right direction.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service in the north provides not only medical care but also a feeling of security and social life. In 1945, I had a rather amusing experience. At that time, as other lady senators will remember, stockings were very hard to obtain and, because of the insect pests that abound in the north-west, they did not last very long. I arrived at a civic reception given by the roads board of an area to which some women had come 300 miles - and had made a cake before they left home because there was no shop just around the corner where a cake could be bought. At the reception I was the only lady wearing stockings. That fact was immediately flashed over the flying doctor network at what is called the gossip time, that is, when people get on the air and exchange news about what is happening on the surrounding stations. A couple of days later I arrived at Roebourne quite happy about the fact that no lady would be wearing stockings. However, at the reception I was the only lady not wearing them. The secretary of the Roebourne Roads Board was a woman. Her husband was away fighting and she had taken over his job. She had got word through the Royal Flying Doctor Service that I had worn stockings at the previous reception, so every lady at Roebourne went hunting for stockings and patched, darned and mended in order to wear them at the reception. But the guest of honour arrived without them! After that the rule was “ stockings off “. I mention that just to show the part these small things play in the lives in the people up there, lt was quite an event for somebody to visit them. I was told by the chairman of a meeting at one of the places I visited that a member of the Senate had not visited the north during the previous seventeen years at least. However, 1 am pleased to ba able to say that since then much greater interest has been shown by honorable senators in the north-west of Western Australia. These people were quite pleased to know that some one was interested in the north, which they thought had been forgotten by people in this part of the world.
In addition to the Flying Doctor Service with its pedal radio accessory, which helps to make life up there a little more pleasant - with a little gossip thrown in at times - there is the Flying Nursing Service and the dental service. I can recall travelling from Wyndham to Fremantle on a State ship. We ran into a cyclone and had a very rough passage. On board was an expectant mother who had to go to Perth for dental attention. This treatment, therefore, was very expensive, and at that time of the year her journey was a distressing experience. We must thank the people of Victoria who assist so greatly with the maintenance of the Flying Doctor Service and its ancillary services. It was once uncommon for a white woman to see another white woman more often than once a year, but with the development of air travel that isolation has been broken down. Nevertheless, it is still quite a problem.
Reference was made to the fact that the Western Australian Government operated a State shipping service. Such a service is a necessity; it is not just, as honorable senators opposite might say, another socialist enterprise. Nobody else would undertake to provide the service, because it was not profitable. The sea transport of people and goods can be maintained only with the payment of a subsidy. Private enterprise has tried to provide such a service, but has been unable to carry on without loss. The State government also subsidizes the transport of perishables by air. When I was in Wyndham, oranges cost 9s. a dozen. I discovered that the basic cost of the oranges was 3d. each, but that air transport costs amounted to an extra 6d. Something had to be done about the matter, so the State government decided to pay a subsidy.
Most of the houses in the north are quite unsuitable for the climate. In 1945 there was not one State-built house further north than Carnarvon, but now the State Housing Commission operates in the north-west as it does in the other parts of the State. I mention these things to indicate that Western Australia is confronted with terrific problems. Wyndham is much further from Perth than is Adelaide. Because of such distances, it is difficult for the comparatively few people of Western Australia to undertake the fullest development of the State no matter how much they may wish to do so.
The public works that are envisaged in the making of this grant will not bring permanent population to the north. They will bring people while the works are in progress, but it is hoped that as a result of the undertaking of these works people will be attracted to the area permanently. The provision of deep-water jetties and the development of the Ord River scheme will make life much more pleasant and secure and will attract people who are at present unable to live in the north.
The most important of the public works envisaged is the development of a harbour a little to the north of Derby, which was recommended by the Navy some years ago. According to the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), it is not intended to establish a naval base on the west coast of Australia, but the time might arrive when the Minister will have to change his tune.
– Is the honorable senator referring to Black Rocks?
– Yes. There could be established a naval base or facilities which could be used in times of emergency, as was envisaged when the area was investigated by the survey ship “ Lachlan “ in 1946.
I am not throwing any bouquets to the Government for its action in making this money available. It has a duty to do so because it is a Commonwealth government which exists for the welfare of the whole of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth demonstrated that it had power to spend money in this way when it undertook the Snowy Mountains project. When we think of the vast sums that have been spent on the Snowy Mountains undertaking, the amount that will be spent in Western
Australia in the next five years is not overgenerous. The main point to remember is that it constitutes the beginning of a plan for the development of the north-west of Western Australia. I hope all honorable senators will ensure that, although it is only a humble beginning, there will be a glorious end, not only for the north-west of Western Australia but for the nation as a whole.
– I do not claim to be an authority on the north-west of Western Australia, but I should like to add my support of the bill to that of other honorable senators, particularly those from Western Australia. This is the start of a plan that will have as its end the development of this important part of Australia. We all realize how important the north-west is strategically. It is important, too, because of its potential as a wealth-producing area. If I could re-live my life as a young man, I would choose Western Australia as the State of my adoption.
– You would not leave South Australia?
– 1 am a great supporter of South Australia, but I am not blind to its limitations. Having seen something of Western Australia, I recognize its potential. If I were again a young man and had the spirit of adventure, which I am sorry to say I did not possess to any great degree in my youth, I would choose Western Australia as the State of my adoption. Through the courtesy of Senator Scott and the Western Australian oil drilling interests. I had the pleasure of going through that State. My first impression was that it was a vast, uninhabitable area, but the further the tour progressed the more I realized what potentially magnificent country, little developed, one finds in Western Australia. I must say, at this point, that everywhere I encountered hospitality of the finest kind.
Our tour extended from Perth right up the Western Australian coast, but I propose to deal at length only with the country north of the twentieth parallel of latitude, with which the bill is concerned. In doing so, I shall refrain from referring to some most interesting country which I encountered on the journey northward. Perhaps I should say that I did not penetrate very deeply into the Kimberleys, but I did see some of the region, and did learn from the inhabitants much concerning what could be found there and what might be produced if public money were spent judiciously on worth-while projects.
I was impressed by the magnificent river systems flowing towards the western coast of Australia from the vast, mountainous hinterland. I saw some of the hinterland and was impressed by its potential mineral wealth. North of Port Hedland we encountered country of a different kind, and saw something of the difficult nature of the terrain. First, adjoining the 90-mile stretch of coast which runs north to Broome, we saw an extensive area of plain country, given over mostly to the raising of cattle. The plain country seems to me to possess great possibilities for the production of beef cattle. Indeed, it is already used extensively for that purpose. As one who has no great knowledge of the beef industry of the region, I can only say that the quantity of cattle slaughtered for export at Broome gives great promise of added wealth for Australia in the comparatively near future. I understand that another slaughtering works is soon to be established at Derby. 1 was particularly struck by the buffel grass of the area, to which Senator Scott drew my attention. It seemed to provide excellent pasturage, and has undoubtedly augmented considerably the pastoral wealth of the district.
We had the opportunity also of seeing something of the oil-drilling operations in that part of the world. The Fitzroy basin, a vast sedimentary area, is being examined very carefully by oil-drilling interests. Whether they will find oil is in the lap of the gods, but we were given to understand that indications in the basin were certainly conducive to the production of oil. I sincerely hope that, in the not too far distant future, oil will be found as a result of the operations of the company, which represents both Australian and non-Australian interests. We saw something also of the methods being used to detect the base rock underlying the sedimentary area. The seismic tests employed were entirely new to most of us. They left one with some idea of the vast amount of scientific knowledge which lies behind the search for oil.
Between Port Hedland and Broome one finds the 90-mile beach - a great pearling area which, if fished wisely, should last for very many generations. The industry brings great wealth to Broome and is well worth preserving. I sincerely hope that it will long be maintained in that area.
I saw something, too, of the potential wealth to be derived from irrigation on the great flood plains of the rivers which flow in the north-west. I have in mind in particular the Fitzroy. We saw the experimental rice project at Liveringa. I know little of rice-growing techniques, but the project seemed to offer every prospect of success. Literally millions of acres are periodically covered by the slowly creeping flood “waters of the great Fitzroy River. The flood plains include some beautiful country - flat as a board and entirely suited, it seemed to me, to the production of rice.
Next, we saw the development around Derby, a town seemingly very remote from the southern areas. Indeed, one is surprised to find that it lies on a line of longitude which runs 200 miles east of Kalgoorlie. In the north-west of Western Australia one gets the impression that one is north-west of everything. I was immensely impressed by the spirit of the people in that area. The head-quarters of the oil drilling team is located there and the primary reason for making our visit was to see what they were doing. We spent a most enjoyable time looking round, seeing for ourselves the type of country there and the prospects of development if money were spent. The amount of money to be made available under this legislation, whilst perhaps inadequate, is, as Senator Tangney said, a start. A sum of £500,000 a year for five years will be of great help to the Western Australian Government in the development of this vast State and, in particular, of this remote area.
I do not know very much about the type of country further on. I have had the benefit of conversations with people who are familiar with that area, and I know that it is rugged, inhospitable and difficult country. The terrain is difficult. It is rough country, with a rough coastline. Further on, there is the important port of Wyndham, with a great cattle-killing station adjacent to it. I refer to the air-beef project, which has been carried on successfully for a number of years. As far as
I can see, there is no reason why there should not be further development of the beef cattle industry in that area and in areas adjacent thereto.
Our party saw how Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has seized the opportunity to develop the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound. Incidentally, I think the trip through the Buccaneer Archipelago, as I think it is called, could become a firstclass tourist attraction. I can assure honorable senators that a coastal trip through King Sound to Cockatoo Island and into Yampi Sound is an experience that one does not forget very readily. You see a beautiful coastline dotted with islands. I believe it is one of the most attractive coastal areas to be found anywhere. I say without any hesitation that the northwest of Western Australia, at the right time of the year, does not lack tourist attractions. This is something that can be investigated at a later date. State government ships operate along the coast and I believe that a firstclass holiday could be had by any one travelling in one of those ships.
– Did you see anything of the inland area?
– 1 did see something of the inland areas, but not in the far north-west. I saw something of the mountainous country going inland from Roebourne to Wittenoom gorge, and out through Nullagine and Marble Bar back to Derby. I was absolutely fascinated by the magnificent colouring of the rock formations throughout the area. The climate, of course, can be extremely rigorous in summer, but in winter, let me assure honorable senators, it is really delightful. I am a great protagonist of furthering the interests of the tourist trade in the northwest of Western Australia, which, I believe, compares favorably with central Australia. We hear from time to time how people are impressed by the scenery in central Australia, particularly around Alice Springs. This country presents all those attractions. Wittenoom Gorge was really a stupendous attraction, with its magnificent colouring. It is easily accessible. As we all know, Western Australia has not fared too badly under the Commonwealth aid roads plan. Consequently, the roads in this area were surprisingly good. However, I am departing from the purposes of the bill, which is to make available an amount of money for the development of the Kimberleys.
I do not know anything, from personal experience, about the Ord River, but 1 know from literature I have read and from conversations I have had with people who know the area that the damming of the Ord River is a project that could be reasonably expected to succeed. I have seen what has been achieved by the damming of some of the rivers in Queensland, in what I think they call pre-Cambrian country. This country is not dissimilar. In country similar to that around Mount Isa or Mary Kathleen, in Queensland, I have no doubt that the damming of a great river like the Ord could be done successfully.
I believe that this bill should commend itself to every Australian. I like to give my support to Western Australia because the State Government is faced with more difficulties than are faced by other State governments. The territory is so vast, and the terrain so difficult, that adequate assistance must be given to the State Government. I most heartily support the bill. I know that a great deal cannot be achieved in the initial stages of the development of this area. The works carried out will be carried out in collaboration with, or more or less under the supervision of, the Commonwealth Government. The works will have to be approved. In particular, the establishment of a deep water port at Black Rocks, just north of Derby, seems to me to be a very good idea. I agree with Senator Tangney in what she said about the development of King Sound. If there is justification for a naval base on the west coast of Australia, King Sound seems to me to be entirely suitable for it. That, of course, will have to be considered in the future. At least there is deep water there, but the tidal conditions are extremely difficult. If a deep water port is developed, many of the difficulties that are now experienced will be overcome. At Broome, there is a variation of tide of about 31 feet. Honorable senators can imagine how difficult it is for coastal shipping to contend with such tidal conditions. If a deep water port such as is envisaged in this bill can be established there, it will be a very valuable adjunct to northern development as a whole. The bill appeals to me most strongly, and I give it my hearty support.
– lt is pleasing, as honorable senators on both sides have said, to see the Government taking at least some small interest in the development of the northern part of Western Australia. The development of that area presents a challenge to the nation. It is vitally necessary to develop the potentialities of the north. This, in turn, will encourage population and make for continuing development. I must say that the bill does not give me any hope at all in that direction. In effect, the Government is saying to Western Australia “ We will give you £2,500,000 over five years to develop the northern part of the State, but you must get our approval to proceed with any particular work “. This is a regulatory measure. Clause 4 of the bill provides -
And then clause 5 (2.) provides -
A payment shall not be made to the State under this section unless -
the Auditor-General of the Stale furnishes to the Treasurer -
a certificate in writing certifying that an amount specified in the certificate has been expended by the State during the prescribed period for or in connexion with approved projects; and
such particulars in relation to the expenditure of that amount as the Treasurer requires; and
the sum of the amounts of that payment and the payments, if any, previously made to the State under this section is not greater than the sum of the amount certified in the certificate and Fifty thousand pounds.
It is obvious that these requirements will hinder the Western Australian Government in proceeding with particular projects. Of course, I agree that the State should keep within reasonable bounds. As a matter of fact, it is required by the Constitution to spend money received from the Commonwealth on projects for which it was voted. The Government has delayed for too long in providing assistance for developing the northern part of Western Australia, and the amount now proposed to be provided is only a token, or chicken feed, having regard to the magnitude of the problem.
Unfortunately, when this measure was before another place certain Western Australian representatives derided the government of that State. They said that that government had very little interest in developing the north-west and that it had not been persistent in seeking the assistance of the Commonwealth Government in that connexion. Reports of their statements, when they appeared in the Western Australian press, aroused a certain amount of ire. Those members sought to gain political capital by criticizing a government that has done excellent work in developing Western Australia within the limitations imposed by the Commonwealth in relation to expenditure on developmental projects.
In 1951, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) received letters regarding numerous projects in the north-west. At that time, the basic wage in Western Australia was £7 6s. 6d. a week. Now, due to inflation, the basic wage has almost doubled and everything has increased in price. The Commonwealth is making a grant of £2,500,000 to Western Australia for developmental purposes in the north, but conditions are being imposed which may preclude that State from expending the money to the greatest advantage. If discretion in this regard were given to the State, it could make arrangements for economical and quick construction and so get the best value for the money.
The Western Australian Government, the Northern Development Committee and parliamentary missions have directed attention to the marvellous potentialities of the north and emphasized the importance of its development. But the Government has, figuratively speaking, sat down and done nothing in the matter for decades. How can the Government claim, in view of the regulatory nature of the bill, that it has done something to develop the north of Western Australia? It has done very little to overcome the problems of the north. In 1952, a commission under the chairmanship of Dr. Coombs visited the area and made certain recommendations, which were submitted to all governments interested in areas north of the 26th parallel. Although the recommendations were well based, nothing was done about them. The Northern Development Committee made suggestions which, if implemented, would have attracted population to the area permanently. This bill will not do that.
Many proposals have been made for the development of the north, but only one can be implemented with the amount of money to be provided by this Government. I acknowledge that it will be possible to establish a deep water port at Black Rocks near Broome. That is essential. I have in my possession papers which show that a survey was made in connexion with this proposal, estimates were taken out, and quantities were given, but when the Federal Government was approached on the matter, the Prime Minister did not reply to the representations.
On 8th May, 1951, the Treasurer, who was then Acting Prime Minister, wrote to the Premier of Western Australia. The matter was followed up by the Premier later in 1951. At that stage, the Labour Government in Western Australia went out of office, and when the McLarty Government took over another submission was made. Yet, people have the dishonesty to come into this chamber and say that the State of Western Australia has not been concerned with the development of the north-western part, and that the primary moves have been made by the Federal Government. What rot!
We come down to June, 1952, over a period of three years, during which two governments have been in office. Mr. A. W. Fadden, as he then was, was Acting Prime Minister at the time. It seems that he is always acting as Prime Minister when decisions have to be made for Australia. In any event, he made this decision of which I speak, and it was a negative one. He wrote a letter in the following terms: -
I refer to your letter of 5th June, 1952, concerning the question of Commonwealth financial assistance for the construction of a deep water jetty at Black Rocks near Derby. This matter has been placed again on the agenda for consideration by Cabinet, and in due course, I shall advise you of the Commonwealth Government’s decision.
That was the last that was heard of it. There was no decision. The matter was pressed. Western Australian representatives came over here and submitted the matter personally, and they also submitted it by way of correspondence. Despite that, the whole subject simply was dismissed. Therefore, it can be seen that the development of the north-western part of Western Australia is not merely a venture on the part of the Commonwealth Government. This present proposal to do something about development is the result of ten years of continual pressure in respect of one project alone - the Black Rocks deep water jetty, which may be proceeded with if the Commonwealth Government approves and if it does not exceed, by more than £50,000, the amount granted.
Perhaps this scheme will wander the tortuous path that the Western Australian water supply scheme followed. That scheme was proceeded with until the Commonwealth Government started to shut down on it. We had gone a certain distance with construction, and with the plant working efficiently, when the Commonwealth Government said, in effect, “ All right. The money has cut out.” The State government could not do anything about it. The work had to cease, which meant either disbanding entirely the organization engaged in construction, or keeping a skeleton staff until the Commonwealth came along and said, “ Right. The time is ripe. Here is a little more money.” It is true that the scheme was completed eventually, but it was completed ten years later than it should have been. Now, we are getting this grant for the development of the northern part of the State five years later than it should have been made available. In addition, it is to be spread over a period of five years.
– What is the honorable senator talking about?
– If the honorable senator reads “ Hansard “ to-morrow, he may understand.
– That is scarcely a compliment to the clarity of the delivery!
– Perhaps not, but I understand the level of the intelligence that I am up against. The position is that the development of the north-west of the State is proving twice as expensive as it should be because of the practice of the Commonwealth in keeping the State on a tether and in not making available sufficient finance to allow such projects to proceed fluently and economically. I criticize the way in which the Commonwealth holds the State on a leash, as it were, by spreading the grant over a five-year period. Perhaps that is being done so that the Commonwealth Government will be able to say, at any time during that period, “ We are giving you £500,000 now for the development of the north-west “. The provision of finance is to be strung out.
I say, with other honorable senators, that 1 am glad to see something being done to develop the north-west, but this bill does not, by any means, answer the needs. The grant that is proposed is absolute chickenfeed, having regard to the magnitude of the problems involved. If the Commonwealth Government had a real interest in the development of that part of Australia it would take notice of the reports that have been put before it. The development of the Ord River could not possibly be covered by a grant, loan or advance of the nature of that proposed in the bill. The Government has had a report in relation to the Ord River scheme. It has had reports from at least three committees on the disabilities associated with living in the northwest, such as in relation to communications, education, health services, roads and houses. The proposed grant will do nothing to solve those problems. In addition, money is needed in respect of telecommunications, and to meet the expenses involved in taking to that area the necessaries of life, in order to make the place habitable for the white people who are likely to stay .there. This bill provides no answer to those problems, and that is what honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been saying during this debate.
– Is the .honorable senator against the bill?
– I am glad to see that the Government, by way of apology, is at last making available money for development, although the amount is quite insufficient >to do the job.
– The honorable senator sounds unhappy about it.
– I am particularly unhappy about the parsimonious attitude of this Government in respect of a project which, according to each honorable senator opposite who has spoken, is a national project.
– This grant is £2,500,000 more than the Chifley Government gave.
– That has been the honorable senator’s parrot cry for years. I remind him that the Chifley Government was in office during the war. The honorable senator is fighting a war himself now, in attempting to justify his attitude towards the development of the north-west, an attitude in respect of which the Western Australian press has criticized him very seriously. Interjections will not get him out of that difficulty.
– What has the Western Australian Government done?
– The Western Australian Government has done an immense amount for the north-west. I am not required to say what that Government has done. I am discussing this bill, which deals with the development of the northern part of the State.
– The honorable member does not know what the State Government has done.
– I do know. I will give the honorable senator the files to read, if he likes. It appears that I am getting under the skin of honorable senators opposite by speaking the truth. We have heard them discussing the beautiful colours of -the north-west, the scenery and .the rugged nature of the terrain; we have been told about its great potential, and all that sort of tommy-rot .that is so often .talked in this Senate ‘by honorable senators opposite when discussing national projects. (But what is going to be done in relation to taxation north of the 26th parallel? Nothing! What is going to be done in -relation to all the -matters I have mentioned and about which my .friends opposite ‘have become excited and have ‘been interjecting, such as communications, the provision of suitable :living conditions, education facilities, and conditions generally for the man who really does the developmental work when he goes there - .the artisan, the man working with his hands? There is very -little to encourage him to stay there. Men of that kind will go there and take advantage of the work -that is available, if they are unemployed, and if employment there offers good money for the time being. But on the completion of the project on which they are engaged, many of them will be off again. 1 do not blame them for that, if it is not economic for them to stay there. Some of them may stay for a time if economic conditions down south are bad, but when conditions improve, a lot of them will go south again.
Apparently, I have been able at least to stir the bile of those honorable senators opposite who have spoken so nicely of the attractions of the north-west. I suggest that they go to live there. They would then appreciate that the men who are doing the work of development and drawing wages for it, find that it is not possible to live there for long, and that they have to go south, either on account of the health of their wives or the education of their children.
– We all have said that.
– Yes, but you have been saying it for ten years.
– The honorable senator should keep his temper.
– I am keeping my temper. I am merely preserving a sense of proportion. Honorable senators opposite have referred to the development of the northern part of Western Australia as a national problem. I am suggesting that we should make it possible for people to live in that part of Australia like civilized citizens. The north-west should be, as I have heard it said three times during this debate, the perimeter of defence and civilization of this country. Yet the answer of this Government to the problem is to make available £2,500,000, to be spent over five years, with the proviso that the Commonwealth Government must approve of any project that is undertaken. I think we all are happy that something is being done, and I am grateful that, after ten years, some assistance is being given. But I think that this grant is not the complete answer to the development of the north-west. As I have said, it is chicken feed. I hope that, in time, either this Government or some other government will say, “ There is a project to be undertaken. Expenditure is to be on the most economic basis “. Surely, if the £500,000 is expended in the first nine months of the year, the work will not be interrupted until the Commonwealth Government comes with another hand-out? Surely we are not to have a system like the old soup kitchens?
I emphasize that 1 am not annoyed about the proposal. I am deeply interested in the development of the north, but 1 do not think that what is suggested in this bill is the answer to the problem. I can only hope that the Government will change its outlook towards this problem of the northern part of Western Australia and arrive at a better plan for solving the problem.
– Senator Cooke has criticized this Government’s policy in connexion with the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia, which, incidentally, is some 2,000 miles from the Kimberleys. I propose to answer that criticism before dealing with the development of the Kimberleys.
The honorable senator will remember that in 1948 the Commonwealth Government and the State Government entered into an agreement in connexion with a comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia involving a total expenditure of £4,300,000. It was agreed that half this cost would be borne by the State Government and half by the Commonwealth Government. The State Government’s expenditure was to be subsidized on a £ for £ basis. Provision was made for it in the Commonwealth budget each year so long as the State Government was prepared to expend money on the work, but it took the State Government some seven or eight years - until 1955 - to spend the first £4,300,000. Yet the honorable senator criticises the Commonwealth Government’s action in connexion with this scheme!
The proposal now under discussion seeks to further the development of that part of Western Australia north of the twentieth parallel and known as the Kimberleys.
– Is this to be on a £1 for £1 subsidy basis?
– No, it is a straight out gift of £2,500,000 for expenditure upon projects recommended by the State and approved by the Commonwealth. I point out, however, that there is no limit to the amount which the State may spend from its own resources.
– What rate of interest is to be charged?
– There is to be no interest. This is a straight out gift for expenditure on projects recommended by the State and approved by the Commonwealth.
– The State not being required to contribute anything?
– That is so: but if the State wishes to expend on the project any of the moneys it receives from the Commonwealth, it may do so. I understood Senator Cooke to say that the State had to obtain approval from the Commonwealth before it could expend one penny of the money it received by way of tax reimbursement or loan from the Commonwealth. That is not so. The State can spend the money when it likes, how it likes and Where it likes. Further, there is no obligation upon the State to allocate any portion of that money to the development of the Kimberleys.
The Kimberleys area of Western Australia is twice the size of Victoria. The average rainfall is from fifteen to 50 inches a year. More rain falls in that area in a normal year than falls in the whole of the southern part of Western Australia, and probably more than falls in the whole of the southern part of Western Australia and the whole of South Australia put together. More water flows from the Ord River into the Timor Sea than flows down the Murray River into which flow the Darling and Murrumbidgee Rivers.
– Do you say that more water flows down the Ord River than down the Murray River?
– In a wet season.
– Yes. There was one proposal for damming the Ord River. It was suggested that such a dam would back up six times the volume of water in Sydney Harbour. That will give honorable senators some idea of the size of the venture. Further, almost as much water as flows down the Ord River flows into the Indian Ocean from the Fitzroy River in a wet season. Some of the rivers in the north are over 30 miles wide when in flood. People have been drowned in them. Sometimes, when the rivers burst their banks they cover a much wider area. I mention these things to give some idea of the size of the area, the rainfall and the potentialities for water conservation and irrigation.
I should like now to sound a note of warning to the State Government about some of the proposals that it might submit to the Commonwealth Government for the development of the area. Here, I agree with Senator Vincent that, as yet, this area is virtually undeveloped. There are fewer cattle on it to-day than there were 50 years ago. There are fewer people there to-day than there were 50 years ago. There are fewer sheep to-day than there were 50 years ago, and, with the exception of iron ore, mineral production there is less than it was 50 years ago.
In planning the development of an area the size of the Kimberleys, it is essential that we start at the beginning. For instance, it is possible to spend millions and millions of pounds on the installation of port facilities yet not increase the production of the area by one beast. This area is rich in itself, but I feel that the present system of land tenure is retarding its development. It is the leasehold system and areas of up to one million acres may be held by one lessee. Further, banks will not accept a lease as security for an advance.
– Because it is not good security.
– It is not nonsense. I can assure the honorable senator that if he cares to make inquiries he will find that no bank will advance money for development against the security of a lease. Advances may be obtained from stock agents against stock and improvements on a property once it has been developed, but it has to be remembered that a great deal of finance is required to develop a property there.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honorable Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
Thai tha Senate ‘do now -adjourn.
– I do not wish to delay the Senate unduly, but 1 should like to raise a matter that was referred to in this chamber last week by Sena’tor Hannan, namely, some incidents that occurred on and round the Hobart waterfront. I make it abundantly clear at the beginning that I do not approve in any way the action of Mr. Shackleton in endeavouring to run down Mr. Colrain in his car. Neither I, the Labour party, nor, I am sure, the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, approves of Shackleton’e actions which took place several miles away from Hobart.
Senator Hannan made a very scathing and unwarranted attack on the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation.
– Yes, unwarranted, because there is no evidence that the Hobart branch of the federation was responsible in any way for Shackleton’s actions. It was an ‘individual attack. Senator Hannan claimed that gangster methods were employed on the Hobart waterfront. I, and members of the Hobart branch of the federation, flatly deny that allegation.
– Of course, anybody who backs the Comms. will deny it.
– Is Senator Kendall implying that I back the Comms.?
– The honorable senator just ‘said so.
– Mr. President, I ask that Senator Kendall’s remark be withdrawn because it is repugnant to me.
– Order! What was the remark?
– That I back the Comms.
– ^Senator Kendall will withdraw the reference to Senator Poke backing the Comms.
– I referred to anybody who backs the Comms. I did not say that Senator Poke backs the Comms.
– To whom is Senator Kendall referring?
– Order! So far as I am concerned, the use of the word “ Communist “ directly applied to any honorable senator is objectionable. I am prepared to accept Senator Kendall’s explanation of the way in Which he used the words - that he did not apply them directly to Senator Poke. If he had applied them directly to the honorable senator, I should direct that they be withdrawn.
– Senator Hannan referred to strong-arm men on the Hobart waterfront when dealing with the telegram received from Mr. Williams, job delegate at Hobart, who was authorized to send the telegram. -I (gathered from Senator Hannan’s remarks - I speak subject to correction - that ‘he referred to Mr. Williams as a strong-arm man. I should like Senator Hannan to say whether I have correctly quoted him. Mr. Williams is a muchrespected man on the Hobart waterfront and throughout Tasmania.
– Mr. Williams mentioned thuggery in referring to Senator Hannan.
– Senator Hannan has the opportunity to answer me. If Senator Laught would remain silent when he is not involved in the subject-matter of the debate, perhaps we could proceed. Senator Hannan endeavoured to introduce some Hollywood personality into the matter. Had he introduced Johnnie Ray ‘to shed a few tears he might have added a touch of realism.
Senator Hannan also stated that Mr. Colrain was assaulted by waterside workers endeavouring to hit him with a case of earth. That statement is too utterly ridiculous for words. In the first place, earth is not exported from Tasmania, and, secondly, if earth were exported, it would be packed in bags and not in cases.
To the best of my knowledge and belief Mr. Colrain is a respected and ‘financial member of the Waterside Workers Federation. He has never been prevented from working on the waterfront for one day or one hour, nor has any attempt been made to ‘prevent him from working.
– Apart from trying to bump him off!
– When Senator Hannan made such an attack on members of the
Hobart branch of the federation, he was attacking some of the supporters of the party he represents because some members Of that branch vote for Liberal party candidates. It is rather significant that Senator Hannan would not accept the challenge to debate the Hursey matter, but tried to sidestep it by saying that such a debate would be in contempt of court. That may be right; I am not concerned about that. If Senator Hannan would like to debate the matter, publicly or privately, I am sure he can be accommodated. A fortnight or so ago a very well-attended meeting at the Hobart Domain dealt entirely with the Hursey case and apparently that meeting was not in contempt of court. 1 have been asked by the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation to inform this Parliament that the attack made by Senator Hannan is without foundation and, rightly, is resented.
– I feel that 1 should delay the House in order to refer to one or two matters. Senator Poke did not make any rebuttal of my allegation that an attempt was made to drop a -case of earth on Colrain and that a further attempt was made by a watersider to push him into an open hold while he was working on .a ship. If either attempt had succeeded, Colrain would ‘have been killed. I am not interested in whether the person who attempted to do these things is a Communist. I believe that thuggery of that nature is reprehensible whether it is committed by Communists, by members of the Liberal party or by any one else. I know that a big .percentage of -the more intelligent unionists support the Liberal party because they know that their industrial .freedom exists only while this Government controls the nation’s destiny.
I made only a passing reference to the man Shackleton, who was convicted on the day 1 addressed the Senate on these. matters, which I ‘had been considering for a few days. The tactics. adopted at Hobart by these strong-arm men are typical Communist tactics. They are adopted in countries behind the iron curtain where no one can speak about them or do anything about them. <I am -surprised -that Senator Poke has come in in this way and has virtually approved of the actions of the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation against men who had the courage to think differently politically. I will never provide a forum for Communist debate. If Senator Poke wishes to debate this issue with me at a reasonable time or place, I am prepared to accommodate him.
– I was quite interested in the remarks made by Senator Hannan recently. 1 am surprised at any one in this chamber supporting the present activities on the Hobart waterfront. The telegram that has been mentioned was signed by Paddy Williams; I think that was the name at the foot of it. The Paddy Williams mentioned is a former president of the Evatt party in Tasmania and is at present the vicepresident of the party.
– When was he president?
– The honorable senator does not even know!
– You do not know, either.
– He is vice-president at present. He was unopposed at the last conference. He sent a very discourteous telegram to a member of the Senate, and he said that there is no gangsterism. I believe that gangsterism is concerned with gangs and what a .gang does. If gangs have not been active on the waterfront in Hobart, stopping men from earning a living, I do not know what is meant by gangsterism. I should like to debate this matter fully and include the Hurseys, but, as I have been told before, I must confine my remarks to Colrain. I shall mention a few of the incidents that have happened to Colrain on the Hobart waterfront. First, he was prevented from going to his job, but they found that he had already paid his subscription and they could not stop him. The next morning when he arrived, .he found a line of men there. ‘Colrain is only a little chap, but he .has all the .necessary courage. A policeman .came with-him.as far as the line of men. These men opened -up their ranks to allow -him through. When he walked through the line, the ranks closed so .that the . policeman could not see what ,was happening. -‘Colrain was kicked and battered and taken to -hospital.
That was only one incident. Others have been mentioned by ‘Senator Hannan, and they are correct. However, there is a further incident. When Colrain was down in the hold, which is a dangerous place for him, they attempted to lock him in a freezing chamber in the apple hold, just as the whistle went for lunch. That was an attempt to murder him. Many workers on the Hobart waterfront are ashamed of what is happening there. The men are egged on by Communists, including Communists who have been brought from the mainland for the apple season. The worst part of it all is that certain executive members of the waterfront union are taking an active part in these occurrences. I believe that their idea is to close the waterfront, if possible, and so destroy the apple crop in the Huon. The few Communists have egged on the others so that they can achieve their objective of tying up the waterfront. Yet Senator Poke makes excuses for them! All I can say is that I do not think he should be a legislator in this Parliament and so enabled to put these thoughts before us.
.- I wonder why decent, honest men endeavour to do a job for their country when they have to put up with attacks such as I have just heard, particularly when we remember that the estimated value of our apple exports is £4,000,000. If the allegations just made by Senator Cole are made against the waterside workers at Hobart-
– The Communists.
– I took it that the attack was directed at the waterside workers in Hobart.
– I said the Communists.
– Mr. President, if any individuals are attempting to murder any one on the waterfront, as Senator Cole has alleged, then there is something wrong with the government of this country, in both Federal and State spheres. If any one is to be put on the spot, Senator Cole should be put on the spot to prove his allegation that somebody on the Hobart waterfront deliberately attempted to murder another man. That was the charge made -by Senator Cole. When some one alleges that one person is trying to murder another, he is making a really serious allegation.
I am not concerned about being a religious or a political fanatic. I am not a fanatic, and I hate to hear honorable senators rise to their feet, proceed along these lines, and get themselves into a state of fanaticism. I have done more fighting of Comms. than has either Senator Hannan or Senator Cole. When I was fighting Comms. in Tasmania, both those gentlemen were conspicuously absent. I do not know what Senator Hannan was doing over in Victoria, but I know that Senator Cole never opened his mouth anywhere publicly against the Comms. It is only very lately that this Comm. bug has got into his head; it is only very lately that he has accused any of the waterside workers in Hobart of being Comms. I challenge any one to go back to the days prior to the formation of the Australian Democratic Labour party and find anything in print to the effect that Senator Cole ever came out in the open against the Comms. This is a newfound idea of his.
Senator Cole is now attempting to brand a body of men who are doing their utmost to keep the port of Hobart working so that this big shipment of apples, which probably is a record for quite a number of years, can be exported, with benefit to the whole of Australia. The waterside workers are accused of being Corns and of trying to murder people.
Let Senator Hannan and Senator Cole bring forward evidence that any waterside worker deliberately tried to knock Colrain with a sling or anything of that kind. Such statements are very easy to make, but they will be very difficult to prove. Let Senator Hannan or Senator Cole go before the waterside workers and make these statements. If I wished to make a statement in this chamber about any organization or body of men, I would not lack a sense of responsibility and the courage to go right to those men and make the statement. I again challenge either “ Senator Hannan or Senator Cole to meet the waterside workers and make the statements that he has made here to-night.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 May 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580506_senate_22_s12/>.