23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputy appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of the Parliament - the Honorable Sir Frank Walters Kitto, K.B.E., a Justice of the High Court of Australia - having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took his seat on the dais.
The Deputy, through the Clerk, directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives, who being in attendance,
The DEPUTY said-
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the
Commonwealth, constituting me his deputy to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read. (The letters patent having been read by the Clerk)-
The DEPUTY said -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
I have it in command from the GovernorGeneral to let you know that after members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, members of the House of Representatives will retire to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker: and later this day you will present the person whom you shall so choose to His Excellency, at such time and place as he shall appoint. I will attend in the House of Representatives for the purpose of administering the oath or affirmation of allegiance to honorable members of that House. (The Deputy and members of the House of Representatives then retired) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I wish to inform the Senate that I have received through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governors of the respective States, certificates of the choice, at the election held on 22nd November, 1958, of certain Senators to fill casual vacancies.
The Clerk then laid on the Table certificates of election of Gerald Colin McKellar - New South Wales, George Conrad Hannan - Victoria, Charles Walter Sandford - Victoria, and George Howard Branson - Western Australia.
Senators George Howard Branson, George Conrad Hannan, Gerald Colin McKellar and Charles Walter Sandford made and subscribed the oath of allegiance. Sitting suspended from 10.52 a.m. to 3 p.m.
His Excellency the Governor-General entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their Speaker,
His Excellency was pleased to deliver the following speech: -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The Parliament having been dissolved and a general election having occurred, the 23rd Parliament is now duly constituted.
When last I addressed Parliament, we were happy to have with us Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Her
Majesty’s visit was an outstanding success and was enjoyed, I am sure, as much by Her Majesty as by the people of Australia, who fell once more under the spell of her charm and graciousness.
This year we are to have the honour and pleasure of another Royal Visitor - Her Royal Highness The Princess Alexandra of Kent, who, at the invitation of the Commonwealth, will visit three States and the National Capital with the prime objective of gracing by her presence the Queensland Centenary Celebrations. We congratulate Queensland on having reached this historic year: This vast and prosperous State is making giant strides towards a great and happy future.
Later this year, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will hold its general conference in Australia. Members of Parliaments of other Commonwealth countries, nurtured in the same traditions of parliamentary government as ourselves, will meet in Canberra and will later tour Australia. They will be amongst us for some seven weeks and, during that time, will have every opportunity to know our country and our people.
Just before the end of the last Parliament, a joint committee of both Houses submitted a number of specific recommendations for constitutional review. My Government proposes that the committee should be reconstituted immediately to complete this work. My Government will then give close consideration to the proposals with a view to determining whether constitutional amendments should be submitted to Parliament and to the electors.
My advisers believe that much can be done to promote friendly international relations and bring about closer understanding and co-operation between nations by the exchange of visits of national leaders. Last year we had the pleasure of a visit from the Right Honorable John Diefenbaker, Prime
Minister of Canada, and quite recently my Government had important discussions over a wide range of questions of common interest with Dr. Subandrio, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia. At the end of March my Minister for External Affairs will visit Japan and the Republic of Korea, which are countries of great significance in the Pacific area.
Our relations with the countries of Asia are of first-rate importance. Trade between Australia and Asian countries will be further developed and Australia will continue to play an active part in helping to raise living standards in the countries of Asia through the Colombo Plan.
In March, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, a regional body of the United Nations, will hold its annual meeting at Broadbeach in Queensland and will be attended by distinguished representatives from many countries, principally in Asia.
My Government will continue to give full support to the South East Asia Treaty Organization. My Minister for External Affiairs will lead the Australian delegation to the annual Council of Ministers meeting, which will be held in Wellington, New Zealand, from 8th to 10th April.
Australia has always supported negotiations, both within the United Nations and elsewhere, to achieve balanced general disarmament. My Government has welcomed the fact that, at a technical conference in Geneva in July and August, substantial agreement was reached on the feasibility of instituting a control system to detect the violation of any possible agreement to suspend nuclear weapons tests. My Government hopes that the United States, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will be able to agree on the actual discontinuance of nuclear tests and the establishment of a control system.
My Government has already announced that it is willing, to allow the establishment in Australia of international inspection posts as part of a comprehensive agreed programme for the supervision of tests and for disarmament. Since the suspension of nuclear weapons tests is not in itself real disarmament, Australia will continue to work for an effective and controlled system of all-round reduction of armaments.
Australia has also been chosen a member of a United Nations committee set up to consider ways and means of encouraging international co-operation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
My Government believes that there is great scope and need for more international co-operation in the promotion of scientific research and in its dissemination and application.
This year the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition will maintain its activities at four southern stations - at Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic and at Mawson, Davis and Wilkes on the Antarctic Continent. The valuable research which proceeded before and during the International Geophysical Year at these bases will be maintained. Exploration of unknown areas of Australian Antarctic territory will proceed.
My Government will continue with energy to promote the defences of the nation, with emphasis on the provision of highly-trained and well-equipped forces from which Australia could make a prompt contribution in any emergency in support of our national security and treaty obligations. During this year, two more Daring Class destroyers will be added to the Fleet. The provision of modern equipment for the First Infantry Brigade Group and other elements of the Regular Army Field Force will continue to receive high priority. The twelve Hercules transport aircraft for the Air Force have been delivered from the
United States and are now being brought into service: These aircraft will be a major factor in providing mobility for the Australian Armed Forces. Units of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force continue to serve in the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya. The Air component has recently been strengthened by a Canberra Squadron and two Sabre Fighter Squadrons.
Airfields at. Butterworth in Malaya and at Townsville were completed during the last year. The strategic airfield at Darwin (which will also be used by civil airlines) is now nearing completion and other airfield works of strategic importance, including those at Alice Springs and Learmonth, are proceeding.
Work continues in the field of defence science, much of it in direct collaboration with the United Kingdom.
The realization of the first objective of the guided weapons testing range at Woomera - the development of the comparatively short range for testing anti-aircraft guided weapons - has been marked by the entry into production of two British airtoair weapons and ‘the most advanced of the ground-to-air weapons. The same range, with* some elaboration, is now also in use for testing the deterrent “ stand-off “ bomb and for numerous launchings in the International Geophysical Year of the upper atmosphere research rocket, “ Skylark “. The progress during the year culminated in the recent successful first firing of the “ Black Knight “ test rocket, forerunner of Britain’s ballistic missiles.
In parallel with this work, substantial progress has been made with the second stage of the1 development of the range, involving its extension from Woomera to the western limit of the Australian mainland. Preparations for the testing of the longrange ballistic missile “ Blue Streak “ on this range are well advanced.
In conjunction with the Government of the United States of. America, a special satellite tracking and observing station has been set up at Woomera. Data obtained at the station is transmitted to satellite centres in the United States of America by radio and its observations have been of considerable value in the study of the satellites already launched.
An outstanding achievement has been the completion of research and development on the anti-tank short range controlled weapon “ Malkara “ which has been proved by trials at Woomera and Puckapunyal to have an accuracy and power in excess of any comparable weapon in the world.
When I last addressed you, there had been an interruption to the growth of trade and production in some countries overseas and particularly in the United States of America. In this situation, Australia had experienced a substantial fall in prices for many of her exports. More recently, economic activity in the United States has risen and elsewhere prospects for expansion, at least later this year, appear good. The prices of a number of our exports have risen but the price of wool, which is of the greatest importance for Australia, has remained at a relatively low level’. Australia’s exports in the six months ended December, 1958, were £75,000,000 lower than in the corresponding six months of 1957. However, Australia’s international1 reserves fell by only £25,000,000 between June and December, 1958, and at the end of the year stood at £500,000,000i The relatively small fall in reserves was in part the result of Government borrowing in. London and New York; but. an important sustaining influence has been the continued substantial inflow of private capital. Overseas, investors have shown in this tangible way their confidence in the basic soundness of the Australian economy and its ability to weather temporary difficulties caused by fluctuations in world commodity markets.
My advisers inform me that production and demand in Australia continue to rise and that our economy has done better than most others in maintaining expansion. During 1958 employment opportunities continued to increase. There are some problems affecting particular localities, but employment, generally is at a high level.
My Government welcomes the decision of the United Kingdom Government to provide wider convertibility for the pound sterling. Sterling is the currency in which the greater part of Australia’s trade is financed and in which the bulk of Australia’s international reserves are held. It is also the currency most widely used in international trade. A strong and stable pound sterling is therefore not only of great importance to Australia but also to a general revival and expansion of world trade.
My Government also welcomes the proposals for an increase in the resources of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The strengthening of these important international institutions would be a valuable support to currency convertibility and to the growth of world production and trade.
My Government considers that there is a pressing need to review the present financial relations between the Commonwealth and the State Governments. Accordingly, it has arranged for a special Premiers’ Conference to be held early next month to discuss the complex problems that exist in this field.
The existing legislation under which financial assistance for road’s purposes is provided to the State Governments expires on 30th June next. A meeting has already been held with representatives of the State Governments and local authorities and various bodies concerned with roads to discuss the general nature of the roads problem and the extent and form of future
Commonwealth financial assistance to ‘the States for roads will be discussed at the Special Premiers’ Conference on CommonwealthState Financial Relations.
My Government will set up a competent and independent public investigation of Commonwealth taxation laws.
During the last Parliament, bills were introduced to effect certain changes in the Commonwealth’s banking legislation that were considered to be necessary for the fully effective working of the Australian banking system. These bills were twice passed by the House of Representatives, but were rejected by the Senate on each occasion. My Government is confirmed in its conviction that the proposed changes should be proceeded with, and the bills will be again introduced early in this session of the new Parliament.
My Government accepts the principle of decimal coinage and is establishing a committee to inquire into ways and1 means of adopting it. A committee of inquiry will also be formed to consider the provisions of the Bills of Exchange Act. In both these cases there will be opportunity for interested parties to make their views known.
The past year has been a difficult one for overseas trade. My Government is pursuing an active trade policy directed towards the consolidation of existing export outlets and the development of new trading opportunities. It has achieved some success in protecting Australian export industries from unfair trading practices of others.
The Australian Government has been studying closely the continuing trend1 towards economic integration in Europe in which a notable development on 1st January this . year was the revision of tariffs and quotas between the six nations of the European Economic Community. Negotiations are continuing towards the creation of a European Free Trade Area under which other Western European countries, -including the United Kingdom, would be associated with the European Economic Community. My Government will continue to keep in touch with these developments and to act as required to safeguard Australia’s interests.
My Government through the Minister for Trade made an important contribution towards the agreement on the objective of stable commodity prices reached among British Commonwealth countries at Montreal last September.
Australia, last year, became the first country to enter into a trade agreement with the Independent Federation of Malaya. We participated in the negotiations for a new international sugar agreement and will, this year, be closely associated with negotiations for a new international wheat agreement and with discussions on the problem of world trade in lead and zinc.
My Government has maintained a stable import level and avoided the disruptive effect of frequent changes in the level of import licensing. Administrative changes have been introduced to give importers greater freedom to purchase raw materials and capital equipment from the most competitive source including dollar countries.
In the development of our natural resources which depends upon the capacity of our manufacturing industry, my advisers will continue with the well-established policy of protection for efficient Australian industries.
My Government continues to support the development of research schemes for primary industries on a co-operative basis between the Government and the producers of wool, wheat, tobacco, barley and dairy products. My Government is discussing a similar research scheme with the beef industry. As a result of the schemes now in operation the funds available for research in these fields have been increased by no less than £1,500,000 a year.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is achieving considerable success in research aimed at assisting wool to maintain its competitive position with man-made fibres.
My Government proposes very shortly, in association with the States, to appoint an impartial committee of inquiry to investigate and report on the complex problems of the dairy industry.
My Government has decided to double the amount of assistance to be provided to the Western Australian Government for the development of the area of Western Australia north of the twentieth parallel of latitude. Up to £5,000,000 will be available during the five years commencing 1st July, 1958, for projects which would make a net addition to the development of the area and which would not have been carried out without Commonwealth assistance. The prime responsibility for the selection, planning and execution of developmental projects within the area will rest with the Western Australian Government.
My Government has done much both by financial and by technical assistance to foster the search for oil in Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This assistance will continue. In each of the financial years 1959-60 and 1960-61 £500,000 will be available under the existing subsidy arrangements. A further sum of £1,000,000 will be provided each year to assist in the search for oil.
The Snowy Mountains Agreement between my Government and the Government of the States of New South Wales and Victoria recently came into force and this great national undertaking may now proceed on a sound constitutional basis. Action has also been taken by those governments and the Government of South Australia to amend the River Murray Waters Agreement. Later this year the capacity of the
Hume Reservoir will have been increased to 2,500,000 acre feet - double its original capacity.
Australia now has an adequate supply of coal from more efficient mines. However, mechanization has also led to reemployment problems in New South Wales, but my Government has co-operated with the State government and with industry in measures to overcome these difficulties. Considerable success has been achieved and these efforts will continue. Consideration is also being given to possible alternative uses of coal.
The Atomic Energy Commission is continuing to assist the development of Australia’s uranium resources and is proceeding with advanced research into the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
This financial year a record amount of approximately £80,000,000 is being provided by my Government for housing. This will enable the normal current demand to be met and, in addition, will permit a substantial reduction in the already diminished arrears. My Government will continue to encourage home ownership.
Work is proceeding on the major standard gauge railway project from Albury to Melbourne. The results of this operation will be of considerable assistance to my advisers in their consideration of other major rail standardization proposals.
My Government has given substantial assistance, both financial and technical, to the Australian shipbuilding industry. The subsidy arrangement is being examined by the Tariff Board and my advisers will shortly be in a position to review the subsidy. 1 959 will see the introduction into service of the fleet of jet airliners which my Government authorized Qantas to purchase for its international services. Re-equipment of the domestic airlines with modern turboprop aircraft will be stepped up. So as to ensure the maximum use of Ihe new equip ment, my Government will accelerate the development of both international airports and airports at country centres.
The Post Office is continuing to expand and improve its postal and telecommunication services to meet the growing needs of the community. Television services are now well established in Sydney and Melbourne and will be introduced by both national and commercial stations to Brisbane and to Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. Preliminary consideration is also being given to means by which television can be extended to major provincial and country centres.
The remarkable record of freedom from industrial disturbance in 1957 was surpassed by the record in 1958; not for twenty years has there been a period of two successive years in which the record has been equalled. A particular contribution has been made by the new emphasis which my Government has placed on conciliation. My Government proposes to meet the additional cost to unions of court-controlled ballots.
A stable and continuing immigration programme is generally accepted as essential to continuing development of our natural resources. The kinds of people we most want to settle in Australia are each year becoming more difficult to obtain in the numbers we require. Nevertheless, my Government will endeavour to maintain the flow of migration at a level consistent with an annual target of net immigration equal to 1 per cent, increase in our population. Legislation will be introduced to simplify naturalization procedures under the Nationality and Citizenship Act and to do away with the issue of a certificate of registration under the Aliens Act.
There continues to be substantial progress in the development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Emphasis will be placed, by my Government, on agricultural extension work, native land tenure and distribution problems. Steady progress is being made through native local government councils and through Public Service training schemes in educating the native people towards a greater participation in the administration of the Territory.
My advisers have given close attention to the question of constitutional reform in the Northern Territory and in this session legislation will be brought down to provide for an increase in the number of non-official members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and for the creation of an Administrator’s Council, which will be associated with the Administrator in certain functions of administration, and changes in the procedures regarding the tabling of Northern Territory ordinances in the Commonwealth Parliament and the procedures in respect of assent to or disallowance of ordinances. These measures will be a marked step forward in the constitutional development of the Territory and will help to foster the growth of political responsibility in the Territory.
My Government will continue its policy of keeping social services under constant review to ensure that they meet the needs and changing circumstances of our growing population. It will see to it that, as the economy permits, these social services provide the community with the assistance it requires. The effects of the recent legislation to provide supplementary assistance to improve the circumstances of those who are in the greatest need will be closely watched.
Following its consideration of the report of the Murray Committee, my Government proposes to introduce legislation to establish a University Grants Committee. It has already selected a chairman.
My Government has decided that there should be one law of marriage and divorce operating throughout Australia and that that law should make suitable and adequate provision for marriage guidance and other means of preserving marriages and safeguarding the interests of. children. A bill, which will be based upon a private member’s bill introduced in the last Parliament, will be brought in during the present session. Before a full debate of the measure is undertaken, adequate time will be afforded members of the Parliament and interested bodies to examine the provisions of the legislation.
My advisers hope that the present Parliament will have an opportunity of considering legislation to bring up to date the law covering both copyright and bankruptcy. This will round off the programme which my present Ministers set themselves when they first came into office of reviewing and modernizing the whole of the law of industrial property and bankruptcy.
In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties. (His Excellency the Governor-General and members of the House of Representatives retired).
Sitting suspended from 3.44 to 4.18 p.m.
The PRESIDENT took the chair, and read prayers.
– by leave - Tt is with deep regret that I must inform the Senate that Walter Maxwell Nairn died in hospital at Claremont, Western Australia, on 12th December last. Those who knew the late Mr. Nairn will remember that he was a member of this Parliament for a very long period. He was elected to the House of Representatives, in the Western Australian seat of Perth, in 1929, and occupied that seat until the June election of 1943, a period of fourteen years. During his term as a member of the Parliament he held office on various committees, such as the Bankruptcy Committee. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees for seven years, from 1933 to 1940, and a member of the Joint Committee of Public Works from 1937 to 1940. His parliamentary career, I think it can properly be said, culminated when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 20th November, 1940, until 21st June, 1943.
The late Mr. Nairn was fortunate in that he lived to the great age of 80 and particularly fortunate in that his life was an active and full one almost right up to the time of his death. We in the Senate join with our colleagues in another place in expressing our sympathy with his wife, son and daughter. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Walter Maxwell Nairn, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion moved by Senator Spooner. I did not have the privilege of knowing the late Mr. Nairn personally. He left the Parliament some few months before I myself entered it. Mr. Nairn played a major part in the administration of affairs in the House of Representatives and. as has been indicated, became the Speaker of that House in November, 1940. I had an opportunity to read to-day the speeches that were made in that chamber when he was appointed Speaker, and I was greatly impressed with the utterances of the then, and present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and of Mr. Curtin, Mr. Beasley and Mr. Brennan, all of my own party, on behalf of the Opposition. I was greatly impressed with the sincerity of the tributes that were paid by my own colleagues, all unhappily passed on, too, as to the complete impartiality and fairness of Mr. Nairn in their experience of him as Temporary Chairman of Committees.
I have reason to believe, from what I have heard of Mr. Nairn, that he lived up to the highest expectations of him in the office of Speaker, a post of great authority and one, in representative government, of very signal significance. I like to think that
Mr. Nairn, after he left the Parliament, enjoyed some fifteen long years of a happy and healthy retirement, prior to his death on 12th December last. On behalf of the Opposition, I express appreciation of Mr. Nairn’s very distinguished services to the nation, and I join with the Leader of Government (Senator Spooner) in the terms of the motion that he has fittingly put to the Senate. I express to Mr. Nairn’s widow, son and daughter the very real regret of the Opposition at the passing of this very distinguished parliamentarian.
– Mr. President, the members of the Australian Country party desire to be associated with the motion that is before the Senate and to join with the Leader of the Government in this place (Senator Spooner) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in expressing regret at the death of the Honorable Walter Nairn, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I had the opportunity of being closely associated with Mr. Nairn. For some years, we were members of the Public Works Committee, and visited all the States of Australia. For a period of some six weeks we were in the Northern Territory inquiring into the construction of a number of buildings and public works in Darwin, Alice Springs and other places. When we were there I became very friendly with Mr. Nairn and I found that, although he was of a retiring disposition, he always had a very strong sense of duty, especially in regard to his parliamentary work.
We desire to tender our deepest sympathy to the wife and family of the late Walter Nairn in their bereavement.
– The Australian Democratic Labour party desires to associate itself with the preceding speakers in expressing sympathy to the wife and family of the late Mr. Nairn.
– On behalf of the Queensland Labour party, I should like to be identified with this motion of condolence. It occurs to me, Mr. President, that it was only a few short hours ago that in this place we heard the representative of His Excellency the Governor-General discharge the House of Representatives to the responsible task of appointing a new Speaker. I am sure that act focused our minds and attention on the significance of the ancient tradition which surrounds that very high office. It is now our lot to pass a motion of condolence following the death of a man who, in his time, discharged the duties of that high office with conspicuous ability.
Although many of us here may not have known Mr. Nairn personally as Speaker oi: the House of Representatives, we do know that he had the reputation of being a parliament man, and we, as an integral part of the Parliament, should be particularly aware of and alert to the tremendous responsibility that was his in the protection of this sacred institution against inroads from any quarters. It is appropriate, therefore, that the Senate, even though some honorable senators may not have known Mr. Nairn personally, should recognize that, at this time, it is the Parliament which is paying a tribute to a great parliamentarian. Therefore, on behalf of the Queensland Labour party, I extend to his widow and family our sincere condolence.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - I formally inform the Senate that the Honorable Henry Adam Bruce died in the Canberra hospital on 11th October, 1958, at the age of 74 years.
I think it is fitting that, when we pay tribute to the late Mr. Bruce, we should commence by making some comment upon his extraordinarily long record of distinguished public service. Mr. Bruce served as a member of the Queensland Parliament and of the Commonwealth Parliament for no fewer than 35 years. It is sad to think that his death occurred just about the time at which he had decided nol to seek re-election but to retire from parliamentary life.
His record as a parliamentarian was not only long but also distinguished. As I have said, he represented electorates in the Queensland State Parliament for not less than 27 years, being first elected in 1923, before entering the Commonwealth Parliament. He held Cabinet rank in the Queensland State Parliament, being Secretary for Public Works from 1932 until 1947 and Secretary for Public Instruction from 1938 to 1941 and from 1947 until 1950. In 1951 he was elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Leichhardt. His wife and daughter who survive him can look back with pride on that record. We remember the late Mr. Bruce, not only for his contribution as a parliamentarian and a Minister of State, but also for his upright and friendly personality that made him popular with us all.
I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Henry Adam Bruce, Member of the House of Representatives, for the Division of Leichhardt, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and daughter in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition I second the motion. The Honorable Henry Adam Bruce was one of the best known and most respected figures in the public life of Queensland and, in later years, of the National Parliament. Senator Spooner has outlined his remarkable record of public service extending over a period of 35 years. For fifteen years Mr. Bruce was Secretary for Public Works in the State of Queensland, and made a very signal contribution to the development of that State. The Bruce Highway, named after him, which extends from Brisbane to Cairns, is a monument to his work and his memory. The construction of that highway was a milestone in the development of Queensland. Mr. Bruce will be long remembered for his activity in the works portfolio. He was also concerned with the Department of Education in Queensland for many years.
Harry Bruce was essentially a man’s man, using that term in its very highest sense. He may be described as a man who, by his own natural abilities, made good. He was also a most versatile person. From time to time he was businessman, shearer, miner and at one time organizer for the Australian Workers Union. He held that position at a time when to be an organizer of a union required not only mental alertness but also a great deal of physical wellbeing. Like a great many of the leaders and organizers of the Australian Workers Union he was big in physique and big in outlook. He was a typical A.W.U. man. In his younger days he was an outstanding athlete and, I understand, excelled as a boxer.
As was indicated, he proposed to retire prior to the last election and was, in fact, prepared to enter the House of Representatives to make his farewell speech when he suffered the heart attack that took him from us on 11th October last year, a short time before the election was held and before his term as a member had expired. I think it most appropriate that he should have passed from the scene in full harness, on the job to the last moment. I and all my colleagues had hoped that Harry Bruce would have a long and happy period of retirement with his wife and daughter; but it was ordained that that should not be. The outstanding characteristics of my late colleague, if I might presume to summarize them, were his strong Australianism, his rugged courage, his good fellowship and his common sense. Everybody in the Australian Labour party was his friend. By virtue of his own extraordinarily manly qualities, he had very many friends amongst members of other parties. He is certain to be long remembered by us all. The Australian Labour party, to which he gave such loyal and efficient service, and the nation, are all the poorer for his passing from our scene. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend to the members of his sorrowing family our deepest sympathy in their sad loss, and I trust that they will be given the strength to bear their great burden of sorrow.
– The members of the Australian Country party desire to be associated with the motion before the Senate and to join with other speakers in expressing their regret at the death of the Honorable Harry Bruce. Mr. Bruce was known as Harry Bruce to all his friends and colleagues, especially those in north and north-western Queensland. He was particularly well known in that area.
In the early days, he was closely associated with the sugar industry and was greatly respected by both employer and employee. In those days, he was respon sible for settling peacefully many of the disturbances that took place in that industry.
He had a rather unusual political career, representing the Kennedy and Tableland electorates in the Queensland Parliament for many years and later representing the Leichhardt electorate in the Federal House from 1951 until the time of his death. Both before and during his political career, he made a large number of friends not only in north and north-western Queensland but also in the Federal Parliament, and we of the Australian Country party tender our deepest sympathy to his widow and his daughter in their sad bereavement.
– We members of the Australian Democratic Labour party join with preceding speakers in expressing our sympathy to the wife and daughter of Harry Bruce on his sudden death. It seemed that he was about to enjoy a long retirement after an active political life, but that was not to be. He is yet another member of this Parliament who has died at his post. To his wife and daughter we express our deepest sympathy.
– Speaking on behalf of the Queensland Labour party, I should like to be identified with the expressions of sympathy that have been extended to the wife and daughter of the late Harry Bruce. As Senator McKenna has said, Mr. Bruce had a distinguished public career in Queensland. As Secretary for Public Instruction, and because of his own keen personal interest in sport, he went to great pains, if my memory serves me correctly, to introduce organized physical sport into the State public schools of Queensland. As a former Victorian, he never lost his love for the Australian game and, I think, was instrumental in introducing it to the Queensland State school system as one of the organized sports.
He did tremendous work as Secretary for Public Works in Queensland; indeed, at one stage it was said facetiously of him that there was no land left to plough in north Queensland because Harry Bruce had put all of it under bitumen. That was an indication of the dedication of his life to public service.
In addition, he was a devoted family man, and I can imagine the burden of real, deep and abiding sorrow that will rest upon his widow and daughter. He was a man who suffered a grievous family loss when the death of one of his young children occurred prematurely. That was a sorrow which, I think, he carried to the grave. He was a man who measured up, in the fullest sense of the term, to the demands of public life, and public life is certainly a very great loser for his passing. To Mrs. Bruce and the late Mr. Bruce’s daughter, I express, on behalf of my party, our deep personal sorrow.
– I should not like this sad motion of condolence to be passed without my adding a word or two to what has been said. I sat in the Queensland Parliament for many long years in opposition to Mr. Bruce and the party to which he belonged, but I had a very great admiration for his excellent personal qualities. He was a very fine man - amiable, friendly, sociable and a good mixer - who enjoyed popularity on both sides of the Queensland Parliament in those years. Later he entered the Federal Parliament, and I was glad to be in association with him once again.
The late Harry Bruce belonged to a very fine generation of Australians, who came up through hard times in the early pioneering days. They went out into the back country of Australia. Harry Bruce went to northwestern Queensland and tackled whatever jobs came up. That helped to make him a very versatile and a very useful man and built into his character the fine, rugged and sturdy spirit of outback Australia.
I greatly regret his death, and I join with the other speakers who have paid such fine tributes tohis memory.I offer my heartfelt sympathy to his sorrowing widow and daughter.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Loan (Housing) Bill 1958.
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1958.
Re-establishment and Employment Bill (No. 2) 1958.
Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Bill 1958.
StatesGrants (Special Financial Assistance) Bill 1958.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1958.
Income Tax and SocialServices Contribution Bill 1958.
Coal Industry Bill 1958. Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1958.
Wheat Export Charge Bill 1958.
Appropriation Bill 1958-59.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1958-59.
Migration Bill 1958.
Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1958.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1958.
Tractor Bounty Bill 1958.
States Grants Bill 1958.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Bill 1958.
National Health Bill 1958.
Christmas Island Agreement Bill 1958.
Airlines Equipment Bill 1958. Loan (Australian ‘National Airlines Commission) Bill 1958.
Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill 1958.
Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill 1958.
Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1958.
Dairy Produce Levy Bill 1958.
Statistics (Arrangements with States) Bill 1958.
Loan Bill 1958.
Copper Bounty Bill 1958.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1958.
Marriage (Overseas) Bill 1958.
Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Bill 1958.
River Murray Waters Bill 1958.
Railway Standardization (New South Wales and Victoria) Agreement Bill 1958.
Motions (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Hendrickson on account of ill health.
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Sheehan on account of ill health.
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Critchley on account of ill health.
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Arnold on account of family illness.
– by leave - I desire to announce to the Senate the constitution of the Seventh Menzies Ministry. The Ministry consists of twentytwo Ministers as follows: -
Minister for Trade - The Right Honorable John McEwen.
The first twelve Ministers I have named will constitute Cabinet, and Cabinet will continue the practice of co-opting other Ministers as required.
Mr. Harold Holt will continue as Leader of the House of Representatives. I will be the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Senator Paltridge will be Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, and Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, D.B.E., will be Whip for the Government parties.
In ; the Senate, I will represent the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the Minister for Trade.
Senator Paltridge will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for Air and the Minister for Supply.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper, M.B.E., will represent the Postmaster-General, the Minister for Territories, the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Works.
Senator Henty will represent the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for Health, and the Minister for the Army.
Senator Gorton will represent the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Attorney-General, and the Minister for Primary Industry.
The Minister for National Development will be represented in the House of Representatives by the Attorney-General, except on matters which concern war service homes; these matters will be handled by the Minister for Social Services.
The Minister for Civil Aviation will be represented by the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for Shipping and Transport by the Minister for Supply.
The Minister for Repatriation will be represented by the Minister for Health.
The Minister for Customs and Excise will be represented by the Minister for Air, and the Minister for the Navy will be represented by the Minister for the Interior.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that I have the honour to have been appointed Leader of the Australian Labour party in this chamber. Senator Kennelly has been appointed Deputy Leader, and Senator O’Flaherty has been appointed Whip of the party.
– by leave - I desire to state that I will be the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour party in the parliamentary sphere, and Senator McManus will be Deputy Leader. We are still awaiting the Whip.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the Opening Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament this day.
– I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May It PLEASE Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I deeply appreciate the honour, Mr. President, of initiating this debate and reaffirming loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and, through her, to the British Commonwealth of Nations. I also express the pleasure that I know is shared by every one in this chamber at the announcement by His Excellency on the approaching visit of Her Majesty’s cousin, Her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra. We look forward with immense pleasure to her visit to this country. 1 think it fair to say that in the matter of foreign affairs our Government has earned a reputation of considerable magnitude and has certainly gained the respect and goodwill of the nations of the free world.
His Excellency’s Speech refers to current and recent visits to this country by eminent overseas leaders, and I am sure we are justified in complimenting the Government on all the successes achieved in this field.
In the field of defence generally, and in defence science in particular, the programme of the Government as outlined is indeed meritorious. The task of any government in these spheres of operation under to-day’s ever-changing methods and discoveries is one which really must be understood to be appreciated.
The proposals of the Government in relation to banking bring a new hope to the people on the land, and to commerce and industry too. I feel sure, Sir, that the legislation will have the support of a majority in this chamber.
I refer to another point of His Excellency’s Speech which must give universal satisfaction, and that is the Government’s contribution to the solving of the housing problem. The critics of not so long ago must surely feel now that they were a little hasty at that time and that the record figures of homes constructed and homes under construction are indeed satisfying.
I hope, Sir, that members of the Senate will readily understand when, in my maiden speech in this Parliament, I confine my remarks mainly to factors relating to Western Australia, the State which I now have the honour to represent in this Senate. First of all, I take leave to remind the Senate of some of the major achievements that have taken place in that vast State. Western Australia, in area, covers approximately 33$ per cent, of the continent, but it has only 7 per cent, of the total population. Nevertheless, it produces 78 per cent, of Australia’s gold. worth round about £405,000,000 over the last 60 years. This basic industry has been responsible for helping Australia out of certain difficulties in the past, and if an increase in the price of gold could be obtained, it would help considerably to offset the drastic drop of wool prices. Western Australia produces more than 10 per cent, of Australia’s wool and has slightly less than 10 per cent, of this country’s sheep population. Our wheat production figures are indeed impressive. Western Australia, with 7 per ‘cent, of Australia’s population, produces 22 per cent, of her wheat. This year the figure will be a little higher - almost one-quarter of the total Australian production. I pay tribute to people on the land for the tenacious way in which they battle with the hazards of nature. I speak on the subject with some feeling because, as a farmer, I know the heartbreak and frustration which can arise from circumstances completely beyond one’s control. As every one knows, the whole of a year’s work can be destroyed by flood, bushfire or drought.
In Western Australia the story of the expansion of existing industries and the development of new industries is indeed a dramatic one, and an even more brilliant picture is still to be painted. The future is certainly one of unlimited potential. The Federal Government’s recognition of the special problem presented by the development of the north-west is very gratifying. The recent personal visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the north-west and the Government’s special grant of £5,000,000, have given the people in that vast area a feeling that their claim has been recognized and acknowledged.
The further development of the mining industry of Western Australia is a must. Annually there are new finds of minerals such as manganese, columbite, tantalite, beryl and chrome - all awaiting a fullblooded approach. Private enterprise must be given every encouragement if these valuable sources of national income are to be developed.
Fishing is also an industry that could be further expanded so as to play a greater part in the national economy. I think that I am right in saying that the retail price of fish in Western Australia is the lowest in the Commonwealth. Given better refrigeration in transport there is, I feel, a market for this important commodity in the eastern States where fish prices are considerably higher. This industry should be encouraged because it is a source of food supply which needs little in the way of cultivation by man. Nature has thus provided a neverending supply of a food that costs us nothing to produce. The only costs involved are those of harvesting and marketing. It is different from most other foods in that it costs nothing to produce.
Let me turn now to another moneyspinner which operates in the nation’s interest. The tourist trade is an export earner that could and should, with advantage, be further developed in Western Australia. The British Government ranks tourism as its seventh biggest export earner. The fact that Western Australia is the first and last port of call for most ships using the Indian Ocean should be further exploited by those responsible for the advancement of the tourist trade in that State, which is richly endowed with natural beauty. Its towering forests and its wild flowers are worldfamous. In spring, extensive tracts of bushland display a wealth of colour, in plants, shrubs and trees - a sight that is not easily forgotten. There is rugged hill scenery. There are rivers, caves and numerous excellent surfing beaches. Above all, there is a wonderful climate. Perth has the distinction of having more sunshine, and a higher number of clear days during the year, than any of the other capital cities.
The south-western corner of the State, with its magnificent jarrah and karri forests, its fascinating limestone caves and its varied coastline can rightly be termed the show place of the west. The promotion of the tourist industry demands imagination and enthusiasm, but it is another income earner which requires little in the way of cultivation. Most of our attractions have been provided for us by nature. All that is needed is means of access to beauty spots, accommodation when the tourist gets there and enthusiastic salesmen to sell those attractions to the peoples of the world.
While attempting to outline some of the real and dynamic potential of the great State of Western Australia, I would, at the same time, ask the national Parliament to recognize some of the disadvantages from which the State suffers. One of these is the distance factor. We are at a distinct disadvantage in trying to compete with the more populous States on the home consumption market. The colossal distances involved in marketing within the State, coupled with inadequate internal transport facilities, send up the cost of production. The lack of large river systems makes intersive cultivation and irrigation a costly business. Tidal harbours and old-fashioned and inadequate harbour facilities are among the retarding factors in the north-west. All of these adverse factors present a tremendous challenge to future developmental planning, but with enthusiasm, imagination and work they can all be overcome.
Over the years since federation governments have recognized in varying degree the disabilities of claimant States, particularly Western Australia, with such a large area and so few people. The Menzies Government has been most conscious of this and, in fact, has done more to help than has any previous government. I would cite sue. instances as the special £1,000,000 grant for the relief of unemployment, the grant of £5,000,000 for the development of the north-west, and the grant of £5,000,000 for the provision of a comprehensive water scheme. The people of Western Australia are well aware of the generous treatment that they have received from the present Federal Government, and showed this appreciation in no uncertain way at the last federal election, lt is certainly a public tribute to the Prime Minister to be returned with an increased majority in both Houses after a record number of years in office. In fact, it is worth mentioning that the present Government has, in another place, an alltime record majority.
Let me turn now to the future problems associated with the further development of Western Australia. The programme of oil search must continue, and be encouraged. Oil has already been found in Western Australia, and I am convinced that it is there in commercial quantities. The Commonwealth Government recognizes the importance to Australia of oil - hence its recent generous treatment of the companies that are spending millions of pounds in search of this vital commodity. With all other Western Australians on this side of the Senate, I urge the State government to spend wisely the moneys allocated for the development of the north-west - on harbours, roads, power and water - and to keep in the forefront the fact that living conditions must be made more attractive if we are to keep people there, and attract others to go there. The high cost of foodstuffs in these distant parts, particularly perishable foods, has to be reduced in some way, either by improved transport facilities or, better still, by increased production of foodstuffs on the spot. As a- Western Australian, I am delighted that the Government has recognized the problems of development of the north-west. I am certain that future governments will continue to. make special grants of assistance, provided that the Western Australian Government uses such money sensibly.
There are in Australia some 23.000,000 acres of land, developed or partially developed, from which we draw our agricultural production. I want to refer to some of the exciting possibilities for further land development in Western Australia. On the west coast, from Dongara south to Gin Gin, there are approximately 3,000,000 acres of light land that is capable of producing good, coarse grain crops and pasture. Mr. Eric Smart of Mingenew has undoubtedly proved the truth of this statement. There is a further tract of some 6,000,000 acres on the south coast, from Esperance to Many Peaks, the productive capacity of which has been proved by Mr. Noel White, who lives west of Esperance. The estimated cost of bringing this land into production, improved with water supply, fencing, sheds, yards, and a house, and sown to pasture, on the basis of from 3,000 to 5,000 acres per farm, is £10 an acre. Some people may query that estimate, but it must be remembered that there are no clearing costs and that such land is very cheap to obtain in the first instance. When that initial work has been done, the land is capable of carrying two sheep to the acre. In other words, such development would enable an increase of some 20,000,000 sheep. Even at the present prices for wool and meat, £2 10s. a head is a reasonable gross return, so that it can be appreciated that the increased sheep population would represent a lift in our overseas funds of some £50,000,000 annually. For the outlay of approximately £100,000,000, this land could progressively be opened up through the resources of the proposed Development Bank, with long-term loans similar to the war service land settlement loans.
One of the restrictive aspects of land development in Western Australia - and I imagine that this could also apply to other parts of Australia - is the lack of water. I wish to put forward on this subject some ideas which have been engaging my attention for some time. Earlier, I referred to the lack of river systems. In Western Australia there are millions of acres of heavy gimlet and salmon country, some of the best grain and feed country in Australia, which are lying idle because of lack of rainfall. Western Australians will understand that gimlet and salmon grow on very heavy country. I refer to the vast area south and east of Southern Cross. This land could be highly productive if rain could be produced there artificially or, failing that, if the land could be irrigated from the sea by means of desalination plants.
There are nineteen different methods of treating salt water to remove the salt. At the present stage of experimentation, there are two deterrent factors, namely, those of cost and technical difficulty. The costs of reservoir methods of water distribution are assessed, I believe, throughout the world at from 3s. to 4s. a thousand gallons. The new techniques of treating sea water cost from 6s. to 7s. a thousand gallons. With the electrodialysis method being used in South Africa and the Middle East, a method ;that uses an electric current to separate the salt, I should think that the cost could be reduced considerably, particularly if nuclear energy were the source of power. A considerable part of the cost at the present time results from the high cost of the conventional fuels that are used, plus the cost of transport and storage. However, even if the cost of desalination were slightly higher than the cost of using rain water, the return gained by the nation would be well worth the experiment.’ Time does not permit me to enlarge on the subject of desalination, but it is a subject that has exciting possibilities and one that I intend to study further.
The future development of Western Australia relies on a sensible and close cooperation between the governments of the State and of the Commonwealth. To help, the State must show, and prove, that it is doing its part towards development before it calls on the Commonwealth for aid. In fact, it is necessary that both governments realize that they have responsibilities to develop this vast State, because there are many covetous eyes looking enviously at the vast undeveloped areas that are capable of huge production. To the oft-quoted saying “ We must populate or perish “ might well be added the words, “ We must -develop or decay “.
As a new senator, I feel that it is a wonderful thing to be here at the opening <of this Twenty-third Parliament. I know that many honorable senators have had wide experience and a great length of parliamentary service. The influence that those senators will have on us new senators, even though we have our own ideas, must to a certain extent mould our outlook and our ideas. Just as a small son admires his father and tries to act like him and to follow the example set by him, so we, in our malleable condition, will be fashioned, generally speaking, by the examples that are set us by the more experienced members of this Senate. It is only a fool who does not profit by the experience of others. I believe that in this Twenty-third Parliament the Australian nation will go on to greater and grander things, under the wise guidance of the Menzies Government. I appreciate the privilege of being selected to reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, and I thank the Senate for that privilege.
– I second the motion. Before I say anything else, Sir, I wish to congratulate the mover on his maiden speech. As this is the occasion of the opening of the Twentythird Parliament, I think that it is an opportune time for us to ask ourselves three questions. They are: First, is this country of ours capable of further development and expansion; secondly, have we the right type of people to carry out development and expansion; and thirdly, have we the plan to do that? With regard to the first question, Sir, I am sure that we are all agreed that the answer is an emphatic “ Yes “. Few countries possess the same opportunities for expansion and development as are possessed by Australia. All Australians who go overseas return with the opinion that this country of ours is the best of all in which to live.
The last nine or ten years have afforded us very convincing proof that we can expand. As we cast our minds back to what has been done in that period, we think of the projects at Rum Jungle, Radium Hill, Mary Kathleen, Mount Isa and Weipa in the north, and of the Snowy Mountains project in the south. Reference has been made to Western Australia. That directs our thoughts to the Kwinana project. These undertakings give us a feeling of very great confidence that what has been done over the last n’ne or ten years is only a forerunner of what can, and I am quite sure will, be done in the next decade. In addition to the projects that 1 have mentioned, there are the Woomera rocket range and the Maralinga project. Those undertakings have become world famous, even though they have come into active operation only during the last three or four years.
Great expansion has been achieved in South Australia. Senator Branson has referred to what has been done in the West, too. 1 was very pleased to have the opportunity two or three months ago to return to Western Australia after an absence of some fifteen years and to see for myself the development that had taken place. Ifully agree with Senator Branson when he says that that State has a great potential for development. I was very pleased to learn the other day that a sum of £23,000,000 is to be made available to our Victorian friends; I congratulate them. I am sure we are all very pleased that such a sum is being made available to that State, because we know it will contribute to the development of Australia.
We have been told also, Mr. President, that for the first time in our history we now have a work force of approximately 4,000,000 people. Many of us can cast our minds back to the time - it seems to be only a few years ago - when our total population was only 6,000,000. To-day, of course, it is approximately 10,000,000 and is increasing rapidly. I have referred to instances of the confidence in Australia that has been expressed by overseas investors. I am quite sure that, if we ensure that this country is properly managed, that feeling of confidence will remain and will bring beneficial results to us. The number of factories in Au - tralia has risen by 35 per cent. We remember, of course, that World War II. left us in anything by a strong position financially because, in common with our allies, wehave spent a lot of money upon maintaining our security.
From time to time we have heard the slogan, if we may so describe it, “ Australia Unlimited “. I feel that that is not just an empty phrase but that it expresses in two words Australia’s latent potential. The facts I have outlined are sufficient to indicate that this country of ours is capable of development. So the answer to the first question is “ Yes “.
The second question I posed was: Have we the right type of people? Last month we celebrated Australia Day. In doing so, many of us thought in retrospect of the conditions that led to the discovery of Australia. When we compare our modern passenger liners of 30,000 or 40,000 tons powered by modern engines developing thousands of horse-power, with their stabilizers and all the navigational aids that we have to-day, their medical berths, sick bays and good food, with the tiny vessel “ Endeavour “, of some 370 tons, which sailed into uncharted waters, its crew very often short of food and water and faced with the threat of scurvy, that vessel driven only by the winds, gales and stark courage of those aboard, we think in admiration of the men who endured such privations not only in their efforts to find Australia but in the performance of their tasks as they saw them.
We pass to the events which led up to World War II. In common with many in this chamber, I have vivid recollections of allegations that were made about the young men of Great Britain. We were told that those young men lacked stamina, that they were lounge lizards, decadent and so forth. But within a short space many of them took part in the Battle for Britain and won the admiration of people not only in Great Britain but throughout the world. Their deeds gave rise to those immortal words of Churchill’s that are familiar to us all - “ Never in the history of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few “.
In Australia we have our bodgies, widgies and child delinquents. I am wondering, Mr. President, to what extent they are the products of inherent weaknesses of character or whether they are the products of lack of parental control. I feel that in the majority of cases they are the result of the lack of parental control. But I have great faith in the young people of Australia and I believe that, should the occasion arise, they will demonstrate that they are possessed of the same courage, stamina and determination as those young men of Great Britain and of the other qualities which made Great Britain so famous.
I have said that I have faith in the young people of Australia. I also have faith in our old people. I recall those lines of Macaulay in his “ Lays of Ancient Rome “ -
For Romans in Rome’s quarrel
Spared neither land nor gold
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old.
I feel that, should the occasion arise, the same could be said with equal truth about
Australians. I believe that what I have said tends to prove that we have in this country the right type of people to carry out the development and expansion that we all hope to see.
My third question was: Have we the plan? The speech delivered this afternoon by His Excellency the Governor-General contained the blueprint of such a plan. This Government has been told by the people, in effect, “ We approve what you have done in the past and what you propose to do in the future. Now go back and put it into operation “. In a review of what has been done, the main consideration, naturally, is the defence of Australia. I know that the measures which have been taken for the defence of our country have not pleased all our people. I do not suppose any defence plan ever did or that any such plan of the future ever will please all. But we should remember that in the nine or ten years about which I have been speaking we have spent approximately £1,385,000,000 on the defence of Australia.
During the last 36 hours considerable criticism has been levelled at the negotiations that were concluded with representatives of Indonesia. However, those of us who heard the explanations given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) feel, as they do, that Australia was well served in the negotiations that concluded prior to the departure of the Indonesian envoy from our shores.
In his Speech the Governor-General stated that our immigration programme will be fixed at a figure in the vicinity of 1 per cent, of our total increase of population. We must recognize that if we are to hold this country we must populate. However, an immigration programme on that basis should prove very satisfactory.
Mention was also made of trade agreements. Australia is very fortunate indeed in having, in the person of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) a man who has negotiated many trade agreements, all of benefit to us. I have not the slightest doubt that the trade agreements that surely will eventuate in the future will prove equally beneficial.
In speaking of the prosperity of Australia our thoughts, and particularly the thoughts of those of us engaged in primary production, naturally turn to wool. We have seen the disastrous fall in wool prices. However, the improvement that has been manifest over the past ten or fourteen days could pull us out of the financial difficulties that may arise. Whether the rise in wool prices will be maintained remains to be seen. I, for one, am not very optimistic. Our falling wool prices make it imperative that positive action must be taken to promote the sale of wool and popularize woollen garments. It is encouraging to see the Australian Wool Bureau facing up to the fact that what has been done in the past is not good enough, and embarking on a new scheme to promote the sale of wool. However, I hope that before a new scheme is introduced a meeting will be held in each capital city of the top men representing our textile industries, retail stores, wool-growers, wool brokers and the metropolitan press. Such a meeting will evolve surely a plan that will result in a greater sale of wool, not only in Australia but also overseas.
Although woollen goods of all types are available to-day, too few people are aware of it. That is a difficulty which must be overcome. The Sydney press in the last few days has carried announcements that one of the large retail stores is conducting a “ wool week “. The town of Deniliquin in New South Wales is setting out to promote the sale of wool in that area. Those are very encouraging signs. If we cast our minds back some twenty years, we will remember that the thousands of people who thronged our magnificent surfing beaches were attired in woollen bathing costumes. What do we find to-day? Probably not one costume is made of wool. What do people wear on rainy days? Instead of wearing apparel containing some woollen content, to protect them from the rain, they are clothed in plastic. I must admit that I, too, have been an offender in this respect.
Australia’s prosperity depends on wool. Probably this Government will be approached by some of the wool-growers’ organizations to introduce a floor price for wool. Although a suggestion was made previously to implement such a scheme, the woo.’-growers rejected it. However, the low prices received by the growers over the last eighteen months probably changed the minds of many who were previously opposed to the scheme. So much for the plan. It is of no use to have a plan unless people pay less attention to sharing the wealth of our country and more attention to sharing in the creation of additional wealth. We all like to be on a good thing, but we should devote our energies to creating fresh wealth for Australia. If that is done we can look forward with the greatest confidence to the welfare of our people and the future of our country.
In conclusion, I express my appreciation of the courtesy that honorable senators have shown me to-day. I second the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourntill to-morrow at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 5.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 February 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590217_senate_23_s14/>.