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Tuesday, 9 April 1946

Mr HAYLEN (Parkes) .- I cannot imagine that any representative of the people in this Federal Parliament could do other than support these three bills. Yet, in the last few days we have heard various forms of disputation in relation to referendums. Every one who looks over the history of referendums in this country must reach the conclusion that the future of the Commonwealth Parliament hinges on the success of future referendums. The fathers of the Constitution, if they were present in this chamber to-night, would be aghast at the spectacle of so many States-righters on the Opposition benches, and would he staggered at the disputation concerning what is meant by what they thought were the simplest terms; a nation united for federation is what they dreamed of and subsequently evolved to the best of their ability. But the federation was not the beautiful, robest, lusty child that they thought they, had conceived. In its infancy it. needed too many blood transfusions to keep it alive, and since then it has behaved as an unruly child. Legal talks about the Constitution will get us nowhere. In my humble way, I have been trying to analyse the human aspect of referendums, why we submit proposals to the people, and why, after the recent negative decision by the people; we are doing so again. I think the answer to that question, is that without referendums and endeavouring to improve a Constitution that is full of holes we can have no' true federation. Since this debate began, we have had nothing but quotation and counter-quotation to prove that what some one had said in 1927 was different from what he said in 1932. That bears out the discovery made by Solomon that all men are liars, but it does not get us any .closer to a solution of our problems. The human approach is to bring the people closer to the realization why alteration of the Constitution is necessary, and that without alterations we who legislate here are as men with their hands tied and this Parliament has very little power, although it has the appearance of having vast power. "Wo are something, like "the little king" of the 'comic strip eating a hamburger in the palace off a gold plate. Until the people learn that we must have more powers, we shall continue to beat the air. So it is remarkable that what should be a. non-party matter is the subject of party disputation. Opposition members stand first on ohe foot and then on the other, wondering what it will do about the bill relating to social services. They think it is too powerful to oppose. Mumbling on a lonesome tooth they cannot come to a clear decision on the bill relating to marketing. But they have been vociferous in their condemnation of the third measure relating to terms and conditions of employment. Two bills they are doubtful about, but they are definitely opposed to the third. We have to place a clear picture before the people. I firmly believe that they do believe in referendums and would like to support them. I think they will support this one, but what makes them afraid is the misrepresentation indulged in by the other side. What to them would ordinarily be an academic issue can be misrepresented in so many ways as to create in their minds a fear which results in a negative vote. The people's attitude shows that they are referendum-minded although they customarily vote " No ". How eai? one solve that paradox? I think education is necessary. 1 think, too, that we need more decency on the part of the propagandists opposite. "Even a. political tyro like I am knows that if the people were asked to vote on a referendum' for the abolition of State parliaments there would be a resounding affirmative vote. Yet, when asked to vote on the transfer to the Commonwealth Parliament of a collection of minor powers there is a resounding "No". The reason for the " No " vote in the last referendum was a mighty lie. Some slogan coiner, believing in the theory of Hitler that if one is to tell a lie it should be a large and robust one, paid so much an inch to the newspapers to publicize the lie he invented that a " Yes " vote would be a vote for industrial conscription. The people were terrorized into thinking that the Government intended to do something that it certainly did not intend. That wrecked the referendum. It drove the people to a negative vote. They realize now their mistake, but when the He was pounded into their ears, they were in a receptive frame of mind and in the fear of the' moment they voted the wrong way. When this bomb was dropped amongst them they were overworked, undergoing severe rationing, and worried about loved .ones. Patriotic citizens, owing to the exigencies of the war, had to do work they were not used to. They were employed for the greater good of the greater number and the destruction of the common enemy. In that favorable atmosphere, the Opposition was able to create -a panic. That technique will not work in the orderly days of peace. In the calmer atmosphere of peace the people will fully realize what the Government's intentions are in these three bills. The people want to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with more power, but hitherto they have been timid of doing so. Public thought is usually ahead of the Government's, regardless of what party is in power. People make up their minds on tremedously important issues long before the machinery of government gets around to asking them what they think. That was demonstrated in the United States of America when the New Deal was introduced by the late President Roosevelt. He saw what was' necessary. He was faced with something like the same constitutional difficulties that confront this Government. His genius enabled him to keep abreast of public opinion. He was able to tell .them that he was ready if they were ready. He saved his country from industrial anarchy, arid put it on such a firm footing that it was able to produce the greatest war effort of all times. When the history of that effort is written, it will be shown that it sprang from highly organized primary and secondary industry, credit for which must bo paid to that great leader of the American people. In our time we have had in this country, men who have had the gift of knowing public opinion. In the late John Curtin, we. had a. man who thought a little ahead of the people. Our great victory was a result of his ability to know public thought instinctively. History has left us the opportunity through this referendum it last to bring about a combination between the people and the Government. Both desire the same thing, a strong, united nation, but the division 'between the Government and the people is nourished by ill-favoured men who 'seek to frustrate the objective of a. workable federation. That ought not to be a party matter; all should work to strengthen the central government. If the weakling Opposition by some almost unthinkable mischance, regained the treasury bench, it would not, as its supporters have admitted, relish the powers we are asking for. Its supporters would want to huddle together into the conservative corner again, doing nothing until forced out of office again.- Their dramatic announcement that they are not interested in regaining power should influence the people at the referendum.

The first of the three bills deals with social services. I have been amazed to hear Opposition members, one after another, say that the social services of the Com mon wealth' are not threatened. They have said "wo know that they could be challenged, but no one is likely to challenge them ". Is that the way in which they carry on their businesses? I should not think-so. I can imagine them tying up all the loose ends and blocking all the little holes in order to safeguard their assets. The asset that we give te the people is social security. The Opposition claims that social services are not likely to be challenged, but is i t not more business-like to ensure that they shall not be challenged by writing into the Constitution a clear provision entitling this Parliament to make provision for the people's security at all stages of their lives. We must remember that the few lines written into the Constitution when it w-as created entitling the Commonwealth Parliament to pay invalid and old-age pensions was meant to be just the beginning. It was the lead that the pioneers gave to us. I think we can take it as implicit that they decided that we should go on to greater and nobler things. They were not little Australians, and they did not envisage a group _ of small States federating and perishing by the act pf federation. They looked ahead to a country of abounding riches and many millions of people. Having established their plan they left it to us to develop. The Labour party is proud of its social services. It wants to have its "right to grant those social services established beyond, doubt. The very fact that the social service legislation could be challenged in theHigh Court, perhaps successfully, createsa fear in the mind of the people that they may lose the benefits they now enjoy.. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said that many people were afraid .that the social services were threatened. That is a fact.. They may be threatened if' they are not supremely free from interference. ' I am glad to see that the first bill makes provision for family allowances, because I believe that we are coming to the stagewhen there will have to be bigger and better social benefits, planned in their nature, not something that is just handed out. In the economy of to-day we must safeguard the vulnerable groups. I hope that in the years to .come a marriage allowance will result in reducing expenditure on the old-age pension. If we have what I might describe as a young-age pension we shall look after people before they come to the evening of their lives' and become entitled to the little shelter they can obtain with the pittance they get from the national revenue before they finally shuffle off this mortal coil. A pension should be given to young people at a time when they are producing Units, when they canuse it in preparation for their old age, and with the backing behind them of the -social service fund. There would' then be created in the minds of the1 people a clear distinction -between charity given to them towards the .close of their days and a dividend in their country's progress while they are still young. I hope that it is implicit in this bill that under the new powers we should introduce a law providing for marriage loans. It is necessary in order totackle the population problem, which cannot be wholly solved by migration, that there should be created a new level of native born population. Statistics show that things are not as good as they should be in that regard because of economic fear. I support the measure to make, firm for all time the development of social security legislation by the Government, and. I trust that it will be strengthened in the near future so that by 1950 or 195.6 it will go far beyond what the fathers of federation meant when they referred to social benefits in the simple terms of the old-age pension. Honorable members opposite have raised many aspects of social welfare. Although I am rapidly losing my capacity for amazement, I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), when referring to the term " medical services " state by inference that civilians got a much better deal than members of the forces in the provision of such services. I should like him to take his mind off the waving fields of wheat in the Wimmera, and cast it on the health queues waiting at civil hospitals for treatment. Many civilians are craving for the regular medical routine that the Army provides. Army regimentation did' at least give to a man in the services the medical attention he needed. The position in all States, and in 'New South Wales particularly, is that the provision of medicine and medical treatment for the poor is getting out of hand. There are too few doctors available and too many patients seeking treatment. Yet there is a publicannouncement made in the press by the secretary of the British Medical Association that parents should guard against sending too many . students to the universities to take medical courses because there will be too many doctors in this country. I should say that statistics would prove the inaccuracy of that statement. Under a reasonable scheme providing national health services for the people there should not bc too many doctors, because we have only touched the fringe of meeting the medical needs of the people. If the secretary means- that there would be too many doctors for them to make £5,000 a year in Macquarie-street I am inclined to agree, but at the same time they would be few by comparison with the number of doctors working under the most primitive conditions in the backblocks to look after the health of a scattered rural population. Parents therefore need have no fear of sending their children to universities to obtain medical degrees because, as surely as night follows day, there will be nationalized medical services in this country which will provide medical benefits for all, and every doctor, whether he be a surgeon, or a physician, will find his place in the scheme of things.

I turn now to the second, bill which deals with the primary producers. Although I represent a . metropolitan constituency I do not want honorable members to think that because of that I have no knowledge of rural activities and the needs of the rural population. Any Australian who does not -know something about them is. a pretty small Australian. Although he may not have the technique of specialized knowledge of rural matters possessed by some members of this Parliament, he should have an overall appreciation of the difficulties of the . primary producers of this country, upon whose efforts we survive. Our secondary industries are in the developmental stage and if a man has not made himself thoroughly aware of that there is something wrong with his make-up. Again 1 am surprised to find that members of the Australian Country party assail this bill. Let us consider what has happened during the past few years. I am not competent to juggle the question of the desirability of boards for the marketing of primary products as against free marketing but one can see a pretty fair picture of what has happened if one stands away somewhat from the scene. I remember not very many years ago reading that there was always a. visitor in the farmers kitchen; he sat at the fire-side, and his name wa.s " Old Man Mortgage ".

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