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Friday, 2 August 1946

Dame ENID LYONS (DARWIN, TASMANIA) - I wish to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Immigration has accused me of having made an untrue statement.

Mr Calwell - Hear, hear !

Dame ENID LYONS - The honorable gentleman has said that the word " adequate " does not appear in the booklet in the connexion in which- 1 used it;

Mr Calwell - That is right.

Dame ENID LYONS - Up to that point, the honorable member's statement is correct. But I shall read to the House the paragraphs referred to, and shall show that the whole basis of the booklet is a description of the conditions under which people live in Australia.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! If the honorable member has been misrepresented, she is entitled to correct the misrepresentation, but not to make a speech.

Dame ENID LYONS - I correct it by saying that the basic wage has been regarded, and has been represented to the world-

Mr Ward - I rise to a point of order. I assume that the personal explanation of the honorable member must deal with that portion of the reply by the Minister in which the honorable member claims to have been misrepresented. . Unless the explanation contains some reference to such misrepresentation, is not the honorable member out of order?

Mr SPEAKER - The conditions governing the making of a personal explanation are, I should think, perfectly clear. At times, I believe, advantage is taken by honorable members of this medium of addressing the House. If an honorable member considers that anything that has been said constitutes misrepresentation, that honorable member is entitled to make a personal explanation, but not toengage in a debate. In my opinion, the kernel of the Minister's statement was that the word " adequate ".does not appear in the booklet, but was used in the honorable member's question. If the honorable member disputes that, and considersthat she has been misrepre-. sented, she may correct the misrepresentation ; but she may notengage in a debate on the basic wage.

Dame ENID LYONS -I based my question on these paragraphs in the booklet -

Taking the basic wage at £4 18s.6d. a week, and adding child endowment of 7s.6d. a week for each of two children, a married man on the basic wage (no matter how unskilled) with three children has a weekly income of £5 13s.6d. No income tax is payable on this wage by a man with a wife and three children. Based on 1940 living costs in a typical Australian city, the £5 13s. 6d. would providea budget somewhat like the following, which hasbeen compiled unofficially: -


N.B.- The total of £5 13s.6d. (including 15s. child endowment) quoted above is the lowest amount any working man, his wife and three children can receive as family income, and in examining this approximate budget, it should be remembered that average earnings of adult male workers are much higher than the basic wage. For instance on the most recent figures, the average wage of adult males in factories, computed at minimum award rates for a normal week's work, was £5 19s. 8d. or £11s. 2d., more than the basic wage quoted above. With overtime earnings, and additional payments not covered by awards, the amount paid in wages and salaries to adult males in manufacturing industries averaged £6 15s. a week in 1943.

The allocation for clothes in the above minimum budget is based on a yearly allocation of £24 12 s.10d. for the husband, working out at 9s. 5d. per week; £12 8s. 2d. for the wife, or 4s.9d. per week: £9 18s. 4d. for a boy of ten and a half, or 3s.10d. per week; £8 19s. for a girl of seven, or 3s. 5d. per week; and £5 7s. 5d. for a boy of three and a half, or 2s.1d. per week.

Rentals vary considerably in different localities, but the sum set out above, £l 2s.. would provide a comfortable house for such a family, the assumption being that the husband would be the owner of sufficient furniture. The allocation of1s.6d. weekly for renewal of householdgoods allows for the replacement of blankets," towels, sheets, tablecloths, &c. to last over a period of years.

I suggest that the Minister should supply, for the information of the public, a list of the places where such houses are available.

Mr CALWELL - I desire to make a personal explanation. I emphasize that the term used in the third paragraph quoted by the honorable member is " minimum budget ". There is no reference to "adequate". This is the lowest budget upon which-

Mr Harrison - I rise to a point of order. I understand that the Minister is making a personal explanation. That presupposes that he has been misrepresented. Yet he is dealing with an earlier statement by the honorable member for Darwin, who was obliged to make a personal explanation in order to correct misrepresentation by the Minister. Is the Minister in order in now traversing the original matter, seeing that he did not originally claim to have been misrepresented ?

Mr SPEAKER - The Chair appreciates the difficulty of interpreting personal explanations. The statement or suggestion was made that a certain word appears in a booklet.. The Minister, in defence, denied that statement or suggestion. The honorable member for Darwin then made a personal explanation embodying much of the matter that appears in the booklet, but on balance did not, in my opinion, deal with the difference of opinion between her and the Minister, regarding the word "adequate". Then the Minister, in a personal explanation, emphasized his earlier statement that the word" adequate " does not appear in the booklet. My opinion is that there has been already adequate discussion on this matter, and there will be no more.

Mr CALWELL - Do you rule that I may not complete my personal explanation?

Mr SPEAKER - I have ruled, in effect, that you are not entitled merely to repeat what you said before.

Mr Calwell Mr. Calwell interjecting,

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister is not going to put that over the Chair.He repeated almost exactly what he said before, and I am not going to' allow personal explanations from one side and the. other to develop into a debate.

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