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Thursday, 7 November 1946

Mr BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) . - Before dealing with the various subjects referred to by His Royal Highness in the Speech which he delivered tothe Parliament yesterday, I wish to add my congratulations to those already expressed to the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I was particularly pleased with the confidence displayed by those honorablemembers in their maiden speeches, and I believe that their contributions to futuredebates will add to the prestige of the party which occupies the treasury bench.

A most pleasing feature of the Speech was that, portion in which His Royal Highness, in referring to his impending departure from Australia, expressed hisgratitude for the kindness and courtesy which has been extended to the Duchess of Gloucester and himself and their twosons. All Australians wish them Godspeed as they return to the Homeland, and express the hope that at the heart of the Empire they will continue to serve its best interests.

It is pleasing to note that the Government proposes to make provision for thedefence of Australia. The paragraph in which reference to this matter is made brings to my memory the time when theLyons Government desired to make provision for Australia's defence. At ' that time, however, its plans were opposed' by the Labour party. Had the will of that party prevailed, Australia would have been in a much worse state when war broke out in 1939. It is pleasing, therefore, to know that the present Labour Government, influenced by theBritish Government, recognizes its obligations for the defence cf Australia, and also proposes to co-operate with other Empire countries in the defence of theEmpire as a whole.

I notice, too, .in the Speech that " The Australian Government has consistently endeavoured to assist in establishing a just and lasting peace ". That is a worthy aim, hut I regret that no similar statement relating to industrial peace within Australia is to be found in the Speech. Australians, unfortunately, are only too accustomed to reading in their newspapers of strikes and industrial unrest. It is not uncommon to read that large numbers of men are likely to be thrown out of employment because of the influence of a rebellious element within the Labour organization. It is a pity that the Speech does not contain some reference to the intention of the Government in this connexion, or to its desire and determination to increase production to the maximum capacity of the country. Only too frequently do we find the wheels of industry being flogged, with the result that there is considerable unemployment, resulting in losses to all concerned. "While such conditions continue, Australia will be unable to take its proper place in world affairs or to expand its trade. Disputes cause much inconvenience and loss to, not only the particular industries directly concerned, but also the citizens generally. The community lives in constant dread of restrictions in respect of the use of electricity, gas, transport facilities, home building, domestic requirements, and so on. Unfortunately, trouble in one State has its repercussions throughout the whole of cbe Commonwealth. A lack of materials due to trouble in certain industries means that homes are not provided for ex-servicemen and others thousands of miles away. Carpenters, bricklayers, and other home builders are thrown out of employment because of trouble in such industries as coal-mining and shipping, liven in those industries in which production has increased, the position is not entirely satisfactory, because trouble in other industries does not allow the goods which have been produced to reach those who need them. To-day, in Sydney potatoes are practically unprocurable; as much as £11 10s. a ton being paid by the Commonwealth 'Government for supplies. That is not because of any failure of the potato crop, but because thousands of tons of potatoes h'ave 'been left to rot on the wharfs as the result of industrial strife. We are told in the Speech that the Government desires to do what it can to promote and preserve international peace, but there is no intimation of what it proposes to do to maintain industrial peaceful relations within Australia. There is no pronounce.ment thai the Government intends to govern in this respect.

Another paragraph in the Speech reads -

Australia has taken an active part in trying to prevent the exercise of the veto power in all cases where the Security Council is dealing with international disputes and situations by the process of peaceful ^adjustment.

That paragraph reminds me that one of the la.'t. measures brought before the Seventeenth Parliament showed clearly that the Government w>as not adverse to exercising the power of veto in connexion with the meat industry. Under that legislation, the Minister may defeat the decision of a majority of producer members of the board set up to control the meat industry. It is strange to find the Government using within Australia a weapon which it regards as undesirable in the international sphere.

I support the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) regarding the omission from the Speech of any reference to the Bretton Woods Agreement. Australia, so far, has until the 31st December next to decide whether or not it will fall into line with other nations in supporting that agreement. Although experts and observers were sent abroad, the information which t'hey obtained at the country's expense has not been passed on to the people through this Parliament. The Government . has been most reluctant to state its intentions in regard to the Bretton Woods Agreement. I sincerely trust that a decision in this matter will not be made until the Parliament has been given an opportunity to discuss it.

Mr Lemmon - Has the honorable member read the report?

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