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Thursday, 21 March 1957

Mr PEARCE (Capricornia) .-! wish, first of all, to add my congratulations to those of other honorable members to the mover of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), and to the seconder of the motion, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury). Their first speeches in this chamber have given us an indication of the calm approach that they will bring to the problems of the nation. We are very glad to have these intelligent gentlemen with us.

I have been amazed to find that Opposition speakers are continuing along the lines of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) last night. I suppose they have to do that because they have been ordered to do it. That is the simple explanation. But no man's arguments were ever so shredded as were those of the Leader of the Opposition last night, when, at the conclusion of his speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) calmly and deliberately cut his remarks to pieces and showed just how specious were his arguments. So the Leader of the Opposition was left naked and unashamed, and one felt very sorry for him, because he was here under orders to provide a camouflage. It was demonstrated clearly to the members of the executive of the Australian Labour party, at a recent conference in Brisbane, that in all the States controlled by Labour governments there had been terrific bungling and incompetence in the matter of housing.

Mr Curtin - Who said that?

Mr PEARCE - It was made obvious at the conference. The whole tenor of the conference showed that each Labour government, whether led by Mr. Cahill or Mr. Gair or any other Labour Premier, had bungled the housing problem, had shown grave incompetence in the matter, and had left its housing programme in a horrible mess. The executive of the Australian Labour party, therefore, said that the Opposition in this House should, during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, attack the Government on the matter of housing, and should raise a smoke-screen to hide the inefficiency and incompetence of the State Labour leaders, particularly in the State of Queensland, where the Government's- incompetence and bungling has been most pronounced, and where men have been made political footballs because of the Government's incompetence in regard to housing. Therefore we see the spectacle of this chamber being used as a place in which to raise a smoke-screen to cover the inefficiency of Labour governments in several States.

Then we have heard the Leader of the Opposition, who has chosen to erect this Aunt Sally, crying about the poor people who have no homes. He has not, however, explained why he himself needs three homes, one in Canberra, one at Mosman and another at Leura, or why he will not let any of them to the poor workers who have no homes. He did not mention this fact. I do not begrudge him his three homes.

Mr Curtin - That is not true!

Mr PEARCE - Of course it is true.

Mr Curtin - It is not!

Mr SPEAKER - Order!

Mr PEARCE - If the Leader of the Opposition believes that it is right for one man to have three houses, then let him stand by that belief, but let him at least be honest in his approach to this problem.

Mr Wheeler - That is not democratic socialism!

Mr PEARCE - I do not know that the Leader of the Opposition is bound by any rules, but he has set up this smoke-screen because he has been told to do so.

Now that we have had time to read through the Governor-General's Speech carefully and to deliberate upon it, we find that it contains a splendid record of governmental achievement during the last seven years. We have laid out in retrospect a record of achievement and, of course, Labour does not want to talk about that. It has nothing to say. We have had set forward by the Governor-General the Government's plans for the present session - solid, concrete, sensible plans that will help Australia; that will keep Australia in the forefront of the nations; that will provide employment for all; that will provide housing, that will provide economic security, and that will ensure security outside Australia where good friends are. But no, Labour has nothing to say on these things. Labour is devoid of ideas, rent asunder by internal differences, and so is unable to bring any concerted voice into this chamber, except to cover up for the bungling of its own leaders in the States, as I have mentioned earlier. I would like to hear from the Labour party just what it thinks of the final paragraph on the first page of the printed copy of the GovernorGeneral's Speech. His Excellency said -

Concurrently with the crisis in the Middle East, events in eastern Europe have indicated the strains and stresses to which the satellite States are subject. The people of Australia - and indeed of the whole free world - were deeply shocked al the calculated and ruthless armed intervention by the Soviet Union to suppress the national aspirations of the Hungarian people in OctoberNovember, 1956. This intervention was a flagrant breach of the Peace Treaty of 1947 which had guaranteed democratic freedoms to the Hungarian people, and to which the Soviet Union was a signatory. The Australian people showed their practical sympathy by organizing on a large scale voluntary relief, whilst- my Government made grants amounting to £130,000 and also immediate measures to arrange facilities for 10,000 refugees from Hungary to find permanent sanctuary 'in Australia.

That is a very pertinent statement and one to which the whole people of Australia give full and wholehearted support - except the Labour party in the House of Parliament in Canberra, which remains silent on it. I would have expected because of the date of the peace treaty - 1947 - that we would have heard from the man who at that time was playing a prominent part in the United Nations organization, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). It is the proud boast of honorable members opposite that the right honorable gentleman was the great leader of the free nations at that time, and, no doubt, he played some prominent part in this peace treaty that was established to give the people of Hungary freedom. The Soviet Union was a signatory to that treaty. Why did not the right honorable member for Barton, with his experience and with his record, make some mention of this dreadful state of affairs in Hungary during the course of his remarks last night? Why is it that we have not heard from the Labour party about this very prominent matter in world affairs? Why is it that we will not hear anything from the Labour party on this subject in the course of this debate? Because the Labour party is not game, if I may use a colloquialism, to come out and state where it stands; because it is divided through and through on this very issue. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) adopts one stand, and other members adopt another. Then there are the pleasers who do not know what to do and who are looking for a lead from their leader. But their leader had his opportunity last night - the first opportunity in this forum since the eventstook place in November last year - to state where the Labour party stands in relation to Hungary, and he failed dismally. He brushed it aside without a mention, becausehis party is split on this very issue; because portion of his party has its sympathieslying not with those in Hungary who have been denied freedom, but with those who have denied them freedom. That flat statement cannot be denied.

So I say this to honorable members opposite: If your leader will not speak oni this subject, let us hear you say how you stand on this matter. Do you approve of therefugees coming into Australia - these 1 0,000 people from Hungary who have beenoffered a home, a sanctuary and freedom in Australia? Are you for them or opposed" to them, these people who have flown from Soviet aggression? Do you approve of the donation of £130,000 by this Government for the support and relief of the people of Hungary? Have we heard of any Labour members, since we last met, supporting theappeals for relief that have been made by mayors and citizens in the various parts of Australia? Has the Labour party given alead on this? No, it has not. It does not want us to talk about it. It does not wantit mentioned because Labour is rent asunder on this very issue; because the aggressors in Hungary are the friends of the present leaders and controllers of the Labour party. And so honorable members opposite are silent on this very issue. We have listened toall this loose talk and to loose figures that have been brought forward as a smokescreento conceal the differences, the splits, and the chaos that exist within the Labour party, and the bitterness that is in the hearts of true, decent, old-time Labour people, whowill have nothing to do with democratic socialism, who will have nothing to do with communism, who will have nothing to do with rackets, but instead stand for the decent things in an old-time Labour way.

Mr Cope - Tell us about the rackets.

Mr PEARCE - The honorable member who interjects knows what I am talking about because he is one of the troubled people in the Labour party to-day; one of those who has no time for democratic socialism; one of those who has no time for communism or rackets; and he sits here in this place, knowing that the executive of the Labour party holds a mightly stick that it can use to beat people into submission if they say something which does not please the executive.

Mr Duthie - What do you know about it?

Mr PEARCE - The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asks what do 1 know about it. I have in my own electorate proof of the ruthlessness of the executive of the Labour party. After four or five attempts to enter Parliament, Mr. H. R. Gardiner finally managed to gain himself the Rockhampton seat in the State House. He had opposed me on several occasions, with the support of many members opposite, but had been unsuccessful. Finally, as I have said, he was elected to State Parliament as a member of the Australian Labour party.

Mr Curtin - How did he go out?

Mr PEARCE - I am coming to that. 1 regret that I do not think the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) will ever go out the same way. Mr. Gardiner went out because he had the courage to say that he would not let the Queensland central executive of the Australian Labour party bulldoze him. Because he, as a member of Parliament, stood on the dignity of his profession and opposed the junta that lives outside Parliament, the Labour party said. " You are immediately suspended from membership ". They bulldozed him ail right, and out he went. There he stands outside the pale. The whip was. brought down over his shoulder and he now cannot hope for Labour endorsement for the next election because his continuity of membership has been broken. When the preselection ballot is taken for the next election, he will not be able to stand because his continuity of membership will not have been two years. There he stands as a monument to the ruthlessness with which the Labour party deals with those who dare to oppose it. His crime was that as a member of Parliament in a democratic country he was determined not to be bulldozed by an outside junta. For that he got the sack.

So. sitting opposite me here now are members of the Labour party who have learnt a salutary lesson from the experience of the honorable member for Rockhampton in the Queensland Parliament. Because he has been suspended, because he has been thrown out of the party, because his political career has been wrecked by the leaders of the Labour party, there are people sitting opposite me in this Parliament who will stifle their consciences and hearts and will not say the things they know to be true. So I say that this matter of Soviet aggression in Hungary, and the help that this Government has given to the people of Hungary, internally, and by bringing many of them here to security, will bring forth not one word from the Opposition except perhaps from the honorable member for Yarra, who may attempt, to condone the attitude of the Soviet people, and who may attempt, as he has already done, to criticize the action of those Hungarians who tried to revolt against the Soviet regime. That is all that we shall hear of that. No other honorable member opposite is willing to come forward and support the actions of the people of Hungary.

The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pretends that he is one of the masters, but we know that his masters dictate the policies which he enunciates here and that all members of his party must fall into line with those policies, under threat of suspension or expulsion from the party and the wrecking of their careers. That is why we hear pitiful statements of the kind that we heard last night from the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I live in Queensland, where, because of the gerrymandering of electorates, the Labour party can continue in office although it receives only about 36 per cent, of the total number of votes cast at elections for the State Parliament. Labour has had a long, unbroken reign in Queensland. So while I listen here to what Labour says, I look to see what Labour does and has done in a State where it has had a long, unbroken reign.

Mr Duthie - A wonderful State!

Mr PEARCE - I agree with the honorable member for Wilmot that it is a wonderful State, but it is very badly governed, lt is a State where royal commissions are appointed to enquire into land rackets, where we hear of questionable tobacco deals and where we see a little pompous man stand up, as one did recently, and say, " I shall bring Chinese petrol into this State.

I am a great Labour leader, but I shall bring into Queensland petrol refined by Chinese coolies ".


Mr PEARCE - The honorable member does not like it. Nevertheless, the petrol that the Premier of Queensland proposed to bring into that State, to compete with petrol refined in Australia by Australian workers, was petrol refined by Chinese cooties, working for Chinese coolies' wages. That was the proposal of a so-called leader of a so-called working-class party. He puffed himself up and said, " I shall bring in Ping Pong petrol " - or whatever was the name of the Formosan petrol - " which has been refined by Chinese coolies to compete against petrol refined by Australians working in the refineries of Australia ". That is the sort of thing that goes on in Queensland.

Last night, the right honorable member for Barton complained about the building of service stations. He said, "That is drawing too much on our resources of manpower and building materials ". That was said by the Leader of the Labour party here, but in Queensland, where Labour rules, the Premier has said, in effect, " I am going to bring down to the State Parliament a bill to compel the thousands of service stations in this State to dig up their footpaths, pull down their existing bowsers, erect new bowsers and put in new tanks ". That would involve the oil industry in Queensland in the expenditure of, perhaps, another £2,000,000 on service stations. So we see the difference between what Labour says when not in office and what Labour does when in office. We witnessed last night the pitiful spectacle of Labour trying to lay a smoke-screen.

Now I want to refer to the development that is taking place in the northern part of Queensland, a subject to which His Excellency referred in the course of his Speech when he drew attention to the large finds of bauxite that have been made in the Cape York Peninsula and the large copper deposits that have been discovered in the north-west part of the State by the Mount Isa organization and other prospectors. The development of those discoveries and consequent major constructional works will revolutionize the economy of the whole of the north of Queensland. I hope that further discoveries will be made and that prospecting throughout Queensland will be encouraged. I am convinced that there are in that State large deposits of minerals, the presence of which can only be guessed at now. There devolves upon the Queensland Government a responsibility to become more active in this sphere, through its Mines Department, and to intensify the search for minerals in world demand. To my mind, there would be no quicker way to balance our trade with other countries than through a rapid expansion of our minerals industry and our mining industry.

Mr Wheeler - What is the situation in central Queensland?

Mr PEARCE - The honorable member for Mitchell has referred to central Queensland, where, at the moment, but little prospecting is encouraged. I am glad that the honorable member has reminded me of that part of Queensland. I believe that the failure of the Queensland Government to set up an efficient Mines Department is the reason why no real prospecting for minerals is going on in central Queensland. Although there are very large deposits of minerals there, most of them have yet to be found. There are large deposits of coal of world class. The coal-fields that were discovered recently in the Blackwater area, about 100 miles from the coast, contain an almost unbelievable quantity of coal, of a quality which compares favorably with that found in the Welsh coal-fields in the United Kingdom. As the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. lames) will agree, we have so much coal in Queensland that there is no prospect that we shall be able to use it all as fuel. We should be turning our minds to alternative uses for coal, instead of using it only as a fuel, as we have done in the past.

Mr Curtin - Who shot the Mayor of Rockhampton?

Mr PEARCE - My good friend from Kingsford-Smith should take a lesson from his experience. We should devote a considerable part of our thinking to the proper utilization of our coal deposits, not only in Queensland, but throughout Australia. I consider that there lies in our coal-fields a source of great wealth that could be exploited through the chemical industry. A great deal of work on that problem is being done in other parts of the world, and I believe that the experience gained there will serve as a useful guide to the future utilization of our coal deposits. As we develop our mineral resources in that way, we should use our imaginations and look far ahead to try to see what minerals will be used in the future and whether we can discover them in Australia. If we do that, we shall be doing a great national service.

I urge this Government to bring pressure to bear upon the State governments, through the Bureau of Mineral Resources, to intensify their search for minerals. The finding of deposits of bauxite and copper in the northern part of Queensland has been a godsend to this country, but I believe it is only an indication of the real wealth that we possess. If I had said this time last year that there were great deposits of minerals in the north of Queensland, probably my remarks would have been received by members of the Opposition with the guffaws with which they receive my statement now that there are still deposits of minerals to be discovered in this country that will make the recent finds in northern Queensland look very small.

I urge this Government to bring pressure to bear upon the State governments so that the search for minerals and oil in this country can be intensified, under a co-ordinated plan, and so that we can develop rapidly the gifts bestowed on us by a beneficent Nature. I should like this Government to approach the State governments so that we could have a co-ordinated developmental plan under which developmental projects would conform to some kind of pattern, and development could take place here and there as seasonal demands for workers lessened and labour became available. That could be done only by co-ordination. This Government has already approached the State Premiers to ask for their cooperation in that regard, but the Premiers have refused. I ask the Government not to be daunted by their refusal, but to go to the States again and ask them, in the interests of Australia, to bring about a coordinated developmental scheme that will benefit Australia.

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