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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- 1 join with honorable members on this side of the chamber who have expressed grave concern about the clause under discussion. I was particularly impressed by the comments of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) earlier in the debate when he cited figures of the call-ups and exemptions in country areas as compared with the city. Those figures certainly showed that the dice was loaded against people in industry under the legislation introduced by the Government, lt is significant that the Australian Country party has sprung to the support of the Government on this issue. Well it might, Mr. Chairman, if you, as a member of the Australian Country party, will allow me to criticize it, because undoubtedly this exemplifies the pressure applied on the Government by the small number of Australian Country party members in the Parliament in order to have this clause inserted.

The clause is unjust and unfair, lt means that men from industrial areas, simply because they live in the city, will be called up in numbers many times greater than those in country areas. As the honorable member for Wills said earlier, why should a person, who resides a few miles from a training centre in the country, at this stage when we have jet-propelled aeroplanes, atomic bombs, nuclear research and other things, be exempt, whilst a city man living in, say, Newtown, East Sydney or some other place will be called up to fulfil his responsibilities? A few moments ago the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) gave flimsy excuses for this provision. Many persons in one-man businesses in the city area are equally as important as men on farms in country districts. This measure is loaded against people in the city areas. The Minister said that there are no facilities for training in country areas. The Government has had £1,250,000,000 of the taxpayers' money which it could use to establish training centres in country areas. If the Government can afford to provide training facilities in congested city areas, surely it is not too much to expect that some money will be spent in rural centres in order that country dwellers will not receive exemptions that do not apply to people in the industrial areas. The Government deserves to be condemned on this issue. If anything is needed to show the power wielded by a small section of the Government - the Australian Country party - it is this provision. The Country party has forced upon the Government a concession which will give pleasure to the " squattocracy " of this country which dominates honorable members who sit in the corner of this Parliament known as " possum paddock ". Undoubtedly, Mr. Chairman, this shows the power of the Country party. The Minister's explanation is not satisfactory and should be looked upon with suspicion by members on this side of the House. 1 was very interested in the comments made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) about the conducting of the ballots. Who will be there to see that every name goes into the hat? We have all been in country hotels and heard of the old game of " crow ". The fellow who draws " crow " is the one who shouts, but, of course, his is the only name that goes into the hat. How do we know that this will not happen in these ballots? How do we know that all the names will go into the ballot? How do we know that the Country party members will not use their influence to have only the names of Labour party sympathizers put in to the ballot? These things require investigation, lt is all very well to say that they will not happen. This is an atomic age; anything can happen. The Opposition is not convinced that every name will go into the hat. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) smiles. He will not be in the ballot, because his birthday was far too soon. The fact remains that there is a case to be made against the conduct of ballots.

I heard an honorable member from South Australia say, last week, that this was a national service training scheme and that success at a ballot would afford a man an opportunity not only to serve his country, but also to become fit and well. But what about the man who is not successful in a ballot? Is he just to fade away?

These ballots require investigation. 1 know that the Minister's offer to permit a member of the Opposition to be present at the ballots is genuine, but that does not mean that his successor in office will agree to that. Unless it is in the act in black and white, there will be no guarantee that the spirit implied by the Minister will be put into effect.

This ballot legislation seems a fantastic way of administering a great defence scheme. It proves that the Government is barren of ideas in its endeavour to obtain 12,000 men. I believe that a complete investigation should be made of this system before giving effect to it. Along with other members of the Opposition I am not convinced that it will be administered in the interests of the people. There is no assurance that all names will go into the hat, or that the persons whose names are drawn out of the hat will be those who will serve. It is all right for the Australian Country party to pooh-pooh the idea. Australian Country party members will all be satisfied with the system, because only one in every 50,000 of their constituents will ever have to handle a rifle - that is, if this Government ever gives them one. Therefore, I think the House should look very carefully at this measure.

In the clause under discussion there are a number of loopholes. As the honorable member for East Sydney pointed out, in the view of the Government, courtcontrolled ballots and secret ballots are necessary in trade unions in order to see that irregularities do not occur. If the Government wants those safeguards in other spheres of activity, we on this side of tha House are only being consistent in asking the Government to apply the same principles to this legislation.

I conclude these few constructive comments by saying to the Government that it should review this measure. There is general dissatisfaction, even amongst Government supporters, with these clauses.

That is apparent from the speeches that have been made. It is clear that Government supporters were not given an opportunity to discuss these provisions, because, if they had, ineffective clauses such as the one now before us would not have been included. The measure cannot bear the light of day. It should be fully investigated.

I hope that the Government will review this clause and that it will not persist in deferring to members of the Australian Country party, dependent though it is upon them at the present time. Privileges which are not available to other members of the community should not be given to country dwellers. This type of legislation causes general dissatisfaction because it places the full responsibility for the defence of this country on people who live in industrial areas such as that which I represent. I hope that the Government will review completely this portion of the legislation, because it reflects little credit on the Government. It is sectional legislation of a kind that should not be introduced into this Parliament.

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