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Tuesday, 21 June 1949

Mr Lang g asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

1.   Will he furnish a return of (a) the total amount spent from the 1st January, 1946, to the 1st June, 1949, by the Department of Immigration, on assisted migration, showing separately (i) British; (ii) displaced persons; and (iii) other persons, including cost of administration, selection, publicity, maintenance, placement, provision of accommodation, training, transport and medical attention?

2.   How many immigrants have been brought into Australia during the same period, showing separately (a) British, (b) displaced persons and (c) other persons?

Mr Calwell - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   Owing to the extreme pressure of work in my department I do not feel that it would be warranted, in view of the time involved, to take officers off more important duties to prepare the detailed information sought over the periods mentioned. However, I invite the. honorable member's attention to the Treasurer's printed Statement of Receipts and Expenditure which is presented each year when bringing down the budget and to the printed Estimates, from a perusal of which he will be able to obtain in general form the. information he seeks.

2.   The number of permanent arrivals in Australia during the period the 1st January, 1946,. to the 31st March, 1949 - the latest date for which the figures compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician are available - are as under -



Mr Chifley y. - On the 18th May, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) asked whether any date had been fixed for the commencement of operation of the increases of allowances paid to the wives and children of certain pensioners, also whether the increases would be applied immediately or whether they depended upon the passage of appropriate legislation by both Houses of Parliament. Further to my reply to the honorable member on that date, I am now able to advise that a bill to amend the Social Services Consolidation Act to provide for increases payable to the wives and the children of invalid pensioners from £1 to £1 4s. per week and from 5s. to 9s. per week, respectively, will be introduced at an early date. It is hoped that the amending legislation will be passed by the Parliament and assented to in time to permit payment of the increases to be made available on the 30th June, 1949.

Broadcasting : Electoral and Controversial Sessions; Fees and Charges; Australian Broadcasting Control Board; Victorian Legislative Council Election.

Mr Calwell l. - On the 14th June, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked whether the Parliament would be informed concerning the conditions and rules that are likely to govern broadcasts of a controversial nature during the next federal election and whether the rules would apply equally to national and commercial stations. The Postmaster-General has now supplied the following information : -

Under section6k of the Australian Broadcasting Act 1942-1948, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is required to ensure that facilities are provided on an equitable basis for the broadcasting of political or controversial matter. In this connexion the board is thoroughly investigating this question with a view to determining the conditions which should apply to the broadcasting of political and controversial matter. In pursuance of the relevant provisions of the act, the board has already had discussions with representatives of commercial broadcasting stations concerning the problem. Parliament will be informed of any decisionsreached by the board in thisregard. Under sub-section 89 (1) of the act, the Australian Broadcasting Commission determines to what extentand in what manner political speeches or any matter relating to a political or controversial subject may be broadcast from national broadcasting stations, subject only to the restrictions imposed by sub-sections 89 (2.) and (3.) on the broadcasting of political matter during the two days preceding a federal or State election and the dramatization of political matter. Consequently, any conditions imposed by the board on commercial stations willnot apply to the commission.

Mr Calwell - On the 10th June, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) asked a series of questions concerning licence-fees for commercial broadcasting stations, and the annual cost of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In my reply, after disposing of the questions on the first subject, I undertook to furnish for his information an estimate of the annual cost of the board. In this connexion, I am informed that the board, which commenced operations on the 15th March, 1949, has submitted estimates for 1949-50 which suggest that its annual expenditure will be in the region of £125,000. This expenditure will be offset by savings which will be effected by the Post Office as the result of the transfer of certain of its broadcasting functions and several of its officers to the board. The board's staff at present is comprised almost entirely of officers of the Postmaster-General's Department previously engaged on broadcasting duties.

Mr Calwell l. - On the 15th June the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) asked the following questions concerning a broadcast by the Premier of Victoria which was to take place over seventeen commercial broadcasting stations in that State on the night of the 16th June: -

(a)   Can he say how many commercial stations there are in Victoria and whether the whole of the commercial network in Victoria is to be reserved for the purpose of the, broadcast?

(b)   Will he consult the Broadcasting Control Board to see if equal facilities have been granted to the leaders of the Country party and the Labour party for a similar State-wide hookup?

(c)   Canhe say what the cost of the broadcast will be and who will pay for it?

The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -

(a)   Excluding a station which operates for restricted hours outside normal periods of operation, there are eighteen commercial broadcasting stations in Victoria, all except one of which were included in the network broadcasting the speech of the Premier of Victoria.

(b)   No similar network was arranged for the leaders of the Country party or the Labour party.

(c)   No information is available as to the cost of the broadcast.

The Postmaster-General has informed me that, having regard to its statutory obligation to ensure that facilities are provided on an equitable basis for the broadcasting of political and controversial matter, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is thoroughly investigating the whole question of political broadcasts with a view to determining the conditions which should apply to the broadcasting of political and controversial matter.

Mr Bowden (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   What investigation, if any, has the Government made of international currency manipulations associated with heavy Russian purchases of Australian wool during the past year?

2.   Did Russia purchase over 23,000,000 lb. of Australian wool between February and October, 1948?

3.   Is there any evidence that Russia used free or black market sterling to pay for such wool?

4.   Is there any evidence that Russia used dollar credits in the United States of America to buy sterling on the continent at free market rates ?

5.   Were anyback-door deals made with Egypt and other countries having heavy transferable sterling accounts with the Bank of England for which they want dollars?

6.   Has the Australian Embassy reported that two-thirds of the Australian wool shipped to the United States of America last September came from Continental ports?

7.   What other European countries have been engaged in soft-hard currency manipulations with respect to Australian wool purchases, what was their nature and what steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence?

Mr CHIFLEY (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) y. - The information is being sought and replies will be furnished as soon as possible.

Primary Production.

Mr.Ryan asked the Minister for Com merce and Agriculture, upon notice -

1.   What are Australia's production figures for such primary produce as milk, butter, cheese, wheat, wool, eggs, lamb, pork and rice?

2.   How do these compare with the production figures during the last three pre-war years ?

3.   How much of Australia's primary produce is available for (a) export and (6) local requirements?

4.   Have Australian food requirements increased since the end of the war? 5.If so, what action has the Government taken to meet the new requirements, apart from plans to develop the Northern Territory?

Mr Pollard d. - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The production of the items specified in the last three pre-war years and in the latest year - 1947-48 - for which official statistics are available from the Commonwealth Statistician have been as follows: -


3.   The quantity of primary produce available for export in any one fiscal year is the surplus production over Australian domestic consumption in that year. This proportion varies from product to product and from year to year according greatly to seasonal conditions and it is not possible to give any stable annual figure of overall quantities, values or percentages.

4.   It is difficult to accurately gauge Australian consumption of many food items, but the indications are that generally our domestic food requirements have increased since the war and will continue to increase as our population grows. I refer the honorable member to a publication entitled Report on Food Production and the Consumption of Foodstuffs and Nutrients in Australia No. 3 (1947-48) which has been prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician and is available at the Parliamentary Library.

5.   The Commonwealth Government has no constitutional powers over primary production in the States. However, in consultation with State governments through the medium of the Australian Agricultural Council every encouragement and in some cases, financial assistance is given to achieve the maximum production of marketable primary products within the limits of available resources. The war service land settlement scheme provides an instance of co-ordinated Commonwealth and State efforts directed towards the intensification of primary production in Australia.

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