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Wednesday, 12 October 1949


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lazzarini (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order ! The honorable member must deal with the Estimates now under consideration.


Mr ANTHONY - To show how the honorable member's intellectual honesty has deteriorated, I mention the fact that he referred to a booklet which, he said, had been issued by the Department of Labour and National Service. He went on to say that the booklet was so impartial that any government should be prepared to authorize its publication. However, he neglected to mention that in the foreword to the booklet, which was written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), the following statement appears: -

Even when Australia was in the grip of war, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, agreed with me that social security in the post-war era demanded a comprehensive social services programme. We felt that the misery and hardship of past years were things which Australia should never have to endure again.


Mr Calwell - "What is wrong with that?


Mr ANTHONY - Every line of it is Labour propaganda. Notwithstanding that fact, the honorable member for Fremantle endeavoured to persuade himself mid those who may have been listening to his speech that this booklet is a straightforward document and that thousands of copies of it should be printed at the expense, not of the Australian Labour party, but of the public. I understand that 1,000,000 copies of the booklet are on order with the printers. Apart from that, I want to show how the Australian Labour party has debased this booklet. A copy of the booklet which has been handed to me by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) who, like the honorable member for Fremantle, comes from. Western Australia, has plastered all over it the words, " Vote Labour. Webb for Swan ". We have been told that this booklet is not a propaganda document, that its printing involves a reasonable expenditure of government money, and that its contents would be endorsed by every right-thinking and fair individual in the community. Apparently the honorable member for Fremantle has slipped very greatly in the three short years of his membership of this Parliament.

The honorable member invoked the name of General Eisenhower, saying that, as president of the Columbia University, that distinguished gentleman had refused to accept funds from the United States Government for use by the university if such acceptance involved n. promise of secrecy in relation to any research work undertaken by the university. Those are not the facts. The honorable member for Fremantle deliberately clouded the issue. In ' the Melbourne Herald of the 6th June, 1949. the following paragraph appeared : -

Washington Wednesday. - Twenty lead ins educationists, including General Eisenhower,

Presidentof the Columbia University, and Mr. James B. Conant, President of Harvard, said to-day that Communists should be barred from thi: teaching profession ... It is because members of the Communist party are required to surrender the right to think for themselves as a consequence of becoming part of a movement characterized by conspiracy and calculated deceit that they _ should be excluded from employment as teachers.

Although the honorable member for Fremantle invoked the name of General Eisenhower, he omitted to mention those facts, of which I presume ho was aware.

The honorable gentleman spoke of young Kaiser. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has frequently assured the Parliament and the country that there is no need for us to worry about Communists in Australia having access to information about secret projects, and in his speech to-day he has given the committee assurance after assurance to that effect. He has said that we need not worry, because the screening authorities in Australia are so perfect and efficient that a Communist could not possibly get through the net. It required Mr. Kaiser himself, at a demonstration in London, to indicate that he had Communist sympathies. The assurances that the Minister gave us months ago, long before that demonstration occurred, have proved to be of no more value than other assurances that he has given us from time to time. The Minister's reputation in the Parliament is such that we on this side of the chamber cannot accept any assurance that he gives unless it is accompanied by documents that place the matter beyond any doubt. Although we have been told from time to time that there are no Communists in the employment of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as it was known at one time, they have come to light. I shall name one Communist, of whom the Minister has some knowledge, who was employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I refer to the notorious Mr. Rudkin, who was convicted during the war of treason. He endeavoured to impart military information to a foreign power. He served a term of six months imprisonment in a West Australian prison during the war, and after his release he was appointed, under the authority of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, to an important position in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Minister defended that appointment on every occasion when the matter was raised in the Parliament. He argued that Mr. Rudkin was employed in the forestry division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and that he could not in such employment possibly obtain ' information . about secret work. The Minister may not be aware that Mr. Rudkin has been endeavouring to secure employment in the physics laboratory of the University of Melbourne. In his application for employment he has doubtless referred to the fact that he was approved by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I shall say no more upon that subject. Although the Minister told us that he has not approved of the appointment of Communists, we have found Communists popping up in the departments for which he is responsible. The honorable gentleman told us that the noted Dr. Atcherley was not a Communist, but the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) produced evidence which showed that he was the secretary of the Canberra branch of the Communist party.


Mr Dedman - Does the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) suggest that Dr. Atcherley was employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research?


Mr ANTHONY - I do not say that he was employed by that organization. I say that the Minister repudiated the suggestion of the honorable member for Reid that Dr. Atcherley was a Communist and endeavoured to prove that the honorable gentleman had made a false assertion, but finally evidence was produced which showed that Dr. Atcherley was acting, under the very nose of the Government, as the secretary of the Canberra branch of the Communist party. In those circumstances, what confidence can we repose in statements by honorable gentlemen opposite that the Government is protecting the community against the infiltration of Communists into government departments?

The committee is considering the proposed vote for the Department of Trans port. That department is supposed to be engaged upon the standardization of railway gauges in Australia. I think that a sum of £200,000,000 was appropriated for that purpose four or five years ago. Not long ago, I asked the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) how many miles of railway line had been unified since the glorious plan of the Government was unfolded to the Parliament, and I was told that not one mile of railway line had then been unified. 1 sincerely hope that there is a much better fate in store for the Snowy Mountains scheme, which, on the eve of a general election, is being greatly publicized. It seems that man proposes, but that God, in His wisdom, disposes.


Mr Thompson - Sometimes it is the High Court.


Mr ANTHONY - I thank God that there is a High Court. I hope that the justices of the High Court will live to be very healthy old men. I am sure that the members of the Labour party are wishing them a very short period of life, so that the Government can pack the High Court Bench.

The criticisms that have been directed by honorable members on this side of the chamber against the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have not been concerned with the work of the organization but with Communist infiltration into it. I have never criticized the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in respect of the work that it is doing or the work that it is not doing. The criticism that I now propose to offer relates to the failure of the Government to provide sufficient money for the extension and development of the organization.


Mr Calwell - Is the honorable gentleman complaining that there is not enough socialization ?


Mr ANTHONY - We do not want socialization. We require scientific research work to be undertaken so that private industry may take advantage of it and use it for the development of Australia in a proper manner. Canada is one of the strongholds of private enterprise in the British Commonwealth

According to a document that was presented to the Canadian Parliament with the Canadian budget papers, in 1948-49 the Canadian Government expended 4S,000,000 dollars upon national scientific research. That sum is probably the equivalent of approximately £20,000,000 Australian. Although the Canadian Government has expended £20,000,000 in a year upon scientific and industrial research, the Australian Government is prepared to make only £2,000,000 available this year for that purpose. There are many jobs that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization could do that it is not doing.


Mr George Lawson - What was done by the Government of which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was a supporter?


Mr ANTHONY - It founded the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) apparently belongs to the school of thought that expects to finish where it should begin. There would be no development if theories of that kind were adopted throughout the world. The Government of which I. was a member established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and laid the foundations of most of the work for which this Government is now claiming the credit. On the north coast of New South Wales there are many noxious weeds that the landholders themselves cannot possibly control or eradicate, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization could do some experimental work in that connexion, but, po far as I know, it has not done so. Nothing has been done in connexion with hemp, which is fast invading some of our best land there. Very little has been done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in relation to the deficiencies of the soil along the coastal areas of New South Wales. The organization has one man at the experimental farm at Wallambah, but he has not yet submitted a report.

I believe that in many instances the Government is not paying adequate salaries to its scientific and industrial research workers. The Commonwealth and the States are losing some of their host scientists to other countries because of the low salaries that they offer. The honorable member for Brisbane knows that Dr. Young, who is well known to many members of the committee, is now employed by the Government of Ceylon.


Mr Beazley - He was employed by a State authority.


Mr ANTHONY - That is so, but the salaries that are paid by Commonwealth and State departments have a certain relationship. If the Commonwealth were to increase the salaries of its scientific workers, the State governments would be forced to follow suit. Mr. Lewcock, one of the most noted scientists in Queensland, is now employed in South Africa to advise upon agricultural problems there. Many of our scientists have been badly treated. Recently, I spoke to a man who has spent eighteen years of his life in a Government department. He is a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Master of Agricultural Science. After eighteen years of service his salary is less than £500 a year. That man is employed by a State authority, but the salaries that are paid by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are similar to those that are paid by State authorities, although they may be a little higher. I suggest to the Government and to those who are responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that the time has come to review the salaries of our scientists, especially those of the top-grade men who are now being attracted elsewhere. We must expend more money upon research and the development of scientific techniques. At the present time almost every branch of trade and industry in Australia is confronted with problems that can only hesolved with the assistance of scientific investigations. What can we hope to achieve on a budget of £2.000,000 ? The reports that are issued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization reveal that the work of the organization covers many fields, but there is still much to be done.

I am a practical farmer. I study the reports that are issued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other scientific bodies and try to make sense of them. I consider that the Commonwealth Scientific; and Industrial Research Organization should publish its findings in such a manner as will enable them to be understood by the ordinary man on the land, who has to give effect to them. As far as I am able to judge, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research adopted the view that once it completed an investigation, its responsibility in the matter ended, and that State Departments of Agriculture should distribute the information among interested sections of primary producers. I did not 'agree with that view. I have always believed that, from beginning to end, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, now the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, should conduct investigations and give the widest possible publicity to its findings and recommendations. The problem of hemp which is most serious in the coastal areas of New South Wales and Queensland, must be solved. This plant pest is rapidly enveloping thousands of acres, and farmers, with their present knowledge and facilities, are unable to control it. They urgently require financial and scientific assistance from the Commonwealth to enable them to maintain production in those areas. If the Government adopts a passive attitude towards that problem, our production of food, especially in the dairying districts, will further decline.

The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has defended the screening methods that are employed to exclude Communists from the staff' of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I wonder whether the honorable gentleman's attention has been drawn to the report of a meeting of the Sydney University Labour Club some time ago, at which some 200 students protested against the dismissal from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Mr. Kaiser, who had participated in a Communist demonstration in London. The report states that a Dr. Makinson, lecturer in physics, said -

America is endeavouring to dictate our internal policy.

I.   do not assume that Dr. Makinson is a member of the staff of the Commonwealth. Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but I point out that thestatement which he made is very much on> the Communist line. Some 200 studentsof the university supported the motion of." protest.


Mr Dedman - What has that to db> with the Commonwealth ?







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