18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 10.90 a.m., and read prayers.
Visit op Sib Thomas Blamey - Mb. H. G. Alderman.
– In view of the fact thai Sir Thomas Blarney’s visit to Japan waa arranged by the Department of External Affairs, and that his fares were paid by the Government, will the Prime Minister say- whether the same arrangements have been made for those who accompanied him? Is it a fact, as reported, - that Mr. H. G. Alderman, K.O., was sent with Sir Thomas Blarney as a special representative of the Government to attend to his public relations? If Mr. Alderman did not go in that capacity, was he given any credentials by the Government, and has he been authorized to enter into any negotiations while in Japan for the purchase or acquisition of any broadcasting stations, air lines, or other commercial enterprises or agencies on behalf of the Government or the Australian Labour party? Is the Government paying Mr. Alderman’s fares, and is he in receipt of any retainer by the Government in connexion with the visit?
– I was informed that it was indicated in a newspaper article that Mr. Alderman was to accompany Sir Thomas Blarney to Japan. Sir Thomas Blarney went to Japan at the invitation of the Commander-in-Chief, General MacArthur. Sir Thomas Blarney was formerly Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army, and General MacArthur invited him, as an act of courtesy, to visit Japan. I understand that the opportunity will be taken to discuss various matters while he is there. Accordingly, arrangements were made for him to visit Japan, and for Colonel Dwyer to accompany him. I saw a statement in a newspaper that Mr. Alderman was accompanying Sir. Thomas Rlamey. I had no knowledge of any such arrangement,either as Prime Minister or Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, but I assumed that it was only natural that the press should know more of the matter than I did I made some inquiries, however; and learned that Mr. Alderman knew nothing about it either, apart from the newspaper report. Therefore, the answers to the honorable member’s questions are that no arrangements were made for Mr. Alderman to go to Japan; Mr. Alderman has not gone to Japan ; Mr. Alderman did not accompany General Blarney; and, therefore, he has received no commission or retainer to inquire’ into anything in Japan.
– -Recently, I drew attention to a statement made by a member of the Queensland executive of the Communist party that Australian Communists would fight on the side of the Soviet Union if Australia were involved in a war between Russia and the Western Powers. The Prime Minister undertook to have inquiries made by the Acting Attorney-General. I remind the Prime Minister that shorthand notes were taken of the speech. As it is important that action be taken promptly because of the special circumstances in which the subversive statement was made, can the Prime Minister say what action he proposes to take, and what recommendation he has received from the Acting AttorneyGeneral ?
-When replying to another question asked on this subject in the House last week I indicated that the’ matter would be referred to the Acting AttorneyGeneral for inquiry and report. I understand that a report will he available to the Acting Attorney-General either to-day or to-morrow and after he has received it and studied it I have no doubt that be will make a recommendation. I am not in a position to furnish thehonorable member with any additional information at present;but the House will be advised ofanyrecommendation made.
– In connexion with the action proposed to he taken to stabilize, the wheat industry, it has- been rumoured that farmers will receive only 6s. 3d. a bushel at Australian ports for all wheat sold overseas. My interpretation of the proposed plan is that while we have guaranteed 6s. 3d. a bushel to the fawners, irrespective ofwhat price is received is Australian wheat should realize prices in excess of that figure they will receive the full benefit of the guaranteed price, plus the profit made at a result of such higher prices, during the currency of the plan. I should be glad if the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture would explain to the House the exact provisions of the scheme.
– There is no truth whatsoever in the rumour mentioned by thehonorablemember for Riverina. The position is perfectly clear, and the system that has hitherto’ operated’ will continue. In all cases where the guaranteed price is exceeded, the proceeds from external and internal sales will be equalized, and the farmers will receive the additional amount. The guaranteed price of 6s. 3d. a bushel is related to the index figure f or the cost of production.In some cases it may be substantially more than 6s.3d should the cost of production rise. In the event of the export price falling below 6s. 3d., in association with the index figure for the cost of production: the farmer will receive from the Commonwealth the price guaranteed as ascertained in association wilh the index figure for the cost of production. It would take a considerable time to explain complete details of the plan.I do not desire to intrude on the patience of honorable members, for I think that all intelligent people fully understand the position. It is quite clear that the farmer will receive the benefits of any prices received in excess of the guaranteed price as a result of overseas sales.
Mr.H A MILTON. - Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the switchover to frequency modulation will cost ai least £5,000,000 in the next five years? “Will he say also whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which has a monopoly of frequency modulation, cannot now, from ‘licence-fees, meet its current expenditure, and that the cost of the ‘change-over to frequency modulation will be met, probably, by direct government payments, ‘and increased wireless, licence-fees? If so, in view of the urgent -need for greater economies to be -effected in Commonwealth expenditure, and the desirability of devoting all available -moneys to ‘Schemes of national development, -will the Prime Minister ‘defer any ‘further action in this regard? There is no demand in Australia at the present -time for ‘frequency modulation broadcasting.
– The question comes most appropriately from a member of the- “.hill-billy “ party. The Government will not stand in the way .of progress, and any developments in technique or improvements in the .method of broadcasting .will be placed at the service of the .Australian people, to their advantage. Frequency modulation is not an experimental process any longer in the .United .States of America or Great Jiri tam, nor is .television facsimile broadcasting. .Progress is being made in all those fields, .and the Government considers that the Australian people should have the benefit of the developments .as they become available. All that we are doing .is to ensure -that the developments shall be utilized .to ;the best -possible advantage. This Government always acts in the national interest in everything that it does, and in the matter of broadcasting, we consider that it is more important that the people should have service than that some other people should have the advantage of exploiting the product of the inventive genius of mankind for their own particular benefit. Contrary to the best advice of men like the former Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, Sir Harry Brown, certain people in the past were given opportunities to invade the public domain in broadeasting to make profits from it. The
Government desires to produce order out of chaos, and, therefore, is pursuing itf present .policy.
– I ask the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture .to inform me whether it is a fact, as reported in the Tasmanian press thi, week, that Mr. Manuel Alzate, ‘.ConsulGeneral for the Philippines, who is at present in Tasmania, has indicated thai he would have little difficulty in obtaining an order for 500,000 cases of Tasmanian apples? If so, can the Minister indicate -whether any negotiations have been conducted by Australian trade commissioners regarding trade with the Philippines? If any such negotiations have been conducted recently, can the Minister indicate the nature and result of them”?
-. - I have not seen the statement :to which .the honorable .member has preferred. ‘Our trade commissioners from time to time endeavour to facilitate and develop our trade with the Philippines as well as with other countries. The Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board would deal with any order for the supply -of Tasmanian apples ‘to -the .Philippines. I shall make inquiries, and endeavour to obtain th, information ‘that the honorable -member seeks.
l-Mrs. BLACKBURN”.- Will th, Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral examine the claims for improved conditions which are now being put forward “by junior postal officers? Does he “know that such claims include adult suffrage at eighteen years of age, full cost-of-living adjustments in respect of all age salaries payable to employee? below th.e age of eighteen years, and an increase of away-from-home salaries to £208 per annum? ls it .true .that the rates of pay of these young workers are inferior to those .received by juniors .in other .branches of employment, and doe* this condition of affairs drive young workers away from the Common-wealth Public Service?
– I shall answer the question that the honorable member for Bourke has asked, because it relates to a matter within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board, which is administeredby the Prime Minister’s Department. The honorable member referred to the salaries and working conditions of officers in the lower grades of the Public Service, especially those in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. She will recall that some time ago the Public Service Arbitrator made an award applicable to officers in the higher divisions of the Public Service, particularly the third division. Numbers of requests have been received for a reconsideration of salaries of employees in the fourth division, particularly in the Postmaster-General’s Department. I have discussed the matter with the Public Service Board which is dealing with it on behalf of the Government, and I have been informed that certain consultations will take place in the near future. I assure the honorable member that the matter is now being examined by the Public Service Board.
Registration - Mr. Lars Gustav Brundahl
– I ask the Minister for Immigration how many aliens have registered under the Aliens Registration Act? How many aliens have refused to register; and what action does he intend to take against those who have refused to register?
– I am not able, off- hand, to give the number of aliens who have registered ; but most aliens, I think, haveobeyed the law. There are some who have not obeyed the law, and they will be prosecuted. The first prosecution will be launched against Lars Gustav Brundahl, who has failed to register, and whose contempt for the law is quite notorious. He has been 32 years in this country, and he has never tried to become naturalized. He has failed to obey the law recently enacted. He will receive a summons, and he can explain to the court why he has not registered. He might also tell the court what his real nationality is; and that might help in other directions.
– I refer to the arrangement that has been made between the British and French Governments to abolish vises for British subjects travelling to France on British passports. Is the Prime Minister aware that although Australians are British subjects and travel on British passports they still have to obtain vises, because Australia has failed to make a corresponding arrangement with the French Government or to participate in the British scheme ? “Why was this not done? Will the Prime Minister take steps to rectify the position so that Australian passports will be worth the paper they are written on?
– The Minister for Immigration will answer the question.
– I wish the honorable member for Parramatta had seen me before he asked his question.I could have put him on the right track. Agreement has been reached between the British Government and the governments of a number of other countries to abolish vises. The Australian Government was asked to do the same thing. We have refused to abolish them for the time being because the issue of a vise to a person who possesses a passport gives us at any rate some check for security purposes. In the present disturbed condition of the world we like to know who is coming into this country from abroad We think that we shall be better able to protect the interests of Australia if our consular or diplomatic representatives have an opportunity to keep a check upon the people who want to come here.
– The British Govern ment did not think that it was necessary to continue the issue of vises.
– The views of the British Government and the Australian Government are not necessarily the samp upon all questions. Security may not be as vital to Britain, having regard to its geographical position, as it is to us, with our wide open spaces, experiments on the guided weapons range, and other circumstances. We have to weigh, first the claims of the travelling public who are generally wealthy people with plenty of time on their hands and ability to move around without difficulty, and, secondly, the claims of the security of the nation. Whilst world conditions continue to be unsettled, we think that the security of the nation should be given first con- sideration. The time may come when we shall be able to abolish vises, but we do not propose to do so at present. It may be some years before we can do what is suggested. The obtaining of a vise does not involve any serious inconvenience. Some people have gone from Britain to Switzerland without obtaining vises and as a result have experienced some difficulty, but if they had gone to the Swiss Consul-General in London and obtained vises from him they would have encountered no difficulty. I am sorry if the honorable member for Parramatta suffered any personal inconvenience whilst he was abroad, but he will agree chat the claims of the nation are greater than those of any individual member of it.
Proposed Government Line
– I am very interested in the establishment of an Australian Government shipping line. Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government has decided to establish such a shipping line, to include all ships at the present time owned by the Australian Government and chartered to private companies? If a government shipping line is to be established, will it be administered by a commission, and will its fleet consist only of cargo vessels or will it also include passenger vessels which will call at overseas ports?
-There has been a great deal of comment in the newspapers regarding the possibility of the Australian Government engaging in shipping operations. I told the ship-owners some years ago that the Government would probably decide to continue to conduct a shipping line. The questions which were being discussed at that time were the building of ships in Australia and the type of engines with which they should be fitted. There was no secrecy about the matter at all. It would pro bably be correct to say that, in general, the Government’s proposals cover the matters to which the honorable member for Wilmot has referred. It would, however, be much better if I furnished a statement setting out those proposals in detail. Final decisions have not yet been taken in regard to certain matters of administration, but in general, it canbe said that the Government proposesto conduct shipping operations with shipsat present owned by it and, at a later date probably with ships built inGovernment shipyards. The shipping industry has known that for years, because I conveyed the information to the shipowners when I discussed with them the question of building ships in Australia.
– One of the itemson the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly at Paris which commenced yesterday, reads -
Violation by the Union of SovietSocialist Republics of fundamental human rights traditional diplomatic practices and other principles of the Charter.
I ask the Prime Minister whether Australia’s representative at this meeting, the Minister for External Affairs has been instructed how to vote on this item. If so, how will he vote, and if not, willhe vote at all or abstain from voting?
– Qui te a number of matters will come before the General Assembly at Paris, and I do not think that anything can be gained by discussing them at length now. No good purpose can be served by blathering while negotiations are proceeding. There are far too many blatherers in the world to-day. The Minister for External Affairs and I have discussed with representatives of other countries, not only the question of human rights, which the honorable member for New England rightly raises, as a matter of great importance to the world, but also other matters associated with it, including human liberty and. the application of democratic practices.
– Do the rights of human beings vary in different countries?
– I do: not suggest’ chat they- do, but: the- application of demo,cratic practices- generally is closely,’ associated with, human rights, and. unless- the. political administration of a. country is-, benevolent, proper respect: for.’ humanrights’ cannot be. expected.. Ho.wever,. that raises many other issues:. /Ifr; Anthony interjecting’,
– Order 1 The Prime Minister must, be heard without interruption.
– All I can say to the honorable member, for New England at present is that I do not consider that it is advisable to discuss these matters at length now. I remind him, however, that no man in the world has stood more strongly than has the Australian Minister for External Affairs’ foi: human, rights and liberty, and the application of democratic practices.
– Put what is this Government’s attitude?
– Rather than, take- up the time of the House by discussing this matter further, I shall have, a detailed statement prepared for- the honorablemember.
Aircraft Engineer’s Licence of- Mb. J. E! Wood
Mr- WHITE. - According to press reports, an aircraft engineer, named’ James Edgar Wood, has claimed that Mr. C. H. Campbell, an alleged Communist and a director of Asian Airlines Proprietary Limited, who recently bought’ nine Catalina aircraft from the Governs ment, threatened’ to report Mr. Wood to the- Minister for1 Civil Aviation and to’ request that his engineer’s certificate and1 licence- Be cancelled because he had’ refused to “‘sign out “ one of the Catalinas: I ask: the Minister whether Mr. Campbell has’ interviewed him or communicated, with him on this matter? Has- Mr; Wood’s- licence been suspended;’ if: so, why?
– T read with, interest’ the report upon which the honors able member has based his question. I have never met Mr. Campbell. L do- not know him,, and; so: far as I am. aware, he- hass never, approached, either myself, or my department om matters of. the> kind mentioned, in. the prem. report’..
Kr. White; - W as’ Mr. Wood’s- license cancelled ?
– Tam endeavouring to answer as clearly as possible the numerous questions asked by the honorable member. I have given the assurance that I do not know Mr. Campbell’, and: that, so far as I am aware, he has never approached me or my department. There i”s no truth in the suggestion that I’ might secure the cancellation of Mr. Wood’*licence. The Department of Civil Aviation has a responsibility to the public to ensure that trained engineers are capable of performing their work, in an efficient manner. If Wood has been proved to have done his work in an inefficient manne] the suspension of his certificate will have been fully justified. However, as this matter is one on which a decision hae been reserved by the tribunal inquiring into it, I do not wish to pass judgment on the matter at all. Wood’s work was brought under the notice of the proper authorities. He was suspended and exercised his right to appeal. The appeal was heard and a decision was reserved. Probably the honorable’ member will have- his’ curiosity satisfied, when, the decision is announced..
– Does the Prime Minister still’ maintain, as he has done previously, that the Government’s refusal to- pay 3s. a’ day subsistence allowance- to former- Australian prisoners of war for the period in which they were in captivity, was arrived at as- a result off a vote in thuchamber? TC not, is he- prepared, to give this House an opportunity to. vote on the question, of making such payments? Further, in, view of the- amount to the, credit of the Wai: Damage: Insurance Fund, at the Prime Minister’s- disposal, is he. favorable to the.- appointment of an. allparty committee to- investigate- whethersuch ai payment should be made to former prisoners of war. from- that source 01 some other source,! and to> report to> tha Parliament.?
– -This subject was debated, om an adjournment motion, sometime, last, year in this House. On. that, occasion, the- decision . of the Government, was* made” perfectly clear- and. L ex. plained that the? matter, of special payments to former prisoners of war, having, due regard, to- the gallantry they displayed and the sacrifices that, they made m behalf of the country, was a matter which applied to former prisoners of war of “Australia and also of our allies, and not :n- respect of World War II. but also of World. War- 1.. I made it- clear, that any. action to make such payments- to former prisoners -of Avar would require to-be on. auniform basis among the. allies: None of i ihe. other countries with which: we- were. Allied have.- considered that such payments were warranted. Because of that fact, the Government, cannot entertain the claim and its previous decision still stands. I do not propose to re-open th, question
– Can- the Prime Minister inform me whether, as the’ press stated recently, Army head-quarters has asked unit. commanding officers in the Citizen. Military Forces to cadge-free recruiting publicity in newspapers, shop windows and from radio stations? If so, vill the right honorable gentleman explain why the: present Commonwealth Advertising Division of the. Treasury, which is conducting a. national advertising campaign, cannot finance the whole campaign? Does not the Minister consider that it would be preferable to authorize the- expenditure’ by* commanding.- officers- of a stated amount for this important purpose instead, of requiring- them to spend valuable time in. soliciting free advertising and creating the- impression-, that the- recruiting, campaign is being, carried out “on the cheap.”?
– I have- heard nothing’ of the1 suggestion made by the honorable member; and all I can say is that .apparently some unit’ commanding officers take advantage of local circumstances in order to prevail upon persons to* assist them to obtain recruits. It is quite a common practice.’ throughout, the country for, persons > engaged in. patriotic,, charitable, andi other organizations to. solicit publicity from, proprietors oi newspapers,-, motion, picture- theatres’ and business> houses- in order to obtain Sup port for their, organization. No request has- been: made. to me. as. Treasurer t< provide additional funds from the advertising division, of the Treasury- ii» order to stimulate recruiting, and from the discussions which I have had wit the chiefs of the armed services I gathethat the only factors which are restrict ing the attainment of” their objectives, are limitations imposed1 by purely physicacircumstances. However, I shall have inquiries made into the - matters mentioned by the honorable member ii. order to ascertain whether there’ isi am need. to. provide additional funds.
– Although the question which 1 am about to ask of the Ministerepresenting the Postmaster-General har been raised on a number of previous occasions, telephone subscribers, inclu-ing myself, are intrigued by the continued failure of the Minister or the Postal Department to furnish ai. authoritative answer. The question which I ask the Minister is: When * telephone call which is made through either a manual or an automatic exchangefails to effect a connexion with the subscriber called, either because the number is engaged or because of some other reason, is a charge made against the sub-‘ scriber who makes the call?
– T shall ask. m. colleague the Postmaster-General t<furnish an answer to the intriguingquestion of the honorable member, anc I shall communicate the reply to him a1 soon, as it. is received!
– The question! which l am about’ to ask’ the Minister for Commerce and: Agriculture’ is founded upon; a. report” which appeared in a Queensland newspaper about a. week ago to the effect that the National Security Regulation,which controlled the appraisal of tobacco, have been repealed and thetobacco grown in. North Queensland1 during last season can now be sold literally on the open market. As the Minister is aware, approximately 90 per cent, of the Australian tobacco crop had to be sold by the growers under strict government supervision. Can the Minister explain why the balance of the crop, which was grown in an electorate that is represented in the Parliament by a Minister >f the Crown has been left free-
– That is a rotten insinuation.
– One is entitled to put his own interpretation on facts. It is a free country.
– Order ! The honorable member must proceed with his question.
– Will the Minister explain how it comes about that a small percentage of the whole tobacco crop is now permitted to be sold at a very much higher price than that received by the growers of 90 per cent, of the crop? Will the Minister also state whether that is an indication of the treatment which other primary producers may expect
-Order! Che honorable member cannot debate his own question.
– I can assure the honorable member that the fact that part of northern Queensland is represented in this House by the Minister for r.he Navy has no connexion with the state of affairs which is alleged by the honorable member to exist in northern Queeusland. No unfair discrimination is being exercised against tobacco-growers in other States because almost all the tobacco grown in those States has already been sold under the appraisal system. Furthermore, as the honorable member is doubtless aware, because of adverse local seasonal conditions, there is practically no tobacco left for sale in his own electorate. It is possible that 11 few outstanding parcels may remain unsold. If so, arrangements could probably be made for their sale on the open market. A substantial quantity of tobacco remained unsold in Queensland, and the tobacco-growers of Mareeba expressed great dissatisfaction with the appraisal system which had been in operation for some considerable time. Indeed, they were so dissatisfied with it that, in effect, they did what the worker so frequently does, and for which he is so frequently condemned. They went on strike, saying that they would not sell their leaf. Under the regulations tobacco-growers are required to deliver their tobacco for appraisal-
– Under the National Security Regulations? Are they legal?
– If the honorable member for New England, who has frequently and rightly been referred to a.- “ a man embedded in concrete “, will allow me to answer the question in m own way I shall do so. I do not need any help from an ignoramus who uses tinprivileges of this chamber to attack other honorable members.
– I will fix you up!
– Order : If the honorable member for New England, who has been persistently interjecting during question time does noi cease these interruptions I shall deal with him.
– - w nen I was so rudely interrupted by that ignoramus, the honorable member for New England. [ was about to say that tobacco-growers were required to submit their leaf for appraisal, and although there was no power under the regulations to force than to sell, they were prevented from selling at a price in excess of the appraised price. The position was further complicated by the fact that under the regulations they are required to submit their leaf for appraisal not later than the 31st December, the date upon which the regulations expire. The position became so difficult that the tobacco-growers of Mareeba, who did what the workers do when they are not satisfied and, in effect, went on strike, were so circumstanced that they could have refrained from selling their tobacco until the 31st December, the last day upon which the regulations are to operate, in which case satisfactory sale arrangements could not be made. In view of all the circumstances, and as Commonwealth control over prices was to cease on the 20th September, but only after I had made a factual and independent survey of the whole situation, I decided that the most sensible and satisfactory course to pursue was to allow them to sell their leaf on the open market by auction or through cbe Queensland Marketing Board. I make no apologies for that decision. Generally speaking, the appraisal system has been accepted by growers, and apparently it has been reasonably satisfactorily carried out in all States.
– Does the Minister want an extension of time?
– If the honorable member for Barker is prepared to propose an appropriate motion, I shall be prepared to speak on this subject for another half hour.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed certain recent references in the press, in the courts ind also in this House, to the questionable methods employed by certain companies, particularly in New South Wales, for the raising of funds? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that under section 51 of the Constitution the Commonwealth Parliament has power to legislate with respect to companies? With a view to overcoming the difficulties which obviously the New South Wales Parliament does not seem to be able to cope with, will the Prime Minister consider exercising the power conferred upon the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate to -protect genuine investors from the crooks who seem to flourish in that little Chicago, Sydney?
– The matter of a Commonwealth company law has been examined by the Government and the Attorney-General. As the [honorable member for Barker realizes, such legislation would have to bo comprehensive and would require a. great deal of investigation before its provisions could be finally determined. I have always considered that it would be far more satisfactory if there were a Commonwealth company law. Some investigations have been made and reports furnished, but the Government has not actually decided to introduce such legislation. The matter is still being considered by the AttorneyGeneral and his department and a report will be made to Cabinet later.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 21st September (vide page 630), on motion by Mr. Chit ley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries, and allowances, £12,000”, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Harrison had moved, by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by fi, as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw and redraft the budget . . . (vide page 430).
– Contrary to popular belief there is no standard of living at all in this country. We have substituted instead a standard of spending. We have little conception of what a standard of living really means. We have a system of pensions of which honorable members opposite are inordinately proud. These pensions are, a? these things go, in nominal amount, relatively high, but for those who have no other resource they are barely a means of subsistence. We have high wages that benefit only those with no family responsibilities, and finally go to promote th, well-being of only bookmakers and brewers. We have short hours of labour, and it is generally admitted that during those hours of labour very few of us perform to the full extent of our powers. We have long hours of seeking for pleasures, every one of which is costly, and, indeed, it has come to be believed that only in the spending of money on pleasure do we achieve happiness and happiness therefore eludes us. I repeat that we have no standard of living, but only a standard of spending. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) made this clear in a trenchant attack upon the budget. He stripped it of its tinsel and showed it as the unhappy thing it is. He put his finger right on the spot that really matters when he said that the Government appeared to be mesmerized bv figures and had forgotten that the problems of the Government were human problems and were not, after all, purely business problems. He showed just bow far the pound ‘ has ‘lost its value and just how little can be bought to-day with money that a few years ago would have bought very much more, and when he was speaking on this very point, a stupid interjector asked, “Why did you vote ‘No’ at the referendum?” The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) says, “ Hear, hear ! “ and agrees with the view that the referendum had something to do with the problem. The referendum had nothing to do. with it. On the 20th of this month only did theStates assume control of prices as1 we were told a few moments ago by the Minister for Commerce and .Agriculture (Mr. Pollard). I want to make the position very clear to the people of Australia. [ want them not to forget it in the months ahead, when we may experience « few sharp price increases. In the budget the Treasurer said -
Nevertheless, the supply of many important -commodities is failing to keep pace with -demand and inflationary pressure is still exceedingly strong. We must regard with -serious .concern the rate at which prices and costs have .risen .during the past .twelve -months.
Therefore, !l have taken out figures for the last twelve months so that the position may be impressed upon the minds of the people. They are .from the Commonwealth Statistician’s Monthly Review of Business .Statistics for July, “1948, and they show increased costs from June, 1947, to June, 19.48.’ They .are as follows,: -
I hope that those figures for last year will not be forgotten when price increases are discussed at the- end of another year, when the States are in control of prices. But this budget is a disquieting documenfor other reasons also, and for two in particular. The first is the confirmation which it gives of the knowledge that th, Government has .constantly infiltrated more and more into the whole social structure. I refer not merely to thai indirect influence which is inescapable with any form of government, but to direct government supervision, interference and control. The second reason for disquiet .is that the budget reveals in all its completeness the control .which the Commonwealth has achieved over the governments of the States. Many people will believe this te be due to the accident of war which brought about the system of uniform taxation. .1 challenge that -view. .1 believe that it is part of a deliberate plan “for the assumption of control by the Commonwealth over matters which should be controlled by the States. It is not generally known, I believe, that just a few weeks after the first agreement was made in respect of uniform taxation - an agreement which was to last for the duration of the war, and one year afterwards - the .Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said, “ This has come to stay. This is permanent “. And I do not think it is generally remembered that, in 1943. at the Australian Labour party’s conference, a resolution was carried urging the movement to undertake a wide campaign to invest all controls in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The honorable member used to believe in that herself.
– Yes, I used to belong to the Australian Labour party. I shall go over that story at any time the .Minister wishes. That conference was .in 1943. In 1944, after the failure of an attempt. to induce the States to hand over certain powers that would trave made the Commonwealth Parliament supreme in a great many fields, the Government submitted proposals to the people in a referendum. That appeal failed, but the effort to obtain more power has been continuous, and it has not stopped yet. At the last conference >f Commonwealth and State Ministers we noted the attitude of Commonwealth representatives, and of the Prime Minister in particular. In spite of the protests of all the State Premiers against the retention of the uniform taxation system, the Prime Minister remained adamant. Be would not even consider a, review of die present arrangement.
Now, it is a strange thing that the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Cosgrove, had just come through a general election in which it was generally believed that he stood for the return of taxing powers to the States. A resolution to that effect had been carried unanimously in the Parliament of Tasmania. Immediately afterwards, however, at the Premiers Conference Mr. Cosgrove repudiated the idea in that he said that, for Tasmania, the old system would not work. The Prime Minister tried to set at rest the fears of the State Premiers by issuing a set of figures showing the savings of most of the States, and notably Tasmania, under the system of uniform taxation. From these figures he made out a very good case for the retention of uniform taxation, but I maintain that there is no comparable basis from which to draw conclusions. The Commonwealth could not possibly have entered into some of its present commitments had the system of uniform taxation not been in operation. The financial and other conditions at present obtaining are wholly dependent upon the provisions of uniform taxation. Thus the Prime Minister’s argument falls to the ground. But in any case, are we to accept the view that cost is the finalargument in matters of this kind? That is a suggestion which I strongly repudiate and which I shall deal with later.
I propose to refer to one other item in the budget, an item which was discussed in greater detail in some sections of the press. I quote from the budget the following passage : -
At the Baine time the Commonwealth has made clear to the Premiers that, in its view, the States might reasonably be expected to make greater efforts to exploit their own revenue resources and, in particular, to ensure that the costs of business undertakings were as far as possible covered by the charges for the services rendered.
That statement comes well from the head of the Government in view of the record of Trans-Australia Airlines, which lost £255,000 in the last financial year. Other recommendations which the Treasurer made included the raising of railway freight charges by the States. Is he aware that, as the result of financial undertakings entered into by the Government of Tasmania with the Commonwealth during the war, the railways in that State are hardly in a condition to carry freight? The Treasurer spoke of raising motor registration charges. I remind him that Tasmanian charges of that nature are the highest in the Commonwealth. I must say that I regard as pure effrontery on the part of the Treasurer the use of those arguments to the Premiers of the States.
I return now to the validity of th economic argument in all human and government relationships. We hear all too frequently in this House the .suggestion that all action springs from an economic motive, and that everything we do is governed by the profit motive. The acceptance of that view has led to a state of affairs which brought forth that speech from the honorable member for Reid to which I referred. When the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) was speaking about Communists he said that the only answer to communism was an economic answer, and that the only way to check communism was to abolish poverty. Surely the Minister knows that at this moment communism is flourishing in Australia as never before, and yet this Government continues to assert that Australia has never before been as prosperous as it is to-day. The argument falls very flat.
– It is not true that the Communists are stronger to-day than ever before.
– If the Minister and the Government believe that, it may explain the inactivity on the part of this Government in dealing with communism. If the Government believes that communism is not nourishing in Australia, no wonder it is prepared to say, “ Don’t put a ban on communism because it will merely be driven underground “. It is underground, largely, all the time and if the security service keeps the Government no better informed than that, it is time that the security service was overhauled. Are any of the Communists with whom we are familiar to-day other than prosperous? Does any one of them look poverty-stricken: does he preach his gospel in the slums? He does not. On the contrary, he moves amongst the people who have other reasons for discontent. I shall refer to this matter again later.
The Prime Minister said that the Government had always realized that security must be provided for the people of this country. I do not want to be misunderstood or misquoted in what I am about to say, and I hope that honorable members will pay particular attention to my remarks. I believe that every community has a responsibility to ensure some degree of security for all of its members. I said that on the first occasion on which L spoke after becoming a member of this Mouse, and I have repeated it since. Whilst every action I have since taken in this Parliament has been towards that end, I warn this Government against making that the final objective. Those who seek only security generally perish of their own inertia and inactivity. Any young country that encourages its young people to look only for security 18 losing the greatest thing that those people can give to the country, which is the fruit of their youth. Australia was not developed by those who sought only security, but rather by those possessed of a spirit of adventure who went out to win new places and make new homes. In people who are not already partially dead there remains an urge to express themselves in a field of wider endeavour. I believe that the Government by its continued reiteration of the word “ security “ is in some danger of stifling such incentive. Life itself involves a struggle which, in one form or another, must continue or we reach a point where life itself begins to die. That law of life has always operated. It was such a conception that Mussolini, in hi9 arrogance and stupidity, completely misunderstood, and misapplied, when he said that life meant all strife. It means “striving” not “ strife “.
Honorable members have talked often of the philosophy of communism, but let us consider the philosophy of socialism. Let us also look at the fruits of that philosophy as we see them to-day. Id the near future we are likely to see them further developed. If there is one part of the constantly-repeated programme of this Government which makes a greater appeal to me than any other, it is that of full employment. That is a thoroughly admirable aim, and I have no patience with people who say, “What is full employment? We do noi know what it means.” It is not a matter of splitting straws about definitions, for we all know what is meant, but I. want to sound a note of warning to the Government and to those who may misquote me. I believe that the idea) that the Government has in mind is full of very grave danger. For a long time I have been convinced that such policies as it espouses must lead eventually to a form of industrial conscription in thiscountry. Indeed that has already occurred in the stevedoring industry, as honorable members are well aware. Any extension of that principle will result in the complete conscription of industry. Look at the implementation of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. We know, and have heard the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) say in this House that some students were noi allowed to undertake a course of their choice, because in the view of the Government there were already too many people in that industry, or that that waslikely to be the position in the future It was not because of their lack of ability to pursue such a course, or because the equipment was not -available with which to teach them the trade or profession that they wished to learn. That reveals what is taking place in the mind of this Government. When a government has a policy of full employment it should assume the responsibility to provide opportunities for employment for every one. But when the Government assumes full and complete responsibility for the actual provision of work for all, theremust logically come a time when the Government takes the responsibility of deciding how many and who, shall work in a particular (industry. When the honorable member for Reid was speaking an honorable member asked by interjection, “ Why did you have dole inspectors ? “. The reason is clear that there must be inspectors to control any dole system. Any system which attempts by government action to provide justice for one must observe justice for ali and if it would provide justice for all, it must ensure that none exploits his privileges and his opportunities. That was the classic argument of the Labour party in by-gone Jays with the other side of politics. It is a sound and proper argument to be used on either side. But I issue a warning that the Government is rapidly heading towards the same position in the opposite direction. We are moving to a point where all industry and all workers may be at the immediate direction of the Government.
There are other fields in which government penetration is likely to do almost incalculable harm. I propose to refer for a few moments to the Government’s health schemes. Again, the conception that the Government should ensure that the community is healthy is good; but I should like to know whether this Government believes that health is merely a matter of medicine. ‘ Had I sufficient time, I should deal more fully with that aspect. The Government proposes to persist with a nationalized health scheme. Any system under which all doctors are the servants of the State becomes another form of conscription and regimentation. If the Government makes itself completely responsible for the employment of the community, it must assume complete responsibility for health. A man cannot work if he i3 ill, and if he must work, in justice to other people, when work is provided, the Government must also ensure that he is kept in health. In that way, the Government assumes responsibility for sending a man to a dentist, or to a surgeon in order to undergo an operation. The individual will have no choice in the matter. To some people, that view may seem to be rather far-fetched, but the system is already in operation in countries which have a completely socialized form of government and in an even more extreme form. For example, honorable members know that there is a gradual movement in the public mind towards the practise of euthanasia, which is the painless despatch of people whose life’s span has nearly ended. We could quickly move from a point where the idea of euthanasia is tolerated to another point where euthanasia is legalized, and, under a system of complete nationalization of health, we can move to a point where legalization extends to compulsion.
– The honorable member’s imagination is running riot.
– I cannot imagine that the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) would undertake, in per-on, the hanging of a criminal.
– I repeat that the honorable member’s imagination is running riot.
– Am I to understand that the honorable member would undertake, in person, the hanging of a criminal?
– When I said that the honorable member would not be prepared to undertake in person the hanging of a criminal, he interjected that my imagination was running riot. However, I know the honorable member better than he knows himself. I remind him that the execution of a criminal it undertaken in his name and my name. In other words, we shelve our individual responsibility by making it a collective responsibility. Not lone ago a noted surgeon said to me, “When you have nearly murdered a man as I have many times, you are overcome by a sense of intense horror. However, if you call in a medical colleague for consultation about the case, some of your load immediately lifts. If you call in half a dozen colleagues for consultation, you may even manage a smile or a laugh in a room next to that in which your patient is dying.” The surgeon said that, for that reason, he would always oppose the idea of a nationalized health scheme, because under such a system his personal responsibility would be completely removed from him, as our individual responsibility to-day is taken from us in regard to capital punishment. Those are Logical ends to certain processes which are taking place to-day, and I should like honorable members to discuss them among themselves and not dismiss them as figments of my imagination. The developments which I have described are the inevitable results of socialism. In Germany and Russia, the only two countries where socialism has become complete, euthanasia was practised at the will and command of the State. People were removed as soon as they became useless. That process continues in certain parts of the world.
Some people in Australia still express grave doubts as to whether the Labour party really stands for socialism. I propose to address a few remarks to them. We all know what is the expressed objective of the Labour party. People who imagine that that expressed objective has nothing whatever to do with present-day practical politics should examine the decisions of some Labour conferences in recent years. In 1943, delegates carried a resolution urging the party to put in motion a campaign for vesting all power in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Two years later, the conference agreed to a motion urging the Commonwealth Parliamentary Labour party, when complete power had been vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth, to give effect to the party’s policy of socialism. There is one point which will he of particular interest to those people who seek some connexion between the policy of the Labour party and that of the Communist party, and the methods that they espouse. The motion to which the conference in 1945 agreed, originally included the significant words, “ within the limits of the Constitution “. Clearly, that qualification made an important difference between the methods which the Labour party and the Communists respectively proposed to adopt for the establishment of socialism in Australia. But, on the motion of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), those qualifying words were deleted from th» resolution. We should not pass lightly over that point. Again, to those who havsome doubt about the real intentions of the Labour party, let me say - and I cannot say it too often - that every member of the Labour party must sign the wellknown pledge of loyalty to the party’s objective. But, there is a further pledge - at least I have seen it in the New South Wales section - and I shall quote it carefully
I also pledge myself to actively support and advocate at all times the party’s objective the socialization of industry production distribution and exchange.
– That is the pledge which the honorable member signed.
– No; that pledge resulted from the 1934 conference
– What about the 1921 conference ?
– I have dealt with that conference, and I am prepared to debate the matter at any time with the honorable member. I come now to the subject of communism. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and other honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate made use of this argument - I admit that they mad« pretty good play with it - “Remove the seed bed of communism and you remove communism “. They said that the seed bed was the lack of economic security. I admit that their argument is, to some degree, just; but, as I have already said, those in this country who support communism are not poverty stricken. Furthermore, the Government claims that this if the most prosperous era that Australia has ever known. I put it to honorable members that the seed bed of communism is very different from what honorable members opposite say it is. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) at the conclusion of a speech he made on the subject of communism - a speech which, unfortunately, he did not continue after he had exhausted his time - said that this thing seemed to be growing throughout the world and the world was seeking the answer. The answer, as I see it, is that we are losing faith in the democratic system, but faith in the democratic system is not sustained merely by the provision of economic benefits and systems of security and pennons. After all, faith is not a thing that is bought, although it is true that we look to the fruits of any system. “We are losing faith in our own system. In Australia, particularly, we seem tobe losing faith in parliaments and politicians. I am glad to be able to speak asa member of a parliament in this country and to refer to this loss of faith in politicians. There are very few people to-day outside the Parliament who do not believe that every man has his price, that he goes into parliament for what he can make out of it and that he frequently makes out of it much more than he has any legal, or moral, right to do. There is also loss of faith in our administrative services. Wherever you go to-day some one will tell you where to go to get something that is forbidden, whom to approach for a permit and what way you should go about the matter. There is whispering all around the place. In other words, people generally believe that opportunity now goes by favour and not by justice. There is something rotten in any community that shares that view, and I believe that this and every other Parliament in the Commonwealth shares respon- sibility for it. We are not free from Teproach. I believe that the standards of governmental integrity to-day are not what they used to be. Years ago, the mere hint of the prevalence of such asystem, or any real suspicion of such a thing, would have swept from office any government, regardless of itspolitical colour. That is not the position to-day. I remember very well that during my husband’s term of office in this Parliament one member of his Government discovered that a company of which he was a director had entered into a contract with a government department. I believe - although on this point I am not completely sure - that it was merely a small day-to-day contract of practically no significance at all.
– A public tender contract.
– Yes; but immediately he became aware of that fact, he resigned from the Government. May I say that had he not voluntarily resigned he would ‘have been asked to resign. That was hard on that man, because he was not guilty of any impropriety.He did not know thathis company had tendered for the contract. But his action in resigning was completely right, because our system depends for its very existence upon the integrity of those who uphold it. Dictatorships haveno such need ;they depend upon force whereas we depend upon our own interior integrity. Only a few days ago the case was brought up in the Parliament of the Government’s participation in the formation of a company to control a radio station. Honorable members opposite viewed that matter lightly, and said that it should never have been brought up for discussion. Any one who is getting 16 per cent on an investment is making a very substantial profit judged by any standard; but when that is being done by a party which constantly shouts against the profit motive and the profit system such action must create in the public mind the very serious doubts as to the political integrity of the members of that party. That is a political matter, and we must look at it squarely. I Temember on a previous occasion in this chamber defending politicians against the charge that they broke promises because certain parts of the programme they enunciate at elections are not fulfilled during the life of the ensuing Parliament. That is something which is almost inescapable. If the members of a party which is successful at the polls are honest, they make an effort to put into operation the whole of the programme they enunciate foT the ensuing period. But sometimes circumstances do not permit of that being done. However, when a government deliberately says that it will not do a certain thing and then proceeds to dothat thing it is guilty of political dishonesty to a serious degree. That has happened in the lifetime of the present Government. I refer to the pledge it gave to the people that it would not nationalize anything during the war, and its attempt to nationalize air services during the war. I could refer to other incidents of a similar nature.
Mr. Holloway interjecting,
– I am glad that theMinister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) has mentioned the referendum on rents and prices. That is another case in point; The campaign on that referendum was fought not on the basis that all price controls should immediately be swept away but on the basis that the price control powers which normally reside in the State governments and which are exercised by the Australian Government only in times of war and the periods which succeed them, should be retained by the State governments. Honorable members on this side of the chamber gave a pledge that they would support any legislation introduced by this Government which was designed to continue for a certain period the controls it was then exercising. Notwithstanding that, immediately the result of the vote on the referendum was made known, the Government said, “ This means that the people do not want Commonwealth controls. Let us give them back to the States “. That was a completely dishonest decision. The Government, having argued that the assumption of the control of rents and prices by the State governments would create chaos, immediately transferred those powers of control to the States in an attempt to create the chaos that it professed to fear. That was the most wretched and miserable political conduct that can be imagined. The time will come when the Labour party will be faced with the realization that the public conscience sometimes awakens, even after long periods of sleep. There does not seem,
Bt the present time, to be sufficient moral indignation in this community. It is time that it was revived.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Darwin was a strange mixture. It was delivered with a great deal of passion and sincerity. The honorable member said that one characteristic of the public conscience is that of waking after long periods of sleep. It awoke in Tasmania a few weeks ago, when the people of that State’ gave a decided answer to the vicious propaganda that was indulged in by the anti-Labour parties in the course of the recent Tasmanian elec tion campaign. The banking legislation that was passed by this Parliament last year, nationalization, communism, uniform taxation, the taking away of State rights and other issues were raised .by the Opposition parties. The people of Tasmania answered Mr. R. G. Casey, who said that the election was fought on local issues only, in no uncertain terms. The anti-Labour parties threw everything at us but the kitchen sink.
– May I say that it was one of the cleanest campaigns ever to be conducted?
– I agree that the campaign was a very clean one. When I said that the anti-Labour parties threw everything at us but the kitchen sink. I was referring to the kind of propaganda that was indulged in. National and local issues were put before the electors in the press and over the radio for weeks before the polling date. The Opposition said that the eyes of Australia were upon Tasmania and that the result of the election would indicate the general trend of Australian public opinion. They prophesied that the Cosgrove Government would suffer a crushing defeat When the result was announced, it was found that the Cosgrove Government had not been defeated but had lost only one seat. One had to examine the mainland newspapers very closely to find a- report, of the Tasmanian election result. Th? anti-Labour parties received a shock then from which they have not yet recovered Many honorable members opposite to-day are whistling to keep their courage up.
By their vote at that election the people of Tasmania also expressed their opinion of the propaganda that was poured out in the course of the campaign on the referendum on rents and prices, and showed that they realized who had “led them up the garden path” a few months previously. We left them in no doubt about who had urged them to vote “ No ‘” on that occasion. The people decided that in future they would trust the . Cosgrove Government which urged them to vote “ Yes “, and not those who told them to vote “ No “. In my opinion, the honorable member for Darwin is mistaken when she argues that the vote of the people at that referendum was not a vote against the control of rents and prices that was then being exercised by this Government. The issue was confused by propaganda. The people were urged to uphold State rights and it was claimed that the State governments could administer prices control. The people believed that they were voting against all control of rents and prices by this Government. The anti-Labour parties are now trying to excuse what they said on that occasion and to blame this Government for the transference of prices control to the State governments. The newspaper headlines read, “ No more Canberra control
The States can handle prices control effectively” and “Put it where you can watch it “. This Government gave effect to the people’s decision, and it would have been dishonest not to do so. The people said in unmistakable terms that they wanted State control, and not Canberra control. The State governments have now assumed respon sibility for the control of rents and prices. “We claim that theycannot do so as fairly and as equitably as can the Australian Government. Time will tell who is right. The anti-Labour parties are now saying that this Government is to blame for the price increases that will occur. In my opinion, the Opposition will have to take 80 per cent of the blame for the whittling down of the value of the people’s income because of the higher prices that will have to be paid for goods from now on. All the big business interests of Australia backed the Liberal party and the Australian Country party in their efforts to force this Government to relinquish control of the prices that could be charged for even essential articles. They wanted the sky to be the limit again, and in the referendum campaign they poured out thousands of pounds in order to achieve that objective. They won the day. We shall see who will be the sufferers. I contend that they will be the ordinary people.
The present budget is a cautious one. It is designed to ensure the internal stability of Australia for at least the next twelve months and to safeguard us against the threatening external financial storm. It has, in effect, lifted the burden of taxation from the lower and middle income groups, and considerably eased the burden on the higher income groups. The taxes paid by members of the lower income group will be reduced by 331/3 per cent. The tax payable on incomes of £15,000 a year will be reduced by 3.1 per cent. A 3 per cent reduction of taxation on an income of £15,000 a year means a reduction of approximately £5 a week. That is more than some people earn in a week, and represents a considerable reduction of tax. In the lower income groups, of course, the tax reductions are not so high in money value although in percentages they are greater.
The budget proposals mean, in effect, the complete exemption from both income tax and the social services contribution of many thousands more people. In view of the statements of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden) last night, it is well that the people of Australia should know just how the taxation remissions will operate. A single man or woman earning £400 a year from personal exertion paid £48 12s. tax last year, and will pay £34 14s. this year, a reduction of 28.6 per cent. A single taxpayer earning £1,000 a year receives a reduction of 19 per cent in his tax. A man with a dependent wife, earning £400 a year, will pay £21 9s. this year compared with £30 7s. last year, his reduction being 29.3 per cent. A similar taxpayer receiving £1,000 a year - and the people who are screaming most are those earning from £1,000 a year upwards - will have his tax reduced from £19318s. to £157, a reduction of 19 per cent. I am taking two or three illustrations from each income group. A married man with one child, earning £400 a year, will pay only £8 compared with £.12 7s. last year, or a reduction of 28.6 per cent. A man in the same category earning £1,000 a year will have his tax reduced from £1711s. to £13811s., or by 19 per cent. The reduction in respect of a man on £400 a year, with a wife and two children - the average Australian family unfortunately - is from £12 a year to £811s., or 28.8 per cent., and the corresponding reduction for a man earning £1,000 is from £159 13s. to £129 6s., or 19 per cent. These figures convincingly disprove some of the wild statements made last night by the Leader of the Australian Country party.I can only describe his speech as “‘Fadden’s flight of. fancy with figures “.
Another frequent criticism of the- Government’s taxation policy is that overtime earnings are too heavily taxed. This * has been adjusted by the new rates, which, E believe, represent an adequate attempt to revise what in war-time was a very severe tax on all workers in industry. E should have welcomed the complete elimination of tax on overtime earnings but, having seen the figures of the latest, adjustments, I am sure that there is no real burden. Let us consider, for instance, the worker earning’ £6 a week. If he is single’ and works three hours overtime a. week, earning an aditional 13s. 6d., he pays 2s. Id. in tax, retaining 84.6 per cent of his overtime earnings. If he works six hours overtime, he receives an extra £1 7s., paying 4s. 3d. in tax and retaining the remaining 84.3 per cent.
– Do those figures relate to the overtime earnings’ alone or to the total earnings?
– They relate to overtime alone. The same taxpayer working nine hours overtime a week earns an additional £2 6s., of which he pays 6s. 7d. in. tax and retains the remaining 83.8 per. cent. The figures for a married man. with two children are as. follows : -
Those figures, which are official, illustrate the fantasy of the claim of the Leader of the Australian. Country party that Australian industry is being stifled by excessive taxation. Of course, honorable members opposite advance these arguments merely to further their own political cause. They must have something on which to attack the Government, so they attack it on the budget, making extrava-gant claims, about, taxation and endeavouring in that way to delude the people of this country into believing that it is a vicious budget. Actually it is nothing of the sort. As I have shown, it provides a substantial reduction of taxes on over- time” earnings. It has- removed from thtaxation field altogether many thousand more Australian citizens, and it, has- reduced taxes on the higher incomes by up to £5 a week.
I come now to the tax exemption: limit* for personal exertion incomes. Under the budget proposals a single taxpayer1 wil5 not pay any income tax until he earn* £7 a week. The exemption for- a married man is £9 15s. a week, for a married man with one child £11. 12s. a week with two children £12 15s. a week, and withthree children £14 a week. I cannot see how these figures can be interpreted as vicious taxation. The greatest cry to-day is coming from the 10 per cent, or 15 per cent, of the Australian people who are earning £2,000 a year or more. The, will not be satisfied until they are exempt from, taxes, which would mean, of course, that revenue would not be sufficient for national requirements.
As the Leader of. the Australian Country party also criticized uniform taxation, I propose to give a few facto about this matter. Recently Mr. K. J Binns-, M.A., B.Com., prepared for th* Government of Tasmania a report en: titled, “Federal Financial Relations ii Canada and Australia”.. Mr. Binn visited Canada recently and his report on his investigations was published in. July of this year. He has quite a lot to sai about: uniform, taxation. On; page 47 h* says -
Under uniform taxation, the taxpayer it required to pay & single Commonwealth income tax in place of a Commonwealth tax, plus one. or more State income taxes. Prior to the introduction of uniform taxation in 1942. eleven separate taxes on incomes were levied by the six States. Individual taxpayers deriv-ing income from more than one State were required to make separate income tax return* to each State from which income was derived if the income exceeded the taxable exemption allowed to absentees. Companies trading in more than one State were required to keep separate records of the profits earned in each. State for State income tax purposes. There was some reciprocity between States, but because of differences in State assessment acts, double taxation was common.
On page. 48 he states -
It is probably true to say that, those tu, payers who profess to favour the return .of State taxation rights do so in the mistaken belief that their liability to taxation would thereupon be. reduced.. It is most unlikely that the Commonwealth Government would reduce its taxation by more than the minimum amount required by the States for their purposes. But, apart from the question of the severity of taxation actually imposed, uniform taxation possesses great advantages from the taxpayer’s point of view. There is a considerable saving in clerical work when only one income tax return has to be prepared. In addition, the taxpayer is able to assess more accurately his liability for taxation. Its comparative simplicity is a strong argument in favour of the retention of uniform taxation. . . . There is a stronger community if interests and sense of nationhood through>ut the Commonwealth than in Canada. . . . Australia is .a nation and not merely a temporary union of States. For those reasons, it is necessary that uniform taxation should be considered from the point of view of the Commonwealth an a whole and not merely from the point of view of “ State rights “.
The post-war taxation agreements in Canada between the Dominion and the Provincial governments were made for the specific purpose )f preventing “ a return to the pre-war dual system of taxation “. [t will be seen that in Canada also, the system, has been simplified. The Australian Government, in continuing the system of uniform taxation, is following n natural influence which operates at the present time in the various countries where there are State or provincial go7ernments and a Federal government. Mr. Binns continues on page 49 -
Income tax is an important instrument of economic policy. With the reduction of Commonwealth expenditure since the end of the war, the financial justification for the continuance of uniform taxation has been weakened. The economic justification, however, remains, and is even strengthened, by the very complexity of post-war problems of government.
Ee continues, that the main criticism levelled at uniform taxation is found, on examination, not to be against the principles of uniform taxation, but in the main, against the reimbursements made by the Commonwealth to the States. Recently at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the Prime Minister agreed to increase the allocation to the States by a very considerable amount. In the Prime Minister’s budget speech, on page 16, he stated -
It is now proposed to amend the formula incorporated in the existing legislation in a way which will increase the aggregate tax grant in 1048-49 to £53,700,000 - an increase of £S,700.000. On the hai is of present trends in population and average wages the amended formula would bring about ‘ further .increase next year of perhaps £0,000,000.
The Premiers expressed their satisfaction with this proposed revision of the formula, and the Australian Government trusts that if this revised formula is brought into operation the States will be in a position in future to assume complete financial responsibility and to formulate their budgets without making yearly requests to the Commonwealth for special assistance.
That is a statement which, of course, the Australian people did not see in the press or hear about from the Opposition. Such matters are hidden behind the welter of words contained in attacks on the budget, such as that made by the Leader of the Australian Country party last night. Uniform taxation, according to Mr. Binns’s close analysis of the subject, is justified when it is purely economic. In Tasmania there has been a hue and cry for the return of the State’s taxing rights. An argument that was used in the recent election campaign in that State was that the Australian Government was endeavouring to crush the States out of existence and strangle State governments. The people of Tasmania would be interested to know what Mr. Binns has to say on this aspect after close study of the matter. On page 50 of his report Mr. Binns states -
It would be a very strong argument in principle for the abolition of uniform taxation if the States would thereupon be relieved of all financial dependence on the Commonwealth. This, however, would not be so, as can be seen from the financial position of Tasmania. Each year since 1912, that is, for thirty years prior to the introduction of uniform taxation, Tasmania has received a special grant from the Commonwealth under section 90 of the Constitution. If the Tasmanian Government were now imposing its own income tax it would have required to raise in 1947-48 approximately £1,050,000 in order to balance the budget, assuming no alteration in the special grant of £747,500 for that year, or £2,400,000 if there had been no special grant. To raise this revenue would have involved the imposition of State income taxation rates at least 10 per cent, and 60 per cent, respectively above those levied in 1941-42, the last year of State income taxation. Such heavy rates of State income taxation would obviously be impossible.
It should also be remembered that Tasmania in one respect stands to gain less than other States from the abolition of uniform taxation due to this State’s lower relative taxable capacity. The average of personal incomes per head for 1940-47 was lower in Tasmania Ulan in other States, being only £144, compared with £108 for Australia as a whole. This lower level of incomes means that higher rates of State income taxation would require to be imposed to realize the same revenue per head as in other States.
He then gives a table showing the taxable capacity in all States and in the Commonwealth, and concludes by saying -
In other words, the Tasmanian Government would need to tax about 50 per cent, more severely on the average than the New South Wales Government to obtain the same revenue per bead of population. It follows, therefore, that uniform taxation has the advantage, do far as the smaller States are concerned, of tending to lessen their financial inequality.
That is a considered statement, worked out after a long study of this difficult problem. There is no doubt that a single man earning £150 a year in Tasmania would be required to pay income tax under the dual system of taxation. To-day while the uniform system operates, a single man is not required to pay income tax until he earns £350 a year. To raise the amount of money required by the Tasmanian Government at the present time, a single man earning his income in that State would have to be taxed as soon as his earnings reached approximately £150 a year. What rot it is to claim that the abolition of uniform taxation would benefit the individual taxpayer! [t would do nothing of the sort.
– Why does not the honorable member state the facts correctly instead of telling us a fantastic story ?
– It is not a fantastic story.
– Before uniform taxation was introduced the National Government subsidized Tasmania.
– That is so, and it also subsidized South Australia.
A comparison of the incidence of taxation in Australia with that in other countries is interesting. In Australia a married man with two children who receives an income of £300 a year pays no taxes whatever. In New Zealand, a man in similar circumstances pays £22 10s. in taxes, and a man in similar circumstances in the United Kingdom pays £12 lis. in taxes. In Australia, a man with a similar family who receives £400 a year pays in taxes only £8 lis., whereas a taxpayer in similar circumstances in New Zealand pays £30, and an
English taxpayer in similar circumstances pays £15 lis. A married man with a wife and two children to support, who receives an income of £1,000 a year, pays £129 6s. in taxes in Australia. £172 16s. in New Zealand and £192 lis. in the United Kingdom. Those are facts, and I stress them in order to disprove th* fanciful story told by the Leader of the Australian Country party last night, when he claimed that taxes imposed on the people of this country were excessive. Since the war ended, the Government has reduced taxes by £110,820,000. In view of the criticism of the Government’* taxation policy made by honorable members opposite, it is of particular interest to read the report of a statement made in the Parliament by the honorable member for Wentworth, the present Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), on the 19th May, 1942, when the Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Bill was being debated. As honorable members are aware, that is one of the measure* which implemented the uniform tax system. The report of the portion of hi* speech to which I refer appears at page 1730 of Volume 171 of Hansard, and is as follows : -
This legislation will remain in operation ostensibly for the duration of the war and for twelve months thereafter. I venture to suggest that once the people experience the benefits of uniform taxation, the acts will never be repealed.
Those are the actual words of the present Acting Leader of the Opposition, who supported the introduction of uniform taxation at that time.
I turn now to the subject of defence. The Acting Leader of the Opposition sought to persuade us that we are almost defenceless-
– So we are.
-“ So we are “, says the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White).
– Can the honorable member tell us of one unit that is properly prepared ?
– If the honorable member will compare our present position in regard to defence with that which obtained prior to World War II., I am sure that he will find nothing of which the Government need be ashamed. However, honorable members opposite are not concerned with winning the victory of peace for the peoples of the world ; their main concern is when the third world war will begin.
– What pacifist drivel!
– That is not pacifist drivel-
– The honorable member is lying, and he knows it. He should not make such statements in this honorable House.
– I shall deal with the honorable member later.
– Order ! The honorable member must proceed with his speech, and honorable members must refrain from interjecting.
– Honorable members opposite speak of war as if it were an inevitable catastrophe. Of course, they have a right to express that opinion, but honorable members on this side of the chamber also have a right to express their opinions. We had a global war only three years ago; is it not right that we should now seek to establish a global peace for the peoples of the world? Deliberately to stimulate fear of war is certainly not to perform a service for global peace. Furthermore, honorable members opposite think of war in terms of battalions and rifles and other weapons used in World War II. They overlook completely the fact that we are now living in a highly scientific age. Since World War II., eminent scientists have been constantly devising more potent forms of destruction and more deadly weapons, and that is a fact which no one can deny. I am amazed that honorable members opposite, who claim to possess such a complete knowledge of the technique of waging war, overlook so completely the menace to mankind of the latest developments of atomic warfare. When the Acting Leader of the Opposition spoke on the budget he devoted 22 minutes to discussion of Australia’s defence. In that time he never once mentioned atomic warfare, the atomic bomb or the atomic age.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition has been to war, and he knows what he was talking about.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I shall not again warn the honorable member for Balaclava to cease interjecting.
– One would imagine that the Acting Leader of the Opposition when speaking on such a vitally important matter as the defence of the country would not leave out of consideration the paramount importance of atomic warfare. Surely it has occurred to him that we are living in the atomic age! Is he aware that the United States of America is now manufacturing atomic bombs 600 times more potent than the one which was dropped on Hiroshima, and that methods of waging atomic warfare are being studied carefully in that country as well as in the United Kingdom and Russia ? Does he realize that guided missiles fitted with atomic warheads and projected in supersonic flight may do away altogether with the necessity for using aircraft? Does he know that 90 Super Fortresses could drop atomic bombs which would inflict damage so great that 79,000 bombers carrying bombs of the type used in World War II. would be needed to effect the same destruction? Does he appreciate that our guided missile or rocket range is intended to perfect the technique of atomic warfare, and that the guided missiles, with an accurate range of 3.000 miles, will be fitted with deadly atomic warheads? Surely the Acting Leader of the Opposition realizes that only one of the latest atomic bombs would be required to wipe out Sydney, and that six of them could wipe out the six capital cities of Australia. Six atomic bombs would kill in a flash approximately 4,000,000 people and destroy 80 per cent, of our war factories. One hundred atomic bombs could possibly immobilize Great Britain for 100 years. Surely members of the Opposition realize that germ warfare is also still a grave menace, despite the fact that it was not used in World War II. Yet, members of the Opposition continue to talk of war in terms of battalions and rifles. There will be only one more war for white civilization. That will be the third world war.. What chance has an army against germs? How can it fight germs? What chance has an army, even fully equipped, against an atomic bomb? Weapons are changing io rapidly that one which waa considered effective: a year ago may be regarded as ineffective now. The changes which have taken place in any three years in the twentieth century are equal to the changes brought about in any period of 30 years in the nineteenth century. This Government has realized the importance of this very potent feature of defence. It is impossible to say at this stage with what weapons the next war will be fought. The Government is encouraging the development of scientific planning and is conducting the most comprehensive investigations in its attempt to keep fully abreast of the latest developments in the application of science to warfare. I am not speaking as a warmonger. I am merely pointing out that, in their criticism of the Government’s defence policy, the self-styled defence experts on the other side of the chamber completely overlooked the importance of atomic weapons, with which the next war will be fought. “Who would survive an atomic war? The white races have been slowly exterminating themselves during the last 50 years. If the next war is an atomic war - and who doubts that it will be - it may well reduce the white races to sheer impotency and wellnigh exterminate them. I have no doubt that the world will be an oriental coloured man’s world after the next war. An American writer recently said -
I do not know with what weapons World War III. will be fought; but I know that the war- after the next will be fought with howa *.nd arrows.
– It was George Bernard Shaw who said that.
– No. They are the words of an American writer. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) poses as the possessor of a great fund of knowledge. He claims to have the answer to every question. Despite their claim to omniscience honorable members opposite have much to learn. Only isolated groups would survive the next war. Should another world war break out, the fantastic future so eloquently described by Wells in his book, The Shape of Things to Come,, may become a reality. The survivors would probably live like animals in isolated groups scattered throughout, the world.
These grim forebodings are frightening to every lover of peace. To-day, however, we are not. supposed, to talk about peace-
– The honorable member is talking a lot about peace.
– I have, been talking about the dangers of war. Millions of people in this country and in other countries who will not be consulted before the next war is forced upon them, will suffer most, from its devastating effects. Unfortunately, Gallup polls are not taken in order to obtain a cross-section of the view of the people as to whether or noi war should be declared; they are restricted to matters of only minor concern such as the party most favoured to win the next election. We have been kept in the dark by Opposition members as to their real views on the subject of defence, about which they claim to have all knowledge. The awful effects of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have demonstrated, that a future war might very well sound th death-knell of white civilization. The coloured oriental races: would then have s glorious opportunity to take control & world affairs.
Some criticism has been levelled against the Government on the ground that most of its members and sup porter e have had trips overseas.. That criticism was repeated in a country newspaper published only last week-end. What are the facts? Only eight Cabinet Ministers, eight senators and eleven members of the House of Representatives have been overseas during the last seven years; It if true that some Cabinet Ministers travelled overseas more than once in order to discharge their responsibilities to Australia ai this troubled post-war world. Thus, )l the 75 members of the Australian Labour party in this Parliament, only 27 have been overseas.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Hie honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 tto 2.15 p.m.
.- Che budget speech of the Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and the papers he presented in connexion with it summarize the financial conditions in Australia in the last twelve months and forecast the Government’s policy in the next ttwelve months. The speech, as a recognition of the facts in relation to the well-being of Australia, is an honest document, but it is essentially dishonest in the application of the principles that arise from the facts. For example, the Treasurer said in his concluding remarks -
It is an illusion that social welfare and other benefits can be had by some easy method of finance. They must be paid for from taxation, either direct or indirect.
That statement recognizes a principle about which there can be no dispute. Yet, all through the policy of the Government there runs the illusion that something can be had for nothing, that free medicine -;an be given out, that pensions and other social services can be increased and that new services can he provided without cost >o the beneficiaries. They can be provided only if the production from which they oan alone be paid for is sustained. The budget does not provide the incentive for increased production, without which pensioners cannot hope tor real and permanent improvement of their conditions, and other sections of the community cannot expect the security, the provision of which is the policy of ill political parties in Australia. We realize that all people in the evening of their lives, and during their working lives, need security against want, unemployment, sickness and the other hazards involved in the complex life of to-day. There is a growing recognition by those with responsibility in this country, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and elsewhere, that the only real basis for security is work and production, and that there is no substi tute for them. Yet throughout the Labour party’s propaganda there is an attempt to inspire in the minds of people the hope that they can get something for nothing merely by the passage of an art of Parliament.
Some fine speeches have been delivered in this debate. I refer, without desiring to discriminate, to two which struck a note that I also will endeavour to strike. They were the speeches of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) and the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). The honorable member for Reid and I are on opposite sides of the committee, but he pointed out that, although wages had risen and people had more money in their pockets than ever before, they were less able to buy the necessaries of life and that, as far as real progress was concerned, they were farther back than they were before the last depression. Those are truths thai cannot be denied. He said that it now took two weeks’ wages to buy a suit of clothes, whereas it took only one week’s wages to do so in 1939. He said that the thrifty public-spirited citizen who wanted to buy a house could have done so with his income for three years in 1939, whereas it now required his income for six years. The same situation exists in relation to the time required to do certain things. If that is progress in the standard of living ana social security, it is intelligible to only members of the Labour party. It is certainly not intelligible to housewives who have to balance their budgets or to married ex-servicemen who want to build homes.
In a speech of more than twenty printed pages the Treasurer said not one word about the most important subject in the world to-day, which is the rising tide of communism. Ministers have said thai communism is not an issue. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), in an interjection during the speech of the honorable member for Darwin, said thai communism did not really arise. Yet, in every country that values its democratic rights, the first consideration is the rise of communism and what can be done about it. We have in Australia a Government that can be charged with being, if not openly sympathetic with the Communists, at least their very good friends. One could not perhaps say that Ministers are “ fellow travellers “ of the Communists, but one can say that no administration of Australia that was not a directly elected Communist administration could be more helpful to the Communist party than is the present Government. Everything that the Communists want done is done. No effort is being made by the Commonwealth Investigation Service to stifle them or to prevent their inroads on the life of the community. Not one word has been said by the Prime Minister or any of his Ministers to discourage the growth of the insidious cancer of communism in the community. On the contrary, when the Communists want to acquire property and other assets they are able to get by the Capital Issues Advisory Committee and the Land Sales Control, whereas other citizens are placed at a disadvantage. Communists can get ‘passports to travel abroad when other people have to wait. Not the slightest effort has been made by the Government to counter the attempts of the Communists to bring Australia under the domination of the Soviet. It is all very well for the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to be parading in Paris declaiming on the rights of small nations, and pulling strings to get himself elected President of the United Nations General Assembly.
– He has succeeded.
– Yes, by an overwhelming majority.
– If he has been elected it is a good indication that that organization will continue to he a toothless body, because the Minister for External Affairs is content that Australia should be practically disarmed, and should make no effective provision for its defence. It also gives strength to the declaration of Mr. Ernest Bevin last week that Britain could no longer wait upon action by the United Nations, but would have to act with the United States of America and other countries which were ready and willing to act with Great Britain.
– He did not say that at all.
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) may know something about the Earle Page scheme for stabilization of the wheat industry, but he obviously knows very little about foreign affairs. The election of the Minister for External Affairs as president of the United Nations General Assembly makes it more than ever necessary that Australia should lead world opinion in recognition of the need to take effective measures for defence if the United Nations is to be a power in the world, but one of the principal planks in the platform of the Australian Labour party is that there shall be no conscription and no compulsory military training. Yet the United States of America and Great Britain, with which we shall have to aline ourselves in the event of a third world war, have already instituted compulsory military training. In the United States of America, the scheme will come into operation almost immediately, and in Great Britain it is to be put into effect at the beginning of next year. Those two nations, with a realistic outlook on world politics, and with thineed to defend their territories, have embarked upon a system of compulsory military training, while honorable member* opposite talk about rockets and atomic bombs, and the development of scientific methods of warfare which will make it unnecessary to have large bodies of trained soldiers. According to them, no one will have to fight in the next war except the boys who take up the aeroplanes, and the scientists in charge of various devices. Is that what the Russians think? Is that why the Prime Minister told us, after his return from Berlin, that the Russians, in the event of war, could sweep across the Continent of Europe because they had 5,000,000 men under arms? Russia does not rely on scientific gadgets or atom bombs or rockets. Russia relies on man-power. Lord Montgomery has said that no matter what advances may be made in methods of scientific warfare, it will still remain true that there is need for the man with a rifle and bayonet to finish off the business.
The Government ignores the realities of the situation. The Minister for
External Affairs can be very courageous in Dublin, or Paris or London, 13,000 miles away from home, but bis courage runs out of his boots when he faces the bosses of the Seamen’s Union or the Waterside Workers Federation, who imposed a ban on Dutch shipping and took the foreign policy of Australia out of his hands. Evidently, the Minister, so far as his foreign policy is concerned, is content to tag along behind the Communists. Quite recently, a Mr. Burns, who is a member of the Central Council of the Communist party in Queeusland, stated in reply to an interjection during a public debate, that in a war’ against Russia the Communists in Australia would fight on the side of Russia. Such a statement does not really surprise any one, because we know that that is Communist policy all over the world. That is why, in Great Britain, Communists have been removed from positions where they had access to secret information. That is why, in the United States of America, Communists have been deprived of every opportunity to betray their country. Only in Australia are Communists tolerated in high places, and the person who is most tolerant of them is Australia’s Minister for Defence. He appointed to a responsible position a person who had been sentenced in Perth to six months’ imprisonment for treason during the war. That individual was a national guard with access to certain defence information, and he was caught trying to convey information to a Communist agency in Russia before Russia came into the war. After his release from gaol, the Minister for Defence appointed him to a position in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a statutory body under his control. That example indicates very clearly just what communism means to the men who are in charge of Australia to-day. I say that the Communists in this country have only one objective, to create and stir up discontent and mischief. They organized the campaign for shorter working hours and having been successful in obtaining a shorter working week and thereby, as a result, raised the cost of producing commodities and the cost of living, they have started a campaign against higher prices. First they promote the reason for the unrest, and they then stir up another section of the population to resist it. Their tactics are similar all over the world. Their aim is to prevent the democracies from re-arming, either economically or militarily. They are probably acting under instructions from Moscow. If they can slow down production in a war factory or in a business concern, whether it be in the United States of America, Canada. Australia, or Great Britain, their master? are happy. That is part of the technique Yet the Government says that they are not traitors, but merely people who subscribe to a certain kind of political philosophy. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who has a great deal of responsibility in connexion with industrial matters in Australia, said that they are almost Christlike in their ideas, and that they are carrying out Christ-like activities. He has been challenged on that before, and .1 shall not worry him further with it now. Neither shall I review his long record as the father and fountain-head of communism in Australia. He was the chairman of the 1921 conference of trade unions which set forth a manifesto urging, as a matter of trade union policy at that time, the abolition of the Parliament and the setting up in its place of a supreme economic council, modelled on that of Soviet Russia. That was 25 years ago, and the Minister may have learned much since then. While he may have changed his views there is not the slightest evidence that he has done so.
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture interjects; he is the greatest Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that Victoria has ever produced! He is a gentleman who, having been defeated at every turn by the wheat-growers of Australia when trying to fasten upon them a stabilization scheme of his own concoction, and having been challenged in this House by members on this side, both as to the merits and the validity of the scheme, delved into the files which were left by myself and Sir Earle Page respectively, when we were Ministers for Commerce, and extracted an old plan which we placed before Cabinet in 1940. The Minister now claims that this is his new stabilization plan - the “Pollard wheat plan “. Every bit of that plan has been taken direct from the secret documents left on the files when we went out of office. All that the Minister did was to change the name, alter the price from the figure of, I think, 5s 2d. in 1940, to 6s. 3d. He then called it the great Australian wheat plan. I hand it to him with pleasure. If he had asked for it he could have had it. The fact that he claims credit for it does not matter, because the wheat-growers will recognize it as the old plan which was evolved by Sir Earle Page. It looked familiar to the Victorians, who thought that they had seen it around, but could not place it for a while. As soon as it was exposed to the full light of day I recognized it.
I am very glad that we have been able to help the Minister to do so much for the wheat industry. But what about doing something now for the dairying industry? We on this side of the committee could offer him a few suggestions. He may not be receptive, but nevertheless if he is in office long enough the dairying industry might easily be dealt with like the wheat industry. As the Minister considers everything for up to six or twelve months, exhausts all his own resources, and finally adopts somebody else’s ideas, I shall suggest one or two courses that he could take. I am glad that the Minister is present in the chamber. The dairying industry is on the down-grade despite everything that the Prime Minister has said. If the Minister wants facts and figures I can supply them. I do not know whether he is a practical farmer, but if he has had any experience in farming, he should recognize that the quantity of butter and milk produced in Australia is governed, to a substantial degree, by the number of cows that are milked. The quality of the stock and type of feed are factors which affect production, but by and large the amount of production which we can expect is governed by the size of the herds. I shall quote figures published in the Commonwealth Statistician’s quarterly statement, Summaryof Dairy Industry in Australia, for the year ended December, 1947, relating to the number of dairy cattle.In 1943 there were 5.000.000 dairy cattle in Australia. There was a decrease in 1944 to 4,900,000, while in 1945 the number fell still further to 4,800,000. In 1946 there was yet another fall to 4,600,000, while in 1947 the figure dropped to 4,590,000. Honorable members will see that since 1943 there has been a decrease of approximately 100,000 each year in the number of dairy cattle in Australia.
– But more milk was produced this year than in 1943.
– I am not speaking in the abstract, but am quoting figures which were collated by an organization which was specially set up by Parliament to collect the information. One of the most serious aspects of that decrease is that the number of heifers under the age of one year, which are the potential dairy cows of the next year or so, fell last year by more than 60,000 to a total of approximately 864,000.
– That was not so in the New England district.
– I remind the Minister that this is not a laughing matter for the people of Great Britain are down to the minimum of butter requirements. They are receiving the smallest ration of butter in their history. and their only hope of increasing the quantity substantially rests in greater imports, not from the United States of America, Canada, Holland and Denmark, but from Australia and New Zealand. That this fact is recognized is borne out by the report of the recent decision to increase to approximately 2s. 7d. the price which the United Kingdom will pay to the Australian Government for our butter. As statements in the House of Commons and announcements by the British Ministry of Food indicate, the United Kingdom Government reached this decision in the hope and belief that the higher price will encourage Australian diary-farmers to step up production. That hope will be realized if the amount of the increase is paid to dairyfarmers. Unfortunately, the Australian Government, which boasts of its decision to make a gift of £10,000,000 to the United Kingdom this year, and which is extracting an additional 5d. per lb. for butter from the British people, is withholding the increase from dairyfarmers who are entitled to it, and has announced that it will distribute the money four, five, six or seven years hence, mould the price of butter fall. That is why the people of Great Britain will receive very little additional butter. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture appointed a special committee to investigate the cost of production in the dairying industry.
– He appointed that committee at the request of the Opposition.
– ‘That is so. The members of the committee were most efficient and I offer no criticism of them. They all had experiece of the dairying industry, and were well qualified to make a report on the cost of production. Tie Minister did not accept their report. After they had recommended the payment of a certain price, he arbitrarily reduced the amount, and producers will receive approximately £4,500,000 per annum less than the figure which, the committee considered, represented a payable price. The price which the Minister decided to pay is barely sufficient to enable some dairyfarmers to continue. Indeed, the majority of dairy-farmers in New South Wales and Queensland cannot hope to step up production. As the result of the Minister repudiating the report of the committee, Australian dairy-farmers and the people of the United Kingdom have been let down. I admit that the output of certain dairy products such as condensed milk, whole milk and processed milk has been increased, but dairy-farmers are receiving a return which will not enable them to incur the expenditure that is required to enable them to step up production. They need more money with which to buy fertilizers, improve their stock and subdivide their paddocks. According to the experts, those three factors are essential to increased production. But the pricewhich the Government is now paying is sufficient to enable only a very prudent dairy-farmer to buy the necessaries of life.
– When the Government in which the honorable member was a Minister was in office, only 99 dairyfarmers in Queensland had taxable incomes. The honorable gentleman himself made that statement.
– The Government in which I was a Minister at least gave dairy- farmers the opportunity to sell their products on the open market. This Government is not prepared to allow them to do so. As I have stated, Great Britain is paying 2s. 7d. per lb. for Australian butter under a five-year contract, subject to certain variations not exceeding 5 per cent or 7½ per cent. The world is urgently in need of fats, and the present demand for butter is not likely to decrease for many years.
The budget as a document reveals consistency - consistency with the policy and objectives of the Australian Labour party.
– Hear, hear !
– I have nodoubt that, during the next election campaign, the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) will try to repudiate any suggestion that he has signed the Labour party’s pledge, which reads, in part -
I also pledge myself to actively support and advocate at all times the party’s objectivethe socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange.
I challenge the honorable member to repudiate that he has signed that pledge.
– The honorable member for Richmond has read only a portion of the pledge. He should read all of it.
– Did the honorable member for Denison sign the pledge?
– Yes, but I ask the honorable member to read all of it.
– Did the honorable member for Martin sign the pledge ?
– I did.
– We did not emasculate the pledge as the honorable member for Richmond is doing.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! There are too many interjections. I ask the honorable member for Richmond to address the Chair.
– Honorable members opposite admit that they signed the pledge.
– We sighed the Labour party’s pledge, and not necessarily the pledge to abstain from drinking alcoholic liquors.
– I am not holding it against honorable members opposite that they did so.
– Of course, the honorable member is.
– I am not, because I realize that, had they refused to sign the pledge, they would not have secured the nomination as Labour party candidates,, and, consequently, would not now be members of the House of Representatives. They were obliged to sign the pledge. Their masters said that they had to do so. One of the objectives of the Labour party is the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange.
– Hear, hear!
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) interject “ Hear, hear ! “, but the Minister for Defence is silent. Members of the Labour party consistently endeavour to give effect to the policy of the party.
– Of course we do. At least we have a policy.
– Do honorable members opposite consistently observe the following objective of the Labour party -
To invest the High Court with filial jurisdiction in all Australian causes.
The purpose of that objective is to make the High Court of Australia, and not the Privy Council, the final court of appeal. But when honorable members opposite think they can get away with it, they are prepared to take an appeal against a decision of the High Court to the Privy Council, as in the recent banking case.
– We learnt that lesson from the anti-Labour parties, which appealed to the Privy Council against the decision of the High Court in the James case.
– The principles of honorable members opposite are dictated by expediency. They can switch their principles as rapidly as a woman can change a dress.
– The honorable member must think that we on this side of the chamber are dumb.
– The honorable member for Denison’s interjections are most interesting, but I should like to proceed with my speech without interruption.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! Honorable members on- both sides of the chamber are interjecting too frequently They must refrain from doing so.
– Another objective of the Australian Labour party is the abolition of the Senate. Perhaps honorable members opposite can reconcile that with legislation recently introduced by the Government to increase the number of senators from 36 to 60. It was expedient for the Labour party to depart from its objective because it believed that by increasing the number of senators il would be able to retain control of the Senate for the next six years. The federal platform and objective of the Australian Labour party is something that is here to-day and gone to-morrow. The only steady light shining through it is the intention to socialize industry, production, distribution and exchange. Honorable members opposite never deviate from that principle. They are prepared to appeal to the Privy Council rather than to accept the decision of the High Court if they can thereby socialize the means of exchange. They will do anything to remain in office. As long as what is done is expedient, it does not matter to them whether or not it is in their platform. Moral values mean nothing to them.
– Moral values ! Where did the honorable member learn the word! The hide of him ! I put my head under the table for shame.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member for Denison must cease interjecting.
– This document, which sets out the policy of the Australian Labour party, is very interesting. It shows that honorable members opposite are not carrying out some of the principles that are enumerated in it, and that they are carrying out others. It is a hit-and-miss system. Another of their objectives is stated as follows: -
Amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution … to assure that no Australian citizen can he conscripted for military service.
The Minister for “Works and Housing says, “ Hear, hear ! “ Does he not believe in compulsory military service?
– -The honorable member is just another liar. I said nothing.
– The nationalization of banking, credit and insurance is, as we know, part of the policy of honorable members opposite. The nationalism of shipping is another part. We should not have known anything about that but for a letter that was written by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) to a seaman on a ship on the Australian coast. It was not announced in the Parliament at all. Another plank of the federal platform of the Australian Labour party is the nationalization of wireless transmission, including broadcasting. We can understand why frequency modulation has not got much of a chance in Australia. If concerns such as the Macquarie radio network think that by fawning upon the Prime Minister giving the right honorable gentleman free time on the air and charging the leaders of the Opposition parties the full rates, they will save their hides, they are makin? a mistake, as they will see if they read this document. Further down the list of objectives appear the following words : -
No imperial federation . . .
In other words, no Empire.
– The British Commonwealth of Nations instead.
– The document from which I have been quoting is issued by the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party. Among its office bea-ers are “the Hon. A. A. Calwell, M.H.R., the Hon. J. J. Dedman, M.H.R., and Senator D. Cameron “, all of whom are members of the Chifley Ministry. The document sets out the Labour party’s objectives and thereby reveals the inconsistencies of honorable members opposite. It shows that they are prepared to skip a principle here in order to gain an advantage there. It tells all those who are prepared to study it that the ultimate objective of the Australian Labour party is the conscription qf people under socialization as a pathway to communism.
.- lt is inevitable that any government which assumes office will be attacked b> the Opposition. We are quite used to that. Nevertheless the people of Australia must be somewhat tired of the petty bickerings in this chamber which anbroadcast to the nation. Nothing seems to be worthy of attention to-day except the delinquencies of a small group of people in Australia. During the war there was a concerted effort to put the country on a satisfactory basis as far as war production was concerned. Is there to be no concerted effort with regard to peace production? Why is it considered necessary to have order and good government in time of war and apparently not considered necessary to have order and good government, or even respect for one another, in time of peace? I may nol be completely satisfied with everything in the budget that was presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), but I realize that Australia is in a more fortunate position at the present time that any other country in the world. This must be due either to good luck or to good management. If there had been glaring mismanagement, the country would nol be so comfortable or prosperous as it is. To be logical, therefore, one must give credit where credit is due and congratulate the Government upon those things that have been well done. In my opinion, those things are neither few nor negligible. Having done that, I feel myself free to offer suggestions and criticism.
I recently drew attention to the possible danger to some workers by the expiration of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act on the 31st December of this year. We are now advised that Cabinet has decided to recommend that this legislation shall be extended for a further twelve months. I am aware that by raising the question before the act has expired it might have appeared to some honorable members that the outcry was rather like that which was raised by the White Queen, in the famous story of Alice, before she pricked her finger on the pin that held her shawl. It will be remembered that the White Queen said, “ It is a poor sort of memory that onlyworks backwards”. We know from experience that some workers have suffered because of the lack of definition of their positions as far as wages or salaries are concerned. I think that it is necessary for the members of the Government to train their memories to work both backwards and forwards. Quite a number of pinpricks have been brought to my notice, but I do not intend to deal with them at his stage.
I propose now to refer to some of the. paragraphs in the Treasurer’s budgetspeech dealing with social services. Before the Parliament assembled some newspapers stated on a number of occasions hat the means test was to be eased. I lad on several occasions previously asked for its abolition. The easing of the means test now proposed is, to my mind, most disappointing. It is claimed that -.he complete abolition of the means test would cost the Australian Government n additional £54,000,000 annually. What of that? With the introduction of almost every progressive measure some »ne has claimed that the country would 1Ot be able to afford its application. Despite such claims the Australian people lave gained the maternity allowance, child endowment, widows’ pensions and hospital and other benefits. Shall we say, it any stage, “ This is where we must draw the line. We cannot make further progress “. The *Coburg Citizen, which is an Australian Labour party publication, wrongly assumed that I had failed ;o ask in this House for the implementation of the Labour party’s policy of abolition of the means test. That newspaper drew attention to the indignity of the means test, and went on to say -
It- is good to know that Labour representatives are working for the abolition of the blot.
By that sentence the newspaper quite incorrectly intended to make it clear that I am not a Labour representative. The paragraph ends -
Does Mrs. Blackburn think that the punishment of aged wage-earners should not be administered beyond bearing point?
Tn reply to that article, I ask, where are those Labour representatives mentioned by the newspaper, who wish to eradicate this blot? It appears to me that, entirely alone, I conduct a campaign on this matter, despite this propaganda which is issued in my electorate by the Australian Labour party press which wishes to create feeling against me. It is claimed by many that age pensioners are living is almost luxurious circumstances. They may occupy their own homes and posses* property to a value of £750.. A husband and wife, who are age pensioners, receive £2 2s. a week each. They may also earn 30s. a week each and thus have between then an income of £7 4s. a week. Thai is described by some people as a luxury The newspapers, have made that point quite clear. It is conveniently forgotten that possibly 80 per cent, of the age pensioners are physically unable to earn any money and would not be able to find suitable employment. No one wants the old and infirm except to do the unpleasant and dirty work which other members of the community, avoid. There are noi many age pensioners who have the comfort of their own homes. The position in Victoria is so bad that the varioumunicipalities have been asked by the State to supply facts and figures showing the requirements of homes and rooms and the age of individuals residing in various districts, so that steps can be taken to cater for them. The housing problem is worse to-day than it ever was, despite any statements to the contrary. We are told that in Victoria houses are being erected at the rate of 12,000 a year, tha’ is only 1,000 a year behind the 1923 rate At the same time the marriages figure if some thousands ahead of that figure. 1 shall not go over that ground again as 7 have spoken of it before.
An increase of 5s. a week is to be mad» in the allowance paid to trainees under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. The increase is long overdue and is not yet sufficient. Among university students who come under this scheme are married men with families. A trainee with a wife and children has been receiving £5 10s. weekly, plus a small sum foi fares, which is by no means enough when one considers that because of the housing shortage many of them have to live fas from the city and pay increased fares. Such a trainee will now receive £5 15s. 8 week. Trainees at present receive an allowance with which to purchase book* and instruments. I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the plight of medical students in particular. For the last three years of their medical course those students work in hospitals and ar* required to wear suitable clothing. They must wear white coats,, and require a supply of four or five, two or three of which would require laundering each week. At one hospital which students attend during the final years of their course, they must dress entirely in white. That means that out of their small income they must provide white duck trousers, white shoes, white socks and. white ties in addition to white coats. Added to the expense of providing these items of clothing is the cost of having them laundered.. All honorable members know how far short £5 15s. a week must be in the meeting of such costs. When I referred to this situation on a previous occasion the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) suggested that those individuals were being treated very generously by the Government and should be grateful. I agree that there is a very striking difference between the manner in which exservicemen from the last war are being helped to-day compared with the scheme in operas <ion after World War I.
– After World War I. exservicemen could obtain vocational training just as they may now.
– They could not obtain vocational training in those days to the same degree as they may obtain, ifr now. It’ must be remembered that ex-servicemen are being trained because- thecountry requires their services in the various phases of industry. For that reason their training must be adequate and they should not be constantly reminded that gratitude is either necessary or expected. Although they may be grateful for the- training they receive, let us not claim that they are receiving a living allowance, during their years of training; which permits- either themselves or their families to live in security. The facts are that in most, cases wives of such trainees must engage in employment to augment the family income. To do so they must make whatever arrangements they can to have their children looked after.. I do not consider that a. satisfactory position.
I wish now to commend the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) for a statement which he made last night. I know that he was sincere in urging all members to talk of peace rather than of war. He might have. gone further and advocated, as I do now, action towards peace as well as talk about it. While the countries of the world are making de”fensive preparations, one against th» other, and indicating growing distrust anger and further ill feeling will develop until war looms on the horizon. At> ancient writing gives us these colourful words -
Surely the churning of milk bringeth fort) butter, and the wringing of the nose bringethforth blood: So the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
We are much too prone to “ force wrath ‘” by pushing to extremes our policy against the nationals of other countries. Nc longer is the wife of a British subjecable to claim the protection of British nationality which she is supposed te acquire on marriage. We have not the wisdom of the ancients in the matter omaking friends with those. whom we have conquered. The generals of Alexander and other famous leaders of past age* were not only expected to fraternize with conquered people but were also directed to encourage marriage with their conquered enemies, so that ultimately friendship would grow between victor and the vanquished. So completely have we abandoned Christian teaching that to-day we speak of om former enemies “polluting the country’and we refuse them permission to conn to our shores. A number of people ii. Japan to-day know from their own personal experiences that Australians an feared in Japan, They say that thi Japanese child is as terrified of an Aus tralian as possibly many Australian children may have been terrified by the stories they heard of the- Japanese. 1 have had letters from a priest engaged in missionary work in Japan stating thai that is so. If the- Australians do nol make clear to the Japanese the kind of work on which they are engaged, the Japanese children will not come neat them. If foreigners in Japan aTe known to be Australians or Americans the Japanese children are terrified of them. They are feared as soldiers and foreigners. The people of one country may develop hatreds which go just as deep at those of another. It is for the people’ f the world to come together in an attempt to overcome these hatreds. Unless they are prepared to do so, there is no prospect of peace in the world. It is not for me to suggest here how such collaboration can be brought about ; but surely if it is seriously attempted it can be achieved. The common people all over the world desire peace. Both the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) have spoken along the same lines. Their words were, I thought, at times, almost inspired, and we must all come around to this way of viewing the problem of world peace. We must not only talk of peace rather than war; we must also work for peace and do everything possible to avoid the recurrence of war.
Ex-servicemen as well as aged people have taken a very live interest in the subject of home construction. First priority should be accorded to all homeconstruction projects. I am unable to understand how the Government can reconcile its appeals to the people to work for peace with its decision to accord first priority for scarce building materials to the guided weapons range at Woomera. If the Government is sincere in asking the people to talk and work for. peace, it should take this elementary step to bring about the security of the people by providing them with much-needed homes. The Government must think in terms of housing for the people. Although migrants coming to Australia are supposed to have accommodation provided for them, we hear every day of migrants who, after having resided in the accommodation provided for them for two or three weeks, have been able to secure homes of their own. In some instances to which my attention has been drawn wealthy migrants from overseas have been in the market for homes a few days after their arrival in this country. I do not know what can be done to prevent that sort of thing from occurring. If the Government is aware that this is going on it should be able to take some action to protect our own people from the competition of migrants bringing money from overseas^ I shall reserve my further comments until the Estimates are under consideration.
.. - During the debate on the budget much comment has been made on the Government’s defence proposals. Running through the minds of Government supporters there seems to be the thought that peace is the paramount considera-# tion. While we all desire peace, honorable members opposite appear to hold theextreme view, so popular before the outbreak of World War II., when the call was for “ peace in our time “, that we should seek to preserve peace at any price. The Government might well heed thechange of attitude of the Government of the United Kingdom, which, after having considerably reduced the forces in the last few years, has decided to increase them and build up armaments, specifically aircraft and tanks. This Government makes great play of its defence expenditure. It intends to expend £250,000,000 in a five-year programme on defence, of which £75,000,000 will be expended on the Navy, £62,500,000 on the Army and £62,500,000 on the Air Force. We had a hint from the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) that the amount might be increased, but it has not been increased. It is an odious comparison to talk about the money expended on defence before the war and now, because, although Ave are spending a lot of money on the armed services, we have little or nothing to show for it. In his budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said -
Satisfactory progress has been made in the development of the Royal Australian Air Force on its approved post-war basis. All units have their full complements of aircraft and the Royal Australian Air Force will be developed and operated in 1 948-49 in accordance with the planned increase of that force.
I have endeavoured, from time to time, to obtain from the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) information as to the strength of our squadrons and the numbers of aircraft involved. My private information leads me to believe that the squadrons are not up to complement or anything like it. Reverting to the fiveyear programme under which £75,000,000 is to be expended on the Navy, £62,500,000 on the Army and £62,500,000 on the Air Force, I most strongly believe that the greatest amount of money should be expended on the Air Force because air superiority is of fundamental importance to defence. That was clearly demonstrated in World War II. by the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse by the Japanese because they bad air superiority at the time and because the vessels went into action without air cover. It was also revealed in the great change that took place in the Middle East when we gained air superiority and in the invasion of Europe, which could not have been accomplished without the overwhelming air superiority possessed by the Allies at that time. My specific reasons for saying that we need a larger air force than any other armed force are that we have a tremendous coastline, which necessitates a highly mobile force, and that we can only achieve quick concentration on a section of our coast by means of an air force. There seems to be some misconception that we shall have a breathing space in the event of another war. In World War I., we had a considerable breathing space and, in World War II., we had a breathing space of about eighteen months. But it required two years to get the Royal Australian Air Force under way. If we imagine we shall again have anything like that breathing space to develop our forces we are working on entirely false premises. When the Permanent Air Force, which the Government has set up, is at full strength, it will consist of 1,930 men. The Citizen Air Force will consist of 190 men. Those figures should be noted. Never was there so grossly inadequate a citizen air force than one consisting of only 190 men. Our air defence is split into two components, a home defence force and a task force. The home defence force will consist of 54 aircraft and 1,182 men. There will be four fighter squadrons of eight aircraft each, one bomber squadron of eight aircraft, one target-towing squadron of nine aircraft and one air-sea rescue squadron of six aircraft. The task force will consist of 90 aircraft and 2,061 men. There will be two fighter squadrons of sixteen aircraft each, three bomber squadrons of eight aircraft each, one technical reconniassance squadron of eight aircraft, two transport squadrons of eight aircraft each and one survey squadron of eight aircraft.
The total strength will be 144 aircraft and 3,243 men. We are to have 439 reserve aircraft, about which I propose to say something later, and 69S training aircraft. What really mattersis our immediate defence in the even of aggression, and the total of available combat aircraft, that is those that can be used for directly repelling the enemy, will be only 86. The numbers could be increased to 111 if the air-sea rescue and reconnaissance squadrons were included. Using the usual 75 per cent, serviceability rate, which is applied in the Royal Air Force, I point out that this means that our from line strength would be S4 aircraft. That, to say the very least of it, is a pathetic state of affairs in this year of grace, 1948. What we could hope to achieve with 84 aircraft passes my comprehension. I propose to make some suggestions that I believe the Government might well accept. There is no wellthoughtout system of developing potential operational bases in north and northwest Australia and the northern islands. Those bases are vitally necessary for strategic purposes. The best way to meet attack is to get as near to it as possible. We have no well-thought-out plans for a highly mobile force capable of concentration at short notice. Another lack from the point of view of civil aviation as well as military aviation is an efficient radar system. We have for years, during the war particularly, lagged far behind the Royal Air Force in the development of radar. I recall vividly that when 1 returned from England during the war the only type of radar, and, in many instances wireless equipment in use in Australia was either obsolete or obsolescent in the Royal Air Force. Here is a task which if the Government had any real interest in defence it would tackle immediately and energetically. The greatest need in the event of war would be a reserve which could be called up and put into action quickly. I wish to quote from a statement given to me by the Minister for Air, which lays down the conditions of service for the Citizen Air Force Reserve. Here it is stated that ex-members of the Royal Australian Air Force will be invited to give an undertaking that, in an emergency, they will rejoin the service, and the statement continues, “ There will be no training liability”. That is most significant. I jay quite bluntly that it will be an utter waste of time to put men on the reserve if they are to be given no training. I am myself an ex-member of the Royal Australian Air Force, and I served in the last war. I have been out of the Air Force for three years, and I am so unfamiliar with modern equipment and development that if I were to rejoin I should be of no use whatever for a considerable time as a navigator or whathaveyou. Unless men are kept up to date by lectures and refresher courses, and given an opportunity to practise flying in aero clubs, it will be merely a waste of time and money to put them on the reserve. However, the most dangerous feature of the Government’s policy is that no provision is made for the rapid expansion of the Air Force. We have an available front line token air force of 84 aircraft, with trained crews, but there will be no -efficient reserves upon which to draw.
There is much dissatisfaction in the Royal Australian Air Force because of the lack of opportunities for promotion, and many young men, who served in the Royal Australian Air Force in the last war, have since left the service for this reason. Nothing is more calculated to kill a man’s ambition than lack of opportunity for promotion. At the present time, membership of the Royal Australian Air Force consists almost entirely of flight lieutenants, and there seems no prospect of their getting any further. That is one reason why the Royal Australian Air Force is not what it ought to be. Another cause for dissatisfaction is that so little flying is done. Some of my friends in the service have not flown for months. According to official figures, the Royal Australian Air Force has 439 reserve aircraft and 698 training aircraft, but all of them are out of date. They are obsolete, and are, in actual fact, rotting, as can be seen by any one who visits the Royal Australian Air Force stations at Wagga and Laverton. [Quorum formed.] I quote the following, from an article written by Air Chief Marshal Sir John Slessor, anr! I hope that it will impress upon members of the Government thi importance of air supremacy: -
Here, for instance, is Bayerlein, the com mander of the Panzer Lehr Division, describing his experiences on D day : “ At two o’clock in the morning of 6th June, I was alerted. J he invasion fleet was coming across the Channel. I was told to begin moving north that afternoon at 5 o’clock. This was too early. Air attacks had been severe in daylight and every one knew everything that could fly would support the invasion. My request for a delay till twilight was refused. We moved a* ordered and immediately came under an air attack. 1 lost twenty or thirty vehicles by nightfall … we kept on during the night with but three hours’ delay for rest and refuelling. At daylight General Dollman, commander of the Seventh Army, gave me a direct order to proceed and there was nothing else to do. The first air attack came about half-past five that morning near Falaise. By noon it was terrible. My nien were calling the main road from Vire to Beny-Bocage a fighter-bomber racecourse . . . Ever) vehicle was covered with tree branches and moved along hedges and the edges of woods. Road junctions were bombed and a bridge knocked out at Conde. This did not stop my tanks but it hampered other vehicles. By the end of the day I had lost forty tank trucks carrying fuel and ninety others. Five of my tanks were knocked out and eighty-four halt tracks, prime movers and self-propelled guns. J liege were serious losses for a division not yet in action.”
I chose that paragraph as a fairly straight-forward example of what air superiority can achieve. Obviously, we must get down to the business of establishing an effective Air Force. I note that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) is present. I was glad to hear that he is doing something to develop a Fleet Air Arm, which is most necessary for the defence of a country like Australia. I remind him that it is necessary to, increase the strength of the Air .Arm if it is to be effective.
Another criticism of the Royal Australian Air Force which I have to offer is” that no provision has been made for the carrying of air-borne troops. There are in Australia no troop-carrying aircraft, nor, apparently, is it proposed to get any. Again, I quote as follows from Air Chief Marsha] Slessor : -
We must keep abreast of the times ano develop a sound basis of training and tactics, both of airborne troops and the aircraft that carry them; we must desi,m. prototype and test the aircraft and equipment that will be needed and must see to it that, so far as is commercially possible the design of civil aircraft incorporates such features as may be necesary to make them easily adaptable to the military transport and supply role.
Nothing of that kind is being done in Australia. We have very few commercial aircraft capable of being rapidly converted for carrying troops. There is not in the Royal Australian Air Force a single machine which will carry troops, and the only kind of aircraft that might possibly be converted for this purpose is the Lincoln which, in time of war, would be needed for bombing.
Finally, I wish to state that, in my opinion, the Air Force is the only service arm capable of making any sort of reply to an atomic bomb- attack, whether the bombs, be delivered, by guided, rocketpropelled missiles,, or by ordinary aircraft. Government supporters have admitted that we are in the atomic era, and the only defence: against atomic attack is a strong. Air Force. Our present force, consisting of 84 operational aircraft, would be of no practical use for this purpose:
Recently; in1 the field of civil aviation^ there was a serious accident involving lossof life when the liner Lutana crashed. Once- again, I suggest that the Minister for Air might, consider- the- introduction of radar equipment as a: means of ensuring the safety of civil aircraft. The type [ recommend is that known under the code name of “Loran”. I have- heard it. objected such a service would, cost a lot of money, and that it would be necessary to maintain a considerable staff to keep it in. operation for. 24 hours a day. I believe, however, that when, we begin counting’ the cost in money as against the cost in lives it will be a bad lookout for civil aviation. It is very likely that, even, bad there been available a radar service of the “ Gee “ type, such an accident a3that which befell the Lutana, could not have occurred, because the pilot would at all times have known exactly where he was. At the present time, that is not always, necessarily so. I suggest that the cost: of installing radar- equipment might be borne equally by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Royal Australian. Air Force because- it would serve both civil and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft. This safety device is urgently needed. Civil aviation in Australia has a fine record,, and accidents, have- been, comparatively few, but whenever an opportunity arises to improve safety measures, we should take advantage of it.
I now desire to refer to the existing, set-up between the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of Works and Housing. A series of questions which I addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) last June, and his replies, reveal the position so clearly that I shall read them to honorable members I asked -
The Postmaster-General replied - 1 and 2. Responsibility for the carrying out of construction, extension, maintenance and re pair of all buildings for Commonwealth Government departments has always rested with the Departments of Works and Housing (or it* equivalent in pre-war years). The responsi bil i ties of that department are detailed’ in the Department of Works and Housing (Functions) Order published in. Commonwealth Gazette, No. 149, dated the 2nd August, 1945
I also asked: -
SR. Is it a fact that in many of these small cases the work: concerned could be carried out more expeditiously and with, at least equal efficiency by postal employees without detri-mental effects on postal work ?
Has this restriction, retarded the re habituation scheme of postal property and involved heavy and unnecessary expense, as well as excessive delays?
Will he’ ascertain what delays havoccurred in typical cases in all States, and will, he consider making a recommendation te his department in conjunction with the Department of Works and Housing, that all’ minor works, repairs, alterations, improve ments, &c, below a certain figure be conducted by the personnel of the Postmaster-General’s. Department?
In view of the fact that the personnel of the Postmaster-General’s Department constitute more- than half of the Public Service and give a useful service to the community, will lie enable that department to employ it* own artisans for these Al nor works and avoid such works being subject to any delays due-fa* the Department of Works and Housing?
The Postmaster-General replied -
I am vitally interested in war pensions. Although the budget provides for an> increase of 5s. a week, war pensions are completely out of balance with other pensions. In 1920, the invalid and oldage pension was 27s. 6d. a week less than the maximum war pension. By 1942, the invalid and old-age pension was only 12s. 6d. a week less than the maximum, war pension. Since 1920, the invalid and old-age pension has been increased on eleven occasions, the total amount of theincrease being 22s. 6d., but, in the sameperiod, the war pension has been increased only once, ‘ and, on that occasion, theamount was 8s. a week. Whilst I do not in any way deprecate. the increase of theinvalid and old-age pension, I believe that scant a’ttention has been paid to war pensions. The proposed increase of 5s. a week is grossly inadequate. Some cognizance should be taken of the basis or* which the war pension is computed. As far as I can gather, there appears to be no real basis upon which it is calculated. The war pension should be based on the cost of living, the value of the £1, or the basic wage. No real attempt has been, made to increase war pensions commensurate with the increase of invalid and age pensions since 1920. One of my friends, who is a member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial: League of Australia, remarked, “ With all this talk of pensions for defeated politicians, it would be better to get the political bullet rather than the sniper’s bullet.. which means that for the rest of your life you try to exist on the meagre war pension which is paid now “.
I shall devote much more time to the discussion of the Estimates than I have to the budget itself, and at appropriate times, I shall refer to a number of subjects. However, I strongly support the -amendment submitted by the Acting Leader of the Opposition.
.- I have no intention of attempting to dissect the budget so capably presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), or of engaging in a dissertation on the creation of new States, although I believe that they will inevitably be required. Nor do I propose to advocate constitutional reform, although I consider that the Constitution must be altered so as to give the Parliament of the Commonwealth complete authority in all matters. I shall not -engage in a dissertation on socialization, although the subject is so attractive that [ am greatly tempted to devote some time to it. However, I desire to address myself specifically to communism, which deserves special attention. The Australian Labour party is uncompromisingly opposed to communism, and has shown its opposition in a number of ways. Both the Federal and State branches of the Australian Labour party, which are the bodies that govern the organization, have also expressed their opposition to communism. Various speakers in this chamber, notably the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), have made attacks on communism, and I largely agree with their statements. The Labour party is composed principally of unionists. Unionists may or may not be Communists. I see no way, short of the exclusion of Communists from membership of trade unions, to ensure that unionists are not Communists. If unionists are not Communists, the reasons for the exclusion of Communists from membership of trade unions should be reasons stated by the Labour party. I lo not think that Communists should be allowed to exercise any influence over the Labour party. They do so at present. The Labour party must prove that it is not Communist. The Labour party must prove that unionists have no association with communism. That may mean that the Labour party will be split into at least two sections. That would be regrettable, but it may be unavoidable Communism is said to be irreligious. We are very proud of the fact that there is no religious test under the Constitution. Therefore, under the Constitution com munism, though in other respects undesirable, is not forbidden. Yet the Labour movement must rid itself of communism. It must actually prove that Communist? are not eligible for admission to the Labour party, even though in the opinion of the Labour party they are not eligible at present.
– There are no Communists in the Labour party.
– I have a strong idea that Communists are not in the Labour party for the reason that they are not permitted to be in it. They are rightly excluded. They cannot be excluded for a reason which is incidental to communism, which is that Communist* are regarded as irreligious, not believing in Christianity. As there is no religious test under the Constitution, they should not be excluded on that ground. However, I think that they are rightly excluded from the Labour party on other grounds. I do not intend to say tha’ members of the Australian Labour part: may not be socialists, because the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) proved that the Labour part? has a socialist objective. As a matter of fact, many of them are. The Labouparty is uncompromisingly opposed t>communism, and we may leave it at thai
I do not intend to elaborate upon the proposals for the creation of new States, to which reference was made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I merely say that 1 believe that, the necessary alteration o< the Constitution must eventually hmade.
– I do not propose to attempt to dissect the budget. I shall merely refer to some of its salient features in an endeavour to illustrate how hypocritical and false it is. and how the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has attempted to mislead the people. Before I do so, I propose to relate to the committee two incidents that occurred in the City of Sydney, the largest city in Australia, last Saturday and Monday. On Saturday morning I endeavoured to buy a small celluloid medallion with the flag of my country on it, but 1 found it impossible to do so. Last Monday, again in Sydney, I attempted to buy the national flagof my country. I wanted only a small one, measuring approximately 6 inches by 6 inches, but [ did not succeed. I inquired in many shops there, including some of the largest multiple stores, but I could not buy a blue ensign, which is the national flag of Australia. I believe that the reason why it is impossible to buy our national flag is that there is no demand for it in Australia to-day. The Government has brought the people of Australia to such a sorry pass that they are rapidly losing their national spirit. I eventually bought this flag which I now hold in my hand. I propose to describe to the committee some of its features in case -honorable members, like the public of Australia, have largely forgotten what it looks like. In one corner it has the Union Jack, which is the flag of our Motherland. Beneath it, there is a seven-pointed star, representing the six States of the Commonwealth and the mandated territories. In another corner there is the Southern Cross - the great constellation of the southern hemisphere. The Government would have no difficulty in combating communism in Australia if it assured the people that that symbol, the Southern Cross, will not be removed and replaced by the great constellation of the northern hemisphere, the Great Bear. That is a constellation which some people are desirous to see shining, not only in the heavens, but also over the whole earth. The Prime Minister of Australia and his Government should assure the people of Australia that it does riot intend to permit the great Russian bear to put his dirty paws on this flag, or to remove from it the constellation of the Southern Cross and replace it with the constellation of the Great Bear. What the people of Australia want to know to-day is that they have a government which loves and stands by the flag of our nation. The Government has betrayed the flag. It should . give the assurance that the people seek and so restore their confidence that they really have an Australian Government and not a government prompted by communism, and largely subservient to the will of the Soviet. In the circumstances I have outlined I ask for leave to have a replica of the flag of my native country incorporated in Hansard. There is no technical difficulty involved,and I consider that anybody who denies the right of the Australian people to see their national flag in Hansard brands himself as a sympathizer of the Communists.
– Is leave granted?
Leave not granted.
– The Ministerfor Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) has refused to consent to leave being granted to have our national flag incorporated in Hansard. I do not propose to say any more on that subject, and I shall turn now to the budget.
When I read the budget speech and when I hear the Prime Minister (Mr Chifley) speak in this House, I am reminded of that noble poem by Tennyson entitled The Passing of Arthur. Honor able members will recall that the dying King Arthur was lying on his couch, and turned to Sir Bedivere and asked him to throw the sword Excalibur into the lake Sir Bedivere finally did so and out of the lake rose an arm “ clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful”. After hearing the Prime Minister speak I always think of these lines, because he clothes himself “ in white samite, mystic, wonderful “. He if so pure, holy and righteous that one feels that he could never do wrong. He is a mystic and, like all mystics, when he is asked a plain question he never givesa plain answer. Like the Delphic oracle in far-off times, his remarks areso ambiguous and so mystical that nobody understands what he means.
– The people understood him during the last election campaign.
– He is wonderful because people do not realize either what he does or is. There are two questions on which he made great play in the budget speech. Early in the speech he stated-
I am convinced that we must stepup the quantities of our exports.
The quantity of our exports, as hasbeen conclusively proved in this chamber, has not been stepped up since the present Government took office. On the contrary, although values have gone up quantities have not Australia’s assistance to the starving people of Britain and other parts of the world is not increased by the additional book values of the goods we are sending abroad. What the people overseas require is a continued increase in the quantity of goods to help “hem to keep starvation from their doors.
Later in this very interesting speech, which is far, far stranger than truth, she Prime Minister stated -
We have, therefore, the clearest responsiblity on the one hand to economize in our tse of dollars and ou the other hand to earn is many more dollars as the nature of our ,rade makes possible.
Let honorable members examine those two statements. In the first statement the Prime Minister says it is our duty to step up our exports, and in the second he says that we should send our goods to dollar markets, to win dollars, or to the sterling market to save sterling countries from having to buy goods which are produced only in the dollar area. In either case the effect is the same. I shall quote specific instances to illustrate that the Government, and particularly the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), have betrayed the sentiments expressed in the budget speech by the Prime Minister by having refused to permit exports to go out of this country to win dollars or to assist starving people. [ particularly refer to an action which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture took in October and November, 1947, with regard to the maize-growers of the New England Tableland. On the 14th November, 1947, in reply to a request from the Northern New South Wales Farmers Union, he sent a telegram, signed “R. T. Pollard”, in which he stated that the Government was not prepared to issue an export licence for maize from the northern tableland, as there was an ample market available within Australia. He did not say that the price in Australia was about £14 a ton. Yet he and Mr. Bulcock, the Director-General of Agriculture, for Aus1tralia, and the former Minister for Agriculture of Queensland, had put their beads together and issued to the Queensland maize-growers export licences for 3,000 tons of maize when the export price for maize was about £33 a ton. The Minister, I repeat, refused to issue export licences to New South Wales maizegrowers. Those growers naturally protested and after further correspondence Mr. Bulcock told the general president of the Farmers Union that he would recommend the issue of licences for the export of 1,000 tons this year. I understand that the quota allocated to the Tumut grower* could not be filled by them.
– Where is Tumut?
– That is in the electorate of the honorable member for Hum* (Mr. Fuller) which will be represented by some one else next year. The New England Tableland growers were prevented from sending their maize overseas. I saw at Guyra a telegram offering £2S a ton for maize f.o.b. ship Darling Harbour for export to Japan which would be paid for in irrevocable credits in American dollars. This Government refused a licence for that maize to be exported to Japan. I might add that the Minister committed a breach of the Australian Constitution. He had simply acted in defiance of it. When the Farmers Union protested to me, ] wrote to it pointing out that the Minister had broken section 99 of the Constitution which states that the Commonwealth shall not by any law or regulation give preference to one State or any part thereof over any other State or any part thereof. I suggested to the union that it should take legal action, and I regret, that il was not wealthy enough to do so, or go to the Privy Council as this Government has done in another instance. I suggested also that it might consider issuing a writ of mandamus against the Minister and the Government to compel them to issue the export licences required. Another suggestion I made was that the union should sue the Commonwealth for damages on the grounds of breach of section 99 of the Constitution for having given preference to one State or part of a State and also sue the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and Mr. Bulcock personally. I regret that the union was unable to take such action, but I hope, if in the future I ever have an opportunity to catch the Minister committing so flagrant a breach of the Constitution as he did on that occasion, that I shall be able to take the necessary action to make him respect the rights of private ownership and property, and make him respect the Australian Constitution.
With regard to the Prime Minister’s statement that Australia was economizing in dollars and was working to increase both production of goods and the prices received for their sale overseas, I shall say again that the Prime Minister has deliberately misled the people of Australia, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has backed bini up in so doing. To increase exports of primary products from this country it is necessary to import more and more tractors. At the present time Australia is deficient in these machines. On the 4th July, 1948, Mr. Bennett, the Controller of Agricultural Machinery in the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, was reported in the Sunday Telegraph as saying -
There are about 12,500 tractors in New South Wales but many have broken down from continual use. So far 0,141 applications for new tractors have been lodged with me and with tractor distributing firms.
Despite this huge demand for tractors I expect to receive only 1,000 for New South Wales between June,” 1948 and June, 1049. Restrictions have been placed on the importation of tractors and spare parts to save dollars. [n the same article Mr. K. McPherson, Australian representative of John Deere and Company, the second largest tractor manufacturing firm in the world, pointed out that his company was prepared to supply many more tractors to Australia if import licences were granted. The Prime Minister, still very respectable and holy and clothed in white samite, in a reply to the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) on the 4th rune last, said that there were no restrictions placed on the importation of spare parts for American-produced machinery already in- Australia, and that the same position applied to tractors. He added -
We have endeavoured to obtain from the United States of America all the agricultural t tractors possible. [ shall show bow untruthful the Prime Minister was by quoting from a letter written by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr. J. J. Kennedy, to Mr. K. McPherson, the representative of the John Deere factory, addressed care of the Consul for the United States of
America in Sydney. Mr. Kennedy says that owing to the difficult dollar position the total number of tractors to be imported from the United States in the 1948-49 financial year, which had been determined, must be regarded as a tentative figure. His letter added -
Of this number 190 John Deere tractor* have been tentatively allocated to your organization for distribution throughout the Com mon weallth
The John Deere company was asking for an allocation and guaranteed the importation into this- country of 1,465 tractors. The Prime Minister and the Government have stated that they are bringing in all the tractors they possibly can and that in regard to the importation of tractors the dollar position does not matter one iota. Yet Mr. Kennedy, the Comptroller-General of Customs stated the exact opposite in that letter. Neither the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture or the Minister for Trade and Customs did anything to alter the position, but they made lying statement? to the primary producers that the shortage of tractors was not due to the dollar position but to the inability of American manufacturers to - supply them. The letter continues -
Immediately this is finalized approval will be given for the issue of licences for 25 pei cent, of the total, subject to a condition thai importation is not to be effected before 3061 June, 1948. Each subsequent quarter approval will be given for the importation oi a further 25 per cent, until Hie approved total is exhausted.
What that means is that this stupid Government and this stupid bureaucrat only allowed quarterly licences for 25 per cent, of the tractors ‘ required annually by those farms. Do they not know thai farmers have to sow their crops at a particular time of year? Do they think that the farmers can sow crops every three months? It is terrible that bureaucrats and inefficient Ministers of the Government should be able to come to a decision to allot* tractors to he brought in only at three-monthly intervals. How can the Government justify such a decision which means, in effect, that tractors must be held in cold storage until next year, thu? denying to the people of Great Britain much-needed foodstuffs? What inefficiency and blundering this is on the part of this Government. On the 17th February, Mr. McPherson again wrote to the Controller-General of Customs and the Minister for Customs stating that his company had programmed, if required, an obsolute minimum of 1,469 tractors for manufacture and export to Australia for the financial year 1948-49, of which slightly in excess of 44 per cent, were of the large cereal type. These tractors have always been very difficult to obtain in Australia, and still are difficult to obtain. On the 20th February, Mr. McPherson wrote to Mr. Bulcock, the DirectorGeneral of Agriculture, pointing out the position, but Mr. Bulcock did nothing. On the 27th May, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, backing up the untruthful statements of his leader, wrote to the Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce, in the electorate of the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, now the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully), in the following terms : -
I might add that the limited imports from the United States of America have not been solely due to the dollar shortage but to difficulties in meeting tractor requirement.
There were no difficulties with regard to the John Deere tractors, but the offer of the company was turned down, the Government refusing to allow these tractors to come to Australia. I do not know what reason lay behind that decision. There may have been some subtle reason for it other than sheer inefficiency on the part >f the Minister. There may even have Seen some “palm oil “. In a statement <>f policy on the 28th July the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture said -
The Commonwealth would continue to import all the tractors it could get and share them out between the States.
The Minister made a lying statement knowing full well that he had turned down the offer of John Deere to supply 1,469 tractors and reduced the number to 190. On the 4th June, Mr. McPherson sent telegrams to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice). Like Pontius Pilate, however, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture washed his hands of the matter and handed it over to the Minister for Trade and Customs. Subsequently, the latter replied to the effect that, owing to dollar shortages, no additional licences would be granted for tractors this year except for twenty additional units. During this period when tractors were prevented from coming to Australia, the Government provided 1,189,110 dollars to Metropolitan Cement Proprietary Limited for the importation of a second-hand cement plant from the United States of America. At that time, the company had no capital assets to pay for the plant, but the dollars were allocated to it. The company’s managing director was Mr. A. S. Taylor, whom I characterize, with a full sense of responsibility for my utterance, as a go-getting scoundrel. This is the company which, in the words of Mr. Taylor-
In the Commonwealth sphere, because of ito inherent merit, has received the complete personal sponsorship of the Prime Minister, who in addition to directing the approval of the capital issues matters, arranged for the granting to the company in this present time of stress, an authority and permit to import the complete cement-making plant from America, with the necessary dollar allocation.
The Prime Minister - an innocent man, a saint, a gentleman whom we are told would do nothing wrong - said that he had never met Mr. Taylor and had never heard of him until I mentioned his name in this chamber. If the right honorable gentleman made these dollars available to Mr. Taylor, and has lied to the Parliament about the circumstances, he is not fit to hold office as Prime Minister. If he, in fact, knew Mr. Taylor, and has lied in denying that he knew him, he is unfit to lead the Government. On the other hand, if the right honorable gentleman is so simple and innocent as to have agreed to provide approximately 1,200,000 dollars to a company, the name of the managing director of which he did not even know, he is not fit to be Prime Minister. In the late final extra edition of the Sydney Sun, of the 11th September. Mr. Taylor is reported to have said that ho had been associated with the foundation of several companies. I propose to give to honorable members some information about the type of companies with which Mr. Taylor was associated and some about Mr. Taylor himself. 1 remind honorable, members that Mr. Taylor’s application for an allocation of approximately 1,200,000 dollars, for the purpose of importing a second-hand cement-making plant, was sponsored by the Prime Minister at a time when the farmers of Australia were denied the requisite tractors to enable them to carry on. Many of the companies with which Taylor was associated failed, and only by the skin of his teeth has Taylor escaped gaol. My authority for that statement is the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr. Clarence Martin. In 1931 Mr. Taylor was declared bankrupt. His assets at that time amounted to £340 and his liabilities were a little in excess of £6,000. In 1932, presumably while still a bankrupt, Mr. Taylor floated Metropolitan Products Limited ; but, notwithstanding the fact that the company must have collected certain funds from investors, it failed to function. In 1938, he floated Atlas Portland Cement (Australia) Limited. He was appointed managing director. Another of Taylor’., companies was Berrima Electric Power Company Limited, of which he was also appointed managing director on the nomination of Mr. Markell, the proposition having been seconded by himself, because no other shareholders were present. Later, the company sued the new South Wales Government for compensa-tion for work which had actually been done by enemy prisoners of war at Berrima, and for certain work done at a coal mine which in fact had been carried out long before the company was formed. The directors were so terrified by the revelation of certain facts during the hearing of the case that on the second day of the hearing they agreed to accept a non-suit. During the hearing of the case, Mr. Shand, K.C., referred to the company as one being conducted with absolute fraud. Certain papers arising from the case were forwarded to the AttorneyGeneral for action. This is the sort of company that was floated . and organized by Mr. Taylor. The Government has associated itself with criminals. It has placed in the highest positions in the land men like the forger, Garden, and his associate, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). In 1940, things being a little dull in the cement business, Mr.
Taylor floated a company described &e Coal Oil and By-Products Limited; but. because the then Government, the FaddenMenzies Government, would not override the decision of the Advisory Committee on Capital Issues, the company was not given a permit to raise the requisite capital. Who was the champion who then took up the cause of Tayloin this chamber? It was none other than the former honorable member for Reid. Mr. Morgan, the importer of refugees, who were attracted by advertisements in the Austrian newspapers, and who charged them exorbitant fees for supposedly arranging for their entry into Australia. These are the sort of people with whom the Australian Labour party is associated. Mr. Morgan made pathetic pleas on behalf of Coal Oil and By-Products Limited. While he was a member of the Parliament he talked about the activities of great monopolies, but he was prepared to sell his soul to the devil in an attempt to obtain approval for the raising of the necessary funds to enable his company to operate. On the 16th April, 1942, Mr. Davies, the Labour member for WollongongKembla, in the New South Wale* Parliament, directed the following question to the Attorney-General : -
I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether it is a fact that a company known as the Coal Oil Products Proprietary Limited is taking money from persons by selling them shares, and promising to supply them with all their petrol requirements? Is he aware that this company is purchasing kerosene, putting it through some dirty colouring process, and selling it as petrol?
This is the company floated by the friend of the Prime Minister, the right honorable gentleman who is clothed in white samite Mr. Davies’s questions continued -
Is it also a fact that shareholders in thu company have lost their money through this gang of crooks!
Nothwithstanding that, the Prime Minister authorized the allocation of approximately 1,200,000 dollars to a company floated by this same man for the purchase of second-hand cement plant in the United States of America. Finally, Mr. Davie* asked -
Will the Minister have some investigation made into the matter with a view to protecting the public? ha. the course ‘ of his; reply.” on> the 13 th May, the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral stated that’ he had had the matter investigated and had gleaned some interesting facts. After pointing out that the name of the company was Coal Oil and By-Products Limited, he said- -
The Grown Solicitor has now. reported to. nae * follows:^ -
Coal .Oil and By-Products Limited was registered in Sydney, on the 12th December, 1940-
Chis was about the time when the former honorable member for Reid, Mr. Morgan, vas submitting his fervent pleas on behalf of the company. The Crown. Solicitor’s report proceeded - with a capital of £5.000 divided into 4,000 preference shares of £1 each, and 4.000 ordinary shares of 5s. each. The objects of the company were, among other things, to produce fuel, oil and other products from shale or coal. The directors of this company are Arnold Stanley Taylor, Cecil Oscar William Lyne, and Oswald Ford . . . The company set about forming groups of consumers, each member of a group signing a,n agreement with the company to subscribe to the- cost of erecting one retort, the liability of each subscriber being set. out in the schedule to the agreement.
Consumers who were to buy the products of the company subscribed £1,250 for the building of a retort. It was intended that Mr. Taylor and his confreres would sell them the petrol obtained from it. Taylor apparently got very enthusiastic about this, and talked about the amounts that would be required to build the retort. [ have in my possession a photostat copy of an original agreement made between Coal Oil and By-Products Limited, and one of the consumer groups, which shows that the. total subscriptions amounted to only £877 instead of £1,250. The document, which is signed by the unfortunate people who agreed to put up their money for this venture, was not even dated. The company omitted the formality of affixing its seal to the document in order to make it a binding agreement on both parties; but it did not omit to take money from those wretched people, lt failed to do what it set out to do. A report, was subsequently made to the Crown Solicitor pointing out that, although retorts were to be erected within a. period of six weeks, some of them had not been erected after the expiration of two years. While the company: was fail- ing to carry out its undertakings’, Mr. Taylor; this protege of the Prime Minister, floated another company called Mudgee Shale Oil Proprietary Limited, in which he held a controlling interest, for the purpose of’ undertaking exactly the same* work. Any. government which nef uses.- to. appoint a> royal commission to inquire1, into this matter, is unworthy of holding, the King’s commission and should resign. Another company floated by Mr. Taylor was called Fly-off Oil Proprietary Limited, but apparently it flew straight away with all the subscribers’ capital, for they, never saw their money again. Although the Crown Solicitor said that criminal proceedings could not be taken by the Crown against Mr. Taylor, that gentleman had a very narrow escape from joining his associate, Harold J. Price, the solicitor who is now gracing Long Bay gaol as the guest of His Majesty for having misappropriated an amount of £60,000 over a period, of years. This scoundrel Taylor is allowed by the Government to stay out of gaol, and. the company of which he was managing director was given 1,200,000 dollars to buy needless machinery for the manufacture. of cement, while the farmers of Australia are prevented from importing the tractors that would enable them to grow the food needed by the starving people overseas. Mr. J. T. Walton, chairman of directors of Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited, is reported in the Sydney. Morning Herald of the 11th September as having said-
The company has no doubt regarding the credentials of Mr. A. S. Taylor; of Berrima.
If Mr. Walton, Mr; Hartnett, Mr. Vickery,- Mr. Hamilton, Labour member for Namoi in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and Mr. Griffin, Mr. Vickery’s son-in-law, have no doubt about and have absolute confidence in Taylor, they must be birds of a feather, and I ask the Government to request the Government of. New South Wales to put a receiver into Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited, to administer it until it has been put on its feet, so that the people who have bought shares in it will not be treated as were those who bought shares in. the former companies of the robbing and thieving Taylor.
I refer now to another example of the Governments hypocrisy. I asked the Treasurer, upon notice, how many licences had been issued since the 1st July last for the importation of bottlelabelling machinery. Will bottle-labelling machinery feed the people of Great Britain or produce anything in this country that will earn us dollars? Of course not! But friends of the Government, whom I may name later, wielded power and influence with it and members of the Government party, whom I may also name, and went to and obtained from the Minister for Trade and Customs the licences to operate after the 1st July for the importation of bottle-labelling machinery to the value of just under 60,000 dollars, the equivalent of about 30 tractors, which, in a normal year, would enable the production of 80,000 bags of wheat. However, the hungry, grasping, criminal element, which, from the beginning of time, has supported and been associated with the Labour party, including the forger, Garden, and the people concerned in the stench of the Keane trunk case and other scandals that have flashed like lightning on the Government’s head, show us that the Government is entirely insincere and does not care a jot for the people of Great Britain or the farmers of Australia.
– The speeches of honorable gentlemen opposite show that they are so devoid of a positive policy that would merit their replacing Labour in power that they think that the only way in which they can shift the Government from office is by defaming it. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) claimed that we practically lived in contact with the most undesirable people in the community which reminds me of the old saying that birds of a feather flock together. The honorable member apparently believes that we consort with rogues and vagabonds who would destroy the country and have no love for their fellow men. No matter how high the state of mind of honorable members opposite may be or how pure their motives, they should know that all the good things do not grow in their garden. I consider that the speeches made by honorable gentlemen opposite have failed in their object and have been a wonderful compliment to the
Chifley Government. Their efforts to pull down the Government will not carry any weight with the people.
– The honorable member said that our speeches were a compliment to the Government.
– Yes. They will not pull much weight in the direction that honorable members opposite desire. My idea of a satisfactory budget is that it should give evidence of honesty, equity and security. The Government believe? that all the people, regardless of their status, are entitled to adequate food, clothing and shelter. Honorable members opposite should debate the budget a? it should be debated, from that standpoint. Instead they are seizing every opportunity of belabouring communism. They are not doing the country much good by doing so. As communism has been debated so much, however, let me, before I .get on to my real task of debating the provisions of the budget, say that Communists and I are as far apart a? the poles. A Communist would get no support from me and I would not expect any from him. I appreciate that a Communist may have ideals thai he believes are good. That is a matter for his own conscience. But [ disagree with the methods of Communists and the way they endeavour to control the people’s lives in the manner that they regard as the best for the people. I do not believe in force or domination. We must have a system of government that fits in with my remarks as to what a budget should be, and is honest, and that gives equity and security to the people. I deeply regret that honorable members opposite have said that we are friendly with the Communists. One honorable member stated that he would not say that we were “ fellow travellers “, but that he would say we were sympathetic to Communists. If he were to attend meetings of the trades and labour councils in the States and hear those who favour communism condemn the Australian Labour party advocates, he would soon realize that there is no friendship between us and the Communists. Doubtless, some policies to which the Labour party endeavours to give effect accord with some policies of the Communists. In my parliamentary experience, I have become aware that administrations, Labour or Liberal, do many things that are in accord with the policies of their political opponents. I was amused when the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) read extracts from the platform of the Labour party. He brought no secrets to light. The platform has been well known by all interested people for many years. As one honorable gentleman said, Labour members would not be here as representatives of and endorsed by the party unless they had fully subscribed to Labour policy. That is quite true, but it is nothing to attack us with. Honorable members opposite have talked bitterly about the socialization or nationalisation of industry. I know that many people do not like the nationalization of industry. But about two years ago, when I was a member of the Parliament of South Australia, the LiberalCountry party Government led by Mr. Playford, became, I think, the first government in Australia to nationalize the power and lighting services of a metropolitan area. Honorable members opposite say that nationalization or socialization is something that people should be afraid of and run away from-, but when their own colleagues in another legislative sphere nationalize a utility, they are silent. After the years that I have spent m both the trade union section and political section of the Labour movement, I know what it stands for. More than that [ know more about the people and their standards than do many honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) spoke about the standard of living of the workers and pro.duced figures which, he said, showed that, although a man, some years ago, could buy a suit of clothes with the pay for one week’s work, he had to part with the pay for two weeks’ work now to buy one. [f the honorable member had visited the homes of poor people as I did and had seen the conditions in which the people lived in 1939 and had recently revisited them, he would not have risen in this chamber and claimed that the standards of . the . workers to-day are far below what they were then. The Leader- of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), speaking about taxation, on the one hand, and wages, on the other, said, in effect, “ You give a rise with one hand and take it away with the other”. I do not know whether he was speaking about ordinary people, because the great burden of taxation beans heaviest on people at ‘the bottom of the ladder, and not on those at the top. I agree that a man on £1,000 or £1,500 a year is substantially taxed. But I also contend that what he ha.left after paying his tax is what counts. I remember meeting a man in my electorate just after the last general election. He told me that he had been speaking to his bank manager, who had said to him, “ You will be voting for the Liberal party candidate, I suppose “. He replied,. “ No, I support the Labour party “. The bank manager said to him, “ But your cheque for income tax this year was over £1,300. How can you support the Labour party when you pay over £1,300 in income tax ? “ The man replied, “ I am well aware of how much income tax I paid, but I am also aware of what I had left after the tax was paid. That is what determines my standard of living “. When honorable members opposite say that taxation has not been reduced sufficiently they must, surely, be thinking of the higher incomes. I agree with them that income tax rates rise somewhat too steeply, perhaps, from the exempt income to the middle income, but even in regard to the middle income ranges it is what is left after the tax if paid that counts. I have been examining the tables prepared for the information of honorable members about income tax rates, and I believe that some of the figures might well be put on record in Hansard so that the public may understand the real position. During the war, when taxation rate.” were at their highest, a man with out dependants, who was receiving £250 a year, paid £36 14s. in income tax. Such a man now pays only £12 10s., a reduction of £24. A man with £300 a year, without dependants, paid £55 during the war, whereas he now pays only £18 15s. The man with £500 a year, without dependants, paid £136 in income tax during the war, but even then he had £364 left, and that is ‘what counts. His tax. has “been reduced from £136 to £53, a ‘reduction of £83. We now come to the man on ^£5,000 -a year. During the war, he paid £3,530 in income’tax, whereas he now ‘pays £2,405, -a reduction of £1,125. When the Leader of the Australian Country party (.Mr. -Fadden) said that the Government was collecting more revenue from income tax now than ever before, he did not state the position quite fairly. I am not saying that his figures were incorrect, because it is true that the total amount of income tax collected is greater than ever before. However, the individual is, in many instances, paying less than he did during the war, and even those who are actually paying more are doing so because they are receiving more. When the right honorable gentleman was discussing our exports of primary products he said that, on the basis of pre-war values, such exports had increased, not by more than 100 per cent, as shown by statistics, but by only 44 per cent. However, when he discussed income tax collections, he did not apply the same rule. He did not take into account the fact that present returns from income taxation are conditioned .by the present-d’ay value of money.
I regard the man in receipt of £6 a week as a basic-wage worker. On an income of £300 a year, a man without dependants pays £18 15s. income tax, but the nian with a wife to support pays only £7 16s. Moreover, it must be remembered that this payment of £7 16s. represents his social service contribution, and is not income tax in the ordinary sense of the word. Those who press for the abolition of the present system of uniform taxation would do well to remember this. Even if the system were abolished, existing social services would have to be continued. We should still have to pay age and invalid pensions, widows’ pensions, and hospital benefits, all of which are financed out of social service contributions. Thus, if the system of dual income taxation were restored the man on £300 a year would have to make his social contribution to the Commonwealth Treasury, and pay something in State income tax as well. The man on £300 a year, who has a wife and one child to support, now pays only £1 11’s income tax, and I cannot agree that thi* constitutes an unduly heavy burden. It represents a social service contribution of only about ‘7d. a week. The man on £300 a year, with a wife and two chi1dren, makes no social service contribution at all, but his wife receives £26 a year child endowment for one of heT children. It is absurd, therefore, for honorable ‘members opposite to talk of taxation pressing heavily upon basic wage earners, or to suggest that it i* depriving them of food, clothing and other necessaries.
During the war, a man receiving an income of £500 a year paid £80 16s income tax .if he had a wife and two children to support. He now pays £21 9s That is not a very large deduction from £500, seeing that his wife is entitled t© receive £26 a year child endowment as an offset against the payment of £21 9s. in tax. The tax payable by a man on £500 a year, who has a wife and two children, has been reduced by £59 7s., whereas the tax payable by a man receiving £5,000 a year has been reduced by £1,125. The Leader of the Australian Country part: advocates a flat rate reduction of income tax, claiming that rates should be ‘reduced by 30 per cent., or some other fixed percentage. That is where We differ from him. Income tax reductions, in the case of the man on £500 a year, with two de pendants, total 28.5 per cent., hut the amount to only 10 per cent, in the case of the man on £5,000 a year. Honorable members opposite do not condemn ‘the Government for having taken too much off the £500 a year man, but for noi haying taken enough off the £5,000 a year man. Evidently, they still believe thai the function of government is to protect the economically successful members of the community, the persons who have done well for themselves. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) very seldom asks questions in this House about the poor man on the land. He wants to get at the “ big man “, and I believe that he is right. Members of the Opposition generally show great concern for the “ big man “, and their efforts are directed at ensuring that he shall not be heavily taxed.
Hie -wage-earner ‘has already ^received reasonable consideration. .If .honorable members will refer ‘to the ‘tax schedules which were in force during the last financial year, they will find that a man with a wife and five children, in receipt of £8 15s. a week, did not pay any income cax or social services contribution. There are ‘not many workers, even in the skilled trades, who receive more than £8 15s. a week, unless they work overtime and on Sundays. The wife of the employee to whom I have just referred received child endowment amounting to 30s. a week. How can we assist that class of wageearner? The remarks of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) were calculated to make his audience believe that wage-earners in that category require consideration. That would .immediately occur to our minds when we heard the statement that workers could not afford to buy suits of clothes at the existing high prices. A man in receipt of £1,000 a year would not be so affected. En making these remarks, I do not desire honorable members to think that I believe that the present inflated prices of clothes are justified. The increases in recent months have been remarkable indeed. I mention this matter merely tor the purpose of showing that the remarks of the honorable member for Reid lid not apply to the average tradesman with a wife and several children, because he does not pay income tax or the social services contribution.
Honorable members opposite may claim that the working man is heavily penalized by indirect taxes, including sale tax. Generally speaking, the man who has figuratively to fight in order to support his family does not buy luxury articles which are subject to sales tax. Admittedly, he might purchase a special article upon which sales tax is payable, but such an occasion would be rare. The remarks of honorable members opposite about the necessity to reduce the burden of taxation obviously apply to persons in the higher income groups. When I visit factories, some of the employees say to me, “Why does not the Government reduce taxes ? “ I ask them what wages they receive, and what families they have, and nine times out of ten I discover that they do not pay income tax or the social services ^contribution. Their questions ito me are inspired by the constant agitation in the .newspapers in favour .of a reduction of taxes. As I have shown, the Government has already exempted many persons in the lower income groups from the obligation to pay direct taxes. I forecast that if workers with only one or two children do not continue to receive their present high wages, a government some time in the future will be compelled to reimpose taxes on some of the lower income .groups in order to maintain the buoyancy of Consolidated Revenue. Some honorable members opposite have referred scathingly to “ attendance money “ which is paid to waterside workers when they present themselves for employment, but are not engaged. I do not desire to deal with that subject, but I know that some people, while greatly concerned about the increase of social service payments, advocate the abolition of the means test. The honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) stated earlier that she had been severely criticized because a newspaper had erroneously stated she had not declared herself in favour of such abolition. I make no secret of my attitude. I stand for the modification of the existing means test on property, but I do not advocate the complete abolition of the means test. A few days ago, a gentleman asked me, “ When does the Government propose to abolish the means test? “ I replied, “ Do you want a pension before you retire from your employment ? “ He said, “ No, of course not”. I informed him that the complete abolition of the means test would mean that, although he was continuing to earn his salary, his wife would be eligible for a pension of £2 2s. fid. a week on attaining the age of 60. In my opinion, that system would not be justified, and I would not advocate it. The adoption of that proposal for the payment of pensions would not be warranted unless the recipients had, for years, made contributions computed on an actuarial basis. When people advocate the abolition of the means test, I sometimes get into hot water by disputing the soundness of their contentions. In my opinion, any pension payable by the Government should commence only when a person has retired from employment, or lias not sufficient means to provide him with the necessaries of life. Whether he is in that position can be determined only by some form of means test.
Whilst I wholeheartedly support the budget proposals, I had hoped that the Government would be a little more generous than it has in relaxing the means test. Honorable members opposite may be surprised that a supporter of the Government should express that view in this chamber, but I do so because I desire to make a few suggestions about the means test, which, I hope, the Treasurer will carefully consider. In the past, when people did not pay the social services contribution, I did not feel so concerned about the means test applicable to income from property as I do to-day. In my opinion, the means test on property should be made less irksome. At present, a man in receipt of an income of £3 a week is eligible for the full pension, provided he has no property other than the home in which he lives. During their working life, many people have endeavoured to save a few hundred pounds in order to ensure that they will have some comfort in their old age. A man and wife who have Savings Bank deposits or investments in bonds or in property amounting to £1,500 a year, are not eligible for the age pension. A house in which they have invested that sum may yield them a net rental return of only 30s. or £2 a week. I hope that before long the Government will make the property condition more liberal, Instead of the existing capital test, which provides that a person shall forgo from the pension £1 for every complete £10 over £100, the money should be regarded as income. A person who derives up to £3 a week from property should be placed in the same category as the man who has made contributions to an endowment fund to return him £3 a week at the age of <!5 years. Provided such a man has no capital, he is eligible to receive the full pension. It is anomalous that a man who invests in property a sum to yield £3 a week is disqualified from receiving a pension. This position should be thoroughly investigated. My ideas on this matter are well known in official quarters, but I voice them again this afternoon because 1 realize the necessity to assist many people who have saved a comparatively small sum of money for a “ rainy day “, and who are now being harshly penalized. The bud get provides that the amount of property, apart from the pensioner’s dwelling and other exempt property which he maj have without reduction of pension, shall be increased from £50 to £100, and the property limit above which no pension will be payable will be raised from £650 to £750. Thi3 position is causing grave concern to many people, some of whom have saved approximately £1,000, and invested the money in security loans. They are thereby disqualified from receiving an age pension. We should seriously consider relaxing the means test as it is at present applicable to such persons. I appreciate the action of the Governmenin increasing from £50 to £100 the permissible amount of property which th<pensioner may have without reduction of pension. Not many years ago, the maxi mum amount which husband and wife were permitted was only £50. Under the budget proposals the maximum will become £200. Whilst I advocate this liberalization of the means test, I do noi overlook the Treasurer’s warning thai money must be provided to meet the additional cost. That money cannot be conjured out of the air, or created through some fancy method of finance like social credit. Any additional money which is paid to a person who needs it, and should nave it, can be obtained only by taking it from another person who is in a position to pay it. That is one of the reasons why I have dealt extensively with the incidence of income tax and social service contributions upon the individual and said that in my opinion the important factor was not the amount of ta> that was paid but the amount that remained in the taxpayer’s pocket after payment of the tax. It is the size of that amount which determines whether a taxpayer will be able to provide for the needs of his family.
I am aware that we must cut our suit according to the cloth, or in other words, make the best use of the dollars and other foreign currencies that are available to us. We must also, however consider our future industrial expansion. In the past we were almost entirely a primary producing country, and dependent upon exports of primary products for our well-being. We must face up to the fact that at some time in the- future the European and other countries which were formerly exporters of primary products will again be competing with us in this field, and possibly in a more vigorous manner than before. If Australia is to continue to be a white man’s country and our present prosperity is to be maintained, we must increase our population, and especially our industrial population, which is the largest internal consumer of our primary products. That brings me to the Government’s immigration policy. Lastweekend I visited the displaced persons camp at Bathurst, in which the people who are commonly known as Baits are accommodated for a time so that they may acquire a working knowledge of the English language. I desired to see the type of persons who are coming to Australia from overseas and to form an opinion about whether they are likely to he assimilated into our community and become good Australians. If we wish to maintain the standard of living that we have enjoyed during the last few years, we must attract great numbers of migrants to Australia. If the prices of wheat, butter and other primary products fall to their pre-war levels we shall find it difficult to maintain our present prosperity and standard of living unless our own population is sufficiently large to consume much greater quantities of our primary products than at present.
I hope that this budget will be. accepted by honorable members as being honest and equitable and as one that is designed to achieve the. security of the Australian economy. I conclude by saying that it is important that the people should cultivate a spiritual outlook - and by that I do not refer to a religious revival. I am thinking of the manner in which every Australian should regard the other people in the community. Every citizen should consider the welfare of the man around the corner, whether he lives in a big or a small house.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Since the Parliament re-assembled two very important matters have been discussed. The first was the GovenorGeneral’s Speech, which was in fact a speech prepared for His Excellency by his Ministers and read by him in the Senate chamber to members of the Parliament. That Speech was fully debated and was, I think, generally accepted as being very uninteresting and uninspiring. It was devoted mainly to eulogizing the efforts of the Government during the past year and it gave little inspiration to the people. We are now discussing the budget, which is designed to give effect to the policy of the Government as indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech. The budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) closely follows the lines of his previous budget speeches. The right honorable gentleman is adept at making wise saws and uttering orthodox statements. I have little to complain of in the announcements that the Treasurer made in this and previous budget speeches. As a matter of fact, they might have been made by a member of the ‘political party to which I belong. Honorable members on this side of the chamber take little exception to the principles that were enunciated by the right honorable gentleman. He expressed very sound views and clearly stated the financial and economic position of the country. It is when we come to consider the reasons that he gave for our present economic position that we have some cause for doubt or difference of opinion. The Treasurer endeavoured to convince the Australian public that the sound economic position that he outlined is due almost entirely to the policy that his Government has followed during the years it has held office. He substantially ignored factors over which the Government has no control. I admit that in his speech the right honorable gentleman gave a clear warning to the Australian people. He told them, in effect, that the solvency and the sound economic position of the country is largely, or almost entirely, bound up with ruling prices, and particularly those paid for our exports. He said that unless those prices continue at their present high level severe problems will confront the Government and the people- of Australia. The Treasurer uttered’ those words of warning,- but there is-no evidence in his speech or in the proposals that’ he has- made to show that he has1 taken cognizance of his own warning. This is’ the most inflationary budget ever tO’be: presented to the Parliament. If the right’ honorable gentleman believes, as I think he does, that the present high prices for commodities are unlikely to continue, we; should have seen some evidence of an endeavour by the Government to reduce expenditure as an example to private citizens. It will be remembered that in the budget of. last year the Treasurer underestimated’ by £60,000,000 the revenue that he expected to receive. I do not criticize the right honorable gentleman for that, because during that period even private individuals found great difficulty in estimating their income for the current year. I have no objection at’ all to a treasurer being conservative in- his estimate of the revenue he expects to receive. Although the revenue collected was £60,000,000 in excess of the Treasurer’s estimate, the surplus for the year waaf only £1,500,000. In addition to underestimating revenue, the right honorable gentleman underestimated expenditure; We are still in the midst of a period of high prices. In spite- of the warning to which I have’ referred, the Treasurer in this budget’ has estimated revenue at approximately £500,000,000 and expenditure at £509,000,000. If the right honorable gentleman really believes that a recession - he will not admit to a depression - is likely to occur; I suggest that the proper thing to do would be to find some way to reduce expenditure. I do not know whether the present estimate of revenue will prove to be an underestimate again, but” the probability is that it will be. I am satisfied that expenditure is also underestimated. It is interesting to note that the only reductions of expenditure that are proposed are, first, a reduction of £20,000,000 of the amount which is to be expended upon defence; and” secondly, £25,000,000 on subsidies. I beard the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) speaking very glibly on this- question of subsidies. He tried to justify the audacious- announcement’ by the Prime Minister during the last referendum campaign, when the right honorable gentleman threatened’ the people of this country with the removal of subsidies unless they gave- full powers of price control to the Australian Government. Now for the honorable member for Fremantle to suggest thai there was no justification for subsidies at that time” is one of th* most ridiculous proposals ever made in this House. Honorable members- will recall the history of those subsidies. They will recall that during the two years of the Menzies regime immediately after the outbreak of the last- war, that Government’ appointed a price-fixing commissioner for the purpose of holding down costs during the war period. Honorable members may also recall that during those two years’ the action, taken by the Menzies. Government, and the resulting control exercised by the Prices” Commissioner, were so successful that increases in items involved in the “ C” series index figures was under 10 per cent; On the advent of the Labour regime, prices began to rise rapidly, so that from an increase in the first two war years of under 10 per cent, they increased in twelve month.1’ of Labour rule to very nearly the same percentage. In the first two years of the Labour regime the increase in prices was over 20 per cent. It was at that time, when the futility of the controls then exercised was evident, that’ the Opposition suggested to the Government s policy of subsidizing, the goods listed in the “ C “ series index. That policy had been applied earlier, in the war by the British Government. It was noi until the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) had returned from London, where he had represented this country on the War Cabinet of the British National Government, and had seen the success of the subsidy policy there, and advocated in this House the adoption of a similar plan here, thai the Curtin Government accepted subsidization as a policy. From then on. during the course of the war, costs were reasonably held down: I do not say that some rises did not occur, but they were very much slowed down by the’ subsidization policy. It was expected that with the end of the war and with consumption, and purchasing’ power reverting from war-time to civil levels the position would be eased and the subsidies would gradually be reduced. Honorable members will also recall that the Prime Minister early last year stated that as a matter of policy the Government was working gradually to reduce subsidies, and as they had reached too high a level during the war, the Government would gradually tail them off. The .Prime Minister in his budget speech last year estimated that an amount of £19,000,000 would be required for subsidies. Suddenly, out of the blue he announced to the country that the Government intended to intensify subsidization of commodities. Honorable members do not require to look very far to realize what had caused the Prime Minister to reverse his previous decision, [t was perfectly clear that the industrial policy of his Government has so reduced production in this country, or at least prevented it increasing, that buying pressure had so grown that prices were skyrocketing. Therefore, instead of the £19,000,000 estimated, the actual expenditure on subsidies was £35,000,000. In spite of that, prices were again increasing rapidly. At the end of the war price levels, based on the “ C “ index series, had increased approximately 25 per cent, above the 1939 level. They rose in 1946- 17 .to 27 per cent, and in 1947-48 to 35 per cent. In his budget speech last week the Prime Minister said that during the quarter which ended the 30th June, 1948, prices had increased by 40 per cent. That .increase occurred notwithstanding that an amount of £35,000,000 was being paid out by the Government in subsidies. In the face of that, the Prime Minister had the audacity to suggest .to the people of this country that unless they gave the Government permanent power to control prices, subsidies would be reduced. The comment made by the honorable member for Fremantle that the advocates of .a “No “ vote at the referendum had suggested that Government control should be ended immediately and that ‘subsidies should be cut off immediately, was completely untrue. I know, from the literature that was circulated during the referendum campaign, and from published advertisements .and broadcast an nouncements at that time, .that members of the .Opposition told the country that while they were opposed to the granting of permanent .powers the Government already, in an act of parliament, held such powers to -the end of the present year, and that the Opposition was willing to support a re-enactment of that act for twelve months and perhaps for two years. There was no suggestion by any member of the Opposition that those powers should immediately be transferred to the States. Put the Prime Minister and his Government were so peeved, so disappointed, and so annoyed at the decision of the people at the referendum that they decided, willy-nilly, to throw the controls over to the States and to discontinue subsidies. It will be interesting to the people of this country to see the results. This Government has deliberately thrown into the discard the very people it claims to represent. I refer to the wage earners on whose standard of living the “ C “ series index is based, the pensioners and retired persons on superannuation, who are affected much more by the Government’s action than are earners of large salaries or property owners. The Government has thrown these people into an inflationary period in which prices will rise. Then, to cover himself up in the budget the Prime Minister suggests a paltry reduction of taxation of about £20,000,000 for this year, which, in the cases of these people, will mean a reduction of £2 to £5 a year in their tax, whereas increased prices following the Government’s action may mean an extra expenditure of £20 or £30 a year for such people.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had referred to the callous way in which the Government has discontinued subsidies formerly provided in order to keep down the cost of living, and I had stated that even when subsidies were paid, and the Government had complete control of prices, the cost of living had increased by from 25 to 40 per cent. .It is still rising, rapidly. The Government abandoned the subsidy system because it claims that control over prices has been taken away from it. All that .the people said at the referendum was that they did not desire the Commonwealth to exercise permanent control over prices. The Government had statutory power until the end of December to continue its control over prices, and the Opposition had given an undertaking to support the continuance of the exercise of that power for some years to come. In order to counter the effects of this callous action the Government has made very slight tax reductions, but they will mean very little to the working man. The reduction of £1 or £2 in the tax paid by a worker will be swallowed up by increased prices within a month. The Government, in a fit of pique, has thrown its own supporters to the wolves.
– To the Liberal wolves.
– I agree with the honorable member. They will be thrown to the wolves at the next election. After that we shall have a Liberal government which will be more sympathetic. Another reduction made by the Government to counter increasing costs is in the provision for defence and allied services. Last year, notwithstanding that the Government did not complete its programme, it expended £65,0S1,236 on defence and allied services. This year it proposes to expend £50,462,000 for that purpose. A number of statements have been made by the. Prime Minister and other Ministers on the subject of the .Government’s defence policy. We have been told that the five-year defence programme which the Government has mapped out was decided upon after consultation with Great Britain and other Empire countries. These statements, however, completely overlook the fact that whilst an amount of £250,000,000 may have been appropriate for defence on the scale of costs applicable in 1946, according to the Government’s own figures it is totally inadequate at the present time. After all, Australia is only a very small part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and of the United Nations. During World War II. we were compelled to ask for aid from wherever it could be obtained. No doubt the Government is relying on similar ‘ aid being forthcoming should another world conflict occur. We have heard a good deal about the improbability of war. I should say that no man in this country has done more to influence Russian aggression than has the Prime Minister.
– That is a shameful statement.
– It will be remembered that recently the Prime Minister said that the peoples of the world do not desire war. He also said, in relation to the dispute between the allied nations and Russia, which is now reaching an acute position, that the allied nations should resist Russian pressure right up to the point of war, but that we should not contemplate risking the holocaust that another world war would bring in its train. We have already had two world wars within a generation and J do not doubt that those wars occurred substantially because the aggressor nation did not realize that Great Britain and its allies would fight. The Kaiser was misinformed as to the attitude that Great Britain would take if his armies marched through Belgium. Hitler was misinformed by von Ribbentrop as to the attitude that Great Britain would take if he invaded Poland. Now the Russians are being told by the Prime Minister of a British dominion thai we should resist Russian pressure right up to the point of war.. What greater encouragement could Russia have thai a statement of that kind? In spite of the deteriorating international situation, and in spite of the fact that the United States of America and Great Britain and other countries are stepping up their defence plans, Australians are told that we have a five-year plan which will be put into operation irrespective of what may happen in the international sphere. Defence is being made a political shuttlecock by the Government. We all know that the peoples of the world do not want war. No one likes expenditure on war or on preparation for war; but the Government has a responsibility to the people of this country, and it must face up to that responsibility. Ministers of the Crown are the only people in Australia who know precisely the state of affairs that exists overseas. Yet in spite of the information they possess they merely stand pat and do nothing. Whenever the subject of communism is raised in this chamber, and it is pointed out that the
Minister for Defence and other Ministers allow Communists to remain in key posi-lions, the Government docs nothing. Consider the utterances made by Communists recently in Brisbane. We all know what the Communists will do during the next war and we also know that there will be no war unless Russia is the aggressor. The Government, however, does nothing about them. We know that before Russia was attacked by Germany the Communists characterized the war as an imperialistic war, and they did everything they could to retard Australia’s war effort. The Prime Minister said that should war occur these people will not be able to do anything because they will be put behind barbed wire. That is a very smug attitude.
– They were released by the Government before World War II. was over.
– That is so. What the Prime Minister has refrained from telling the people is the manner in which our Communist enemies are impeding production in this country. It is all very well for the right honorable gentleman to say that he knows where the Communists are and what to do with them. Why does he not deal with them now, when Australia is in duty bound to make the utmost preparation for war? This Government is refusing to face up to its responsibilities to provide adequately for Australia’s defence.
Honorable members opposite continually tell the people of this country of the wonderful policy of the Government, which is providing full employment for the people. Having regard to the general scarcity of commodities of all descriptions, and to the lag in maintenance and renovation works during the war years, what policy could have brought anything but full employment in Australia? The Prime Minister, however, has not told us what full employment means. I should like to quote the views on this subject of Professor Copland, who was economic adviser, not only to the Menzies Government, but also to the Curtin and Chifley Governments, and who was intimate!)’ associated with our war effort. Professor Copland recently said -
The output of basic materials has increased very little since 1930, and is now much less than is required to maintain in full productive activity the numbers employed at present. It would be better to describe the present position as employment of large numbers at a level far below industrial capacity than as full employment.
I entirely agree with those sentiments. It is futile for the Prime Minister to talk about the increase of the export of foodstuffs from Australia. The right honorable gentleman did not mention the fact that this country is probably doing less in relation to its capacity to help Great Britain and the allied countries than i3 any other country in the world which was not directly affected by the war. We know perfectly well that what Professor Copland has said in relation to basic materials is, unfortunately, only too true. The overall increase in production in this country has been extraordinarily small. The latest figures I have seen suggest that the overall increase in the volume of production in Australia since 1939 has been less than 10 per cent. In Canada, where there is not a socialist government, but one which is encouraging industry, enterprise and individual initiative, overall production has increased by approximately 60 per cent. The United States of America has increased its overall production by 50 per cent., and is now said to produce 50 per cent, of the manufactured goods placed on the markets .of the world. It is to the United States of America that Great Britain and the European countries are looking for succour. As an indication of how we lag behind, it is interesting to note that in 1939 black coal production in the United States of America amounted to 389,000,000 tons. In 1947 the overall production of coal was increased to 602,000,000. In Australia the comparable figures are 13,500,000 tons pre-war and 14,800,000 tons in 1947. The increased coal production in the United States of America is the kind of increase that might easily have been expected in this country, but instead we have had amendments of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the establishment of conciliation commissioners and boards galore and more and more strikes and less and less production. Until quite recently we had the Prime Minister peregrinating around
– And providing it:
– If the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) thinks that, he is utterly out of touch with public opinion. It was not until the Prime Minister recently went to England that the golden age began to recede. He then said that Australia would help to its utmost capacity Great Britain and the. other countries that were in great need.
– What- is wrong, with that statement ?
– Nothing, except that it is belated. “We are pleased that at long last, the Prime Minister has told the people the truth. He has also said that the key to the situation lies in production. He said it in such a way as- to make it appear that it was an original thought that he had just conjured up. We have been saying that for years. But he knew that before and was misleading the people for. political reasons. He now says -
The key to the- situation lies in production. [ say to every Australian here that production is not only a. national duty but. a stern responsibility if we are to survive.
What did he- do after he had made that statement? I concede that he made a trip to the coal-fields and tried to impress upon the miners their responsibility to produce coal. I applaud him for that effort, but the results are appallingmore and more hold-ups- and less and less coal. He has appealed to the primary producers, the one section of the community that is stepping up production in certain, directions. But at the same time as he is appealing for production, he is curtailing the importation of things most vital to production. Only recently it was reported in the newspapers that the use of petrol was to be further restricted. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) has said that thi» had lu be, because motor car registrations have increased, by 23 per cent, since 1939. He did not tell us that cars registered, in the ownership of the Commonwealth had increased’ to the 1st January this year by F-nrn than 400 per cent. Are any restrictions imposed upon government enterprise?
.- 1 take this opportunity of complimenting, the Government wholeheartedly on. the budget. We have heard, a. lot. of speeches about democracy,. The- subject, in my opinion, has- been talked to pieces-. But the- Government has- proved its- faith in democracy by bringing down ademocratic budget which provides the greatest good for the greatest number., The.Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr., Chifley) has told us for years that he will reduce taxes as. the opportunity comes to do sohe has carried out that promise to the letter. The great majority of the people are 100 per cent better off than they were when Labour took office. Tax reductions are not quite so great as many people would have liked them to be, but it must be remembered that we are still coping with the aftermath of war. The results of the last two general elections show that the people realize that Labour has been their friend in peace and war. They were the judges and they gave most emphatic verdicts in favour of Labour as they will do so again when they have the opportunity. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) dealt exten- sively with, the activities of his depart- ment and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) made an excellent speech in explanation of the social services legislation provided for in the budget. I do not desire to traverse ground already covered and I do not propose to juggle figures. Some honor- able members opposite can do that easily enough, for it is their profession. I leave it to other people equally competent in that profession to judge what has been done. There is no need for hme to juggle figures to show that Australia is more prosperous to-day than it has been at any time in the last 25or 30 years, despite all the difficulties and problems caused by warand drought. The Labour Government- has overcome all’ obstacles and given the great bulk of the people a better standard of living,despite statements to the. contrary by Opposition members. I remember that notwithstandingthat in the dark days of the depression when the government had no aftermath of war or drought to contend with and Australia was a land of plenty, thousands of Australians went hungry and even starved.
Taxes have been more than halved since the war ended: That is a remarkable performance in thecircumstances. I am pleased to be associated with a Go-, vernment that hasmade such generous provision for the aged people, invalids mothers, widows, and children. I am, especially pleased that the Government has seen fit to increase the age pension. We all grow old no matter how much we may desire to stay young. The years pass very quickly. Since this. Government has been in power, the age pensioners have been treated very generously. In that respect, too, the. budget is a credit to the Prime Minister. Some members of the Opposition do not agree with a policy of full employment. I cannot understand their attitude. Full employment is most necessary. A man who loseshis job loses his income and the means of supporting himself and his family. During the depression, 33 per cent of the people in New South Wales were on the dole. The stores were chockablock with commodities, the silos full of wheat and the paddocks full of sheep and cattle, but in the midst of all that, plenty unemployment was rife in every city of the Commonwealth. The conditions then were a. standing disgrace to the legislature. Goods were plentiful’ but money, was lacking. Now the people have prosperity and plenty of purchasing power. Any business man in any, small town in Australia will tell you that. he is being paid 20s. in the £1 and that practically no creditis asked for. Contrast that with the depression days when thousands committed suicide because of despair. It is amazing to hear people say that the Government has not done a good job. Supporters of a Government that could not conduct the country’s affairs well enough to ensure work, food, clothing and shelter for the people it was supposed to represent ought not to have the audacity to criticize the full employment policy of this. Government and say that it does not mean prosperity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ask any man the first thing he needs and he will say. “ Employment “. The rank and file, who keep the wheels of industry turning are fully employed to-day. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) has said, 100,000 jobs are waiting to be filled. One may read in the Sydney Morning Herald or any other leading newspaper any day of the week columns of advertisements of jobs waiting to be filled. The argument that the Government’s tax policy has retarded production must be far from the truth. Otherwise why should so many firms be advertising for hands? The fact is that labour and materials are not available.
Some honorable members opposite have referred to the decline in our cattle and sheep population. It is true that there has been a decline, but that is because the country passed through three of the worst years of drought in Australia’s history. One drought was the worst for all time. Sheep and cattle cannot be bred in 24 hours.It takes a long time to develop flocks and herds. In the drought, calves that could have increased the herds were killed. Moreover, 30,000,000 sheep died. During the war old stock was killed for food for our servicemen. That is why our numbers of cattle and sheep have dropped so steeply. Nature did not give us the opportunity of keeping them at the required level. The former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) had a most unenviable job when he took over the department during one of the worst periods in our agricultural history. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) had a great deal to say about the shortage of butter. I can understand the decline of production in the dairying industry. People left dairy farms as people left wheat farms because they could not make a “ crust “. Now, however, the Government has granted dairymen a payable price for their commercial butter. The burnt child fears the fire and it was not to be unexpected that people would be chary of returning to dairying. Honorable members opposite have condemned the Government for its attitude towards men on the land, but I maintain that, in the whole history of Australia, there has never been a more countryminded government than the present Labour ‘Government. When I first entered this Parliament, hardship and poverty were rampant in country districts, and many farmers were going bankrupt; but to-day, it is a pleasure to visit rural areas because the people are so prosperous. Everywhere I go, I hear the men on the land, no matter what their political sympathies, praising the Government’s rural programme. The conn- try people admit that never before were they so well off. Who is responsible for this? The credit must go to the present Labour Government for introducing organized marketing, and guaranteeing prices for rural products.
The wheat industry has been a political football for a long time. Not long ago. there was a keen debate in this chamber on the international wheat agreement. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) led the debate for the Opposition. He delivered a well-prepared speech - prepared, I think, by interests representing the wheat merchants - in the course of which he said that, if the wheat-growers were given the opportunity to exercise a vote on the subject, they would turn down the proposed wheat stabilization plan. Unfortunately, the international wheat agreement was not ratified by certain countries, and it has been abandoned although it would have provided an unequalled opportunity for stabilizing the wheat industry for the next five years. However, the Prime Minister called a conference of State representatives to institute a voluntary wheat pool to take the place of the proposed stabilization scheme, and the wheat-growers of the various States have been given the opportunity to vote on the proposal. In Victoria, the vote has already been taken and the growers have approved the proposal by a three-to-one majority. Obviously, the honorable member for Indi, in opposing the stabilization proposal, was not speaking for the growers of Victoria. In that State, 11,275 growers voted in favour of the proposal and only 3,490 against it. Opposition organizations are themselves divided on this issue. The Fanners and Settlers Association is not the mouthpiece of the wheat-growers, but the Wheat Growers Federation is, and it has advocated a “ Yes “ vote in New South Wales, in spite of the opposition of honorable members opposite, and of the executive of the Farmers and Settlers Association. I quote the following press report of proceedings at a recent meeting of the New South Wales branch of the Wheat Growers Federation: - “ The degree of unanimity reached between representatives of the State and Federal Governments, and within the Australian Wheat
Growers’ Federation, upon the Federal wheat proposals can surely permit of little opposition, especially from within the wheat industry,” said Mr. G. H. Evans, president of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation to-day. Organized wheat-growers have for many years supported such a plan in principle and during the last three years they have had the opportunity of concentrating on proposals on which can be built an effective stabilization scheme “, he said. Mr. Evans said that Victorian growers had already decided by a three-to-one majority to support these principles. In Western Australia a special conference oi organizations whose representatives had previously opposed such a plan had now supported the acceptance of the Government’s latest proposals . . .
A large and representative gathering of wheat-growers at Oaklands this week carried with one dissentient a resolution recommending a “ Yes “ vote at the coming ballot on the Federal wheat stabilization plan. Those present included two vice-presidents of the Farmers and Settlers (Messrs, R. A. O’Neill, of Berrigan, and J. M. Wilson, of Balldale), and district council members of the same body, as well as office-holders and prominent members of the Wheat Growers Union and Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association. Most districts of Southern Riverina were represented, and there were some farmers from Victoria.
Opposition parties when they were in power, had the opportunity over a period of many years to do something to help the wheat-growers, but they never offered more than 2s. lOd. a bushel for wheat at country sidings. The result of the poll of growers in Victoria has placed beyond doubt what the growers want. They are satisfied with the Government’s proposal for a guaranteed export price for 100,000,000 bushels, and it is not often that we have more wheat to export than that. Under this scheme, which guarantees a payable price for the next five years, growers will be able to plan ahead. lt is necessary to plan at least twelve months ahead for the growing of wheat, because land must be fallowed, and other preparations made. I commend the Government and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) for bringing forward a plan which will give the growers security, and enable them to produce at a profit. I also commend the Government on its decision to continue to pay a subsidy on superphosphate. Probably 90 per cent, of Australia’s agricultural land needs superphosphate, which is used in the growing of onions, potatoes, wheat and lucerene, and for topdressing pastures. During the recent referendum campaign, the Government stated that, if its proposals were rejected, the payment of subsidies would be discontinued, but it has wisely decided to continue the payment of the subsidies on superphosphate. I am pleased that it is intended to make payments direct to the growers instead of the manufacturers, as has been the case in the past. Under the old system, farmers had to wait a long time for their rebates from the manufacturers:
The Department of Commerce and Agriculture, the Australian “Wheat Board, and the New South Wales Railways Department, as well as the Minister for Agriculture in» New South Wales, have done a magnificent job in shifting last year’s wheat crop from the interior of New South Wales to the coast, especially as the quantity to be removed amounted to almost two years’ normal crops. More over, fanners had, for the most part, to use second-hand bags. The Government sent a representative to Calcutta in an endeavour to obtain more cornsacks, but he was unable to get all that were needed. Very little wheat will be left at country sidings when the new season begins, and that little will all be in bags.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) has said that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture should not have any say in the sale of wheat. Can we imagine any Government guaranteeing the price of wheat and not insisting upon having a say in the sale of it? If any honorable member opposite were to guarantee a businessman who required a loan of £10,000, he would insist on having a voice in the management or control of the security.
– The Government is in exactly the same position. Had it not guaranteed the producers a price for their wheat, the situation would be entirely different. Honorable members opposite want it both ways. They demand that the Government shall guarantee the farmers a payable price for their wheat, but they object to the Government having any voice in the disposal of the grain or in the conduct df the industry. Their attitude is most unreasonable. The administration of the Government and the Australian Wheat Board has been most effective. We can easily criticize what another man does, but when we place ourselves in his position, we often view the matter in a different light. I make no apology for anything that the Government has done for the man on the lami, and I. compliment it for placing the primary industries on a sound footing. Prosperity is evident in all walks of life. Various Ministers have made a vigorous defence of the Government’s actions. Any government is apt to make some mistakes, but the Chifley Government has shown foresight in everything and has done the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The administration of the Treasurer during the last eight years has greatly improved the conditions of all the people, whether they be workers, businessmen, primary producers., age and invalid pensioners or widows. The fact that every section of the community is enjoying prosperity unparalleled in our history is a great compliment to the Government whose wise legislation has made that prosperity possible. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), who vigorously defended Australia’s defence policy, counselled his critics to talk more about peace and less about war. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has done everything possible at ‘the United Nations to avert another conflict. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) frequently criticizes the Minister for External Affairs.
– The honorable member for Warringah is jealous of the Minister.
– He is extremely jealous of the Minister. If the honorable member for Warringah had half the brains of the Minister for External Affairs, he would be a lucky ‘man. The representatives of other -nations recognize the outstanding ‘ability and deep sincerity of the ‘Minister for External Affairs, and ‘to-Hay ‘they -paid him the compliment of electing him to the office of President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
His untiring .efforts “in the cause of peace, his great ability and hit honesty have .been .widely recognized abroad during ‘the last few years. He ha* not left any stone unturned in his efforts to avert war. The mere thought of another war makes us shudder. It is all very well for those who are too old to serve in the armed forces to say emphatically that the Western democracies should adopt .a firm stand against Russia. Millions of young men will be slain should the nations resort to atomic warfare. I pray that the Western democracies and Russia will reach a compromise. I do not profess to be an authority on international affairs. The Minister for External Affairs, who is the authority in these matters, is exerting every effort to avert war. In spite of what his critics in this House say about him, no one will be able to take away from him the compliment that other nations have bestowed upon him by electing him to the office of President of the General Assembly. It is my fervent hope that he will long remain Minister for External Affairs. Men of bis calibre, regardless of the political party to which they belong, are few in number, and are an asset to their country.
I congratulate the Government on all that it has done on behalf of every section of the community, from the youngest to the oldest, and from the industrialist to the primary producer. As time passes, the people of Australia will show an increasing appreciation of the Government’s notable achievements, and continue to give it a mandate to apply ite policy. In doing so, they will not have any regrets. My final wish is that we may avert war not only for the present but for all time.
– This debate offers us an opportunity to deal with the many complex problems that confront Australia and the rest of the world. Preceding speakers have dealt with some of those problems, and I shall confine-my remarks to matters relating to the defence of this country, and the circumstances in which this defence becomes necessary. The .Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) reminded us that, although actual;hostilities in World War XT. ceased “ two .years -ago. the peace which we have dearly earned and ‘richly deserved still dudes us. While all men cry out for peace, they are feverishly re-arming, lt is a tragic commentary on the folly of mankind, but it is a definite factor that we cannot afford to ignore. The right honorable gentleman has expressed the opinion, which all honorable members mare, that Russia. although pressing on, does not want Avar, but is prepared to push its policy as far as it can go without war. In my opinion, that statement describes the situation very crisply. Naturally, we ask ourselves what is it that Russia can gain by war that it has not gained and is not gaining by the mere threat of war? Applying these great things to relevantly small ones, we see r.he position in the domestic sphere proceeding along the same lines. Men do not want to strike. Why should they ,trike when they can get all that they want by the mere threat to strike and by ignoring the law? The right honorable gentleman has told us that the western democracies, with whom we are associated, are confronted with a power which they are quite unable to repel.
The right honorable member tells us that Russia could let loose a flood of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 troops, who would spread over -the whole of unoccupied Europe. We naturally ask why Russia does not do that, and, in part, the answer is that, so far, the Russians are doing very well as they are. We watch closely die situation as it unfolds in Europe and elsewhere. We see the situation in Berlin deteriorating daily. As honorable members know, the Russians are occupying one sector of Berlin, and they have banged, bolted and barred the door in order to prohibit the western powers sending food, and the other necessaries of life to the Germans in the western sector of the capital. The Russians hope that, hy this means, they will force Germany to accept the Communist philosophy. The Russia ns are standing “pat” in Berlin. They have refused to budge. Every possible effort has been made to induce them to come to agree to a modus vivendi with the western powers, whose purpose is quite pacific and entirely in harmony with the spirit of the age, which seeks the settlement of international .dis putes by an appeal to reason, right and the rule of law. But the .Russians stand there, and no one can shift them. Realizing however, that their attitude exposes them to a certain amount of odium, the Russians have notified the world’ that they are prepared to evacuate Korea. Now, that is entirely in keeping -with the technique of the Soviet, which masks its unalterable pur pose - the domination of the world - with specious disguises. Russia affects to stand out as the champion of liberty and of the oppressed, offering its services to the down-trodden in every land - thrusting those services upon them when they are a little hesitant about accepting the offer. I am sure that honorable members, and the people of this country, realize the relative significance of Korea and Berlin. While standing “ pat “ in Berlin, from which they cannot be driven, the Russians offer to evacuate Korea, from which they can be driven quite easily, because forces of sufficient strength are at hand to expel them. Should Russia evacuate Korea, it would not make any material difference in world affairs, or affect its control of that area. For although, in body, the Russians would leave, in spirit they would remain, for they have, as is their practice, established powerful Communist cells which would carry on their work, and obey their slightest wish. That is the technique of Russia throughout the world. So although according to the right honorable gentleman and .as we know ourselves, Russia is -not anxious to provoke a war, the whole world is apprehensive of war. Steps are being taken in every country to prepare for it. The Australian Government, like other governments, has a defence policy. lt has allocated approximately £6,000,000 for use on the guided weapons range and general defence research. In this, Australia is following the example of other countries. Britain and America have expended huge sums of money on research for the most effective weapons and to assure that their defences will be strong enough .to repel, oi to : smash by anticipating them, the bombs, rockets or other missies that may be launched against them by an -enemy.
We may be sure that Russia is sleeplessly labouring to strengthen her offensive and defensive armaments. If I were asked what it is that prevents Russia from setting out on its conquest of the world and brushing aside all resistance in Europe, I should say it is the fact that America has the atomic bomb, and that Russia has not. The key to the# present world situation is to be found in those few pregnant words. America has the atomic bomb, and Russia has not. If Russia had it, believe me, it would use it. Whether that be so or not, we must perfect our own defences so that we may be enabled to give a good account of ourselves if we are attacked or take part in any conflict that may be let loose upon the world. The Government has already done something by allocating £6,000,000 for the purposes to which I have referred, but that is not enough. Wars are fought by men disciplined, regimented and trained in the use of the weapons of their time. The Government recognizes this, and has set about the task of raising our forces to the level which would afford us a reasonable prospect of giving a good account of ourselves, but so far its efforts have fallen far short of success. Recently I asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) a series of questions regarding the number of recruits for the Citizen Military Forces and the Australian Regular Army, [n his reply, the Minister stated that 3,313 recruits enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces throughout Australia in July of this year and that in August the number fell to 2,S07, while the number of recruit* to the Regular Army, which in July of this year was 1,631, fell to 923 in the following month. The Minister further said that at the 8th September last the estimated strength of the Citizen Military Forces and the Regular Army was 8,697 and 10,712 respectively. Those figures, which are most disturbing in themselves, are made doubly so by the Government’s very modest target strength of 50,000 for the Citizen Military Forces and the 19,000 for theRegular Army. Those figures compare still more unfavorably with the strength of the armed forces of Australia in the months immediately preceeding the out- break of the 1939-45 war. At that time the Government of which I was a member, being seriously alarmed at the prospect of war, appointed me to conduct a campaign to raise our Militia Forces,, which then stood at the paper strength of 20,000, to 75,000. In approximately two months the campaign raised S5,000 voluntarily enlisted men. I ask the committee to compare that with the 8,000 men in the Citizen Military Forces to-day. In November, 1939, after war had broken out in Spetember, the then Minister for Defence was asked what was the strength of the militia forces at the time. He said it was between 55,000 and 65,000, after making allowance for the men in the militia forces who had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force for active service abroad. Wha is the explanation of this? At the outbreak of the last war there were 85,000 men in the militia forces; now there only 8,000. Are we to assume that that is due to a deterioration of the character of the people of. this country? I cannot say. The facts are that the response to the appeal to the citizens of Australia to defend then liberties has been paltry and shabby.
That brings me to a point that I desire to emphasize. I have always believed in compulsory military training. ] believe that the rights and privileges of citizenship carry with them the obligation that every citizen should fit himself to defend those rights and privileges. In 1901, speaking on the Defence Bill that was then before the Parliament, I proposed that every adult male in Australia from the age of eighteen to the age of 60 should undergo a period of training. After setting out the scheme in detail, I said that what I meant by “ training “ was that a man should perfect himself in everything that went to make an efficient soldier of that day. Compulsory military training was subsequently adopted by the Labour party on my motion and became a plank of its platform. In 1914, war having been declared and an election having taken place, that plank was one of the most vital in the platform, and every member of the party was bound to support it. As a matter of fact, we were returned to wage the war to a victorious conclusion. creating all other things as subsidiary to that objective. As honorable members probably remember, in 1917 the conscription issue divided this country. Compulsory training as a plank of its platform was scrapped by the Labour party and conscription was denounced by it for 25 years afterwards. In 1940 the then Prime Minister pledged himself and his party to oppose conscription in every form, yet in 1941 he introduced legislation, which was passed by r.he Parliament, under which military and industrial conscription became the law of the land, and remained so until the war ended. Once again compulsory military training in Australia, which was vital to the Labour party for so many years, was thrown aside. Recruitment for the Citizen forces and the regular army depended on voluntary enlistments. A most expensive and extensive recruiting campaign has been conducted. Use has Seen made of the press and radio stations. The advertisements that appeared and which set forth the opportunities for young men in the forces left nothing to be desired, but there has been a beggarly response. It is said in a newspaper jailed the Express, about which I know very little, that the Minister for the Army expressed the opinion that he was convinced that voluntary recruiting would never succeed in obtaining the required number of recruits. The Minister will inform the committee whether or not he said that, but the results confirm the opinion that the Minister is alleged to have expressed. Voluntary recruiting both for the Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces has failed dismally. I have always believed in compulsory military training. I have worked as consistently as any man could to build up the defences of this country. I say that now, when war is looming on the distant horizon, the defences of Australia have sunk to a level that almost moves us to tears. We are bereft of any semblance of an effective defence force. What are we doing about it? War has come almost within hailing distance of our shores. It is raging in Indonesia and Malaya. There are revolts in those countries against the established governments. In Malaya, a campaign of murder and rapine has been raging for months. Planters have been brutally butchered and administrators in mines and other businesses have been shot. When the planters made an appeal for arms, and some were shipped in the Port of Sydney, the Communist-dominated Waterside Workers Federation banned the vessels on which they had been shipped. When, at long last, incensed publicopinion compelled the Government to do something, it sent arms by air. But noi one word of censure was uttered by the Prime Minister against those who had banned the despatch of the arms by sea. I have said, and it has been said many times by others that governments ought to govern. This Government does nol govern. Its foreign policy like itf domestic policy is shaped by the Communists. As honorable members know. Malaya and Indonesia are bastions of Australia. They are strategic posts from which an attack can be launched against this country. As long as they continue under the control of friendly, strong governments we are, at any rate to some degree, cushioned against any swift and fateful attack. But there is war in both Malaya and Indonesia. The Communist press would have us believe the Malayans are fighting for freedom and the right to govern themselves in their own way. That is a right which Australian people freely concede them. But we must make it perfectly clear, that whilst conceding them the freedom to govern themselves in their own way and to provide for their own security, we demand the same rights for Australians. We demand the right to govern ourselves in our own way and to take such steps as we may deem necessary to ensure our security. Malaya is a British possession and Australia is an integral part of the British Empire. We are here by the grace of God and the power which that Empire has exercised on our behalf. We have done something. on our part, to help the Empire. The other day a Mr. Burns in Queensland, when asked what would be his attitude in the event of war with Russia, said that the Communists would fight on the side of Russia. The secretary of the Australian Communist party, Mr. Dixon, who had a night to think over
Mr. Burns’s statement, said that Mr. Burns’s view did not represent the con- sidered view of the Communist party, and that Communists would fight against any power which sought to. enslave the Australian people. Of course, as the Communists hold that the mission of Russia is not to enslave people but to liberate them, we may take it for granted that in any war those enemies within our gates would fight on the side of Russia. These traitors in our midst no longer skulk in the shadows or behind rocks, but are enthroned on the seats of the nighty. They rule with an iron hand the great industrial organizations of this country on which the production of.” coal, steel, transport, and the ordered life of. the community lbsolutely depend.. The Labour party is at present taking steps to purge itself of Communists, but, it is quite powerless to do so because the Comnunists are in control of the industrial wing of the Labour movement, and that wing in its turn controls the political wing. I do not wish to labour this ques- tion further,but I say that if war comes so Australia, or threatens it, we must show by our actions- that we intend to lefend ourselves.. Such action on our part might well turn the aggressor away. But what is our position? Australia is amongst the most vulnerable of countries: It is a white island in a yellow sea. It has a vast extent of territory and 12,000 miles of coastline. It. has8,000 soldiers, or, counting the Regular. Army, 18,000 soldiers. If we were to station one man in every mile of our coastline, the total number of troops would not go round. What are we going to do? War threatens in Europe, and it is actually raging in Malaya and Indonesia. As I said in the debate on the AddressinReply, Australia has one enemy and one alone, and that enemy is communism. Russia is communist. The war in Malaya is inspired by, is financed by, and. is fanned by Russia. The same statement applies to the war in Indonesia, the war in Greece and the war in Palestine. Everywhere the Russians are rescuing the oppressed ! If the oppressed do not see the cogency of the Russian reasoning or do not respond to the
Russian appeal, the Russians are still going to help themeven if they haveto kill them to doit. If there is to be war if this country, is to be attacked, let us at least take the precautions that prudence and common sense dictate, and rid ourselves of the traitors within our gates. Drive them out. Drive them under ground ? What can they do underground that they cannot do now? Nothing! They are everywhere, and on every hand. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) told this House about an individual employed in the Post Office who has a reputation as dark as the devils out of hell. There he is, working in the Post Office, marshalling the clans so that wher the day comes, or when Mr. Dixon says it has come, the telephone services will stop. Power lines will go out of action and the trams will stop. What a great day that will be! Sonow, while we yet have time and are masters in our own household, let us at least decide that we will not be stabbed in the back by the enemies within our own gates - those traitors who are plotting our downfall. Drive them out; underground or any where else.
.- I desire to congratulate the right honorable mem- ber for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) upon giving expression to his opinion in terms which reflect the views of other members of the Opposition on the menace of communism to our national life.
I propose now. to address my remarks to some mathematical and financial aspects of the budget. The budget papers are, of course, presented for the purpose of revealing to the Parliament, and to the people, the intentions of the Government in its handling of the business affairs of the. nation, and, incidentally, of the financial affairs of private individuals. Upon a knowledgeable and close examination this budget quickly becomes revealed as a very extraordinary document.. It envisages an expenditure of more- than £500,000,000 and the collection, almost entirely by the means of, taxation, of an exactly identical amount., Upon perusing the items upon which expenditure if intended, one would be compelled to agree that most of them, at least taking them at their heading value, are inescapable
Those- items’ include- payments for- social services, payments to the States, expenditure to maintain our defence forces: and repatriation, responsibilities) and essential capital expenditure- for the development of Australia. A. study of the categories rf the items- of- expenditure proposed would indicate, that there is no scope for pruning,, but the total amount that the Government intends to collect is exactly the amount required to meet those items of expenditure. How did the Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and. bis advisers arrive at the calculations which produced those figures of anticipated, returns from taxation ? Naturally, they could only have been arrived at by estimating the income expected by individuals and companies, by estimating the anticipated imports to this country and the consumption of goods subject to excise nd other duties. The advisers of the Treasurer must have carefully calculated the anticipated expenditure, and said, “ This- is what we expect to collect and this is how we propose to expend the- money “. The calculated income of. individuals- and: companies in this country is determined, by. the export’ income of the nation more than: by any other single factor. So, we have a budget which, is constructed, around the anticipated income from. wool, selling, at. 40d., 50d., or 90d. per lb., and. from wheat, jelling at 12s., 18s. or 18s. 6d. a bushel.. Vs these figures are expressed in. terms of Australian, currency, it becomes obvious at: the slightest glance, that if the prices of wool, wheat, meat, fruit and sugar on the export markets fall sub.stantially the whole- structure of the budget will be immediately wrecked. Is- theGovernment absolutely sure- that we shall *jo through next year without experiencing a; fall in the prices of our export products?. If members of the Government are confident- of that they comprise the most optimistic group of people in the. world. If, however, they have some, doubts whether this great national income will be sustained at that level, then theTreasurer knows that his budget estimates may well not be realized. The Treasurer knows, perfectly well that this income,, which has its- genesis in our export sales and becomes taxable in hand after hand, is in currency which is.- depreciated 2.5’ per cent, below sterling Within the- last few weeks- our sister dominion, New Zealand, which, took concurrent and identical action with Australia in. depreciating its’ currency, hat brought its currency to parity- with sterling. No one will doubt that if. during next, year, there is an appreciation of Australian currency and, to thai degree, a diminution in the figures of our national income, this budget will be completely wrecked. Taken at its face- valuethe budget is an utterly reckless document. It is reckless to propose items of expenditure each one of which is dependent upon the maintenance of our existing scale of export income. For my part *1 do not believe that the Treasurer has based his calculations upon that expectation. That brings me to the real nub of the. matter. If. the right honorable gentleman has not been so callously negligent as to prepare and present to this Parliament a budget which is utterly dependent on the maintenance of present export values,, upon, what then does he rely’* The whole history of the Chifley administration of the Treasury shows that the right honorable gentleman is relying on secret reserves, and that this budget- cannot be taken at its face value. The budge is. a faked document, as were- previous budgets presented, from, the same sourceThe Government’s accounts are faked hee cause income- tax is- not. being- collected. I have been the recipient of copies of resolutions passed, at meetings- of various branches- of the Australian. Country party complaining that many members cannot get assessments of income tax, noi for, last, year only, but for the previous three, years. Is the Chifley administration of the Treasury se inept, that the- Taxation Branch delays; the issue, of assessments for three or four years?. I do not believe that it is. It is a, part of the- policy of the Treasurer not to collect income tai because uncollected, tax represents one- of the- secret reserves upon, which, he relies to juggle his accounts: So, I do. not take this budget at its face value. It has been demonstrated year after year that the budgets presented by the Treasurer have not reflected the true accounting position. Just as the budgets have been faked in their preparation, so the treasury, boob have been faked in their ultimate accounting. At the end of the financial year r.here is invariably brought into the Parliament some bill designed to “ cook “ the hooks. In 1947, on the eve of the close of the financial year, the Treasurer produced overnight a proposal to make a rift of £25,000,000 to the United Kingdom. On the same day as that proposal was announced the right honorable gentleman informed us that defence expenditure totalling £18,000,000, which the budget proposed should be met from loan, was to be met from revenue. In that way £43,000,000 was written out of the books almost overnight. If that had not been done, the financial figures for 1946-47 would have shown that the Treasurer had collected from the people almost £50,000,000 more than he needed to meet his commitments. That is the way in which the Treasurer has “ cooked “ the books. His action was like that of a storekeeper who “ fixes “ his books .by writing down the value of his stock or by failing to send out accounts. Last year exactly the same thing was done. During the closing period of the financial year a proposal was introduced to the Parliament for the provision of funds for supplementary estimates amounting to £30,000,000 when it was obviously physically impossible to expend the money. This was done solely for the purpose of writing £30,000,000 out of the books. According to the figures furnished by the Treasurer the Government closed the books at the end of the last financial year with a surplus of £1,400,000; but if that faking had not been perpetrated the accounts would have disclosed a surplus of approximately £32.000,000. Because this is a part of the planned technique of the Treasurer, I mistrust the whole of the figures contained in the voluminous document now before us. My mistrust of them is substantiated by the experiences of the past. I am not prepared to accept the right honorable gentleman’s figures at their face value. What does £30,000,000 or £50,000,000 mean to him? He is so little concerned about millions of pounds that they just flutter around like nobody’s business; but pounds do not flutter around the wageearners of this country like nobody’s business. The great thing that concerns the majority of the people at this time of the year is the income tax they will becalled upon to pay. Let us look at thefigures relating to income tax to ascertain, whether this document represents a truebill of the finances of the nation. Thanks to the Treasurer we have been provided with a document showing the amounts of income tax to be paid by -people on various scales of income during thepresent year, and in order thai honorable members shall not fail to realize the generosity of the right honorable gentleman, we have also been provided with tables showing the comparative tax levied last year and the highest tax imposed during the war years. A wage-earner with a wife and two children may now receive an income of £300 a year and pay no tax at all. A wage-earner similarly circumstanced in receipt of an income of £350 a year will be called upon to pay in income tax only £3 15s. a year. That all sounds very good ; but these figures are deceptive. The family man is concerned not only with what he has to pay in income tax but also with what may be extracted by the Treasurer from his pay envelope. A close examination of the budget reveals that although there have been progressive reductions of income tax there has been a progressive increase in total income tax collection on a per capita basis. The per capita collections of direct taxation anticipated in this budget - and of course they will be greater than the estimate - will be approximately 25s. higher than the tax collected two years ago. So, even in respect of direct taxation there is not much consolation in this budget. Direct taxation, however, is the impost most apparent to the uninitiated. Like the conjurer who focuses our attention on the coloured ball in one hand while he secretly performs his manipulative work with the other hand, the Treasurer seeks to focus the attention of the people on income tax reductions, hoping that they will -not see how he is fleecing them by way of indirect taxes. That is the practice adopted by the Treasurer. An examination of the budget reveals that the estimated collections of indirect taxes, including customs and excise duties, primage and sales tax, amount to £19 12s. 8£d. for every man, -woman and child in the whole of Australia. So the fellow on £6 a week who congratulates himself on having no income tax to pay is not expected to realize^ that he has to pay, according to these figures, £19 12s. 8$d. in indirect taxes. The pay-roll tax is a further form of indirect tax. It is nothing but an indirect tax. It is included in the calculations of every employer as a component of his total employment cost and is passed on to the total cost of his product or service. The pay-roll tax works out at an average of £2 6s. 2 1/2d. for every man, woman and child in the community. The two figures combined show that every person will be paying on an average £21 38s. lid. this year. But the person who buys clothing, furniture or other goods does not pay sales tax, excise duty or customs duty directly. They are incorporated in the cost of the goods that he buys. Those taxes are not merely incorporated in the cost of the goods. Sales tax, excise duty and customs duty become a component of the wholesale cost, and the retailer does not merely add his profit to the manufactured or production cost of the article he sells. He inevitably adds his profit write-up to the production cost plus the added tax costs, except when the Prices Commissioner has been able to prevent his doing so. And prices control has been given away prematurely by the Government. So the Parliament no longer has that control. The retailer adds bis profit to the sales tax, customs duty, excise duty and pay-roll tax, and to the £21 18s. lid., which is the average per capita indirect tax levied in Australia under this budget, must be added the average retailer’s write-up, which, I am told, is 33^ per cent. Therefore £7 6s. 4d. a head a year must be added, and, although the Government does not get that money, it is a burden placed on the consumer as a direct result of the Government’s policy. That brings the total per capita liability under this budget on these calculations to £29 5s. 3d. a year. But the tax-gatherer has not finished with the consumer who, because he goes to the pictures, the football and, sometimes, the races, has to pay entertainment tax. Every man, woman and child is charged an average of 13 s. 4-Jd. a year in entertainments tax. That brings his total obligation te £29 18s. 7Jd. a year. Bur. the Government, of course, recognizes that we do not all travel as individuals. This community is made up of married people and families. The table issued by the Government shows what a married man with two children will be required to pay in direct income tax; but he will pay. when he buys furniture, blankets, food or whatever he buys, the total of £29 18s. 7£d. multiplied by the four members of his family, which means that, under this “ generous “ budget, that taxpayer, out of his £300 a year, will have to pay £119 14s. 5d. in indirect taxes. He will pay it painlessly because he will not know that he is paying it. That is noi the end of it.
– He paid that before.
– It is included in the budget.
– But it is not new.
– I am not arguing about whether it is new or old. “We have become accustomed to it. I know thai the sales tax was introduced by the Scullin Government of which the honorable gentleman was a member. If that is the point that he is trying to make, ] help him to make it.
– But it is not new.
– I am not trying to make out that it is new. But it is involved in the budget. It is of no use to try to delude the people into thinking because a document like this is pushed on to them that a man on £6 a week with two children will not pay any tax. I am removing the misleading intention of the document by pointing out the actual tax burden that he will have to bear. But that is not the end of it, either, because the Government imposed an extraordinarily high sales tax on building material for years, and that became a part of the capital cost of thousands upon thousands of homes in Australia. Many people on lower incomes are paying from 5s. to 10s. a week more rent than they should have to pay because Mr. Chifley’s budgets have imposed sales tax of up to 25 per cent, upon building materials and, to that degree, added in perpetuity to the capital cost of homes.
– Did I understand the honorable member to say that there is tales tax .on blankets? lt has been removed.
-* - Sales tax has been removed from building materials, too. It was removed twelve months ago.
– It was removed in ohe last budget.
– Not entirely.
– But substantially. Chat is not the point. If income tax is lowered, the people will derive immediate benefit, but once the cost of a home is loaded with sales tax one. can never escape it until one builds another home from materials free from sales tax. It is of no use to try to pull any one’s leg by seeking to prove anything to the con- ru ry. So it is clear that the budget, which is designed to be attractive to people on lower incomes is revealed upon close and knowledgeable examination to be imposing on people a burden practically as heavy as they have ever carried. The Government knows that we are in a phase in which it can be expected that prices -Will continue to rise for at least tome time. It relies in the circumstances on getting a substantial part of its revenue from goods that will carry a higher tax burden. If prices continue to increase, . men on wages will have to contemplate paying higher taxes for the remainder of the year. If there ever was a budget that showed fundamental disregard of the workers on low wages of this country, it is this budget. There is no explaining away or suppressing of these figures.
That is, of course, not the full attack that the budget makes upon people on lower incomes, because some subsidies are to be abolished. In his budget speech, the Treasurer produced figures showing that for the current year there is an anticipated reduction of tax collections of £20,000,000. But it is ako shown that the abolition of subsidies will save the Government £26,000,000. So the Treasurer has the effrontery to bring before the Parliament a budget on which he will show a profit of more than £6,000.000 in the abolition of subsidies notwithstanding .the reduction of taxes. The budget, in fact, is an attack upon the earners .of lower incomes in thin country. .The .subsidies were designed to keep. as low as possible the cost of living and the cost of consumer .goods. They were consumer subsidies, although in country areas it was pretended that they were producer subsidies. We all know that they were, in truth, consumer subsidies. If there is one thing that the Government .has claimed credit for, it is its anti-inflationary policy. It is entitled to a good deal of credit for that policy. But most of its antiinflationary policy, which was based on the control of prices, was provided for in the War Book of ‘the Lyons Government. The policy was put into effect by the Menzies Government and carried out in turn by the Curtin and Chifley Governments. That was the origin of prices control. So the Government has no right to claim credit for that major aspect of the .antiinflationary policy. In due course it injected consumer subsidies into the system. The only justification for that procedure was to keep down the cost of living and the cost of production.
– Was that conceived by the Lyons Government?
– No. I said that it was injected into the system. The Government claims credit for that and has said that it wanted to .go further and make the anti-inflationary policy a permanent feature of our life. So it produced the prices referendum. The only justification that could be claimed for authorizing the Australian Parliament permanently to control prices would be to give to the Parliament the power to control the cost of living and the cost of production. We on this side did not think that that was the real motive of the referendum. We said so. We were sure that the real motive was to further the ultimate socialist objectives of the Labour party. We said so. But if the genuine intention of the Government in endeavouring to keep the power over prices was to keep down the cost of living and the cost of production, why did it abolish subsidies ? Nothing could be more important in the control of the cost of living than subsidies. It is of no use to say that the Government is powerless -.to continue subsidies, because= some of them are continued in the budget. The truth is; of course, that the unscrupulous methods of Government propaganda in the referendum led the Prime Minister to issue the threat to abolish subsidies.
– It was blackmail.
– Yes, blackmail. He said, in effect, “ If you do not vote for our referendum proposals you will lose the subsidies “. The result of the referendum is history. What the people did to the referendum proposals is nobody’s business, and the Prime Minister was caught in the mesh of his own threatening words. As he could not allow himself to be made out to be an absolute liar, he had to provide in his budget for the abolition of subsidies. If it were constitutionally necessary to abolish subsidies, why were they not all abolished? The fact that some subsidies have been retained, proves that the Government was under no constitutional obligation to discontinue any of them. The increased cost of blankets, milk, &c, will fall upon the workers as the direct result of a political threat issued by the Prime Minister: during the referendum campaign. When we add the burden of indirect taxation to the increased, burden which the workers will have to bear because of the withdrawal of subsidies, it becomes evident that this budget deals a heavier blow to the purchasing power of the workers than was dealt by any other budget since federation. I should like to hear some one try to prove a contrary contention.
The Treasurer referred in his budget speech to the dollar shortage. Speaking on this subject six months ago, I said that, unless we were prepared to believe that the volume of our trade with dollar areas was to remain static, we should regard the present acute dollar shortage as merely a passing phase. If a man encounters a financial crisis in his- business affairs, he can, if his business is sound, overcome his difficulties by borrowing. Australia should meet the present dollar crisis in the same way. Instead of doing this, however, the Government is penalizing the community, depressing living standards, retarding production and restricting transport by its pig-headed refusal to accept, a dollar loan. It has even carried- its obstinacy to the- point of exercising’ its. authority to prevent private persons and companies from bor’ rowing in order to finance constructive enterprises. If, in return for what they gave away at international trad*conferences in Geneva and elsewhere. Australia’s representatives did not expecthat we should ultimately be able to sell more in dollar areas, and be in a position to liquidate a dollar loan if one were raised, then Australia was, indeed, “ sold down the river “. If, however, we shall be able, as the result of international trade agreements, to increase our trade with dollar areas, there can be no reason why we should not seek relief from the present emergency by raising a dollar loan. 1 voiced that opinion in this House six months ago; and I am still of the sam» opinion. I offered my suggestion as a layman, and I am gratified to observe that it has been taken up and supported by those who are better qualified technically than I am to express an opinion on the subject:
– Members of the Opposition have used strange and conflicting terms to describe the presenbudget. In my opinion, it is a sound budget - so sound, indeed, that members of the Opposition have become “ rattled “. and have been unable to attack it effectively. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) declared to-night thai it was a faked budget, and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) described it as an ultra conservative document. On the other hand, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride), who is managing director of Elder, Smith and Company Limited, one of the largest wool-broking firms in Australia, and, I believe, one of the best, said that this was very much thu kind of budget which his own party would have produced if it had been in power. As a matter of fact, I believe thai the Opposition’s real objection to the budget is that it is too good. They have declared that it is an election budget I hope that it will be possible to bring down some more budgets of the same kind. Not only does it provide for substantial reductions of income tax to the most- deserving sections of the community. but it also provides increased social benefits for the poor and the sick. The Government has, in the words of the Scriptures, given “ here a little, there a little “. When we recall the difficult times through which Australia has passed, when we observe the turmoil that exists in many countries, and when we see the poverty and insecurity with which other people have to contend, we should be thankful that the Commonwealth has had a Treasurer who, during and since the war, has been able to bring down a succession of budgets providing for the continued financial stability of the nation. In this budget, he has provided for present needs and for future contingencies. He has put aside an amount of £23,400,000 with which to pay war gratuities which may fall due at a time when prices for wool, wheat and meat may be lower, and our overseas balances may be reduced. It would be very awkward for some future Treasurer, in such circumstances, to be called upon to find £70,000,000 for the payment of war gratuities. Very properly, the Treasurer, now that the national income is high and our finances are buoyant, has made provision to meet future obligations. He could have taken the easy political way. He could have framed a popular budget designed to catch votes at the next election, but, instead of doing that, he has provided for the future as well as for the present. That method of finance is completely sound, and is indicative of the whole financial policy which the Treasurer has followed since he took office.
The honorable member for Indi stated that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) had threatened the people before the last referendum that if they did not vote in favour of the Government’s proposals, he would withdraw the subsidies on many items. That statement is entirely incorrect.
– I say to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) that the Prime Minister and other supporters of the Government said with complete honesty, that if the Commonwealth did not possess power to -on tral prices, it would not allow the States to determine the amount of the sub sidies and write a cheque on the Commonwealth Treasury to pay for them. That: situation would be equivalent to a citizen, saying to his next-door neighbour, “ You. may write a cheque for an undisclosed^ amount on my account “. The Commonwealth would have been compelled to say to the States, “You determine the priceof the articles, and write a cheque for therequired amount on the Commonwealth Treasury “.
– The States are notforeign governments.
– Would any responsible government place itself in the position which I have described?
– The Commonwealth, attaches conditions to the grants that ir makes to the States.
– When the honorablemember for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was Treasurer, he did not allow theStates to write cheques on the Commonwealth Treasury. No Commonwealth. Treasurer, who is responsible for collecting income tax and other taxes, couldallow the States to write cheques on the Commonwealth Treasury to meet the cost of subsidies. That position would be impossible, and no responsible Treasurer could accept it.
– The Commonwealth iscontinuing to pay subsidies on some commodities.
– I shall explain the position. The Government announced that if the referendum were defeated, it would endeavour to continue the payment of subsidies on goods when it waiadministratively possible for it to do so. That promise has been honoured. For example, tea is imported in hulk consignments, and the cost of putting it intopackets is so small that the Government was able to say that it was administratively possible to continue the subsidy on that commodity. A similar position existed with butter. Because of the organization of the Commonwealth butter scheme and the co-operation of all butter factories, it has been administratively possible for the Government te continue the butter subsidy. The Government has also endeavoured to overcomethe difficulty of continuing the paymenof the subsidy on superphosphate. The ^system of paying the subsidy to various manufacturers, which operated in war time, will be discontinued,,, but in order to honour its promise to ‘the best of its ability, the Government will pay the former subsidy direct to primary producers. For the reasons which I have given, I contend that the Government has honoured the promises which it made to the people during the referendum campaign.
I shall now examine the statement by cbe honorable member for Indi that Australia should borrow abroad in order to meet its dollar deficits. Australia was placed in a most difficult position during the financial and economic depression in the early 1930’s because of its inability to meet interest payments on overseas debts. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), who was Premier of New South Wales at that time, was dismissed from office because the State Government would not pay interest on its overseas commitments until the people enjoyed certain conditions. The obligation to meet interest . payments on overseas debts threw Australia into the depths of the economic depression. The honorable member for Indi advocates a return to the policy of borrow, boom and burst. The Bruce-Page Government borrowed heavily from the financiers in Threadneedle-street, London, until Sir Otto Niemeyer said that Australia’s capacity to pay interest on oversea loans had been exhausted, and that British financiers were no longer prepared to make additional loans to this country. What happened then? The Bruce-Page Government proceeded to raise loans in New York at 5 per cent. When no more money was available at that rate, they mortgaged this country at 6 per cent, and finally at 7 per cent.
– Loans carrying an interest rate at 7 per cent, were raised in America by the Queensland Government, led by the late Mr. T. J. Ryan.
– The honorable member for Indi again advocates that Australia should put itself into bond so that our children and our children’s children shall be in debt, and shall be obliged to pay tribute to foreign bond-holders. While I remain a member of the House of Representatives,. and Australia enjoys a condition of prosperity, I shall noi allow to pass unchallenged any proposal that Australia should mortgage its future to foreign bond-holders. The Treasurer believes that we must live within our own income. That policy is sound, and ii will be appreciated by future generations.
More than 90 per cent, of the articles required for houses were exempted from sales tax last year, but the honorable member for Indi complained that the retention of sales tax at the rate of 25 per cent, on certain items for building purposes increased the repayment on an ordinary dwelling by 10s. a week. 1 admit that the sales tax must increase the repayment, but the honorable member’s statement that the increase is 10s. a week is fantastic. At the most, the amount of the increase is not more than 2s. a week. In respect of a great majority of houses, it is not more than sixpence a week. The sales tax was introduced by a government which the honorable member supported.
– That is not correct. The Scullin Government introduced the sales tax.
– The honorable member has said that the budget is » false one because it is founded on the assumption that the present high prices for wool, wheat, meat and other export commodities will continue. I invite the honorable member to consider what the position of this country would be if we were obliged to pay interest on overseas loans at a time when the prices of out wool, wheat and meat were low. If Australia is not in a position to pay its way in the present period of prosperity, it will never be able to do so. The policy which the Treasurer has adopted is sound and logical.
Some members of the Opposition have complained that because of the increased prices of houses, workers will never be able to purchase their own homes. 1 do not propose to cover the sad history of some workers who endeavoured to provide shelter for their families when antiLabour governments were in office. Naturally, I deeply regret the considerable increase of the cost of constructing houses. Opposition members, and the honorable member for Reid, have shed crocodile tears over the position.
What ‘aTe the facts? A cottage, ‘which before World War II. could be bought tor ‘£800 or £900, now costs £1,’S00, hut the interest rate on a housing loan ‘to-day is 4 -per cent., compared with -7 per cent, or -8 per cent, a few years ‘ago.
– Are not the preference shareholders in station 2HD Newcastle guaranteed a dividend of 16 per cent.?
Hr. LEMMON.- The honorable member for Richmond, who is a primary producer, should know that the interest rate on promissory notes in respect of farm machinery used to be 16 per cent. The Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank now provides financial accommodation for farmers at 4 per cent., whereas before World War II. they were obliged to pay 16 per cent. That reduction annoys honorable members opposite. Another fact, which they should not forget, is that when the worker paid interest at the rate of 7 per cent, on a housing loan, the basic wage was approximately £4 a week. Today, the price of houses has risen, but the interest rate on the loan is 4 per cent., or even in some instances 3§ per cent., whilst the basic wage has been increased by nearly 50 per cent. The average worker has a much better chance of becoming a home owner st the present time than he had before The last war, when some of the honorable members opposite occupied the treasury bench.
– If he can get one.
– It is true to say that a very man cannot get a home to-day, but it is also true to say that during the last financial year 43,000 houses were finished in this country-
– Private enterprise built 80 per cent, of them.
– I am not concerned with the percentages of the houses that were built by private builders and by government agencies.
– The Government has all the priorities.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) does not even know of the position that obtains in his own State. Sixty per cent, of the total allocation of building materials to that State /goes to private enterprise, and only -40 per1 cent, to all government enter.prises I said ‘a year ago that in 4ihe ensuing twelve months we would commence the building of 52,000 homes. “Mr. Anthony. - The figure given b> Mr. McGirr was 90,000.
– I am not concerned with what was said by Mr. McGirr or any one else. I am telling the committee of what I said. I also stated at that time that we should finish at least 40,000 homes in that period. The first target was exceeded by 1,000 and the second b; 3.000. I am not concerned with the number of houses that have been built b; private enterprise or by government agencies. All I am concerned with is the total number of houses that we made available to the people.
– The Government did not make them available; the people got them themselves.
– One of the greatest “ knockers “ in this country is the honorable member for Richmond. He is constantly endeavouring to decry the efforts of his own countrymen.
– I criticize the lack of effort of the Government.
– If the honorable member were a real Australian he would be proud to tell the world of the results that have been achieved in this country. Much has been said about the shortage of building materials. The production of bricks has not yet reached the pre-war level, but the production of cement, fibro-plaster roofing tiles, sawn timber, sinks, basins and stoves is well above the .pre-war average level.
– The increase in rel* tion to gas stoves is .01 per cent.
– My information i* that the increase is 3.46 per cent. It is not as large as I should like it to be. If those people who are constantly “ knocking “ this country wanted to do something to help it they could encourage the greater production of building materials and other commodities by showing some appreciation of the efforts that have been made by the Australian workers.
The honorable member for Indi (Mi. McEwen) complained about taxation. Is
Australia the tax payable on all incomes from . £150 a year to £2,000 a year is less than that payable in New Zealand or the United Kingdom. Honorable members opposite endeavoured to show that during last year less meat was exported to the United Kingdom from Australia than in previous years. The only meat in respect of which they were prepared to quote figures was fresh meat. They completely ignored the great increases of exports of bacon, processed meats and tinned meats. Our exports of tinned meats amounted to 12,200,000 lb. in 1938-39, and to 96,500,000 lb.in 1947-48. In 1938-39 we reported 1,700,000 lb. of bacon and ham, and in 1947-48 we exported 5,500,000 lb. Honorable members opposite completely ignored those commodities and referred only to fresh meat. They gave no credit to the manufacturers who processed those quantities of meat and, in effect, saved them. Pro- cessed meat is usually second-class meat that is not suitable for freezing and export to the United Kingdom. Our manufacturers converted it into tinned meat and increased their exports to the people of the United Kingdom from 12,200,000 lb. to 96,500,000 lb. During the last twelve months there has, in fact, been a considerable increase of the amount of meat and dairy products exported to the United Kingdom.
This budget, which is a sound one, shows the foresight of the Prime Minister. [ hope that the right honorable gentleman will he able to introduce many more similar budgets, because he has shown that he is able to steer the ship of state away from both depression and serious inflation.
– I desire to refer to an incident which occurred earlier to-day in this debate, when the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) sought to include a reproduction of the Australian flag inHansard. I submitted the request to the committee. Upon reviewing the matter, I realized that it was not one for decision by the committee. For future guidance I propose to state the practice of this chamber.
There are precedents for the insertion in Hansard of unread matter. The pre cedent was established in 1909, when permission was given to insert tabulatec figures in a budget speech withoutreading them. On that occasion ‘the permission was challenged, and a warning was voice that the practice could be abused. It was subsequently agreed that such permission could only be given by unanimous approval of the House, and that one dissentient could prevent it. The practice wasnever intended to apply to any matter that could not be read. The insertion of graphs and maps has been allowed on three occasions only, and refused several times. As late as March, 1946, Mr. Speaker declined to ask the permission of honorable mem bers to insert a map, the request to doso having been made by an honorable mem ber who was then addressing the House There is no precedent for the reproduction of a flag or a photograph of any kino jn the pages of Hansard. If that were allowed it would be contrary to all par liamentary practice and would be an abuse of the proper function of Hansard, which is the recording of the speeches delivered in the Parliament.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Ministerfor Immigration, upon notice -
Tilly Devine, of Sydney,was given a passport?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : - 1 and 2. Preliminary details of importduring 1947-48 are as follows: -
Apart from the f.o.b. cost, substantial freight costs were also incurred and, because of the shortage of sterling tankers, a proportion of these freight charges had to be met in dollars.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480922_reps_18_198/>.