House of Representatives
12 October 1948

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. 3. Clark) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to-

That the House, at ite raina, adjourn to’ to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.

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-! lay on the tablethe following paper: -

Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Commonwealth Grants CommissionFifteenth Report, 1948.

At present, only one copy of the report is available, and additional copies wilt not be received from the Government Printer for some weeks. I lay the reporon the table at this juncture in order toassist the States concerned in the preparation and introduction of their budgets. The Government has approved’ the special grants which the commission . has recommended, and the necessary legislation will be introduced as soon steadies of the report are available fc perusal by honorable members.

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– I desire to make . personal explanation concerning an asserHon in the leading article of th<Canberra *Times yesterday. The article stated, inter alia -

Many Canberra citizens are more concerned! to know how Mr. Beazley contrived to secure for himself a house in Canberra.

I desire to explain that I have no house in Canberra, owned, rented or occupied. I have never resided anywhere in Canberra other than at the Hotel .Canberra and the Hotel Kurrajong, which provide accommodation for members of the Parliament. I have never applied for a house in Canberra.- The statement that Canberra citizens are concerned about my “ contriving “ to get a house, when I havenot got one and have never applied for one, can be only a deliberate invention on the part of a leader writer. As the article proceeds to state, falsely and maliciously, that I had obtained the house before more essentialpeople, it can be construed only as an attempt to defame me personally because I disagree with the leader writer about some amenities in Canberra. I am drawing the attention of the Ethics Committee of the Australian Journalists’ Association to the matter.

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– Have representations been made to the Treasurer to the effect that, before implementing changes in income tax legislation affecting private companies, as embodied in the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1948, the Government should appoint a commission or an independent committee to re-examine the proposals? Is the Treasurer aware that, because of increased costs, manufacturers are finding that depreciation reserves, which are established in order to enable the cost of fixed assets to be written off luring the period of their usefulness, are inadequate to provide replacements when they become necessary? Does the Treasurer realize that further reserves are vitally necessary in order to provide additional finance for current assets as the result of the increase of prices in recent years? Because of the widespread alarm caused by the disclosure of the Government’s tax proposals, does the Treasurer Intend to give consideration to the proposal that the bill be referred to a special body for investigation and report?


– The answer to the first question is” No “. The Government does not propose to set up a royal commission or any other special body of inquiry.

Mr Francis:

– Why?


– The Government already has had some guidance in relation to the relative taxation of private companies from the report of Mr. Justice Ferguson and Mr. E. V. Nixon. I do not propose to deal with the other questions because the legislation has already been submitted to this House. I merely point out that I have given representatives of a number of individual companies the opportunity to place their viewsonthis measure before me and the Commissioner of Taxation. I have also agreed to meet representatives of three Sydney organizations - the Chamber of Manufactures, the Chamber of Commerce and another body - early next week. I have spent many hours in hearing representation? on this subject. I repeat that the Government does not propose to appoint any independent body. We know the principles involved in this sort of legislation and we know, I hope, the defects of existing legislation, which have often been pointed out by public accountants. We have never hoped to satisfy everybody in regard to the taxing of private companies.

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School of Administration


– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General state the names, designations and salary scales of the 30 public servants who attended the Commonwealth Public Service Board school of administration, which was held at Canberra from the 27th July to the 6 th August, 1948? From what locations were those 30 public servants drawn? When is it expected that the next school will be held, and will the “ too old at forty “ policy dominate the selection of public servants to attend the school?

Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– Am I to understand that all of the public servants who attended the school are officers of the Postal Department? If so, I shall ask the Postmaster-General to obtain theinformation as soon as possible.

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– An advertisement now appearing in the press under the heading, “ Thank Labour for Australia’s Prosperity To-day”, asks people to forward money to the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley and Dr. H. V. Evatt for Labour’s next election campaign. In support of that appeal the advertisement states - “ The average real income per head has risen by 14 per cent. since 1938-39” - National Bank of Australasia statement.

Does the Prime Minister know that that is a misquotation of a statement issued by the National Bank of Australasia Limited, and is it -the policy of the Government ‘to misquote an organization which it !is trying to put out of business in an endeavour to keep in business itself ?


– The advertisement has been authorized by myself, the’ Attorney-General, and the authorizing officer whose name is shown at the end of the advertisement. I intimated to the House some time ago that such an advertisement would be published. I shall cause inquiries to be made to see whether there is any substance in *the honorable member’s claim that the advertisement contains a misquotation. [ should not like to do an injustice to any organization. The last portion of the question is designed purely for propaganda purposes, and I decline to reply to it.

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Forged Landing of Aircraft “ Kanawa “ - Breakdown at Kabachi - Petrol.


– In view of the dismissal of Captain Arthur .Hubbard, D.S.O., D.F.C., :by .Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, will the Minister for Air consult with the chairman of Trans-:Australia Airlines with the object of securing the services :of .this gallant officer for that organization, -thus preventing them from being lost to Australian aviation?


– My .only .knowledge of Captain Hubbard’s .present position is derived from newspaper reports, and I have frequently indicated that I do not regard them as being ^reliable sources of information. If it is true that he has been dismissed from his employment by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, I think I am expressing general public opinion ‘when I say that . I am surprised “that ‘.that action should have been taken ‘prior to the conclusion df the inquiry into the circumstances Of the forced landing. I shall bring to the notice of the chairman of Trans-Australia Airlines the suggestion that has been made by the honorable member for Herbert. It is only fair to point out that companies that employ pilots or any other people who are engaged in aircraft operation* have the right to ‘discharge them ‘if the;* think it fit to do so. I think I can say. without in any way prejudicing the ‘result of the inquiry that is now proceeding, that most people in Australia ‘who have read the particulars that have se far been reported in the press will btvery disappointed at the action which it is stated has been taken.


– I desire to address to the Minister for Air a question relating to the Qantas Constellation aircraft which broke down at Karachi on the 2nd October last and .was delayed .at that city for six days. I am informed that th, officer in charge of the British OverseasAirways Corporation at Karachi told th( 38 stranded passengers that the -next plane had six vacant seats, and that .tb* passengers .could choose amongst (themselves which of their number should occupy them. That arrangement, I am also informed, was interfered with .by the Australian Government. Will .the Minister for Civil Aviation -inform me whether any instructions ‘-were issued by th, Australian Government, by .a Minister or by .any official ion behalf of the Government, which prevented the passengers from making their own choice, -and which directed that three Australian Government officials and on* (British official should ‘have ‘priority over the other passengers? Did those four (gentlemen proceed on the next .aircraft f If they did, why and -how were they :given priority in violation of the rights of .other passengers ? If I .’have correctly described ‘the situation, will the Minister inform me what ‘is to be the (position of ordinary citizens who .travel by airlines owned or controlled by .the Government ? Are ordinary .citizens now to regard themselves in the position which was foreshadowed by Mr. Churchill, that nobody counts for anything. except the politician or an official?


– Order : The ‘last part of the honorable member’s question is entirely out of order.


– No particular* of the occurrence which the honorable member has described have been supplied to me. So far as I am aware, the Australian Government has not issued any such instructions. ‘Certainly,’! have ‘not, and ‘I ‘should ‘be informed if the Department df Civil Aviation had done so.


– 1 can supply the details.


– Ships .as well as airliners ‘break down, and, in. consequence, passengers are delayed. That is most regrettable. When such delays occur, it is necessary to determine which of the passengers shall be allowed ‘to proceed by the. next aircraft.

Mr Beale:

– “Allowed” to proceed? Who is ito determine the priority ?


– The honorable member has -emphasized my ‘use ‘of the word ‘“‘allowed “. In the circumstances illich he has described, it was essential o determine which df the stranded passengers should :be allowed to .proceed by he- following aircraft.

Mr Beale:

– Who determined £hat’


– If the honorable member can ‘devise a scheme whereby 38 passengers can occupy six seats and still comply with the regulations of the Department of Civil Aviation as to weight, perhaps he will be ‘able to “answer :his own -question. I have no ‘doubt “that the whole ‘position was thoroughly examined, wild it was decided ‘which of the passengers had:the most urgent nee’d to -proceed. So far as I know, there is no reasonable cause for complaint. However, T shall have the matter examined. If the honorable member will supply me ‘with the details with a view to satisfying me that there was cause for complaint, T ‘shall endeavour to convince him that the proper decision was “made.


– It is .reported in the press that ‘ Trans- Australia Airways, the Government airline, is applying to the Department of Civil Aviation for a special allowance -of petrol, and that a statement with regard to the matter has been made by .the assistant general manager df the company. Will the Minister ‘for Civil Aviation say whether Trans-Australia Airways is making such a request, and, if so, for ‘what reason? Sow can the -Minister reconcile it with the Government’s policy of reducing general petrol consumption and the arrangement with all airline operators that ‘they should curtail their petrol consumption?


– I have not seen the press report to which the honorable member has referred. In certain circumstances, airline operators may ask for increases of their petrol allowances. The relevant order was published in the ‘Commonwealth Gazette recently, and set out the conditions under which such applications -may be made. If they are made, they will he considered by the Director of Fuel Rationing, and his decision will be communicated to the Department of Civil Aviation. In instances in which aircraft were purchased prior to the 1st July, ‘194S, provision is made for increased supplies of petrol to be granted if the claim ;is justified. I can assure the ‘honorable gentleman ‘that no airline operators will be granted increased supplies of petrol unless they can satisfy the “Director of Fuel Rationing that their claim ;is fully -justified.

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– I preface my question ‘by referring to the “following report, which appeared in a Sydney newspaper on -Sunday last: -

Two -wanted .German escapees from wartime internment camps are in highly-paid *jab** in ‘Sydney. One, ‘Rudolph Duerkop, is wor»ing for :a city jewellery firm, the other, Cwl Schmidt, for a big. leather ‘company.

Will the Minister for Immigration say whether ‘this report is correct? If not, will ‘he deny the facts as-stated? Willie further say how -many ‘German and Italian ‘.war-time escapees are still ;at large, :and what steps are being taken to round them up?


– Rudolf Karl Otto Duerkop, aged 57 years, and Richard Carl “Hans Ludwig Schmidt, aged 46 years, are at ‘large. I am advised that in one issue of the Sydney Sunday Sun, :of Sunday last, there appeared an article in which it was stated that these two German escapees were working in Sydney. Action is being taken by officers of my department, “the Commonwealth Investigation Service and the Department of the Army to investigate this allegation, and, if it1 is found to be correct, to apprehend these men. They are two of a -number of former- internees and prisoners of -war who escaped from internment and still at large. The number is not greater than 00. Every step possible is being taken to apprehend these people, who have no right to be in Australia now. Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war must be returned to their own countries, and those of them who are at large are illegally present in Australia. Some months ago, I authorized the payment of £25 to any person who would give information leading to the apprehension of any of these prisoners of war or internees. Five exprisoners of war and one German internee were apprehended recently. The honorable gentleman gave me no notice of his question, but I think I am correct in saying that, of the total number at large, about 40 are former members of the Italian Army and that not more than three or four are former German or Austrian soldiers. Duerkop came to Australia in 1911 and was interned during the first world war. He escaped from internment then, and was not recaptured. He was interned again during World War II. He married an Australian-born woman between the -two wars, but has been estranged from her for more than twenty years. Mr. Justice Simpson recommended his deportation. In July, 1347, when arrangements were being made to close Rushworth Internment Camp, Duerkop, Schmidt, and several other internees were transferred by the Army to its detention barracks at Attwoods, Broadmeadows, Victoria. Eight days later, Duerkop and Schmidt made their escape. Schmidt arrived in Australia in 1923, and was a gardener by occupation. He had a number of convictions for stealing, and was serving a two-years sentence for housebreaking when the war broke out. Therefore, it was not until June, 1941, upon being released from gaol, that he was interned. In December, 1945, Schmidt escaped from the internment camp and was still at large when Mr. Justice Simpson investigated the cases of the local internees. His Honour, after reading the evidence that Schmidt gave before an Aliens Tribunal during the war, and reading his dossier, recommended that he be deported. Schmidt was recaptured in January, 1947, and taken back to Rushworth Internment Camp. As I have said, in July, 1947, Schmidt and Duerkop were transferred to Attwoods Detention Barracks from which they escaped on the 25th July, 1947. I shall supply the honorable member with any further information that becomes available during the next few days.

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– I understand thai since I last asked a question about the marketing of the coming oat harvest. Victoria and New South Wales have made a request to the. Commonwealth for a voluntary oat pool administered by th<Australian Barley Board, for that harvest, and that a statement of South Australia’s attitude to the proposal is being awaited. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House whether any further progress has been made?

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · ALP

– The honorable member will realize that the Commonwealth powers over marketing are diminishing rapidly and that before am such scheme can operate, it is essential that the States concerned should vest powers in the Commonwealth. The Government of Victoria and the Government of New South Wales have indicated their willingness to join an oatmarketing organization, but, so far. South Australia and Western have not agreed to participate. Before a pool can be organized, it will be necessary for the States, not only to express their willingness to participate, but also. I believe, to pass legislation. Thimatter was discussed by the Australian Agricultural Council in July of thi.year, when certain States indicated their support for a marketing scheme for oats Others, unfortunately, were completely indifferent to the proposal. The mattewas again raised at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, but once more certain States showed complete indifference. In these circumstances, however willing the Commonwealth may be, it cannot proceed any further. The honorable member will appreciate also that a similar situation exists with barley. During the war, there was a barleymarketing scheme, operated under the Commonwealth’s war-time powers. The

Commonwealth, has conferred repeatedly with the barley-growing States with a view to carrying on barley-marketing iterations, but we have not been able to ii’.cure unanimity among the States, with i lie result that South Australia and Victoria have, passed legislation to conduct their own pools. This arrangement will not be as effective as a Commonwealthwide pool would be. The honorable member will appreciate also the great difficulty in securing unanimity among the States on a wheat-marketing plan also.

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– The following is an extract from a communication that 1 have received relating to prices control -

The transition of price control from Commonwealth to State is being hampered by the >:laim that all files previously in existence ure the property of the Commonwealth, and that the States, if they so desire to provide continuity of record, must either copy entirely, or in precis form, all important subjectmatter on such files before they ure returned to the Commonwealth.

Will the Prime Minister say whether prices control files previously in existence must be copied entirely, or a precis of thom made by the State authorities, prior r,o their return to the Commonwealth authorities, if the States desire to maintain continuity of records? Are such files to be destroyed on their return to die Commonwealth, and if so will the Prime Minister explain this attitude, which is hampering the satisfactory implementation of prices control by the State governments?


– When the conference >f Commonwealth and State Ministers considered the question of the transfer of prices control administration from the Commonwealth to the States, the States were promised that the Commonwealth would give all assistance possible to officers appointed by the States to administer the controls. The Commonwealth has kept that promise and the Prices Commissioner, Mr. McCarthy, and certain of his officers were retained to give any advice required by the States. It was proposed to continue that arrangement for some months until the State machinery was in operation. Regarding the disposal of files, it must be remembered that many files on the prices control administration contain .matter which was made available to the administration in confidence, and that,by an act of this Parliament, the Prices Commissioner was given certain authority to obtain information from the Commissioner of Taxation. 1 have had no complaint from any State regarding the administrative transfer. Had there been any complaint that the States were not being fully informed or properly treated I should have thought that the State Premiers would have made it to me during the Commonwealth-State discussions on prices control. I am not able to give all the details of matters contained in files, but I surmise that many of them would be retained for some time and that the Prices Commissioner would endeavour to give State officers all the information they desired. I surmise also that some of the files would contain matters obtained in complete confidence under war-time powers conferred by the National Security Act. Release of such files would have to bo carefully considered. I repeat that no complaint has been made by the Premier of any State, but as the honorable member has raised the question, I shall consult with the Prices Commissioner to ascertain whether any difficulties have arisen, particularly regarding Western Australia.

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Broadcasting of Proceedings


– Oan you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, state whether further research could be undertaken by technicians of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to improve the transmission of question time proceedings in this House? When the proceedings are re-broadcast, extraneous noises in the House are magnified, coughs emerge like a. series of thunderclaps, and continued conversation in the background hounds like an uproar. I suppose the cause of that is the number of microphones which must be kept open in all parts of the House, but these noises not only give the public a wrong impression of the proceedings of the Parliament but also prevent full nation-wide appreciation of the boundaries which the “ Bradmans “ on the treasury bench score against the Opposition from time to time.


– This matter has been mentioned previously and complaints have been made of the disturbances that are beard on the radio during question time. I intend to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee and to ascertain from the broadcasting technicians whether it is possible to open only the microphones in front of the individual member concerned in asking or answering a question. I agree that the cause is probably the fact of a number of microphones being open at once, thus making noises which are not audible in the House quite loud over the air. I shall see whether improvements can be made.

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– I preface a question to the Minister for Labour- and. National Service by referring to a press report that repair work on at least twenty vessels. is likely to be held up as the result of :a stop-work meeting held in. Melbourne this morning- by, the Ship. Painters, and Dockers Union.. Can the Minister, inform me of the result of that, meeting, which was called to. discuss the action .of Sydney members: of the union, who have struck against- an award of Conciliation Commissioner Galvin?. Will the Government take action to uphold the decision of the Conciliation Commissioner whom it appointed, or will it permit shipping and exports from Melbourne to be hampered by this unwarranted’ stoppage?

Minister for Labour and National Service · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– I. know that, a meeting- which arose out of a dispute, in New. South. Wale3 was held in. Melbourne this:morning. It is a dispute between. the Ship Painters and Dockers Union, whose members paint the. keels and hulls of vessels, and the Painters and Decorators Union, . whose members paint, the. interior of vessels. The two unions, placed their case before Mr: Commissioner Galvin, and he made a demarcation award, which the parties have refused, to accept. As the honorable member is aware, a decision of a conciliation commissioner, is not subject. to appeal, When I. ascertain the result of the meeting held in. Melbourne this morning, I shall inquire whether it is possible to refer the matter to the Conciliation. Commissioner concerned for further, consideration. or to. bring it before the. court by some other means.

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– Has the Minister for Immigration yet decided what action heproposes to take concerning Mr. Roth of the Janus Trading Company, who admitted, when, giving evidence on oath . in. a Sydney court, that he had collected £1,300 for landing, permits from refugees who have come to Australia from. Shanghai? Is, he. aware that Roth also admitted that he had paid over half the money to the representatives of. the Jewish Welfare Society ? In view off the allegations made, is the Minister still giving special privileges to the representatives of the Jewish Welfare Society?’ Have these representatives been given access to any papers 01 reports- concerning, refugees- from Shanghai? Will the Minister table -the- report made by the honorable member for Parkes concerning migrants from Shanghai?


– As soon as- 1 read the press report’ that a Mr: Walter Roth had sworn on oath that he had’ received £1,300 from persons’ who- had’ arrived in Australia on landing permits about’ which he had made representations, I asked my officers, and those of’ other Commonwealth departments, to make an immediate investigation. So- far I”. have ascertained that £600 -of the -sum collected was paid over to- the- Australian Jewish Welfare Society in Melbourne1. However, there is no evidence of the existence of a bargain between the Jewish’ migrants who have arrived in this country and: the members of the controlling- body of the Jewish i immigration organization: On the surface- their, payments, would appear to be in the nature. of thanksgiving offerings for having arrived .in such a fine country made by people who wanted the organization to continue its. humanitarian work. I was concerned about that portion of Mr. Roth’s evidence in which he stated that he paid his wife. £600 in order that her father might be repaid a debt, which one of the nominees owed him in Austria before Hitler descended on that country Officers of my department are still pursuing their investigations in that matter and I do not want to say anything further about it at this stage. Neither the

Jewish Welfare Society nor any other body that is not a Commonwealth authority, has access to any records in the Department df Immigration which makes no records available “to anybody except those entitled to see them. I .have received a very help- ml report from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who v isited. Shanghai, at my request to investigate the situation there. He was accompanied by Mr. Penhalluriak, the Commonwealth migration officer of Melbourne, Mr. C. W. Fuhrmann, the Australian Consul-General in Shanghai, and certain other people. As a result of that report, for which I thank the honorable member, I propose to ask Mr. Penhalluriak to go back to Shanghai and leal with the situation there. He vill probably be stationed at Shanghai for six months, and, having been there once, and seen the files and discussed the matter with other people, he should then be in a better position to make decisions as to which persons should get landing permits to come to Australia. Following receipt of Mr. Haylen’s report, I arranged for the secretary of the department, Mr. Heyes, to call a conference of officers of the Department of Immigration, Military Intelligence and Commonwealth Investigation Service. As a result of -recommendations .made to me by that departmental sub-committee I am in a better position now to direct Mr. Penhalluriak :in the work which awaits him when he returns to Shanghai.

Mr Lang:

– “Will the Minister table the report ?


– I do not propose to table any report. It is not the usual practice -to -do so. The .matter is confidential, and I see no reason why I should table it.

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– Some time atro a press statement indicated that a decision had been arrived at for the ‘purchase, later, of cattle stations in Queensland for the extension o’f research ‘into beef production. Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to give official information regarding such a proposal? c


– The Australian Meat Board has certain accumulated funds at its disposal. Subject to the consent of the Government, the board is authorized to .use those funds for the advancement of the meat industry. At the present time the ‘board is considering a .-proposal to acquire and equip two cattle station properties in Queensland, in order that there may be conducted research into pasture improvement and breeding. It is proposed that when the stations are acquired by, or come into the possession of, the .Australian Meat Board, they shall be released to the Queensland Department of .Agriculture and Stock and the Council .for Scientific and Industrial Research at a nominal rental. Those two bodies will be practically untrammelled in the research they will carry on, if the proposal is implemented. The Australian Meat Board will be represented on a consultati ve council which will probably be set up.


– Does the Minister for Labour and ‘National Service propose to take -any action with a view to settling the disastrous meat strike in Melbourne as the result of which lamb-raisers are suffering severe losses and a large quantity of meat -is being denied to Great Britain? Have any of the conciliation commissioners who have taken over part of the work of the Arbitration Court done anything in regard to the dispute ; :if so, with ‘what .result ?


– Neither the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration nor a Commonwealth Conciliation Commissioner has yet taken any action in -this dispute. The explanation is that the slaughtering section of the meat employees in Victoria is covered by the determinations of -.a State wages board. As the .honorable .member .is doubtless aware from press reports, the wages board yesterday .reached a -decision which was reported to the. representatives of the men. They conveyed it to a mass meeting o”f employees, who rejected it, and a strike committee was -appointed to conduct the dispute. The strike committee met at 1 p.m. to-day, and I am awaiting inf ormation ‘as to whether it has suggested that the dispute be referred to the Court of ‘Conciliation and Arbitration. If the strike committee does not make that ‘proposal, I shall ascertain whether the Department of Labour and National Service can intervene with the object of referring it to that tribunal.


– Have any representations been made to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture by the Acting Premier of Queensland concerning a proposal to equalize prices of meat and, if so, does the proposal involve the restriction of exports to the United Kingdom? A newspaper report suggests that the Acting Premier is seeking the cooperation of the Commonwealth Government in such a scheme. Have any such reports reached the Minister for Commerce mid Agriculture? If so, will he indicate ibo attitude of the Government?


– The Acting Premier of Queensland authorized the chairman of the State Meat Board to interview me recently in Canberra. The chairman of the board was introduced to me by the Minister for the Navy, and he outlined to me the difficulties that exist with respect to stock supplies for the Queensland market. We had a general discussion on the whole subject. Apart from that, I cannot inform the honorable member of any concrete proposals to prohibit exports of meat.

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– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction inform the House whether Sir David Rivett, who has just been appointed Chairman of Society of Chemical Industries Limited, is the same, gentleman who is the Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research? If so, does not that completely disprove the suggestions made by members of the Opposition that Sir David Rivett has lost the confidence of nations overseas? Is not he the first Australian to be appointed to such a position in connexion with this industry?

Minister for Defence · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– I understand that Sir David Rivett, who has been appointed President of that society, is the Sir David Rivett we know as Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. As the honorable gentleman has said, that fact proves that Sir David Rivett is held in the highest esteem overseas and that scientist? abroad, particularly members of that society, have the utmost confidence in his integrity and recognize his high standing among them.

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– I understand that at the end of November, the first Australian-built motor cars are to come off the assembly line. I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider recognizing the tremendous importance of the undertaking to Australia by granting complete, or at least some, remission of sales tax on all motor car? or motor trucks that can reasonably be claimed to have been made in Australia?


– I do not see how tinGovernment would be justified in discriminating, in the way suggested by the honorable member, between motor vehicles produced by General MotorsHoldens Limited and other firms in Australia, because General Motors-Holdens Limited is not manufacturing its car completely in Australia–

Mr Hutchinson:

– It is practically an Australian-built car.


– I understand that that company hopes to produce a 95 pei cent. Australian-manufactured car. The honorable member must recognize that vehicles to be manufactured by other companies in Australia will embody a fairly substantial proportion of Australianmade components although not so high a proportion as the car being .manufactured by General Motors-Holdens Limited. In providing assistance of the kind suggested by the honorable member, where is one to draw the line between cars embodying from 40 to 60 per cent. Australian-made components and cars embodying from So to 95 per cent. Australianmade components? I do not think that the Government would undertake that task, or that such assistance could be equitably provided. However, I have not previously considered the matter which the honorable member has raised, and I have not been requested to do so although, no doubt, General MotorsHoldens Limited would appreciate exemption of their cars from sales tax. I shall examine the matter further, hut

I do not think that there is any likelihood of the honorable member’s suggestion lining adopted.

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– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs draw the attention of his colleague to the sale throughout the Commonwealth, of “ Callard and Bowser’s Celebrated Butter Scotch (Thistle Brand) “ and to the fact that a quantity of the butter exported to Great Britain to improve the food ration of the British people is coining back to Australia in this luxury form ? Although this product may, true to label, be a “really wholesome confectionery, made exclusively from sugar, glucose, dairy butter and salt “, is it not the opinion of the Minister that butter exported from Australia to Great Britain was intended to benefit the British people as a food-stuff? Will he investigate this diversion of the commodity from its intended use?


– I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice nf the Minister for Trade and Customs.

page 1427



– I lay on the table the following paper: -

E<IS Export Control Act - First Annual Report of the Australian Egg Board for period ended 30th June, 194S, together with Statement by Minister regarding thu operation of the Act.

The report summarizes the powers and functions of the board, and details its activities during that period. I take the opportunity to congratulate all members on their appointment, and to wish the board the utmost success in its future activities.

page 1427




– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether reports in to-day’s press that the Australian Government is demanding the immediate return to this country of seven Australian women, all of whom hold valid passports and are working for the American authorities in Japan, are correct. Is it also correct that of those girls, Miss Then Ma yd en, who is at present secretary to the judge advocate, returned to Australia last June, and that before her subsequent departure for Japan, her passport was renewed ? Is the Minister able to state whether a Sydney newspaper is correct in reporting that Mrs. Cecile Garrett, of Punchbowl, New South Wales, was directed to return to Australia from Guam after she had married an American officer ?


Mrs . Garrett was one of a party of Australians who, upon the representations of the United States authorities, was granted facilities to proceed to Guam in August, 1947, for employment, with the American forces there for a period of six months. The granting of those facilities was approved on the definite understanding that no extension of the period of six months would be possible, and that the American authorities would return all members of the party to Australia at the end of that time. The American officer who came to see me said that under American law, no alien would be permitted to remain in a fortified area for more than six months, and- that in no circumstances would the American authorities allow any of the 100 Australian men and women, whose employment there the Prime Minister and I approved, to remain longer than that time. Towards the close of the period, a request was made to the American authorities to arrange for the return of all personnel in accordance with the terms of the agreement. A cablegram from Mrs. Garrett, then Miss Tanner, was received on the 20th January, 1948, asking that the requirement in regard to her return to Australia be waived because she was about to marry an American. At that time, consideration was being given to the special position of those female members of the party who wished to marry or had married American citizens overseas; but, before a decision was reached, Mrs. Garrett was returned to Australia by the American authorities. The United States authorities have since been advised that the Department of Immigration will not raise any objection to women in Mrs. Garrett’s position - that is, those who have married Americans - being regarded as outside the terms of the agreement for the party’s return to Australia. As soon as Mrs.

Garrett’s return to this country was reported, I gave approval for the issue of a passport to enable her to return to Guam. My department was advised at that time that Mrs. Garrett’s husband would arrive in Brisbane within a few days carrying a permit to enable her to re-enter Guam. The permit, of course, would be issued by the American authorities. Her re-admission to Guam, or her entry into other American territories, is a matter solely for the American Government to decide, andI regret that there is nothing more that the Australian Government can do to assist her to rejoin her husband. If her husband did not come to Brisbane, but went to the United States, that is his affair. If Mrs. Garrett has not taken the opportunity which the Australian Government is prepared to afford to her, that is her affair.

Mr McEwen:

– Was Mrs. Garrett cor rect in stating that other women, who protested against returning to Australiawere permitted to remain in American territory?


– The story which Mrs. Garrett published fails woefully in many respects. It: is not in accordance with facts.I do not know why she was brought into the picture. A fine photo graph of her appeared in the newspaper, atthesame time in order to build up a press campaign. I shall make a statement at a later date about the position of the women in Tokyo. I do things in my own way, andI shall let the honorable member know when. I am ready to do so.

page 1428




– Is the Prime Minister aware of a recent statement by Mr. D. Lovegrove, organizing, secretary of the Australian Labour party, to the effect, that, unless prompt action is taken to remove Communists from public departments, Labourmembers of Parliament may he accused of “ passing the buck “ ? In view of the decision of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party to refer Communist victimization of trade unionists to an advisory committee, and in view ofMr. Lovegrove’s reported statement, will thePrime Minister indicate whether the Government is now prepared to initiate action along the lines of that taken by the Government of the United. Kingdom to weed outCommunists from government departments?


– I have not seena report of the statement said to have been made by Mr. Lovegrove..I am aware that a committee was appointed by the Australian Labour party at its triennial conference for the purpose of examiningthe reported victimization of unionists. I assume that it will be convened bythe federal secretary of the party at a suitable time. Of course that has nothing to do with government administration.I have alreadystatedonanumber of occa sions that it is the objective of the Government no to allow anybody, whether he be a Communist or not, whose activities might be subversive, seditious,or savouring in any way of disloyalty to Australia, to engage in any work which would give him the opportunity todo any damage. The Government has con-, sistently pursued that policy and will continue to do so.

page 1428




– Many country residents who live long distances from towns or railheads have complained to me that their petroll quotas have been reduced to a level which makes it almost impossible for them to maintain the amenities of life which they usually enjoy. In some instances, people who live 20 miles away from a town have been allotted only six gallons of petrola month. They complain that they see huge tourist buses filled to capacity pass ing their properties almost daily, and they wonder whether tourist companies are granted a Higher priority for fuel than people who produce food. Will the Prime Minister investigate the apportionment of petrol to various sections of the community in accordance with their importance to the community?

Mr.CHIFLEY.-I realize that the reduction of petrol rations may be responsible for hardships in isolated areas. Apart altogether from essential needs, country residents occasionally like to take their families into town. for shopping expeditions, or in pursuit of some other amenities which make their life easier under rather difficult conditions l.” belief or.e, provision is made for consideration to be given to applications for m creased quotas on account of special) circumstances. I am. sure that such applicaitons will be- reviewed sympathetically, by the responsible officers.. The honorable member said that people- com: plained because,, while they- went short of petrol, Pioneer tourist coaches and other, vehicles passed by their, doors. In some distnicts, of course, tourist coaches pr.Or vide services to isolated places where there are no other means of. transport. In other instances, buses are operated for the convenience of school children who have to travel long distances in. order to attend secondary schools. Petrol allowances for tourist buses have, been reduced, and, in addition, a restriction has been placed upon any increase of, the number of buses in service. This matter is being- investigated by the Director of Rationing. Some buses use other1 kinds’ of fuel-

Mr Anthony:

– It is all rationed fuel.

M.r. CHIFLEY.- That is true. This matter could easily give rise to some illfeeling. Therefore I” shall arrange to have a report prepared- on the- matter arid will supply it to the honorable member.

page 1429



M*. BLAIN. - I ask- the Minister for Works and Housing whether the- Director of Works in Darwin’ has resigned from his position’ as a member of i the Legislative Council of- the Northern Territory-,, which he- occupied: as ai senior, public official nominated by the’ Government? [f so, did the Minister instruct the Director of Works-to resign,. or1 did- that-: official net of’ his own volition.?-

Minister for Works and Housing · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– This- question was answered by the Minister for the Interior last week when he informed the House that he-had no knowledge of such- a resignation. If the Director of Works in Darwin did resign from the Legislative Council, I anr sure the he would’ tender his resignation to the Administrator, who would then submit it1 to. the- Minister for the- Interior1 through, the proper channels. T do- nov know whether’ the’ resignation has Keen submitted; Mr-: Lucas, who is- the- Director, of Works in Darwin,, did not> want; to accept a. position on, the Legislative Council for the- Northern Territory, and had, to. be persuaded to do so. He has not accepted payment of the- stipend- that is. payable to a nominated member of that body and! is apparently not happy about his position, but I have. no> official knowledge of whether or not he has resigned.

page 1429


Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 16th September, (vide page 527), on motion by Mr. Holloway -

That the bill be now read a. second time.


.- TE.b- purpose of. this bill, is to give effect to the policy in. regard to certain social services that- was announced, by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech. The relevant Estimates have already been, agreed to. Two other bills which will be debated later will afford an opportunity to discuss other aspects of” this matter,, and I propose at thi? stage to deal with the proposed increase* of. pension- rates, the alteration in the property qualifications for. the payment of pensions and. certain aspects of- child endowment payments..

  1. pointed out. in the debate- on. the Estimates, that’ although our present pen?sions scheme, is generally believed to be a very liberal one, the real value of pensions, now is- practically what it was in- 1920.. A-t that time- the basic wage, under, the; Harvester Award, was £2 2s. ai week andi the; pension, wast 15s. & week. In; other words, the basic wage then wastwo, and four-fifth- times the amount ofthe: pension. To-day,, the average basic wage throughout the Commonwealth is £5 16s.. a- week,, and-, the pension is £2 2s. 6d. a week. The basic wage is., therefore, as little less than two and fourfifth, tames: the amount of the. pension. Every one who- knows anything: of living’ conditions.- to-day realizes that persons whose incomes are derived solely from pension ai-e- hawing- u very hard) struggle to- exist?.. Recently in this; House I was; prevented from reading, an extract from, a it Melbourne newspaper showing how an old-age pensioner of 80 years of age worked out his budget. His rent is 7s. 6d. a week. His meals lost him at least 3s« a day, or 21s. a week. He has no electricity, and spends ‘7d. weekly on kerosene. Other weekly outgoings are 4s. Id. to purchase plug tobacco, ls. 3½d. for honey, 6d. for funeral benefits, Id. contribution to the Pensioners Association and 3d. subscription to the Coolibah Club, to which he belongs in order that he may have some companionship. At the week-ends, when he can afford it, he buys tea, sugar and butter. Towels, razor blades and soap have to be provided for him. He rarely buys clothes, but when he does he buys them at the shop of the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, which makes very small charges, and then only in order to give the purchasers some kind of independence.

It seems to me that the solution is to link the pension rates with increases and decreases of the cost of living. That scheme was in force at one time, but it was withdrawn for political reasons. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that, in the view of the public, such a provision was an excellent one while the cost of living was rising and pensions were rising with it, but that it lost all nf its virtue when the cost of living began to fall and .pensions fell with it. If the cost of living and pension rates were linked together, there would always be, at any rate, some kind of relationship between them. Such a provision would not take from the Parliament the right, or indeed the duty, to increase the basic pension rate at any stage, but it would, if fluctuations in the cost of living occurred, provide the old people with a degree of security that they do not possess at present. No honorable member objects to the increases that are now proposed. I imagine that every one would be glad if the proposed increases were greater than they are, but I do not pretend to be able to toll the Treasurer what the amount should be or precisely what he should do. Tn view of the way in which the situation is developing, the position in regard to pension payments is an extremely difficult one. In 1910, there were 65,492 aged pensioners; in 1920. 99,170; and in 1930, 155,196. In 1940, the number increased to 272,896, but a great proportion of that increase was’ due to the fact that certain invalid pensioners who had reached the age of 60 years or 65 years were then transferred to the age pension list. In 1947 - the latest year for which figure? are available - the number was 290,173. The number of age pensioners for each 10,000 of population in those years was as follows : -

I have cited those figures to point one more to the almost intolerable burden that we are placing on the shoulders of tin next generation unless we can increase tb.numbers of that generation considerably . The proportion of the aged to the rest of the population is growing constantly because of the falling birth-rate. We aro extending - in my view wisely - the provisions of our pensions legislation so tha: more people may qualify for the age pension, but it means that, in the future, fewer and fewer people who produce will have to maintain more and more people who have passed the age of production. We must remember that this applies, noi only to age pensioners; the burden of the maintenance of others a? well will “ fall on those who produce. All the social services provided to-day have to be paid for by someone, and, of course, they are paid for by those who are still able to work. I shall suggest to the Government one way in which a very great improvement could be made in the lot of most age pensioners, at a small relative cost. The Government is full of schemes for a nationalized medical service. I understand that it wants to give to everybody in the community free medical benefits of all kinds. 1 contest certain of the Government’s views very strongly, as every one knows, but I do suggest that age pensioners might very well have provided for them a scheme whereby they could obtain free medical attention at the cost of the Government. I have discussed this proposal with several medical men, and every one of them has agreed that the British Medical Association would be only too happy to enter into an arrangement with the Government to treat old and helpless people, particularly those who have not young relatives on whom to lean, for a small fee to be paid by the Government. I commend that, suggestion to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services in the hope that he may find something of value in it Before I pass from age pensioners, it is fitting that I should mention one point : Far too many people to-day believe that they owe no duty to their parents, and other aged relatives, and are not prepared to give them the support that they arc able to give. Ear too many young people to-day are of opinion that everything -should come from the Government, and that they owe no filial duty to those who brought them into the world and cared for them in their youth. I hope that this is only a passing phase, and that the revival of family life for which I urgently press, will have some beneficial effect in that connexion.

Having discussed age pensions as a separate unit in the social benefits scheme, I should like to relate it now to certain other pension payments. I wish particularly to refer to the widows’ pensions, and to plead the case mainly of widows with children to support. I have said that the burden of our social services is being placed upon the young, yet at present, we are not giving sufficient attention to the young in the community. We are, quite rightly, giving benefits to those who are old, sick, and cast aside from the business of earning a living, but we are not right in neglecting those who are young and suffer many disadvantages. During the debate on the Estimates, I raised one point with the Minister, but to make my mind perfectly clear, I should like the Minister to give me further information. A class “ A “ widow is a widow who has at least one child under sixteen years of age. She receives a pension equal to the age pension, but in addition, receives 5s. a week as an allowance for the first child who, of course, is not endowed under the child endowment scheme. In his secondreading speech the Minister said -

A widow with at least one child under sixteen years of age will not be disqualified from receiving a pension, unless her income amount* to £3 17s. (id. a week, instead of £3 2s. fid. as at present. Additional income of 5s. a week is allowed in respect of one chili] under sixteen years if she is not in receipt of any other payment for the child.

I ask the Minister whether that mean? that under this scheme, the class “ A widow will receive her pension, plus 5s.. and, in addition, will be permitted additional income of 35s. a week instead of 30s.

Mr Holloway:

– She will receive an extra 5s. a week for the child.


– Yes, but if she also permitted-


– Order : T. ask the honorable member to make her own speech. If the Minister replies now he will close the debate.


– I desire t.o be clear on that point because it alters the whole argument that follows, or at least the figures on which the argument is based. I assume, in the light of the first part of the paragraph, that the widow will receive a pension unless her income amounts to £3 17s. 6d. a week, and an extra os. will be allowed on her income. She merely gets 5s. extra on her pension. That being so, we come to a very unfortunate position. Under this scheme, two age pensioners living together are permitted a joint income, including pension, of £7 5s. a week. In addition, they are permitted to own their own home. A widow with one child - again two units - is allowed only £3 17s. 6d. a week. I remind the Minister that two people at the end of their lives have little need for clothing renewals and for a substantial quantity or variety of food. In most instances such couples have also had an opportunity to achieve the ownership of their home, whereas few widows with young children have had the chance to do that. Also the widow’s needs are those of a woman in the prime of life, which are very much greater than those of aged people. She has also to supply the needs of her child in food, clothing and education. In actual fact, the needs of a mother and a child, I contend, are very much greater than those of two old people; yet, as I have pointed out, the aged couple may receive £7 5s. a week and a widow with one child, £3 17s. 6d. a week. Some people may say, “ That is all very well, but the widow can go out and “work for a living”. I suggest that the whole basis of the widows’ pension is that a widow should not have to leave her children with other people, but should be able to give them the care to which they are entitled. Let us carry ‘the argument further: A widow with two children can receive only £4 7s. 6d. a week, and a widow with three children, £4 17s. 6d. a week. It is understood, of course, that .she is receiving 10s. a week for every endowed child. A widow with four children receives £5 7s. 6d. a week; with five children £5 17s. 6d; with six children, £6 7s. 6d., and with seven children, .£6 17s. 6d’. Only if she lias eight .children does she receive an amount equal to that paid to an age pensionercouple. That is the very unhappy state of affairs. As far as T understand them, all the medical schemes at the present time are based on the need for repair. What is required, however, is a health scheme rather than a scheme for sickness benefits, so that there .will be less sickness and that the country will have a self-reliant community with healthy bodies and’ healthy minds. In the aspects nf this matter which I have mentioned, honorable members have an instance of ihildren being deprived of the- conditions which should build a healthy future “for thom. ‘Some honorable members may raise the question of finance. I put it to the House that the pharmaceutical benefits scheme .will cost much more ‘.than Ibo “£2,00Q,000 that the .Government has estimated, and is likely, in .fact, to cost nearer £20,000.000 if it (proceeds with all doctors practising as it does now with the .limited number of doctors now operating under the terms o’f the act. lit seems to me that by providing a sound health scheme the Government could GO a real work for the “future and give real benefit to those who most need it.

There is practically nothing in the Minister’s .speech regarding invalid pensioners, but as far as I have been able to discover, an invalid pensioner is to receive ;£2 2s. 6d. a week with an allowance for his wife of £1 5s. a week and, for a first child, of 5s. a week. As I stated recently, that 5s. allowance for the first child of invalid and widow pensioners is the only pension payment which will not be increased under the bill. That omission W1 lay as much of a burden on the invalid pensioner as on the widowed pensioner. An age pensioner couple with no property or other income will receive £4 5s. a week in .pension whereas an invalid pensioner with a -wife and child will receive only £3 12s. 6d. If he has another child his pension will increase to £4 2s. 6d., which is still below the rate paid to an age pensioner and his wife. I put it to the Government that this is a situation which calls for a remedy. Honorable members cannot feel that they have done their duty to those who are left to bring up families, if this legislation leaves them in a condition which will make their struggle far harder than that of the age pensioners who, every one admits, are noi enjoying a very comfortable time at the present moment. Food must be regarded as the first consideration in the rearing of children. At the moment the Government is concerned only with “medicine. Experts who talk cf dietetics ‘are inclined to concern themselves “too often with vita’mins and -all the other components of food, rather than with food itself. By all means let us educate our poeple in the use cf !food and on the -kind of food they should -eat, but let ‘us also .provide the food ‘for them. That can ‘only be done by ensuring that “those who have the care of the young shall receive ‘ample means with .which to buy not only :.the correct “food, but also sufficient food. -; country ‘must :build ‘for the ^future. MW immigration -plans ‘will be useless ‘unless Australia also builds up its native population. An argument often used against the immigration policy is that immi- grants’ will have -a higher ‘natural increase than “the native population. ‘Why should that be? This is “a matter which hits -near ‘borrie, as it ‘means so. much ‘for the ‘future ‘df Australia. At least let the Government eensure ‘that those ‘who bring children, into the world and, through no fault of their own, are deprived of the normal means to support them,, shall have the means given to them by the rest of “the community to maintain their children at a level comparable with that at which more fortunate people can mainain theirs.

I am delighted to be able to support this increase cf pensions, but I hope that the suggestions I have made will not escape the attention of the Government and that something will be done to improve the lot of those dependent upon the rest of ‘the community for the means r.o rear their children properly.


L support the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), who made her speech with extraordinary cogency md great clarity. I wish to elaborate some of the points she made regarding the scope of the bill. If honorable members study the measure, they will find that clause 17 is almost the only one which really deals with the younger generation. The other clauses deal with the older generation, and although honorable members on this side of the House are glad to see that the position of age pensioners will be improved by the bill, it is very necessary that consideration be given to the children, and future children, of Australia. It is necessary that the population of ‘this country should increase to provide the means of maintaining pensions for aged and invalid persons and other social services. Et seems to me ‘that the social services programme set ‘out in the bill is hopelessly inadequate in view of what was disclosed by ‘the ‘recent census, which Showed ‘that the ‘structure df the population had changed since the taking -of the previous census. The last census ‘showed (hat the number of -persons in:the four ‘to twenty age group was then about 150;000 less than:it was in 1933; whereas the over 45 age -group ‘had increased ‘by ‘656;000 persons, and ‘the over 60 ‘age group ‘by over M0,000 .persons. ‘Examining ‘this aspect ‘further, one ‘discovers that, just as had occurred “after “World ‘War I. there was a substantial ‘spurt in ‘the ‘birth-rate for ‘three or four years after World War II., -so tha’t the ‘number o’f children under ‘flip ‘age o’f four now is ‘higher than it was in 1933. It has, however, not improved proportionally with thi increase during the first four year, after World War I. The increase that has occurred was due to the fac that many families had become reunited, and to the return from service of many young men who have married ano become fathers. At the same time th average age of our people is steadily increasing, and although a large number of migrants have come to this country their advent has not had the effect of reducing the average age of our population, as some of us had hoped would occur Statistics released by the Commonwealth Statistician show that during the twelve months ended last March, 65,000 migrants entered Australia and 53,000 people departed from Australia, so that our net gain of population was on’ l”2j000. The distribution into age group.1of the migrants and those who compose the- actual increase of 12,000 would not be substantially different from ‘that of the rest of the population.

I am pleased that the bill .proposes to increase child endowment from 7s. 6d. te 10s. a week. Nevertheless, I consider that we are not doing sufficient to encourage people to have larger families. ‘When -child endowment ‘was introduced in 1941 it was paid to parents of ‘two or more children without any means test being applied. No allowance was paid in respect of tinfirst child because the basic wage provided ‘for a man, wife and one child. I regret ‘that the present Governmenaltering the former system of assessing tax returns. Formerly taxpayers who had a number of children were permitted to claim deductions in respect of their children and the’ir tax was computed on the amount of :income which remained after these deductions had been made. For many years a deduction of £45 war allowed ‘in respect of the ‘first child and £8 in -respect df each succeeding child, and the latter -amount was ‘later increased “to £15. Now a taxpayer with -children is taxed on !his gross income -and :b -allowed la rebate, in ‘respect of ‘his children which means that he has ‘to pay more in taxes and has less to spend on his_ family. Although it was formerly believed that as the number o’f children in a family increased so the cost of maintaining each child decreased, our own experience and recent statistics demonstrate clearly that the second, third, fourth and fifth children of a family now cost more to maintain than did the first child. In L944, when the prices of food and clothing were much lower than at present, a royal commission which inquired into the matter found that the additional cost of maintaining a child during the first year of its life was approximately 15s. 3d. a week in respect of the first child; 9s. 1 1d. a week in respect of the second child ; Ils. 6d. a week in respect of the third child; 12s. 7d. a week in respect of the fourth and fifth children, and 15s. 3d. a week in respect of the sixth and seventh children. Because of the increases of the cost of living that have occurred in the meantime, comparative amounts would be much higher to-day. In view of the disturbing facts in relation to our population revealed by the recent census, I appeal to the Government to examine the matter realistically and to ensure that people will be encouraged to have larger families. Although no one expected the recent census to indicate a favorable state of affairs in regard to our population and its distribution into age groups, no one imagined that the real position was as bad as it bas been shown to be. A major social problem is involved, and something should be done to ease the economic burden imposed upon parents of medium and large families. Of course, one reason why our birth-rate is declining is that women are not prepared to have more than one or two children because they believe that a mother of five or six children is so tied down that she has no opportunity for enjoyment. Unless something can be done to improve the lot of mothers of families women will continue to regard the upbringing of more than two children as mere drudgery. Many women also believe that the domestic hardships entailed in the rearing of a family of more than two children lead to matrimonial troubles, which often culminate in the separation or divorce of the parents. I have long believed -that it would be advisable to increase the amount of family endowment paid in respect of each child and to provide domestic assistance of some kind during the day, if noi at night, for mothers of families, so as to enable them to obtain som<recreation. Something should be done to improve the status of women who render domestic assistance to the mother.*of families in order to encourage mort, women to volunteer for that service.

The survey made by the N Nutrition Advisory Committee in 1936 showed thai the per capita consumption of protective foods decreased as the size of families grew, and that the calcium intake a head tended to decrease as the size of the family increased. That fact indicate.that we must provide more direct financial assistance to parents of families if we desire an increase of the number of healthy children in the community. Any one who examines present population trends is led inevitably to compare the situation in Australia with that in Great Britain and other countries. I have examined the nature and scope of the social services provided in the United Kingdom, which were reviewed by the British Government during and since the war. Examination of British social legislation reveals that during the past 50 years all political parties have engaged in steady and continuous improvement of social services. They have not discarded any social service merely because more recent developments suggested that new provisions should be made, nor have they prevented improvement by clinging unreasonably to old ideas and special party shibboleths. The result is that British social services provide a real basis of security, whereas Australian legislation, which provides more lavish benefits, does not furnish any real security against economic recessions and consequent unemployment. The most characteristic feature of Australian social legislation is the absence of a properly safeguarded financial provision for new social services. The present Government has been more concerned with increasing payments under existing legislation than with introducing new social services. For example, age and invalid pensions have been more than doubled since they were first introduced. Of course, no one questions the increase that has taken place because it has been more than justified by the higher cost of living. Although child endowment. benefits have been liberalized, the expendiutre under this heading was not great during the last financial year. The only new benefits provided in 1946-47 involved an expenditure of about 6209,000 on funeral benefits, approximately £27,000 in connexion with tuberculosis, £1,217,000 on unemployment and sickness benefits, and about £4,500,000 on ‘ hospital benefits, which simply replaced existing voluntary efforts. Benefits for widows are merely and extension of provisions that were inaugurated in New South Wales when the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) was Premier of that State. The scheme now applies throughout Australia md consequently costs more.

Let us consider the social services provisions in Great Britain. In that country the whole social services scheme is buttressed by a comprehensive contributory national insurance scheme. In a British government publication called Social Security in Britain, recently issued, it is admitted that social services provisions in Great Britain have been brought about us the result of the brains and policies of nil political parties in that country over the last 40 years. The scheme has been drawn up comprehensively, and is based on individual contributions in times of full employment, to provide against times if recession. It is supported by continuous government and employers’ contributions. A huge fund is being steadily built up. In this country, however, the Government is gambling on a continuance of high prices, and correspondingly high taxation. The basis of the Australian system is the social services and income tax contribution, which is paid on all income in excess of £125 per annum. The publication to which I have referred instances the manner in which we could proceed in this matter. The British Labour Government frankly admits that the present development in Great Britain began with the introduction of the National Insurance Act by the Liberal Government and Mr. Lloyd George in 1911. The scheme is on a contributory basis. Contributions by employees and employers, supplemented by contributions from the Exchequer, were used to build up two funds to meet the cost of benefits. That principle has been applied up to the present day. The only significant change has been the raising of the upper income limit of non-manual workers, first in 1919, and again in 1942. In 1925, a conservative government supplemented the provisions of the Old-age Pensions Act. Pensions were provided for widows, orphans of men who had been covered, and al) persons over 65 years of age insured under the 1911 act, without the application of any means test. The unemployment insurance scheme also was improved. Then in 1941, when Great Britain was facing the greatest crisis in its history, the coalition National Government, consisting of Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties, submitted the whole matter of social services to Sir William, now Lord, Beveridge, and asked him to prepare a report and make recommendations as to what should be done after the war had terminated. The report, published in 1942, has been accepted by practically all political parties in Great Britain. In September, 1944, plans were announced for a complete system of socia insurance to be introduced after the war. It made provision for the alleviation of distress caused by poverty due to sickness, disablement, unemployment or old age. The general principles of that scheme were accepted by all parties and the first measures were passed before tin general election in 1945. It seems to m< that in Australia there should be the same general agreement on thi; matter between all parties. There should be a traditional policy relating to national health, which would not change as Governments change. If we do not “hang together” in this matter we all shall die together. Our financial security is guaranteed by such measures as the Financial Agreement and the National Debt Sinking Fund. I therefore appeal for the consideration of this matter of social services and health by the best brains at our disposal, and with the goodwill of all political parties. Every inducement should be offered to our people to increase the birth rate. In 1935. the right honorable member for North


.- I- supportthebillbecauseitwillgreatlyim provethepositionofallwhoarenoin receiptofinvalidandagepensionsand childendowment.Therighthonorable memberforCowper(SirEarlePage) saidthattheGovernmentwastiedtoa setideainitssocialserviceschemes. Thatusnotso.TheGovernmentiscon- stantlyseekingthebestmeansofprovid- securitytothepeople.Thatisevident from the social services already in opera

SirEarle Page. - Thatschemeiscompletely wrongly based.

MY. SHEEHAN.- TheGovenmentis nottied,astherighthonorablegentle- mansaid,toarigididea.Ascircum- stancespermititillfurtherliberalize existingsocialservicebenefitsandestab- lishadditionalschemes.Underthis measuretheinvalidandagepensionwill beincreasedby5s.aweekandchild endowmentby2s.6d.aweek,and,atthe sametime,themeanstestandproperty qualificationsinrespectoftheagepen- sionwillberelaxed.Thehonorable memberforDarwin(DameEnidLyons) urgedthatpensionsofthiskindshould bepeggedtothebasicwage,thatasthe costoflivingincreased,ordecreased,the rateofpensionshouldbevariedsccord- ingly.Thehonorablemembersaidthat thepurchasingpowerofthepensionwhen itwas17s.6d.aweekwasgreaterthan isthatofthepresentpensionof£2.2s.6d. aweek.Atonetimetherateofpension wasadjustedaccordingtovariationsof thecostofliving;butwhilsttherateof pensionwasreadilyincreasedwhenthe basicwagewasraised,thecommunityas awholeopposedanyreductionto conformwithadecreaseofthebasic wage.Iremindthehonorablemember thatshewasasupportedoftheLyons Governmentwhichreducedtheinvalid andoldagepensionfrom17s.6d.aweek to15s.aweek,withtheprovisothata pensionerwhohadnootherincomewas entitledtoapensionof17s.6d.aweek However,thatGovernmentnotonly reducedthepension,butalsorecovered thetheestateofpensionersupontheir deaththeamountofmoneypaidbyway ofpensionstothem.Thus,it merelyloanedtheamountofpen siontorecipientsagainstthesecurityof anypropertywhichtheymayhave posseessed.Inaddition,itforced relativesofpensionerstocontributeto thesupportofthelatter.Thatgovern- mentdidnotbotheraboutpeggingthe rateofpensiontothecostofliving. pension the Government should provide amenities, for- pensioners. The Government recognizes the. importance, of. providing adequate, amenities for pensioners, Its policy is to. change the pensioners' names of: the. type we know, to-day, and to enable elderly couples to. live together in security and comfort in a. community of. separate, structures: To-day,, many, old. people- are obliged to- live in little, dark, back rooms; in residences: in congested) suburban, a teas,, for. which, they are charged a rent of £1. or. 2,5s. a. week. Although the means, test is not now applied, in. respect of invalids over, 21i years of age, it is, still, retained in. respect of applicants for invalid pension who are between the ages of 16 and. 21 years whose parents' income exceed £7 10s. a week. My. primary purpose in speaking on this measure is: to urge the. Government to. abolish the means, test, also in respect of the latter class of invalids. Invalids between the. ages of. 16 and 21, even, should' they be. permanently incapacitated, are disqualified, from receiving an invalid- pension if their parents' income exceeds £7; 10s. a week. I urge; the Government, to. rectify that position by completely, abolishing the means test in respect of- all classes- of invalid" pensions-.. The cost t.o» Consolidated Revenue of such a reform, would not be. very great.. Thereare approximately 73,000 persons in. receipt, of- the. invalid pension. Of. that number about 2,Q00 persons between the ages of 16. and 21 years are. receiving, a reduced, pension.. I. understand, that, about 26Q applications from persons in. the same age group are rejected annually because, the: income of their parents exceeds £7 1.0s.. a week. On those-figures the cost to. Consolidated Revenue of. abolishing the. means test in. respect, of. all invalids, between, the ages of 1.6. and 21 years, would, not exceed £180,00.0. per. annum. That amount is infinitesimal when considered as- a. part: of the cost. of. benefits; embodied, in this, measure, which., will, involve, an. additional' expenditure- of £6,00.0,00.0 a. year for. invalid i and age pensions and .£6,700j000, a: year for. child endowment. Should, an. invalid under 21. years- of age. be the. only child. of. parents whose income from, wages or any other source, exceeds £7 10s. a week, the application for pen sion is refused because the parent.are deemed, to have sufficient income t>maintain that child. This imposes .> severe-hardship upon, not only the parentbut also the child. If that child wen in. good, health he or she would be able under, present conditions,, to earn from *£2 s* week: to, probably, £5 a week, but he or- she is now deprived" of receiving any relief directly,, whilst the parent> ar.e compelled to support the child An invalid child is a heavy responsibility in any. home, and it is; to< rauch to ask. parents- to- accept such h responsibility until the child reaches th, age of 21 years. In, many, instances thi parents mary be- elderly, or approaching retirement, when one of their children, who,, perhaps;, has been working for som« years, may suddenly become medically unfit: to continue inc employment.. In such circumstances the family is deprived of the income, previously, earned, by. the chile and, at the same time, the parents, om of. their reduced income, must meet thi cost of maintaining, that, child until hi on she reaches, the age of 21 years We: should, give serious consideration te that matter. An, invalid, between, thi ages. of. 16 and. 21. years should be entitled: to. receive, a pension,, regardless of the. income, of the- parents. Under existing, conditions,, an. anomalous: position may arise,, because, a. pension is payable in respect, of an. invalid, child, who is lining with, relatives other, than the parents That provision may lead, poor people, to advise a-n invalid child, to live a.w-ay. from home.- At present, approximately 73^000 persons receive the invalid pension.. Included in that number are about, 2,000 persons between the ages of 16" and *21* years who receive a reduced pension. Approximately 260 applications for the payment of invalid pensions" in respect of persons between the- ages, of 16 and: 2-1 years are rejected, annually because, of the earnings of the parents. If those 2,0.00 persons were to receive a full pension, the additional cost, would be. about £50,000 a. year. If all. invalids between the ages of: 16 and 21 years, were granted a pension, an. additional. 1,300 persons, would be affected, and the maximum cost per annum would be about £1 ,"0.000. Tn this second-reading speech on the Tuberculosis Bill, the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway),** who presents the Minister for Social Services **(Senator McKenna)** in this House, arated - >The plan to be implemented under this measure ensures that after-care and rehabilitation shall be given the fullest consideration. Further, the measure provides for adequate financial assistance to sufferers and their dependants to remove the worry factor which so often in prolonged illness militates against recovery. Invalid children, aged seventeen or eighteen years, may suffer from a great worry factor, and any prospects of their recovery would be seriously affected by their knowledge that they were dependent upon their parents for support. I wholeheartedly endorse the proposals in the bill, and believe that the Government has done a magnificent job. However, I consider that the means test should be abolished in respect of invalid pensioners between the ages of 16 and 21 years. In addition, the wife of an invalid pensioner should be subject to the same means test as is applicable to an age pensioner. At present, a male invalid pensioner receives £2 2s. 6d. a week, and his wife is paid an allowance of £1 a week and may earn another £1* a week, making a total income of only £4 2s. 6d. a week. In my opinion, the wife should be permitted to earn the amount which would make the total income £7 5s. a week, because that is the maximum permissible income for an age pensioner and his wife. If my suggestions cannot be accepted for inclusion in this bill, I hope that they will he given effect in subsequent amending legislation. {: #subdebate-22-0-s4 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
Flinders -- I regard it as most unfortunate that the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Sheehan),** when debating this bill should have indulged even for a short time in party politics. He referred to some omission by the Lyons Government. If I were to follow his example, I could easily point to positive action taken by a Liberal government to help people in need of social security. However, I do not propose to do so. The people of Australia do not care what occurred in the past, particularly in regard to social services. But they are concerned with what is taking place at the present time. When honorable members debate this bill, they should confine their remarks to the real thingsthat matter at the moment. I agree entirely with the statement by the right honorable member for Cowper **(Sir Earle Page)** that matters of social security should be treated on a non-party basis. A few years ago, the Social Security Committee, consisting of members of the Australian Labour party, the Liberal party and the Australian Country partyconducted a number of extensive inquiries and submitted nine reports. I believe that the government of the day recognized the value of those reports. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- They were very good. {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Every . one of those reports represented the unanimous opinions of members of the committee, and I hope that in this House social services legislation will reflect the unanimous views of honorable members. The proposals in the bill are good. Age and invalid pensions will be increased by 5s. a week, the permissible earnings of pensioners will be raised from £1 to £1 10s. a week, and the permissible property qualification will be increased from £650 to £750. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are completely in accord with those three proposals. The only criticism which I venture to offer is that the increases should have been made earlier. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) pointed out that it was somewhat unfortunate that pensions were entirely dissociated from the cost of living index. For much longer than the honorable member for Cook realizes, pensions rose or fell in accordance with the fluctuations of the cost of living. On one occasion, the cost of living index fell, and in consequence. pensions should have been reduced correspondingly. But pensioners resistedthe reduction and the government of the day yielded to their protests. I have always regarded that incident as unfortunate. Had the Government remained firm it would have been better for every one concerned, and, above all, for the pensioners themselves. When the cost of living increases, there is always a time-lag before the pension is increased. Pensioners themselves are well aware of that fact. {: .speaker-KFX} ##### Mr Hadley: -- For how long has the honorable member taken an interest in pensions and pensioners? {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN: -- I have studied this subject much more closely than has the honorable member for Lilley **(Mr. Hadley).** There is always a period when the pension lags behind an increase of the cost of living. Honorable members opposite should seek the views of pensioners on that matter. What I have said is a correct interpretation of their opinion. Frequently, Government supporters boast that Australia is experiencing a period of prosperity. Not long ago, one honorable member declared that " prosperity reigned everywhere ". That statement may be debated at great length, and one section of the community would certainly not subscribe to it. About twelve months ago, I referred to them, as the " forgotten people of Australia ". The Government appears to have overlooked them. I refer to elderly men and women who have retired from civil life on annuities and pensions, or on interest earned by investments which they made with their savings. {: .speaker-KFX} ##### Mr Hadley: -- A government which the honorable member supported allowed those people only 10s. a week. {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN: -- The present Government does not allow them anything. It is true that those who have annuities and pensions will be afforded some relief, because the permissible income will be increased from £1 to £1 10s. a week, but those who support themselves on income from investments have not had any relief since the cost of living began to rise before the outbreak of World War II. They are not affected by any distinction between tax rates upon income from personal 'exertion and those upon income from investments, because the two rates are identical for incomes up to £350 per annum. However, they are entirely disqualified by the property limitation from receiving pensions in their old age. In order to provide himself with an income equal to the pension rate of 42s. 6d. a week, a man-must save about £4,000. Not many people in Australia succeed in doing that. A man and wife must save £8,000 in order to earn an income from investments equivalent to the pension for a married couple. Many aged person.draw income from investments of les.than £4,000, and, of course, such income is considerably less than the pension rate. Nevertheless, they are debarred from drawing a pension, under our so-called social security scheme, until their capital is reduced to about £750. In other words, they are compelled to dissipate thai savings. {: .speaker-KFX} ##### Mr Hadley: -- When did Opposition parties introduce a social security scheme ? {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN: -- We 3hall introduce a good one when we are returned to power, and I hope that we shall remove the anomalies that now exist. The honorable member for Lilley **(Mr. Hadley)** does noi seem to appreciate what I am talking about. I should have thought that he aud his colleagues would have some sympathy for the people in whose interests I am speaking. Unfortunately, like mam others on the Government side of tinHouse, the honorable member seems to be forgetful of the needs of these people, who are being almost crushed out of existence. They can continue to live only by spending the capital which they have saved, after years of hard work, not only to provide for their old age, but also to give their families a start in life. I know of many citizens in my electorate who, after 20, 30 or 40 years of work in the lower and middle income ranges, hoped to have a. few thousand pounds to provide for the remainder of their lives. What hashappened to them? Because of the great increase of the cost of living since' the outbreak of World War II., the real value of their savings has decreased so thai amounts that would have provided for reasonable comfort in 1939 are no longer sufficient to meet their needs. They live by spending, month by month or year by year, the few hundreds of pounds that they have saved. Before long, their capital will dwindle to nothing and their hopes of passing something on to their children will be destroyed. The increase of the cost of living has affected these people more severely than others. An old man living upon the income from his savings enjoys smoking a pipeful of tobacco or a cigarette, and his wife likes to have some of the minor luxuries of life. But sales tax bears heavily upon such people. Whenever the man buys . 2 oz. of tobacco, the price of 1 oz. goes to the Government. In other words, hehas to pay twice as much for tobacco now as he had to pay before the war. The plight of such people should receive the very earnest attention of this Parliament. Something should be done to save them from being crushed out of existence. The only real measure of relief available to them is the lifting of the property qualification to allow them to have an income from property equivalent to the permissible incomefrom other sources. It is anomalous that a pensioner may have an annuity of 30s. a week, whilst amanwho draws 20s. a week from an investment is debarred from drawing a pension. I feel very strongly about this situation, and I wish that I could impress my concernupon the minds of all honorable members. These aged people deserve all the help thatwe can give them. Up to date we have given them none. I commend any suggestions to the Government. {: #subdebate-22-0-s5 .speaker-JPL} ##### Mrs BLACKBURN:
Bourke . -I previously discussed pensions during the budget debate, and I donot now wish to deal at great length with general principles because . I realize that it is desirable to give the bill a speedy passage through this "House so that the pension increase for which it provides shall be made available to the peopleat the earliest possible moment. I hoped originally that the increase would be made effective from the 1st July. Then it was announced that the new rate would become payable upon the 1st October. However, we were told recently that it might not be paid until the 1st November. If itbe impossible to make payments retrospectively to the 1st July, I ask the Government atleast to date the increase back tothe 1st October. Many aged citizens have been looking forward eagerly to the increase. During the week-endI met many pensioners who were disappointedby the delay. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Sheehan),** who spoke about the possibility of the Government building homes for aged persons. If the Government would engage in such a scheme, in co-operation with State governments or municipal councils. . old people whose contribution to the advancement of this country has already been made, would be able to live in peace,free from the responsibilities under which they too of ten dlabour to-day. Many pensioners are given thetask of caring for children in over-crowded homes. Too many small homes in our cities houseAustralians of three generations, and, in such places, grandparents are frequently left at home to mind young children while mothers go out to work. That practice seems to me to be wrong. It is likely to limit our population, and it is unfair both to aged grandparents and to young children. I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway)** will have something to say on the subject during this debate. We have in Victoria homes for aged persons known as "Old Colonists Homes". There may be similar schemes in other States. The groups of homes should be built in garden surroundings in every quarter of every capital city. I emphazise the need to build small comfortable places in which old people can spend the latter days of their lives. Those of them who are not accommodated in the homes of their married children frequently live in discomfort in unhealthy and insanitary surroundings. I know of some of them who, although they are suffering from tuberculosis or diabetes, have to travel tothe city from outer suburbs in order to get a meal, because there are no facilities intheir rooms for heating food or drink. On rainy days they are unable even to provide themselves with a hot cup of tea. I do not know whether the Government has a plan for building homes for old people, but, if it has not. I urge that the suggestion that was made by the honorable member for Cook be translated into action. I have received a number of letters from retired officers of the CommonwealthPublic Service. The high cost of living has reduced the value of their pensions and, in consequence, they find itdifficultto keep themselves indecency and comfort. I urge that the pension increasesnow proposed beextended to these retired officers. {: #subdebate-22-0-s6 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr LANG:
REID, NEW SOUTH WALES · LANG LAB; ALP (N-C) from 1948 .- The Government payslip serviceto abelief in social justice, and it. parades that alleged belief, both at home and abroad. This bill gave the Government the opportunity to provide practical application of. that belief, but it has again failed. It has betrayed the trust of thousands of pensioners who sacrificed their shillings for its campaign funds in the hope that, in due course, they would reap some reward. It has. perpetuated the. iniquitous means test. The bill provides the final and absolute proof that this year we have a miser's budget. Only a miser and a miser's government would quibble over a few paltry shillings in the way that this bill quibbles. At a time when money is losing its value, those who. depend upon social services for a bare, existence, have been treated very shabbily. No real attempt has. been made to reconcile payments to the' actual cost of living as it' operates to-day, or to guarantee to those who are aged, invalid or widows, pensions sufficient to provide, shelter; food and clothing based on. their, real human needs. They are caught in a hopeless vortex of diminishing, purchasing power. No attempt, has been made to. deal, with: the time lag. that is associated with, rising living, costs. The. paltry adjustments that, are proposed in. this bill, have no relation to the real needs of. this very important section of the nation,, to which the country owes so; much. The Government is not, in a- position, to plead inability to pay adequate increases. The National Welfare Fund, established, out of taxation, that applies right down to the smallest wageearner, is more than sufficient to meet heavier demands. According to the figures the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley).** the fund had At the 30th June, after, meeting all commitments, it had a balance of £70,000,000. In different trust funds, the Government had. balances amounting to. over £196,000,000. Much of that represented concealed balances. Once it was alleged that the banks had a monopoly of this practice, of concealing surpluses, but tolay the Government itself is the worst offender. It hides its surpluses in these trust funds. According to the Treasurer's figures, the national income has doubled since 1939. In the same period, taxation has 'increased by 500 per cent., the greater proportion of which is borne by those with, the lowest incomes. The Government is in a position to meet the needs of those participating in the proceeds of thiNational Welfare Fund. It cannot plead poverty or inability to pay. The National Welfare Fund collects £90,000,000 a year from imposition.' on the wages of the community. Every one who pays that taxation should be entitled to a share in its benefits. That does not occur under the administration of this Government. Its chief aim appears to be to build up these trust funds from the surpluses that it can- gather in. That is the action of a miser's government. The pensioners and the mothers will not even have the benefit of an increase from the beginning of this financial year. Clause 19 provides thai the increases of pensions will not apply until the first pension day after the commencement of the act; and that the increases of. endowment- will not become operative until the Sth November. Could anything more paltry, more pinch-penny be imagined? In. the same budget, this, same Government made provision whereby- the- wealthy, corporation* would get- the benefit- of their tax reductions, from the: beginning of the financial year. But. what was good enough for the pensioners; and. the mothers: in receipt of. child., endowment was not good enough for the; wealthy corporations. How much will the Treasurer save by this miserable act,? According to his own figures, the estimated expenditure on such, increase* for. a full year would have amounted to £7,600,000, but because he is making the pensioners wait for. almost four months, he is saving just on one-third of that. For this year, the increases will cost him only £5,100,000. For the sake of £2,500,000, he is making the pensioners wait for four months. Or. is it that, were the -Government to pay them the arrears for that period, the pensioners would have an additional £4 each to draw in a single pay? Is the Treasurer afraid to trust them with an additional £41 Would it result in inflation I Is he afraid they might become extravagant with, the Christmas season coming on The Treasury appears to be in the hands of a financial. Scrooge. A Government, budgeting for ari expenditure of £510,000,000, stoops to rob the pensioners of a paltry £2,500,000. Members of the -ame Government will be present at the christmas parties . arranged by the same pensioners and paid for out of their little savings. They will eat and drink, ind then make speeches about how they arc the friends of the pensioners, and radge for their votes and support at the next election. By post-dating this increase, the Government is robbing i he pensioner of £4, and the mother of £2 for each child receiving endowment. But the increased cost of living is not post-dated. Costs of everything are rising continuously. That is the real time lag. Instead of reviewing the position mee a year, adjustments should be made automatically month by month. If it is stood enough for the wealthy corporations to he given retrospective reductions of taxes, then it should be good enough for the pensioners to he given the same treatment; but apparently this Govern- i icnt thinks otherwise. Those problems cannot be decided purely by statistical methods. The real problem is how much it costs a pensioner to live. Is the Government satisfied that h pensioner can live on £2 2s. 6d. a week? Oan he find shelter for that amount tolay? Can he maintain a reasonable standard of diet? Can he purchase reasonable clothing for the. winter to keep him warm? Forget the statistics. Go into any butcher's shop and see what a couple if chops cost. How much will it take ro buy winter underclothing? Can the pensioner afford fruit and vegetables at existing prices? It is all very well for the Government spokesman to take the lead in drafting a Charter of Human Rights at the United Nations ; but are we recognizing the human rights of our own people? Will £2 2s. 6d. a week give an ustralian all those human rights to which he is entitled in the evening of his life? That is the only valid test of this " Government's sincerity. Next we have the iniquitous means est. The Treasurer said in his budget speech that he could not afford to abolish the means test because it might cost an additional £54,000,000 a year. In a budget of £510,000,000 that was supposed to be an insuperable obstacle; but is it? Is this not the Government which said that there could be no ceiling on the expenditure of government money for war needs? If this country becomes involved in another war, will it keep out of hostilities because it cannot afford to spend £54,000,000 a year on the war ? What arrant humbug. The proposal foi the abolition of the means test is not based on any claim for government charity for those people in the community who are past the retiring age. It is based on the fact that every Australian is to-day contributing to a government superannuation scheme that this Government calls the National Welfare Fund. Even the worker on £3 a week - half of the basic wage - will still pay £3 15s. a year in taxes under the present budget. The worker on £12 a week, without dependants, will pay nearly £75 a year, whilst a single member of this House will still pay £36S. The Government's avowed policy is to take all surplusspending power from the individual : therefore the individual is no longer in a position to save against his retirement The Government that gathers all into its tax pool surely has someobligation to those whom it taxes. TheGovernment believes that by this bill it cancels out its obligation when the pensioner has an income of £1 10s. a week, or owns property amounting to a maximum of £750. Thus the frugal citizen, who invested his savings in a life insurance policy is to be penalized because of his thrift. If he spends all hi:surplus income, he will become eligible for the pension. If he saves it, he will be ineligible. That is this Government's reasoning. Even more scandalous and immoral is its treatment of those in receipt of government pensions. Thi schoolteacher, the railway engine-driver, the policeman, and the typist in a government office all pay what this Government calls social services contributions. They pay taxes that go into the National' Welfare Fund from which age, invalid and other pensions are supposed to bipaid. In addition, they are required to make compulsory contributions to their State and Commonwealth superannuationfunds. They receive no allowance fromeither the Superannuation Board or the National Welf are Fund on account of the dual payments that they are making. Take the case of the headmaster of one of r.he largest public schools in New South Wales, shortly due to retire after over, 10 years of honorable and distinguished service. He must retire because the provisions of the Public Service Act leave him no alternative. He has five units of superannuation which entitle him to a State pension of £2 10s. a week. That is the maximum for which he could contribute, as the State scheme did not come into existence until 1919, and it imposed limits on the lider employees. If he applied for a Commonwealth pension he would be sub9jected to the means test. Because he receives more than the prescribed £1 10s. a week, the pension due to him would be reduced by the Commonwealth from £2 2s. 6d. a week prescribed in this bill to £1 2s. 6d. a week.. That would mean r.hat the headmaster would have a princely £3 12s. 6d. a week to live on in his retirement. But he had paid for both his superannuation and his pension - one by contributions deducted by the State, and the other by contributions deducted by the Commonwealth. Is not that man being robbed? I challenge the Government to justify its attitude on either moral or equitable grounds. It cannot defend its action in such . an instance. What would happen if that headmaster also had paid for an endowment or a life insurance policy maturing at the date of his retirement? If he drew £1 2s. 6d. i week from his endowment policy, he would be automatically disqualified from all Commonwealth pension rights. If his maturing life insurance policy was worth £750, that also would disqualify him. If 'he had invested his savings in a cottage to be rented, that too would deprive him of his pension rights. These are actual facts based on an actual instance known to me. They apply the acid test to the means test. The retired stationmaster, the retired enginedriver, and the retired schoolteacher are all suffering because of the means test. A railway employee who has been on the footplate all his working life cannot be expected to turn to some other occupation at the age of 65 years. At least, all retired engine-drivers cannot be expected to do so. Let the Treasurer think of the plight of some of his old mates. What are they going to do? If they have to put their savings into something that will bc little better than a shack at present building costs, should they be deprived of any return from their contribution? to this much-boosted National Welfare Fund? Their State pensions have depreciated since the standard was fixed some 30 years ago. Those people annow the real displaced persons of om nation. The Government can find millions of pounds to bring displaced persons from other countries, but it refuses to find any money at all to assist our own displaced people The budget provides for an expenditure of £6,000,000 on immigration, yet as soon as any move is mad'to give social justice to those suffering under the means test, the Treasurer dighis toes in and refuses to budge. Tinpublic servants I have cited are only oh' section of the community getting a raw deal because of the means test provision.of the Social Services Consolidation Act. The bill provides for an increase of child endowment by 2s. 6d. a week. That ilong overdue. But the Government stil' dodges its responsibility to the first child of the family. This is a matter which I approach with some knowledge, as thi Government of New South Wales, of which I was Premier, introduced the firs; family endowment scheme in the world on the 23rd July, 1927. In the preparation of its legislation it had the assistant and advice of a very eminent Australian authority, the late **Mr. Justic** Piddington, who investigated th.scheme exhaustively. One of hi.principal recommendations was thai payment of family endowment in respect of the first child of a family was vitally important to the whole principle of family endowment. When the govern ment of which I was the leader introduced its family endowment legislation - it kept that principle in the forefront of its scheme I remind honorable members that it wa:» an anti-Labour government of Nev South Wales, the Stevens administration, which excluded the first child of a family from participation in the benefits of family endowment; and the present national Government has followed in the footsteps, not of a Labour, but of 'an anti-Labour government. The present measure will still exclude from the benefits of family endowment the first child of a 'family, and the Chifley Ministry is using the same -excuse to justify its action as was advanced 'by the 'Stevens Government of New South Wales. The present national 'Government states that it cannot afford to pay endowment in respect of the 'first child of a family. Whilst a former State goverment might have had some excuse 'for advancing such an argument, the present national Government has no justification whatever for doing so. Payment of family endowment in respect of the first child of a family would cost the nation only approximately '£15,000^000 more, even at the -new scale of payments. Is that very much in the light of the budget recently presented to the Parliament? I remind honorable members -that we still expend approximately '£50,000,000 annually for purpose of *war. Yet we are unable to find 'an additional £15,000,000 to enable payment- of 'family endowment to be made for the first child of a family. Under 'the present measure only 5s. a week is to 'be added to a widow's pension for the maintenance of the first child of her family. A. 'widow with one child to maintain is 'to receive only £2 7s. -6d., as compared with the £2 2s. 6d. that is to be paid to a widow who has no child to support. A widow with one child is subjected to a means test similar to that applied to a widow without children. "Who could keep a child on that extra 5s. a week? The very suggestion is an insult 'to hit womanhood, -who deserve the aid of this nation. Honorable members who support the present 'Government and who .still have some belief in Labour principles should ensure the withdrawal and redrafting of the bill to give effect to the principles in which they profess to continue to believe. The cheap, nasty and niggardly approach to the problem of social services made by the "Government in this measure should be abandoned. Let us show the other nations that this part of the world is still in the forefront of social legislation, just is it was when the New Zealand Government introduced age pensions in 1896. I remind honorable members that the first government in (he world 'to introduce old-age pensions wat that -df New Zealand, which introduced legislation for that purpose in 1896. Ite action was 'followed by the Turner Government in Victoria, :and later by the Fisher Government, which introduced maternity 'allowance legislation into th( National Parliament, and later still by a Labour government in New South Wale? which introduced family endowment and widows' pensions. JJ*. .HUGHES (North . Sydney) [.5.54 J 0 - This measure is .of great importance. We are committed to a system of pensions and .other social 'legislation which *has* .grown up during the last 30 or 40 years. If we were approaching th matter *de novo* much might be said for the suggestion of the right honorable member for Cowper ;(;Sir Earle Page), and we might, 'with very great advantage, adopt a contributory scheme. Indeed, such a proposal has been placed before the Parliament on several occasions, but I have abandoned hope of such a radical change being effected, and w* must view the problem in the light of present circumstances. As I have said, this measure deals with vitally important matters, which -affect our national and social security. Those 'two are interdependent. 'There can be no effective defence of this country without an adequate population. But, "mere numbers -will not suffice; we must have b healthy, energetic, virile population and so, as the right honorable gentleman said, in discussing this bill it is essential that we should note the present state of out population, which viewed from any angle is far from satisfactory. As he reminded honorable members, I have on many occa<sions directed the attention of the House and the country 'to the national birthrate, which, despite fluctuations, has declined in a most alarming manner in the last 40 years. Indeed, there was a time not so long ago, 'when Australia was nearing a point at which the population would have ceased to show any increase at all, and we were on the toboggan to national extinction. As a result of, or, at any rate, during the war, the birth rate increased, as is usual in all countries in war-time. Nevertheless, our total population and the rate of natural increase are still far from satisfactory. We must bear in mind that we are no longer isolated 'from the rest df the1 world. We are now :playing our part on the world stage -with the spotlight turned upon us. We hold this country, an immense and fruitful heritage, upon conditions which demand that we must prove ourselves worthy and capable of defending and developing it. We must have a numerous and virile population - -people with character. The men and women 'who pioneered this country were marked by initiative and resource. They were an energetic .people, and .their work speaks trumpet-tongued as to : their character. They .came to a land which bad been the camping ground of the most primitive people in the world, and they have made of much of it a most fruitful ind lovely garden. This scheme of non-contributory social insurance tends to penalize the thrifty ind industrious and offers a 'premium to the idle and extravagant. *So* laboured argument is 'needed to -.prove that that course will lead to disaster. *Sitting suspended from 6 to .8 p.m.* {: #subdebate-22-0-s7 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Australia is no longer isolated by its geographical .position, enjoying that immunity from the disasters and vicissitudes that have overtaken other-nations, nor is it in a position to regard itself as a land singled out by Providence to enjoy the blessings of peace and prosperity irrespective of its own actions. We are now playing a part on the world stage. The United Nations has been entrusted with the duty of not only maintaining peace but also removing those causes which have "been most prolific in launching war upon the world. The size and character of our population is a -vital factor in our development, and for a long time we have relied upon immigration to enlarge it. We must make every effort to develop this great country so that we may justify ourselves before the bar of the world. The fertile areas of the world .are very unevenly distributed. Some countries are overcrowded, whilst others are sparsely populated. I have said many times that w<? are a -white island in a yellow sea. We are amongst all nations the most vulnerable by reason of our geographical position and the sparseness cf our population. T call the attention of thi House and the country to the fact tha: Japan has a population of 494 people to the square mile, compared with Australia's population of only four people to the square mile. How long do honorable members think that the world will tolerate a people who aTe no longer able either to defend or to develop their country? We must have not only nun hers, but also a virile people - men anc women of character, energetic and re sourceful. I point out again that those are the attributes that characterized the pioneers o'f this country,- and it is only by the labours of such -people that Australia can progress. *We certainly cannot survive as a nation under a system' which en courages idleness and extravagance, and discourages thrift and industry. I .shall now deal with the .matter of pensions and pensioners. The war imposed upon this country. great. obligations, in addition to costing us over £2,0'00,'000,'000, yet we have never .enjoyed greater prosperity than we 'do to-day. Tt is well that the people of this country should know just where they stand. It must not be considered, because of any comment on this bill, that we are unmindful of what we owe te those who have fallen by the wayside .or who are no longer able to stand in the first line of the industrial army. But we must face facts. In 1911 the total number of age and invalid pensioners was 94,600; to-day it is 375,900. In 1911 the total amount paid to age and invalid pensioners was £1,8.68,00.0; to-day it is £36,500,000. Income tax, which is the main source c-f revenue from which pensions are paid, amounted, in 1911, to £1,432,000; to-day. the annual returns from direct income tax amounts to £89,000,000. the proceeds from the pay-roll taa amounts to £15,000,000, whilst sale* tax yields £29,000,000- a total of £133,000,000. In the halcyon days of 1911 the government of the day very light-heartedly imposed a tax on those who supported the then Opposition Those to whom .the government of the day looked for political support paid nothing We approach this matter to-day from a very different angle. I shall now make reference to the means test. In my opinion, it is an odious and unjust tax. It taxes the thrifty and industrious, and reaps benefits upon the idle and extravagant. To those who have not taken thought foi- the morrow it gives lavishly, and to those who have provided by their own thrift for their old age it takes away. It not only takes away that which they themselves have provided for their old age, but it also taxes them upon it. I admit, of course, that modifications of the means test have been made from time to time, and I am glad to know that further modifications will be made in the future. In my opinion, the means test should be abolished. [ know all that can be said in favour of the retention of the means test. One argument, of course, is that its abolition would by increasing the number of pensioners or the amount of pension payable to them increase the liabilities of the community. But that is not necessarily true. Age and invalid pensions although expressed in terms of money are paid out of the services rendered and the goods produced by the community. All pensions are paid out of wealth created "r>y the industrious - by work. To penalize those who produce the goods, is to discourage the industrious and so to reduce the wealth available for the payment of pensions. It is obvious that the ever-growing army of pensioners which now has reached the staggering total of :?75,000 may well come to involve a bur len too heavy for this country to carry, lt is the duty of the Parliament to encourage the industrious and so ensure that continuity and efficiency cf industry which has made this country what it is. I shall not dwell unduly upon this aspect. I am not unmindful of he burdens that have been imposed upon us inevitably by the. recent war, but there are limits to what we can do. The cost of providing pensions for 375,000 persons is a grievously heavy burden; and I venture to say that this is not the end of the story. Two years hence we shall probably be providing for ">00,000 pensioners. If we are to carry that burden we must increase the *per capita* efficiency of the working community. To do that we must produce by the most efficient methods. There must be skill and will applied through the most up-to-date machinery and methods. Dealing with manufacture, because it lends itself more readily to illustration. I point out that if we are to have tin maximum output of which the individual worker in this country is capable w<must have up-to-date methods, and thai means that manufacturers must scrap obsolescent machinery and replace it with modern plant. Even where displacement of plant is not necessary manufacturers must maintain existing plant in first-class order. Thi.means that a surplus over and above thai amount of wealth produced which come? to them must be available for the purchase of up-to-date plant. As condition.are the employers are unable to do thi? They are taxed te- the bone. To ensure that maximum of production, which iessential, the Government must tempe; the wind to the shorn lamb. Bui under existing conditions, it is becoming impossible for manufacturers te- make available that amount of capital necessary for the purchase of modern machinery. I shall not labour the mattei further. The Opposition welcomes the bill. J said in my introductory remarks that i". is a non-party bill. I am sure that tinMinister will have no cause for complaint if we point out to him, as honorable members opposite have done, thai there are spots on this sun which Inmay well remove. If he does sit will be to his eternal honour. He can remove one of them by modifying the means test so as not to discourage tinthrifty and place a burden upon thos,who by their industry and the provision they have made for their old age deservesome encouragement. The measure a timely moment. We are spending money by the million. Last week theHouse by heroic efforts "got through'" £526,000,000. Of course, many of u.were not given an opportunity to participate in the debate upon the Estimates. But we are now on the other side of Jordan ; and I urge the Government that lightly lends itself to the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds to consider such amendments of this legislation as will encourage the thrifty and industrious to further efforts and discourage those whose one idea of Australia is leaning up against the Government as a substitute for a verandah post and letting the world go by. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Lazzarini)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1447 {:#debate-23} ### WHEAT INDUSTRY STABILIZATION BILL 1948 Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-23-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- by *leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the plan put forward by the Australian Government for the stabilization of the wheat industry. This plan involves the collaboration of the States, and has been put to a poll of growers by the governments of the four main wheatproducing States. Up to the present growers in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales have signified their approval of the Commonwealth plan whilst in South Australia the poll is now being held. If the plan is to be carried through, the States will pass legislation corn plemen tary to the Commonwealth legislation. Commonwealth and State legal representatives have conferred in the preparation of the Commonwealth and State draft bills. This legislation repeals the act passed in 1946. That measure was passed in anticipation of State complementary legislation, but the States have not brought such legislation into force. This bill is very similar to the 1946 act, with the major exception that there is no provision in it for the control of production. As already announced the Commonwealth plan provides - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Australian Government shall guarantee a price of 6s. 3d. a bushel f.or. ports, bulk basis, for wheat grown and delivered by wheat-growers. 1. The guaranteed price shall vary according to an index of production costs for each season starting with the 1948-49 crop. 2. The guarantee shall apply to tinwheat crop marketed through approved organizations for the period up to the end of the 1952-53 season. 3. Approved organizations shall be the Australian Wheat Board and those organizations which are clothed by the State parliament? with authority to receive wheat and to market it as the agents of theAustralian Wheat Board. 4. The Commonwealth shall ensure the guaranteed price in respect of the export from any one season's crop, provided that this guarantee shall not apply to the quantity of export in excess of 100,000,000 bushels. 5. A stabilization fund shall be established by means of a tax on wheat exported to meet the guaran teed price abovementioned. 6. The tax shall apply whenthe export price is higher than the guaranteed price, and shall be 50 per cent. of the difference between the two but shall not exceed 2s. 2d. a bushel. 7. The tax shall apply to the 1947-48 and later wheat crops. 8. No refunds of tax fromthe fund shall be made (except for the 1945-46 and 1946-47 amounts already approved) except after consideration at some future date. The Commonwealth agrees that it will not hold an excessive amount in the fund, and it will consider a refund of tax to the oldest contributing pool whenever the financial prospects of the fund justify it. These points set out the action to be taken by the Commonwealth. Complementary action by the States is needed to ensure - (a) the home consumption price which should be equal to the guaranteed price; (b) the authorizing of an approved organization to receive from wheat-growers all wheat voluntarily delivered for sale as part of an Australian pool; (c) that legislative authority exists in each State to empower the direction of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board at any time to an approved organization as defined in proposal (4) ; *(d)* the regulation of wheat-growing on marginal areas which have been reconstructed under the plans approved for the elimination of uneconomic wheat areas, and the establishment of a committee to advise in cases where action to regulate wheat-growing on marginal areas is necessary. In the discussion with the States it was agreed also - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That States, where they desire to do so, will constitute State wheat boards composed of a majority of growers' representatives elected by a ballot conducted by the State. 1. That each State board, shall nominate growers' representatives, who are growers, to the, central authority in accordance with the, present grower-representation on the Australian Wheat Board.. 2. That it shall be optional for any State Board to act either in an advisory or an administrative capacity as decided by the State concerned. 3. That where a State Government does not desire to create a State wheat board, the machinery o'f the central authority, i.e., the Australian Wheat Board is to function. 4. That where, no State board is created, growers' representatives to the Australian. Wheat Board shall be elected by a ballot of growers conducted by the State. Some comment is needed on the details of. the plan. The guaranteed price, mentioned is that which applies to last reason's crop. The price will vary from vear to year, and the first variation will apply to the 1948-49 crop soon to be harvested. The variation in costs for this is now being investigated by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The cost of variations will be reviewed each season by representatives of the States and of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, and if any questions arise they can be discussed with State Ministers at the Australian Agricultural Council. The plan covers the period to the end of the 1952-53 season, so it includes the next five crops. It is intended to review it within three years. Then the question, of any amendments will come up. I hope that it will become a permanent plan, giving growers a guarantee all the. time for a reasonable period ahead. The rights of State organizations are preserved so that bulk-handling organizations and boards in the States may keep the position they have under State law. Naturally,, it is necessary to put some limit on the liability possible under the plan, so the guarantee applies to an export of 100,000,000 bushels each season. That covers a big crop. There would have to be a yield of 180,000,000 bushels before 100j000,000 bushels would b« available for export, and Australian pro ductiononly exceeds 180,000,000 bushel.1 in very good seasons. Therefore, the guaranteed quantity is so. high that only the combination of a really big crop with a low overseas price would leave any export wheat uncovered. The other sections of the plan deal with the Stabilization Fund,, which is on the lines already made familiar, in earlier legislation. Growers will contribute while prices, are high, commencing with the 1947-48 crop from which it is- expected that the fund will receive about £15,000,000. The taxation limit will be 2s. 2d. a bushel on the export surplus, If the amount in the fund becomes too great there will be refunds to the oldest contributing pool. The amount needed as a reserve for the fund must be decided from time to time,, and it is not possible to state a definite figure now. That briefly covers the Commonwealth's part of the plan. The States will fix the price of wheat used in Australia at the guaranteed price, as varied from season to season. They will also provide for the marketing of their wheat through the Australian Wheat Board, and in that way continue an Australian pool We all go in together. The established policy in regard to marginal areas is to continue, and it is not intended to. allow the. uneconomic areas to produce wheat again. Everybody now recognizes' that wheat-growing on unsuitable land is bad policy, and bad farming. in order to carry out the provisions of the plan it is necessary for power to be taken to lay down conditions of export ; to fix a home consumption price; and to blend the export and home consumption returns so that all growers, regardless of whether their wheat is exported or consumed at home, will get the same equalized return. It is now clear, of course, that the home consumption price must be fixed by the States, whilst the power over export must unquestionably be exercised by the Commonwealth. It was further thought advisable, in order to make the administration of the plan clear and simple, to provide for the' direction by the States of all wheat to a Commonwealth marketing authority. Thus we shall have the State fixing the domestic price and, by the exercise of its power under the Constitution, directing all wheat to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth authority will market all wheat, domestic and export, pool the returns, and pay the grower. The marketing authority will, as the bill provides, be a board similar in .most respects to the present war-time organization. Though provision is made for other representatives, it is predominantly representative of the growers. The plan itself requires little explanation. Its outstanding, objective is to insure the wheat-grower against the serious hardship that comes from falls in the world's wheat price. As I have said in the House more than once, the' movements in prices of wheat, or indeed, of any primary product, have little relation to changes in costs of production It is just as absurd to say that the price of ls. lOd. received at "Williamstown in 1939 did not involve growers in serious losses as it would be to say that the export price of about 20s. received for some sales from the 1947-48 crop did not return very handsome profits. He would be an optimist who believed that wheat prices would not fall within the next few years. In the past twelve months, there has been a fall of over 30 per cent. The Chicago futures market and the Canadian export price, which is based on Chicago, give an indication of the trend of the world market. In November, 1947, Chicago near-dated futures were around 3.20 dollars a bushel. At present, .they are about 2.20 dollars. The Canadian price, in store Fort William, was around 3.40 dollars. Last week, it was 2.37 dollars. The cause of this fall can be clearly traced to a change in demand relative to supply, and further changes, bringing further falls, could well take place at an early date. The central feature of the plan, therefore, is that there will be a guaranteed price to growers based upon costs of production. These costs will be reviewed annually. For 1948-49, the guarantee will be 6s. 3d. as adjusted to movements in costs since 1947. Having decided to provide this guarantee, it seemed only fair and reasonable that growers should, out of their present returns, contribute to a fund which would support the guarantee. Hence the provision for a levy in the manner I have described. It has been said that the scheme is equalization, not stabilization and that the growers will provide their own funds now for refund when prices fall. That is a halftruth. It is true that subscriptions are made by the growers to the fund. This method, I assert, is only fair to the general taxpayer who takes the risk of meeting the guarantee. If the funds collected from the growers are more than enough to meet the guarantee, the surplus will be repaid to them. If the growers' contributions prove to be insufficient to meet the guarantee, general revenue will meet the deficiency. Again, the contribution will be limited to 2s. 2d. a bushel - a liberal limitation, I suggest, when one considers the return from the 1947-48 crop. The bill is meant to end one phase in the history of the Australian wheat industry, and to start another one. Nobody expects that this bill, or any other bill, can end the troubles of the industry and of the growers. Our seasons, with their droughts, uncertainties, and ups and downs, will always confront our wheatfarmers with special difficulties. There are, in fact, so many factors affecting the growers' prosperity, which are outside the growers' control, that wheat-growing has been too much of a gamble. That position makes it all the more necessary for growers and governments to co-operate, and take all reasonable steps to lessen the risks of the industry. When I said that the bill marks the end of one definite phase, I referred to the open market conditions of the past. They were marked by a lack of co-operation, by a rapid change from prosperity to disaster in the industry, and by conditions which made wheat Australia's biggest agricultural problem, just as similar conditions abroad made wheat the world's biggest agricultural problem. The results, especially ' those of the decade of depression in the 1930's, can be seen to some degree in the long lists of relief measures which this Parliament approved in those ten years. But the real evidence was seen throughout the whole of the Australian wheat areas, in the depression which clouded the lives of our growers. Those years left in the minds of growers and governments a conviction that a new approach was needed, and that drastic changes would be well worthwhile if they could prevent a recurrence of similar years of disaster. So the new phase in the industry, as heralded by the bill, starts with the co-operation of the Australian and State Governments and of our wheat-growers to market the whole of our crop through a board with a majority of growers. It is supported by a guarantee, given by the Government on behalf of Australia, so that an efficient wheat-grower will be assured of a good living, and will not be ruined by market slumps which he cannot control, foresee or guard against. No man, and no body of men, can guard our growers against the trials 'and tribulations faced by all farmers in growing their crops. Farming risks with wheat are especially great. They cannot be avoided, but they can' be decreased, and our scientists have done great work for wheat-growers by giving them improved varieties of wheat. New wheats, with improved methods of farming, have done much to minimize avoidable risks. We cannot control the seasons, which are the principal factor deciding the size of the crop from year to year. Once the crop i« gathered in, the price of wheat becomes the main concern of the grower, because it decides whether he shall continue to produce at a profit, or sink into debt and he starved off his farm. It is that vital point which this bill is intended to cover. Wheat-growers can be given a good price for their harvest. That price can be assured to them on terms which are fair to the public. By co-operation, we can escape the heavy risk of marketing. The farmer's job is to produce, and he does that job well. When he is producing the people's essential food, he should not be asked to gamble on the price that he is to get, and the main argument in support of this measure is that it will assure a good return to the man producing our basic food. What we are trying to do, and thus is the idea behind the plan, is clear to the countrymen. Growers, in polls taken in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales, have approved the plan by big majorities. But the general public should know the reasons why they, through the Commonwealth Treasury, should give a guarantee of price to our greatest agricultural industry, especially as a little calculation will show that the guarantee can mean a liability of millions of pounds each year if wheat prices slump. There are about 70,000 wheat-growers in Australia, and they produce, on an average, about 160,000,000 bushels a year. More than half of that wheat has to be sold for export. Australia is one of the four chief wheat-exporting countries. At any time, the Australian domestic price can be fixed so as. to give a fair return, no matter what overseas prices may be. That was done in 1938, and, for several years, wheat-growers got the benefit of a local price which was higher than the export price. The local price applied to wheat, used for flour in Australian bread. In those days, there was not the organization to make it possible to extend this towheat for stock feed. The principle was to ensure a fair price, both for growers and the. public all the time. Growers got the benefit at first, and later, when export prices rose, the public got the benefit because local prices did not follow thehigher export prices. The present plan carries that processa step further. Good prices will be kept for wheat consumed in Australia. That will be done by the States. At the same time, a reasonableprice for export wheat will be assured by the Commonwealth. Growers are thus. given a guarantee of profitable production. The guarantee is not a hard-and-fast price, but one which will vary according to production costs. No matter what happens on the export market, our wheatgrowers can carry on for the next five years with an assurance of profit. The intention is to provide security for wheatgrowers on fair terms, and remove the danger of ruin, which has been a constant fear. If it requires public money, the cost is justified by the importance of the industry to Australia. The "Wheat industry is a vital part of our economy, and must be kept in operation. That statement means also that the industry must l>e kept going under conditions which will give to farmers an Australian standard of living. If overseas prices slump, as they have done in the past, the ^rowers will need assistance, and they must get it. We might as well recognize chat fact at once, and provide for a fair -leal now, because the alternative is to go hack to the old system of piece-meal aid, with its call on public funds, but without any security for growers, and without any definite plan Under this plan the growers pay while prices are high. Their contribution is fair. It is levied on export wheat, and will not be more than 2s. 2d. a bushel in any season. Nor will it be more than half the difference between the export price and the local price. That is a direct contribution. The indirect contribution is just as important, because the publicis protected against the effect of high export prices. That indirect contribution is being made now, and without it our bread would cost more. What this plan means is that growers and public agree o a fair price for wheat in Australia. Our domestic wheat price will not follow erratic export prices up and down the scale. That system ruined growers in the past, and gave no great benefit to consumers. A reasonable, stabilized price in the long run is a better policy. The principle behind the plan, therefore, is that our wheat-growers are entitled to a fair return for the wheat they sell in Australia, and that, on the other hand, the Australian user should not be exploited. Allied to this is the principle that an important industry, producing essential food, should be given reasonable security. Where the export marketing includes undue risk, it is justifiable for the community to give a guarantee to guard the industry against that risk. As honorable members know, the attempt to arrange a good wheat plan has taken years of negotiations. Settling the main principles was easy enough, and Commonwealth, States and growers agreed on them long ago. The actual form of the plan, and the details, were not easy to arrange, and they have caused endless discussion. This is natura 1 enough, because the details affect the growers so directly that they give reason for all the differences of opinion that we have had. When the war occurred it was necessary to set up an organization for marketing wheat on a pooling basis. Under thai system growers had the main part in controlling the marketing of their product, and pooling with a grower board became firmly established as part of the growers' policy. The success of the war-time wheat-marketing organization was certainly the main factor in making the present plan possible, and in winning general support for it. The approval of growers is a first essential for any successful plan. Governments of all parties, and all States, recognized the need for stabilization before the war. They continued to support the principle, but agreement on the details was hard to reach. It was reached in the end, I think, because we all came together with the intention of co-operating fully to solve our common problem. Agreement was reached, and since the plan was announced, it has been discussed by wheat-growers. In fact, it has caused more argument than any other wheat proposal that I can remember. The questions have certainly been f.onside.i'cd fully, and the upshot i.that the growers in three of the four main producing States have voted on it, and have approved it. A poll is now being held in the fourth State - South Australia - and I hope that in a few days growers there will make the approval by the four States unanimous. In presenting this bill to . the House. T feel justified in saying that I believe that we are on the way to ensuring prosperity for the industry in the coming years. The scheme is based on sound experience, and, whilst the future may disclose reasons for a number of alterations, it is a good plan. I hope that a continuing scheme will develop from it. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Harrison)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1452 {:#debate-24} ### SOCIAL SERVICES CONSOLIDATION BILL 1948 {:#subdebate-24-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed *(vide* page 1447). {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- This bill represents a further step towards the fulfilment of the plan initiated by the Labour Government in the dire days of total war, when it promised the people that a continual improvement and development of social services would be its policy while it remained in office. The measure brings us another stage nearer te social security. I shall deal briefly with some of the remarks made by honorable members opposite during this debate. The honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Ryan),** for instance, wants pensions to be tied to the basic wage. He referred to the time when the rate of invalid and old-age pensions rose and fell with the fluctuations of the basic wage. That was a very unfortunate reference from the point of view of the honorable member. I recall the struggle that members of the Labour party had, when they were in Opposition, to persuade the Government of the time to grant an increase of the invalid and old-age pension rate by a few pence weekly. They had to fight throughout a budget debate to secure an increase of only ls. a week in a pension rate which had no relation whatever to the basic wage. They gained their point only by agreeing that if the increase were granted, the pension should rise and fall according to the variations of the cost of living. At last, under a Labour Government, the rate of pension is gradually approaching the standard of the basic wage. Perhaps in the future, while this Government is in office and the rate is raised nearer to the level of the basic wage, it may be a reasonable propo sition to argue that it should be subjected to variations of the cost of living as they affect the basic wage. At present, the pension can be maintained at a reasonable level only by having this Parliament increase it from time to time a? the needs of our aged and infirm citizen .- require and as the revenue and wealthproducing capacity of the country permit. The honorable member for Reid **(Mr Lang),** also, made an unfortunate reference to child endowment and the meanstest. I shall discuss the means test later At the moment I only say to the honor able member that when he introduced thi child endowment scheme in New South Wales about which he boasted so much, he applied to it the meanest and lowest means test ever attached to any social service payment in the world's history The policing of that, means test was a shame and a disgrace. 1 shall leave the matter at that, because I do not wish topursui it any further. The honorable member also applied a means test to the " dole of 6s. a week - again one of the meanest measures ever instituted. The honorable member made his speech to-day, because of his waning political support in hiselectorate, and of a hope of tickling the ears and catching the votes of a few people who might be " roped in " if thi means test were abolished. He merely wanted to save his political head at the next election. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. {: #subdebate-24-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! There is a group of members in the Australian Country party corner of the House which persistently interrupts. If any of them interject again they will be named {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- I rise to order. It is a reflection, on all honorable members in this corner of the House to say that there is a little group in the Australian Country party that is obstructing the business of the House. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. If he desires me to indicate- the members who are interrupting, I shall do so. They are the honorable member for Vew England **(Mr. Abbott),** the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin),** and the honorable member for Gippsland **Mr. Bowden).** {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- 1 rise to order. I did not interject. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- There is uo point of order involved. The honorable member for Werriwa may continue his speech. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- I rise' to a point of order. {: #subdebate-24-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPOT Y SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member for New England will resume his seat or I shall deal with him. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I rise to order. *T.r. DEPUTY SPEAKER-Order! {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I wish to take a point of order {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Standing Orders state that a point of order must be taken before any other business. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- There is uo point of order. I have called on the honorable member for Werriwa to continue his speech. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The action that has been taken by this Government towards the gradual abolition of the means test has never been even contemplated in any other parliament in the world. Our record in the field of social services is unparalleled. The honorable member for Reid talked about men who receive superannuation payments. I have all the sympathy in the world for such persons, but I point out, first, that superannuation was a condition of their' employment, and, secondly, that governments, both Commonwealth and State, have paid at least £1 for £1 towards the cost of superannuation allowances. Very often Governments have paid more than that. I believe that the Commonwealth to-day pays between £125 and £130 into the Superannuation Fund for every £100 contributed by public servants. I make that statement subject to correction, but T believe that it is accurate. Let us look back over the years to the" conditions experienced by people who are now becoming eligible for superannuation. When I was a growing lad, the wages paid to a female schoolteacher inNew South Wales, living away from home, amounted to £26 a year. Teachers'" wages were worse in other States. - The teachers had to contribute to* a superannuation scheme. Most of the public servants, the enginedriversand the people about whom the honorable member for Reid has talked, could not afford to take out more than one or two superannuation units. They are now receiving, at the most, superannuation payments of £3 a week. Under this legislation, a man whose wife is still living can receive £3 a week from a superannuation scheme and, in addition, both he and his wife may draw age pensions, thus making their combined weekly income £7 5s. They can also, as they always could, own their own home. Age pensioners' homes were taken away from them at one stage, and I shall refer to that matter later. They may each have £100 in the bank, and between them they may possess £1,500 worth of property, exclusive of the house in which they live, before their age pensions are affected. That is the position to-day. It is part of the progressive policy of the Government completely to abolish the means test, as it is pledged to do. I do not propose to work myself into a white heat about the effect of the means test upon a man and his wife who are living in their own house, and who may now have a combined weekly income of £7 5s. from superannuation and age pensions. The abolition of the means test would not benefit SO or 85 per cent, of pensioners by a penny piece, and they are the people who are in the most need of assistance. While the financial position of the country permits of it, I want to see some means devised whereby the most needy people will receive some benefit before a man and wife who are receiving £7 5s. a week between them get something more than they are getting to-day. That is the humanitarian point of view. The right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** also spoke of the abolition of the means tent. A I; hough he was Prime Minister of this country for a long time, he did not do much to abolish the means test, nor did he do much about raising the rates of invalid and age pensions. The right honorable gentleman is also now engaged in a vote-catching campaign, because he expects a lot of opposition in the electorate that he proposes to contest at the next general election. It is probable that more of the people whose votes he is trying to win by these tactics live in electorates such as that than in any others. It is the meanest political trickery of which I have ever heard. Had it not been for the Labour movement, invalid and age pensions would not have been introduced. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- They were introduced by a Liberal government in 1908. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member for Werriwa must address the Chair. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- I apologize, sir. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** knows as much about the history of age and invalid pensions as docs the man in the moon. The concept of an age pension was thought of first in a shearing shed in the Bourke district, where a resolution was carried which was later adopted as part of the Labour party's platform. When **Mr. Reid** and **Mr. Lyne** were the leaders of rival parties in the New South Wales Parliament and the Labour party held the balance of power, the price of the Labour parry's support of the government in power was the introduction of age pensions. That was the way in which the first legislation in respect of age pensions put on any statute-book in Australia. Many people, including some honorable members opposite who present petitions from pensioners' organizations, are endeavouring to lead age and invalid pensioners to believe that they are the pensioners' friends. I propose to recite a few facts so that any pensioners who are listening to the broadcasting of our proceedings to-night may know what will be in store for them if they are so silly as to b<misled by the propaganda in which honorable gentlemen opposite are indulging at the present time. Before the Liberal party assumed office in April, 1932, the late **Mr. Lyons,** who was then Leader of the Opposition, gave a pledge that, so far as his party was concerned, the reductions of wages and pensions that had been made would not operate for longer than was necessary for the restoration of financial stability. There were many years of deficits. " At the end of June. 1932, there was, for the first time in four years, a surplus of £1,314,000. Despite this surplus, the Lyons Government, having prepared its Estimates for 1932-33. budgeted for a deficit of £1,467,000, and, as a consequence, intimated its intention to take £1,100,000 from pensioners, which was 75 per cent, of the amount required to balance the budget. At the time, Labour members pointed out that revenue was underestimated, and this contention was borne out by the fact that at the end of the financial year there was a surplus of £4,860,000. In 1932 the Lyons Government reduced pensions from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week. There was a proviso that, where a pensioner was entirely dependent for his maintenance on his pension, Inwould receive 17s. 6d. a week. The property clause was an iniquitous enactment and was on all fours with the determination of the United Australia party government of the day, supported by tinCountry party, to reduce pensions. Thilate **Mr. Lyons,** speaking on behalf of thiGovernment in his budget speech, referring to pensions, said - >The Government simply cannot afford thiincreasing charge. and in addition to reducing pensions something must lie done to see thai the service is limited to those for whom it i.rcal!) intended. To give effect to this policy the Lyon.Government penalized pensioners wlm had property. By its action in providing that if a pensioner had any property when he died the Government should take from his estate the money that had been paid by way of pensions, the Lyon? Government took the pension away from every invalid and age pensioner who owned his own home. The houses of the pensioners went into pawn. If they bought a pair of boots, or paid for a meal. they paid for it with part of the value of their house because when they died the >i mount of pension that had been paid to litem was debited against their estates. As the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Sheehan)** said earlier in this debate, the Lyons Government also provided that >ons and daughters, married or single, had id provide for their parents. If they were considered to be able to support their parents, no pension was paid. As a result if the property clause, 12,000 persons surrendered their pensions, and **Mr. Latham,** who was Attorney-General at i hat time, stated that another 13,000 persons who would have been eligible for pensions refrained from applying for Them. The report of **Mr. Latham's** speech is to be found on page 5626 of *Hansard,* f the 6th December, 1933. Speaking on the Financial Emergency Bill, **Mr. Casey** -aid- *lt* is en Ici 1 1 a ted that within u period of len years we shall be called upon to find, on (he basis of 17s. (id. a week, a total of £10,000,000 to £1.8,000,000 a year for invalid nui old -age pensions. Such a burden would wreck our finances and be far beyond any conceivable taxable capacity. That statement appears in *Hansard* of t.he 2.1st September, 1932, at page 649. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** also had something to say. deferring to the pensioners he used these words - The payment* made to them can be only what the country can afford. I am unable to understand the agitation that has developed against the proposal of the Government to remove many of the anomalies that now exist. That proposal, of course, was to reduce i he pension from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week- {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Lyons Government lid not reduce the pension. That was I one by the Scullin Government. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The honorable member for Balaclava endeavours, by interjecting, to mislead the House. He lias the audacity to say that the Lyons Government did not reduce the pension from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week. The Acting Lender of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison),** i hen a private member made the following statement: - I congratulate the Government upon the impartial adjustment proposed under this bill He further said that what the bill purported to do was - to make the pension payable tn those whom it was originally intended it should apply. The honorable member added. fu relation to the bill. " I commend it to the House", lie 'also commended the Government for deciding to reduce the salaries of public- servants, and said that taxes had increased out of all reason. Then he made the following extraordinary statement: - The pension was never intended t<> >n> iiic the aged with a comfortable living. {: .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr Conelan: -- That is what he still thinks. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- That is what all honorable members opposite still think. That is typical of their attitude to all social services since such schemes were inaugurated. Again I remind the House that the financial emergency legislation which provided for a reduction of pensions from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week virtually took away the homes of pensioners, and compelled relatives of the aged and sick to provide for their upkeep. The Opposition now seeks to create the impression that if it were returned to office, it would do more for pensioners than is being done by this Government. I trust that pensioners will not be misled by that propaganda. The Lyons Government endeavoured to justify the retention of pension cuts by foreshadowing large deficits, but in 1931-32 there was a revenue surplus of £1,314,000. In the following year, the surplus had increased to £4,860,000, and by 1933-34 it was £6,100,000. But how were those surpluses used ? Instead of restoring pension cuts, the then Government granted remissions of taxation amounting to many millions of pounds annually to landowners and other wealthy members of the community. The pension remained at 15s. a week until agitation by the Labour party forced the Government's hand. Those were the days when the honorable member for Balaclava was a Minister. Labour members pleaded with the Government for an increase of ls. in the pension. We said, " If you cannot give these unfortunate people ls., give them 6d.". Finally, the Lyons Government agreed to an increase of ls., but stipulated that the pension rate should he tied to the basic wage, so that if there was a fall in the cost of living the pension would go back to £1; but it could not exceed 31s. I have mentioned this matter because there were one or two things that I thought should be recalled to the minds of honorable members. There is considerable agitation to-day for the abolition of the means test. To the honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** 1 say that old age is ' honorable and venerable; but the right honorable member is drawing £1,500 a year as a member of this Parliament. Are we to abolish the means test and pay him a pension? The suggestion is stupid. We must stop somewhere. I am not prepared to say now just where we should stop, but the complete abolition of the means test is not possible in the present state of Australia's finances. If the means test were abolished, I am sure that any honorable member of this Parliament who was eld enough te qualify for age pension and accepted a pension would not be returned at the next election. The Government realizes that the means test cannot be abolished altogether, thus permitting people who at present enjoy a reasonable standard of living to draw pensions. I cannot wax very enthusiastic about giving an extra £1 or £1 10s. a week to an aged couple who may have a total income of £7 5s. a week, £200 in the bank, and who may own their own home, while there are other old people, including invalids, living in ruins of dwellings and unable to enjoy anything like the standard of living to which they are entitled. I believe that before anything further is done at the top, something has to be done to ensure an adequate living allowance to people on the lower rungs of the pension ladder, who, after all, make up 80 per cent, or 85 per cent, of pensioners. Their sole income is their pension. The honorable member for Reid would give a pension to a man on £10 a week, but he did not say a word about the poor devils who live and sleep in a single room for which they pay dearly, and who are able to scratch out only a bare existence. Hivoice is not raised on behalf of these people because they do not reside in his electorate. I ask the Minister in charge of the bill whether something can b> done for these poor people. I know that he, in common with other members of the Labour party, is most sympathetic in such matters and ha? given serious thought to the problem. 1 desire to see the day come when honorable members on both sides of the House will not enter the Parliament and pray for some benefit to he given to people not really in need of it while hardly a voice is raised on behalf of those who do need it. {: #subdebate-24-0-s3 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- If any matter ought to be above and beyond party consideration, this matter should be. Unfortunately, honorable members have to listen time and time again when social service matters come before the House, to speeches about what happened 20, 30 or 40 years ago, and to criticisms of members who advocate something different. I can recall the time when the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini),** who has just spoken, was a member of what was then known as the Lang party which was headed by the gentleman who is now the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Lang)** in this Parliament. In these days everything that **Mr. Lang** said as Premier of New South Wales was right, according to his supporters, and they wore a button in their coat lapels asserting it. I have never believed that **Mr. Lang** was right as Premier of New South Wales, and I do not believe that he is right as the honorable member for Reid when he advocates anything in this House, but 1 say that he has been at least consistent over the last twenty years in the things that he has championed. I shall leave my comment at that, for it is more than can probably be said of those who were at one time his supporters. I believe that the Prime Minister **(Mr Chifley)** is right in his attitude to the means test. I agree with the statement that he made in his budget speech that such matters cannot be governed simply by acts of Parliament. In his speech in referring to what had been won he said - >Vet we could quickly waste these gains By unsound financial .policies or through an excessive rise in costs and prices. It is an illusion that social welfare' and other benefits jan be had by some easy method of finance. They must be paid for from taxation either direct or indirect. L agree with that statement and I believe that social service benefits can only come from production by the community and from an increase in the quantity of the goods and services to be distributed through all sections of the people including the age and invalid pensioners, widows and others. I believe also that this Parliament cannot, by the simple expedient of passing a bill, confer benefits on the community as a whole, unless these benefits are supported by increases m the quantity of goods produced by the community as a whole. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- -The same thing to all the Government's planning. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- It applies to everything. I repeat, that the matter of bene-, fits to be conferred on sections of the community ought to be treated on a. nonparty basis. I believe that eventually we must come to a point when an interparty committee will have to be set up to act on these matters. The establishment of such a committee would ensure that nobody could say that such matters were being dealt with on the basis of parties or members of parties bidding for the votes of those who were to benefit under any scheme. The Parliament will have to adopt such a method, which is similar to that which was adopted in relation to the scheme for the payment of war gratuity to soldiers. That scheme was recommended by an all-party committee. Unless that is done we shall reach a position where the economic strength of the community will' not be able to support the burden of gifts that rival parties will seek to bestow on sections of the community. I believe that the pensioners and the needy deserve the consideration if the House and must be given the maximum that the economy of the country can stand, but I repeat that the national economy can only provide them with clothing, food, housing, and all the other necessaries and amenities of life, if there be sufficient of these produced to go around. Such needs cannot be provided by merely increasing pensions from £1 to £2, or even £5 a week. It cannot be accomplished merely by the printing of bank notes. I point out, as the Minister has pointed out in his second-reading speech, that the age pension has risen from £1 at the outbreak of World War II. to £2 2s. 6d. at the present time, which represents an increase of over 100 per cent. Honorable members on the Government side take some satisfaction on the hustings in proclaiming what the present Government has done for the age pensioner, but the test is in the answer to this question: Is any age pensioner able to buy more and better clothing, more and better food, or obtain a better room, with his pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week in 1948 than he was able to do in 1939 when he was in receipt of a pension of £1 a week? I doubt if the answer to that question could be given truthfully as "Yes". The situation of many pensioners in my electorate is tragic because of the rising prices of commodities. In most parts of the country an age pensioner cannot obtain a room for less than £1 a week unless it is a very mean room at about 15s. a week. The prices of foodstuffs are also beyond their means. I have a report from which 1 shall quote certain items to show the increase in the cost of living which has occurred since 1939. Following are some of the prices of commodities in 1939: - >Fresh milk, 3§d. a pint. > >Potatoes, l£d. per lb. > >Butter, ls. 7d. per lb. > >Eggs, ls. 9d. a dozen. > >Cabbage, 4d. each. > >Oranges, ls. a dozen. > >Rice, 31,d. per lb. > >Cocom, (id. per Hi. > >Tea, 2s. per lb. -Mutton Leg. 7d. per lb. > >Corned Beef, lid. per lb. > >Stewing Steak, 8d. per Hi. > >Fish, 8d. per lb. I do not know the actual price of milk at present, but I know that it is higher than 3-)d. a pint. Those prices, which obtained at the end of 1939, are taken from an official booklet issued by the Science and Nutrition Council for the Department of Health. .1 mention those prices to show the difference between the conditions enjoyed by pensioners before the war and present day conditions. For a family of five, the food budget of a man with a wife and three children, aged respectively fourteen, twelve and eight years, was £1 19s. 6d. a head a week. Those are official statistics supplied by the Government. Can any one suggest that age pensioners, or, for that matter, any other class of persons, can live on anything like £1 19s. 6d. a week now? Therefore, all this talk of increasing pensions is meaningless unless that increase of pensions is accompanied by increased availability of the goods, food and services required by pensioners and others. Although production of the things that matter is insufficient, there has been more than a sufficiency of production of things which do not help the pensioner and matter only in a lesser degree. I refer to the Australian note issue. According to page 178 of the budget papers, the notes in circulation in Australia" in June, 192S. amounted to approximately £44,000,000. In 1938, when the note issue was substantially the same as at the outbreak of the war in 1939, the amount involved was £49,000,000. By June, 1949, it had increased to approximately £197,000,000. Those statistics reveal that the note issue has increased by more than £140,000,000, and that is the explanation, in very simple terms, why pensioners and every other class in the community find that the cost of goods and services has become inflated. Unless there is on the part of members of the community, and particularly on the part of those who profess to be in sympathy with age pensioners, widows and others a greater willingness to produce a little more, and to work a few more hours a week, there can be no hope of improving the conditions of those who are dependent on the healthy, working section of the community. I point out that an analysis of our population statistics reveals that it is absolutely imperative that those who are sufficiently young and healthy to take their part in production must play their part if their grandparents and the aged, for whom we all have such sympathetic consideration, are to receive their due. I point out, too, that the statistics issued by the Government show that while the number of aged people has gradually increased because of the falling birthrate, the number of people between the ages of 20 and 49 years has remained practically stationary. I cite those statistics because they should cause Australians to ponder. Although they are contained in various official publications, somehow they have not made any impact upon the members of Parliament, or upon the members of the community generally. If it were otherwise their significance would not be overlooked. If people realized the trend of events revealed by those statistics we should not hear so much talk about reduce hours of work and the like. In 1940 there were 3,140,000 people in the age group 20 to 50 years, and 510,000 in the age group 65 year? and over, which is the potential age pension group. In other words, in 1940 one person in every seven had qualified for payment of an age pension. By 1950 there will he 3,400,000 people in the age group 20. te 50 years, and 660,000 in the 65 year!age group, or one in five of the population. If our present rate of natura! increase continues, even after allowing some margin for migrants, by 1960 there will be 3,380,000 young people - if one can term people between the ages of 20 and 50 years who are able to work " young people " - and 850,000 people, or one person in four of the community, of the age of 65 years or over. That is to say. the burden to be carried by those abVto work will have increased from supporting one age pensioner to supporting two. Some heed must be taken, therefore, of the situation into which we are drifting. Nevertheless, I believe, because we have a huge potential production and great natural resources, that we can carry a large number of pensioners and provide a high standard of living, not only for the workers, but also for those who are not able to work. But that high standard of living cannot bc attained by leaning up against a " pub " corner on Saturday mornings, by devoting most of our time to following starting price betting on the race-courses or by similar occupations; it can only be achieved by putting our backs into our work, and by supporting our sympathy for the aged with the will to work because of the statistics which 1 have quoted I say that it is obvious that the will to work is virtually non-existent to-day. Let us review the situation in regard io coal production. In Australia, which was unshattered by war, and in which not a single factory or home was destroyed or a coal mine damaged- {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
MARTIN, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- What has that to do with i he bill? {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- The tragedy of honorable members opposite is that they io not realize that, unless something is done to encourage production, all the benefits which they mention as flowing to the age pensioners as the result of action by the Government to increase pensions will prove of no value whatever. I return to the statistics of coal production, and I propose to quote from a report which I received only this week. Production of coal in New South Wales was reduced by 55,000 tons during last week because of industrial disputes, and in the 39 weeks which have elapsed this year the production of coal in New South Wales has suffered to the extent of 1,418,000 tons. Without coal the wheels of industry cannot, turn and the trains cannot carry primary produce to the markets. Moreover, idle factories and others which work only part-time are common in the land. All those considerations result in a decreased production, a reduced quantity of roods for distribution in the community, and a lessening of the national ability to provide the goods which are necessary for those who fall within the age pension class. I do not intend to dwell on these facts overlong, nor to enter into a controversy with honorable members on the Government side of the House as to what they have done, or what we failed to do. [ believe that every party in this Parliament has failed in something nr. some time cr other in the course of its administration. It would be idle to suggest that any government, irrespective of its period of office, could do all the things that the country requires to be done. I do not claim that the Government has failed, or that it has done more than is expected of it in the circumstances. Bearing in mind to-day's inflated cost of living, however, I say that the Govern ment could not do less for the pensioners than it proposes to do in the bill under debate. I do not make that statement as a criticism, but I contend that what has been done, and what it is proposed to do in this bill, constitute only the minimum provision. If the Government fails to recognize its responsibilities to the unfortunate people who depend upon the pension they will be reduced to less than a subsistence level. Whilst I do not, at present, advocate the abolition of the means test, I consider that plans should be devised to overcome many of the difficulties and hardships associated with the test. The honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** said that it is unthinkable that a person on a high range of income should be paid a pension, after reaching the age of 65 years, irrespective of his means. That point of view does not hold water under the policy of the Labour Government in New Zealand. In that dominion all citizens are entitled to, and receive, pensions by virtue of having paid into a national fund during the period of their working lives. Whether they have dissipated their money over the years, or have been thrifty and saved it, is immaterial. I do not suggest for a moment that all of those who seek the pension have dissipated their money needlessly. Many of those people have struggled hard to raise families. Many, too, are our best citizens, and there is no reflection on them in having to seek the aid of the State in their latter years. I point out, however, that when we speak of the means test and the necessity to help the aged and the indigent, we should not overlook the plight of people who are striving to raise several children. Under our present system of taxation, and having regard to the paltry scale of child endowment, every additional child who comes into a home reduces the standard of living in that home. That is an aspect that Australia cannot afford to ignore. I consider that ways and means must be devised to overcome this state of affairs. In my opinion, the first step should bc to pay child endowment for every child, instead of making an exception of the first child as at present. Again, I do not criticize the Government on that score, because when the present Opposition parties were in office, and introduced the original child endowment bill, we excluded the first child from endowment, purely for reasons of finance at that time. Now, however, on the figures prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician and others who are qualified to forecast our population future, it is more necessary than ever before to encourage the Australian child migrant. It must be remembered we are spending millions of pounds to-day in connexion with the immigration policy. The Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Calwell)** has practically a blank cheque to bring in displaced persons from Germany, and our kinsfolk from England, Scotland and [rel and. The Minister has promised to bring them in by tens of thousands, as soon as he can get the ships to bring them here. Yet, in respect of the finest migrants of all, the Australian babies, we are not doing very much to assist the parents who are undertaking the responsibilities of bringing those babies into their homes and nurturing them to manhood and womanhood. Something more than the provision of this paltry child endowment is necessary. [ say " paltry " because nobody can rear a child on 10s. a week. Honorable members must remember, also, that the figure has only just been increased from 7s. 6d. a week. I hesitate to think that anybody would undertake that responsibility deliberately, yet somebody has to do it if Australia is to continue to exist. The responsibility is being undertaken by John Smith, Bill Brown, Tom Robinson, and their wives, throughout Australia, livery shilling over 10s. a week that it costs to rear the child has to come out of the weekly wage income. I especially draw attention to this aspect of the matter. I think that these subjects are so big, so wide, and so vital for the future of Australia that they ought to be treated on a non-party basis in this House. I hope that ultimately there will be set up some kind of an inter-party committee, so that honorable members need not go into the market competing for votes in order that the right thing shall be done by all Australians. {: #subdebate-24-0-s4 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
Hindmarsh -- Whilst T agree that the debate in con nexion with social services generally is one that should be approached on a nonparty basis, honorable members on both sides of the House are inclined to delve too much into past history. That is not my intention to-night. I wish to deal with this bill from the point of view of how it affects the people. Although the amount of the pension has been increased from 37s. 6d. a week to £2 2s. 6d. a week. I know that most pensioners contend that it is still insufficient. It must be realized, however, that we have, to a degree, to cut our coat according to our cloth. 1 was rather surprised to-night to hear the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** suggest what w< should do to assist people in the matter of pensions, and then recite the difficulties that we might be up against with regard to the amount of money that would have to be provided. The right honorable gentleman struck a note of warning, as it were, about making any sweeping expenditure changes in regard to pensions Again, the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony),** who has just resumed his seat, referred to what he termed the paltry amount of child endowment payable, and suggested thai what the Government intends to pay a> pensions is not sufficient. The honorable gentleman then cited the number of people over 65 years of age, showed how that number is growing from year to year, and sounded a note of warning about the overhead that can be carried by the community. The Opposition, therefore, whilst contending that something additional should be done to meet the needs of these people, agrees that it would be loath to increase the cost to the community. I do not desire to speak at great length on this subject, but I shall refer to a section of the community whose needs are not being met adequately. Several honorable members to-night made reference to the means test. I, for one. am not in favour of the abolition of the means test. The right honorable member for North Sydney was not consistent when he was dealing with this matter. Whilst he complained about the inequity of the means test, at the same time he said that the country could not afford the huge cost that would be involved in its .abolition. I agree that the country cannot afford to abolish the means test in respect of persons who are in receipt of a substantial income. *For* instance, would any one contend that the wife of a member of the Parliament should, upon reaching the ige of 60 years, automatically qualify for an age pension while her husband was a receipt of his parliamentary allowance f £1,500? I am sure that the people do npt . want the means test abolished in instances of that kind. Most people advoca te the abolition of the means test mainly in order to ensure that workers i;n the lower ranges of income shall auto.matically become eligible for an age pension upon ceasing to be employed. The great majority of people do not object ro the impact of the means test upon persons in the higher income groups, because these benefits have been liberalized ro such a degree that an elderly, couple ure allowed to earn income up to £3 a week and still be eligible for a full penion bringing their combined income up ro £7 5s. a week. The means test does not operate harshly in instances of -that :ina. The honorable member for Reid. f Mr. Lang) cited the case of a man who was in receipt of superannuation benefits. Some time ago I discussed this matter with a number of retired Commonwealth public servants in South Australia, who complained that, because they were in receipt of superannuation benefit, r.hey were not eligible for an age pension. It should be made clear that a public servant who contributes for eight units under the Commonwealth superannuation scheme now receives, upon retirement, a benefit of £5 a week, the benefit having recently been increased by 25 per cent, from £4 a week. To make that benefit of £5 a week available to a retired Commonwealth public servant £3 a week must be provided from Consolidated Revenue, that is, from the taxpayers. It, cannot be said, therefore, that such persons arc being penalized because they contributed to the superannuation fund. The main consideration is that, regardless «f the retention of the means test, the provisions of this measure will do justice o the ordinary man. Under this measure the value of property which an individual applicant for an age pension may possess and still qualify for the pension is being raised from £650 to £750, or, in the case of husband and wife, property to the value of £1,500. All honorable members, 1 suppose, have had brought to their notice from time to time instances in which a person may own two houses in addition to the house in which he, or she, lives. Perhaps the individual owns two small cottages which to-day would be valued at £750 each, and, therefore, is not eligible for age pension. However, in most instances of that kind, the owner, after paying rates and taxes, derives no more, perhaps, than £1 a week from such property. But because they own property io that value in addition to the house in which they live they are not eligible for an age pension. On the other hand, *a* man who, instead of purchasing' property, contributes for a superannuation payment or for an annuity from a life assurance company, and becomes entitled 11Don reaching the required age to a pension of. £2 a week for the remainder of his life, is, at the same time, eligible foi the full age pension for himself and hi-" wife providing they do not possesproperty in excess of the value of £21'.' i.n addition to the house in which the. live. On a previous occasion, I dea with that anomaly in detail, and I again urge the Government further to consider rectifying it by granting an age pension to persons who possess property *ii<* excess of the limit cf £750 where t.h. income from such property does not exceed £3 a week for a husband and wifi who, at the same time, do not derive income from any other source. I have taken up that matter with the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** and I regret that he cannot see his way clear to rectify that anomaly in the way that I have indicated. He explained to me that the cost involved in liberalizing the conditions of eligibility for pension.- in that way would involve teo great *n* cost to Consolidated Revenue. I shall not be satisfied until the Government does justice to the class of propertyowner I have mentioned. I agree thai in instances of the kind mentioned by the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini),** where a husband and wife are eligible for an income of £7 5s.. including the age pension, they should not be allowed also to derive additional income from property. In order to liberalize the conditions of the pension to that degree a new method of contribution would have to be devised. I take this opportunity to correct the statement of the honorable member for Richmond that in New Zealand a person, upon reaching the specified age, automatically becomes entitled to an age pension regardless of his or her financial means. The honorable member -aid that such a scheme did not penalize the thrifty; but that is not the position in New Zealand. When I. visited that dominion recently I discussed the New Zealand social services scheme with several people, who informed me that they considered themselves lucky to be able to qualify for a limited pension upon retirement. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Similar limitations apply under the British scheme. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I believe that conditions in Great Britain are more restrictive than in New Zealand, lt should be our aim to guarantee social security to all classes of persons including those in the higher income groups. A person with an income of £1,000 *a* year now pays social service contribution at the rate of ls. 6d. in the £1, or a total contribution of £'75 annually. Persons in the higher income groups should be eligible for a pension commensurate with the amount of their social service contribution in order that they may be able to live in retirement at a standard more or less approximating that to which they have been accustomed. The present system is anomalous in that a man who retires on a superannuation benefit of £3 a week can own a home which may be worth, say, £3,000 and still be eligible for an age pension, whereas another man who may be living in his own home, the value of which may not exceed £800, is disqualified from receiving any pension because he holds government bonds to the value of £2,000. Sooner or later we must face up to anomalies of that kind and evolve a system whereby all -who pay social service contribution will receive benefit commensurate with the amount of contribution they are obliged to pay, It would not be possible to make an equal payment to everybody, unless contributions were levied on an actuarial basis to defray the cost. Otherwise, the fears of some honorable members opposite that the scheme would cost too much would be realized. Members of the Labour party, for the most part, object to any contributory scheme for financing social services, but we must face the fact that it is impossible to take something from nothing. Some method must be evolved to ensure a proper contribution from every one. Honorable members opposite applaud that statement, and some honorable members on this side of the House also approve of it, although 1 realize that, in making such a declaration, I am opening up a very wide subject. At the present time, many people do not contribute anything to the cost of social services because their incomes are not considered to be sufficiently large. The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** referred to what he described as the paltry amount of 10.'. a week child endowment, and he asked' how any one could be expected to rear a child on 10s. a week. Of course, every one knows that it cannot be done. It is generally admitted that the Australian baby is the best immigrant, and if we are to encourage people to have children we should not give with one hand and take away with the other. There is a general realization throughout the world to-day that every member of a community has a right of a reasonable standard of living. Those amongst us who do not want to put anything into the general pool for raising the standard of living, or who believe they are putting in too much, will have to readjust their ideas. I remember a member of the South Australian Parliament saying once that the Labour party did not want to pull any one down, but wanted to give a lift to the fellow who was at the bottom. I believe that the Government has approached the problem in that way. Some may think that too severe demands are being made upon certain sections of the community, but we must face the fact that all over the world to-day people are clamouring for better conditions. It may be claimed that this is due to -the influence of those who profess communism, or socialism or some other " ism ", but I believe that it 'is due to the spread of a more general understanding. When people become educated, it is no longer possible to keep them down. The more they are educated, and the better understanding they have of affairs, the more determined they become to obtain a reasonable share of the national income. I am pleased that the Government proposes to increase pensions by 5s. a week and to liberalize the means test provisions. A few years ago, a person who possessed more than £400 was not eligible *to* receive an old-age pension, and if a husband and wife between them received an income of more than £50 a year, a deduction was made from their combined pensions. Now, it is proposed to raise to £1,500 the amount which a couple may possess without its affecting their pensions, and to raise to £200 the amount of income which they may draw. However, I believe that it is still necessary to do something about the provision affecting those who draw a small income from property. Many persons complain to me that they are being penalized because they have saved something to support themselves in their old age. Most of them want to be able to live on the income from their savings without touching the capital. It is evident that such persons wish to leave their capital to somebody when they die, rather than use it for their support while they live. Therefore, their plea that they are being penalized because they have saved something for their old age is not quite sound. The belief is held by many that the taxpayers should not be called upon to provide pensions for those who have enough capital of their own upon which to live. Possibly, some honorable members opposite would ask, " Why should we be taxed to provide a pension for a person who has sufficient capital to enable him to purchase all bis requirements?" For many years, I have been a keen student of social services, and have found a conflict between different interests. The wealthy person complains because he must make a big contribution to provide pensions for the less fortunate section .of the community, and it is difficult at times to arrive at a conclusion that is fair to all parties. The present system of social services contributions, under which a person pays according to his ability to do so, is the best that has been devised. I commend this bill to the House as a progressive step. I readily agree that, because of constantly increasing costs, the pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week does not represent a substantial increase of purchasing power. Some people complain that the present system penalizes the thrifty person, who, for many years, has contributed to a superannuation fund which has also been subsidized by the Commonwealth Government or a State government, or by a private employer. As the result of his thrift, that person is well off to-day compared with a person who has had no opportunity to make that provision and is completely dependent on the pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week. A few months ago, a woman asked me whether I could assist her to obtain the age pension. Her husband was in receipt of an income of £2 a week from a superannuation fund. She was between 60 and 70 years of age, and had been earning £l a week. She had reached the stage where she was not able to work any longer. Honorable members opposite who talk of people trying to grab everything they . can, would be surprised to learn that many people became entitled to receive almost the full pension years ago. but either did not know that they were eligible or were too independent to apply for it. Contrary to the belief of some honorable members opposite, there are many people who are not determined to get everything they can for nothing. I informed the lady that the superannuation payment of £2 a week would not disqualify her husband and herself from receiving the then pension of 37s. 6d. a week, making a combined payment of £3 15s. a week. She looked at me in amazement, and said, " I just cannot believe it ". Almost every week I hear of people who. because they have a small income or some money in a bank, believe that they are not eligible for the age pension. Recently, a man wrote to me asking whether he was entitled to receive the age pension. I explained the position to him, and about a week ago I received a letter of thanks from him. He informed me that he and his wife were receiving pensions of 37s. a. week, only 6d. a week less than the full rate. Previously, he had been struggling to exist on slightly more than £2 a week, and had not known that they were entitled to receive almost a full pension. This amending legislation will help that class of person to an even greater degree than in the past. A thrifty person who has contributed to a superannuation fund or is in receipt of a retirement allowance not exceeding £3 a week will still be entitled to draw the age pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week. As his wife also will be eligible, they will have an income of £7 5s. a week. [ support the bill. I hope that my remarks about the means test particularly in relation to the property qualification will be carefully considered by the Department of Social Services, and that provision giving effect to them will be made in subsequent amending legislation. {: #subdebate-24-0-s5 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Acting Leader of the Opposition · Wentworth -- Social services is one of the most vexed subjects that comes before this House, and I doubt whether the arguments in reference to it have changed during the long period that I have been a member of this chamber. Year after year, the same arguments are advanced, and, unfortunately; honorable members seek to make the same capital out of this particular section of the people. Members of the Labour party state that they believe that the pensioner should not be made a political football. Members of the Opposition also hold that view. We contend that social services have now reached the point where the subject should be considered on a non-party basis. The Labour party has come a long way towards accepting the policy of a contributory scheme which the Liberal party has consistently enunciated. At present the Labour Government levies a social services contribution. The Liberal party has advocated that form of tax for years, and has endeavoured to introduce it. Therefore, I contend- that the stage has been reached where the Labour party and the Liberal party can meet on common ground for the purpose of evolving a plan based on a contributory scheme for doing justice to those people who require social services. But that justice will not be achieved so long as we retain the means test or draw a line of demarcation between one section of the people and another regarding social services. However, all political partierepresented in this House can meet on common ground if honorable members are prepared to direct their minds and energies towards evolving an equitable plan. The agreement which I have suggested must be reached now. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** has already stated that the abolition of the means test would mean an additional commitment of £52,000,000. The increases of social services benefits during this financial yea have been made possible only as the result of high prices ruling overseas for our primary products. The time will come when those prices will decline, and the Commonwealth's coffers will not be so full as they are to-day. At that stage, the . Government will be obliged to find ways and means of honouring the social services obligations which it has incurred. Bearing that prospect in mind, it must evolve a balanced scheme, and protect it. Until the Government is prepared to factthat responsibility, we shall have year after year- a continuance of arguments in this House, and the pensioner will be made a political football. What moved the Prime Minister to levy a social services contribution? The fact was that Labour's policy of financing social services out of Consolidated Revenue could not be put into effect, and a special tax had to be imposed. Earlier to-day the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) made certain suggestions which I hope the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway)** will answer when he speaks in reply. 1 propose to draw attention to certain anomalies which have crept into the Government's social services scheme. Such anomalies will continue to occur as long as the present method of administering social services is continued. However. I must first refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini).** Unfortunately, he is not in the chamber and therefore I shall be very generous to him. The honorable member is what 1 consider to be one of the greatest political paradoxes of the age. He said that, although he was pledged to the abolition of the means test, he considered that no good could come to 80 per cent, of the people as the result of its abolition. One cannot reconcile, the arguments employed by the honorable member. What he said, in effect, was that a person who by thrift had built up some sort of asset to guard him against the vagaries of old age, must receive no benefit for his thrift. According to the honorable member, such a person deserves no approbation, and, indeed, should be penalized for his thrift and forced to exist on something less than is paid to a person who has not been so provident. That policy will breed in this country a type that we are pleased to classify as "leaners upon the Government ". It will not encourage that rugged individuality which has been of such importance to Australia. The honorable member said that every country in the world has a means test. That is not so. I refer him to a report of what was said by Lord Beveridge during a visit to Canberra on the 19th May, 1948 :- >Britain did not have any kind of means test. Benefits were given irrespective of savings or property. > >Britain believed nien and women should go m working after 65, and offered inducements not to claim pensions on reaching the pensionable agc. The Australian scheme was subject to the means test, and people had to prove they were of good character, deserved a pension, and had not more than £50 worth of property. > >New Zealand and Australia tended to prescribe a maximum as well as a minimum income while Britain prescribed only a minimum income. > > *In* New Zealand also, the means test as we understand it does not apply. The honorable member for Werriwa also said that he had no sympathy whatsoever for those who receive superannuation payments. He said that because the Government subsidized its superannuation scheme, persons who purchased superannuation should not receive the age pension. That argument is fallacious and ridiculous in the extreme. People who subscribe to a superannuation scheme and purchase retiring allowances, live on their capital when they retire. They draw money that they have paid into the scheme. In my opinion, they should not be subjected to the means test that this Government proposes to apply The honorable member also spoke of cut.' that were made by the Lyons Govern ment- {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- The honorable mem her should tell us what he thinks about social services. {: #subdebate-24-0-s6 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I shall deal with the subject in my own way. When supporters of the Government make partisan statements about social services, the Opposition has a duty to correct their mis-statements. When I have dealt with the inaccuracies of the honorable member for Werriwa, I shall draw attention to other matters which should receive the consideration of the Government. Thi honorable member spoke of cuts made by the Lyons Government, but he did not say that the adjustment made by that Government had certain qualifications attached to it whereby a majority of pensioners continued to receive the full rat of pension. The honorable member als, failed to say that the only pension reductions ever made in the history of Australia were put into effect by the Scullin Labour Government. That fact cannot be gainsaid. These great philanthropists on the Government side of the House, these great humanitarians who tell us of their love for their fellow men, should remember that members of the Opposition are not less sympathetic than they are to the needs of unfortunate citizens. Indeed, a Liberal government introduced the old-age pension, and another Liberal government introduced family endowment. I suppose that, as the years roll on, members of the Labour party will say that the Liberal govern ment was forced into introducing family endowment. That is what they say now about the age pension, but the facts are on record. Family endowment wa<introduced by a Liberal government. **Mr. -** Scully. - It was not. Family endowment was instituted by a La bon i government in New South Wales. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I am talking about legislation in the Commonwealth sphere, as the Minister knows. He also knows that family endowment was introduced throughout the Commonwealth by the Menzies Government. Let ti* shear away from this debate what the honorable member for Werriwa would call "hocuspocus", and deal with the clear, hard facts as I have stated them. I repeat that there will be anomalies in our social services as long as the Government's method of administering the scheme continues. Whatever the Government may do in an endeavour to adjust existing anomalies, its very actions will create fresh anomalies, because the whole basis of the scheme is insecure and wrong. Let us consider the comparative effects of taxes upon pensioners and others. I want the House to understand clearly that I do not advocate that age pensioners should be taxed. They cannot live decently on what they receive to-day. The honorable member for Darwin made it clear that pensions are proportionately lower than when the Harvester award first became effective. Let us consider some of the anomalies that will be created. Under the proposed taxation scale a single person who earned. £3 12s. 6d. a week would pay at least £3 15s. a year in taxes, whilst an age pensioner who was in receipt of the proposed age pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week plus the permissible weekly income of £1 10s., would pay no taxes. Therefore, although the wage earner's weekly income was the same as that of the pensioner, he would because he was working, have a lower living standerd than the age pensioner, who was not working. Let us compare the case of a man and wife with a total weekly income from personal exertion of £7 5s. with that of a married couple, both drawing the full age pension that is proposed and earning the maximum permissible income, thus jointly receiving £7 5s. a week. The non-pensioners would pay £15 a year in taxes, whilst the pensioners would pay no taxes at all. The pensioners would, therefore, have a higher standard of living than the nonpensioners, although both couples were enjoying the same weekly income, because the non-pensioners would be forced to contribute to the maintenance of a higher standard of living for the pension ers. {: .speaker-KDB} ##### Mr Edmonds: -- The honorable gentleman does not believe in that? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Does the honorable member for Herbert **(Mr. Edmonds)** agree that it is fair that a man who is working should have a lower living standard than one who is not working although both men are in receipt of the same weekly income? {: .speaker-KDB} ##### Mr Edmonds: -- No. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I am pointingout the anomalies. If the Minister seeks to avoid the anomalies to which I have referred, he will create others. The whole basis of the scheme is wrong, and must be altered. The Labour party has gone a long way towards adopting the policy of the Liberal party of contributions to social services, but it must go still further. I have taken out other figures. A non-pensioner who had one dependant and. a weekly income of £7 5 s. would pay taxes amounting to 6s. 9d. a week, or £17 l1s. a year, whilst an age pensioner with the same weekly income would pay no taxes. A nonpensioner with two dependants who earned £7 5s. a week would pay taxes amounting to 3s. 6d. a week or £9 2s. a year, and one with three dependants. earning the same amount, would pay 2s. a week, or £5 4s. a year in taxes. Even though a. man may be earning the same amount as that which an age pensioner receives each week and is supporting a number of children, he pays higher taxes than the pensioner, and his standard of living and that of his family is thereby reduced. I ask the Minister whether is it proposed to pay the increased pensions as from November. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- As soon as they can be worked out. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Honorable members on this side of the House will not delay the bill unnecessarily. In fact, we shall speed its passage, because we feel that, by its delay in paying the increased pensions, the Government is not doing justice to those who will eventually receive the increased benefits. If pensions are to be increased because of the increase of the cost of living, why are they not to be payable at the new rates until November? Why does the Government not do the same as it will do with regard to income tax? The income tax concessions are to be made retrospective to the 1st July. If it is agreed that these increases of pension rates are necessary because of the increased cost of living and the need to. place pensions on the same comparative basis as when the Harvester award was made, pensioners should not be deprived of the benefit of the. increases for four months. By a single amendment to the bill the Government could give justice to pensioners by making these increases retrospective to the 1st July. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- It is a physical impossibility. {: #subdebate-24-0-s7 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- It has already been pointed out that the coffers of the Treasury are unnecessarily full. Although the increase in social services benefits which 'is proposed in this bill is a step in the right direction, it is not as generous as the Government would have us believe. A liberalization of pensions and an easing of the means test provisions are long overdue, having regard to the increased cost of living and the buoyant state of the revenue. In his secondreading speech, the Minister said that the estimated expenditure on benefits administered by the Department of Social Services for the current year was *£80,000,000.* which represented an increase of nearly £16,000,000 over the actual expenditure during the last financial year. Last year the Government budgeted for an expenditure of 677,500,000 on social services. Of that amount £8,500,000 was to be taken from the accumulated balance standing to the credit of the National Welfare Fund, and the remaining £69,000,000 was to come from general revenue. Instead of drawing upon the. accumulated balance in the National Welfare Fund, the Government has in fact paid into the fund an amount of £19,500,000 over and above the year's commitments for social services. Therefore, the balance standing to the credit of the fund at the 30th June, 1948, was just under £70,000,000. In the budget of last year, the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** estimated that the balance standing to the credit of the National Welfare Fund at the end of that year would be just under £42,000,000. Therefore, there was approximately £28,000,000 more standing to the credit of the fund at the 30th June, 1948. than the Government had estimated that there would be. If that is so - and the Minister must agree that my figures are correct - how can it be said that it is a physical impossibility to make these increases retrospective to the 1st July? {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- I did not say it was a financial impossibility. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- When the Minister said it was a physical impossibility. I assumed that he meant it was a financial impossibility. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- The staff of the department could not possibly do it. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The Minister says that the department has not the necessary staff to date the payments back to the 1st July. Have we ever heard such arrant nonsense? In other words, the Minister is saying to the age pensioners of this country that the increase would be made retrospective to the 1st July if the department had the necessary staff. What sort of a Government is this, which can only put forward, in defence of its action in robbing the age pensioners of the benefit of these proposed increases from the 1st July to November this year, the excuse that it has not the necessary staff in the department to make the money available to them? What an extraordinary attitude to adopt! I have never heard an argument that equals it for absurdity. In private business, if a payment is just, ways and means are found to make it. The standard of living of the age pensioner has already been CU by soaring prices, and he will derive little solace from the Minister's statement thai the additional payments would be made if there was sufficient staff to do the work. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- I am speaking of the time in which the Acting Leader of the Opposition says the payment should be made. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I am not concerned with the time. The Government has the money. The. figures that I have given prove that. There was approximately £29,000,000 more standing' to the credit of the fund, than the Government had estimated that there would be. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- It is not a question of money. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- That is the very point. The Minister is saying, in effect, to the age pensioners, " We have the money, and we could make the extra payment if we had the staff ". That is nonsense, but I am glad to have at least that acknowledgment from the Minister. As I have said, the pensioner is entitled to whatever solace he can derive from it, but I am afraid that he will gain little comfort in view of his commitments which the honorable members for Darwin ( Dame Enid Lyons) mentioned to-day. I leave the matter there in sheer disgust. I am surprised indeed to hear that admis- sion from a Minister of a government whose servants have increased so enormously that to-day they number two out of every five members of the working population. Commonwealth staffs have increased by almost 80 per cent. over the pre-war level; yet the Minister says that There are still not enough public servants to pay increased pensions for the first four months of this financial year ! Debate on motion (by Mr.Fuller) adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1468 {:#debate-25} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-25-0} #### Royal. Australian Navy Medical. Officers Motion (by **Mr. Holloway)** proposed - >That the House do nowadjourn. {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- . I have frequently asked the Minister for the Navy **(Mr. Riordan)** why surgeons in the Royal Australian Navy, who enlisted for the duration of the war and a certain period thereafter, have not been discharged. Other members, too, have referred to this matter, but, so far, the Minister has not given a satisfactory answer, and I am afraid that a great injustice is being done to the young men concerned. If the Minister is really administering his department, and is not merely a cypher, he will ensure that something shall be done in this matter. The position, I am informed, is that there are ten permanent medical officers doing the administrative work for fourteen reserve medical officers. The ten permanent medical officers, all commanders, or of higher rank, do practically no medical work, and the reserve officers, whose average age is about 27 years, are responsible for the little surgery that has to be done. Three of the permanent medical officers hold the rank of surgeon captain, which is equivalent to full colonel in the Army. The Army has one full colonel for each division, and hehas 40 or 50 medical officers and at least 600 other ranks under his control. If they could be persuaded to do the work that they were engaged to do, at least six reserve medical officers could be released. The Government assisted a number of young mento do a medical course during the war on condition that they gave three years of national service after qualification. Why cannot those men relieve the present medi cal officers who have served for so long? I am informed also that there are four medical officers at Balmoral, which has twenty occupied beds and 40 cases of sickness. I make no criticismofthesenior officers who have -earned their rank in an excellent service, but the present situation must not be allowed to remain as it is. This is an urgent matter, and I urge that immediate consideration he given to the discharge of the officers whom I have rnentioned. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1468 {:#debate-26} ### PAPERS The following papers were pre sen ted : - Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regu lations - Order - 1948, No. 1. National Security (Prices) RegulationsOrders Nos. 3409-3413. Orders - Control of new commercial motor vehicles. Control of new motor cars. Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948. No- 124, 127. Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Bellevue Hill, New South Wales. Collingwood, Victoria. Meat Export Control Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1948, No. 123. Re-establishment and Employment ActRegulations - Statutory Rules 1948. No 130. Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Council of the Soil Conservation Service of the Australian Capital Territory -First Annual Report and Statement of Receipt- a nd Expenditure. for year 1947-48. House adjourned at 10.30 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1469 {:#debate-27} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* Mr.chifley. - On the 21st September, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) raised the question of shipping subsidy on certain superphosphate supplies imported into Tasmania fr om Victoria to meet shortages in local supplies and asked whether this subsidy would continue as long as superphosphate subsidies are continued. I now advise the honorable member as follows: - >Superphosphate subsidies prior to the18th September last were paid direct to manufacturers on the basis of cost of production. As from that date, subsidy will be paid direct to users instead of to manufacturers, the subsidy payment in respect of Tasmanian users being on a flat rate basis of £2 5s. a ton. All shipping freight subsidies were discontinued asfrom the 30th June, 1948, but special arrangements were made for continuance of a shipping freight subsidy on6,000 tons of superphosphate to be imported into Tasmania from the mainland to meet the current deficiency in manufacturing capacity. When approval was given for continuance of the shipping freight subsidy on this additional quantity, it was made quite clear thatthis approval was not to be taken as a precedent. I understand that Tasmanian productionis expected for the future to meet demands. In any case, it is not proposed specially to subsidize any future importations from the mainland other than to reimburse the farmer at the flat rate ofsubsidy on superphosphate purchased byhim. {: #debate-27-s0 .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr Hutchinson: asked the Minister for Information, *upon notice -* >Will he supply the number of newspaper - published in this country, wholly or in part in a foreign language,and state what languages are involved? {: #debate-27-s1 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: asked the Prime Minister. *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has his attention been drawn to an article in a Sydney morning newspaper of the 14th September in which **Mr. N.** Berry Littlejohn, an Australian airman, is reported as having told Clarence Hart Campbell that " it was difficult to get a permit to fly to Indonesia and Malaya, because of current regulations " ? 1. Has he seen Campbell's alleged reply. "' I'll go to Canberra and fix this.I know enough about a certain Minister of the Crown, and some of the others, too, to get anything: Iwant out of them when I want it"? 2. Is it a fact that, before any aircraft can leave Australia for an overseas destination, permission has to be obtained from the Federal authorities? 3. Will he ascertain if Campbell personally or through anagent sought any such per mission? 4. Will he ascertain also if Campbell inter viewed any Federal Minister concerning a flight to Indonesia and/or Malaya.Ifsuchan interview took place *(a)* what was the name of the Minister interviewed, and *(b)* what was the result of the interview? 5. Will he direct the Commonwealth Security section to institute immediate investigations into the activities of Campbell? 6. Will he make a statement to the House in due course on the result of such investigations ? {:#subdebate-27-0} #### Income Tax {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr Lang: g asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >Will he furnish a list of those persons receiving salaries of £1,500 (Australian) or more who are exempt from the payment of income tax under section 23 of the Income Tax Assessment Act because they arc employed by the United Nations or affiliated organizations? {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - >It is not practicable to compile a list of the persons referred to in the honorable member's question, but even if it were practicable for the Commissioner of Taxation to compile such a list, the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act preclude the information from being disclosed to the honorable member. {:#subdebate-27-1} #### Newsprint {: #subdebate-27-1-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has an increased allotment of newsprint been granted for the Brisbane *Worker* newspa per ? 1. If so, what was the base-year allocation of newsprint for this newspaper, what is the percentage of the increase granted over the base-year figure, what tonnage of newsprint does the increase represent, and from what date does it take effect? 2. Have any other newspapers in the same group been granted increased newsprint allocations? If so, what are these newspapers, and what percentages of newsprint over baseyear quotas have been allocated to them? {: #subdebate-27-1-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
ALP -- The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. Information in the possession of theDe partment of Trade and Customs concerning the business of individual newspapers is regarded as confidential and cannot therefore he made public. 2. No. {:#subdebate-27-2} #### Stud Rams: Export {: #subdebate-27-2-s0 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: t asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that the Minister has been refusing to grant permits for the export of merino rams to New Zealand? 1. Is it a fact that there was no hindrance to the export of these rams to New Zealand until recently? 2. What is the reason for the Ministerchanged attitude regarding this matter? 3. Is it a fact that it is very difficult to obtain permits for the export of stud ewes of all breeds to New Zealand at the present time? 4. Is it a fact that the New Zealand Minis ter for Agriculture, in reply to a question in the New Zealand Parliament recently regarding the Australian embargo on the export of merino sheep, stated that his department had. for some time past, been in touch with the Australian authorities on the matter, and that the New Zealand Government would do everything possible to help breeders to obtain new blood? 5. Will he state what replies have been made to the New Zealand Government's representations regarding this matter? {: #subdebate-27-2-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions areas follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. 1. No. Under the Customs (Prohibited Export) Regulations the export of all sheep is prohibited except with ministerial consent. Approvals have been regularly granted to applicants to export such rams to New Zealand. 2. See reply to question No. 2 above. 3. Export of stud merino ewes to New Zealand at present is restricted, but so far not as regards other breeds. 4. I am not aware of any such question and reply having been made in the New Zealand Parliament. The High Commissioner for New Zealand discussed the matter with me at Canberra, but no recent correspondence on the subject has taken place. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. See reply to questionNo. 5 above. {:#subdebate-27-3} #### Building Workers Industrial Union {: #subdebate-27-3-s0 .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr Hutchinson: n asked the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon *notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that, arising out of a claim by the Communist-controlled Building Workers Industrial Union for. rates of pay equal to those paid to carpenters and joiners on outdoor work, such claim haying been refused consistently by a judge and three conciliation commissioners of the Arbitration Court at separate hearings, bans have been imposed on some 230-odd carpenters and joiners from working in some 25 establishments in Melbourne, thus seriously interfering with the building trade? 1. Is it a fact that the Full Arbitration Court would not hear the case arising out of the prosecution by the Registrar of the Arbitration Court, who was acting under the instructions from the Conciliation Commissioner, which dealt with a charge against two of the officials of the Building Workers Industrial Union for a breach of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act? 2. Is it a fact that the alleged breach by the two officials concerned was that they had incited certain members' of the union" not to work under the terms of the award of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration? 4.In view of the fact that not less than three judges must comprise the Full Arbitration Court when hearing a charge, such as made against the officials concerned, will the Government amend the Conciliationand Arbi- tration Act to make it workable so that a case of this nature can be heard? 3. Is it a fact that counsel for the Registrar hassaid that,under the circumstances of this case, the more lies the individuals concerned in the charge told during other proceedings before the Full Court the. better the chance of any prosecution of this nature not being heard? 4. Can he say what action the Government proposes to take to enable the joinery shops at present closed in Victoria, due to the flouting of the awards by the officials mentioned, to he re-opened and so permit the joinery needs of the building industry in Victoria to be satisfied ? 5. Will the Government assist the building industry and, in turn, home-seekers,by insisting on the honoring of awards by the unions and their members or by introducing legislation whereby the disruptionists who are obstructing the housing programme can be effectively dealt with? {: #subdebate-27-3-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway:
ALP -- The information sought by the honorable member is being obtained, and I hope to be able to answer his question fully at an early date: {:#subdebate-27-4} #### Federated Ironworkers Association {: #subdebate-27-4-s0 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr Lang: g asked the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will members of the Federated Iron workers Association who refuse to signthe contract out form or pay the politicallevy have their rights as bona fide unionists pro tected? 1. If the union carries out its threat totreat them as unfinancial, will they still be eligible for all their rights under preference clauseof awards? 2. Will the Government take; actionto render such levies illegal? {: #subdebate-27-4-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway:
ALP -- The Acting AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following information : - 1, 2 and 3. The Full Arbitration Court this morning refused to register the proposed alteration of the rules of the Federated Iron workers Association to provide for the imposition of a political levy and the question asked by the honorable member does not accordingly call for any reply. Russians in Australia. {: #subdebate-27-4-s2 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y. - On the 29th Septem ber, the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** asked- {: type="a" start="a"} 0. How many adult Russian nationals are in the Russian Embassy; and (b) How many other adult Russian nationals are inAustralia? In reply to the honorable member, the following figures are furnished : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Russian Embassy: Six diplomatic staff, five additional staff and eleven wives. 1. *)* Aliens of Russian origin in Australia - It is pointed out that not all of these persons are necessarilycitizens of the Union of Soviet SocialistRepublics. Many of them, though born in Russia and registered as " Russians ", may have lost their citizenship under the laws of that country. I am advised that tabulations of nationalities under the last census have not yet been completed for all States, but figures available so far appear to support the total figure given above. Language in Official Documents. {: #subdebate-27-4-s3 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- On the5th October, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Fraser)** asked whether I would move to havethe language of official correspondence shortened and simplified. The honorable member also referred to **Sir Ernest** Gowers' book *Plain Words.* I am advised that the Public Service Board is alive to the need for clear and simple English. It agrees on the value of **Sir Ernest** Gowers' book *Plain Words,* and had a special consignment sent here immediately after publication early this year. For some time, the board has been using both that hook and its own correspondence manuals in its training schools, and encouraging their use in departments. Broadcasting: Frequency Modulation. {: #subdebate-27-4-s4 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y. - On the 5th October, 1948, the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Lang)** asked a question regarding the effect on the radio industry of the introduction of the frequency modulation system of broadcasting into Australia, and I promised to ascertain whether there is any evidence to show whether, in the event of the adoption of frequency modulation, it would be a long time or a short time before it became necessary to alter the present type of radio receivers. I have discussed the matter with the Postmaster-General and it is clear that the development of frequency modulation broadcasting will proceed on a gradual and orderly basis as a supplementary service to the existing system, and that a service incorporating both amplitude modulation and frequency modulation stations will have to be maintained for many years to come. Programmes will continue to be transmitted over the existing system as well as from any frequency modulation stations which are established. Irrespective of the types of receivers possessed by listeners or the kind they desire to buy at present, listeners, can purchase models how available with - out any fear that they will become obsolete during their normal life.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.