19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. C. P. Adermann) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. It relates to a statement that one of his colleagues made to the effect that legislation to implement the proposed increases of age, invalid and war pensions which the right honorable gentleman announced in his .budget speech could not be introduced until consideration of the Estimates had. been completed and that, consequently, the increases could not be made retrospective as the right honorable gentleman announced they would be. “Will the right honorable gentleman interrupt the consideration of the budget in order to introduce and have passed the measure to give effect to the proposed increases of pensions as early aa possible so that no room for doubt will exist about the desire of all honorable members to give effect to them at the earliest possible moment? The course that I have suggested has frequently been taken.
– I assure the right honorable gentleman that I shall introduce the legislation to which he has referred as expeditiously as possible. For that purpose, the Government intends to interrupt the consideration of the budget next week. I should like to make clear the position with respect to the payment of the proposed increases. Sufficient provision has been made in the Estimate? to cover payment of the increases beginning in November. The increases will be payable commencing with and including the first pay day in November ; but, of course, payments cannot actually be made until the relevant legislation has been assented to. Consequently, it will be necessary to include additional amounts in payments that are made after the legislation is passed.
– In view of the fact that the Treasurer has stated that the increase in war, age and invalid pensions could not be actually paid until enabling legislation had been passed by both Houses of the Parliament but that such increases would be retrospective to the first pay in November, will he confer with the Leader of the Opposition and request him to urge members of the Labour party in another place to expedite the bills that are now before that House so that legislation dealing with war, age and invalid pensions can be passed without delay?
– 1 shall be very pleased to accede to the request of the honorable gentleman.
– As several months have now elapsed since the end of the last financial year, can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House when the annual reports of TransAustralia Airlines and Qantas Empire Airways will be .presented to the Parliament? Oan he also obtain the annual reports of Ansett Airways Limited, and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, so that honorable members may be enabled to make a comparison of the results achieved by Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Empire Airways, which are socialist enterprises, with those of the other two companies which are controlled by private enterprise?
– As the honorable memoer was formerly Minister for Civil Aviation I am surprised that he does not know that Ansett Airways and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited are proprietary companies and, therefore, do not issue public balancesheets. When the annual reports of Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Empire Airways, which he terms socialist enterprises, come to hand, I shall peruse them and table them in due course.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation say what experiments, if any, have been carried out in this country in respect of the use of the castering, cr McLaren, undercarriage? Does the Minister believe that the adoption of the use of that undercarriage on civil airliners would reduce enormously the cost of establishing new aerodromes by making only one runway necessary?
– I believe that the castering undercarriage will save an expenditure of millions of pounds in aerodrome construction. Recently in Canada I’ had practical experience of landings in aircraft fitted with the castering undercarriage, on flights between Montreal and Ottawa, when cross-wind landings were made. I am satisfied that the undercarriage is both practicable and safe. We have one set of such equipment in Australia, experiments with which are now being carried out. If they prove to be satisfactory, as I believe they will, the Department of Civil Aviation will endeavour to encourage airline companies te use the undercarriage and thereby make possible a saving of considerable sums of money that would otherwise be expended on aerodrome construction.
WIRE AND WIRE NETTING. Mr. CHARLES RUSSELL. - I ask the Minister for National Development what steps, if any, have been taken to improve the supply of rabbit netting and dog netting? Can anything be done to improve the supply of those sizes of wire netting to Queensland, w.here the rabbit and dog menaces are becoming increasingly serious?
– The Division of Industrial Development of the Department of National Development was active early this year in discussions with representative* of the manufacturing company of Lysaghts in an endeavour to get the company to re-organize its productive programme and resume the manufacture of rabbit netting, in particular. The company agreed to amend its programme and the production of netting this year has been satisfactory and is still increasing. The output of rabbit netting is expected to increase considerably in the early part of 1951 because additional quantities of the appropriate type of steel are being made available from the works at Port Kembla. The distribution of the product is in the hands of the manufacturing company and the Government has no control over it. However, the company is making what it considers to bc an equitable distribution among the States where netting is most needed. Deliveries, of course, are affected by the shipping situation. If the honorable member has reason to believe that Queensland is not obtaining an adequate share of the product, I shall be grateful if he will supply me with all the particulars in his possession so that I can arrange for officers of my department to discuss the matter with representatives of the Lysaghts organization.
– My questions to the Minister for Labour and National Service relate to the continuance of the rail strike in Victoria as the result of the refusal of Conciliation Commissioner 1-1 all to ratify an agreement that has been reached between an agency of the State Government and the employees concerned. Wap it envisaged that a conciliation commissioner’s view of the public interest should override the view of a State government on the same issue ? Does the Government consider that the action of the conciliator in preventing the implementation of an agreement between the two parties represents conciliation, in the true meaning of that word? What is the Government’s policy in relation to the strike? Is the strike to go on, or docs the Government intend to intervene at any stage ?
– As I understand the situation, the conciliation commissioner has taken the view that he has a responsibility not only in relation to conciliation but also in relation to the public interests in any matter that comes before him. That, of course, is of the essence of our arbitration system. If the system depended only upon the bargaining strengths of employers and employees, it is obvious that, in cases involving monopoly industries, the- parties would be able to make mutually satisfactory arrangements that would merely place additional burdens upon the public as a whole. Therefore, all governments have insisted upon the principle that the arbitration system shall act in effect as the preserver and protector of the public interests, as well as a means of arranging for conciliation whenever possible. The honorable member has asked whether it was envisaged that a conciliation commissioner should have power even in relation to agreements that might be worked out between State governments and their employees. The answer is that the Government which lie supported clearly envisaged that power and provided for it in the legislation that it put into effect. That legislation specifically provides that a conciliation commissioner shall have regard to the public interests in any decisions that he gives. The policy of this Government has been made clear on previous occasions. It stands for the arbitration system. It has maintained the legislation in the form in which it was enacted by the Chifley Government, and it is giving as much backing as it can give to the court and the conciliation commissioners. The suggestion has been made that the Commonwealth is standing by and not doing anything. I. assure the honorable gentleman that we have been far from idle in the matter. We have some regard for the responsibilities which should exist between the Commonwealth and the States. The governments of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, through their respective commissioners of railways, are directly concerned in the matter, but up to date none of them has requested the Commonwealth to intervene in any way. In those circumstances, it would have been presumptuous, I suggest, for this Government to intervene, but if at any time the Government of Victoria can suggest a way in which we can be of assistance, we shall do everything that we can to help it.
– Will the Minister for National Development ensure that the manufacture of wheel tractors, which has developed extensively in this country, will not be jeopardized in any way by the importation of wheel tractors from abroad within the terms of the 100,000,000 dollar loan arranged by the Prime Minister?
– I can assure the honorable member for Corio that dollars will not be made available from the 100,000,000 dollar loan for tractors of the sizes which can be and are being manufactured in Australia, or which can be obtained from soft currency countries, provided deliveries can be made within a reasonable time. The dollar loan is for the acquisition by Australia of developmental equipment that cannot be obtained from either Australian or soft currency sources. The Minister for Trade and Customs and I are carefully watching that position, and I am glad that the honorable gentleman has brought it to notice.
– Can the Minister for Health inform me whether the expert committee which was appointed to inquire into the epidemic of poliomyelitis has made any progress? If it has not made any progress, will the Minister, in view of the fact that the epidemic has now claimed more than 500 victims this year in New South Wales alone, ask the committee to investigate the work of Sister Kenny and of chiropractors who are securing results in treating many cases of disease, including poliomyelitis, which do not respond to orthodox medical treatment ?
– I have not yet received a report from the special committee which was appointed to inquire into poliomyelitis, hut I shall bring the honorable gentleman’s suggestion to its notice.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for National Development, and by way of explanation, I inform him that I have been approached on several occasions by. local government authorities in my electorate with the request that the Commonwealth should provide financial assistance to help them to carry out small developmental projects. In many cases, the local authorities concerned have already appealed to the State government for assistance, and have been refused it. Will the right honorable gentleman give me information about the procedure which should be followed by the local governing bodies when they desire to seek financial aid from the Commonwealth ?
– I am grateful to the honorable member for Ballarat for having raised this matter in a general form. It is clearly impossible for the Commonwealth to deal directly with the local governing bodies, because the Constitution permits it to deal only with State governments, but that fact does not deter local authorities from approaching it directly, or through their representatives in this Parliament. I should be most grateful if honorable members “will inform local governing bodies in their electorates that their proper approach to the Commonwealth is through their respective State governments. If a State government will not take up the matter with the Commonwealth, I am afraid that the local authority concerned has no redress, because the Commonwealth cannot override, and has no intention of overriding, State governments by dealing direct with local governing bodies.
– Several weeks ago I asked the Minister for Supply a question concerning the export of iron and steel, but the reply which I received was unsatisfactory. I again ask the Minister whether the following exports have been made this year : - £250,000 worth of iron and steel, £200,000 worth of sheet iron and steel, and £100,000 worth of structural iron and steel? In view of the urgent need of iron and steel for home building and industry in Australia, and of the threat of unemployment to Australian workers that is implicit in a shortage of those metals, will he order that the export of iron and steel shall cease immediately?
– I am sorry that the honorable member received an unsatisfactory answer when he asked a similar question on a previous occasion. I imagine that the reason for th* unsatisfactory reply was that he probably did not address his question to the appropriate Minister. The export of iron and steel has nothing whatever to do with the Department of Supply, but is under the control of the Department of Trade and Customs and the Department of National Development. My colleague, the Minister for National Development, recommends to the Minister for Trade and Customs what export licences should be granted.
– “Will the honorable gentleman take up the matter with those Ministers ?
– Perhaps it may not be necessary for me to do so after I have completed my answer to the honorable member’s question. The quantity of steel exported from Australia is microscopic in comparison with the total quantity produced in this country, and in permitting the export of limited quantities of steel the present Government is merely continuing the policy of the previous Labour Government.
Mr. Beasley interjecting,
– Order ! Apparently the honorable member for Fremantle wants to answer every question instead of permitting Ministers to do so. I ask him to remain silent.
– Most of the steel we export goes to New Zealand and to the islands. “We have special obligations to New Zealand and the islands, and we receive special reciprocal benefits from them. I do not know whether the information that I have conveyed sufficiently answers the honorable member’s question. Whilst I am unaware of the precise figures of steel exported, I assume that the figures cited by the honorable gentleman are taken from some reliable source and are therefore correct. The responsibility for permitting the export of Australian products rests primarily with the Department of National Development. I believe that the Government would not be a party to an arrangement which would prevent small quantities of steel from going to New Zealand and the islands to which, as I have already pointed out, we have special obligations. If we want more steel in Australia the only way we can get it is to increase production, particularly of coal, and members of the Opposition could make some contribution towards that end.
– In view of the fact that Australia’s jubilee celebrations - are %o commence within a few months, will the Acting Leader of the House say what action has been taken to publicize our celebrations in other countries? Can the right honorable gentleman say whether any committee has been formed to arrange, accommodation for prospective visitors from overseas ? If no such action has been taken, will he now take the necessary steps to ensure that definite arrangements will be made in order that Australia’s celebrations may have a world-wide appeal ?
– I assure the honorable member that an effective committee has been established and is functioning for the purposes mentioned by him. That committee has all the relevant matters in mind and will make arrangements along the lines he has indicated.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that the Wollongong sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia is perturbed at the action of the Army authorities in releasing to the press the name of a soldier from Wollongong, who was wounded in Korea, before notifying his parents that he had become a casualty? Will the Minister inquire into the cause of the irregularity and take steps to prevent a recurrence of it?
– I know the anxiety experienced by the honorable member in this matter, because he has already discussed it with me at considerable length. However, his statement is- not exactly in accordance with the facts. The Director of Army Records, Colonel Marian, advised me this ‘morning of the procedure followed in the case of Private E. R. Oliver, who was wounded in action. On the 26th October a telegram was despatched by Army Records to Mrs. J. M. Oliver, wife of Private E. R. Oliver. It was addressed to her at 130 Kembla-street, Wollongong, New South Wales. Ou the same day a telegram was received by Army Records from the postmaster at Wollongong, couched in the following terms : -
Casualty telegram to Mrs. J. M. Oliver of 130 Kembla-street, Wollongong delivered at 2.40 p.m., 20th October.
I want to make it clear .that it is the next of kin who is notified in the case of a casualty occurring to a serviceman. That practice has been followed in both world wars. The person to whom the honorable member has referred is the mother of the soldier. It is not the practice to advise the mother as well as the next of kin, who, in this instance, is the soldier’s wife. It is the responsibility of the next of kin, on receiving the advice of a casualty from the department, to notify other relatives of the nature of the information advised. I hope that it is quite clear to the House that no mistake has been made in this instance.
– by leave - A signal message was received from the 3a-d Battalion in Korea through Lieutenant-General Sir Horace Robertson in Japan on the 29th October that Private K. J. Williams, together with seven other members of the unit, had been killed in action on the night of the 25th-26th October. Advice of these casualties was conveyed to the next of kin by telegram immediately in my name. This was in accordance with the established procedure that had been followed throughout the war years. On the 31st October, LieutenantGeneral Sir Horace Robertson despatched an urgent signal message to me which stated that Private K. J. Williams, who had previously been reported killed in action, had that day been transferred in from Korea from No. 118Station Hospital, Fukuoko, to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force General Hospital in Japan, suffering from a gun-shot wound in the scalp. General Robertson advised that he had taken immediate action to signal the Australian Infantry Regiment in Korea with a view to clarification of the position. Immediately I was advised by the department of this unfortunate happening I directed an army officer to visit Mrs. Williams, the mother of Private Williams, and make the position known to her. In doing that I departed from the practice that has been followed in the past of sending telegraphic advice to relatives in such circumstances. I arranged for an officer from Victoria Barracks, Sydney, to proceed to Newcastle and explain the position personally to Mrs. Williams.
It is indeed unfortunate that this mistake has occurred and I am taking all possible action to obtain the full facts at the earliest possible date. Honorable members will, however, realize that at the present time the communication system in Korea is by no means properly established following on the battles and the confusion that have taken place throughout, the whole of the civil community of Korea as a result of the present situation there. The Australian battalion, like all other units of the United Nations force, has advanced rapidly and at the same time had taken part in sporadic battles prior to taking part in the present more heavy engagements. It can be appreciated in these circumstances that all this has created almost insuperable difficulties in maintaining constant connexion between the Australian Infantry Battalion at its front in Korea and the head-quarters of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The error that occurred in this instance, while it cannot be condoned, nevertheless resulted from the difficult situation that exists there. I am confident that such difficulties will be overcome.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the Flood Relief Committee has power to make adequate financial allocations to vegetable-growers. I state by way of explanation, that vegetable-growers have lost eleven crops and are now in desperate straits. In addition, plantings of vegetables in New South Wales have fallen from about 140,000 acres to about 70,000 acres. That circumstance, together with the effects of floods, has had a very serious effect on the cost of living and on the livelihood of vegetable-growers. Will the Treasurer discuss this matter with the New South Wales Government to ensure that vegetable-growers are placed in a position which will enable them to replant their crops and resume production as soon as possible?
– I shall discuss the matter along the lines that the honorable member has indicated. The Government has made certain funds available for flood relief, and a committee upon which the Commonwealth is represented, has been established to distribute them. I shall have the honorable gentleman’s observations placed before it.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for External Territories whether it is a fact that the weekly hours of duty of public servants employed in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea are to be increased to 36¾ as from the 9th November? If that is a fact, will the Minister advise the House of the reason for the projected increase of hours of duty? Was an inquiry held into the subject, and, if so, by whom was it conducted, what evidence was called and what decision was reached? Will the Minister also state how the present hours of duty for public servants in the territory were fixed?
– I shall treat the honorable member’s question as if it were on the notice-paper and shall supply him later with the information that, he has requested.
– Do you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, recall, or have you since learned of, words that the Minister for Health used when he ended his remarks at the conclusion of the debate on a formal motion for. the adjournment of the House yesterday, by saying -
You lousy cows! Why don’t you give me a chance ?
Was that remark unparliamentary, Mr. Deputy Speaker? If so, under what standing order can it bedealt with ? Was it an “ aside” to the British Medical Association?
– I did not hear such a remark by the Minister or I should have dealt with it as a very unparliamentary remark.
– In the absence of the
Postmaster-General, I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether, in view of the announced increase of telephone charges, the Postmaster-General will give consideration to some concession being made in the charges to those totally and permanently disabled ex-servicemen who have installed telephones in their homes for the express purpose of being able to summon a repatriation doctor in time of need, and who have no other income apart from their pensions? There are not a. very great number of totally disabled ex-servicemen telephone subscribers compared with the total number of subscribers and, in many instances, the telephones have been installed on the recommendation of the repatriation doctor. The wife of one of these men has written to me as follows : -
My husband has had thephone installed mainly on the advice of the local repatriation doctor and being always in pain and suffering needs the doctor at all hours for the easing from this war II. torture, but living on a pension we will be unable to pay any increased costs of rental.
– I shall be very pleased to bring the observation of the honorable member for Watson before the PostmasterGeneral. I shall also ask the Postmaster-General to ascertain whether any precedent was established by the previous Government for the kind of action that the honorable member has suggested.
– I believe that some two years ago the sum of £15,000 was set aside to improve services that were already available for the purpose of helping mothers in their homes, particularly by assisting them with emergency housekeepers. Could the Treasurer tell the House when that £15,000 will be distributed ? Will he keep in mind the fact that the Country Women’s Association has been endeavouring for 25 years, to provide this help for mothers throughout the country?
– An amount of £15,000 was appropriated by the Parliament for the financial year 1949-50 as a grant in aid for housekeeper services. It was proposed to the States by the previous Government that this amount should bo apportioned amongst them on a population basis and that they should, in their turn, through their existing organizations, distribute the moneys that they received to voluntary organizations or agencies conducting emergency housekeeper services for the benefit of all sections of the community. The co-operation of the States in giving effect to the proposal was sought by the previous Government but the views of all State Premiers on the proposal have not yet been received. I can assure the honorable member that the Government is alive to the problem with which he is concerned and is fully examining all aspects of the matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour been drawn to a published statement by Mr. Teasdale, the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, to the effect that the war in Korea was causing considerable difficulty in procuring sufficient shipping tonnage in Australia, and that the scarcity had in turn brought about an increase of freight rates of 10s. to 15s. a ton ? Does not this statement give the lie to the Minister’s claim, in reply to a question made by a Government supporter some little time ago, that increased shipping freights were attributable to the slow turn-round of shipping? What action does the Minister propose to take to prevent this obvious exploitation of the needs of Australia by unpatriotic shipowners ?
– The latter part of the question is entirely out of order and it is not necessary for the Minister to answer it.
– I did not see the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I do not contest the proposition that events in Korea have had some effect in increasing freight charges because of a resultant shortage of shipping. However, that matter has not come under my notice. The earlier statement by me that a decline in man-effort on the waterfront has had a marked effect in increasing freight rates is amply borne out by Australia’s experience. For example, in 1939 it cost 20s. to move 1 ton of general cargo from Melbourne to Sydney. The cost is now 91s. a ton. That very great increase is not by any means entirely attributable to a reduced man-effort on the waterfront, but statements made by responsible authorities who have dealt with this matter have made it clear that there has been a marked decline in the tonnage handled per man throughout the ports of the Commonwealth. As to what action the Australian Government can take with regard to shipowners who operate from overseas, I do not know of any constitutional power to enable the Government to act in the matter. From time to time we do impress upon shipowners the need for effective supervision and full efficiency in the operation of their own affairs so that they may make a full contribution towards keeping freight rates down.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact, as reported in sections -of the daily press, that the Commonwealth Statistician has recently issued a report regarding the number of Government employees in which it is stated that during the month of August 1950 there was an increase of 1,800 employees in all government departments and instrumentalities, and an increase of 400 in the employees of the Australian Government? If that is a fact, could the Treasurer obtain copies of that report and circulate them amongst the members of the Government parties so that when they aTe quoting statistics about the reduction in the number of Government employees they will be able to state the facts?
– I shall ascertain what can be done to comply with the request of the honorable member.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the results of its investigations, namely: - Extensions to School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Sydney, New South Wales.
The extensions are required to provide adequate accommodation for the school in its investigation into modern hygiene and medical services as well as research over a wide area of the Pacific. It is proposed to erect a new three-storey wing to the east, west and north of the existing structure, one additional floor over the rear two-storey portion of the existing building, and an additional floor and stairs to the animal house. The committee has recommended that the extensions be proceeded with as planned at a total estimated cost of £169,841, of which stages 1, 2 and 2a, estimated to cost £141,312, should be put in hand immediately, whilst stage 3 should be undertaken at some .time in the future. I concur in the committee’s recommendations and recommend to the House that it is expedient to undertake the work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to enable the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to be exercised, in certain circumstances, by two judges.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– -by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill is a simple measure that is designed to accomplish one broad purpose only, and that is to enable the procedings now before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in relation to the basic wage to be carried through to finality despite the fact that one of the members of the Bench who heard the earlier proceedings is unable through illness to continue to sit. Although the Chief Judge and the other judges who constituted the Bench that dealt with the basic wage claims of the unions, recently announced their opinions, the proceedings have not been completed. Now, it is necessary that each of the awards involved in the union claims be varied individually, and the proceedings therefore, will not he concluded until this has been done.
Section 24 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that the jurisdiction of the court shall, except with respect to matters of practice and procedure, be exercised by not fewer than three judges. The Parliament made this provision because it recognized that the matters with which the court would deal, for example the basic wage and standard hours, would be questions of the most vital significance which affect the very heart of the economy. This hill is necessary because the Chief Judge who, as I said, was a member of the Bench that heard the basic wage claims, is unable, on account of illness, to continue to sit. I point out that when the case was resumed after the announcement of the opinions referred to, the Bench consisted of the two remaining ‘ judges, together with another judge who had not taken part in the earlier proceedings. When doubts were raised about the competence of the court so constituted to proceed, the Acting Chief Judge suggested that the alternatives were to wait until the Chief Judge could resume his seat, to secure the consent of the parties, or to ask the Government to amend the act. As it appeared that delays would be involved in obtaining the necessary consents, assuming that they would be forthcoming, the Government decided that any doubts about the competence of the court should be resolved without delay in order to avert any possible challenge to the outcome or continuance of the proceed ings. I take this opportunity to express the deep regret of the Government that the heavy duties of his office and his intense application to them have compelled the Chief Judge to take sick, leave, and I express the hope also he will be speedily restored to full health.
The bill provides that the remaining two judges referred to shall complete the current proceedings. I emphasize the words “ current proceedings “, because if new proceedings in relation to an industrial dispute are commenced after the bill becomes law, the normal provisions of the principal act will apply. The bill also provides, in effect, that where these two judges do not agree on any issue before them, the matter shall be dealt with by the normally constituted court of three judges. The view of the Parliament as expressed in the 1947 legislation was to the effect that decisions on matters of this consequence should be dealt with by a bench consisting of three judges. It would be undesirable in principle to permit a result which, in effect, represented the decision of a single judge. I do not assume that there will be disagreement, but the Parliament should enable proceedings to be continued as nearly as possible in the manner in which they would have been conducted had the Chief Judge been available with the other judges to conclude the hearings. This course, I repeat, is consistent with the previous approach of this Parliament and the present legislation. If the two judges agree, their decision will decide the matter; but if they do not agree, then, consistent with the view of the Parliament that matters of such supreme national importance in the economic field should be dealt with by three judges, the decision should not rest with one judge but the matter should be examined by a normal bench of three judges.
I want to make two further points. First, these provisions mean that if, for example, there is disagreement on only one point and agreement on all other points in dispute, the three judges will not re-examine all the matters but will merely deal with the particular matter on which there is not agreement. Secondly, the examination of matters on which there is a difference of opinion between the two judges need not involve any delay.
In order to ensure that there will not be delay, the Government has borrowed, in sub-clause (3.) of clause 4 of the bill, provisions which were found to be effective when the main act was being amended in 1947 and the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) and the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who were then on the Government side of the House, were faced with a situation that was similar in some respects to the present situation. These provisions require the court to have regard to the evidence given, the arguments adduced and the judgments delivered in the previous proceedings. I commend the bill to the House and invite the support of honorable members in affording it a speedy passage. The Government wants to ensure that wage earners affected by the basic wage case shall receive whatever benefit accrues to them without delays due to procedural issues or doubts on technical .questions.
.- The bill obviously deals with a matter of very great urgency and importance, and the Opposition will support it. However, I want to clarify one or two matters at the outset. The Opposition directed the attention of the Government to the difficulties that would arise from the absence of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration as soon as he was given leave of absence some weeks ago. The arbitration system is based upon the view that the tribunal that makes an award, a portion of an award, or a decision leading towards an award, should complete the order and award of the court. Obviously that is impossible in the present situation, with one of the three judges unable to sit in the full proceedings for the purpose of embodying the principles of the court’s decision in particular orders and awards. I join with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) in paying tribute to the Chief Judge. In this jurisdiction, which is a very heavy one, there have been three cases in which the Chief Judge has been prevented by illness from sitting from time to time. Chief Judge Piper had to retire owing to ill-health. The country suffered as the result of the death of another great arbitration authority in the person of Chief Judge DrakeBrockman. Now Chief Judge Kelly has been laid low by illness. I hope that he will be able to return to. his duties very soon.
The bill deals solely with the situation that has arisen as the result of the illness of the Chief Judge. It is not a general measure. It does not deal with matters that may arise in the future, because such contingencies already are covered by the act. The purpose of the bill is to enable the matters that were before the Full Court which included the Chief Judge, to be carried to completion at the earliest moment and with the minimum of risk. The proposal is that all those matters will be heard by the two judges who sat with the Chief Judge on the Ful Court in order to lay down the principles of the basic wage. Those two judges are Judge Foster, who is now acting Chief Judge, and Judge Dunphy. The main purpose of the bill is to permit and authorize them to carry the hearing to finality and to make all the necessary awards, variations and adjustments that are called for by the general judgment. Obviously the best method of settling the difficulty that has arisen would be for the two judges to agree upon all the issues involved, and I express the hope that such a solution will be possible. The provision in sub-clause (3.) of clause 4 will operate only if and when there is disagreement between the two judges.
– And only in relation to those parts concerning which full agreement is not reached.
– That is so.
The real difficulty envisaged by the Minister will become apparent only in the event of such disagreement. A judge who came into the hearing at this late stage would not have heard the evidence that was made available to the Chief Judge and the other two judges over the period of at least the eighteen months that was occupied by the previous proceedings, That judge would be placed in a difficult situation. That difficulty is sought to be resolved by means of the provision that the three judges shall have regard to the evidence given, the arguments adduced and the judgments delivered in the previous proceedings. Various difficulties might occur in such a situation. The parties might wish to adduce further evidence and certain points of law might be raised. Such possibilities have already been foreshadowed in some of the arguments before Judge Foster and Judge Dunphy. That fact reinforces the view that J. have expressed on behalf of the Opposition. I am sure that the Minister will agree that, in the public interests the best way out of the immediate difficulty that has arisen from the illness of the Chief Judge is for the two remaining judges to agree. However, this legislation will operate if such agreement is not possible. Of course, there is a possibility, which I ask the Minister to take into account, that the Chief Judge may be able to return to the court, even for a short time, in order to complete the matters that are before it. There would be no legal problem in that event, but 1 understand that the possibility is precluded by the state of the Chief Judge’s health.
To sum up, the measure is urgent, and has been made necessary by the illness of the Chief Judge. The practical solution of the problem is for the two remaining judges to implement the general decision. However, if agreement cannot be reached between them on any issue, the provisions now proposed would operate. The Opposition supports the measure and acknowledges its urgent nature. The Leader of the Opposition. (Mr. Chifley) is obliged to the Minister for having made available to him at a late hour last night the details of the proposals that have now been presented to the House. The Opposition cordially endorses those proposals.
.- 1 associate myself with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) and the. right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) in expressing sympathy with Chief Judge Kelly in hi? illness and the hope that he will have a quick recovery. The learned judge has undoubtedly done a great deal of work for the arbitration system of. the country and is entitled to our sympathy. The bill is of the utmost importance to indus try. In referring to industry, I have in mind both the employers and the employees. It would be disastrous for the community if all the work performed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and the parties concerned in the basic wage case over a period of eighteen months were to be frustrated because of the illness of one member of the court. I believe that all honorable members will agree that our arbitration law should be flexible and that amendments should be made quickly in order to overcome any difficulties which threaten to affect the implementation of the court’s decisions in important cases. This bill enables a difficult position to be overcome, and as a consequence of that, will prevent any possibility of conflict arising in industry.
The trade union movement and the employers are eager now that the decision has been made by the court for its effect to he translated into the industrial codes of Australia at the earliest possible moment. I point out. incidentally, that the very functions which are being exercised by the Foll Court, particularly in respect of standard hours and the basic wage for males and females, require lengthy hearings indeed, Perhaps I may be permitted to make a passing reference to the standard hours case. A bench of four judges commenced that hearing, which occupied approximately 21 months, but the retirement of one of the judges because of illness did not prevent that inquiry from being concluded. The provision in this bill to the effect that if the remaining two judges of the three judges who heard the basic wage case agree they may make a decision on an application, is very wise. Honorable members will recollect that when the court gave its decision in the basic wage case, there was some ambiguity as a result of the statements made by the three judges. The court will be required to clarify that ambiguity. It is both interesting and pleasing to note that both judges have stressed that the parties to the original basic wage hearing should confer among themselves in an endeavour to reach agreement on the matters affecting the basic wage in their own respective industries. I know that, in several instances, the industrial organization and the employers concerned are meeting in conference in order to be in a position to make, if possible, a recommendation to (.he court that will settle the difficulty in their own industries. I consider that as a result of conferences which are now being held, and which will be held in the future, the parties will be able to reach an agreement and place it before the court, and, as a consequence of that, the two judges will be able to accept it and make a decision. I hope that the cases in which agreement cannot be reached between tha parties, or between the two judges, will be few indeed. The provision for the introduction of a third judge in such cases will prevent a re-hearing of the basic wage application in respect of one, two or three industries. A re-hearing would be disastrous from every standpoint, and the provision in the bill will enable that difficulty to be overcome.
I express to the Government my appreciation of the fact that it has recognized that a most difficult position has been caused by the illness of Chief Judge Kelly, and has promptly taken steps to enable effect to be given to the basic wage decision. Such prompt action demonstrates that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration can be made flexible enough to deal with problems when they arise, and thereby prevent the growth of ill-feeling in industry itself. I hope that the bill will be speedily passed by the Parliament.
– in reply - The speeches by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) expanded very usefully the explanation which I gave when moving the motion for the second reading of the hill, and I do not wish to occupy the time of the House unduly by discussing the matter further. I express, on behalf of the Government, appreciation of the cooperative attitude of the Opposition on th is matter. The Government considered that this issue should not be contested on party political lines. As the right honor able member for Barton mentioned, I took the opportunity to make a copy of the bill available to the Opposition as soon as I received it, and I also discussed its details yesterday with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) in the hope that the Government and the Opposition would be able to reach agreement on it, so that the measure might speedily become law. I think that I, should say, because this Parliament comes in for so much uninformed criticism from time to time, that we can claim on this matter that we have acted with promptness and with a sense of responsibility to the community. It was as recently as the 30th October last that the Acting Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration made a recommendation to the effect that the Government should examine the position with a view to introducing amending legislation. Now, on the 2nd November, the bill has been introduced, and apparently it will rapidly pass through all stages in this House. I hope that it will have an equally speedy passage in the Senate. On behalf of the Government, I express appreciation to all honorable member for their co-operation in expediting the consideration of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 31st October (vide page 1652), on motion by Mr. Fadden1 -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £13,900 be agreed to.
– In speaking to the budget, I have elected to deal with the subject of New Guinea. I believe that in the welter of debate which takes place on the budget some attention should be given to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I am also prompted to discuss that subject because I consider that the future of our island territories is closely linked with the future of the Commonwealth of Australia itself. I preface my remarks about New Guinea proper by directing the attention of honorable members to the fact that the Indonesian Mission led by the Premier of the new republic of the United States of Indonesia, Dr. Hatta, arrived in Holland early this week. It is committed to bring western New Guinea, or, as we know it, Dutch New Guinea, within the fold of the Republic of Indonesia. During the last twelve months Indonesia has engaged in a great deal of publicity about its claims to Dutch New Guinea, and President Soekarno has made many outspoken statements about it. Approximately three months ago he threatened that a major conflict would arise if a solution of the Dutch New Guinea problem satisfactory to the Republic of Indonesia was not reached by the end of this year. On the 23rd September last the Government of the Republic of Indonesia appointed a Minister to represent the interests of the people of Dutch New Guinea. Prior to that appointment responsible people in Indonesia had also stated publicly that they would not be satisfied until Dutch New Guinea was incorporated in their republic, and statements were even made to the effect that all of New Guinea fell within the ambit of the new republic.
During the debate on international affairs which took place in this chamber recently this claim was fully discussed, and I shall not elaborate the arguments which were adduced then to disprove the Indonesian claims to Dutch New Guinea. However, apart from the fact that there is no logical foundation for Indonesia’s claim to west New Guinea, I do not believe that there is any real sincerity in the claim. Indonesia, which is a very young nation, is beset by a tremendous n uni bor of internal problems. Since the birth of the republic and the withdrawal of the Dutch officials who played such a big part in the administration of the Indonesian countries, the public service and the general administration has declined very considerably. In addition, considerable discontent with their government exists among the Indonesian peoples. The new Government is so concerned about the state of affairs in Indonesia and the delay in implementing its plans for re habilitation, that it is offering most attractive inducements to former members of the Dutch colonial service to return to Indonesia and join its public service. It is well known that when things are not going too well in any concern diversion is often a good thing, and I feel that the purpose of the Indonesian authorities in making such a big issue of its claims to Dutch New Guinea is that it is seeking to divert the interests of its people from their internal concerns.
The disturbing nature of events in the new republic is illustrated by the fact that at this moment Indonesian troops are engaged in warfare against the Ambonese, who are resisting the new republic authorities. When the Indonesian republic was formed, Ambon was prepared to join it as a member state of the union, but now that the central government has declared the union to be a republic, which will be governed by the Indonesians from Djakarta, the Ambonese have demurred. I shall not traverse the detail of the various serious disputes that have occurred in the new republic, but all honorable members will recall the armed conflict that occurred in the Moluccas and the minor conflict at Macassar, both of which arose out of the formation of a separate state in eastern Indonesia. As I have said, serious trouble has now developed at Ambon, and it is obvious that the people of other islands in the new republic probably have similar ideas to the Ambonese. I mention those matters merely to emphasize that at the moment Indonesia has tremendous internal problems. The new Government has so much to do- to set its house in order that it hopes to distract the attention of its people, and of the outside world, from its internal difficulties by making this extravagant claim to the possession of the western portion of New Guinea. For that reason I do not think that the claim can be regarded seriously.
In the course of the debate on international affairs the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) pointed out very clearly the expansionist programme of world communism, and documents that have been captured in Korea reveal that that programme includes the Pacific islands. It is significant that mention was made in the captured documents of the Philippines. After all, it is merely a hop, step and a jump from the Philippines to Indonesia, and I cannot help doubting the capacity of the Indonesians to resist strong, militant communism.
Another reason why we must view with considerable interest the future of western New Guinea is that, in common with the rest of New Guinea and Papua, it forms the gateway to Australia. It is the northern bastion of our defences and must form a very strong link in any chain of defence we may establish. The annexation of western New Guinea by the Indonesians would place the backward natives of that country in complete serfdom to the Indonesians. The natives of New Guinea do not want to be placed under the Indonesians, and they have made that quite clear. They look to the east, to the remainder of New Guinea and Papua, and, of course, to Australia for leadership. Whilst I am convinced that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) is fully aware of the facts, and whilst I do not wish to embarrass the fulfilment of the Government’s plans for Dutch New Guinea, I emphasize the fact that whilst the Indonesians have succeeded in making the world conscious of their claims to western New Guinea, we have not succeeded in publicizing our very definite interests in that area.
Of course, it is paradoxical that at this moment, we should be seeking the assistance of the Dutch Government to protect western New Guinea, which was, incidentally, the only non-paying Dutch colony, when Australia was responsible, probably more than any other country, for the Dutch losing its other valuable colonies. We know that Australia’s attitude towards the Dutch was not so much the result of the previous Government’s foreign policy, as it was a consequence of a section of the people, the waterside workers, taking the foreign policy out of the Government’s hands. It would bc tragic if any lasting unfriendliness developed between Australia and Indonesia over this matter. As I have already pointed out at some length, the Government of the new Republic of Indonesia should be too occupied for many years to come in rehabilitating its own territories, to be able justly to concern itself about additional areas. We have a great responsibility in those parts of New Guinea and the adjacent islands over which we have control, but in the past Australian interest in those territories, if there has been any strong interest at all, has been more strategic than economic in character. We must realize that, in the light of recent and present events in that area, our strategic interests must go hand in hand with a rapid and continuing development of our island territories. There are great possibilities for economic development in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but before I allude to them it might be as well for me to explain something that is not generally known. Although the territory i - known as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Papua, which is in the southern half of the island of New Guinea, differs from the Territory of New’ Guinea in that it is a part of Australian territory proper. In fact, it is in exactly the same category as the Northern Territory, except that the Northern Territory is on the mainland and Papua is not. The Territory of New Guinea, which is composed of the northern half of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and the adjacent islands of New Britain, New Ireland, Manus and other islands right down to Bougainville, are held in trust bv this country on behalf of the United Nations. We must not forget that we ave responsible to the United Nations for the good administration of the Territory of New Guinea, but that Papua is our own territory and, indeed, is a part of Australia.
I had an opportunity to visit the Territory of Papua and New Guinea during the last recess, in company with the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). We were able to visit most of the important centres in the territory, although that fact, of course, does not make me an authority on it. However, I knew the country to some small degree before the war, and I had far more of it than I wanted during the war, so I consider that I may speak with some authority on its problems. It, might be wise for .me to run through the possibilities of economic development in New Guinea, and I hope that even my small voice may be heeded by some adventurous spirits who may be encouraged thereby to help to develop that territory. It is a man’s land, and we need courageous men and women to help to develop it. It is not an easy country. People who live there do not live in the same conditions as those in. which they would live if they were dwelling in Potts Point in Sydney or St. Kilda in Melbourne. There are certain hardships connected with life in New Guinea, but the country has wonderful possibilities for people with initiative and courage who are prepared to go there and assist in its development.
Rubber is one of the staple products of the territory. The rubber plantations are almost entirely in our own Territory of Papua, because very little rubber is grown in the Territory of New Guinea. Before the war the rubber industry in the territory was in a fairly low state becan.se the world price of rubber was low and the rubber-planters were having a very difficult time. Since the war the price of rubber has increased considerably and the industry in the territory is now in a much healthier position. The cost of the production of rubber in New Guinea has increased tremendously because of the rise of the cost of native labour, and unless the industry is granted some kind of protection - and I do not mean the kind of protection that is anathema to all of us - and unless rubber is declared to be a product that is vital to the interests of Australia, the areas under rubber in New Guinea will not increase. Such a declaration would give the planters confidence to develop areas for the growing of rubber. “We know only too well how glad we were during the last war to have rubber from New Guinea. It played an immense part in our war effort. There are plenty of areas there suitable for the growing of rubber. I have seen samples of the rubber that is grown in Malaya, so I know a little about the subject, and I can say that the rubber grown in Papuan plantations is excellent in comparison with it, although the Papuan planters follow a different system of production. The only difficulty that faces the rubber industry in Papua stems from the cost of production, which is much higher than the cost of production in Malaya.
The production of copra has alway> been perhaps the staple industry of our island territories. Many of the plantations which received considerable damage during the war are now recovering from it, but there are some places that received damage from which they will never recover. Many planters have made tremendous strides in clearing away secondary growth that flourished as a result of neglect during the war, and are gradually but surely coming back into full production. I was rather disappointed to find, during my visit to the territory, that there has been little or no real development in connexion with the establishment of coco-nut plantations since 1921, when the Territory of New Guinea was officially taken over by Australia from the former German regime’. There is plenty of scope for the production of copra, which to-day commands wonderful prices on the world market. All the copra that we produce in New Guinea is bought by the United Kingdom.
Tremendous possibilities exist for the development of cocoa growing in New Guinea. Cocoa grows in the humid, coastal areas, and several of the plantations that we visited had cocoa plants that were in splendidly healthy condition. It is interesting to know that in New Guinea we produce less than a onehundredth part of Australian’s requirement of cocoa. That fact should give honorable members some indication of just what possibilities exist in relation to the production of cocoa there. The processing of cocoa is extremely simple, and involves no expensive equipment. Cocoa plants can he brought to the bearing stage in a very few years, and any one who invests in the growing of them has not long to wait for a return, from his outlay.
The production of coffee is a different matter. There are tremendous possibilities for the growing of coffee in the territory. The plantations that we visited had very healthy coffee plants in full bearing, and there is no earthly reason why we should not be producing, in the territory, much more coffee than we now produce there. Coffee requires a. somewhat more complicated processing than cocoa requires, and perhaps the world market for it is not so assured as is the world market for cocoa, because it is inclined to fluctuate considerably so that at times it is a very bad market whilst at other times it is a very good market. The stability of the cocoa market is much more pronounced. “We imported only 50 tons of coffee from New Guinea during the last financial year, although the total Australian consumption of coffee in that period was 4,000 tons, and the demand for it is increasing. It is easy to see, therefore, that immense possibilities exist for the production of coffee in the territory.
I turn now to New Guinea timber. During our visit to the territory we found that, for some reason or other, people were not prepared to discuss timber with us but displayed some reticence on the subject. New Guinea has some wonderful stands of timber. “We did not see very many of them, but the quality of those that we did see was absolutely astonishing. The problem is, however, as it has always been, to get the timber to the coast for treatment and shipment. We are very short of timber in Australia while timber is waiting to be taken out of New Guinea but, as I have said, there is a tremendous reticence on the subject in New Guinea and a disinclination on the part of the administration to issue licences for the exploitation of the timber stands. Every encouragement should be given to people to obtain the timber from magnificent stands which exist in many parts of the territory. The best are to be found in the Wau-Bulolo area and within 50 miles of Rabaul. A great many other products could be produced successfully in New Guinea. Two Government experimental stations have been established - one near Rabaul and another in the highlands. They have conducted very successful experiments with tea and hemp as well as with kapok, which grows profusely. The future for spices is excellent. Ginger can be grown and there are many possibilities for rice growing. In the northern part of New Britain the Japanese had an army of about 140,000 which existed entirely ou the dry hill rice that was introduced by them into the country.
There is a tremendous amount to be done in the development of communications in these territories. There are very few roads and the best means of communication are by air and sea. The shipping is entirely inadequate. Docking and repair facilities throughout the islands are almost non-existent. Produce remains for long periods at the landings and wharfs of the various plantations and tremendous inconvenience is caused. Because there is only a little shipping the people who control it are independent. They arrive late at the plantations and, even then, might leave some of the produce and go on to another plantation. It, is pleasing to know that this Government is proceeding with plans for the construction of wharfs at Samarai, Lae and elsewhere. Without a strong system of communications development is not possible. The early building of roads has always been a feature of British colonialism.
In Papua and New Guinea the district services interpret the Government’s policy in all its aspects, especially in those lonely outposts which exist in very isolated places. The district officers, their assistant district officers, the senior patrol officers, the patrol officers and the cadet patrol officers are responsible for the administration of the territory. They have a wide knowledge. District officers are responsible for the administration of the law. They have to look after native labour. They are responsible for patrols, which are sent out into lonely areas. They are in every way responsible for the welfare of the community. It is absolutely essential that the finest types of men be enlisted in the district services. These services must be manned with men of wide knowledge, initiative and tremendous’ courage. I am convinced that these men are very much underpaid. That is a most, important point.
– The Chifley Government appointed 20 officers from the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit as patrol officers just after the war. Are they some of the men to whom the honorable member is referring ?
– Yes. It must be remembered that most of the men who joined the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit lived in New Guinea before the war as patrol officers or planters. Their salaries are based on some fantastic equivalent in Australia, but there is no service in Australia that is equivalent to the district service. These men receive some territorial allowance but it is not satisfactory. Some scale of colonial salaries should be established and I suggest that the Department of External Territories should devote a great deal of attention to that matter. Not only have very good men been lost from the district services hut there is a great danger that others will be lost because there is no longer any attraction in this job.
The legislative council which existed in New Guinea before the war was able to solve all the domestic problems of the territory in the territory itself. I am greatly in favour of the reformation of that legislative council as soon as possible. It is an anomaly that very small domestic problems must be referred to Canberra for settlement. Very often details of these matters are discussed and amended by people who have never even seen the island territories. These territories have a very great potential and, if they are permitted to remain in their present small state of development, their strategic value will be greatly reduced. Australia’s only answer to any future challenge concerning the islands will be to show proof that the Commonwealth is really developing them and can protect them. We have a -tremendous task in Australia proper with regard to development and immigration. All our resources and energies could, perhaps, be used in connexion with that task, but I say that we cannot for a moment neglect our responsibility towards the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
.- I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson). I compliment him on his advocacy of the deevlopmental scheme for Papua and New Guinea. It is refreshing to hear honorable members on the Government side of the House dealing with problems such as the development of the resources which will add to the strength of this country. The main contention of honorable members opposite has been that the blame for lack of production must be borne by the workers, lt appears to me that the Government has failed to accept its responsibilities by not having launched a scheme which would incite the support and enthusiasm of the people of this country.
I can find nothing whatever to enthuse about in the budget of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden). It appears to speak volumes in connexion with the failure to keep the promises that the Government made to the electors during tha last general election campaign. Included among the many promises that were made by the leaders of the Liberal and Australian Country parties during that campaign was one to arrest the rise of costs and so reduce prices by putting value back into the £1. Honorable members opposite have said that they have heard that charge made by honorable members of the Opposition many times. That is true, and the Government will hear quite a lot more of it. The responsible leaders of the Government parties have no right to go on the hustings and promise people that if elected they will give effect to certain proposals, and, then, when they are safely installed in office, neglect to honour their promises. That criticism also applies to all persons who seek the responsibility of public office in this country. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey), throughout his election campaign, said that this Government intended to increase production, and that he and his colleagues would make two blades of grass grow where only one previously grew. What attempt has he made to give effect to that very fine undertaking? The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself said, when campaigning before the last general election, that if elected his party would give some real and permanent assistance to th«* gold-mining industry. For months I have endeavoured to extract from th«=> right honorable gentleman the exact meaning he intended to be drawn from that promise to the gold-mining interests of Western Australia. Up to date I have not been enlightened. That promise also has not been honoured in the budget. Nor has the promise to reduce taxation.
In all sincerity, I ask honorable members on the Government side whether they can point to any material benefit that has been granted to ordinary taxpayers by this budget. All that 1 can find are substantial concessions to large taxpaying interests. Of course they are the interests which supported honorable members opposite in their last general election campaign. The promise that influenced a large number of voters was that a definite attempt would be made to arrest rising costs. The failure of the Government in that matter needs no emphasis by me because it is demonstrated daily - in every home. The failure of the Government to deal with the price spiral is the subject of discussion in trams, trains, buses and wherever people meet together. The cost of living is a nightmare to the housewives in general, and particularly to those who live in the industrial areas. The Opposition does not intend to forget that the Government made this promise to the people, and the Government will have to answer to the people for its nonfulfilment at the first opportunity that the people have of expressing an opinion.
I shall now discuss the matter of production. The Government is doing nothing to encourage production. No new ground is being broken and, in fact, the Government is not carrying on with the plans initiated by the Chifley Government. I am not aware of any scheme initiated by the Chifley Government for the good of the country that has been developed by this Government. The developmental plan for the Kimberleys area in Western Australia is one such. For months I have been trying to extract information from the Minister for National Development about the intention of the Government in this connexion. I want to know what the Government is going to do about this area which offers so much promise. Is it to remain undeveloped, even though a plan had been agreed upon by the Chifley Government after careful examination by a fully qualified committee that was appointed to inquire into the possibilities of that area? Like the promises of the Prime Minister, that plan also remains unfulfilled. As in Papua and New Guinea, there are great possibilities in the Kimberleys area of Western Australia. The Government with which I waa’ associated appointed a committee known as the North Australia
Development Committee for the purposeof thoroughly examining the economic and political possibilities of the north of Australia, and making a recommendation to the Government. Therefore, the ground has been broken and it is only necessary for this Government to plant the seed. 1 warn this country that the undeveloped: land in that area is a strategic menace not only to Western Australia, but alsoto the whole of Australia. The opportunity is presented to us in the north for intensive development of the country and for a great drive for population. The production possibilities of that country was recently examined by an expert in rice-growing. Last year, I arranged foi the secretary of the Rico Equalization Association to visit that area. Following his visit to the Ord and Fitzroy rivers area, he arranged for Mr. Poggendorff. chief of the Division of. Plant Industry, New South Wales Department of Agriculture, to be sent there to make an investigation and furnish a report. A part of the foreword to Mr. Poggendorff’s report reads as follows: -
There is good news for those who have viewed the empty, sparsely inhabited Northern Territory and north-western portions of om continent with apprehension and anxiety.
A recent survey of the river flats of the area has raised hopes that, within a few short years, the region may become a huge rice granary. Visions of planting by aeroplane and similar modern methods of large-seal* agriculture could be realized in bringing hundreds of thousands of acres of rice-growing land under cultivation.
The prospect is breath-catching in its possibilities.
It hnd been thought that huge irrigation schemes, involving the investment of mum millions of pounds, would have been needed to enable rice to be grown in commercial quantities. The construction work and the financing of such a huge undertaking would have caused many years’ delay, and even those who could see the advantages of developing our empty spaces were not very sanguine.
But overnight, as it were, the position wa« changed. Our leading expert on rice-growing. Mr. W. Poggendorff, inspected the area and declared that in his opinion the normal rainfall and seasonal flooding of the area would provide sufficient water for rice culture and that other methods of irrigation would he unnecessary.
That view was expressed by an expert with the highest qualifications after he had inspected the areas. As a result of it, a private company has taken up land on the Fitzroy River with the object of experimenting with the production of rice and. it expects to harvest ite first crop this season. As the Government advocates a policy of decentralization it should give every assistance and encouragement to companies and individuals who are prepared to undertake ventures of that kind. But, instead of doing that, it is placing additional handicaps upon those who are pioneering undeveloped areas. The budget proposals place the greater proportion of additional burdens not upon people residing in cities and well-populated areas but upon those who live in the outback. For instance, it is proposed to impose a sales tax on batteries that are used in radio receiving sets. Only people in outback areas and isolated districts use batteries for that purpose. That tax and the proposed “ wool grab “ tax are sectional in natura because they will affect only those who live in the outback. Furthermore, whilst the Arbitration Court grants a special allowance to employees in outback areas in order to offset the higher cost of living and to compensate for lack of amenities in isolated districts, the Government proposes to tax that allowance. These matters may appear to many people to be of only minor importance, but the concessions that will be affected are of great help to people who live in remote districts and, indeed, encourage them to some degree to remain in those areas. The same people will be further penalized under the proposed increases of postal and telegraph charges that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) recently announced. When the measure to implement the increased rates is being considered, I shall deal more fully with that matter and shall urge the Government to exempt from the proposed new rates all aerial mail to and from outback areas. What I have said proves that one is justified in affirming that the policy of the Government is to make big cities bigger and to leave people in country areas to carry on as best they can. T regret that members of the Australian Country party have not raised their voices in protest against that policy.
My electorate embraces the whole of the pastoral area in Western Australia, and I have been associated with the pastoral industry throughout my adult life. Perhaps I know that industry as well as does any other individual in that State. I emphasize the great difficulties that confront it. As a good season is followed almost invariably by three, or four, bad seasons wool-growers endeavour to take the greatest possible advantage of the good seasons to effect essential improvements, such as, the provision of water supplies, fencing and buildings, because they cannot do so under bad seasonal conditions or when wool prices are low. The industry had. suffered so severely that in 1940 the Labour Government in Western Australia appointed a royal commission to inquire into it and to make recommendations for its rehabilitation. Yet, when the industry is enjoying a good season and the price of wool is high, the Government now proposes, in addition to the 1 per cent, of income that growers must contribute to the fund that has been established to stabilize the industry, to withhold from them 20 per cent, of their income from the sale of wool. Thus, the growers will be handicapped in their efforts to improve their properties. It has been said that the relevant legislation will make provision for granting relief in cases of hardship. We know what that will mean. I have not the slightest doubt that growers who claim hardship will have to wait at least twelve months before a decision will be given on their claims. In the meantime the Government will have had the use of 20 per cent, of their income. The great proportion of the wool produced in Western Australia is grown on small holdings. Those growers, many of whom have experienced a drought this year, are battling on -from day to day. They will be the hardest hit under the Government’s proposed “ wool grab “ because they will not have any surplus money with which to improve their properties.
During the last eight years experiments that have been carried out in my electorate and in adjoining electorates have proved conclusively that large areas of waste sandy land can be converted into good wheat growing and pasture country. Last August, I visited those areas in the company of the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean). While travelling along a road through what was previously sandy plain, we saw that whilst laud on one side of it was still a sandy waste, land on the other side which had been treated for a period of three years was sown with wheat and was estimated to yield ten bags to the acre. Hundreds of thousands of acres of that waste sandy country can be made fertile. Yet, the Government, which advocates a policy of decentralization, now proposes to withhold from settlers in that area a large proportion of their income from the sale of wool and thus deny to them an opportunity to improve their land. If those graziers were permitted to retain their full income they would utilize the money in bringing additional land into productivity. I am very disappointed that the members of the Australian Country party have not protested against the Government’s proposed “ wool grab “.
It has been suggested that those honorable members have sold out. to the Liberal party in return for the batter’s agreement not to press for appreciation of the £1 to parity with sterling. The Government parties have compromised on those two matters. Appreciation of the £1, coupled with rising costs of production, would gravely affect the gold-mining industry in Western Australia. Highly qualified mining authorities agree that revaluation would doom the industry and would thus seriously affect the economy of the State. Revaluation would force most of the mines to close down. Possibly, only a very few mines would be able to avoid bankruptcy. If the Government appreciates the £1 it will be obliged to subsidize gold production, but such a subsidy would be* payable in respect of the production of proved mines only with the result that developmental work and prospecting would come to a standstill.
– What solution of the problem does the honorable member suggest?
– I realize that the problem is related to international monetary arrangements. During the last general election campaign, the present Prime Minister, in order to gain votes for Liberal party candidates, told the people of Western Australia that if his party were returned to power it would provide real and permanent assistance to the gold-mining industry. Up to date such assistance has not been forthcoming.
We cannot afford to neglect the opportunity that is now available to us to expand and develop the natural resources of the nation. However, we must increase production before, we can take full advantage of that opportunity. I stand four-square with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) in his attitude towards production. There is only one way in which to bring about an acceleration of industrial production. It involves more sympathetic treatment of the workers and closer co-operation with them in the management of. industry. If the workers are properly treated, tha employers will have no cause for complaint. Decent conditions must be provided for them. The bad old days have gone forever, and the sooner the employers wake up to that fact the better will it be for them. I have had a long association with the industrial movement and, in all my experience, I have never known the workers to go slow when their treatment has been fair and their conditions of labour have been good.
– Has the honorable member ever been on the wharfs?
– I do not know very much about wharfs, and I suggest that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) knows even less about them than I do. I have never known an industrial dispute to arise without some reasonable cause. ‘
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Sheehan) negatived -
That the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) be granted an extension of lime.
.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) criticized the Government’s approach to the problem of industrial production and accused some honorable mem. bers of being one-eyed on the subject. I propose to prove that, if ever a group of honorable members was one-eyed in relation to the responsibility for increased production, such a gr01,n is to be found on the Opposition side of the chamber. Prominence has been given to certain issues in this debate. One of the most important of these is the effect of rising prices, which have continued to increase at a steady rate ever since the end of World War II. The truth is that prices are not so high in Australia as they are in most other countries. In fact, our economy is stable. We are not in an inflationary situation at present, although there are signs that inflation may occur during the critical period of the next twelve months, as the result of a series of events over which we have no control. It will be encouraged by the great increase of our wool cheque, the necessity for paying the war gratuity next year, the increased costs of improved social services and pensions for ex-servicemen and war widows, and the increased basic wage. I hasten to say that I have no objection to any of those developments. I believe that we should share the benefits of the nation’s productivity as equitably as possible amongst all sections of the community. However, as a result of the factors that I have mentioned, a greater amount of money than usual will be released in the community during the next twelve months.
The effect of that increase will be inflationary unless we take certain steps to ensure that there shall be a corresponding increase of production. The responsibility for increasing production does not rest upon one section of the community alone. Approximately 95 per cent, of the population contributes in one w ay or another to the general production of the nation. That fact was demonstrated admirably earlier in the debate by the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall). The task of increasing the volume of production is a national responsibility and it should remain beyond the range of domestic party politics. This Parliament has a duty to encourage, by precept and example, the rate of production of our basic primary and secondary industries. However, an equal duty rests upon the nation as a whole. In other words, a co-operative national effort is necessary if the increased volume of purchasing power that will be released in the community is to be a benefit instead of a hurden. ‘“Upon our success in this effort largely depends our survival as a nation. Only by increasing production can we solve many of the economic problems that confront us.
Most of us should be aware that, whilst science and technology have advanced to a remarkable degree, human factors ako have changed considerably during the last 100 years. Higher standards of education have been made available progressively to increasing numbers of people and in recent years the extraordinary influence of the press, radio and motion pictures has brought within the capacity of most people an enlarged range of thought and criticism. Although the developments that were expected to result from the introduction of compulsory free education have not perhaps been fully realized, the average employee to-day is far more of a brain and less of a hand than was the case several generations ago. He may not know enough to be the boss in his industry but, as I have observed during the course of my industrial experience, he has sufficient knowledge to enable him to judge when his boss is inefficient or negligent. Furthermore, political and industrial consciousness has spread throughout a wide sphere of the community that many years ago was untouched by such influences. The Government’s policy in relation to industrial matters is based upon a complete appreciation of those facts. That is the reply to the criticism that was uttered by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. The Government’s policy is firmly based upon the knowledge that the prosperity of the nation and the social security of the people can be achieved only by means of a co-operative spirit of understanding between capital, management and labour. The three sections are of equal importance and must be considered equally.
Members of the Opposition would do well to realize that one of the main essentials of any industry is capital. That applies just as truly in an entirely socialized state, in which the source of all capital is the State, as it does in an economy where private enterprise operates. Everybody knows that employers have been at fault in the past, frequently to a much greater degree than have been the employees. That has been so in past generations, for instance, in the mining industry, of which I have some knowledge. However, great advances have been made in the treatment of staffs and operatives by managements.
That fact has been realized by an increasing number of persons during recent years, but many members of the Opposition are still out of step with enlightened opinion in their judgment of the general feeling of the trade union movement. The Government does not believe that any good can be done by the administration of useless industrial sedatives when discontent exists among the workers. However, it believes that much good can be done by the use of well-planned incentive schemes. ‘Incentive payments cannot be enforced by means of legislation, and I do not think that the Government would be in favour of such legislation in any case. The Government’s object is to establish a political and economic situation favorable to the introduction of incentive schemes, as a part of a wider plan.
Our first aim should be to effect an allround improvement of industrial efficiency and productivity. Such a plan should cover working conditions and amenities and the establishment of cooperative relationships between employers and employees. Progress has already been made towards the development of a satisfactory system of co-operation between management and workers in some industries. For example, I refer to the safety committees that have been formed in many factories. Similarly constituted committees could be established with great advantage to deal with other aspects of industrial management. The employers have a responsibility to introduce such new techniques. The task of the operatives should be to test the new techniques in a spirit of co-operation, and to adopt them if they are found to be acceptable. The workers should not be expected to accept such schemes unless they are first assured that any benefits that accrue will, in the main, flow towards themselves. The chief hope of improving our standard of living lies in a steady increase of production in all fields of industry.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have mentioned the various factors on which we have based our approach to the industrial problem, and I have also pointed out that the prosperity of this country, and our social security, can be assured only through the co-operation of management, staff and labour. Those three factors are of equal importance, and must receive equal consideration. I find it difficult to understand the reasoning of certain members of the Opposition who refuse to co-operate with the Government in the promotion of a programme of national development and increased production. My difficulty in that respect is due to the fact that I cannot believe that they are not aware that we all meet on a common basis as consumers. When we remember the varying parts that are played by so many persons in our national production, I do not think that that particular phase can be truly realized by them. The incentive system, in industries in which it has been introduced, has frequently brought large financial awards to the operative who, in turn, has increased production, whilst the unit of cost has been reduced. Research which was recently undertaken by the Institute of Industrial Management in Melbourne yielded the following information : -
That soundly designed and properly operated incentive payments have, in practice, increased the production range in 24 reporting firms by 20 per cent, to 50 per cent.
That incentives have increased workers’ earnings from 10 per cent, to 75 per cent, and even more above award rates, with an average of around 28 per cent., in addition to increasing output and substantially increasing the employee’s earnings and giving lower overhead and labour costs.
In that way, the price of goods to the consumer is also kept down. I realize that many members of the Opposition have leaned towards a programme for pressing the acceptance of incentive payments since the time of the so-called Peace-in-Industry Conference in 1947, over which the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) presided, but I also remember that the congress of the Australian Council of Trades Unions vetoed that proposal. At one of those congresses, the objection to incentive payments was reaffirmed by the narrow margin of 177 votes to 171. Subsequently, union officials in Sydney stated that the unions which were opposed te incentive payments would not take drastic steps against their members who participated in incentive schemes. I believe that there is room for the expansion of incentives in quite a number of industries in Australia. It is realized that different industries will necessarily require different forms of incentives, but certain factors are common to all of them. For example, any element of arbitrary decision by employers must be eliminated so that the operatives will have an interest in the scheme, and long range planning should be undertaken for the benefit of both employer and employee. It is also evident that the many members of unions associated with a large number of important groups of industry favour the introduction of incentives.
While I am referring to that matter, L should like to quote some statistics from the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year ended the 30th June last, because they show the significant fact that certain unions favour incentives. Honorable members will find that the information is of considerable interest. In the engineering and vehicle section, 17 per cent, of the unionists in Australia are in favour of the introduction of incentives, compared with 50 per cent, of the unionists in the same group of industry in the United Kingdom. In the textile industry, 39.6 per cent, of the unionists i.u Australia are in favour of incentives, compared with 49 per cent, of the unionists in the United Kingdom. In the clothing trades, 25.2 per cent, of the unionists in Australia are in favour of incentives compared with 38 per cent, in the United Kingdom. Eight per cent, of the unionists who are employed in the food, drink and tobacco trades in Australia are in favour of incentives compared with 12 per cent, in the United Kingdom. In the paper and printing industry, 9.5 per cent, of the unionists in tralia are in favour of incentives coin.compared with 10 per cent, in the United Kingdom. It is true to say that all members of the Government and a large majority of members of the Opposition desire incentive schemes to be extended. The voting on the incentive system at the congress of the Australian Council of Trades Unions in 1949 indicated that a steady campaign by unions on the virtues of incentives could produce a reversal of the decision of the body. Therefore, I believe that the Government should seriously consider the advisability of making a grant to the Australian
Council of Trades Unions so that officials of trade unions may study management and engineering techniques to a far greater degree than they are able to study thom at the moment.
We believe that the overall purpose of incentive payments is to increase the value of production. An improved standard of living will result from an increase in the nation’s production. We must remember that, in the past, gains by the employee at the expense of the employer have usually been slight, because most of the national income consists of salaries and wages. We must realize that go-slow methods mean fewer goods and higher prices for a majority of the people. The standard of living of the Australian citizen and of his family depends upon the volume of , production of the nation. Efforts to improve the employee’s welfare, which have been more noticeable in recent years than before, have contributed to a greater output, but it seems true to say that over the wider range of industries, production has declined since 1939. Therefore, if efficiency is to be increased, incentives in one form or another must be found which will be a stimulus to effort. The fear of unemployment must no longer be the whip to drive any man. We must always remember that peace in industry is a social as well as an economic problem. An industrial concern exists, not merely for the purpose of producing goods. It is also an organization in which the hopes and aspirations of many individuals are trying to find expression. A good leader of an industry must always have two objectives constantly in his mind. He must manufacture a product which, whilst selling at a profit, can bc produced at a reasonable price, and he must ensure that the individuals in his company work together under good conditions and in a co-operative manner for the benefit of the company as a whole.
I return to my original contention that management, staff and operatives should realize that they are equal partners, and that they should have the rights, responsibilities and the rewards appropriate to the particular tasks which they perform. All of them, in the ultimate, meet on common ground as consumers, and, as such, they pay for goods and services prices that depend directly upon the degree of efficiency of the producers. We al know that industrial conflict must result in inefficiency and high prices. As consumers, we suffer from high prices. All of us must stand to gain if, by assisting to achieve more harmonious production, the purchasing power of our salaries and wages is increased. It is surely horse-sense, then, that we all should have a vested interest in industrial team work. As has been pointed out in this chamber on numerous occasions this year, we have evolved over centuries a body of common law which functions, not by the size of its police force, but its general acceptance to the majority of the members of the community. We have learned that a certain amount of selfdiscipline and, in some ways, of compromise creates an orderly society which reacts enormously to our mutual advantage. If we all approach the development and maintenance of a strict industrial code with the same ready spirit, we shall have redress to a great degree.
I realize, in making those statements, the difficulties under which the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has introduced this budget, and in that realization is the reason why I have dealt with those specific matters in my speech. Naturally, when an honorable member examines the budget, some of - the items appeal to him as an individual more than they appeal to other honorable gentlemen, but I, for one, am gratified that the Treasurer has been able to increase the payments to age and invalid pensioners, totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, and war widows. Under present conditions, we may have hoped for a more substantial increase of those social services benefits, but when we consider the international situation, we must congratulate the Treasurer on his budget, for we must realize that his financial proposals must be to a large degree anti-inflationary measures. I desire to add my congratulations to those which have already been extended to the right honorable gentleman, and I shall support the budget.
.- The budget provides for the expenditure during the current financial year of £691,100,000, compared with £592,000,000 in 1949-50. I am particularly interested in the provision that has been made for the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Commonwealth Railways. Last week, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Casey) submitted the followingmotion to the House: -
That, in accordance with the provisions ot the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, the following proposed work, be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz.: - The proposed extensions to the telephone exchange building at Lismore, New South Wales.
Opposition members protested strongly against that proposal, because Lismore is a large centre in the electorate of thePostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony), and we considered that the need was more urgent to provide postal and telephone facilities in various other constituencies. I believe that the PostmasterGeneral was smitten by his conscience, and asked the Minister for Works and Housing to submit that motion to the House. I protested against that proposal and I emphasized the necessity for providing a modern post office in the important town of Maitland, in place of the obsolete structure which has been in use there since before federation. Before the re-distribution of seats and the revision, .of electoral boundaries last year, Maitland was the principal centre in the electorate of Hunter. Although that area has been given the electoral name “ Paterson “, it includes the entire Hunter Valley with the exception of that part of the Maitland coal-fields which was developed about 1901. As a matter of interest, that area was not represented by a Labour member of Parliament until about 1910. Obviously, a grave mistake was made in naming the new electorate “ Paterson “, and it should have retained the name “ Hunter “. The electorate that I now represent, which includes the Maitland coal-fields, should have been re-named “ David “ after Sir Edgeworth David, the eminent geologist and scientist, who first discovered the rich coal deposits in that area. Unfortunately, I was absent from my parliamentary duties for some months last year because of injuries that I received in an accident, and it was during my absence that measures were taken to alter electoral boundaries and to establish’ new electorates. If I had been present during the debates on those measures I would have objected most strongly to the alteration of the electoral name of the Hunter River valley area, which, I repeat,, should have retained the name “ Hunter “.
The post office at Maitland, which was built before federation, is hopelessly inadequate for modern requirements, but apparently nothing is proposed to be done to improve or extend it. However, a new and elaborate building’ is to be provided im lismore, and I think that, in this instance, that name might be construed to mean “ Liz wants more “. Although Lismore: is situated in the electorate represented, by the PostmasterGeneral, it is extraordinary that that Minister did not. himself submit to the House the formal motion to refer to the Public Works Committee- the proposal to construct a new post office in that town.. Why did not the honorable gentleman have the moral courage to submit the motion himself, instead of leaving it to one of his colleagues to do so? I notice that the budget makes provision for the expenditure of £5,300,000 upon works for the Postal Department, including works to improve and extend existing post offices and build new .ones. Why has not the Government taken action to refer to the Public Works Committee for consideration and report each of the projects involved in, that huge programme instead of referring only the Lismore project to the committee?: I remind honorable members that Labour has. always adopted the. policy that all proposed works estimated to cost more than a certain specified amount should be referred to the Public Works Committee for investigation..
Provision is also made in the budget for the expenditure of £3,100,000 upon railways. It would be interesting to know exactly what railway lines the Government proposes to construct or what lines it proposes to renew or improve. In this connexion I draw the Government’s attention to the vital need to improve the railway lines over which coal is hauled from the Maitland district to the metropolis. A most serious bottle-neck exists at Hexham,, where the railway lines and the road and river all converge in an area of only 75 yards.. During the recent war, I remember being present at a conference held in 194:1 between the lata Major-General Fewtrell, who was then responsible for the defence of northern New South Wales, and the present. Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who was then Acting Prime Minister.. At that conference the general pointed out that Australia’s entire supply system could be disorganized if a few enemy bombs were dropped on the bottleneck area. Newcastle, which is the Birmingham, of the southern hemisphere, and is the manufacturing area where nearly all the steel- is produced for armaments upon which Australia’s war effort depended1, was and is, absolutely dependent upon the supplies of coal which it received from the Maitland coal-fields. If the supply line had been severed it would have had the- effect of disorganizing our entire war effort. The right honorable gentleman- was so impressed by MajorGeneral Fewtrell’s criticism of the communications in that area, that he asked the general what could be done to improve the situation. Mayor-General Fewtrell informed us most emphatically that a connecting rail link should be constructed between the private railway line from Richmond Main railway line, to the main railway line at Cockle Creek, which is a distance of approximately only li miles. The construction of that connecting line would have given us an allweather railway. He also recommended that an all-weather road should be constructed from West Wallsend to Kurri Kurri, and, if possible, to Singleton. I pointed out to Major-General Fewtrell that we had been particularly fortunate during the war in that no floods had occurred. He immediately agreed with me, and pointed out that the effect of a flood on the bottle-neck area would have been just as disastrous as an attack by enemy bombers. Notwithstanding that the right honorable gentleman was obviously impressed by Major-General Fewtrell’s advice, the Government of which he was then the Acting Leader did nothing to improve the situation. When it was succeeded by the Curtin Administration, I again raised the matter several times. On one occasion I spoke of it in this chamber, but my remarks were expunged from Ilansard because the parliamentary censor considered that they might be useful to the enemy. I recall those facts now in order to emphasize the imperative necessity for taking prompt action to construct an all-weather railway in the northern coal-fields area. The disastrous floods from which we have suffered since the war should have impressed upon the Government the need to take effective action. During the last eighteen months three most serious floods have inundated the Hunter Valley, and the resulting damage to our roads and railways has interfered most seriously with the transportation of coal. The dislocation caused to industry in consequence of the shortage of coal has been very considerable. Not only have the railway lines been inundated and rendered unusable on various occasions, but the road which runs parallel to the railway at various points has also been impassable. Although the road is not at present under water, it has been so badly damaged by the floods that the volume of motor traffic which can pass over it has been reduced to a minimum. The heavy loads of coal which have been carted over the road because of the disorganization of rail transport of coal have practically ruined the road surface. I admit that the Government has done something to rehabilitate the unfortunate people whose homes were inundated during the recent floods, but I want to know why it has not done something to improve the facilities for the transportation of neal in that area.
– What length would the proposed railway link need to be?
– Approximately lj miles. The Treasurer knows all about the matter, and I am sure that when it was first mentioned to him by MajorGeneral Fewtrell he was most sympathetic to the proposal.
– What is the Government of New South Wales doing about the matter?
– The difficulty is that the railway line which requires to be connected to the main system is privately owned. I have often said that, in the interests of our entire industrial output, it. is a great pity that the enemy did not drop a bomb on that bottle-neck area during, the war, or that we did not have a flood during that period, for in either event the Australian Government would have been compelled to intervene in the matter and provide proper transport facilities. Honorable members opposite who are always complaining about the shortage of coal in the metropolitan areas, should realize that one reason for the shortage is that it is impossible, with the present transport facilities in the Maitland area, to haul sufficient coal to fulfil requirements. However, I remind honorable members who represent metropolitan areas that the housewives in the metropolitan area, who are sometimes deprived of sufficient gas for cooking purposes, are not nearly so badly off as the wives of coal-miners in the Maitland coal-fields area, many of whom have no gas supply.
I propose to say something now concerning an unfair discrimination in the payment of widows’ pensions. A widow of 50 years of age who has no children is deemed to be a B class widow and receives 5s. a week less than other widows of similar or younger age who have children. Why such a widow should be expected to be able to live more cheaply than other widows I do not know. I admit that since the Australian Government assumed responsibility from the State governments for the payment of widows’ pensions, the payments generally have improved considerably. Although the Government of New South Wales first introduced the payment of widows’ pensions, it imposed a rigid means test. Under that test 50 per cent, of the earnings of the children of a widow, were calculated as part of her income, and, if they were living away from their mother, 25 per cent, of their earnings was attributed to her income, notwithstanding that many children did not contribute at all to the support of their widowed mothers. I appeal to the Government to rectify the anomaly in the treatment of the B class of widows to whom I have mentioned, because they are undoubtedly suffering an injustice.
I also notice in the budget provision for the expenditure of £3,200,000 on the importation of coal. Why is it necessary to import coal? I know that many honorable members opposite believe that our coal-miners are not winning sufficient coal, but I point out to them that if we made the mining occupation a little safer and a little more attractive we should obtain a much greater yield of coal. I know a great deal about coal-mining and the conditions under which the miners work and live, because I was a miner until I became a member of the Parliament. It is a notorious fact that in any country the casualties to employees in the coal-mining industry are higher than those in any other industry. That fact was brought home to me by the bitter experience of my own family. My eldest brother was killed in a mine at Lambton when he was only 23 years old, and my father had his back broken in a mining accident about the same time. I am the youngest of twelve children and I am familiar with the conditions under which mine-workers live. At any rate I know the struggle that my family had in order to live, and I shall never listen in silence to any condemnation of mine-workers generally. Honorable members who condemn mine-workers should live among them for a time in order to discover what splendid people they are. I do not beg anybody’s pardon for defending the miners. I shall always defend them. But an unhealthy element of some fascist owners and some Communists has infiltrated into the coalmining industry and is using the mineworkers for its own purpose. I say, however, that that element should be left for the miners themselves to deal with. At present there is not one Communist on the Northern Miners Management Board. But what has the Government done for the Communists in the coal-fields? Through having caused this Parliament to pass into law the Communist Party Dissolution Bill it has created sympathy for them. Yet long before that bill had been passed the mine-workers themselves had been effectively doing the job of rooting out the Communists and some fascist bosses from their midst, until now the stage has been reached when no Communist occupies an official position in a mining union on the northern coal-fields, which are Australia’s most important coal-fields. I consider that the Government was wrong in proceeding with that legislation. I regret that I was unable to speak on it because I was not here during the main stages of the debate, although I intervened in the later stages of the debate because if there is one man in Australia who will never give the Communist party any quarter, I am that man. I have fought the Communists at every general election in which I have taken part. They have only run candidates against me because they have been encouraged by the anti-Labour parties to do so, either as a joke or in an attempt to split the Labour vote. The candidates of anti-Labour parties in coal-fields electorates rely upon the preference votes of Communist candidates. I have never received Communist preferences, and .1 do not want them. The coal-mining industry should be given more sympathy.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The Minister in charge of the committee is not in his place at the table.
The Minister having resumed his seat at the table,
– When the Government and its supporters criticize the coalminers and introduce legislation that affects them, they do not differentiate between the moderate miners and those other elements of which I have spoken. - As a result, the moderate miners take the criticism as referring to them as well as to those other miners. The Government would do well, when it criticizes coal-miners, to stipulate that its criticisms are directed against miners who are under the influence of the Communist party. If it were to do so I should support any such criticism, because I also have voiced sentiments of that kind.
Mining is a dangerous profession and, as I have stated, fatal accidents are frequent. But we never hear of any sympathy being expressed in respect of isolated fatal accidents, although plenty of sympathy comes from even anti-Labour governments when a fatality such as an explosion involving a number of persons occurs. On such occasions governments express their sympathy for the sorrowing people of the coal-fields, and even go so far as to appeal to the people for subscriptions to funds to assist the bereaved relatives of the dead miners. In fact, as much as £50,000 was given to a fund that was started in connexion with an explosion at the Bellbird colliery. It is a pity that more sympathy is not shown with the mine-workers who, without any help from the Government, have got rid of Communist officials in the trade unions connected with the industry. They have shaken the Communists off their backs. But now the Communist element has been enabled to increase its influence in the industry because the passage of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill has created sympathy for Communists on the coalfields. An anti-Labour government which waa led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) banned the Communist party in 1940. In that year Communist party candidates received the biggest total vote that they have ever obtained in Australia. The general election in that year was the first in the history of the Hunter electorate in which the Communists ever managed to save their lousy deposit. That was -because the Government, by banning them, had created sympathy for them to such a degree that a member of a ministers’ fraternal took the platform on their behalf. The Communists then went under the name of the State Labour party and were led by a reverend gentleman who spoke from the platform on their behalf. I made a statement that my opponent was a camouflaged “ Com.”, as a result of which a writ was issued against me. I withdrew the statement at the request of the reverend gentleman whom I have mentioned, because he said that if there were any suggestion that he was associated with the “ Corns.” he would never be able to hold his position as a clergyman. When the general election was over and the ban on the Communist party was lifted, the State Labour party candidate immediately became the zone commander of the Communist party in the coal-fields.
– What was his name ?
– His name was Gollan. He was a school-teacher and held the degree of master of arts. The Government’s recent anti-Communist legislation has definitely aroused sympathy for the Communists, and the Communist party will rise again in spite of it. Russia was the first nation to ban the Communist party, and it became the first nation to fall under the control of the Communists. Hungary, Roumania and other countries that are now under Communist control as satellites of the Soviet Union, also banned communism in the past. Hitler banned communism, but he also banned trade unionism. I believe that. a large number of members of this Parliament are not so much concerned about banning the Communist party as they are about banning anybody who shows that he is a militant trade unionist. I could be interned because I have been a militant fighter, but I have never embraced, and shall never embrace, communism, with which I have no sympathy.
Last week the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) spoke about the shortage of coal and said, in effect, that it was tragic that this country had to import 3,500,000 tons of coal. I agree with him that it is tragic that a country with the huge resources of coal that Australia has should have to import coal. We must seek a remedy for that position, and the only remedy that I can see, as a result of my knowledge of coal-mining, is the encouragement of youths to enter the mines. I had five sons, of whom three are still alive, and neither my wife nor I encouraged any of them to go into the mines. Parents- of many coal-mining families take the same attitude, and are all the time impressing upon their children the wisdom of keeping out of the mines. I visited the Welsh coal-fields in 1945 and 1946 and found that the same thing was happening there. Welsh parents were saying to their sons, “ Keep out of the mines. Go to school and get an education “. That is what I impressed upon all my children. I was able to keep them out of the mines, but there are many unfortunate coal-miners who cannot do that. In fact, it was only due to my election to the Parliament that I was able to allow my children to have a higher education, because my income was greater as a member of Parliament than it was as a mine-worker. But how many unfortunate people in the coal-fields area are able to take that course ? They have to send their children to work as soon as they can in order to keep the family larder stocked. The remedy for the drift of labour from the coal-mining industry is the encouragement of the sons of coal-miners to attend higher education institutes after they have started work in the mines. The Joint Coal Board is doing a splendid job by encouraging children in the coalfields and other areas to compete for scholarships of mining. There are now faculties of mining in some State universities. One of my sons who never worked in a mine became a teacher of mining. In the last two years of his life he taught two classes of fifteen youths. Thirteen members of each class obtained their mine official’s tickets in each of the two years. He was able to teach others to obtain their tickets despite the fact that he could not obtain a ticket himself because he had not worked . in a mine. The right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) was probably a member of the New South Wales Parliament that passed legislation that provided that a man could not become a mine manager unless he had worked in or around a mine for six years. My son had never done so, even though he went down the mines during his school holidays and tried to saturate himself with a knowledge of the practical side of mining.
I have mentioned those matters to show what education can do towards the encouragement of boys to take up mining work. We shall have to educate the m in eoowners
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.-Whilst I respect the sincerity of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), I disagree with several points that he made in his speech, with, which I propose to deal briefly before I deal with the budget, which will be the main subject of my speech.. The honorable member referred to the fact that the erection of a telephone exchange building at Lismore was being considered and that the project had been referred to the Public Works Committee. He contended that all proposed public works should be referred to that committee. I remind honorable members that that matter was discussed in the House only recently, when the Postmaster-
General (Mr. Anthony) pointed out that he had referred that particular project to the Public Works Committee because the proposed building was to be located in his own electorate. He also pointed out that inordinate delays would be caused if all public works projects were referred to the Public Works Committee, before work on them was commenced. I consider that that statement is d sufficient answer to the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter on the subject. The honorable member dealt with the question of railways. Railways are a State concern and the railway services in his electorate are therefore a matter for attention by the Labour Government of New South Wales. The honorable member also criticized the importation of coal. I think all honorable members agree that it is a tragedy that coal has to be imported but it has to be obtained from somewhere. This Government is trying to speed up the production of coal. The Prime Minister has repeatedly pointed out that the supply of more coal is absolutely imperative. In the meantime, the necessity to import coal has to be admitted. The honorable member also criticized the Government on the Communist issue. It sounds strange to hear honorable members of the Opposition criticizing a bill against which not one of them voted.
I congratulate the Treasurer on having produced a. sound and sensible budget and on having succeeded in balancing it in these very difficult times. Not only did he succeed in balancing it but he also provided for a quite comfortable surplus of nearly £500,000. In these inflationary times it is highly desirable, if it is at all feasible, eoe only to balance the budget but also to show a surplus. Unlike his predecessor hi office, the Treasurer was able to do this without having recourse to treasurybills. The last budget involved the issue of treasury-bills to the value of £3-5’,000,000 which, was an inflationary measure. An inflationary aspect of the present budget is the considerably increased allocation for defence and development. In a young country this is inevitable and right. In the present international situation the fact that we have more than doubled our previous defence vote is more than fully justified. Further inflationary aspects are the taxation concessions which are also fully justified and the increased pensions. All honorable members would like to see pensions increased further but we must have regard to facts and to our ability to meet them. Perhaps the Government will be able to do something more for the pensioners in time.
The Government has put forward a very solid anti-inflationary programme. If the £103,000,000 for prepayment of tax were not taken from the wool-growers most of it would be circulated in the community during the next . twelve months. In this inflationary era, it is imperative to reduce in every way possible the amount of money in circulation. With that end in view, the Treasurer ha.s announced that the Government proposes to introduce a bill to impose an excess profits tax. The proposed 20 per cent, cut in governmental expenditure in the Commonwealth sphere will help considerably. The reorganization of government departments and the prevention of overlapping between Commonwealth and State departments is a further anti-inflationary step. The Treasurer has proposed the granting of a £20,000,000 wool subsidy and the continuation of subsidies amounting to an additional £25,000,000 on other products for home consumption. Capital issues control is to be reintroduced. It has been proposed that a public accounts committee should be set ‘up. Honorable members will remember that there was a public accounts committee at one time but it has not operated for eighteen years. The Government proposes to institute a national savings campaign. There is no need to mention the Government’s intention to root out the Communist influence from our key unions as a strong antiinflationary step.
The Prime Minister has brilliantly succeeded in obtaining a 100,000,000 dollar loan from America. At long last this country will receive something for the gold and securities which it has deposited with the International Bank. Australia has approximately 2,000,000 dollars worth of shares in the bank, 2 per cent, of which were paid for in gold and 18 per cent. in currency. I wish to com- pliment the Treasurer on having succeeded in carrying out the promise that was made by the Government parties at the last general election to simplify the taxation laws and to substitute a system of deductions in lieu of rebates.
Last week, the Prime Minister, in answer to a question in the House, made it clear that, at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers he indicated that he was willing to discuss with the Premiers the question of uniform taxation and of returning the taxing powers of the States. Four out of the six Premiers indicated that they were not willing to discuss this question. Therefore, it is incorrect for any one to criticize the present Government for retaining the system of uniform taxation which was introduced by a Labour government in 1942. Recently, I attended a research lecture which was delivered in Brisbane by the noted economist, Mr. Colin Clark. On the subject of uniform taxation he said -
The essential basic principle of democratic and parliamentary government is that governments are responsible to the people - … on its conduct on the levying and spending df money, as on all its other activities, n government is judged by the electors in due course. The first principle of public finance is that a government will not undertake extravagant or irresponsible projects because it knows that it will have to pay for them by imposing taxation upon its own electors. Public money is never spent with real care and responsibility unless those politically responsible for spending it know that they will also have to raise it (or at any rate the greater part of it) by taxation from their own electors. It is very much easier for the States to think up attractive ways of spending Commonwealth money and of “ turning on thu heat “ to obtain it, than to devise really sound projects which your own electors will be willing to pay for. There were plenty of defects in the Australian tax system before 1942, but these were all of a minor nature compared with the importance of the issue of political responsibility. To reform the system by extinguishing State tax altogether rs “ to throw out the baby with the hath water”. Vor political irresponsibility is a virus which can destroy parliaments! ry government itself.
I agree with that attitude towards uniform taxation and hope that, at the conference which it is proposed to hold early in the new year an agreement will be reached between the State Premiers and the Prime Minister to return at least seme taxing powers to the States at an early date.
Another gratifying feature of the budget is the two modifications to the means test. The first is the amendment under which it is proposed to exclude the surrender value of life insurance policies up to a value of £500. The present maximum is only £200, so that the amount is to be more than doubled. As the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) pointed out recently, assets to the value of £100 do not affect eligibility for age, widow and invalid pensions and the life insurance exemption will he allowed in addition to that one. I admit that that exemption was introduced by the previous Government and it was a good move. Persons who are receiving only part pensions because of the value of life insurance policies may benefit by as much as 23s. a week under this proposal. The second modification proposed is the removal of war pensions from the means test in relation to the unemployment and sickness benefits.- Pensioners will be entitled to receive an income of £1 a week apart from their pensions and be eligible for maximum unemployment and sickness benefits.
Little publicity has been, given to trade agreements and many people are not aware of the extent of the agreements which have been negotiated by this Government over the past few months. The Government has completed new trade agreements worth approximately £60,000,000 a year to this country. These agreements have been made with Argentina, Sweden, Japan, Indonesia, Spain and Brazil. The agreement which was made with Argentina in April last is effective until June, 1951, and covers an exchange of goods worth approximately £500,000. The imports to be obtained from Argentina are mainly linseed oil and in exchange we shall export certain manufactured goods. A few weeks ago the Government signed a new agreement with Sweden under which Australia will receive paper, timber and machinery. We shall send to that country, in exchange, wool, wheat and dried fruits, and thus add to the already valuable trade between the two countries. At about the same time as the Government signed the agreement with Sweden, it concluded an agreement with Indonesia under which our sales to that country are estimated to yield approximately £4,000,000 during the first year of operation. Millions of pounds worth of trade with Indonesia was lost to this country because the previous Government permitted the Communist ban on Dutch shipping to continue for years. The Chifley Government neglected the golden opportunity that it had in the post-war years to expand our overseas markets. It has been left to this Government, five years after the conclusion of the war, to remedy this serious defect in our economic life.
For some years past, particularly during the last two or three years, we have had an illusion of wealth in Australia. Unfortunately, it is only an illusion. It is due to the fact that exports have brought such tremendously high price from overseas. This state of affairs cav not continue indefinitely. Therefore, if we are wise, we shall take steps to adjust our economy while our export prices are still buoyant and before any sign of a world recession comes from abroad, otherwise this country will be as hard hit as it was in 1929 when there was a slump in wool and wheat prices. Artificial control of internal prices during the war years and over the years since the war have helped to preserve that illusion of wealth. There is a certain amount of misunderstanding on this score. Prices control is not a remedy. At best, it is only a palliative. Price increases are not inflationary. They are the result of inflation. Whether prices control is administered by the States or the Commonwealth, it can only be effective if wages are pegged and man-power and other resources are controlled as they were during the war. What may be agreed upon as right and proper by a country at war cannot be agreed to be right and proper in time of peace, and I do not believe that honorable members of the Opposition would contend that it would be proper to control and peg all these things at the present time. We must look in other directions for the remedy for our troubles. Immediately wages were unpegged by the Chifley Government prices began to soar. Since then there has been a continuing spiral of this horrible process of wages chasing costs and costs in turn chasing wages. The prices referendum of 1948 has been referred to during the course of this debate, but honorable members opposite have misconstrued the position to some extent. The question put to the people in May, 1948, was not whether price control should be continued or should be handed over by the Commonwealth to the States, but whether permanent control of rents and prices should be written into the Constitution. The people quite properly voted against giving to the Australian Government permanent control over rents and prices, in the belief that it would be wrong during peace time to perpetuate controls that might have been justified in war-time. The Chifley ‘Government tried to bluff and intimidate folic people into voting “ Yes “, but the people were neither bluffed nor intimidated.
– They are paying the penalty now.
– I shall have something to say about that interjection later on. The precipitate withdrawal of subsidies helped to send the spiral of inflation higher. Because the Chifley Government was denied permanent power over rents and prices it handed over the whole matter of price control, in a fit of anger, to the States. In effect, it said, “ Here is the baby, you carry it “. The Chifley Government did that in the hope that any blame attachable to the whole matter would attach to the State governments and not to the Australian Labour Government There was no need for the hasty withdrawal of subsidies or for the hasty handing over of prices control to the States. Price control was handed over sooner than it need have been because under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1947, the Chifley Government had power to continue the administration of price control until December, T948. That Government evaded its responsibilities several months before its powers elapsed, and it is useless for honorable members opposite to say now that the people took away price control from the Chifley Government. It is obvious that they did nothing of the sort. The Chifley Government, because of its inaction in other directions, forced up the cost of
Jiving and speeded up the spiral of inflation in this country.
– Then why doesn’t this Government stop it now?
– The Government is doing its best to stop inflation and it invites the co-operation, to that end, of all sections of the community, including the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, in his deficit budget of 1949, admitted that wages and internal prices had appeared to rise during the preceding two years or sp, and pointed out that this tendency would probably be continued in 1950. Yet we hear honorable members opposite saying from time to time that because the LiberalAustralian Country party Government was elected by the people on the 10th December, prices have gone up since that date. I have heard nothing more nonsensical in all my life. The Leader of the Labour party admitted that inflation was well under way when he presented the 1949 budget, but he did nothing about it. Moreover, he devalued the £1 in relation to .the dollar and thus sent the spiral still higher. “While it held office the Chifley Government had ample opportunity, particularly during 1947, 1948 and 1949, to halt the rising cost of living. But it took no action whatsoever to remedy the trouble. This Government is trying to remedy it at this late stage, after inflation has been rampant for some considerable time. The spiral can only be halted by co-operative effort on the part of everybody. By neglecting to encourage production, by countenancing repeated Communist disruption of industry and by concentrating on socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, the ‘Chifley Government failed utterly and miserably in its duty to protect the Australian economy and raise the standard of living of our people. Still smarting under their defeat at the general election of the 10th December last some honorable members opposite, though not all of them, blame the present Government for causing inflation. I suggest to them that a runaway horse cannot be stopped in a few seconds, nor can what the Prime Minister has described as “ the dynamic process of inflation “ be stopped in a few months. Perhaps it cannot be stopped in ten or twelve months. However, if we all are genuine in our desire to put value hack into the £1, and we all put our shoulders to the wheel instead of uttering carping and destructive criticism, then perhaps at the end of the next twelve months we shall have succeeded in putting some value back into the £1.
We must slow down the process of inflation before we can hope to stop it. As the Prime Minister has pointed out, the rate of increase in the cost of living over the last twelve months or so has been approximately the same as it was in the previous twelve months. Therefore, there is no need for anybody to panic, but there is a need for us to roll up our sleeves and tackle the problem of inflation with a good will. If honorable members opposite are sincere when they say, “ Let us put value back into the £1 “, I suggest that they should cooperate with the Government in that task instead of criticizing the Government’s efforts. The only real solution to this problem of inflation is increased production. Recently I was astounded to hear the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Glyde Cameron), who is a federal vice-president of the great Australian Workers Union, say that that union would not encourage its members to work harder until the Government had put value back into the £1 and had dealt with inflation. I have never heard a more ridiculous statement. I might as well say to him, if he is feeling ill, “ Do not go to a doctor until you are cured”. In heartening contrast to the statement made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh was the sensible speech of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds), who recognizes, as does the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), that teamwork and co-operation in industry are absolutely vital. No team ever won a tug-of-war without all of its members pulling together. The same metaphor can be applied to industry today. We must all pull together. As management is the head of industry and capital is its heart, so. the employees are its hands. The human body will not function unless head, heart and hands co-operate. Neither shall we have success in industry until we can weld together the parts which go to make up our industrial life. We must play the game of industry as a close-knit team. That can be done, and will be done in time, but only by the united and continuing efforts of all concerned.
Suggestions have been made outside this House that part of the answer to the problem of inflation may be the extension of the working week. I do not believe that that is so. _ Perhaps we can follow the lead of other countries, such as Great Britain, where the Trade Union Congress has set up production committees to analyse the methods of increasing production. Although we in Australia have much to learn, we are learning quickly, and if we apply ourselves to the task we can succeed in our great objective of increasing production. This vital task is above the level of party politics and calls for an all-out effort on the part of all loyal Australians. It should be a matter for personal pride and honour with us to put forth our best efforts, whatever our jobs may be. Let us return to the principle of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. If we do that we can all share in real prosperity instead of “ phoney “ prosperity. Let us have teamwork and let us try to put Australia’s interests foremost in all our undertakings. It is our bounden duty to do these things, and if we do them we shall reap a full and rich reward and we shall be playing our part nobly and well in helping not only to preserve, but also to add still further lustre to the already great heritage which is ours.
.- I cannot share in the chorus of admiration raised in praise of the devoted Treasurer for the magnificent budget that he has presented to this House, because I fail to see that it is good public accounting to finance the activities of a government by compulsorily borrowing and inserting the sum so borrowed in the budget presented to this committee. Great difficulties lie in the way of the Treasurer. He has the responsibility of providing the sinews for the Government’s administrative body.’ I have sympathy with any person who has that ta.=k, but I do not think that this budget reflects any great degree of credit upon the Treasurer. For those reasons I cannot join in the chorus of praise. There are more things left out of this budget than are apparent, and quite a number of things are claimed in the budget as valuable concessions which are far from being concessions. Many of them prove to be not concessions at all, for they really worsen the conditions which existed before the presentation of the budget. There must be something wrong with our economic system, and I do not think that the attempts made in the budget will rectify it.
There is an alarming drift in public finance, and all State governments are budgeting for deficits. Shires, municipalities and boroughs throughout Australia are carrying an enormous burden of debt which they see no hope of throwing off. All these things are occurring in a time of unbelievable prosperity for certain sections of the economic community. The budget does not recognize the prompt and urgent desire of us all that something genuine should be done about our economic drift. It is ballyhoo for honorable members on the Government side to say that this budget has achieved something that has not been achieved for a long time, and that it places the seal of public approval upon actions believed by the Government to be necessary for the rectification of our economic ills. This budget does nothing of the kind. On the contrary it accentuates our troubles. The fact that money is compulsorily borrowed from one section means that it must eventually be repaid. I liken the budget to a prospectus of the kind issued by snide company promoters who show fictitious dividends in the name of one company with funds which they withdraw from other companies. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has adopted a similar practice under his budget, which reveals a lamentable drift in public finances. That fact is reflected, for instance, in the present position of public institutions, such as hospitals. It is a travesty of government that public hospitals throughout Australia now find themselves in greater difficulties than they ever experienced previously. Although I do not like quoting from statements that are made by the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), I shall do so at this juncture be cause the following quotation cannot be controverted. Recently, he stated -
Australian hospitals were facing four major problems -
They had insufficient beds to meet urgent demands.
They had insufficient staff, both general and specialized.
They had insufficient equipment, and
Theyhad insufficient money to meet daytoday commitments.
Those facts indicate that the drift in our economic affairs is becoming increasingly serious. It is affecting most harshly the ordinary wage earners. Despite what the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) has said, much of the blame for that position must be placed upon the Government. It is true that the Chifley Government relinquished controls of various commodities and economic processes. It did so because its legal position in that respect became untenable. However, we should not forget that that Government asked the people by means of a referendum to give to the Parliament power to continue to control prices on a nation-wide basis. The present Government parties advised the people to reject those proposals. They said that the State governments would be able to control prices more effectively than the Australian Government had controlled them and their opposition to those proposals largely influenced the people to reject the submission that was made to them. No honorable member opposite can controvert the fact that the defeat of that referendum has been the main cause of rising prices to-day.
The Government has done very little to remedy the drift in our economic affairs. Its supporters made many promises at the last general election, but they have not honoured those promises. For instance, they promised that if returned to office they would put value back into the £1. They have failed so dismally to honour that promise that that phrase is now used more often than not in a humorous sense. However, the problem of putting value back into the £1 is not a laughing matter fromthe viewpoint of the workers and housewives who find it difficult to balance their meagre budgets. The Government’s failure to put value back into the £.1 is the crowning indictment that can be made against it. Fine platitudes and vague promises will not contribute one iota towards that end. Further evidence of the serious drift that is taking place in our economy is provided by many other developments. For instance, evictions from homes are increasing. The Melbourne Herald in a recent issue reported that during the last six months more tenants were evicted from homes in Melbourne than have been evicted in that city in any similar period during the last fifteen years. That is tragic evidence of the con ditions that are developing in this country to-day. I do not propose to deal at length with those facts.I mention them merely as pointers to what is happening in our economy.
Many solutions have been advanced with a view to arresting the present inflationary trend. I agree that increased production will help considerably to check rising prices, but the experience of the United. States of America proves that increased production alone will not solve the problem.. From 1930 to 1935 and from 1946 to 1949 the productivity of the average American worker was greater than it had been during any other comparable period in American history. Yet, during the two periods that I have indicated, particularly during the former, unemployment increased at a serious rate in the United States of America. That fact is particularly significant as the United States of America is a highly industrialized country. High, or increased, production must be accompanied by other measures. I agree with the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) that suggestions that were made by the Central Executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party merit full consideration by the Parliament in its examination of this problem. Each of those suggestions, which I shall enumerate, could be debated with profit at considerable length. I do not suggest that any one of them offers a complete solution to the problem of rising prices, but, at least, they offer valuable guidance in the formulation of a sound economic programme. The suggestions to which I refer are as follows : -
Wage increase becomes payable by a Con ference of State Governments to declare goods and services.
– They are much behind the times.
– -If the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) examines those suggestions thoroughly, he might share my regret that the Government has not yet attempted to apply some of them as a means of meeting our economic problems. The last suggestion that the body to which I have referred made in this respect was - (g)Review of export and import policies with a view to -
The budget proposals are many-sided in character. The proposal to borrow compulsorily the colossal sum of £103,000,000 from the wool-growers in order to balance the budget has already been dealt with at length. Other proposals , are of a similar character. Whilst the Government is justified in increasing sales tax on certain commodities, some of its proposals under that heading are by no means logical. For instance, it proposes to increase sales tax on photographic materials to 33 per cent. Those materials include screen slides which are used for advertising purposes in picture theatres. At the same time, lithograph blocks which are used by newspapers for the same purpose are to be exempt from sales tax. A similar anomaly exists in respect of dry batteries.
– They are exempt.
– They are not exempt.
– Well, they will be exempt from sales tax.
– I am glad to nave that assurance from the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden). I claim to be able to speak with more than ordinary knowledge about age and invalid pensions because, prior to entering parliamentary life, I was an employee of the Commissioner of Pensions. I do not propose to deal with the budget proposals relating to war pensions because they are in a different category. First, I emphasize that pensions should he payable not as charity but as a right. Most persons will accept that view. Government supporters have hailed the proposal to increase the rate of age and invalid pensions by 7s. 6d. a week. That attitude cannot be justified when one studies the rate of pension in relation to the basic wage which, I believe, all honorable members will accept as a logical common denominator in this matter. ‘ In 1931 and 1932, that is during the depression, the rates of age and invalid pensions were 26.3 per cent, and 27.6 per cent, respectively of the basic wage. The Scullin Government was then in office.
– And that Government reduced the pensions.
– That is so; but it will always be to the credit of that Labour Government that it did not reduce those pensions in relation to the basic wage. The statistics support my statement. There was a. steady deterioration of the ratio until it was reduced to 25 per cent, in 1939-40. However, after the Labour party came into power in 1941, the ratio increased until the maximum level of 36.64 per cent, was reached in 1949.
Mi-. Haworth. - What about 1945?
– I think that the honorable member has chosen a year at random. He probably does not know what he is talking about. However, for his information, in 1945 the basic wage was 96s., the pension was 32s. 6d., and the ratio was 33. S5 per cent. In 1947 the basic wage was 106s., the pension was 37s. 6d. and the ratio was 35.38 per cent. The maximum level was reached in 194S-49 when the Chifley Government increased the rate of pension to 42s. 6d., or 36.64 per cent, of the basic wage, which was 116s. at that time. This budget provides for an increase of the pension rate to 50s. The basic wage to-day is 162s. Thus, the ratio of the pension to the basic wage is again deteriorating. Under the new rates it will be 30.8 per cent. That indicates the real merit of the so-called benevolence of this Government. Its claim that the proposed pension increase will represent a valuable concession is scandalous. In fact, the pensioners will be worse off than they were when the Government came into power. There are 414,000 age and invalid pensioners in Australia, and the Treasurer has no right to claim that he has done them a service. These people should not be treated merely as political shuttlecocks in this Parliament.
– The honorable member lives on that sort of thing.
– I do not. I have stated the positive facts, which cannot be controverted. The extravagant claim that the budget will confer a real benefit on this deserving class of citizens is untruthful although members are expected to speak the truth in this .place.
Many anomalies associated with age and invalid pensions deserve the attention of the Government. No serious attempt has been made to remedy them, notwithstanding the eulogistic references to the Government’s plans that were made by the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury). The honorable gentleman made a passing reference to the proposal to discontinue the assessment of insurance policies up to the value of £500 in calculating an applicant’s entitlement to pension. That concession will probably affect about 0.1 per cent, of the total number of age and invalid pensioners. No sincere attempt has yet been made to grant real concessions, and I now make some suggestions in the hope that the Government will take heart of grace, even at this late hour, and accept them. One of the greatest anomalies affects persons who have contributed throughout their working lives to superannuation or similar pension funds. When they retire and begin to draw upon those funds, the money is taken into account in deciding their right to draw social services benefits. The result is that their pension payments are reduced to such a degree as to be virtually valueless.
– That practice was perpetuated by the Labour Government.
– I do not deny that, but the Labour Government grappled with many other anomalies in the pensions scheme during its eight years of office. Its achievements in that field alone were milestones in human progress in this country. Every person who has the slightest sense of humanitarian values must concede that the Labour party conferred great benefits upon working men mid women, who constitute the most important section of the community.
Another anomaly which affects pension applicants relates to the application of the means test to certain property values. Normally, the value of an applicant’s home is not taken into account in assessing his pension. However, if unfortunate circumstances, such as the inability of the pensioner to care for himself owing to advancing senility, force him to live elsewhere, the entire value of the house is taken into account. The result is that the claims of about 85 per cent, of such applicants are rejected. The means test should not be applied so harshly in such cases. Pensions should be granted if the applicants can demonstrate that they have been compelled to leave their homes by circumstances beyond their control and that the properties are not revenue producing.
– How long has that provision been in force?
– Ever since pensions were introduced.
– I thought that the honorable gentleman was trying to blame this Government, for it.
– I am not seeking to exaggerate the facts. However, the Labour party modified the provision very considerably by increasing the permissible property value. Another unfair provision in the law relating to age and invalid pensions discriminates against the parents of invalid pensioners under the age of 21 yen rs who are living at home. The socalled “ adequate maintenance “ section requires that the income of the parents must be taken into consideration when assessing the eligibility of a minor for an invalid pension. The sole governing factors should be the earning capacity of the applicant and his degree of invalidity. The Government should abolish that iniquitous provision.
The last anomaly that I mention relates to the funeral benefit for pensioners. It is to the very great credit of the Chifley Government that it included this benefit in its scheme of social services. The grant of £10 that is made towards the cost of burial of an age or invalid pensioner is a valuable concession to relatives. Unfortunately, this Parliament has not given any consideration to the extension of the benefit to widows. Nobody ever seems to consider the unfortunate situation of these women, whose difficulties are just as great as are those of age and invalid pensioners. Extension of time granted.] An evil practice has arisen since the funeral benefit was introduced. It was discussed in the Victorian Parliament not long ago, and it merits investigation by this Government. I believe that unscrupulous individuals are exploiting the relatives of pensioners. Fly-by-night funeral promoters, or so-called morticians, are battening upon persons who are not able to protect themselves. I refer honorable members to a statement that was made by Mr. W. Chapman, the manager of the Morticians Company of Australasia, as reported in the Sun News-Pictorial of the 27th June last. The seriousness of the allegations that he made warrants a most searching inquiry. Mr. Chapman advocated that -
The Federal Government pass legislation to pay from n social services fund all burial fees of paupers, or
That undertakers, on a roster system, bury paupers at their own expense.
He said that undertakers who gained the tender for public burials from the Police Department had to pay for the grave sites of poor people. Consequently dogs were often buried better than the poor. Mr. Chapman has also stated that members of organizations which have sprung up in the capital cities, are exploiting pensioners shamelessly by obtaining from them contributions towards their burial costs. In Victoria, anybody can become a mortician without a licence. Some unregistered undertakers have established burial fund schemes to which pensioners contribute at the rate of 6d. a week and are using the money so obtained for their other interests instead of for the benefit of the contributors. The honorable member for Evelyn in the Victorian Legislative Assembly said recently that the various snide organizations that were functioning under the guise of “ pensioners’ benefits societies “, should be investigated to see whether action should be taken to register them, in order to ensure that their books were subject to proper audit, and that the people who contributed a sum of money each week to them were not defrauded.
This budget does not do the Treasurer the credit which some Government supporters have ascribed to him. Many phases of it reflect a great deal of discredit upon him and upon the Government itself. His proposal to borrow money, and to treat it as revenue, leaving a Treasurer in the future to repay that indebtedness, is a wrong system of accounting. The right honorable gentleman may be able to show a budget surplus by that means, but the time will como when a Treasurer will have to repay that borrowed money.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to the war gratuity fund?
– No, I am referring to the amount of £103,000,000 which the Government proposes to borrow from the wool-growers. The Treasurer may regard that as a fine principle of public accounting methods, but Opposition members are unable to do so and we have suggested other proper methods of accounting.
Mir. TOWNLEY (Denison) [4.3].- 1 am sure that the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) has spoken with great sincerity, but even a cursory examination of his statements and of the figures which he has produced, discloses that his submissions cannot be substantiated. He advocated that the rate of pensions should: be definitely related to the basic wage. Has the honorable gentleman forgotten that a Liberal government introduced that system, and that a Labour government discontinued it in 1942? The Curtin Labour Government introduced legislation which completely destroyed the original relation between pensions and the basic wage. I desire to be perfectly fair in dealing with that matter, and, therefore, I must point out that the Labour party was consistent in its policy. In October, 1948, the age pension was increased to £2 2s. 6d. a week, which represented 36.64 per cent, of the then basic wage. Opposition members claim that at present the proportion which the pension bears to the basic wage is substantially less than that figure, but the facts reveal that when the Chifley Government was defeated, the age pension was still at the rate of £2 2s. 6d. a week, whereas the basic wage had increased to £6 9s. a week. In December, 1949, the age pension was only 32.9 per cent, of the basic wage. The present Government has decided to increase the age pension by 7s. 6d. a. week, and the new rate will Vw 36.2 per cent, of the basic wage at the time that the decision was made, the basic wage then was £6 18s. a week. The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration did not announce the increase of the basic wage until after the Treasurer (Mir. Fadden) had presented his budget to this chamber. I remind Opposition members that the basic wage increased by 15s. from October, 1948, to December, 1949, when the Chifley Government was defeated, yet that Administration made no attempt during that period to increase pensions. The honorable member for Hoddle expressed disappointment with the amount of the increase that the Government is proposing to provide, and, in fact, many people will share his disappointment, because we should like to give the pensioners as much as we can afford to give them. Nevertheless, the increase of 7s. 6d. a week which the present Government has granted to pensioners is the largest single increase that has ever beer; made ‘n the history of the Commonwealth.
The honorable member for Hoddle also criticized the budget as a whole, and I detected in his speech that singular note of indecision and contradiction of ideas that is now commonly found in the speeches of Opposition members. I have before me an editorial which was published in a Labour newspaper shortly after the budget was presented to this chamber. I do not propose to read the whole of that article, but the editor’s summing up will interest Opposition members.
– What newspaper is it?
– It is the Voice of Labour. I shall hand it to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) later. The article reads as follows: -
It is rather refreshing to find that the Federal Treasurer’s budget does not intend to take much out of the pay envelope of the Australian worker . . . Naturally a Federal budget, when it announces certain increases, is not a popular one by any means. Mr. Fadden has certainly tried to frame a fair budget from the general point of view.
I share the opinion that has been expressed in that article by the editor of the Voice of Labour. His comments on the budget suit me.
I should now like to comment briefly on the proposed expenditure of £738,000,000 during the current financial year. That is indicative of the trend in governmental finance in recent years. Two years ago, the expenditure was approximately £445,000,000, last year itwas approximately £565,000,000, and this year the estimate is £738,000,000. Each of those totals represents between 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, of the national income. As I consider those amounts, I wonder whether we are becoming over-organized, because those striking increases of expenditure coincide with the enormous growth of the army of so-called experts, planners, economists, boards, committees and the like with which every government in recent years has festooned its administration. I am aware that it is in conformity with the modern idea to employ an army of experts, planners and economists, but even that dons not necessarily make it right. Human experience has taught us that new ideas are not necessarily good ones. The decline of the Roman civilization coincided with the introduction of new ideas which led men away from lives of vigour and adaptation as lived by older generations.
– What were they?
– Free bread and free circuses. If we apply our minds to the consideration of our own society and civilization in the last 50 years, it is not difficult to discern indications of a decline. A few months ago, I read an article in the New Statesman, or Time and Tide, by the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, in which he said -
I long for the day when there will be a fully planned socialist world economy where, amongst other things, men could go to Victoria Station and buy a ticket to anywhere in the world without let or hindrance in regard to permits, vises, immigration quotas, currency restrictions, or any such thing.
Had Mr. Bevin cast his mind back to his boyhood instead of gazing into the crystal ball of an unpredictable future, he would have recalled that every one of those things for which he was sighing had been an accomplished fact, and had passed out of existence only with the coming of the organizers and the planners. If a man decided in Mr. Bevin’s boyhood days that he would try his luck in the United States, Argentina or Timbuctoo, he had only to buy his rail ticket to a port of embarkation, and purchase a ticket for the Atlantic crossing at a price, in those days, of £2 10s. He had no currency problems. He was permitted to take money out of the country. He was not obliged to obtain a passport, and he was not subject to the conditions of an immigration quota. When he arrived at his destination, no customs officials examined his luggage and assessed duty on various articles in it. There was not even a dollar problem. The sovereigns in his pocket were legal tender anywhere in the world.
I shall illustrate that change in another way. A tremendous organization has been established in the United States of America to send food and clothing to sustain the occupants of displaced persons’ camps in Europe. But during the nineteenth century, displaced persons in Europe went to the United States of America, grew their own food, and sustained themselves. I invite honorable members to consider whether that state of affairs was better than the present system. At the end of the nineteenth century, half the population of Ireland had the alternative of starving or become ‘ displaced persons. Many thousands of them preferred not to starve, and they migrated to America. An Australian who works in the United States of America for a year in present times is amazed at the number of displaced Irish people who have risen to positions of eminence throughout the length and breadth of America. It may be said that such freedoms, if restored to-day, would destroy our economy and society. My reply to that contention is that those freedoms certainly did not destroy the economy of countries or their’ societies in those days, and at least, people in the nineteenth century did not live under the threat of annihilation by the hydrogen bomb. I am not suggesting for one minute that we should return to the haphazard, happy-go-lucky state of affairs that the people enjoyed in those days, but I believe that if the people lived at one extreme, Australians, when confronted with Commonwealth expenditure in this financial year of £738,000,000, must be approaching the other extreme. We should examine just how much value we receive for our money from all the high-priced help that is regulating, advising and organizing our economy through the Government.
I am dealing with those matters at some length because I believe that, during the next few years, and particularly during the next twelve months, Australia will pass through a critical economic period. Since 1946, prices have been increasing at a steady rate, yet during the next twelve months hundreds of millions of pounds of additional money will be injected into our economy. Furthermore, approximately 200,000 migrants will be brought to this country, and they will increase the consumer demand, although they will not become producers for some time. Defence expenditure will also have an inflationary effect, but so far, there is no indication of a substantial increase of the production of goods and services to offset the inflationary pressure. The suggestion has been made in some quarters that the panacea or solution for that illness is the re-introduction of prices control by the Commonwealth. Every honorable member knows perfectly well that such a move would not be a sufficient answer. We read in the press yesterday that the British Government has decided to reintroduce controls, but that decision has been expressed in the following manner : -
We will regulate production, distribution and consumption and finally control prices. The Government proposes to make permanent the arbitrary powers of control passed in the emergency of World War II.
That action, I suggest, is a retrograde step, because it will entail placing the control of the economy of the country in the hands of the same economists, professors and planners about whom I have spoken. I have little faith in those men, because there is no scientific accuracy in their pronouncements. Each one contradicts the other. Sydney newspapers published a few days ago two large financial supplements, and all the experts in this land expressed their opinions in those columns on various matters. The peculiar thing was that, apart from their agreement on the need for increased production, they could not agree on any other matter. Professor Sir Douglas Copland said one thing, Professor Butlin said another thing, and Dr. Firth said something else. One cannot have confidence in men like them. A nation cannot pin its faith to them. To restrict, to regulate and to manipulate the currency in order to put into effect the experimental theories of economists is not to provide the answer for our economic problems. It was the old Chinese philosopher, Loa-Tse, who said, 2,500 years ago -
The more prohibitions there are the poorer the people become. The greater the number of statutes, the greater the number of thieves and brigands.
I think that there is a greater need for the display of a little common sense in Australia to-day than there is for the implementation of abstract economic theories. We need only have regard to what is happening all round us to realize the need for the application of common sense. As an illustration of the lack of proper balance, I need not go further than the extraordinary utterance of a member of the Opposition who spoke in this chamber last night. In the course of the most brilliant speech that I have yet heard from any member of the Opposition, he advocated that the Parliamentshould not meet next Tuesday because if it did honorable members would thereby be prevented from attending a race meeting.
Fancy members of the National Parliament pre-occupying themselves with such matters at a time when 300,000 Australians are without homes! This, nation, expends annually £100,000,000 on liquor, and as much as £1,500,000 frequently changes hands in a single day on a. race-course. Provision is made in the ‘budget for the expenditure of” £3,600,000 on imports of coal, although there is more than sufficient coal in Australia to supply all our needs. I cite as a further illustration of the state of the affairs into which this country has drifted,, a letter in a newspaper a few days ago in which a cafe proprietor sought to justify himself for charging 1.2s. 6d. for a fish meal. Of course, we all know that Australian waters teem with fish. Some radio artists receive three times the salary which we pay to the GovernorGeneral. Although a man who has earned, money in the service of the community is called upon to pay half of it to the Treasury in tax, another man who wins £1,000 in a bet on a race-course is permitted to keep al] that money for himself. There is no limit to the absurdities of our national life, and I think that it is high time Australians realized that we have now become an adult nation and that we must accept national responsibilities.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), in the course of the speech that he made in this debate recently dealt most comprehensively with the root causes of the increased cost of living and pointed out most convincingly that all the factors that are responsible for the rise of prices are internal ones, and that. the solution of our difficulties lies in our own hands. I believe that if we are to solve the problem of rising prices and to protect ourselves against the full consequences of the present inflationary trend, we must shake off our present mood of indifference and apathy. Even our survival as a nation is at stake; and nothing less than a revolutionary, co-operative national effort will suffice to increase production to the level at which our economic balance will be restored.
The leaders of industry must resolve their differences. The big industrialists and the powerful trade union leaders must overcome their mutual prejudices, Bad pool their abilities and knowledge for the good of the community. Any industrialist or trade union leader who is ignorant of our national economic potentialities, or deliberately refuses to accept his responsibilities, and refuses to cooperate with the Government to increase production, destroys all claim to be regarded as a leader. It was refreshing to hear the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds), who is a representative of one of the finest trade unions in this Commonwealth indicate that he realized the vital importance to the workers themselves of increasing production. Because of his frank expression of view, he showed that he is fit to stand alongside a man like Mr. Herbert Morrison, of England, who is one of the greatest Labour leaderthat the world has known. It is selfevident, that we must increase production if we are to develop this- country, or even to retain our present living standards.
The phrase “ increased production “ has been bandied around the chamber so much that we have almost become tired of it. Yet the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who took part in the present debate, asked honorable members on this side of the chamber exactly what they meant when they advocated increased production. He wanted to know whether we suggested that the workers should work harder or for more hours. I should say that, within certain limits, the workers most certainly should work harder. We cannot reduce the cost of houses while bricklayers, who are capable of laying 1,000 bricks a day, lay only 300 bricks, or while the machines which make bricks produce only 1,000 bricks a day when they should produce 1,250. We cannot hope to reduce the cost of living while exorbitant freight charges have to be paid on imported goods and components for manufacturing. The reason for those exorbitant charges, as all honorable members know, is that ships now take three or four times as long to turn round in port, than they did before the war. Freight charges cannot be reduced while shippers suffer the loss of £1,000,000 worth of goods through cargo pillage every year. Every time work ceases in a shipping port because of an industrial dispute our economy is robbed of tens of thousands of pounds, and that loss is inevitably reflected in the increased price of goods. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), who said that any man who deliberately goes slow or reduces production is cheating his fellow men. The honorable member for Bendigo pointed out that there is a great need for new machines and additional factories in this country, but while we are waiting for more machines and factories we should concentrate on using our existing plant to its maximum capacity.
I agree at once that any idea that increased production means no more than that the workers should work harder and for more hours is a narrow, and even a dangerous conception. In my opinion, the most important factor in increasing production is efficiency of management, which, of course, involves the application of more expert knowledge, improved techniques and more managerial efficiency. However, hyper-modern costing methods, split-second timing devices and other innovations will not suffice. A great deal has been said in the course of this debate about the desirability of introducing incentive payment systems, but I wonder how many honorable members who have advocated the introduction of those systems understand what they really involve. Of course the popular conception is that the main feature of a system of incentive payment systems is that the worker receives an additional £1 or so in his pay envelope. There could be no greater misconception of the function and purpose of incentive systems. “Whilst the earning of additional money is one characteristic of incentive payments, research which has. been carried out in hundreds of industrial concerns indicates that the payment of additional wages is by no means their chief feature. In fact, most of the reports of research authorities place the payment of extra money as one of the least important merits of the system. The most important factor of any incentive system to increase production is not that it results in the payment of higher wages, but that it introduces into thu relationships between employers and employees a. new and intangible factor.
The thing that is of paramount importance to the workers, or staff, or employees, call them what you will, is recognition of their importance ; the fact that they really matter, really count, and that they are vital, essential, valuable and valued component parts and partners in the enterprise in which they are employed.
– All industrial managers should take a course in moral, rearmament.
– In order to illustrate my meaning, I recall that when 1 visited a factory recently, I asked a supervisor who was conducting me through the plant the name of an employee whom we encountered. To my amazement, the supervisor did not know. It follows, of course, that he knew even less about the efficiency or capacity of the particular employee, or of his domestic background and his private problems. The employee was regarded merely as a man hired to do a certain job. Howmany employers accept any moral responsibility for the welfare of their employer’s, beyond paying them the wages and providing the conditions of work prescribed by law? Undoubtedly, management has the duty of providing for its employees the highest possible remuneration and the best possible conditions of work, and that is a lesson which should be learned by our employers generally.
The importance of the recognition of human values is essential in any concerted effort to increase production, and until management realizes that fact I do not think that we shall make much progress. Employers must realize that their employees are human beings and possess human dignity. They are not mere statistical entries on the debit side of the ledger. The realization of the proper worth of the employee constitutes a negation of the Communist creed, which teaches that we should deny that man possesses anything but an economic value. Too many people confuse the nature of the struggle that we are waging with communism. They are inclined to think of that struggle in terms of contests for jobs in trade unions, or, perhaps, of Russian aggression in small nations. The real fact is that the battle between communism and democracy to-day is an inexorable and relentless struggle to capture the minds of men. It is useless for us to adopt a negative attitude towards that struggle. If we are to counter communism effectively we must offer men something more attractive and mote valuable than the false promises held out by communism. It is not sufficient to say to the people that they should eschew communism because we can offer them democracy. We must prove to them that democracy is something more than an abstract expression. In order to do that we must demonstrate that democracy works in actual practice and that it is something more than an enlightened, idealistic conception. It must be admitted that so far we have failed in our efforts to demonstrate the true value of democracy. As a part of the truly democratic way of life, management must realize that it is dealing with men who have every right to be regarded as valuable units of society and not merely as debit entries in a ledger.
Lt is not sufficient, however, for management to accept the proposition that I have been endeavouring to expound. It must do more. The managers of industry must, by the exercise of skill, integrity and initiative, contrive to produce for the community the best quality products at the cheapest possible cost. Indeed, the accomplishment of that purpose is the chief justification of the present system of private enterprise. It is clear from even a cursory examination of the current, value of the quotations of stocks and shares and from the excessive profits shown in so many balance-sheets that management is not fulfilling its obligation to provide the needs of the people as cheaply as it can. Another most important function of enlightened management is to raise the standard of living of the workers; and it has been said that a notice should be hung in every manager’s office to remind him of that fact.
The application of the four principles that I have outlined should do a great deal to increase production, and so reduce the cost of living. First, the workers must work harder and must realize that if they do not do their best they are cheating their fellow men. Secondly, management must adopt a new and enlightened approach to this most important matter of human relationships in industry. Thirdly, management must remain true to its function of marketing goods as cheaply as possible. Fourthly, above and behind all, it must realize this truth, that it can only justify its existence by working for an increase of the living standards of the workers. I think that management is regarded too much as a mere wage-payer. It is not that at all. It determines our way of life. A cooperative effort on a national scale could not possibly fail, and there are encouraging signs that we could achieve that measure of co-operation. I shall read to the committee what a former coal-miner has had to say on that matter. I direct attention to the fact that in making this quotation I arn reading the views of a Labour party supporter who was a miner for 28 years, has been secretary of the Northern Miners Federation since 1940 and is a member of the New South Wales Parliament. He wrote -
There lias been a revolution in the industry. This has occurred not only in methods of production but in industrial conditions as well. For success to follow for the industry the production and industrial revolution must also he accompanied by a revolution in the personal point of view of miners in the mass.
Old customs and traditions based mi hatred and suspicion must go. There’s a referee in the ring to-day. Progress and benefit for miners must go hand in hand with increased production.
Given good leadership and common sense, on both sides the industry can solve its difficulties.
What is true for the coal industry is true also for other industries, because so many other industries depend on the coal industry. Honorable members will notice that that gentleman said, “ Common sense on both sides can solve our difficulties”. Common sense! Not the theories, regulations or restrictive manipulations of professors, but just plain down-to-earth common sense. * Extension of time granted.]* It is my belief that more can be done by co-operation and the use of common sense than by putting- into experimental practice all the professors’ theories. It was Sidney Smith who said, very truly, that it is the responsibility of men who are leaders, not so much to preach new truths as to rescue from oblivion those old truths which it is our wisdom to remember and our weakness to forget. One of the old truths that we want to rescue from oblivion, and pretty soon, is “A kingdom divided against itself shall not stand “. I shall read to the committee a portion of another trade union report that was published in the journal of a railway trade union. It stated -
All history proves that when a nation grows fat and lazy it not only ceases to make progress, but, on the contrary, it loses all the greatness it may have formerly achieved . . Prosperity is even now causing multitudes o) Australians to . . . act in (this) way. . . Because we are not called upon by stern necessity to produce, we sleep and dream dreams of a workless future. And, unless we awaken in time, that dream will come tm«, but there will be no free workers either.
.- So many thousands of words have been uttered about the budget and it would seem that nothing new remains to be said. Much destructive criticism has been levelled at it and a number of its anomalies have been mentioned, one being the rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions which, as some honorable members have pointed out, are far below the level of the basic wage. The rate of war pensions is even further below the level of the basic wage, and an increase of the allowance for blinded soldiers’ attendants seems to have been completely overlooked. Under the Constitution we have two Houses of Parliament, each of which is supposed to have a specific function. We find, however, that when one House amends a bill that has been passed through the other, its action arouses widespread resentment, which is circulated in equally widespread propaganda. There is an analogy between the individual functions of the two Houses and the functions of the opposing sides in this chamber, the Government and the Opposition. Just as each House has a specific function, so also has each side of each House a specific function. The Opposition has a specific function to perform in relation to the government of the country. It has an equal right to be resentful when it finds that suggestions it has made to the Government or amendments it has submitted to legislation have been completely ignored by the Government.
– What about the last Government?
– It is immaterial whether the conditions to which I am referring operated under the last Government or not. The point is that ihe Opposition in this chamber has an important part to play and has a right to make suggestions. When its suggestions are completely ignored, then its relationship with the Government is not’ that which was envisaged when this Parliament was established. That fact is important, because the Opposition offers constructive criticism of measures on behalf of large sections of the people which this Parliament is designed to serve. I consider, therefore, that it would be well for Government supporters who have been critical of what has happened to certain legislation in the Senate, to remember that they themselves have been equally culpable, because they have treated with very little respect suggestion’s which the Opposition has made. There is room for a good deal of improvement in the relationship between the Government and the Opposition in this chamber.
One of the purposes of the present budget is to withdraw excess spending power from the community by various ways and means and for essential reasons. On the other hand it provides for the distribution of money in the form of pensions and through the provision of services for the good government and defence of the country. The means by which money should be withdrawn from the community poses a problem to any Government at any time. The means adopted depends on economic conditions at the particular time. It is necessary that there shall be balance in the means by which money is raised as well as in the ways in which it is disbursed. It has been rightly asserted during this debate that the Government should present a balanced budget in such times as the present. That is to say, it should pay its way, right now. The present Government has been criticized, very rightly, for its proposal to levy taxation, in advance, on one section of the community, the wool-growers. I snr that the Government has been justifiably criticized because in its first year of operation the wool-growers find that they are to be divested of their returns by three separate processes. In the present year the wool-growers have to pay income tax as usual, but, in addition, the Government now proposes to collect next year’s tax in advance on a paya3youearn basis. The wool-growers have also to pay a levy of 7£ per cent, on the proceeds of wool sales to finance stabilization. It seems that without the receipt of the £103,000,000 that the Government expects to take from the wool-growers in the form of prepayment of income tax, the budget would be in deficit by about that amount. If it is necessary to raise £103,000,000, as I believe it is, then it should be raised by taxes spread over the whole community and not by what amounts to a forced levy that is to be unfairly placed upon one section of a community.
The Government proposes to increase sales tax on beauty preparations and accessories, and. on musical instruments and the media of extending musical appreciation. I am sure that the single girls of the community will be able to meet the extra cost of cosmetics without feeling that any great burden has been placed upon them, but the matter is different for married women. After all, the single girls set the standard of style and fashion. I remember some time ago that a prelate was asked to comment on women’s fashions because some persons in the community considered that some women were too radical in their adherence to changes of fashion. His answer was a very wise one. He said that he did not claim to be an authority on what was decorous in women’s fashions, or even on what was good in them, but his advice to his women parishioners was that, if they wished to be in the fashion, they should be in it and not ahead of it. The tax on cosmetics proposed by the Treasurer (“Mr. Fadden) will mean that many women will not be ahead of, or even in the fashion, but will be miles behind it. I consider that it would be a pity to deprive women, especially married, women, of the means of retaining their attractiveness and glamour, because they might become slatternly, which would not be a desirable characteristic.
Musical education is part and parcel of the development of any education scheme and a proposal to place a tax on it is. in effect, only a little less serious than the window tax of unhappy memory. A much happier choice could have been made for the extraction of money from the community and the choice that has been made by the Government will not be a popular one. Undoubtedly, it will bring its own certain degree of reward. These two items are merely typical of the means that have been adopted to extract money from the community.
As I said earlier, the dispersal of the money raised is a very important matter. Each section of the community undoubtedly considers that it has a case to present to the Government and the Government, of course, is expected to be very cautious in the means that it adopts for the distribution of its funds. The Treasurer is bound to balance payments according to the needs of those who present a case to him and I think that he should be careful to avoid making invidious comparisons which could bring about unrest in the community. The aged, invalid, and widowed have not been treated generously. The Treasurer should take some notice of what has been said on this subject. It is not yet too late to improve on what has been proposed in the budget. The age and invalid pensioners claim that on the 1st September, 1939, the age pension was 20s. a week whilst the basic wage was 79s. In 1949 they received a pension of £2 2s. 6d., compared with a basic wage of less than £7. Their position improved in those ten years from a ratio of one to four to a ratio of approximately one to three. The proposed payment, compared with the new basic wage, represents no appreciable improvement of this position. No matter how one twists figures there is no improvement so far a3 the relationship of the new pension with the new basic wage is concerned. “War pensioners seem to have received scant consideration, even when compared with the widow and age pensioners. On the 1st September, 1939, their ratio to the basic wage was as 42 is to 79. The proposed rate will give them a ratio of 7 to 16 which is a considerable deterioration. I presume that the Treasurer, in common with other honorable members, has received a very sharp protest from these people in the form of a very significant graph. Surely it is a reflection on this Government if those who served their country for so long are to receive such scant consideration from the Treasurer in his budget. It is not too late for the Government to rectify this anomaly in addition to others that will need to be rectified before the budget has been finalized and I hope that this section of the community will receive something like a just increase. In these days when there is prosperity for a few, at all events, it would be better to extract more from those few in order to give assistance to those who most deserve to receive consideration. 1 ask that the age, widow, war and invalid pensioners be given further consideration before the budget is passed. It would appear that there is no plan to stem the tide of inflation which is engulfing the State and that the increases which it is proposed to grant to pensioners will prove to be a very momentary benefit.
Those causes which contribute to inflation have not been even reasonably examined by the Government, so far as I know. There has been a constant cry for greater production. I think every honorable member will agree that this country’s production must be increased. But that would not be a complete cure for the inflationary trend. As I said before, many schemes have been placed before the Government and one would have thought that it would have taken one or two of them seriously in hand and laid down a system to which we could look with some degree of confidence as representing the Government’s effort to direct the economy of the country towards a certain end.
It has been said that primary production is only half what it should be and that that state of affairs has been brought about mainly by labour shortages. But shortage of labour is only one of the reasons for the lack of primary production. There are a number of contributing causes which have made the supply of basic materials insufficient for our needs.
As has been stated, inflation has been intensified by the immigration programme which aims at the admission of 200,000 immigrants a year.Immigrants are needed in this country and I believe that all honorable members accept the proposition that 200.000 should be admitted each year. However, the Government should be more keen to ensure that the immi grants shall be well placed. At first it should accept only those immigrants who can stimulate the production of the things that we need. I do not know how carefully immigrants are being selected but it seems to me that some of them are in misplaced jobs in which they are bound to stay for a long time. Even if a plan were evolved for their allocation to suitable work after their admission to this country, primary industry would receive its quota because many of them have had experience in rural production. Basic industry would require a quota. An overall plan should be evolved in order to avoid herding them together, a condition that is causing discontent and is preventing them from becoming properly assimilated. Unless the Government gives very deliberate attention to the immigration programme we could very easily find, in a few years’ time, up to a couple of million fifth columnists in this country and that would be a negation of the defence programme which we had hoped that they would assist. Many mistakes can be made through lack of planning and the correct placement of these people.I think that the Minister should exercise his power of vision in order to ensure that these people shall be well placed for defence and economic purposes and for their own assimilation. This problem transcends all that Ministers have said in relation to the ultimate defence of this country. It would be well for the Government to put first things first, especially in relation to the immigration programme. Members of the present Ministry asserted, prior to the 10th December, ‘ 1949, that there should be a downward revision of the tariff because of the necessity to reduce certain costs, especially those connected with basic materials.
There is a very high protection in the present rate of exchange. It is necessary that the production of Australian industry should be supplemented by the importation of goods from overseas. The tariff requires a good deal of examination in order that the economy of the country may be improved. I have been told that a new technique is being developed in relation to tariff protection in Australia. Management has always endeavoured to exert pressure on governments in order to obtain more protection. I believe that, under the new technique, management first approaches the trade unions concerned and offers the employees some considerable advance of wages provided they will assist in having the tariff wall raised. As a result, the Government experiences pressure from both management and trade unions. I believe that some trade unions have accepted these terms, regardless of the general effect on employees in other industries. The Government should give the closest scrutiny to existing tariffs, particularly those that concern basic materials. Every application for protection should be closely examined in order to make sure that the granting of the application is absolutely warranted for the real protection of the industry. The economy of the country seems to rest to a large degree on what revision of tarifls is made. Economists tell us that it is necessary to transfer a considerable amount of labour in order that it may reach the places where production is most required. One authority has stated that there are about 100,000 more government employees than there should be in Australia.
– One hundred thousand more?
– About 100,000. One economist has said that in certain industries it will be necessary to redistribute about 280,000 employees who are wrongly placed and are upsetting the balance of the economy in order to bring about equilibrium by their transfer to occupations in which they can be of more use by stimulating the production of essential goods.
– But the honorable member would not agree to a transfer from the cosmetics industry?
– No, in that connexion I was referring to the increase of the tax on the cost of those goods. That could affect the importation of them, because I presume that most of them are imported. Some articles are regarded as necessaries, and I suggest that cosmetics are as necessary to women as ties and collars are to men.
– Because of the use of lipstick some persons have died from painters’ colic.
– Fortunately I am not one of those. At all events it must be obvious to all that if an overall plan is to be adopted to cure inflation there is not much point in calling upon the workers in the lower paid occupations to increase production. It is almost impossible to get the required production from the few workers who are placed in the industries which produce the goods that are in short supply. Many of the lower paid workers are in industries which produce goods that are not in short supply. The speeches exhorting the workers to work harder are almost meaningless unless it is conceded that there is active competition among honorable members in this chamber for personal advertisement. In the final analysis there can be no doubt that the ability to increase production lies almost entirely with management, if sufficient labour is available. I recently witnessed an example of the necessity for careful and energetic supervision. I visited a depot and saw that the workmen had arrived on time and were lined up ready to start. Draymen, bulldozer drivers and others were waiting; in all 200 men were ready. They had been waiting for half an hour because the man in charge had not planned the work the previous day and so could not send them straight to their jobs. In that case about 100 man-hours were wasted, and I submit that when that time is multiplied by all the cases that must occur, an enormous amount of time must be lost by bad management. Management plays by far the larger part in production.
I now direct attention to a despatch sent to the London Times by its Canberra correspondent. It reads -
Declaring that Government measures will be ineffective without increased personal and industry enterprise, the correspondent states: “ The case for this must consist of more than exhortation.
Inadequate production is not wholly explained by the failure of too many workers, especially in the lower age groups, to do a fair day’s work.
Too many enterprises are inefficient, because they fear to attempt to enforce better standards in the undermanned labor market, or because buildings, plant and production methods are obsolete, and incentives to better output are too sparingly used.
Alongside a seemingly inexhaustible supply of easy money, there is a lamentable indifference to good craftsmanship and good citizenship.
It is admittedly difficult to sustain high standards of work when labor has such a wide and ready choice of jobs, yet the difficulty does not absolve leadership from the responsibility of trying to persuade young Australians that they, and everyone, would be better ofl* if they worked a little longer and a good deal harder.”
I do not agree with all those arguments but the statement of the ease substantially sets out my views.
– I endorse the budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden). Its introduction was delayed because of many peculiar circumstances, both economic and national, but the Treasurer has displayed a full appreciation of Australia’s economic position and of those things that the Government must do in the ensuing financial year. The budget wasredrafted because the outbreak of war in Korea increased national commitments. Our defence programme necessitated the expenditure of £83,000,000. “ One reason for our acceptance of that responsibility was our membership of the United Nations. Another was that, having British blood in our veins, we are naturally the champions of the oppressed and are opposed to communism. We in Australia are suffering from the peculiar disease of over-affluence. Too much prosperity seems to be our main trouble, if prosperity is judged in pounds, shillings and pence. The large amount of money in circulation and the lack of competition in the production of articles offered for sale have caused prices to spiral. Competition for goods is very fierce. Because of the vast amount of money in circulation the prices of the goods produced are soaring, and will continue to soar until production is raised and a part of the money in circulation is withdrawn. One way in which money may be withdrawn from circulation is by legislation. This Government, acting on the advice of the Treasurer, has initiated action for its withdrawal. Therefore, the Treasurer is making a definite contribution to the curing of inflation.
Greater production is dependent upon the individual. It is not a matter for a particular party or a particular section of the people; every individual must accept a share of the blame for low production. The primary producer in my opinion is setting an admirable example to Australians. Irrespective of what the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) has said, the primary producer has actually increased his production and should therefore be regarded as a benefactor and as one who is setting an outstanding example. Inflation commenced during the war years and has been spoken of as a “ heritage “. It is a heritage, but I regard it not as having been left by the previous Government but as a result of peculiar circumstances. It has not been caused by and is not to be fought by one party. It can be tackled effectively only by Parliament as a whole because it is responsible to all the people. The distress caused by inflation is well recognized. The cure for inflation lies partly in what has been often repeated here, that is greater production, and partly in a reduction of profits. We must turn our prosperity from an apparent curse into an actual blessing for everybody. Prices fixation is not a way to reduce profits, nor is it a cure for inflation. Having sampled prices control I regard ‘ it merely as an incentive to the creation of a black market. Black marketing has the worst possible effect on public morale, and anything that will cause it is certainly not acceptable to me. Inflation discriminates between no sections or persons. It hits us all, but in particular it makes solid contact with those on fixed incomes. It badly affects those on pensions and those who through thrift have arranged to draw superannuation in their old age, and it also affects the recipients of payments under insurance policies. Therefore, the representatives in this chamber of all those sections of the people should be eager to co-operate in order to arrest the inflationary spiral. Honorable members opposite have gibed at supporters of the Government who have spoken in this debate by asking. “ Do you believe in the 40-hour week ? “ Talk of that kind is foolish cant in a discussion of the problems of production and inflation. However, to that question, I emphatically reply, “ I believe in 40 hours of work a week “. If the community in general were to work for 40 hours a week and if employees would eliminate strikes and go-slow tactics this country would have no difficulty in increasing production. It would thus be enabled to achieve its objective in a collective and co-operative manner.
Those in managerial and executive positions have a grave responsibility. I commend the brilliant speech that was delivered by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) on that phase of the problem of production. Any honorable member who did not hear that honorable member should read his speech in Ilansard and inwardly digest the sound advice to which he gave expression. Those in managerial positions must learn to give to their staffs credit where credit is due, respect their views, encourage (.heir efforts and, where possible, acknowledge in a practical way their loyalty. Managers should accept every opportunity to encourage true team work so that all in their organization will work for the common good. Employers also have a grave responsibility. They should be less prone to listen to the voice of the agitator.
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
– If the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) would use his head he would make some contribution to the solving of the building timber shortage. The honorable member for Darebin suggested that the time might arrive when it might become inevitable to vary the present status of employers. Criticism of the kind that he made of so-called bosses in the expectation, perhaps, that bosses will be eliminated, does not serve any good purpose. The boss is an essential element in business and if the kind known in this country were eliminated probably another kind who would be less acceptable to employees would take his place. In countries in which bosses have been eliminated, they have been replaced by others who have not been so tolerant as are those who are called bosses in Australia. If we are to curb inflation, the worker must cooperate with the so-called boss.
I regret that no provision is made in the budget for the payment of subsistence allowance to all ex-prisoners of war. However, in failing to make such provision the Government has acted upon the majority recommendation of a special committee that it appointed to advise it, on that subject. Had such a recommendation been made by a less democratic body, I should, emphatically express dissent from it. Whilst I accept that recommendation as- one made by a fair and competent tribunal, at the same time, should the sum of £250,000 which the Government proposes to make available in accordance with the committee’s recommendation prove to be insufficient to meet the claims of ex-prisoners of war in special circumstances, I trust that the Government will provide additional funds in order to ensure that justice shall be done in all the cases that come within that category.
With a view to pruning wasteful expenditure, I suggest that the Treasurer should scrutinize the activities of the State and Commonwealth bodies that overlap. For instance, the Government should encourage closer liaison between the Department of Works and Housing, the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Customs and State authorities with which they work in conjunction. Such a reform would not only effect considerable saving but also simplify administrative procedure. Very often, applications which departmental officers arc inclined to regard as being of minor importance and, therefore, as not needing to be dealt with expeditiously, are of great importance to the applicants. Anything that can be done to handle all applications from the public expeditiously will react to the good of the community at large and to the credit of the Government and the Parliament.
It was generally hoped that under the budget the Government would take the opportunity to effect generous reductions of taxes. However, whilst such reductions were held to be desirable, I do not think that generally they were regarded as being urgent. We now know that unforeseen commitments have prevented the Government from making a substantial reduction of taxes. I refer to the additional expenditure of £83,000,000 for defence purposes, £67,000,000 in respect of war gratuity and £50,000,000 for stockpiling defence materials. Of wider interest is the Government’s proposal to increase pensions of all categories. I point out to the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) that the proposed increase of 7s. 6d. a week in the rate of age and invalid pensions will he the largest single increase to be effected since those pensions were established. The special rate of war pension for total and permanently incapacitated ex - service personnel is to be increased from £5 6s. to £7 a week. The 100 per cent, general war pension is to be increased from £1 15s. to £2 a week. The service pension is to be increased by 7s. 6d. to £2 10s. a week and the war widow’s pension i9 to be increased by 10s. to £3 10s. a week. Nobody would suggest that the proposed increases are as generous as the Government would wish to grant. However, they are a little in excess of what the Government can really afford to make under existing conditions. I have no doubt that it would be still more generous towards ex-service personnel if it merely gave effect to its wishes and ignored its overall responsibilities. It is proposed to increase the age and invalid pension by 7s. 6d. to £2 10s. a week and the pension payable to widows with one or more children by a similar amount to £2 15s. a week, whilst the pension payable to widows without children will be increased by 5s. a week. Under the Social Services Consolidation Act for which, by the way, only supporters of the Government actually voted, the Government has already provided endowment at the rate of 5s. for the first child in a family. I am definitely of the opinion that a definite ratio should be maintained between the rate of pension and the basic wage and that the pension should be reviewed, and, if necessary, adjusted on that basis annually. If that were done the matter of pensions would be taken out of the sphere of party politics “ and thus could not be used as it is at present, for electioneering purposes. I agree with the honorable member for Hoddle that age and invalid pensions should be payable not as charity but as a right, becuse over the years the recipients have contributed for those benefits whilst all governments, re- gardless of party affiliations, have accepted the responsibility of thus caring for those sections of the community. Honorable members opposite have said that the Government has not taken steps to eliminate the means test in respect of the payment of social services benefits. Whilst the means test has not been eliminated in its entirety, the Government has madeit less stringent. For example, applicants for social services benefits may possess life assurance policies up to thevalue of £500, instead of, as previously,. £200.
I commend the Government for its proposals to help public hospitals out of their present financial difficulties. Its attitude on this subject can best be summarized by the following quotations Which I make from statements that have been made by the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) :-
The Commonwealth Government has assumed substantial responsibility by its financial grant towards hospital maintenance which comes up for review this year. The question must be determined in the light of experience whether the present method of hospital financial assistance to the State is giving the ‘best results in so far as the cost of maintenance and hospital finance is concerned.
Adequate hospital accommodation is the foundation of any further National Health programme. There are three distinct phases of the problem to be considered - buildings, staffing and finance.
Every State Government is worried about. the rising costs of hospital administration. Many private hospitals have had to close down Other institutions are living precariously from month to month, with the bills growing larger all the time.
The Commonwealth has no wish to interfere in the internal management of any hospital. Bureaucratic interference will only lead to more inefficiency. Our aim is to help not impede.
The present proposal of the Commonwealth Government to regard its hospital benefits subsidy as independent of and additional to what the hospitals themselves can collect, substantially improves the position of the hospital managements in several respects.
Tt first of all gives them a large field for collection of patients’ fees.
Secondly, it enables them to obtain the insurance moneys for which hospital insurance societies have insured patients.
Thirdly, it gives voluntary aid efforts very definite inspiration and uplift.
Fourthly, it does not encourage patients to stay longer in hospital than necessary and render the hospital bed shortage more acute.
Notwithstanding the heavy burden that will be placed upon the nation’s resources by the necessarily large defence programme and the special commitment that will arise from war gratuity payments, the Treasurer has planned our finances efficiently. I make no comment on the fact that the Government will be called upon to provide a large sum for the war gratuity fund, and I offer no criticism of the wool sales deduction scheme, which will merely require the payment of income tax in advance upon the same principle as that of the pay-as-you-earn system. The . budget is commendable in every way, except for the fact that the provisions for ex-service pensioners and war widows are’ not so generous as I should have wished. “With that reservation, I fully endorse the Government’s programme and hope that, should a subsidiary budget be presented, it will then take the opportunity to make more satisfactory provision for the victims of war.
.- This is the first budget produced by the shotgun marriage between the Australian Country party and the Liberal party. The Government promised its way into office, but it is having great difficulty now in honouring its promises. In my opinion, a confidence trick was perpetrated on the Australian people prior to the last general election. Australians detest and hold in contempt all confidence tricksters. They may be fooled once by aconfidence trick, but they are never fooled a second time by the same ruse. Should this Government be required to face the electors in the near future, it will have to offer the people something more than a mere bunch of promises because, after their experiences of the last ten months, they will be suspicious of anything of that sort. Like a young bride’s first cake, the budget is attractive on the outside but very doughy in the middle. The press comments on it are very interesting. The Melbourne Age of the 13th October stated -
The most ominous feature of the budget is the steep rise of expenditure as between 1950-51 a nd last year. The increase will be nearly £ 100,000,000, Mr. Fadden’s rehearsal of influences disturbing the national economy was unexceptionable and for the most part plowed familiar ground.
The Melbourne Argus of the same date commented -
Clearly the swiftest and surest method of stopping the drift, short of an appreciation of the Australian £1, would be the re-introduction of price controls on many consumer goods in general daily use. Both these methods would be painful and Mr. Fadden has rejected them in favour of a complex system of minor palliatives, designed perhaps to check the process of inflation by sheer weight of numbers. One cannot kill giants with 1,000 assorted feather dusters.
The Hobart Mercury included the following very significant sentence in its editorial article of the same date: -
There is a point of criticism in that apparently no serious effort is to be made to cut ordinary departmental costs.
The Sydney Morning Herald of the same date published the following comment under the heading, “ Mr. Fadden’s Budget Will Not Hold Inflation “ :-
Mr. Fadden’s budget cannot be regarded as an effective instrument to fight inflation. . . It is only by the specious expedient of including the proceeds of his wool levy as current revenue that Mr. Fadden achieves a balance.If this prepayment by wool-growers is to figure in the budget for the current year, it should be classed not as revenue but as a forced loan. This is not only bad finance. It is also inflationary, since by no means all of it would be spent if it were left in the hands of the producers . . . This is discrimination of the sharpest kind.
Those are stringent comments by newspapers that normally support this Government.
I commend the Government at any rate for its attempt to help the pensioners. The increased benefits that are to be made available are varied, but, on the whole, they cannot give to the pensioners what increasing living costs will take away from them. Even though the attempt will not be successful, we must be truly thankful for that small blessing. The subsidy of £20,000,000 on woollen goods is a. step in the right direction because it will help to keep down the retail prices of clothing, which otherwise would rise steeply as a result of high wool prices.
Income tax simplification will be a mixed blessing. The big man will benefit much more than will the wage-earner under the new system that the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has proposed. As an anti-inflationary measure, the budget is a sham. Drastic situations demand drastic measures, but only two sections of the community will be hit by this budget. They will be expected to extricate the Government from its financial difficulties. The first section consists of the workers. Government supporters vilify and insult them one moment but ask them to produce more goods the next moment. The second section consists of the wool-growers, who will be required to counteract inflationary trends by means of the wool sales deduction scheme. “Why should those two sections alone be asked to bear the brunt of fighting the evil of inflation? Reference was made in the Treasurer’s budget speech to an excess profits tax and to capital issues control, but so far the Government has taken no action in those matters. It is afraid of alienating its richest supporters, and therefore . the profiteer, the company director, the big financier, the big business man and the companies that are churning out bigger and better dividends are to go scot-free.
– Do not they pay any taxes ?
– Yes, but the Government is supposed to be fighting inflation, and it has asked only two sections of the community to do the job.
– “What about the excess profits tax?
– The Government has not yet done anything about such a tax.
– If the Opposition would give the Government a chance to pass legislation through the Parliament, it would be able to accomplish its tasks much more speedily.
– But the proposal has not even been presented to the Parliament in legislative form.
The Government is hitting at inflation with kid gloves. It will get nowhere merely by beating about the bush. It dressed itself in the character of “ Superman “, the mighty man of action, ready to crush the monster “ Inflation “, but when it entered the ring the public discovered that the much-advertised superman was merely a weakling whose strength had been exaggerated by the press, who was flabby and flat-footed, capable only of sparring and feinting, but never attempting to deliver a. knock-out blow at his opponent. I prophesy that in round five the monster “ Inflation “ will knock out this paper superman for the full count.
The Government has asked the worker to rescue it from its predicament. The worker is expected to bear a burden that should be spread over the whole community. He is asked to produce more and to work more hours.. But the worker knows that, although he might gain a slight advantage from increased production, the 15 per cent. of the community that owns the factories, the mines and the transport services would reap the greatest reward. Moreover, how can a man work faster than a machine? In most factories, the degree of mechanization sets the pace. Production suffers if machinery is old and obsolete. That is happening in the iron and steel industry, where roofing iron, wire, reinforcing rods, nuts, bolts, screws and nails are made. The production of essential foodstuffs also suffers if the farmer cannot secure labour because men prefer to stay in the cities and work in secondary industries. If men and women are attracted by the wages and conditions that are available in the non-essential industries that have been conceived in the womb of the chemical, scientific and technical inventiveness of the post-war years, the production of essential consumer and capital goods must be jeopardized.
Because we believe in freedom of choice, and in any case because we have no constitutional power to direct manpower in peace-time, workers will continue to go where wages and conditions are best, not where they are needed most. Only a great effort by managements to improve conditions in heavy industries and on farms will attract the labour that is needed to boost the production of basic materials such as coal, iron and steel, timber and foodstuffs. Our situation would be much worse and the distribution of labour would be even more unbalanced than it is if the new Australians who are coming here in thousands were not forced by contract to stay in the occupations to which they are originally directed for a period of at least two years. Yet the slave drivers of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party scream at the workers to work harder and to produce more goods ! The truth is that the shortages of some essential commodities arise, first, from the fundamental economic weaknesses of the unbalanced capitalist system; secondly, from the lack of man-power for the jobs that are available; thirdly, from the refusal of some employers in heavy industries to mechanize their factories completely ; and, fourthly, from the refusal of other employers to improve conditions in factories and on farms. Farmers are desperately in need of man-power, and the need will continue for as long as cities attract workers. One solution of the problem would be to establish mobile labour gangs in different areas of each State, equipped with all the machinery and implements necessary for agricultural production. These gangs could work as contracting teams from district to district. One or two such teams already operate in the electorate that I represent and they are doing a grand job in a limited area. But for their existence, farmers in that area would have to leave crops unharvested nex!t January and February. Such contracting teams are absolutely necessary to the development of primary production.
While profits are unlimited and wages are fixed, workers will continue to be suspicious of the Government’s frantic calls to produce more goods. Furthermore, those ‘ calls sound hollow and insincere when essential goods are being exported from Australia. Many of the complaints about under-production are completely without foundation. I have here the latest figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician relating to primary and secondary production. Honorable members will be interested to note that production of all commodities mentioned in the following list has increased since 1939 : - Wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, cheese, condensed milk, concentrated milk, powdered milk, wool, meat, sugar cane, canned fruits, black and brown coal, steel ingots, hydro-electric power, barbed and plain wire, sawn timber, tiles for roofing, portland cement, electric stoves and woollen goods. Nearly the whole range reflects an increase of production, yet the Government asserts that production has decreased.
– What is the relation between the increased production and the increased population ?
– Government supporters claim that production has decreased, and I am showing that the output of a large number of goods has increased. What will be the effect of the recent increase of the basic wage on prices ? Employers will increase the price of each of their manufactures by perhaps Id., 2d., 3d., or 4d. That additional charge, which will be met by the consumer, will return to the manufacturer in two or three days of each working week an amount that will offset the effects of the increase of the basic wage on his wage account. For the remaining days of the working week, the increased charges will swell his profits. In other words, he will make a profit out of the new basic wage.
The proposal for the so-called wool sales deduction, which will take from wool-growers an amount of approximately £103,000,000 during this financial year, has three big weaknesses. First, it is discriminatory. The average wool production of approximately 70,000 small growers in Australia is 30 bales or less per annum each. Of course, the 20,000 big growers produce much larger quantities than that. Obviously, the small grower will suffer under the Government’s plan. The second weakness of the proposal is that the proceeds from the wool sales deduction will not be frozen, but will be treated as revenue, and will be expended by the Government. The third weakness is that the wool sales deduction plan is really an inflationary measure, whereas anti-inflationary measures are urgently required at present. A farmers’ organization in Tasmania has put forward five points for consideration by the Treasurer. They are as follows: - (1) The prepayment shall apply to this year only; (2) there should be a prompt repayment of the balance when the deductions exceed the growers’ income tax assessments ; (3) there should be adequate provision for prompt relief in necessitous cases; (4) the wool sales deduction should be abolished in the event of a sudden decline of values below last year’s figures; and (5) the money that is collected from the wool sales deduction should be “ frozen “ until income tax is normally payable, as a real contribution to countering inflation. That is a sound scheme, which the Treasurer should seriously consider, but I am sure that be will not do so. The wool sales deduction proposal is a sham and a makebelieve, because it will not achieve the purpose for which it has been ostensibly introduced, namely, to control inflation. Therefore, the political repercussions will be numerous. Wool-growers intend to challenge, in the High Court of Australia, the legality of the wool sales deduction.
The story of the Government’s attempt to put value back into the £1 has been well and truly told so many times that I do not propose to refer to it in my speech, other than to say that I have always regarded that promise by the Government during the last general election campaign as political blackmail.
The Government’s proposals for varying the existing rates of sales tax will extract an additional £10,000,000 from the community ‘ whilst returning £1,000,000 to it. Does any honorable member dare to tell Australian women that lipstick and other beauty aids are luxuries? I guarantee that, if the Treasurer were twenty years younger, the sales tax on cosmetics would not be increased to the proposed rate of per cent. The right honorable gentleman has also had a “ crack “ at musical instruments, and certain cleansing liquids. I regard him seriously as a saboteur of beauty, of harmony and of cleanliness.
I now wish to make a suggestion for reducing the tragic loss of life on the roads. Statistics that have been supplied by the Australian Road Safety Council for the ten-year period 1939-49 reveal an appalling situation. During those years deaths from road accidents totalled 12,978, which is equivalent to 1,297 annually, 108 monthly and 27 weekly. The number of persons who were injured in road accidents in the same period was 209,270, or an average of 20,927 yearly, 1,744 monthly and 436 weekly. The Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) made the follow ing statement in a broadcast speech on the 17th September last: -
There seems to be scant realization that oneroad death occurs every six hours, that one person is injured every 20 minutes, and that there is one road accident (personal and property) every twelve minutes.
I suggest that the number of police patrol cars that are operating on our highways is insufficient to control speeding motorists. The president of the National Roads and Motorists Association, in Sydney, pointed out that very grave weakness in a letter to me. He wrote -
There was never more than fifteen policemen on road patrol duty and often there was not that number. They cannot control dangerous driving as they should.
Apparently, the police forces of the respective States have not sufficient personnel to allot to road patrol duties. If lack of money is responsible for that situation, I suggest that some of the grant which is being expended on publicity for the Road Safety Council could be expended to better advantage in assisting the States to increase the number of police patrols on the highways in order to check the kind of dangerous and wild driving that we see from time to time.
The decision of the Government to allot some of the proceeds from the petrol tax to local authorities for a period of from three to five years is an excellent move, which has the support of all Opposition members who represent country electorates. That definite guarantee of income will enable a local-governing body to plan urgent maintenance works and the construction of roads on a three to five years programme, instead of managing on a hand-to-mouth basis from year to year, as they have done in the past.
I should now like to refer to the human factor in industry. The answer to industrial unrest and strained relations between employer, whether it be a government or a private employer, and employee is not to be found only in physical things like better housing, better conditions; better wages, streamlined arbitration, more production, more recreation, and better education. The full answer also embodies human factors - things of the spirit of man - which are so submerged in this mechanical age. The answer to industrial problems lies in a recovery of mutual trust and brotherhood, unselfishness and understanding, mutual respect and cooperation, a recognition that personality comes before profits, decency before dividends, manners before mercenary mindedness, and the worship of God before the worship of Mammon. This is the age of cynicism. It pervades the Parliament and the factory; it poisons the office; and it pollutes the very air that the people breathe. Nothing decent grows in cynicism. Nothing beautiful or permanent can be built on such a foundation. Civilization can be destroyed by it as effectively as by the atomic bomb. It kills the spirit of man while he is still walking the earth. Cynicism is born in the loss of spiritual faith, in the uprooting of the anchorages of religion, in lack of self-discipline, in contempt for Christian virtues, and in neglect of worship. Cynicism, then, is the bankruptcy of religious faith. It is spiritual insolvency, which poisons the social and industrial life of a nation. Cynicism affects our attitude to life, to our fellows, to our work, and to our family. If our attitudes are wrong, if we have lost our belief in life’s real values, and if we lose respect for God, our human relations will be wrong.
The manner in which we act towards each other depends solely on how we think. Action follows thought. Our attitude towards life, marriage, home, family, religion, our neighbour, our employment, our employees - if we are employers - and money will determine our day-by-day actions, and our conduct in the field of human relations. At present, one side blames the other for industrial trouble. It is about time each of us in all fields of industry had a good look at ourselves, and took a check of our attitudes, prejudices and beliefs. In other words, we should conduct a spiritual stocktaking to clear away the doubts, suspicions, hatreds, selfishness and cynicisms that choke our reason and our faith, and make co-operation impossible. Enough men and women imbued with a new spirit of tolerance, faith, unselfishness, goodwill and humility of mind could bring in a new order in industrial relationships. The moral rearmament campaign throughout the world is directing attention to that very weakness in our industrial set-up. An excellent play entitled “ The Forgotten Factor in Industry “ has been performed in many countries. I prefer to call it “ The Neglected Factor in Industry “. Every word that was spoken by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) this afternoon, rang with truth, sincerity and common sense. A sufficient number of us will need to think and live differently if our relations are to be improved.
I wish to make a few remarks about the impact of the machine on men’s lives, and on our general way of life and thought. The machine is producing a race of mental automatons. It is a soulless thing, which deadens individual initiative, stultifies thought, and hampers creativeness. Pride in one’s work, which was so characteristic of the craftsmen of a bygone era, when creativeness was an individual thing, is largely destroyed by the machine that makes things mechanically, without the touch of the fingers or the adequate use of the brain. The machine largely sets the pace to-day. Production is principally conditioned by machine capacity and technical efficiency. The mechanization of life has the effect of reducing workers to a dead level, whilst a push-button economy may lead to a deadening of the mind, soul and spirit. It leads a. management to look upon its employees as robots, or cogs dressed in overalls. Mechanization is crushing out the human factors that must be restored if sanity and harmony are to be implanted securely within the industrial world. Dr. M. W. Poulter, in an address to the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Hobart last Tuesday night, suggested the establishment of labour management committees, and urged employers to give credit where credit was due, to look for ability, and to treat people as human beings. He said -
Management assumes it is providing’ a livelihood and not a way of life, and workers are often asked to agree to changes they have no part in.
Those are wise words. It is a plea for humanity in industry and, I should add, a plea for humanity in industry to offset the ravages and soullessness of the machine. Those repercussions of the machine age are always possible, but they need not be disastrous to human relationships. It means a new adjustment of the mind and of the spirit to mechanization. It means there must be in industry more and more concentration on the human factor, and more fellowship between workers and between the employees and the management. Partnerships must be established and extended, and there must be more co-operatives. Greater interest in, and attention to the work in hand by the employee can be fostered only by a greater sharing of the fruits of the machine. Men have no incentive to work harder if the only result of their greater efforts is to swell the dividends of “big shot “ investors whom they never see and who spend their time at the stock exchange, or the club, on the golf course, at the races, in throwing bigger and better parties, and in climbing up the social ladder in order to get into the Parliament and into the most exclusive clubs, and to have their names appear in the King’s Birthday honours list. The team spirit is needed, and that involves sharing responsibility, taking the workers into the confidence of managements, letting them see the results of their efforts and being made to feel they are important, human beings with a soul as well as hands and feet.
Only in that way can suspicions, insincerities, mistrust, misunderstanding and social superiorities be neutralized, and a new industrial atmosphere come into being. If the soullessness of the machine not only affects the worker, but also enters into the heart and mind of management, and if management, because it directs and manages men’s lives, becomes egotistical and domineering, or thinks it belongs to a superior class to that of its employees who produce the wealth for its overlords, there is no hope. I repeat that the answer lies, not in physical things, but ultimately in spiritual things, in our attitude towards each other and towards such great things as honesty, unselfishness, humility, joy in achievement, tolerance, faith, mutual trust and respect, our common humanity, and to the Carpenter of Galilee Himself. To lose those things in this modern age is to lose all. - Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– Before dealing with the points that I wish to raise to-night,. I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) on the skilful and courageous presentation of the nation’s finances that he has displayed in the budget. This budget has probably been more difficult to prepare than was any budget ever presented to the Parliament. The conditionsfor which the Treasurer has had to providein his budget are most extraordinary. There is unrest throughout the world, and there are inflationary trends in .every country. In addition, all sorts of troubles have arisen in the aftermath of the recent war. For instance, a huge sum will haveto be provided for the payment of war gratuity, which falls due next year. But overshadowing all those difficulties is the threat of war, which has caused our defence expenditure to leap to a height unparallelled in any peace-time budget. The Treasurer therefore deserves our congratulations on the skill and courage which he has displayed in confronting those problems. I particularly commend the right honorable gentleman for his proposal to simplify taxation procedure. He is specially fitted to deal with such matters because of his expert training in accountancy. I believe that the present budget will be a memorable one indeed.
Included in the budget are proposals to ‘ finance the implementation of the national health and medical services scheme I wish to detail the history and achievements of the Government in connexion with the health scheme, which is an integral part of the mandate given to it by the people on the 10th December last. I remind honorable members that the Government has already done a great deal towards carrying out its promise to introduce a practical scheme of national health. However, I should like to take this opportunity to destroy once and for all the tissue of lies that has been circulated during the last few months to the effect that many different schemes have been introduced, or have been considered, by the Government.
– But that is a fact.
– PAGE.- The fact is that the honorable member who has inter jected lies in his throat.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Ryan). - Order! The right honorable gentleman must withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw that remark, and say that the statement is absolutely inaccurate. One scheme, and only one scheme, has been considered by the Government. That scheme had its genesis in the speeches made in this Parliament by the present. Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the present Treasurer and myself when the previous Government’s measure to provide a national health, scheme was introduced. In addition, the principles of our scheme were set out in the policy speeches made by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer during the last election campaign and they have been carried out steadily and progressively ever since. At the beginning of January last I approached the various federal organizations which provide medical services and benefits and placed the general principles of the Government’s scheme before them. Those organizations remitted the Government’s proposals to their State branches for consideration, which required three or four months. On the 23rd May last, I made a speech in Brisbane which covered the ground set out in the Government’s proposals-
– Those proposals were unintelligible.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) says that they were unintelligible. All I say in reply to that criticism is that the proposals which I outlined have received the approval of all the great medical minds in the world and. have been cited as the first realistic approach to the provision of a national health scheme that has been made in any country. They have not only been printed in medical and professional journals throughout the world, but also have received general circulation. Only to-day I saw a copy of a verbatim report of the speech that I delivered in Brisbane which had been issued by one of the great drug houses and circulated throughout Australia be cause it was regarded as a sound exposition of a proper approach to the provision of a national health scheme. There is not the slightest justification for the false and misleading criticisms that have been uttered of the Government’s health proposals. We did not reveal the details of the negotiations that were proceeding between the Government and the various interested bodies because those negotiations had necessarily to be conducted in confidence. A major national scheme cannot be implemented in the midst of a tremendous press clamour. Because the Government deliberately refrained from making extravagant claims and from revealing details of its scheme, a great deal of conjecture was indulged in and many false rumours were circulated, which were nothing more than deliberate lies-; -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask the right honorable gentleman to withdraw that remark.
– I was referring not to statements made in the House, but to those made outside. I wish now to set out the history of the Australian national health scheme. I shall show how Australia has been saved from a replica of the expensive and unsatisfactory British scheme by the existence of our Constitution, by the activity and vigilance of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party, which have acted as watch-dogs of the Constitution, and by the unrelenting fight maintained by the doctors of Australia to uphold the traditions and practice of medicine and its continuous improvement. The case for a revolutionary change in Australian medical conditions has never been made. Under present conditions the health record of Australia is magnificent and challenges comparison with any in the world. In the last 50 years Australian infantile mortality has dropped from 118 per 1,000 in 1901 to 31 per 1.000 in 1947. At all ages up to 40 years the rate of mortality for males in 1947 was approximately one-third of the corresponding rate in 1901. The Australian life assurance tables for the complete expectation of life show that the expectation of life at date of birth, according to the experience of the period, advanced from 51 years in 1901 to 66 years in 1947.
That was brought about by the concentrated drive of the medical profession in this country when its members were free to act and were not regimented. The medical profession insisted that there should be proper sewerage and water supply. It pioneered the introduction of immunization, and, by the use of preventive medicine, it has reduced the incidence of diseases of all kinds. Australia should be grateful to its doctors for having achieved these extraordinary results. “We need only look at Russia to realize the extraordinary difference between the national health of that country and of Australia. Even in Russia to-day the mortality rate in the first year of life is some hundreds per 1,000 children, and for later age groups the mortality is correspondingly higher than it is in Australia. In fact, the overall mortality rate is five or six times as great as ours.
I propose to say something now concerning the operation of the national health scheme in the United Kingdom. The International Labour Review of July, 1950, in a review of that scheme in England and Wales stated -
The number of days of incapacity, that is, days away from work or kept indoors on account of illness, increased by 22 per cent.
That came about as a result of a deterioration of the medical profession. Al, the same time the cost of the scheme more than trebled from an estimate of £160,000,000 in 1946 to £600,000,000 in 1949. The Economist of the 11th March, 1950, stated -
The only way in which the scheme can be saved is to abandon altogether the principle that it should be entirely free. Exactly how a charge should lie imposed will need to be carefully thought out (there would certainly have to be a means test to avoid hardship). But it has become quite obvious to all but the most prejudiced that a charge is the only way to bring home, financial realities to patients and practitioners as well as to restore the health of the health service itself.
In fact, the scheme is working so badly that 20,000 doctors have sent their signed, undated resignations to the executives of their medical . associations terminating their contracts when the executives consider this to be advisable. Hundreds of doctors have left the country. Only recently a visitor from the United Kingdom told me that the British Government had
Sir Earle Page. transformed good general practitioners into clerks. He said, “ You can always tell a doctor because he has ink all over his fingers “.
In New Zealand a similar position has arisen, and the Director-General of Clinical Services, Dr. Cooke, has said that a charge must be imposed and that a. new method of control must he introduced or the scheme will have to be abandoned. The quality of medical services is still deteriorating and the degree of sickness increasing. What sort of health scheme is it that increases the incidence of sickness in the community? Surely the test of a health scheme is whether it effects an improvement of the general health of the community and results in there being fewer sick people!
– The Minister is misrepresenting the case.
– I am not misrepresenting anything. I have stated facts.
The Labour party, in its efforts to fasten an unsatisfactory socialized system, such as that in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand, on the people of Australia in the midst of a war for our existence, violated the Constitution, broke the laws of the country, and, finally, by dictatorial action and an attempted conscription of doctors, arrayed the whole medical profession against itself. In 1944 it introduced legislation for a socialized national health scheme. One of its senior Ministers was a. former justice of the High Court, and it also had the advice of a, brilliant lawyer who later became Minister for Health. It is clear, therefore, that the Government must have known that it did not possess the constitutional power to introduce its socialized scheme. In fact, the measure to implement that scheme was introduced to this chamber at 2 o’clock one morning and was rushed through before daylight. The reason for the indecent haste, of course, was that the scheme would not bear investigation in daylight. When the bill had been passed, it was challenged before the High Court, which declared it to be unconstitutional. The non-Labour parties, which were then in Opposition, told the
Labour Government that the measure was unconstitutional. At the same time the British Medical Association, on behalf of its members, of whom 3,000 were then serving overseas, protested against the Government’s proposals. Surely if there was to be a revolutionary change of that sort these men ought to have been consulted about it. They were overseas, willing to give their lives in the service of their country, yet they were not given an opportunity to have a voice in that revolutionary change. The doctors urged that the matter be postponed until the end of the war, but, the then Prime Minister had a conference at which he stated his case. He said that if co-operation was not forthcoming from the doctors his government would, have to seek other means of achieving its objective; that in the defence services there were thousands of members of the medical profession who had never engaged in private practice ; that the Government was subsidizing university courses, and hoped that the university quotas would be increased as a result of which, the Government would be able to obtain the services of a considerable number of doctors after the war, who would be pledged to give to it those services for a period of years. That is to say, his government was expending public money in an attempt to breed scabs and blacklegs in the medical profession. But what happened when these high-spirited men came back after they had been abroad to interpose their bodies between this country and its enemies? They proved to be the most determined opponents of the nationalization of medicine. The young doctors are more opposed to nationalization than are older members of the medical profession.
Then the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act was passed. It restricted doctors to the use of prescriptions and drugs listed in a certain formulary. If they prescribed outside the limits of the formulary the patient would have to pay for the medicine prescribed. The formulary was very limited indeed.
– That is not true !
– It is true ! That act also placed the onus on the doctors in respect of all breaches of commission under the act. The doctors were not to be paid one penny piece by the Government, because the financial arrangements provided under the act were entirely between the Government and the chemists, yet they were to be used to police the act. Surely that was an intolerable position. The doctors refused to co-operate in the scheme, and as a result the act has never operated. That was the most, extraordinary act that I have ever seen. It included a provision under which people who went into hospital were able to obtain treatment, not only with drugs included in the formulary, but also with pharmaceutical preparations of every sort. On the other hand, people who could not gain admission to hospitals because of the shortage of hospital beds could receive treatment with only the limited number of prescriptions provided by the formulary that the doctors had refused to use. So the position was that the Labour Government placed everybody who could not obtain admission to hospital, no matter how poor or destitute or sick, at a definite disadvantage compared with people who were able to obtain admission. That provision in the act was held to be unconstitutional, and when the new act was introduced the Government altered it to enable people who were unable to get into hospital to obtain treatment with drugs that were not included in the formulary. There was no legal justification for that provision, but for some extraordinary reason four States co-operated in that particular arrangement with the Government, and as a result a number of people in this community have been obtaining those drugs without legal justification. We discovered that fact only a few days ago. The States of New South Wales and Victoria refused to co-operate in the Chifley Government’s scheme, but they have come into my scheme for the provision of life-saving drugs. When we came to examine the position in order to allow those States to come into the scheme, we found the illegal position that I have mentioned, which had been in existence since 1947. That position will have to be legalized.
The 1945 act was declared unconstitutional and the Labour Government introduced a proposal to hold a referendum on the question of whether the Australian
Government should have control of health matters. When the hill was introduced into the House I said that I was prepared to support a decent referendum for the inclusion of the word “health” in the relevant provision of the Constitution, and that we should be prepared to give to the Commonwealth the same wide powers over health as are enjoyed by the States. But what did the Government do? It brought in a proposal for a trifling constitutional amendment that dealt with the provision of pharmaceutical benefits and medical services. We were able to have a further provision inserted in the proposed alteration to the effect that control of health would not be such as would embrace civil conscription of doctors. But despite the fact that the determining factor in the proposal which led to its acceptance by the people was the prohibition of civil conscription, the Government’s proposals that were introduced in 1947 amounted to an attempt to conscript the doctors. When it found that it could not put that proposal into effect it embodied in the measure a new provision to the effect that doctors could use their own prescriptions for certain drugs so long as the patients paid for them. Scarcely a word was said about that amendment in the Parliament, yet the then Attorney-General, Dr. Evatt, who later pleaded the Government’s case before the High Court, to which the doctors had taken the case, wasted two days arguing on that particular point, which had been brushed aside as a matter of minor significance when the bill was before the Parliament.
The present Government finds itself with very rotten foundations on which to build. They were made rotten by the actions of the previous Government. We find, ourselves in a position, so far as the Senate is concerned, because the last Senate general election was rigged so as to keep in those senators who had not served for the full term of six years, instead of making them face the people–
-. - I rise to order. I ask that the Minister be made to withdraw his statement that the Senate general election was rigged. I consider it to be a reflection on the Parliament.
– I shall put it that the method of election was so manipulated that the old men-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The right honorable gentleman must withdraw the statement.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Deputy Chairman. All I want to say is that the Senate was elected in such a manner that senators who had been elected three years prior to the last general election were allowed to keep their seats, although they had not been elected under the system of proportional representation, while all the new senators were elected on a proportional representation basis. In that way the will of the people was prevented from being carried into effect, because most of the senators elected under the new system were antiLabour senators. Now we have the pharmaceutical benefits legislation on the statute-book, but nobody knows to what degree it is invalid. Several of its sections have been challenged before the court and have been found to be invalid. When this House remitted a simple bill dealing with the payment of child endowment to the Senate, it took months and months to come back here and then had to be sent back to the Senate. The story that I am telling is an unpalatable one. We found that the previous Government’s legislation in respect of the medical profession induced, for the first time in Australia, a complete refusal on the part of those providing medical services to co-operate with the Government because they regarded that legislation as an attempt to socialize the medical profession. The Labour Government followed the British model of Fabian socialism by proceeding slowly step by step with its objective but the doctors of Australia took their case to the courts and won it. They then took it to the people and again won it at the general election. During the last general election campaign medical practitioners, for the first time in this country’s history, went on the air to tell the people exactly what would happen if the Government was allowed to bring about the doom of medical practice as we know it. The people responded by rejecting the Chifley Government.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is interjecting too frequently..
– Ever since the present Government came into office it has endeavoured, to the best of its ability, to carry out its policy despite the rotten foundations that were left by the previous Government. Its policy is not to cause a continual series of discords between different sections of the community and not to fight those who provide medical services, but to secure co-operation. Our wish is to have a partnership between individuals, organizations and State, not only in regard to medicine but also in regard to everything else. We consider that both the individual and the State have basic responsibilities. The Government gave to me the responsibility of introducing a national health scheme that would -bring such a partnership into being. The first steps in this regard have been taken.
Conversation being audible,
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order ! There is too much conversation on the part of the honorable member for East Sydney, whom I have previously called to order.
Mr. Ward. - You called me to order for interjecting.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- I am referring now to the conversation in which the honorable member is engaging. I wish it to cease.
– The Government’s action took the form of giving support to community self-help. That is the basis of the whole of our activities. We wish, to have a working partnership with all those who tend the sick. We wish to make the doctor’s surgery and the pharmacist’s shop head-quarters where decisions about individual sickness can be made, because it is impossible to treat sick people in the mass. Every sick person has his own allergies and diseases that are different from the allergies and diseases of other people. We would get nowhere by trying to treat people in the mass. Our aim has been to improve the quality of medical service and to stimulate the individual community effort in connexion with that effort. We want to regard the individual doctor and chemist, not as servants but as partners. That is the whole of the concept of our policy and we are especially anxious to give it effect because it has been proved that socialization of medicine must fail. The best that complete government control of medicine has been able to achieve has been to preserve the status quo ante, but in practically every case it has meant a marked deterioration of the health of the people. Very cogent evidence of that fact can be had from Britain and New Zealand, but the best evidence of all can be had from Russia, where the level of health is low.
The time has come for us to introduce a scheme that will ensure the partnership that I have mentioned., The Government’s programme has two parts. The first deals with what we can do to improve the health of the people by the expenditure of current revenues. The second part deals with capital expenditure on buildings and equipment. Because of the shortages of materials and man-power we have not concentrated so much on the provision of capital equipment, because to do so would mean immediate competition with the needs of home building. We have done what we could in a small way in that regard, but we can, and are, doing more insofar as the provision of finance for health purposes from current expenditure is concerned. Those stages of the programme are designed to ensure the progressive improvement of all phases of the healing art. We decided first of all that we should start by achieving better nutrition for unborn children and children of school age. With that aspect of health in view we have introduced a national milk scheme that has already received the support of the two most populous States. I am sure that the scheme will be operating in those States by the beginning of the school year. I have also no doubt that by this time next year it will be operating in the other States of the Commonwealth. We have provided £1,500,000 for the purchase of milk for distribution to all children up to the age of thirteen years at all schools, whether public or private. We are not concerned about what kind of school they attend, but only with their health, and we are satisfied that if we carry on with the scheme we shall be able to improve the health of the people substantially and also to lessen materially the degree of sickness and the number of hospital beds required. We shall also lengthen the active and working life of everybody in this community, as well as the years of pleasure that they will. get out of life. [Extension of time granted.]
The next part of the Government’s health campaign-
– I rise to order. I object to an extension of time being granted to the Minister. I was disallowed an extension of time when only half-way through my speech, and I object to an extension of time being granted to any other honorable member.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- An extension of time was given by motion. There is no point of order.
– The next part of the activity upon which the Government has started is a national education campaign over the air and through the newspapers to try to have the best methods adopted of improving the health of the people. Attempts have been made to extend immunization throughout the length and breadth of the country by making immunizing agents freely available to State and local-governing authorities. These agents are made available also for use by private persons and doctors. At the same time, the Government has attempted to improve hygiene by methods which will be reported when the debate on the budget has been concluded. The Government has provided free life-saving drugs. This scheme was first advocated by me in 1948. Honorable members who support the present Government were told by Senator McKenna that if that scheme was brought in he would disallow it. It has not been disallowed now because it has been found to be acceptable to the people of Australia and has been designed with such simplicity that this great revolution in the healing art has been carried out smoothly throughout Australia. Day after day, the Government receives letters from all parts of Australia praising the work done under the health scheme and suggesting additions to it. These suggestions are being carefully examined to see whether they can be put into practice.
The Government will endeavour to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. I found that the act passed by this Parliament in 1948 for the benefit of sufferers from this disease was a very good act. I believe that it was drafted as a result of investigations by Dr. Wunderly. Senator McKenna, the Minister for Health at the time, acted very wisely in following Dr. Wunderly’s advice. One of his recommendations was that a pension paid to a man with active tuberculosis should be of such a nature as to encourage him to rest so that he would get well soon and cease to be a danger to the community. Although this act had been passed over eighteen months before I came to office nothing had been done to implement its provisions and the amount payable as a pension to tuberculosis patients was only £3 7s. 6d. a week. A memorandum had been prepared and lay in my department for months recommending the granting of a. greater sum. I considered that that pension was inadequate and, by regulation, provided, for the payment of a pension of £6 10s. a week for a man and his wife and permitted him to earn £3 5s. a week in addition, so that he could have a total income of £9 15s. a week. I provided for the single man in hospital and the man living at home to be given a substantial increase. The Labour Government had failed to take that action because it was so intent on its fight with doctors and chemists. One cannot achieve results by fighting but only by gaining the fullest co-operation.
Although the Australian Government has had control of pensions ever since the beginning of federation nothing has ever been done for the medical treatment of pensioners. They have been admitted to public hospitals, but that has been a State benefaction. I have discussed this matter with doctors and chemists and have been able to obtain concessional rates for pensioners and have prepared a scheme which is only awaiting the printing of the necessary papers to enable it to be implemented. It will then work as smoothly and exactly and with as much satisfaction to everybody concerned us the scheme for the provision of life-saving drugs. The Government has not applied the means test, except in some degree to the active tubercular pensioners. In this regard the doctor is asked to state whether the patient should accept work. The Government has made these free services available because it considers that the national gain to be derived from them is very much greater than the advantage to the individual. If a tubercular man can be prevented from infecting others, that is a great national gain. If a child can be kept strong and well until it is twelve years old, that is a great national gain. If the incidence of serious disease can be reduced, that is a great national gain. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) can tell honorable members how many lives have been saved in the last three or four years by the provision of these miraculous drugs, some of which cost £40 or £50 for a dose. If they can be made available, that is a great national gain, and it is something that should be done by the community for the community and should not be a charge on the individual.
It has been proved in other countries that the free provision of all pharmaceutical and. health services has given rise to a vicious circle which has resulted in a steady deterioration of the standard of health and of all medical services.
– ‘Great Britain’s standard of health was never higher than it is now.
– I know that the honorable member is an expert on all subjects, including medicine. The British health scheme has been a failure.
– That is not true. The right honorable gentleman is the greatest falsehood teller in this Parliament.
– I ask for a withdrawal of that statement and an apology.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) must withdraw and apologize.
– I do so.
– Certain factors are required if any health scheme is to succeed. The cost must be within the financial compass of the individual and the nation and must be controlled by the
Treasurer. In England and in New Zealand the health schemes have run out of bounds and will ultimately destroy their whole object. They are infringing on every activity in the national life. This Government intends to prevent that from happening in Australia. The plan must contain automatic checks and controls on costs, on the abuse of the time and skill of doctors, on the waste of costly medicine and diagnostic equipment and on the inefficient and uneconomic use of hospital beds. The Government must use to the full the existing agencies and methods that have proved themselves valuable in the past. Only a system which keeps what already exists can be developed and extended and enabled to grow. Most important, the Government must secure the willing co-operation of the doctors, chemists, hospital managements, voluntary organizations and insurance societies by leaving in their expert hands as much of the administration and control of the scheme as possible. No matter how good a public servant may be in. the performance of his official functions, he cannot necessarily run an insurance company, which is an expert job.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The right honorable member’s extended time has expired.
.- I listened with pleasure this afternoon to the speeches of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). I had hoped to have an opportunity to say a few words on the subject of the national health scheme, but, having listened to the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) during the last 40 minutes, I am not quite sure of what the position is. From the point of view of a representative of the British Medical Association the Minister made a very fine effort. He has made during the last six months speeches in Brisbane and in other places to the public and to public bodies regarding a number of aspects of his health scheme, but I think that honorable members have heard more to-night of the actual details of this health scheme than they had heard before. This Parliament has been left uninformed on what is contemplated under this scheme, which is apparently being brought in piecemeal. Certain drugs are to he provided free. Tuberculosis cases are to receive well-deserved treatment. But many other people in the community are being taxed for social services and are waiting to know where they come into this scheme. They do not know what medical benefits they are entitled to and what assistance they can obtain from the doctors. Even to-night we have heard very little on that subject from the Minister. Honorable members have been told before of the deficiencies of the schemes in England and New Zealand, but what those schemes have to do with the budget I do not know. Honorable members are not concerned about what happened in the past. As payments for the provision of social services have been deducted from the people’s incomes for some considerable time, they are concerned to know when they will, receive the services for which they have been paying. Honorable members have not been enlightened in that regard to-night. They have been told that the delay in the implementation of a section of the scheme is due to the fact that some printing has not been done. This Government has been in power for ten months, yet the Minister tells us that now, when everything else is apparently ready, it is not able to have the necessary matter printed. That is a weak excuse for a responsible Minister to put forward as a reason for a delay which will probably last for another three or four months.
All budgets are important by reason of the fact that they show to the Parliament and the people the financial position of the country. This budget is particularly important for two additional reasons. It provides for a greater expenditure of the people’s money than has ever been provided for before, even in the days when Australia had a full scale war on its hands. That needs more explanation than the Government has given up to date. The Government also is providing, for a forced loan of £103,000,000 from one section of the community, which is to be treated as revenue in order to ‘balance the budget. The budget, therefore, shows a deficiency of £103,000,000. Instead of its being stated openly that such
Ifr. Gordon Anderson. a deficiency exists, the £103,000,000 taken from the wool-growers is shown as revenue. The Government has denied that this money is a tax on wool-growers* If it is not a tax, it should not be shown in the budget as revenue. If it is not a tax, the economic structure of the country will be weakened in some future year by the repayment of this £103,000,000. If it is not a tax it is a forced loan and is wrongfully treated as revenue during the current year. When it is repaid the Government of that day will perhaps be forced to increase taxation at a time when it should not be increased. I regard finance if this character as most dishonest in its intention. It is wrong because it damages the economic stability of Australia. In times of plenty when the national income is at its highest and individual employers and employees are receiving record incomes loan moneys should not be used to meet current expenditure in any circumstances. If there is too much revenue it would be better to put the surplus into a trust fund or a contingency account to guard against the day when it will be needed rather than to use it to increase inflation and to force a succeeding Government to make up the deficiency.
It is important that the Parliament should practise economy for the good of the country. We should ensure that the country shall be placed in a position to withstand a depression, a recession or a fall of overseas prices. We shall never be in a better position than we are in to-day to make such a provision for the future. Not only is it dishonest in intention to put into revenue this £103,000,000 extracted from the wool-growers, but it will be a bacl tiling for the future economy of the country.
A peculiar attitude has been adopted by honorable members on the Government side when discussing this budget. They have seemed to display a defeatist attitude and to accept as inevitable the rising cost spiral and the imminent doom of our economy. I agree that inflation is the most important matter to be considered by any government, but this Government is not making much of an attempt to do anything about it. No attempt has been made to answer the questions recently posed by the Leader of the Opposition. (Mr. Chifley). The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke soon after the Leader of the Opposition, but did not try to answer his questions. As usual he ran away from the issues, and with his wellknown oratory, side-stepped the matter, made a good impression on his followers, evoked a lot of cheers but accomplished nothing.
The people were promised by the Government parties a reduction of the number and the cost of the Public Service. According to the Government’s own figures there has been an increase of 4,000 public servants since it assumed office. Whilst I am satisfied that that increase has been necessary, it is quite apparent that the Government should not have made all sorts of wild promises about reducing the Public Service merely in order to catch votes. I have spent some 30 years in State and Federal instrumentalities and I have an idea of the volume of government work done in this country. When new public departments are established such as those of immigration and development, and when new duties are placed upon old departments, there must be an expansion of the Public Service. If the Government wants extra work done it must employ some one to do it. That is mere logic. There must be more workers and more administrators, more office accommodation and greater overhead expense. The population is being increased at a great rate through immigration, and it is necessary to employ large numbers of people to bring the migrants to Australia, house them, train them and establish them in positions. In present circumstances it is impossible to reduce the Public Service. The Government was not frank enough to say that during the last general election campaign but instead tried to win votes by advocating a reduction of the Public Service. The responsible leaders of the Liberal and Australian Country parties knew the exact position at the time, nevertheless they adopted a dishonest attitude and their younger supporters followed in their train. To-day they find that they have to recant what they said then.
Honorable members on the Government side are unanimous in blaming the
Opposition for their failure to redeem their election promises, but surely they do not blame it for their dishonest grab at the wool-growers’ cash or their lack of any practical method of controlling the inflationary spiral. Last December they said, “ Return us to power and all will be well “. A few months before that they had told the people to vote against the prices referendum because it was dangerous to give power to the Commonwealth, and that the States could well control prices. They knew that the States could not do it, but again the people were fooled by the power of wealth, acting through radio and press, and they voted “ No “. To-day one of the contributing factors to the inflationary spiral is that there are no national means of control and no effective State control of prices. I believe that the line of conduct advocated by the honorable member for Denison and supported by the honorable member for Wilmot is the line that we should take. It is of no use to blame the Government. To-day, on the one hand we find communism with its inhuman methods and excesses, and on the other hand we find unjust features associated with modern capitalism in the soulless search for wealth by monopolies and combines. Such capitalism is a contributor to the uneasiness in the community and the real cause of communism and other social evils. There is a materialistic streak throughout the world, particularly in this country. In war-time people eagerly flock to the churches during days of prayer and call upon God to help them to get out of their troubles. As soon as the danger has passed they glibly talk about Divine Providence having done something and then revert to their own petty interests and continue to smash up the better feeling in the community in order that they may gain something in the process. Unless the people of Australia, through their representatives in this Parliament and in other organizations which wield so much power, are prepared to face this truth, sectional and subversive movements will never be stamped out. We must get back to first principles and admit that we have a higher purpose in life than that of merely securing for ourselves as great a proportion of this world’s goods as possible.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN Order! The conversation of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) can be heard too distinctly.
– The argument that I have just been putting to the committee has been strongly reinforced lately. I was delighted to read press statements and to hear radio broadcasts made by His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury during the last week or two. I shall quote one or two of those statements for the purpose of letting honorable members know what I think is the first step that must be taken by this country, this Government, this Parliament and, indeed, the world, before we shall be able to get back to real sanity, stamp out the evil influences among us and achieve co-operation between the different classes in the community. Honorable members will concede that His Grace cannot be charged with being either a member of the Labour party or a Communist. In his broadcast as an Australian Broadcasting Commission “ guest speaker “, the Archbishop said -
Let us bc frank. Our own civilization with all its spiritual heritage is riddled with .practical materialism which discounts, if it does not directly deny, the existence or the relevance of God.
That recites the basic cause of the trouble in the world and I think that it is time that public men, instead of sniggering about it and getting behind some one’s skirts, came out openly in public places and took their stand against this materialistic conception of life which is to-day ruining this country and other countries. It is time that some one who claims to represent the people took some responsibility on himself and stated his opposition to this materialism. Until that is done this world will go from bad to worse. His Grace continued -
Our heritage is a spiritual one created by beliefs about man which were derived from beliefs about Christianity and its Divine founder.
That is a truth that some of us do not like to face, but is is truth and something that we must learn and practise if we are to get anywhere. The most important thing about such truths is that they can be lost so. easily and that they will be lost if neglected or ignored by the representatives of the people. His Grace continued -
One way to defeat communism is to raise the living standards of the people who have known little else but starvation.
There are many of our own people who as individuals are good fellows, but many honorable members on this side of the committee as well as on the Government side are also members of all sorts of organizations which are controlled and used merely as pressure groups to secure advantages over other people. If lying, dishonesty and incitement to hatred are wrong as between individuals, they are just as wrong as between groups and organizations. Employer organizations and chambers of commerce, particularly groups that operate in the vegetable markets and other such places, have shown that they are prepared to corner commodities and to see them destroyed rather than have their price levels lowered. This is in order to obtain profits for themselves in preference to allowing the consumers to take advantage of surplus production by increasing their food supply. That sort of thing will continue for as long as members of such organizations are prepared individually to wink their eyes at the practices of the organization, and to pay their subscriptions in order to protect their profits. I think that remarks such as those that I have made should be repeated from time to time in public places so that we shall not become spiritually numb and thus lose our birthright.
During the last few weeks we have heard a lot about the so-called “ red “ bill. Government supporters have endeavoured to mislead the people into believing that the Labour Opposition in the Senate refused to give to it power to deal with the Communist party. The fact is that in June last the Labour party both in this chamber and in the Senate was prepared to pass the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in a form that would have enabled the Government to ban the Communist party, to seize its funds and to carry out the mandate that its parties received at the general election to suppress that party. However, the Government refused to accept the bill as it was amended by the Labour Opposition in the Senate because it was more concerned to keep the Communist issue alive for electioneering purposes than to carry out the promise that it had made to the people. Judging from literature which the present Government parties issued during the last general election campaign those parties regarded the dissolution of the Communist party as the most important issue at that time. However, it was not until several months had elapsed after the Government had assumed office that it introduced the original Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Before it did so, it introduced the Commonwealth Bank Bill for the purpose of again placing the Commonwealth Bank, the people’s bank, under the control of a board, the majority of the members of which would be representative of private business interests.
– That is not correct.
– Under the Government’s proposal the majority of the members of the proposed board would not be responsible in any way to the people.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I have no doubt that the Commonwealth Bank Bill was introduced by the Government in order to fulfil a promise that its parties made at the last general election, not to the people but to private banking interests, that they would enable those interests to establish a financial monopoly. Candidates of the present Government parties at the last general election also voiced strong opposition to continuance of certain controls. When the present Government assumed office it abolished capital issues control but, now, it intends to re-establish that control.
The Government’s proposal to withhold 20 per cent, of the income of woolgrowers from the sale of wool virtually amounts to the imposition of a wool tax. That proposal is wrong not only from a financial viewpoint but also because the tax is really a sectional tax. The woolgrowers of to-day are doing a good job. I refer to established growers who are shearing from, say, 4,000 up to 100,000 sheep annually. Those growers are on a good footing. However, the smaller growers, particularly ex-servicemen who have taken up holdings on estates that have been subdivided and for which they paid a price that would not be economical if the price normally obtained for wool in the past now prevailed, will be severely hit under the Government’s wool plan. I was born on a farm and I know at first hand the difficulties that confront small farmers when they subdivide their land and effect improvements by providing fencing and sheds. No doubt they look forward to the day when they will be firmly established and will be shearing up to 10,000 or 15,000 sheep annually. At present, however, the great bulk of the wool clip is produced by the small man. It is unfair of the Government to withhold 20 per cent, of his income from the sale of wool when, at the same time, it does not propose to place any additional imposition upon persons in other callings who do not produce any real wealth at all. I refer to professional men, such as doctors and lawyers, and also to bookmakers and hotelkeepers. In many instances they escape their ordinary tax liabilities. Yet the small wool-growers who have gone through tough times are now to be denied a little of the cream that they have earned. The Government betrays a similar outlook in its sales tax proposals. It intends to increase sales tax on radios, valves, pens, pencils, musical instruments and other articles which the average working man regards as essentials. The Government’s taxation proposals also are unfair. It proposes to increase the payroll tax by 10 per cent., income tax on individuals by 64 per cent., and company tax by only 40 per cent., and to reduce land tax by 12 per cent. Therefore, the budget offers little comfort to the average working man.
I agree with those honorable members who have said that a definite ratio should be maintained between the rate of age and invalid pensions and the basic wage. It is disgusting that political parties play up to the aged and the infirm in order to win votes by promising to increase their rates of pension. Whilst all parties have done that in the past, only the present Government parties resorted to those tactics during the last general election campaign. In any event, an increase of the rate of age and invalid pension by 7s. 6d. a week will not be sufficient to compensate recipients for the increase of the cost of living that has occurred since the general election took place on the 10th December last. Many old people who are able to do so continue to accept employment after they have passed the age of 65 years. They work on for as long as they believe that they are physically fit to do so. “When they cease work they become eligible for an age pension at the rate that is payable to a person upon reaching the age of 65 years. As we urgently need to increase production, the Government should raise the rate of pension payable in respect of every period of five years that a person continues to work after reaching the age of 65 years. For the same reason, the Government should make a concession to persons who retire on superannuation. The latter contribute towards the cost of their superannuation benefits, but should they earn any income after they retire they are taxed on the combined amount of their superannuation benefit and that additional income. The two amounts should be taxed separately. In that way they could be afforded substantial tax relief and, at the same time, many persons who are able to continue to work would thus be encouraged to make their contribution towards increasing production. “Whilst the budget makes concessions to certain sections of the community, it does not provide relief for the average working-man. The rate of age and invalid pensions has not been increased as much as it should have been. In addition, the unemployment and sickness benefits are not to be increased at all. I urge the Government to increase those benefits in proportion to the increases that it proposes to make in other pensions. However, as the unemployed and sick are not organized they have no value as voters. But considerable production is lost through unemployment and sickness in the community. As the Government intends to increase all other classes of pensions it should in ordinary justice also increase the rate of unemployment and sickness benefits.
.- The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Gordon Anderson) was not convincing when he criticized the budget. He admitted that over-all it was fairly good. He had much to say about the promises that the present Government parties made at the last general election. I admit that my colleagues and I made certain promises, and I assure honorable members opposite that we shall endeavour to give effect to them. The Government has already attempted to honour some of those promises and it will attend to the others in due course. Whilst the Labour party candidates made very few promises at the last general election, the choice of the people was clear.
The honorable member for KingsfordSmith endeavoured to place upon the Government the blame for the delay in the passage of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. However, he did not substantiate that claim. Every one knows that the Labour Opposition in the Senate deliberately held up that measure for many months and that, after opposing it bitterly, it capitulated only after members of the Labour party in both this chamber and in the Senate had been directed by an outside body to allow the bill to go through.
I shall take this opportunity to say something about Australia’s external territories, namely, New Guinea, Papua, Nauru and Norfolk Island. A great awareness exists in Australia in relation to those territories particularly as a result of the part that they played in our defence in World War II. Recently, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm), the honorable member for Higgingbotham (Mr. Timson), the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and Senator O’Byrne, and I, in my official capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Spender), visited New Guinea and Papua. I doubt whether those territories had previously experienced a greater impact of parliamentarians. It is a healthy sign when members of all parties in the Parliament visit the territories in order to see conditions there at first hand. The welfare and future of the territories should be considered entirely apart from party politics. The Government would heartily approve visit3 by honorable members to the territories because each of us sees things through different eyes.
We should make a three-fold approach to the problems that affect the territories: first, our obligations to them as territories; secondly, their strategic importance; and, thirdly, their economic development. At this juncture I shall not deal at length with the strategic aspect of the territories. Every one is aware that New Guinea and Papua shield our shores against attacks from the north and northeast. In view of the disturbed conditions that exist in countries farther north we should pay more attention to the strategic value of those territories. Dutch New Guinea, which is farther to the west, has been very much in the news recently, and farther west still are the densely populated islands of Indonesia. Practically every week, Indonesia advances claims to sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea. I believe that members of all parties in the Parliament are on common ground in their approach to that matter ; and we should make our attitude clear. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), in a statement that he made to the Parliament recently, stated unequivocally where Australia stands with respect to the maintenance of Dutch sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea. He also emphasized the strategic importance of New Guinea as our main bastion in the north. Some of the bitterest fighting of the recent war occurred in New Guinea I shall read a short extract from the Minister’s statement which remains as true to-day as it was when he made it. He said -
One cannot escape from the conclusion that, by all its characteristics and from the nature of its people, Western New Guinea is an integral part of New Guinea as a whole. Moreover, from the aspect of the security of Australia, the territory is naturally integrated with the rest of New Guinea and other adjacent island territories, which experience has shown to bo strategicallly vital to our defence.
Let us never retreat from that declaration. I hope that no Government of any political colour will ever dishonour it.
The Government is fully alive to the defence requirements of the territories. Its plans have been criticized, but the Papua-New Guinea Rifles, whose name became famous during World War II., is being reformed. Its members have had first-hand experience of war in the territories and they also have an intimate knowledge of conditions there. Native battalions are being raised also and native seamen are being recruited for the Royal Australian Navy. The defences of Manus Island are being strengthened. Manus, that island of ghosts, one of the greatest bastions ever raised by the United States, where 120 ships of war can lie at anchor, with its bases for fighter and bomber aircraft, was a naval and air outpost of the first magnitude in the South-West Pacific. But what happened when the war ended ? The Australian Government of the day plainly gave the United States the cold shoulder. It had a wonderful opportunity to join its defences with those of America and thus bring that great nation along side us. One does not need to have a great fund of military knowledge to realize that such a great base cannot be adequately equipped from Australia’s limited resources. We needed the help of the United States very badly, but the Labour Government rebuffed that great country. The result was that we lost all the equipment that had been stored on that million dollar base. Much of it was sold to the Chinese, and the remainder was destroyed. Stocks of rotting equipment stretch for miles across the island. All this waste occurred because the attitude of the Government of the day apparently wa«, “We may not be friendly with the United States of America for ever, and we cannot afford to join with it in this venture “. Thus, a great defence opportunity was thrown away. The normal training programmes of our armed forces should include periods of service in New Guinea. Advanced training of that sort would equip our men to fight there, should the need to do so ever arise; they would become accustomed to local conditions and at least partly acclimatized. By that means we could avoid the delay that would be fatal if another war should occur.
Australia can no longer afford a leisurely development policy. Time -is not on our side. At present, we must rely for our supplies of strategic materials, such as rubber and jute, upon sources in Malaya, India and Pakistan. But we are experiencing great difficulty in obtaining deliveries of those commodities because other nations are stockpiling them. The countries upon which we now depend are being threatened by international Communism, and, in the event of another war, they will be isolated from us. We are in a very precarious ^situation, and we could be blockaded as ^savagely as the people of Great Britain were blockaded during World War II. Should that happen, we shall be forced to rely entirely upon New Guinea for the supply of tropical products. Unfortunately, development cannot be carried out in the territories as rapidly as we wish. First, we must restore the areas that were completely devastated during the war. Not a house, not a wharf, not a store was left intact by the Japanese occupation forces. Therefore, the task of restoration is of the first magnitude.
I have often been asked what attractions the territories have to offer to new settlers. What encouragement is there to establish a home and to carve out a career in Papua and New Guinea? The first question that a prospective settler would naturally ask would relate to the economicprospects of the territories. The second would concern the supply of public services and amenities not only for men but also for their families. We do not want to give encouragement to. men who merely wish to exploit the territories, make great profits and leave. The sort of settler whom we want in the islands is the man who will contribute to their development, and link his future with their future so that he will have some stake in their prosperity. Let us consider what we can offer to that man. The industries of the territories were virtually extinguished during the war and we are still engaged in the process of re-establishment. Notwithstanding the obstacles that had to be overcome, the territories are supplying Australia with the whole of its copra requirements. As honorable members know, copra is used in the manufacture of soaps and oils. In addition they have 1/V. Howse. a long-term contractual arrangement to supply surplus copra, to Great Britain. Thus thu copra industry has been stabilized and is expanding rapidly as more plantations return to production.
The territories also supply rubber to Australia. The importance of that commodity is so obvious that this aspect of the economy requires no emphasis. Although the production of rubber is steadily increasing, there is room for substantial further development. Prior to World War II., the territories produced cocoa and coffee, commodities that are in great demand. Unfortunately, crops were allowed to rot during the war, and plantations fell into disuse. Rehabilitation presents a big task. I shall not traverse the entire range of tropical crops that can be produced in the territories, Some of the most important are tea, jute, cotton, tobacco, kapok, peanut and spices. The Government will give substantial encouragement to any private enterprise that can establish its bona fide intention to undertake the production of such crops. Those commodities are of first-class importance to our economy, yet we now depend for their supply upon distant Asiatic countries. There is also great mineral wealth in the territories. Millions of pounds has been expended upon the search for oil in New Guinea and Papua, and that work is still proceeding. The tremendous value to Australia of any discovery of oil in large quantities must be apparent to every honorable member. The extent of the mineral resources of the islands is unknown, but it has been established that the land abounds in underground wealth. Furthermore, the potentialities for the development of hydro-electric power are vast. A company will soon undertake preparations for the generation of power on a scale that will provide for the needs of large secondary industries. The primary object of that project will be to supply power for the aluminium industry.
The amenities available for settlers in the territories are not extensive yet. The first requirement, of course, is housing. The Japanese occupation forces completely destroyed all nouses. The Administration tackled the task of replacing buildings in the first place by importing prefabricated houses and in the second place by using native timber for the manufacture of prefabricated houses. This work is progressing slowly but steadily. There has been considerable criticism of the medical services. The Government had to start afresh on the task of establishing adequate services and, for that purpose, it has adopted a policy that will not impose an undue strain upon the limited resources of Australia. Large base hospitals will be established in the main centres of population, and world tenders will be called so that companies can enter the territories and carry out the construction work in the shortest possible time.
– Has the Government provided the territories with a brass band?
– Yes, and it is a very good one. A progressive education policy has been instituted with the object of bringing education within the reach of everybody. Good progress has already been made.
The establishment of adequate communications systems presents great problems. Owing to the nature of the terrain, most of the communications services are maintained by air. A considerable network of air services has been established already and aerial transport is being encouraged by means of subsidies and in other ways. Private enterprise has been invited to develop shipping services. In this way, the Government hopes to foster adequate communications systems and thus encourage the development of commerce and make life more tolerable.
The timber resources of Papua and New Guinea have not been tapped, and they provide scope for the establishment of a major industry. Some honorable members have made inquiries about the settlement of ex-servicemen in the territories. Many ex-servicemen are interested in settling there. They are attracted by the prospect of pioneering a great country and are encouraged by the fact that residents are not liable to income tax. The Government has based its plans upon an adaptation of the war service land settlement scheme. The basic requirement is, not the possession of capital, but aptitude to take advantage of the opportunities that are available. I met many ex-servicemen at Wau who wanted to start coffee plantations. They said, “ We have the ability. We only want the land and the capital”. The Government is encouraging those men, and it hopes to establish them on plantations as soon as possible. It hopes also to establish ex-servicemen on expropriated properties.
– How many applications have been received from ex-servicemen who want to settle on those properties?
– I do not know the exact figure, but I shall ascertain it and supply it to the honorable member.
This Parliament should take a keen interest in our external territories. If we are to develop them as they should be developed, we must cease thinking of them as distant lands completely detached from Australia. I consider that they are as important to Australia as is any State. We should treat them accordingly. Apart from the international obligations that we have assumed in the trust territories, we have a vital interest in promoting the early and complete development of all our external territories. The financial cost will be great, but the claims of the territories upon our resources must rank equally with those of the States. The promotion of the welfare of the native peoples is of the utmost importance. We have introduced various co-operative schemes for their benefit and are doing our best to educate them and to raise their living standards. However, they are backward peoples and the process is slow. The missions are doing magnificent work in educating the natives and caring for their general well-being. By improving their way of life, we shall have a friendly people when they eventually come into partnership with us.
.- The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) has stated that, in. his opinion, Opposition members have not offered serious criticism, of the budget. All that I can say is that the honorable gentleman must have been absent from the chamber for the greater part of the day and during this evening, otherwise he would not have made such an assertion. Therefore, at the risk of being guilty of tedious repetition, I shall be pleased to repeat some of the statements that were made by my colleagues when they analysed the budget.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), who is a former Prime Minister and Treasurer, described the budget as a fraudulent document. Like other statements made by the right honorable gentleman, that is a masterly understatement of the position, when we consider that the wool-growers will contribute an amount of £103,000,000 to convert a deficit into a surplus. That piece of accounting, has been done in a miserable way at the expense of a section of the community that has never asked any government for assistance. It is grievous to speak of this document as a balanced budget, when it really embodies neither more nor less than a plain sheep steal. This “ pay as you steal “ plan which has thrown the pastoralists into honest anger, is bad enough of itself, but the budget is based on mismanagement, because the sum of £103,000,000 is used as a manipulative force to balance the accounts. It is crassly and obviously out of balance, and is a trick on the public.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) made an analysis of the budget last night, and I am sure that honorable gentleman on both sides of the chamber enjoyed his speech, whether or not they agreed with all his opinions. He claimed that the so-called wool sales deduction is a sectional tax. Like all taxes, it has an easy, smooth overall action. The policy may be described as one of, “ Just get some money quickly “. The wool sales deduction is a flat rate deduction which will impinge very harshly upon small wool-growers. They have been led to expect that, when fencing wire and other equipment became available, they would be able to improve their properties in accordance with a balanced plan. For the first time in our history all the agricultural industries and the pastoral industry have had ready money, an it is bad, particularly for the 70,000 wool-growers who are producing fewer than 30 bales a year, to lump them as a capitalist danger in respect of the inflationary spiral, and lop off their profits without any concern for the hardships that they may suffer as a result of such a policy. What sort of hardship board will be appointed to consider applications for relief by small wool-growers in necessitous circumstances? What kind of sympathy and understanding will be given to them? The hardship board will be the taxation’ authorities who, of their nature, are bureaucratic. They are hard to get at, and hard to get anything out of. I shall not dwell on that position, because it has been dealt with extensively by previous Opposition speakers, but I emphasize that the statement that members of the Labour party have not discussed what they prefer to call the wool tax is completely wrong. I leave the matter with this final thought that, whilst the Government talks glibly of socialism, it is applying socialist plasters, crutches and aids to its economy at the moment. The wool industry is an outstanding industry that has accepted nothing from governments in the past, and I contend that it should be left untouched on this occasion. It has agreed in the past to take the good with the bad. Wc should leave it at that.
One of the most amusing features of this budget is the feat of legerdemain performed by the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden). He produced six little budgets. One was in the form of a stern admonition to the people, “ Put your shoulders to the wheel “, and the second was, “ Let’s pull together and co-operate “. I need not mention any of the others, because they are so well known to honorable members. But, unfortunately, a little difficulty occurred in the Senate, and this budget has to be the platform for the launching of a possible general election. It is designed to cover the interregnum, after which the serious budget will be introduced. The people of Australia are bitterly disappointed with this budget because they expected that it would contain some pleasant surprises for them. Before the last general election, the whole of the countryside was rabble-roused by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Menzies. Every nook and cranny of the electorate was canvassed, and the people were told that a new day had arrived, and that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, if returned to office, would put value back into the £1. “What a fatal grouping of words ! It is the most damning phrase that the right honorable gentleman could have chosen. Government supporters now hate to hear it. However, one of the right honorable gentleman’s pre-election promises was that if he became Prime Minister, he would take measures to combat inflation. This budget is supposed to include them. It is said to be the answer to everybody’s prayer, and that it will save the nation, and our prosperity. Panic advertisements have been published in the press by this Government which, when it constituted the Opposition in this Parliament, condemned day after day the parliamentary appropriation for the Department of Information. The present Government uses funds quite callously, indecently and dishonestly in peddling its own political wares. Now it has presented to us its so-called antiinflationary budget, which is supposed to outline a policy designed to put more fire into the Australian people. Its slogan is said to be, “Let us get on with the job “. Yet, it attacks inflation in some very peculiar ways. What are they? First, the budget attacks inflation by a series of negatives. There will be no glamour for the ladies. The sales tax is to bo increased on lipsticks, false eyelashes, false fingernails, switches, curls, eyebrow pencils, scents, oils and unguents. The Treasurer even pursues the ladies to the bathroom, and whispers through the keyhole, “No leg tan lotion, it will cost mi additional 25 per cent “. As if that is not enough, curfew shall not ring to-night. The sales tax will be increased on musical, band and orchestral instruments including drums, cymbals, chimes, triangles, castanets, and bones. I might almost say, “ The rattling of the bones of the Government’s future “. Other musical instruments that will be subject to increased sales tax are tambourines and cow-bells. Members of the Australian Country party have made a. great sacrifice -
Hark thu hells of distant cattle
Waft across the range,
Through the golden scented wattle
Music low and strange.
If there is no cow bell, how will members <-!’ the Australian Country party be summoned to their prayers, trials and tribulations iw their caucus? As if misery is not deep enough, there will be no sleigh bells in the snow. Mouth organs will be banned, harmonicas will be quietened, and even bagpipes will be subject to the increase of sales tax. Just imagine, the Treasurer, who represents the electorate of McPherson, proposes to increase the tax on bagpipes! I hope that every Scotsman in the community will remember that. Other musical instruments upon which the sales tax will be increased are musettes, pitch pipes, jew’s harps, flageolets, ocarinas and octarines, tonettes, canary warblers, kazoos, whistles, magic flutes, calls and blow-horns. I hope that members of the Association for the Preservation of Kazoos will march on Canberra and cause the Treasurer to withdraw this scandalous impost. As if that is not enough, another attack is to be made on terrible spendthrifts. The inflationary spiral will be steadied by increasing the sales tax on a watch for Little Nell’s Christmas present. The Treasurer even pursues the romantic. The man who buys his fiancee a wedding gift will have to dig deeper into his pocket to pay the extra tax. Moonlight and roses will be no more, because wristlet watches will bear the increased rate of sales tax. The festive season is approaching and the increase of sales tax on jewellery and fancy goods, following a. similar increase in recent years, will make such presents most expensive.
In his pursuit of those monsters whose frenzied spending increases the inflationary conditions, the Treasurer directs his attention to the typist who proposes to take a holiday at Christmas time. If she is to keep up with the Joneses, she must have a new suitcase, the sales tax on which will be increased by 25 per cent. She will have to pay that impost if she requires a new suitcase to go to Katoomba, the Barrier Beef, or back to Sorrento. There will be no blue bird on the windowsill any more and there will be no rainbow in the sky, because the Treasurer expects to extract an additional £6,000,000 in sales tax from those monsters who are causing the present inflationary conditions. Those are the remedies that the right honorable gentleman provides in his budget for inflation, and to give effect to the Government’s scheme for putting value back into the £1. But what are the real causes of inflation that should be tackled? The Government, in its varied advertisements, gives expression to the magic words, “production, defence, and development”. Wordy programmes are breathed by the genius in the Government’s publicity department, but they are without life. Words, words and more words tumble out, while the inflationary spiral continues unchecked. The Treasurer will clamp down on glamour, he will still the musical instruments, and he will tax the young typist who requires a new suitcase for her Christmas holiday, but those measures are trifling and piffling, and will not combat the present inflationary conditions.
Then, buried in the budget, which the former Treasurer has described as a fraudulent document, are a series of intolerable lies, the first of which is the production lie. The Government asks, “ Who is to blame for the production position?” and speakers who support it reply dutifully, “ The worker is to blame “. Let us be sensible. During this debate to-day, honorable gentlemen on both sides of the chamber have expressed some reasonable thoughts. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley) and the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Gordon Anderson) spoke as Australians when they referred to the need for co-operation and common sense. If we are to have co-operation, what contribution will the Government make? Before it yearns over the worker and his representatives, and asks us for co-operation, it should apologize to us. I have in my hand a copy of the policy speech that was delivered by the present Prime Minister during the last general election campaign. Honorable members are familiar with that document. The front page bears the right honorable gentleman’s photograph, which has won the the hearts of millions of Australians. He sa id -
If you vote for the socialists, don’t complain afterwards that you didn’t know it was loaded.
He said, again -
The case against Labour is a deadly one. It concerns the mental, spiritual and physical future. It is a common fraud in politics. 1/r. Hayley.
Later he referred to the Labour party,, and the so-called socialists, and said of their policy -
It connotes a reduction of human freedom. It has lost all spiritual content. It is an alien and deadly growth.
Now the right honorable gentleman shouts hosannas in our ears, and yearns for co-operation. He says, “ Come and join us, and help us to govern the country as successfully as you were able to govern it alone “. We coyly reply, “ We do not think so “, and we are criticized for being unco-operative.
I return to the production lie. The worker is supposed to be the danger in this community, yet he suffers from many things. He has never been forgiven for having gained the 40- hour working week, and for having obtained high wages. But he has paid dearly for those improved conditions. He lives in the midst of a series of frustrations. The crisis is attributable, not so much to production as to the lack of manpower. The Australian worker, when the Labour Government was in office, accepted an immigration programme the effect of which was that every migrant increased the inflationary conditions by £1,000 until he was established, and was a likely competitor for the Australian worker’s job. Would the boss have accepted the migrants had he been in the same position as the much-maligned worker? Government supporters and their friends do not regard the employee as a human being. He is cut up into units of production per man-hour by the dissecting machines of the economists. The whole thing makes me sick. Interpreters are employed to asses whether the employees work or do not work. Who is to say which section is responsible for the present conditions? Government supporters speak of the need for increasing coal production, yet we learn that the peak of production has been reached. In spite of that, the old wail of “ Give us more coal and steel, and you will be supplied with everything you require “ still assails our ears. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Casey) has been peering in all directions, and examining our national resources. Holms come to the conclusion that “he can get nowhere, thank you very much”, unless there is more production. Well, we all know that.
Two honorable members opposite owe their membership of the Parliament to-day to an extremely generous gesture onmy part, in that I moved from one portion to another of the electorate of Parkes, which I represent. I refer to the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) and the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne).
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hayl en) was surely too generous!
– I shall deal with the grocery trade presently. The honorable member for Lowe is an economist, and a fine fellow. However, he must have a desiccated view about man-power, because he apparently believes that the worker should sit in front of a wheel and turn it all day, not for any material good that may accrue to him in this world, but for the sake of some benefit that he may enjoy in the hereafter. I traced the history of the honorable gentleman and I learned that he was a brilliant economic student. A localauthority in the press gallery on members of the Parliament, who wrote something about the honorable gentleman, said that in addition to passing brilliantly in economics he had succeeded in tieing a bow tie in 45.02 seconds, which was a record that was likely to stand for years. However, such feats are not likely to advance the interests of the workers, and I do not regard the honorable gentleman as an authority on ordinary economic matters. The second honorable gentleman to whom I have referred, the honorable member for Evans, has done nothing except admonish honorable members. In a high pitched voice, somewhat like my own, he inquired querulously, “Do you mean to tell me . . . “ Well, I am not trying to tell him anything; I am merely trying to explain that the workers, who comprise 95 per cent. of the community, are tired of the self-styled authorities telling them that they should work harder. But as though it was not enough that the political amateurs, the cadets among honorable members opposite, should tell the workers what to do, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself breathes into their ears over the radio, asking them to speed up. When the worker goes to his job he punches a bundy clock, fills in a time card and sits in front of a hungry machine that is geared to do perhaps ‘7,000 revolutions an hour, and he is more or less compelled to produce a certain quantity of goods. Into the ears of that busy man, whose hearing is almost drowned by the mechanical noises round him, whispers the voice of the Prime Minister, “Faster, brother, faster, faster! “ We can almost hear the Prime Minister’s sibilant whisper above the whirr of the machinery. The worker, being an honest man, attempts to go faster. But does the right, honorable gentleman really believe that he can, or should, work any harder or faster? Does he mean what he says over the air? I browse in the Parliamentary Library sometimes, and in the course of one of my recent incursions, I found that the right honorable gentleman had been writing - which is a dangerous thing. He was writing an introduction to a biography of Edmund Barton, our first Prime Minister, under a shaded lamp, where no workers were listening or watching. This is what he was writing-
Have we really succumbed to thegraceless andbarbarian idea that life must be all getting and spending?-
Perish the thought ! -
That the leisure and the joys of art and of living must be postponed until our acquisite facilities fail.
What a different story ! Then, working himself up to a well-mannered frenzy, he concluded on this note of poetry -
What is this life if full of care?
We have no time to stand and stare!
I wonder was it Dogsbody, the foreman, who would stand over the workers for 40 hours a week, who wrote that ! Answer me that question, and I shall believe that the Prime Minister is honest in his drive for increased production.
Now I shall place before honorable members some ugly, unpalatable statistics, which analyse the position very accurately. They show that one reason why production is not better than it is, is that the earnings of the community have not risen in proportion to the rise of the earning capacity of industry in this country. In 1945-46 2.100,000 people were employed in production, and their average wage was approximately £6 8s. 6d. a week. Their total wages amounted to £13,492,500. The total production was £658,300,000, which included £306,000,000 worth of primary production and £352,300,000 worth of secondary production. Therefore, £13,492,000 was paid in wages to produce £65S,300,000 worth of profit to the nation. The workers received as their proportion of that profit 2.04 per cent. In the boom period of 1949-50 2,600,000 people were employed at an average wage of £8 17s. 3d. a week. Their total earnings amounted to £23,042,500. The value of the aggregate production was £1,210,000,000. What did the worker get from that production? The amount of £23,000,000 was paid in wages, so that the workers’ proportion of that production was 1.904 per cent., which represented a sharp decrease on the previous statistics. Nevertheless honorable members opposite complain about the high percentage of wealth acquired by the worker and accuse the worker of not doing his job. In the main, the workers are doing their utmost. Most of them are ordinary, decent chaps who were lauded during the war for their war service in the Middle East or in New Guinea or for the job that they did in the munitions factories of Australia. Many of the servicemen lost their lives doing their duty, and many of the factory workers were seriously injured in trying to produce munitions. But has any one ever heard of a boss losing his life in the lino of duty? Only a few days ago eleven men were swept to their death over the spillway at Burrinjuck Dam. They were just ordinary workers, the type of men whom honorable members opposite castigate for not playing their part and pulling their weight. There is a book in the Parliamentary Library, which, incidentally, contains a splendid introduction by a British Cabinet Minister, Mr. Noel Baker, M.P. It records the human story associated with the effort to save 108 British miners who were entombed in a mine. When mechanical devices had failed to release the stricken men, their workmates voluntarily risked their lives to save them. They even scrabbled with their fingers to get through the earth to the trapped men. I submit that the worker has earned our friendly support, gratitude and admiration for what he has done over and above the line of duty.
The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), who is such a great advocate of dilutee labour, interjected during the course of a speech recently to complain that bricklayers were laying only 300 bricks a day. That old story has floated about for years. I should like to tell the honorable member another story. In the electorate that I represent an unfortunate family is sharing a house which is hopelessly inadequate to accommodate them. The family consists of a former miner, who had to cease work because his lungs had become dusted, and his wife and several children, including two adult sons. Because of the housing shortage the whole family are living in one small house. During the last twelve months Sydney has experienced tropical weather, and heavy rain has fallen every alternate day, and sometimes every day. Because of the lack of accommodation in the house the adult sons of the family have to sleep in a so-called sleep-out, which consists merely of a tiny portion of the verandah with a net over it. When the rains fall they beat into the verandah, and the sons have to drag their beds into the lounge room so as to keep them dry. Two of them are learning bricklaying under the rehabilitation scheme. Does any reasonable man imagine that those young men would be content to lay only 300 bricks a day when they realize so acutely the desperate housing shortage that exists in the community? That acute shortage of housing is not the fault of the Government of New South Wales or of any omission or misdeed on the part of the former Labour administrations in this Parliament, but has arisen out of the recent war. During that war Australia was compelled to put so many men into khaki, over and above normal safety limits, that the ordinary requirements of the community were, in consequence, neglected for years. The honorable member for Canning should remember that when he speaks of the go-slow bricklayer who lays only 300 bricks a day. I ask him to think of the dusted, incapacitated miner, and his wife, who is sick from overwork and worry, and the plight of their family, which is living with them.
If honorable members opposite still feel disposed to attack the worker about the shortage of houses, I invite them to consider first the operations of the brick combines. A house hunter cannot get a house built unless we are prepared to negotiate with builders on black-market terms. That is typical, not only of Sydney, but also of all parts of Australia. Those pious honorable gentlemen opposite who talk such utter bilge about the worker slacking on the job should realize that if the fibre of the worker is rotted to-day, it is the boss who has rotted it.
– When is the honorable member going to start talking sense?
– The fibre of the worker may have rotted because of the dreadful promiscuity associated with the housing conditions under which he has to live. If the honorable gentleman who has just interjected, in a voice that reverberates round the chamber, has ever been in a workers’ compensation court he will have seen the catalogue of industrial cruelty. I suppose the honorable gentleman values his head, although his seat is probably more valuable to him. In the workers’ compensation courts a price is placed on the arms, legs, eyes, and, in fact, on every part of a man’s anatomy that may be injured or destroyed in the battle for life. If my remarks are not acceptable to those honorable members opposite who are voicing dissent from them, I invite them to compare the sufferings of the worker with those of the poor old boss, the war-time hero of the cost-plus system. The post-war bosses have graduated to the ranks of the newly rich, and there are some unpleasant persons among them. They are the underground capitalists who get everything “ on the black “. They “ know a ‘fellow who knows a bloke, who is in touch with another bloke “, who can do something for them ! They are the people who are really responsible for the inflation that exists to-day. Many of those newly rich creatures of the post-war era are suffering acutely. They have acquired so much wealth that they are having a terrible time in spending it. Of course, they are making sacrifices! They are eating their way through inflation, and are suffering from thrombosis, coronary occlusions and high blood pressure. One needs only to look at the “ cooked “ balance-sheets of the small companies behind which they cloak their identities to get an idea of their character. Only recently the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke), who is a barrister and an accountant, analysed a balance-sheet which showed sundry expenses totalling £69,000! What a ‘lot of stamps, pin money and afternoon teas for typists that money must have provided ! Mushroom companies are paying dividends of 120 per cent., and dividends of from 15 to 20 per cent, are quite common. The “ cooked “ balance-sheets of many companies conceal the fabulous extravagances of the newly rich directors, including their hotel expenses, trips abroad and so on. All those expenses are lumped together in the balance sheets, in order to defraud the Commissioner of Taxation. These newly-rich individuals are assisted in furnishing their taxation returns by a battery of accountants and taxation specialists. That is the real cause of the current inflationary spiral and is the reason why the £1 is being drained of its value. The things that I have mentioned are notorious. Every one knows about them. Is there any wonder then that the worker sniffs at the stale bait of incentives and profit-sharing? Of course, those concessions are proposed to be given to him now because the exploiters find that they cannot do without him.
We have considered the position of the workers and of the bosses, or, at least, of some of the new bosses, many of whom are very questionable individuals. Now, we come to the unfortunate middle-class, which includes the retired workers and the pensioners, whom this Government was elected to look after. After all, the man who is dependant on a fixed income is the real victim of the present state of economic unbalance. Consider the thousands of clerks and shop assistants who must, for the sake of appearances, buy new suits - and a suit costs 25 guineas now! Look at the plight of the superannuated persons. The monetary value of their pensions has been almost halved. How can they contrive to live decently? Only one tiling can restore to those people a chance to live decently once more, and that is the re-introduction of control of prices, wages and profits.
– The former Labour Administrations, which the honorable member supported, tried those methods.
– That is quite true. The point is that the anti-Labour parties have evolved no original method to combat inflation. Every idea that they have advanced has been borrowed from Labour. We are teaching them the A.B.C. of politics. The only methods that will combat inflation are those which our political opponents have stolen from us, who are the so-called socialists. I invite honorable members on both sides of the chamber to consider for a moment the limited, half-baked controls that the present Government proposes to introduce. Has not the Government copied every one of them from Labour’s book but was not game to follow through? But if the Government really wanted to be honest and to check the present inflationary trend it would do as we did when we were in office and go the whole hog. I emphasize the fact that an increase of the present inflationary spiral by 20 per cent, would rock the nation. Half measures are not nearly enough. If the Government was determined to go the whole hog it would do what Labour did. It would “ freeze “ prices and profits, and, if necessary, “freeze” wages. But - to borrow a phrase of the Prime Minister - it has not the guts to do that. It is looking for formulas, and the “ way out “. It has no plan and no courage. All its energies are devoted to finding a “ way out “ of its difficulties.
Think of the monstrous “ Goebbels “ lie in the Liberal party’s election propaganda. It promised to restore value to the £1. That promise has become a nightmare to the Government and a terror to the people. Having failed to honour its undertaking, the Government is desperately looking round for something that will cause a. diversion. The first, and major, item of diversion was the “ reds “. We have only to consider what that diversion has done to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). That is one consequence of its diversionary activities. The “ red “ menace is peddled everywhere to keep the minds of the people off the real issue.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) negatived -
That the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) be granted an extension of time.
.- The Government can be justifiably proud of the budget, in which it has shown that it recognizes the difficulties that confront the nation and intends to try to overcome them boldly and humanely. Some honorable members have stated that it i3 an inflationary budget.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! Honorable members who are standing on the Opposition side engaged in conversation must resume their seats.
– I believe that that statement was made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), as well as by other honorable members. I take it that the Leader of the Opposition considers that the budget that lie presented in his last year of office was a good one. Possibly he believes that it was th-e perfect specimen of a budget. It provided for a total expenditure of £567,000,000, whereas this budget proposes an expenditure of £738,000,000, or an increase of £171.000,000. How is that big increase accounted for? In the first place we have a debt of gratitude to pay to members of the armed forces who went overseas and helped to make it possible for this Parliament to assemble here to-night. The payment of war gratuities to ex-service men and women falls due next March, and provision is made in the budget for an amount of £31,000,000 to be added to the reserve that was accumulated for that purpose. That sum will raise to £67,000,000 the amount set aside for that purpose.
– The honorable member is referring to what the Labour Government accumulated.
– Correct ! There is no doubt about that, and it is to the Labour Government’s credit. I come now to the provision in the budget for expenditure on defence. “World events have shown us that we cannot afford to be defenceless. Last year the budget provided for an expenditure of £58,000,000 for defence purposes. The expenditure provided for in this budget is more than £133,000,000, an increase of about £75,000,000. The total is a tremendous amount to be provided for in a budget at any time in respect of any one item. “We all admit, however, that the world situation demands that we shall make provision to protect our country and other countries that are under our wing.
Another item in the budget that accounts for some of the increase of the total estimated expenditure is the £18,000,000 that is required by the Postmaster-General’s Department for the procurement of the stores and equipment necessary for the expansion of postal facilities. Another item relates to the restoration of the payment of subsidies on woollen goods. The previous Government withdrew subsidies on woollen goods, and as a result the retail prices of woollen clothing increased out of all proportion to the earnings of the average workers, because after the subsidies had been withdrawn the world price of wool was forced up by the pressure of international events. The Government proposes to restore the subsidy on wool at a total cost of £20,000,000 so as to assist to keep the cost of living within reasonable bounds. The dairying industry 19 to be additionally subsidized to the amount of £4,000,000. That action is necessary so that the people will be able to continue to purchase butter at the cheapest rate at which it can be bought anywhere in the world.
Everybody realizes how important are the construction, maintenance and development of our roads Systems. The budget, provides for an increased expenditure of £3.000.000 for that purpose. Legislation passed earlier this year provided for the payment of endowment in respect of the first child of each family in the nation, at the rate of 5s. a week. That provision will cost an additional £15,000.000 for child endowment. Pensions have been increased to a higher rate than they ever stood before, and this has added £6,000,000 to the estimated expenditure on that account in the budget. Is there any honorable member who will deny that any of the items in the budget that have caused the estimated expenditure to rise by £171,000,000, should not have been included in it? We could not for a moment visualize a nation being left defenceless, and we had to increase pensions. I doubt whether they would have been increased by as much as they have been if there had not been a change of Government last year. Another very important item that affects the budget is the alteration of the taxation system. This will have the effect of reducing the amount of income tax to be paid by some taxpayers. Provision is also made for the simplification of the system so that taxpayers will know how much they will have to pay. They will be able by means of a simple calculation learn when they make up their returns, what their assessments will be.
I turn now to the proposal for wool sales deductions.. The plan involved in that proposal is very simple, but it has been more misconstrued and lied about than has any proposal that has been submitted to the Parliament in recent years. The simple fact is that the wool-grower will pay 20 per cent, of his income to the Treasury to be held under guarantee by the Government and to be used to offset his tax liabilities. He is not to-be asked to pay one penny more in tax than he would normally pay. He is simply being brought under the same method as that, under which more than 2,000,000 wageearners are taxed. In the event of hardship he will have access to an appeals court before which he may place his case, when he has been unable to obtain what he regards as the necessary amount of consideration from the Commissioner of Taxation.
We have become involved in war in Korea since the last budget was brought down. We engaged in that war in accordance with our obligations to the United Nations. It has proved to be a costly war, and must be paid for. I am very pleased to note that expenditure on defence is to be increased because, as has been pointed out here to-night, New Guinea is very close to Australia. In fact, Dutch New Guinea, sovereignity over which has been claimed by Indonesia, lies within 50 miles of Queensland territory. That is a significant and very important fact to the people of northern Queensland. I hope that it is equally important to members of this chamber. We, as a government, knowing our duty and our obligations, have decided to expand our defence forces. Our recruiting drives are already under way, but we have not yet been able to evoke very much co-operation in that respect from the Opposition. Production is down whilst spending power is up, and there is a greater demand for goods due to the increased amount of money that is in the hands of the public. Inflation will continue while that position continues.
One of the most important ways in which we can overcome inflation is the achievement of more production in the heavy industries and building industries. Rural production has shown a great increase since 1939. Farmers have been able to increase their output although last year there were 58,000 fewer rural workers in Australia than there were in 1949. This is the first time in Australia’s history that farmers have been able to complete with the secondary industries in the payment of reasonable wages and the provision of reasonable accommodation for rural workers. It is also the first time that the average farmer has been able to provide himself with a refrigerator and many other amenities that city people have enjoyed for so long.
Essential drugs are now provided free on doctors’ prescriptions. Free hospitalization is to be made available for pensioners. The provision of free milk for school children will be reflected in the better health of the community in years to come and is a splendid move. The better roads that will be made possible by the extension of the payments under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Grant will assist production byenabling cheaper goods and produce to be brought from the farms to the city. I do not think that any honorable member of the Opposition who has claimed that these proposals of the Government are inflationary would seek to have them deleted from the budget. Inflation is being caused not alone by slow production; the floods that have ruinedcrops and increased vegetable prices; the slow turn-round of ships and strikes, or excess profits, but a combination of all these things. Time will show that this budget will react to the benefit of the people. The Government recognizes the community’s fear of inflation. It will do its utmost to curb that tendency and will not allow political expediency to add to the sufferings of the people.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. McBride) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
. -A few nights ago the matter of production per man-hour was raised in this House. Some figures were presented by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). These were contradicted and contrary figures were produced by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). I considered it to be desirable to obtain clarification or reconciliation of the figures submitted, consequently I examined the relevant statistics myself. The honorable member for Evans said that on certain figures that had been cited by Mr. Colin Clark, one of the greatest of economists in the world, the production per man-hour in the United States had increased by 70 per cent., in New Zealand by 50 per cent., and in Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries by 25 per cent. He expressed doubt about whether there had been any increase at all of man-hour production in Australia. Those are the basic facts that were contradicted by the honorable member for Bendigo. Mr. Colin Clark had taken the years from 1932 to 1935 as base years and had computed that a substantial increase of production had occurred in other parts of the world but not in Australia. The honorable member for Bendigo disputed those figures and cited
International Labour . Organization figures based on the thirty-third conference held in 1950. He then cited other figures and said that production per man-hour in some European countries had not substantially increased. I want to make two important points.
– I rise to order. “What the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) is saying may be correct or incorrect; that is immaterial. He is canvassing a debate that has already taken place. If that is in order it is competent for every honorable member who has spoken or has yet to speak to debate the matter on the motion for the adjournment of the House. It seems to me that that would be contrary to the Standing Orders, to practice and to correct procedure.
– I must uphold the point of order. If the honorable member is dealing with a matter that was raised in a debate that has taken place he cannot proceed on those lines; otherwise every honorable member would have the right to do so.
.- I wish to answer a personal attack that was made on me in this afternoon’s issue of the Melbourne Herald, in an article headed “ Communist poison on the building trade “, which stated -
Apparently Mr. Bryson (Labour, Victoria), who attacked master builders in the House of Representatives yesterday, had been reading the Communist propaganda sheet and had been gullible enough to absorb and voice their poison, the secretary of the Victorian Builders Association, Mr. E. S. Elliott, said to-day.
– Order ! Does that article refer to something that the honorable member said in committee?
– It does.
– In that case the honorable member cannot raise it in the House except by leave of the House.
– Can I not answer an attack made on me in the press?
-If the honorable member has been misrepresented in committee he must deal with the matter in committee. He can deal with it in the House only by leave of the House.
– This was a personal attack in the daily press.
– A matter that was raised in committee must be dealt with in committee.
– Then I ask for leave to make a reply to this attack on me.
– This attack, which accuses me of reading Communist propaganda sheets and absorbing the poison printed on those sheets, is a wicked and malicious misstatement of the facts by Mr. Elliott, the secretary of the Master Builders Association. My record in the industrial and political movement is open for inspection by any one and I suggest that my actions and work in opposition to communism and Communists in the industrial movement over the years will prove conclusively that this attack by Mr. Elliott has been made to cover up weaknesses in his own case. Mr. Elliott suggests, in support of his argument, that I should accept a job as a builders’ labourer. Probably I could do a better job as a builders’ labourer than he could. This statement is scurrilous. There is no foundation whatever for the attack that has been made and I ask that the Melbourne Herald be good enough to publish my refutation of it because there is not one atom of truth in it. I suggest that before Mr. Elliott makes personal attacks on me or any other member of the Labour party he should be sure of his facts. Scurrilous attacks do not constitute replies to reasonable arguments that have been presented in this House. Let Mr. Elliott answer any speech that I have made if he can because I can vouch for the truth of what I have said. My statements cannot be refuted by him, and charges of this nature are no answer whatever to them. I suggest that Mr. Eliott investigate the building industry. If he does so, he will find that it is in an absolutely chaotic position because of the methods that have been adopted by the master builders of Victoria.
– On the 10th October I raised with the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) the subject of the Tannachy Private
Hospital, at Rockhampton, which had to close down. I asked the Minister whether, as the Commonwealth had no power to take over the hospital, he would communicate with the Minister for Health in Queensland on the matter as the Queensland Government had sufficient power to take over the hospital and it was its responsibility to do so. The Queensland Government has taken no action whatsoever in regard to the matter. The hospital has closed down and has been put up for sale, and it will be sold to the highest bidder by auction. Possibly it will be converted into a hostel, boarding house, or flats or will be put to some other purpose. One of the main arguments with which the Minister for Health in Queensland defended the refusal of the State Government to take over this hospital was that there were more hospital beds in Queensland than there were patients who needed them. 1 think that as this Parliament supplies the money for hospitalization, it should know that this statement is less than a half truth. Perhaps there are more beds in Queensland than there are patients to fill them, but unfortunately although the beds exist many general wards of public hospitals have been closed down. Throughout Queensland hospital wards have been closed down and the people are desperately short of hospital accommodation. If the Queensland Minister for Health is allowed to continue to claim that there is sufficient hospitalization in that State, i heu the people will have very little hope of having adequate hospital accommodation made available for them at any time in the future. I recently visited the Brisbane general hospital, in addition to others and I recommend that any honorable member who can do so should also inspect it. There is much overcrowding in that institution and in most wards the beds are placed very close together. In the tuberculosis ward they are placed so close to one another that in some cases a distance of only six inches separates the beds of persons who are suffering from this highly contagious disease. The Queensland Government administers its hospitals through a system of boards. Every general hospital has its own board.
That causes terriffic overhead expense and lack cf efficiency. I do not criticize in any way the nursing staffs of the Queensland hospitals, which are doing a splendid job. The nurses are under-paid and should receive a greater remuneration. In many cases the girls who sweep the wards, wash floors and clean windows receive more recreation time and more pay than do the nurses who have to undergo rigorous training and live in convent-like quarters. I think that more amenities could quite easily be provided for these nurses and that there should be a recognition of the value of the nursing service by an increased remuneration. Otherwise the position will continue to exist that, on paper, there are more beds than patients to fill them, whereas in reality many wards are closed down and the beds are unavailable because of the Queensland Government’s adject failure to cope with the situation.
The hospital board at the Rockhampton General Hospital advised the Queensland Minister for Health that the hospitalization needs of the district were completely fulfilled and that there was no need for the’ State government to do anything about the closure of the private hospital, quite overlooking the fact that 100,000 people live in that district and that they have been deprived of one-third of the total hospital bed capacity by the closure of this hospital. What will happen if in the future the hospitalization needs of the people increase and there are no facilities with which to treat them? I ask the Minister at the table (Mr. Francis) to refer this matter to the Minister for Health and to ask him to approach again the Queensland Minister for Health and to impress upon him the need that exists in Rockhampton and the surrounding district for this hospital to be re-opened. The Minister for Health should ask the Queensland Government to change its head-in-the-sand attitude and to supply the essential needs of the people. I do not know whether the recommendation of the hospital board can be overruled, but I have no faith in that board. It does not conduct its hospital very well and if its conduct of that institution is an indication of its efficiency and judgment then the outlook for the people of Rockhampton is sad indeed.
– The honorable member doe3 not think that the Minister for Health would do that?
– The Minister for Health in Queensland might not but the Minister for Health in this Government is an excellent gentleman and a great improvement on his predecessor. It grieves me to think that this hospital has been closed because there are plenty of people who are sick or who have suffered accidents and need attention. Moreover, babies are being born every day and their mothers need care and attention. If a community of 100,000 people is deprived of one-third of its hospital bed capacity then some persons will ultimately suffer and they will be the unfortunates who cannot help themselves.
.- I address my remarks through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), and because this is a serious subject I formally apologize for detaining the House. “Will the Minister consider the entitlement of certain sections of the services to payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-1948? I refer to the case of Private “Neil “Walter J. Mason, a young man of 21 years of age who enlisted in the armed forces. He was the victim of a stabbing assault on the 12th January, 1950. He lived in my electorate and his family still resides there. Associated with him in the affray were two young soldiers, Dawson and Collins. Mason died, but the other two recovered and are still with the forces. This case received great publicity because a Polish migrant was believed to have been the aggressor, but I do not wish to deal with that aspect of the matter. The assault occurred during some trouble at Moorebank military camp, and Mason was killed. His mother made application early in January to the Minister and the Department of the Army for compensation for the loss of her son. He was the eldest of the family, in which there are younger children, the eldest being thirteen years of age. Mason enlisted, through patriotic motives. He was a tradesman and was already well employed at the time. The mother applied for compensation, but I have been informed that it is not possible to give it to her. I made representations on her behalf and the refusal to grant compensation was conveyed in a letter addressed to me by the Minister for the Army which reads -
I refer further to your representations oi 2.1st September, 1950, on behalf of Mrs. E. M. Mason, of 233 Enmore Road, Marrickville, on the question of her claim for compensation in respect of the death of her son, Neil Walter J. Mason.
Mrs. Mason’s claim has now been considered by the Delegate of the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation but I regret to inform you that it has been disallowed.
Formul advice of the disallowal of her claim is being forwarded to Mrs. Mason by the Command Secretary, Eastern Command.
In advising my Department of the fact that Mrs. Mason’s claim could not be admitted, the Commissioner for Employees1 Compensation indicated that the case had been most carefully examined, but that it could not be accepted under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-48.
In view of the fact that the Minister is administering the Army and the Navy, both of which are growing services and in respect of both of which a recruiting campaign is in force, perhaps he should consider the effect of cases such as this upon enlistment in those forces. I cannot understand why this woman did not get something as a dependant, but the fact is that she received nothing. There would be a certain sad pride in losing a relative in war-time during the course of duty, but it is tragic to lose one under circumstances such as these. This boy has left an economic gap in the family yet his mother has received no compensation. There are many such cases and it is quite invalid to try to deal with this man within the terms of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-1948. The decision is a negation of the Govern.ment’s recruiting publicity. To-day I read «n advertisement by the Government which claimed that citizens would be better off and better compensated and would have greater security and so on, in the services. Yet a young man who enlisted was killed in circumstances such as I have related and his dependants thereby suffer great economic loss. The Minister has commented on this matter on other occasions, but now is the time to amend the act as quickly as possible because cases such as this will have an adverse effect on recruiting. Apart from recruiting, it is brutally bard to rely upon a cold analysis by a public servant of an act that was first introduced in 1930, and to take no governmental responsibility. This man is dead because of a hazard that I suppose may have befallen any other serviceman in somewhat similar circumstances. During training many injuries are suffered by servicemen and they should be protected against economic loss through these injuries. There should be some streamlined compensation measure to cover such cases.
Will the Minister, by act of grace or other authoritative means, give this woman some compensation? I press him to ensure that she shall not be victimized through having allowed her son to join the Army when he was under age and her consent to his joining was necessary.
.- 1. support the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). I thank the Minister (Mr. Francis) for his great courtesy in providing above the obligations of the law for Mrs. Hoy, the widow of a man killed in the accident on Tarakan. However, the Minister is aware that the very generous gesture that he has made to assist her during the first years of her widowhood do not come within the category of the war widow’s pension which is a continuing allowance. The former Labour Government did not make any additional provisions in such instances and did not treat the dependents of persons accidentally killed as being eligible for war pensions.. I took up with the former Minister for the Navy cases of dependants of personnel who were killed while serving on corvettes that were engaged in mine sweeping. Notwithstanding that that has not been the custom in the past, the number of accidental deaths that occur among naval personnel in peace-time is so small that such a concession to their dependants would not constitute a very serious charge upon the public revenue. At the same time, for the persons concerned it would mean the difference between a livelihood and ruin. Some of the sailors who were killed on Tarakan were aged from 20 to 24 and their widows are about the same ages so that ordinarily their expectation of life would be another 50 years. Generous cash bonuses are not as valuable to these dependants as are war pensions. I ask the Minister to give this matter urgent consideration. I am grateful to learn that he is investigating it, but as I am constantly receiving correspondence from dependants whose need is considerable, I should be glad if something were done more quickly in the matter.
– In the absence of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Casey) I bring to the notice of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. White) a matter which related to the construction of the civil aviation aerodrome at West Beach which actually concerns a number of persons, including myself, who live in Press-road, Brooklyn Park, Adelaide. Running beside that road is a deep creek. Originally, it was meant to be a drain, but the watercourse is now from 12 to 15 feet wide and has a depth of from 6 to 8 feet. The local municipal council or the Highways Department will not rectify this nuisance because they know that, inevitably, it will become the responsibility of the Australian Government owing to the fact that the watercourse runs through part of the aerodrome. I ask the Minister to give immediate attention to this matter rather than to wait until the aerodrome is completed. This nuisance will have to be rectified sooner or later and the Government might just as well attend to the work immediately in the interests of residents in that area. More than 63 children of school-age live in homes adjacent to the drain. Recently, a seven-year old child who fell into the drain when it was in flood was saved from being swept to her death only because she was fortunate enough to be caught in a fence that had collapsed into the creek. Several taxi-cab9 have accidentally fallen into the creek and have been recovered with the aid of emergency mobile cranes. My car, when I had one, was backed into the creek on one occasion. Several other persons have had similar experiences. As the creek bed consists of black, slimy mud and the stench from it is almost unbearable during hot weather, it constitutes a menace to the health of residents in the locality. My doctor is of the opinion that the prevalence of sickness among the children who live in Press-road is probably due to this menace.
I do not know whether the Minister will deal with this matter on party lines and will scrub it because I have brought it to his attention, but if he adopts that attitude, all I can say is that one day when I am Minister for Works and Housing I shall have an opportunity to even the score. I trust that the Government will treat the matter on a non-party basis and thus relieve me of the necessity to blemish my great future by dragging party political issues into the administration of the department concerned when I assume charge of it. Seriously, I appeal to the Minister to give earnest consideration to the matter. I trust that he will take it that this matter has been raised not by a member of the Labour party, but by an honorable member who represents 45,000 worthy Australian citizens. I hope that the Minister will look at the matter in that light and exercise some of the friendship and co-operation which Government supporters continually twit me for refusing to extend to them. I shall await with interest the result of my representations and will be anxious to see whether the Government will treat them on party lines or will give a fair deal to the people whom I represent.
– In the absence of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Casey), I shall reply to the representations that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has made with relation to the West Beach Aerodrome, which is a civil aviation aerodrome. No exception can be taken to the fact that the honorable member has raised that matter. He has shown great enthusiasm and has thrown himself into the subject extremely well. However, the drain to which he has referred did not appear overnight. It existed when the Labour Government commenced the construction of the aerodrome at West Beach. The main point is that the drain has no relation whatever to the aerodrome. Adelaide is the envy of other capital cities in that it possesses four aerodromes, which are located at Parafield, Gawler, Mallala and West Beach. At the last-named aerodrome, one runway will be finished by the end of the year. The matter that the honorable member has raised is one for the local government authority that controls the area, and he should make representations to that body to rectify the nuisance of which he has spoken.
– The drain runs through the aerodrome.
– Yes, I know, and the honorable member has run his car into it, and had all sorts of unusual adventures. This aerodrome will cost millions of pounds to construct, and will be a great asset to the State. The matter raised by the honorable member is of municipal concern only. If the engineers of the Department of Works and Housing and the Department of Civil Aviation can help by co-operating with the authorities, I am sure that they will do so.
– It is with deep regret that I have to announce that the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Green, D.S.O., died as a result of wounds received in action in Korea. I desire to pay tribute to a gallant young officer, who served with distinction in two wars and who has now paid the supreme sacrifice while upholding the cause of the United Nations. I extend my deepest sympathy, and that of the Government, to his sorrowing wife and family. I desire also to express my deepest regret that the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, so early in its splendid career, should have lost its gallant leader. Lieutenant-Colonel Green joined the 2nd/2nd Australian Infantry Battalion on the 13th’ October, 1939, and served with this battalion throughout the war in the Middle East and New Guinea. He was promoted captain in March, 1941, and major in September, 1942. Between December, 1942, and April, 1943, he was an instructor at the First Army Junior Tactical School, and between April and
June, 1943, he was instructor in the Tactical School, Land Head-quarters. He was promoted to command the 2nd/11th Infantry Battalion in March, 1945, and held this command in operations at the end of the war. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his service in New Guinea, and the citation read as follows : -
For consistently loyal and efficient service while commanding the 2/11 Inf. Bn. in the Wewak campaign. He assumed command of the 2/11 Bn. in April, 1945, immediately prior to the Wewak action. In the attack, lie was ordered to carry out a wide encircling movement to cut the big road and all tracks south of the hills in Wewak. This involved a two-day march through mud flats and swamps to cut the big road, and his Bn. then struck into the hills in three columns to cut the jungle tracks. His line of communication was subject to continuous enemy raids and ambushes and the supply situation permitted the Bn. to live only on a very bad scale. Despite these disadvantages, he organizied his supply system to the best advantage, securing the maximum possible degree of comfort consistent with the operational requirements to maintain the fighting efficiency of his troops. In difficult country and against particularly stiff and determined opposition, the Bn. gained all its objectives after hard lighting during which it suffered considerable casualties. Colonel Green’s leadership was of a high order and the material factor in maintaining the morale and efficiency of his troops at the highest level. The success of the Bn. in this operation was a vital factor in the success of the whole campaign. Subsequently, in opera tions in the Boram Area, the unit was continuously in action inflicting heavy casualties on the Japanese and securing all its objectives. During most of the period, Col. Green was without a second in command and, therefore, he was compelled to get to know his men at the same time as he was commanding them in fast-moving operations. He quickly secured the confidence of both officers and mcn. His planning was sound and He ably led them in action. His conduct in this operation was consistent with the high standard he maintained during his six years’ service as an officer of the A.I.F.
After the war, he returned to his civil appointment, and became commander of the 41st Battalion in the northern rivers district of New South Wales when the Citizen Military Force was reformed in 194S. But he was not out of the service long. In 1949, he elected to become a regular officer. He was one of the first to volunteer for the Korean force, and at the time of volunteering was a student of the Army Staff College at Queenscliff, Victoria. He was appointed Command- ing Officer, 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, after it was decided to> send an Australian ground force to Korea.
His home-town is Grafton, New South Wales. He has a wife and baby daughter This gallant young officer’s death is a great loss to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and to our militaryforces. I am sure I am expressing the feeling of all honorable members in extending our deepest sympathy to his. wife and family.
I am not satisfied with the legislation referred to by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). It was passed in 194S, arid is at present engaging my attention and that of the officers of thedepartment. I hope to be able to do something soon to improve it.
– Will any amendment, be made retrospective in its operation?
– I can give no undertaking to that effect. Consistent with my efforts to administer my department sympathetically, I shall do everything possible to help. As for the relatives of Tarakan victims, I am trying to improve the benefits to which, they are entitled, but, having regard to impending legislation, I have discontinued that investigation until the legislation is enacted.’ I shall continue to improve the conditions of the widows of those who lost their lives until the benefits are brought up to the standard of repatriation benefits.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I expressdeep and sincere sympathy with the relatives of the late Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Green in the tragic bereavement they have suffered. The lo3s of this young, gallant and distinguished soldier in such circumstances is a sad reminder to Australians of the debt that has to be paid for participation in a war in defence of liberty. I associate myself with the expressions of sympathy so eloquently phrased by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis). The relatives of this young officer, and the relatives of the other seven or eight Australians who have lost their lives in Korea, may be able to draw some consolation from the thought that the sympathy of their fellow Australians goes out to them in an endeavour to help them bear the heavy burden of sorrow that has been placed upon them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land, &c, acquired for -
Defence purposes - Wooloomooloo, New South Wales.
Department of the Interior purposes - Carnarvon, Western Australia.
Postal purposes - Perth, Western Australia.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
d asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
European countries to fill our requirements. A careful survey has shown that in Europe there are three main countries with surplus populations from which Australia can secure migrants possessing the necessary skills and qualifications to meet our needs. They are Holland, Western Germany and Italy. Arrangements for the introduction of migrants from these countries would be on a strictly selective basis and acceptance of any migrant would depend upon his satisfying Australian Selection Teams that he conforms with our high standards of health, good character and freedom from security risk, and that he can be readily absorbed into the Australian community.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
t. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
N.B. - I. i.e. Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 November 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19501102_reps_19_210/>.