House of Representatives
14 August 1958

22nd Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 363



Killing of Natives


– Will the Minister for Territories inform the House what steps he has taken to carry out the undertaking he gave to appoint a judicial inquiry into the affair involving loss of life in New Guinea?

Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The arrangements for the appointment of a judicial inquiry are under way. Early next week I hope to be able to make a precise announcement, both as to the name of the person appointed and the terms of reference.

As the matter has been raised by the right honorable gentleman, I might inform the House of one small and unexpected difficulty that arose. It was found that by reason of the fact that the Royal Commissions Act does not extend to the Territories, there is in fact no legal power to appoint a commission from Australia to inquire into matters in the Territories. But in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea there is a Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance under which the Administrator has power to appoint a commission of inquiry. So, although the Government had it in mind to make the appointment of a commission of inquiry itself, in order to obviate any delay I have written to the Administrator communicating to him the Government’s wish that he should appoint a commission of inquiry. I have also communicated to the Administrator the draft terms of reference, and have asked that he take action along those lines.

Dr Evatt:

– I take it that the Minister will approve of the person who is to conduct the inquiry.


– After consultation with the Prime Minister, I have suggested a name to the Administrator.

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– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Last evening, the right honorable gentle man made a statement to the effect that people seeking regular employment, irrespective of their age or physical condition, are included in the figures released of registrations for employment. That statement was immediately challenged by the honorable member for Stirling. Can some clarification now be given so that we may know the true position?


– The statement that I made to the House last night was perfectly correct. It seems obvious that the honorable member for Stirling was confusing employment registrants with unemployment benefit applicants. The figures that are regularly released from my department showing the number of persons registered with the department for employment include all persons who are seeking regular work, irrespective of their age-


– Order! I ask the right honorable gentleman not to trespass upon the current debate before the House.


- Sir, I am just giving facts-

Dr Evatt:

– The right honorable gentleman is debating the subject.


– I am not debating it. I am giving the House the facts as to what is covered by employment registrations. This is purely factual. The registrations include people of all ages and of both sexes, irrespective of physical infirmity. In fact, blind persons who register with the department for work are included in the figures, and some blind persons are so registered at this time. In other words, the total of employment registrations embraces all persons who apply to the department for regular employment.

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– I ask the Minister for the Interior, in his capacity as Minister in charge of civil defence, whether the Government has yet evolved any definite plans on civil defence. If so, will the Minister indicate whether he is likely to make any progress report to the House to enable discussion on the matter to take place during the debate on the Budget or the Estimates?

Minister for the Interior · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I can only inform the honorable member that the matter is at present engaging the attention of an interdepartmental committee. I should not think any report would be available for discussion before the debate on the Estimates.

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– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the prevailing crisis in the programme for marketing Australian beef, has the Minister any information on the potential meat markets in far eastern countries where consumption is rapidly expanding? Is it correct that Japan has offered to take up immediately 40,000 tons of Australian frozen beef at prices which will give a better return to the Australian producers than those now being obtained from the United Kingdom? If so, is the Australian Meat Board exploring the possibilities of this lucrative market now made available by the actions of this Government?

Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I think I should say, first of all, that the fifteen years’ meat agreement has been an inestimable boon to Australian beef producers and, to a lesser extent, to mutton and lamb producers. It has given them a guaranteed minimum price, and last year they received the benefit of something like £6,000,000 in payments from the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, this year, mutton and lamb fall outside the quota provisions of the agreement, and at the request of my department the Australian Trade Commissioner Service is actively engaged in exploring markets in order to ascertain whether mutton and lamb can be sold profitably in eastern countries as well as in North America and on the Continent of Europe. I am hopeful that I shall soon be able to co-ordinate the reports that are received and I shall then be only too happy to make a statement to the House on the matter.

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Earnings of Drivers


– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been drawn to a published statement that some drivers employed in the transport section of his department have been earning £75 or more a week as chauffeurs for government cars? Are the rates of pay received by these drivers 8s. an hour for ordinary time, 12s. an hour for time and half, and 16s. an hour for double time? Is it a fact that if a driver commenced work at midnight on Sunday and worked continuously without sleep, taking only three-quarters of an hour for each meal, until midnight on the following Friday, and then worked eight hours on Saturday, eight hours on Sunday-


– Order! The honorable member is now giving the information that he is seeking. Will he ask his question?


– Would the driver to whom I refer then still be 4s. short of the £75 mentioned in the published statement?


– I am afraid that I have not my calculator with me to enable me to check the honorable member’s arithmetic, but a rather quick calculation shows that for a driver to earn £75 a week he would have to work approximately 118 hours in that week. He would not have a lot of spare time for other things.

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– Will the Minister for Trade inform the House of the result of the negotiations between New Zealand and the United Kingdom concerning the imposition of anti-dumping restrictions by Britain against imports of butter from certain European countries? What action ha9 been taken by the United Kingdom? Is such action likely to affect materially the United Kingdom market? If there is no prospect of market conditions in the United Kingdom becoming profitable for the Australian dairy farmer, are there any possibilities of such markets being opened up elsewhere, notably in the Far East?

Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– The New Zealand Government very forcibly presented its case to the United Kingdom. New Zealand is a very big exporter of butter to the United Kingdom, and Australia supported its case. In the result, the United Kingdom has not immediately taken any explicit action, but I understand that she has conferred, through appropriate channels, with those countries which were newcomers, as it were, to the market in respect of the recent dimensions of their exports of butter to the United Kingdom. Those countries include Finland and the Republic of Ireland.

We are now assured that the quantity of butter coming into the United Kingdom during the next year will be reduced by some 30,000 tons. This has been achieved by negotiation rather than by arbitrary action, and it is confidently expected that the reduction will have a strengthening effect upon the United Kingdom market. Indeed, it may not be unrelated that since those representations were made, since it has become publicly known that they were made, and since the United Kingdom stated its position and said it would confer with those countries, the United Kingdom market for butter has strengthened by some 15 per cent. The market has not strengthened to a satisfactory level, but it has strengthened measurably already, and I think we are entitled to have some confidence that the United Kingdom market next year will be measurably better than it was last year.

At the same time, the Australian Government and the dairying industry are joining in exploring every other opportunity for selling butter. There are growing markets for Australian butter in Ceylon, Malaya and other Eastern countries. I know the Queensland Butter Board and one of the great co-operatives in Australia have been active in getting a toe-hold in the Japanese market, and I believe that the honorable member and the dairying industry can feel assured that there is no neglect, either by this Government, through any of its instrumentalities or by the dairying industry itself, in trying to protect the markets that we have and in endeavouring to gain new markets.

Dr Evatt:

– Have you sold any to continental China?


– To the best of my knowledge, there has not been any sale of butter to continental China, but other basic foodstuffs may have been sold to that country. Wheat has been sold, and so has wool, and if continental China wishes to buy some butter, no inhibition will be raised by us here.

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– The Minister for Trade will recall my representations to him during the last sessional period on behalf of the Tasmanian Potato Board*, which is seeking a resumption of the Tasmanian potato trade, amounting to 40,000 bags a year, with New Caledonia. On that occasion, the Minister promised to do all he could to have this matter put right. I ask him now whether he can tell me the stage his negotiations have reached to date.


– I remember the honorable member raising this question, and I remember that I gave a certain undertaking, the exact details of which I cannot recall. I have to confess that I do not carry the present position in my mind, but I shall ascertain it and let the honorable member know.

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– Can th? Minister for Trade say whether the department has tackled the problem of emptying modern techniques of studying consumer motivation and buying behaviour in our present and prospective export markets? If the department has tackled the problem, what steps are being taken to see that the results of these researches are passed on to the producer quickly and in an understandable form?


– As part of the entire operation of trying to strengthen om overseas marketing, the Department of Trade itself, in consultation with Australian exporters and overseas importers, especially in the United Kingdom, is constantly concerned with the quantity, character, qualify, and presentation of various products. It has engaged a marketing survey firm - K that is the right description - of world-wide renown, to conduct such surveys for it and to supplement its own activities. The results of these surveys by this company are periodically made available to all interested parties. The Department of Trade issues a whole series of monthly publications, one of which is devoted to this single subject. In it are produced graphs indicating market prices, trends, preferments of customers, and the result of actual marketing operations. I assure the honorable member that quite a close watch is kept on this subject, and that every step is taken to avail ourselves of the wealth of knowledge of techniques of marketing that exists in the United Kingdom, and especially in the United States of America. Every effort is made to apply the benefit of experience gained there. The department does not try to teach industry how to do its business, but it is in close consultation with private enterprise here and in the marketing countries.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. ls the Fisheries Division of the Department of Primary Industry conducting an economic survey of the fishing industry, including research into marketing in all States? Is the department also concerned with the discovery of further potential fishing grounds, and the development of fisheries generally? t the department is concerned with this matter, will the Minister authorize a complete investigation of the tuna grounds on the east coast of Tasmania, particularly in the vicinity of Flinders Island?


– Some weeks ago, in reply to a question on notice from the honorable member for Yarra, I gave, I think, a comprehensive answer to this question. If the honorable member for Yarra will forgive me, I shall now epitomize that answer fa’ the benefit of the honorable gentleman who has asked the question. It is correct to say that, on the representation of the various States, the Commonwealth Government did agree to make an economic survey of the fishing industry in Australia. That survey is now being carried out in New South Wales waters, with the active assistance of the State Government and the Nev South Wales fishermen’s co-operatives. That is an economic and financial survey of resources, and the prospects of marketing aid profitable selling. If my memory holds good, five major surveys are also being carried out. They relate to pilchards, prawns, barracoota, tuna and trawling. I shall see that the suggestion of the honorable member is considered by the department, and that the department writes him a letter on the prospects of tuna fishing off the coast of Tasmania.

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– Will the Prime Minister consider the formation of a committee of our top-line economists, similar to the committee formed by the Bruce-Page Government in 1927, to study the overall effects on our export industries of tariffs, import restrictions, bounties, subsidies and currency adjustments? I ask this because I wish to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the similarity of the situation now arising to the situation then. I refer to the disparity of prosperity between the local, sheltered industries and those which are dependent on the open world market. The advice of such a committee might be able to save our currency from possible depreciation.

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– Broadly speaking, this idea is one that has engaged my own attention, and I have discussed it from time to time with my colleagues. It is not easy to arrive at a final definition of the kind of task that ought to be performed, but the idea is one of value, and I propose to continue to examine it.

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– In view of the importance of the 33 per cent, cost content in the Australian economy, and as this is the last sessional period of this Parliament, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Cabinet subcommittee which was set up by this Government to examine Australian transport problems has arrived at any conclusions of sufficient value to call for the submission of a report to the House by any member of the subcommittee or by the right honorable gentleman himself? If no information is available as a result of the efforts of the Cabinet subcommittee, will the Prime Minister indicate the field of transport problems that was examined by the sub-committee, in view of the importance of the cost content in the economy?


– I will ascertain the facts in relation to this matter and advise the honorable member.

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– Will the Acting Minister for the Navy inform the House whether it is a fact that H.M.A.S. “ Vendetta “ will be out of commission for over a year? If so, will the Minister bring a suitable warship out of reserve to replace “ Vendetta “ so that the already small Royal Australian Navy will not be further depleted?

Minister for Air · EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I think it should be made clear, in the first place, that “ Vendetta “ has not yet been commissioned. I am glad to inform the honorable member that the suggestion that she will not be commissioned for a year is completely wrong. Fortunately, the damage caused to “Vendetta”, by the dry dock gate with which the ship collided recently, and to “ Quickmatch “, which was in the dry dock, turned out to be very much less than was at first expected. The total damage to “Vendetta”, “ Quickmatch “ and the dry dock is expected to be less than £20,000 and, as the honorable member for Calare knows from experience, that amount does not cover much damage in relation to ships. As to any delay, the trial programme of “ Vendetta “ has been slightly re-arranged, but again I am very glad to be able to tell the honorable member that we can adhere to the commissioning date, which is 26th November. At least, that is the present expectation. By rearranging “ Vendetta’s “ trial programme and by some overtime work, no delay in the commissioning of the vessel will occur. I hope that my answer has disposed of the suggestion of the honorable member that a ship be brought out of reserve; but in any event, further delay could only be costly if we brought a ship out of reserve and put into her a ship’s company which had been trained and prepared to commission “ Vendetta “.

The remarks of the honorable member about the “ already small Royal Australian Navy “ call for some comment. At present, the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “ is in dry dock after a long and arduous voyage of service with the Strategic Reserve which included exercises with the United States Air Force. Two frigates are having normal refits in Sydney. One frigate is exercising off the Queensland coast. Two more are serving on the Strategic Reserve, and another is on its way to relieve one of those frigates, or has recently done so. When I last inquired, four naval- ships were working on survey duties or tasks of that sort in the waters to the north of Australia in the vicinity of Darwin and the Torres Strait. I think that will dispose of any suggestion that units of the Royal Australian Navy are not available and, indeed, are not at work.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service, supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Ballarat. In view of the statement of the Minister that all persons, irrespective of age, requiring regular work are registered for employment by his department, will he ascertain why a man named Rees, of Merewether, near Newcastle, about three months ago was refused registration for work and compelled to seek an age pension, although he was fit and capable of working? Is the Minister aware that this person, by being forced to accept an age pension instead of being permitted to register for employment, had to take a pension of £2 lis. 6d. a week, instead of the £3 5s. a week that he would have received as an unemployed person, due to the application of the means test?


– The information that I gave to the House earlier to-day was supplied to me by the senior officer in the Department of Labour and National Service handling the employment division, namely the Assistant Secretary, so that I have no reason to question the accuracy of the information as I have supplied it. I shall examine the particular case to which my attention has been directed if the honorable gentleman will either give me the particulars to-day or enable me to pick it up when I receive the “ Hansard “ report; but my understanding of the position is as I have previously stated. In fact, I even checked the position of young people who have just left school. I have been told that, provided that they are of an age which entitles them to work according to the law of the particular State in which they live, they will be registered if they seek work, no matter how young they may be. A similar position applies in respect of elderly persons and physically handicapped persons, and to men and to women alike. However, I repeat the assurance that I shall look into the circumstances of the case to which the honorable member has referred.

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– Can the Minister for Territories inform the House of the progress that has been made since he and some other members of the Cabinet met members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council recently? What requests from those members does he feel that the Government can accede to?


– Following the discussions which took place between members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council and three members of the Government, a public statement was issued setting out the conclusions of those discussions and the various points which were to be examined. All of those matters, of course, involve policy, and so I am not at liberty at the moment to make announcements concerning them, but they are under the very close and earnest consideration of the Cabinet at the present time.

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– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that the Minister for Housing in the Victorian Government announced last night that, as a result of the 10s. increase in the rate of pension for pensioners who are paying rent, age pensioners living in Victorian Housing Commission homes would have their rents increased by 2s. 6d. a week? Will the Minister emphatically protest to the Victorian Government about this projected increase?

Minister for Social Services · RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I regret to say that I have no knowledge of what State Ministers for housing do from time to time, nor can I accept any responsibility for their actions. It is competent for the honorable member to make his own protest, since he is a Victorian and represents a Victorian constituency, and I have no doubt that if he does so his protest will be given the consideration that is its due.

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– I wish to ask a quesinvestigation has been made into the prosfollowing .that asked a few moments ago by the honorable member for Wide Bay. As the free quota restrictions on mutton and Iamb, under the fifteen-year meat agreement, will be lifted as from 1st October next, can the Minister say what significance this will have for Australian exports of these classes of meat to countries where the restrictions have applied? I refer particularly to the United States market.


– Already considerable investigation has been made into the prospect of selling mutton and lamb to North America and continental countries. I think we can say that the United Kingdom market will continue to be our best market for the sale of mutton and lamb. As to the United States and Canada, I think New Zealand’s experience is valuable, because it has shown that there is, in fact, a limited market there. Nevertheless, investigations are being carried out by the -trade commissioners, and senior representatives of the Australian Meat Board have been in the United States investigating the possibilities.

It is thought, in regard to the Continent, and particularly Greece and Turkey, that there are suitable markets for the manufacturing kind of mutton. The possibility of exploiting these markets is being investigated by representatives of the Department of Trade and the department under my administration. As soon -as I am able to get a report on the matter, I shall make it available to honorable members.

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– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether the Government, when it decided to grant an increase of 10s. a week to pensioner tenants, anticipated that an increase of rents would be imposed upon those tenants similar to those increases proposed by the Victorian Housing Commission. If the Government anticipated such increases, did it allow for them, or is the position as indicated by his reply to the honorable member for Batman - that is, that he and the Government are totally unconcerned about whether or not those rents are increased?


– I am informed by those who are in a position to know that the Commonwealth Government has no control over rents in the various States. The” intention of the Government will be to meet a situation of hardship and to give a measure of assistance to those who are in need of that kind of assistance. One of the qualifications is the payment of rent. I think the Government should be commended for this spectacular and largely experimental attempt to meet this situation of hardship which gives us all cause for concern.

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– Can the Minister for Primary Industry say whether any information is available as a result of the economic survey that is being carried out by the Faculty of Economics at the Sydney University at the request of the Australian Dairy Industry Council?


– I am aware that a survey is being carried out by the Sydney University in regard to economic factors affecting the dairy industry. I am sorry that I have not the details in my mind at the present time, but if an interim report has been issued and it is possible to obtain a copy, I shall do so and let the honorable gentleman have it.

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– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. The right honorable gentleman will recall having told me, in answer to questions that I placed on the notice-paper, that there are scores of conventions which Australia has supported at International Labour Organization conferences back to the early 1920’s but which she has not yet ratified and that, although perhaps 60 of them primarily require action by State parliaments before Australia can ratify them, there are many others which are solely a matter for this Parliament. I now ask him what action has been taken to ratify the five conventions which the Commonwealth can now ratify following the passing of the Navigation Act three months ago, and what action has been taken in recent months to spur the States on to play their necessary role in enabling the Commonwealth to carry out its international obligations of the last few decades.


– I am not in a position to give a detailed reply to all the points raised by the honorable member, but I think one general comment should be made so that there will be no misunderstanding either inside or outside the Parliament in relation to the conventions to which reference has been made. I do not think the honorable member wishes to convey such an impression, but from what he has said it is possible to form the impression that Australia has not ratified these conventions because she is not prepared to bring her standardsup to those required in the conventions. If anything, the contrary is the case. Australian working standards are superior to those obtaining generally in other parts of the world, and we are by no means backward in respect of any of the conventions that come within my knowledge.

The honorable member has pointed to one of the complications that exist when ratification is required, in that there are six State governments to be consulted. They in turn would require to convey their decisions to us, and it is not always a matter of ease or speed to bring them into line on a particular convention. However, we keep in regular contact with the State departments. In fact, only to-day I saw on my desk a letter from one of the State Departments of Labour advising that, fol lowing a recent letter from me, they have now accepted two further conventions. That is the sort of process that goes on from time to time. I shall examine the matters which the honorable member tells us are within the competence of the Commonwealth Government and give him a reply as soon as I can.

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– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, is supplementary to one already asked concerning the Australian fishing industry. Will the Minister indicate the developmental projects being carried out with finance provided from the Fisheries Development Trust Account?


– I will obtain details for the honorable gentleman. However, I think I can state that all the development projects now being carried out are financed from the Fisheries Development Trust Account, the money for which was made available by the sale of the whaling undertaking in Western Australia. As I have mentioned, there are five major projects, and I will let the honorable gentleman have full details of them.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that some time ago a system of rostering Ministers was introduced to ensure that at least one Minister would be in Canberra to deal with any matters of urgency suddenly arising. If so, will the Prime Minister explain how it was that, on many successive days after the Middle East crisis arose, not a single Minister was in the National Capital? Finally, what action is proposed to see that Ministers do not evade the responsibilities of their office?


– It is quite incorrect to say that there is a rostering of Ministers for this purpose. I have, in fact, before me each week a list showing precisely where each Minister will be. Under modern circumstances of communication, it is quite simple for me to have a conversation with any Minister at short notice, and I frequently avail myself of the opportunity to do so, in addition to having very frequent personal meetings. I do not attach great importance to the mere question of whether on some particular day there is some particular Minister in some particular place.

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– Has the Prime Minister noticed that most, if not all, of the Premiers have agreed on the desirability of a conference on hire purchase so that uniform action may be taken? Would he be prepared to confer with the States on hire-purchase arrangements generally and interest rates particularly, in the interests of Commonwealth finances and the people generally?


– I am not aware of having received any request from any Premier. I observed in a newspaper one day that, I think, the Premier of Queensland had suggested some such meeting. 1 have had no communication from other Premiers which would indicate that they desire a conference, nor indeed at the last Premiers conference was the matter referred to by any of them. I remember that on an earlier occasion the matter was raised by us for their consideration, with not very happy results. Having suggested that some of the excesses of this business should be moderated in certain directions, the only effect was that at least one Premier on his return altered his legal provision in the other direction.

Mr Thompson:

– I understand that the other Premiers are in favour of such a conference.


– Well, I do not know. Naturally when any request is received from Premiers we give it the closest consideration.

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– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that if married pensioners are to benefit from the supplementary rent pension they must be wholly dependent on one pension, or, in other words, an income not exceeding £4 7s. 6d. a week?


– I think the honorable member for Hughes will be very well advised to wait until the amending legislation has been introduced. It would not be proper for me to anticipate the discussion that will take place on a question of that kind.

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– Is the Minister for External Affairs able to say whether Russia has honoured its decision of 31st March last to discontinue all atomic and hydrogen bomb tests? Does the Minister believe that Russia will continue its ban upon such tests if the United States of America and the United Kingdom continue with the testing of such weapons? Does the Minister agree that failure to secure action to ban the tests between all three powers in the immediate future will almost certainly lead to a resumption of tests by Russia, and make the future negotiation of an agreement much more difficult? Finally, does the Minister consider it of importance, particularly having in mind the great weight of scientific opinion as to the effects of such tests upon the lives and health of human beings, that these tests should be permanently abandoned and, if he does, what action has he or the Government taken to reach such an objective?

Minister for External Affairs · LP

– Nobody, Sir, knows the answers to any of those questions.

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– Has the Minister for Health plans in hand to recognize chiropractics for the purpose of the federal medical benefits scheme? If no such plans are on the way, is it because the hidden hand of the British Medical Association is interfering and preventing chiropractics from being recognized and accepted under the federal medical benefits scheme?


– The benefits under the National Health Act are provided for medical services, and it is not at present intended to extend these benefits in other directions.

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– I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service supplementary to that addressed to him by the honorable member for Werriwa. The Minister stated by way of illustration that one State had indicated its assent to two conventions. What follows from that in regard to Australian ratification? Does the Minister wait until all six States agree regarding a subject-matter within their jurisdiction, or what steps are taken to procure Australian ratification of the convention, if that is possible?


– I mentioned that particular instance merely to illustrate that there is continuing correspondence on these matters between the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service and the various State Departments of Labour in an endeavour to proceed as rapidly and as effectively as we can towards a common action in relation to these matters. I should like to have an authoritative answer prepared for the right honorable gentleman on the point as to whether we have always waited until all the States have indicated their assent or whether there have been exceptions to that rule. I cannot give that answer offhand.

Mr Whitlam:

– Is Victoria a laggard?


– I think there are different problems in different States according to how their statutes stand. I should not like to single out any State for criticism of a general kind. They have their problems and we have ours. I do not think we should minimize theirs.

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BUDGET 1958-59

In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 13th August (vide page 342), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “Salaries and allowances, £27,450 “, be agreed to.

Upon which Dr. Evatt had moved by way of amendment -

That the first item be reduced by £1.

Minister for Territories [11.16]. - Mr. Chairman, before speaking to the Budget I should like to make a passing reference to the speech, or part of the speech made yesterday by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson · Curtin · LP

. I should like to make it completely apart from the context of the financial considerations. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who has been in this Parliament for quite a long time, chose to make his speech of yesterday his swan song - his farewell to politics. I do not want to comment in any way on the remarks which he made in his farewell speech, but I should like to say, perhaps for his comfort and perhaps for the sake of the record, that we in Western Australia, regardless of which side of politics we are on, have always had a high regard for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I have always disagreed with his political views. I disagreed with his remarks yesterday regarding the Budget; 1 do not think those remarks were well founded. But quite apart from the political differences, we have always found in him a man of character and a man of substance; the sort of man in whom, when you knock him, you hear the ring of solid timber that is sound, right through to the core. I am sure that all my colleagues from Western Australia would like the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to know that in his present personal anxieties and in his farewell to politics he has our good wishes and’ our esteem.

Having said that, I wish to pass to the Budget. I suppose, in essence, what we are saying in this debate is that it is either a good Budget or a bad Budget. Some members take one view and some take another and some qualify their opinions in different ways. Of course, whether or not we say that it is a good Budget will depend on our point of view. For example, if a Budget gives a substantial taxation concession to a particular individual or to a particular group of individuals, then undoubtedly that group will say, “ What a splendid Budget it is! “ On the other hand, if a concession which was expected is not, in fact, realized, the group that is disappointed will say that it is a bad Budget.

But these, of course, are very narrow judgments which are not effective judgments on whether a Budget is good or bad. The ultimate and only real test of whether a Budget is good or bad is whether that Budget is constructed with a sound sense of responsibility and with a proper appreciation of the economic situation existing in the country at the time it is brought down. A Budget cannot be considered to be good or bad apart from an estimation made of the economic situation of the nation at the time it is introduced.

I am sure that the disappointment to the people of this country on the Labour side of politics, when they heard the speech made by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), was that he discussed the Budget without discussing the economic situation. He showed not even a passing interest in the state of the nation. He made no attempt to explore whether we were in this condition or that condition, and, having made that exploration, whether we needed this sort of Budget or that sort of Budget. He gave this cursory and superficial examination of a number of detached subjects and put that forward as the Labour party’s commentary on the Budget - not necessarily the Labour party’s comment on the whole of the economic problems of Australia.

If we look at the Budget in the way in which the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) looked at it when introducing his proposals to the Parliament, we find two simple facts. One is that the farm income fell by nearly £180,000,000 last year below the income for the previous year. This was due partly to drought, but very largely due to falls in overseas prices. In any case, it was due to two circumstances which are beyond the control of any one inside Australia, although they can be mitigated by wise action.

The other factor is the prospective situation in the coming year. Any one who makes a realistic examination of the world situation and has regard to the trend of prices must realize that not only do we have to grapple with the current financial situation set by the fact that farm income has fallen by £180,000,000 and that, consequently, export income has fallen also by a considerable amount, but we also have to take into consideration our judgment on the trends that are likely to continue in the coming year. We cannot predict, with certainty, what will happen to world prices.

Any Australian would be rash to take profligate action to-day on the expectation that world prices of either primary products or base metals are going to rise. Any sober judgment on the world situation requires prudence in the handling of the nation’s financial affairs at this time, because the fall in farm income sets a budgetary problem, inasmuch as taxation revenue is likely to be less. Not only is the expectation of taxation revenue affected by that fall in farm income last year, but is also affected by the fact that the full effect of income tax concessions which were made for good reasons to stimulate activity, twelve months ago, will be felt in this coming year. So, we have as a leading element in the budgetary problem this probable fall in taxation revenue. On top of that, another unusual element which has to be faced is the considerable size of the debt redemption of £360,000,000 which is to be carried out in this financial year. Those are two elements which have to be taken into consideration by the Treasurer and by a government in preparing its Budget proposals.

The aims of policy which have guided the Government in approaching the problem set by these conditions are to maintain commercial and industrial activity in this country at as high a level as possible so as to continue that great expansion which has been going on in the post-war years, and as a consequence of the maintenance of the high level of industrial and commercial activity, to keep employment up. There has been a great deal of talk about employment, but one simple fact is always overlooked when people throw in their little threepenn’orth about unemployment. Unemployment is not a problem that can be detached from the economic prosperity of the nation. If people work on the wharfs it is only because ships and cargoes are coming to, or going from, the wharfs. If people work on farms it is because the state of the farming industry is healthy. If people have jobs in factories it is because the manufacturing industries are able to operate on a worth-while basis. Employment is not something that can be detached from the general economic life and prosperity of the nation, and I deplore the unfortunate tendency of some people to detach employment and talk about it as though it were something that was in a separate compartment all by itself.

In trying to pursue its policies the Government is also faced with the fact that, owing to the growth of our population,, government expenditure is increasing. For instance, the bill for social services increases year by year irrespective of any increase in social services rates. It increases simply because the population is expanding. Expenditures that are necessary in other directions have to be increased because this is a nationof growing activity and growing population. There is in Australia a growing demand for services of various kinds. In addition, there is the problem facing this country as a consequence of the world situation, which is such that Australia cannot relax but, if possible, may need to increase provisions foi her defence. So this continuing item of £190,000,000 has to be set aside for defence.

Mr-. Beazley. - If export prices fall there’ must be a fall in the standard of living. The test of a Budget is whether the effects of that fall are fairly shared throughout the community.


– I agree with what the honorable member says. That sort of consideration was in- the- Government’s mind when it. shaped- these- particular proposals..

I-n the situation I have outlined- what courses are open to a Government? One course- is to increase revenue, which in concrete terms means to- increase taxation-. The” Government refrained from doing that because of the probable effect that an increase in- taxation would have on the industrial activity of the country, and the ill consequences it would bring not only to the entrepeneur, but also to the employee. The other alternative would be to reduce expenditure. In this Budget a fairly tight rein has been kept on expenditure. The field in which expenditure can be reduced without inflicting hardship or causing gross disturbance of national life is rather limited. After allowances have been made for social services, defence, and so on, little room is left for any major cuts to- be made. Furthermore, the judgment of the Government on this occasion was that while economy and control over wasteful expenditure were highly necessary, as they always are, rigorous cuts in expenditure would have a damping-down effect, and that in certain directions increases in expenditure would be justified. For example, even before the final construction of the Budget commenced, the Government had meetings with the State Premiers and decided to increase the amount of money available to the States in order to maintain a high level of employment through public works, and a spreading of the advantages of the Australian prosperity in the way in which the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) indicated he thought was desirable. Because of the rejection of the idea of either raising revenue or drastically cutting expenditure, the Government is faced with a< deficit. Against this country’s background of political history, I think that one of the significant features of this Budget is that political parties, whose attitude to public finance might rightly have been described as orthodox or, as critics might say, conservative, have on this occasion, firmly and without any hesitation, endorsed the- idea of deficit finance, and the decision to budget for a deficit has been accepted- by economic opinion in this: country - certainly all our senior economists - who believe that it is sound1 economic action to take at this time. This Government, which some people say is> fusty, stick-in-the-mud, conservative, and’ unimaginative, did not hesitate to take the step which in. other circumstances it would have regarded as unorthodox. Deficit finance is the signal feature of this Budget. It is the first time that a government formed from political parties that support the present Government has engaged in deficit, finance. It is a- realistic appreciation that deficit finance is what the economy of the country needs at the present time.

So we come to the core of this Budget. The core of this Budget is how much deficit finance, how much credit is to be created at this time. That requires very nice and particular judgment. It is not the sort of thing that can be done irrationally. Some of the criticisms that have been made on this point outside the Parliament are a little ingenuous, particularly those made by critics who say that the amount of deficit finance should have been increased. It seems to me that in a rather ingenuous way those critics are forgetting that the adjective cannot be separated from the noun that it precedes. The size of the deficit fixes the amount of finance. That principle is so simple that it is hardly worth stating, but it seems to be one of the simple facts that has escaped some of the critics. When they say that more credit should have been created,, they have not examined the point about the size of the deficit. The size of the deficit is governed either by increased expenditures or a further reduction in revenue. To obtain a larger amount of deficit finance it would be necessary first to increase governmental expenditures very considerably or reduce revenue in some way, such as by granting tax concessions. The Government rejected the idea of reducing revenue, of giving tax concessions. Its judgment, I think, was based on the fact that reduced taxation, in association with deficit finance, would not achieve the expected results. The Government also felt that, having regard to the prospective situation in the coming twelve months, and in the next financial year, major tax concessions at this time would be imprudent. Any government that acts with a sense of responsibility, whether it looks forward to the prospect that it will again be in office, or whether it looks forward to the prospect that some other government will be in office, must consider the effect of its measures in future financial years as well as in the present financial year. Major tax concessions at this time would have been imprudent, mainly because of the effect that they might have in the unforeseeable, but possibly difficult conditions in future financial years.

Let me deal now with the alternative of increasing the amount of deficit finance by considerably increasing expenditures. I have already indicated the considered increase that was made by adding to the amounts available to the States. That was a wise decision. Then, for reasons that seemed good to the Government, it increased expenditure slightly by some minor tax concessions - by some increases in social services and repatriation benefits that seemed to be necessary in order to meet particular circumstances. But, by and large, we refrained from providing for a large increase in governmental expenditure and held the deficit to the steady amount of £110,000,000, which was close to the figure revealed by the original arithmetical calculations of revenue and prospective expenditure. If the Government did not give tax concessions or did not increase expenditure to a very great extent, the deficit would be somewhere between, say, £90,000,000 and £120,000,000. After very careful deliberation, we chose the figure of £110,000,000. That figure represented a calculation, supported by the best advice we could obtain, of what would be a desirable infusion of credit closely related to our existing budgetary position - an infusion which would not have too strong an inflationary effect or which would avoid a deflationary effect. That is a matter of judgment and close and prudent calculation. The Government made the calculation on those bases, and it did so with great care. Quite rightly, we submit ourselves to judgment.

In contrast with our approach to our budgetary problems, which I have tried to present as clearly, simply and honestly as I can, we have the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition a couple of nights ago in his capacity as chief spokesman for the Australian Labour party. The right honorable gentleman skimmed rapidly over a number of points on which he sought to please a section of the Australian populace. But if one tries to extract an economic policy out of his statements, one is left only with proposals for some ill-defined, vague subsidies to farmers; some ill-defined larger handouts to pensioners; some unspecified additional grants to the States; and some ill-defined, rather vague tax concessions. If that is the line of thinking of the Opposition, had it occupied the treasury bench and had the responsibility of grappling with the present economic position, it would have added, at a conservative guess, another £100,000,000 to the deficit budgeted for by this Government. In that case, instead of financing a deficit of £110,000,000, we might have had proposals for financing a deficit of £200,000,000 or £250,000,000. I may be unjust to the right honorable gentleman, but he gives any critic very scant room for justice because he develops his economic ideas so vaguely, so loosely and so unconnectedly that even the most kindly and persistent critic has difficulty in finding any substance into which he may put his teeth.

Mr Hulme:

– If the Leader of the Opposition had been in a position to do so, he might have increased taxes as was done in New Zealand.


– Yes, and then possibly have had to approach a Liberal government in order to finance his proposals.

Mr Beazley:

– One can use deficit finance internally, but one cannot use it so easily externally. At the time this Government came to power the Labour Government had £896,000,000 in sterling reserves in London.


– Many factors have influenced the state of our overseas balances during the last eight or nine years. They have been high and low. The sober judgment of any person in this Parliament must lead him to give a great deal of credit to the Government for the firmness, courage and intelligence with which it has grappled with successive and changing problems associated with our overseas balances. It is not enough for a person of 50 years of age to say that he had so much money in the bank when he was 21 because at 50 he would be so much more prosperous generally that his original bank account would appear comparatively small. All sorts of things have happened during the last seven or eight years. This Government has grappled with the problem of overseas balances with a courage, responsibility and a freedom from attempts to seek political advantage that do it very great credit.

We live in an age when, above all else, this country requires from any government that occupies the treasury bench the qualities of prudence, responsibility, great care and a freedom from the tendency to sling prize packets at any one who might be expected to yield a vote if he or she receives a prize packet. On the eve of an election made obligatory because of the provisions of the Constitution, when people of meaner spirit might have been tempted to hand out prizes in an endeavour to lure people by this or that concession, or this or that benefit, the Government has resolutely refrained from doing that sort of thing. Instead, it has applied its mind singly and intelligently to the basic economic problem with a prudence and a sense of responsibility that not only takes care of our economic difficulties but which shows that it is conscious of the fact that we are building now for the future.

Australia, as a nation, is growing up. During the last generation we have had opportunities for attending school, thinking about these things and trying to take an intelligent interest in our affairs. The Australian people to-day are not ignorant, nor can they be pushed off with some cheap and idle talk about a pool of unemployed or a wicked plot of this or that kind. They are vigilant; they respect and appreciate prudence and responsibility because they are fine and intelligent people and will not be fooled. As this Budget becomes better understood, it will steadily commend itself to more and more of the Australian people, not because it gives them anything, but because it invites their judgment, as intelligent people, on an intelligent set of proposals.


.- Once again we have entered upon the annual Budget bleat in which honorable members are afforded the very doubtful privilege of being able to babble away on some pet subject in which they may be interested, push the parish pump or urge the claims of this or that interest or section of the community, knowing full well that anything they say will have no effect whatever on the Government, as everything has been cut and dried before hand, and that their proposals or criticisms will not add one penny to or subtract one penny from any item of revenue or expenditure.

I have witnessed this spectacle and, in fact, have been a participant in it over the past eighteen years, and one wonders how much longer such a farcical procedure will prevail in this country. We cannot afford the continued luxury of such an outmoded and unwieldy procedure, and the unnecessary controversy, party bickering and undermining of efficient administration that it entails. I feel that all honorable members, especially those on the Government side of the chamber, have the subconscious realization that this sort of thing cannot continue if our democratic institutions are to stand up to the forces which threaten our way of life.

Last Sunday’s press contained an article in these terms describing the scene from the point of view of a newspaper man in the press gallery -

I have just returned from Canberra where there is the most extraordinary mixture of complacency and defeatism.

Complacency on the part of the Menzies Government and its supporters because they feel that they couldn’t lose the coming general election if they tried; defeatism on the part of Labour because its members think along exactly the same lines.

The Government’s outlook is most strikingly illustrated by its 1958-59 Budget. If there was a budget with no vote-catchers in it, this is it. Obviously the Government is quite indifferent to its effect upon the voters. What has created this amazing federal political atmosphere?

Opposition speaking to the Budget, I should say that there is no atmosphere of defeat on this side, lt is rather the reverse. Opposition members are on their toes, Tarin’ to go, but it is understandable that Government members are down in the gills and feeling despondent after the Treasurer’s Budget speech, because they realize that Incidentally, after hearing the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the although, as the commentator to whom I have referred said, votes are apparently no headache to the Government, they are certainly a headache to the individual members on the Government benches. This commentator to whom I have referred attributes the situation which he has described to the Australian Democratic Labour party’s entrance into the political arena and to alleged dissension in the ranks of the Labour movement. He does not attribute it to any positive programme, but it seems to me that this goes much deeper and is symptomatic of a world-wide condition which has its hangover in this country.

Mr. John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State, said recently that there was a dangerous, explosive atmosphere throughout the world, similar to that which obtained immediately prior to World War II. when Hitler and other dictators were riding high, wide and handsome. There is certainly an atmosphere of uneasy expectancy on all sides that anything is liable to happen. Some are openly expressing the view that it would be better for things to come to a head now and to have a showdown with potential aggressors. That is a very dangerous state of mind indeed, for this is a totally different world from that which prevailed under Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. This was brought home to us very vividly only the other day by the announcement in Washington that a House of Representatives committee had released a hitherto secret study estimating that nearly 160,000,000 persons -almost the entire population of the United States - would be killed in an Hbomb raid on 150 American cities. The study based its estimate on lack of preparedness. The situation calls for a totally different approach and state of mind from that which dominated society in the pre-war days. It requires from all sections of the community infinite patience, a greater spirit of tolerance, and a better understanding not only of our own problems but of the other fellow’s point of view, an understanding of not merely our own local problems but those of the peoples of other nations, especially of our own close neighbours. In saying that, I am not advocating appeasement. I would be the last person to advocate that sort of thing, especially towards certain types of people.

That is the situation as I see it, the situation which has the Government bemused, bewildered and unable to grapple with either the problems confronting the nation or those obtaining in the international sphere. So far asone can judge on the face of things, not only is the Government totally unprepared, but there is total unpreparedness throughout the community because the people lack leadership and guidance. On the face of things, it seems to me that we all may be due for a very rude shock similar to that which we got in 1941 when this country was nearly invaded and overrun.

The Government should take this Parliament and the nation more into its confidence. If the people are made fully aware of the situation, if they are given some reasonable warning and a true lead, I am sure they will face up -to the position as they did on the last occasion. But there is not a moment to be lost in building up our defences and the morale of the community in general. To adopt an ostrich-like attitude or to keep the facts from the public, even from the elected representatives of the people, is dangerous in the extreme. It is -that situation which, to my mind, has the Government so confused and unable to grapple with the problems confronting the nation. Yet the Prime Minister, in his Man-to-Man broadcasts and MeetthePeople tours, reassures the country that all is well, that prosperity is here to stay, that our policy should be “business as usual”. He suggested that we should adopt that attitude in 1940! How he can say all is well when we have rapidly rising unemployment and generally unsettled conditions in the country is hard to understand. On that point, I should like to say that I am reliably informed that certain large industrial concerns in New South Wales, some of them in my own electorate or near it, retrenched nearly 1,000 workers inthe last couple of weeks despite the assurance to the contrary which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) gave us last night.

Apparently these and even larger problems must work themselves out or be solved by some advisers or bureaucratic authority behind the scenes or, maybe by no one in particular, as seems to be the position in connexion with civil defence plans about which the Government maintains complete silence. Do the Government’s advisers still believe that Australia is not liable to attack in the foreseeable future, having regard to recent happenings not far from our own shores? I notice that this year the Budget provides £300,000 for civil defence. How can we possibly debate the matter in the absence of any information at all, even from the Minister, who tells us that the matter is still in the hands of some departmental committee? We do not even know who are the members of the committee. The Government has been fiddling along with this problem, like Nero, over the last three years or more.

This all reminds me of another columnist’s description of the war-time Menzies-Fadden administration. Looking down from the press gallery, that columnist -described it in this way -

Ministers on ;the front bench are like so many marionettes dangling from invisible strings held by a hidden hand.

The implication was that the bidden hand was that of big business interests which were then trying to dominate the war effort. The Government, of course, denied that soft impeachment, just as it would deny now any suggestion that it is jun by vested interests -or a super-bureaucracy operating behind the scenes, or that it has little real control over or understanding of the nation’s affairs. In the result, neither the Government’s own rank and file members nor even Opposition members are able to get to real grips with the problem.

The fact is that the party system of government is becoming too rigid and is rendering Parliament unworkable. That situation has developed in recent times and has intensified since the rise of totalitarianism with its consequent atmosphere of intolerance and ever-increasing tension throughout the community. Sooner or later, something .is bound to snap if this position continues.

This recalls to mind a question I put to John Curtin in 1942 shortly after .Labour had taken office. I asked him, “ What are the rights of the rank and file? Have we the right to get up and criticize various measures proposed by the Government? “ He said, “ You have a perfect right to criticize and even move amendments to the various bills that may be brought down, provided the fate of the Government is not involved “. But that is not the position today. The situation has intensified, things have become more and more rigid until we have now reached the stage when rank and file members are hardly allowed even to speak on various subjects. Ministers have become so touchy or edgy that they resent any criticism even from their own side. Ministers have become so reliant upon advisers that they really are not able to answer questions themselves. Such is their lack of knowledge that they are forced to try to bluff their way through. This rigid procedure must be loosened if Parliament is to work as an effective instrument of democracy.

The state of affairs to which I have directed attention is most undesirable. In the first place, it creates frustration of the people’s representatives. Secondly, it leads to complacency and disrespect for the institution of Parliament itself on the part of the people. To hold the position and cope with the complex problems involved, the Government leans on this super bureaucracy which becomes the real government while the government of the country, and its Ministers, become .mere ciphers or office boys. The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) had something to say about that only .recently. He expressed himself rather strongly on that point. Perhaps he has been dealt with, or given the cane by .his .party since then. It may be that he has jeopardized -His own political career in referring as he did to the question as to who governs Australia. Who does govern Australia? One fortnightly magazine called “The Observer” - not the Bankstown “ Observer “ - asked the question, “ Who runs Australia? Who holds the political power?” Who does hold the power? Who really runs the country? Unless the trend is rectified by streamlining the machinery, an explosion will take place sooner or later which could result in the outright establishment of totalitarianism. France is a classic example of what can happen when democratic government grinds to a standstill through an unworkable parliamentary machine. It was a close go recently for that country, which is still not out of the .woods.

It would be a simple matter to give real meaning and effectivenes to debates on the Budget, which, after all, involves the financial commitments of the Government and its overall policy for a whole financial year -a critical year at that. To keep the wheels running, a provisional Budget could be endorsed by the House, subject to ratification and modification, after proper scrutiny and consideration by various sub-committees of the House possessed of specialized knowledge on individual items. This would give some sense to these proceedings. As the position stands, all that the Opposition can do in this debate is to try to censure the Government for its proposals and deficiencies and announce that it will scrap the whole thing and bring down a proper Budget if and when it is returned to office.

This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs from the country’s point of view. The good work of the all-party Public Accounts Committee demonstrates my point, but that committee deals only with general principles and merely scrapes the surface of the problem. A more detailed survey and an examination of individual items, and questioning of departmental heads, are called for. The committee itself is uneasy on this aspect of the problem. According to reports of its proceedings only this week, it is concerned about the swollen bureaucracy, exorbitant public expenditure, and extravagance in the use of official cars. These are symptomatic of the existing state of affairs.

I shall now deal generally with the Budget, which is all that one can do in a debate of this description. It has been described by various names, all more or less uncomplimentary. Its deficiencies have been dealt with in some detail by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and others. To my mind it is a “ keep your fingers crossed “ Budget, and the Government is living in hopes that it will get by somehow. Honorable members are adjured in various ways in their electorates to do various things. For instance, at the week-end, the “ Bankstown Observer “, a newspaper in my electorate, published these headlines -

Bankstown gets wipe off on loan monies. Poor allocation has public up in arms. What are our members doing?

What can members do? Another newspaper, the “ Torch “, stated -

Reduced finance for Bankstown Council. £400,000 allocation sought- less than £100,000 approved.

As a result of the Government’s policy, that is the situation in Bankstown, which is a district represented by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa), the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) and me. It is a large, very important district, and one of the most rapidly developing areas in the Commonwealth.

The Government is lacking in the bold imagination and spirit of enterprise that is needed to develop quickly, populate, and strengthen the internal and external security of, this huge and sparsely inhabited country. This Budget is certainly a standstill Budget. In fact I would describe it as a back-pedalling Budget, and we cannot afford to follow such a course. The real need in this country is to hold what we have, and we cannot do that by making a negative approach, in the light of our unique situation. We have, according to the accounts of people who have gone overseas, the best country in the world, with one of the highest standards of living - at least, we had a high standard when Labour left office a few years ago. There is, of course, always scope for improvement in living standards, social services, and so on.

The issue, however, is not just one of Labour versus anti-Labour. Even in that conflict there is scope for possible agreement on many points about which we have a common concern. The question is one of survival of the nation as a race of European origin and as an outpost of Western civilization. As I see it, the conflict is between democracy and totalitarianism. We have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by importing some foreign ideology, especially when one considers potential enemies and forces likely to be arrayed against us in our isolated position, separated from whatever allies we could rely upon. Even the support of those allies is uncertain, because they may be preoccupied in other theatres and even lacking in sympathy and understanding of our point of view on such matters as the future of New Guinea.

The picture could be a very grim one indeed, unless we were prepared. Are we prepared? Who knows? Can any honorable member on the Government side answer that question? Can the Ministers elucidate the position for us? If the Government has the answer, why does it not say so frankly, taking the Parliament and the people into its confidence?

When one considers the problem from this angle, the gulf between the two sides of politics is surely narrowed. If a crisis comes, all of us, irrespective of political creed or religious philosophy, will be involved as before. Providing we approach these matters in a spirit of mutual trust, tolerance and understanding, as fellow Australians and not as races apart, political, social and economic issues of a more controversial nature or of fundamental difference, will be resolved in due course, but only if we can maintain our democratic institutions.

In expressing these sentiments dispassionately and free from party acrimony, as 1 feel 1 am able to do, 1 have in mind the co-operation and the patriotic spirit of the late John Curtin, then Leader of the Opposition, the present Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) and others, as members of the War Advisory Council in 1940-41, the early period of the war.

The present situation calls for the urgent establishment of such a body as a defence advisory council, and a broadening of the basis of the Foreign Affairs Committee to enable the Opposition to participate in it, in the way that the Opposition has suggested. This is a matter on which the Government must give a lead. The Prime Minister must come down from his pedestal and not look disdainfully towards the Opposition benches, regarding their occupants as a bunch of Communists or “ fellow travellers “. Communists hate Labour members just as much as they hate Government members, or more so. We should be among the first to be liquidated if the Communists took over. I sometimes think that the Communists want the Government to remain in office so that the possibility of revolution may become intensified. Any one who has studied their technique and philosophy knows that that is in line with their behaviour in other countries that have gone down the Communist drain.

In the long run, no government can adequately defend and hold this country without the aid of the broad masses of the people who support Labour. The real security of a country is wrapped up in its rapid development and population, so that we may become self-reliant and ready to stand alone should an emergency arise. It is dangerous complacency to rely on others to come to our rescue. There is no guarantee that they will do so. We must throw off this attitude of dependence on others, and nonetheless play our part in the family of nations.

Recent events have illustrated how dangerous it can be to rely upon the United Nations. Full employment, adequate social services, orderly immigration, a proper housing plan, and national development, coupled with sound defences to protect our vast coastline, should therefore be uppermost in our minds. They are the cornerstones of every real national policy. But the Budget approach to these problems is entirely negative. Let us adopt a truly national outlook. Let us forget parochialism and party acrimony, throw off domination by outside influences of any sort, particularly vested interests and self-seekers.

The Leader of the Opposition and others have referred to the deplorable decline in the rate of housing construction in recent years due to the Government’s failure to tackle this problem in a forthright manner and make available the necessary finance. Such provision as exists does not meet current demands, let alone overtake the heavy lag and cope with the needs of immigrants. The Government has failed lamentably to institute a progressive housing policy and organize finance although it has full power to do so under existing banking legislation, and the facilities of the Commonwealth Bank to meet the needs of the community on reasonable terms. It could and should do so. This is the considered opinion of many financial experts including managers of private banks who have told me personally that the Government should ear-mark some of the special deposits for housing as the Central Reserve Bank does in the United States of America.

The tragic situation that has been caused by the shortage of home-building finance and by high interest rates was brought home to me only this week by a schedule of loan applications received by one co-operative society. This schedule tells a story in itself. It shows that a recent small allocation of £50,000 was sufficient to provide for only 20 applicants. That is a mere bagatelle. The list of applicants received by the society shows that the average age of the members concerned was 28i years; they were in their 29th year. Their average income was £25 10s. a week. The average value of the houses, that were being purchased was £4,390, and the average rate of advance was 62 per cent. In other words they had an equity of nearly 40 per cent, already accumulated or a deposit of £1,765. What chance have younger persons in the community when provision is being made only now for the people of the age to whom I have referred? No doubt these people who were in their 29th year had been married up to 10 years.

The allocation of £2,000,000 that the Government has provided does not add to the provision for housing, because an equivalent sum is taken from the Housing Commission in New South Wales and its activities are reduced accordingly. At least another £20,000,000 a year could be absorbed by the co-operative building societies in New South Wales alone. There is an urgent need for this finance in the considered opinion of representatives of cooperative building societies, returned soldiers’ organizations, the Building Industry Congress, trade unions and church organizations. Yet, because of the deplorable situation in Australia, 10 per cent, of marriages go on the rocks. Young people are living with their in-laws and they cannot get the necessary facilities to enable them to go into their own homes. Generally, they are living under very unsatisfactory conditions.

I recall that, in 1936, the New South Wales Government instituted a co-operative housing scheme because of the lag in the provision of housing. Practically all housing construction had ceased in the depression years; and the average age of persons applying to co-operative societies for assistance was 35 years. They had been waiting for as long as fifteen years after marriage to get into a home of their own. Unfortunately, three years later, in 1939, war broke out and stopped that housing movement. The average age of applicants had been reduced to 27 years by that time, and if the war had not intervened the average age would have been reduced to 20 or 21 years. Every young couple should have an opportunity to obtain their own home. This is a very grave social problem apart from its national importance in the economic life of the community, in building up morale and giving the people a real stake in the country.

I am sorry that I cannot go- into all aspects of the Budget now, but I hope tohave an opportunity to refer to individual items- during the discusson on the Estimates. I* believe, however, that what I have said has revealed the- deficiencies of the Government iri grappling with the affairs of the nation. It is regrettable that, in the present situation, the Government has fallen down on its job so badly. Because it has failed, it is deserving of the censure of the committee.


.- The Constitution which, unfortunately, is not widely read or well known among the people of Australia, states in its preamble that the people of the States of Australia -

  1. . have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. . . .

In the administrative provisions, it is laid down that the Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to certain- specific matters, and the very first of these is trade. I emphasize that because it is my intention to discuss trade during this debate. I point out, however, that whilst the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth may do certain things, a primary provision is that the State governments shall retain their own domestic powers. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), who has just resumed his seat, appeared to be confused on this matter. I know he analysed a complaint that certain councils were, as he said, being “ wiped off “ in relation to moneys which they expected to receive. He knows very well that local government is under the control of the State governments and that it is the State governments, if any, who have wiped them off.

The honorable member referred to housing. During this debate we have heard about all sorts of matters which are really the affairs of the States and not Commonwealth matters. Admittedly, there is some overlapping, but in such instances the Commonwealth has become involved as a result of the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of many of the State governments. The Commonwealth is responsible for national matters that affect the people of Australia as a whole.

The annual Budget that is presented in this Parliament is evidence of how the Government has discharged its responsibilities and also indicates its intentions for the future. In the nine and a half years in -which I have had the privilege of representing the electors of Lawson in this chamber, I have seen the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) bring down each year a budget true to that trust. His Budgets have been fearless, confident and just. The right honorable gentleman has not sought party advantage at the expense of the nation’s welfare. Indeed, after a record term the temptation to grant .concessions as a final gesture must have been weLLnigh irresistible, but such is not the stuff of which Sir Arthur -Fadden is made. His continuing ‘thoughts are for Australia’s progress. In this instance we have seen the presentation of a Budget by .a very remarkable Australian, and we salute him. He has been steadfast in his adherence to his principles throughout the whole of his political life, and that has been evident in the Budgets that he has presented from year to year.

The Budget is not a Christmas stocking or a bran pie with gifts for the lucky. It is a serious document of Government policy. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has peeped in and seems to be dismayed that there are no hand-outs in the Budget. The Australian Labour party - or the socialist Opposition in this House - is posing, through its leader, as the farmers’ friend. If there has been one outstanding feature of the Budget debate, it has been the plea by the Leader of the Opposition that he would help the farmers. But he did not say one word about how he would help them.

When I was a young chap there was an implement called the “ farmer’s friend “. It was also branded “ Planet Junior “. To-day, I suppose it would be called a very small sputnik. How often have we heard in this place ridicule from Opposition members of the Australian Country party and the farming community of primary producers?

Mr Stewart:

– Only of the country party, not of the country people.


– I beg to differ. The country people have been ridiculed in this chamber and so also have their representatives in this place. Now the members of the Labour Opposition pretend to be the friends-of the farmer- not only of the small farmer but :also of the grazier, because the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), in his speech on the Budget, referred to farm income as £390,000,000, a figure taken from the Budget papers. It refers to all farm income, including that of graziers. We have heard graziers referred to in this place by members of the socialist Opposition as the “wool barons”, and spoken of in the most sneering terms. But now, honorable members opposite are the farmers’ friends! The Labour party is going to get them out of trouble. I suggest that the farmers will remember 1930 and the depth of the depression; they will remember that every time they looked at a newspaper or listened to the radio in those days there was an appeal to grow more wheat. Both the newspapers and the radio promised, on behalf of the Government, that if the farmers grew more wheat and came to the assistance of the Government, they would be guaranteed 4s. a bushel. They grew more wheat and they sowed their fallow land to wheat. The wheat ripened, the straw dried, and with it died the hopes of the farmers. I sold my wheat at that time for ls. 7d. a bushel, and so did many others.

The government of the day guaranteed 4s. a bushel, but that guarantee was never honoured. I know that there are people who will say that that was because the Senate obstructed the government legislation, but I point out that no political party should criticize another party for allegedly having broken a promise when that party itself was guilty of breaking a promise to guarantee a certain price, a promise given without any preparation whatever to make sure that that guarantee could be carried out.

Time moves on and we come to the last war. Farmers went to the war and left their fathers to look after their properties, or got their friends to run them, in order to keep up production. When the war was over they came home. Fortune had been kind and they had had good crops. There was a fair amount of wheat for sale. Then they discovered, after a lot of investigation, that wheat had been sold, while the Labour party was in government, to New Zealand on the basis of 4,500,000 bushels at 9s. 6d. a bushel and 13,500,000 bushels at 5s. 9d. a bushel, when the price of wheat on the world market varied from 9s. 6d. to 20s. 6d. a bushel. I hear the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) say that the wheat-grower was paid for the wheat. Yes, he was, after the plot was uncovered and everybody had found out what had happened. The Government, in its shame, paid out of Consolidated Revenue to the Australian Wheat Board more than £7,000,000 which that deal had lost to Australia. I say, Sir, that not only did the ordinary taxpayers have to pay, but the farmers also, as taxpayers, had to pay some of that money. That is the kind of help that the farming community can expect from this party which now poses as the friend of the farmers. Two years ago, under this Government, when there were no buyers for our wheat and there was no storage for it, farmers were paid on delivery. We honoured our obligation in that respect.

The Leader of the Opposition has said that there are no proposals in this Budget for vitalized export drives, subsidies and other concessions, but at the time he made that statement there was an Australian trade delegation going to Kuala Lumpur. Malaya is a traditional market for Australian flour. It is a very important market. In addition, Malaya purchases considerable quantities of Australian wheat, dairy products, fruit, frozen and canned meats, tallow and leather, and we also can supply manufactured products. From Malaya we obtain rubber, tin and timber. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition asserts that there are no proposals for vitalized export drives.

Turning to the Japanese Trade Agreement, it is on record that members of the Opposition made statements of the following kind, which are on record in “ Hansard “-

Why should we place in jeopardy many Australian industries just for the sake of pandering to a small section of our primary producers?

There is the sneer again -

The completion of this agreement has been a great victory for the Australian Country party.

It has not been a great victory for the Australian Country party. Instead, it is a great tribute to the statesman who had the vision to see the possibilities of this agreement. I may say that the statement to which I have referred was made by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope). When we heard the sneering question, “ Why should we pander to a small section of our primary producers? “, we heard one of the friends of the farmers speaking in the House of Representatives.

Let me indicate what the Japanese Trade Agreement has meant to Australia. Japan, which for some time has been the second largest buyer of our wool, has strongly supported our auctions in the last twelve months, and it has been largely due to that support that prices have been maintained at a reasonably firm level. Had that support been withdrawn, as it probably would have been without this agreement, it is difficult to say how far prices would have slumped. The Japanese have guaranteed that 90 per cent, of foreign exchange which is available for the purchase of wool will be used for purchases of Australian wool, which will be received into Japan duty free. Japan will buy a minimum of 8,000,000 bushels of our f.a.q. wheat each year, the first time that she has bought our soft wheat. In addition, she will continue to buy the normal quantity of high protein wheat that she has bought from us in the past. She has guaranteed to continue her purchases of Australian barley, of which she is the biggest single buyer. I may say that Japan purchased 340,000 tons of Australian barley in the year before last. Last year, conditions were drier and the crop was halved, but she still bought 140,000 tons.

Japan has promised to continue to purchase, in the present proportions, the other commodities which she normally purchases from Australia. Already she has made a large initial purchase of sugar. I think that in this financial year such purchases will be worth approximately £12,000,000. She will make exchange available for the purchase of dried fruits, a matter that will gladden the heart of my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee. She will purchase Australian dairy products, and she has already bought 700 tons of processed milk. There are members of the Australian Country party, sitting with me on the benches of this chamber, who will appreciate what that means to those in the dairying industry.

In the face of these facts, let us turn to the comments that were forthcoming from the Opposition when the Japanese Trade

Agreement was being debated. One honorable member rose in his place and said -

The only bird that sings is the Australian Country party cockatoo-

Again, the sneering remark - which sits on a stump outback of the Never Never and says, *’ Wheat and wool - wheat and wool “ and nothing else.

We have heard the Labour kookaburra in this place to-day. It has been true to its other name - the laughing jackass.

In answer to a question recently, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) told the House of an agreement under which Ceylon, the principal overseas buyer of our flour since the war, had agreed to take 20,000 tons of Australian flour at normal commercial prices during the remainder of this financial year. I understand, also, that Ceylon’s representative is prepared to discuss with the Minister for Trade an extension of this arrangement. In other words, Ceylon has agreed to further trade discussions with Australia. We have been a consistent buyer of Cingalese tea, which has earned a high reputation in this country. Trade in flour and tea provides an example of the reciprocal trade that we can establish.

The Leader of the Opposition says that the Budget contains no proposals for vitalized export drives. No proposals indeed! Such drives are going on all the time and are increasing. When the trade display was held in King’s Hall a little while ago, did not the right honorable gentleman see what was being done overseas in the form of export drives and what was being done to help the primary producer and so help the people of Australia? We have had markets in Indonesia, Ceylon and Malaya for flour equivalent to 30,000,000 bushels of wheat a year, but we have had to fight to retain those markets.

The committee is well aware of the fact that the United Kingdom meat agreement has stabilized beef prices over the years during which it has been in operation. Honorable members should also be aware of the fact that last year 120,000 tons of beef and veal were disposed of to the United Kingdom under that agreement. The profits derived under such agreements are ploughed back, particularly in view of the encouragement offered by depreciation allowances, which have been provided during the lifetime of this Government.

The Leader of the Opposition asked -

Where is the crumb for the farmer in the Budget?

There is one - the depreciation concession. Is that to be taken away? The right honorable gentleman should go out into the country and see what that crumb means. He ought to see the amount of clearing that has been done, the water supplies that have been provided, the homesteads that have been built for farm labourers, the sheds that have been built to house machinery and the silos that have been built to take the grain. Every country town knows what those things are worth, not only to the man on the land, but to the people of Australia as a whole. Every one of those projects has a content of material and labour, and in the fabrication of that material additional labour has been engaged. If the farmer can provide improvements of that kind, work is created not only in the construction of the improvements but also in the towns and factories. That is a revolving benefit and redounds to the credit of the Government, which thought of providing depreciation allowances.

Under the United Kingdom meat agreement, £6,000,000 in deficiency payments alone came to this country from Great Britain. That money, together with the other profits to which I have referred, has been ploughed back in order to improve our country. I read the other day that the credit of a country was the difference between what people earned and what they spent. But there is a little more to it than that, because if what people save is ploughed back into the economy, the country’s credit is further enhanced.

One could deal with a great number of matters in this debate, but I am confining myself principally to our primary industries and export markets. The Leader of the Opposition said in his reply to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech -

The responsibility for the farming crisis-

There was a crisis in 1930, but I have yet to learn that there is now a farming crisis - lies squarely at the Government’s door.

Has not the right honorable gentleman read the Constitution? Does not he know that under the Constitution most matters affecting production are handled by the State governments? Is he aware that the

Commonwealth assists the State governments very largely in carrying out that work? I do not criticize the State governments; I think that the State Departments of Agriculture have done a very good job. But the Commonwealth assists them in the provision of research and extension services, which were introduced, incidentally, by the Minister for Trade and carried on very admirably by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon). The Commonwealth now provides £1,500,000 a year to State governments to carry out that extension work.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which was primarily established and has been maintained by the Commonwealth, has saved this country millions of pounds. In spite of that, the Leader of the Opposition says that responsibility for the “ farming crisis “ lies at the door of this Government.

In his opening remarks, the Leader of the Opposition also said, in regard to the farmers, that the Budget contained1 no proposals for “ subsidies or other concessions to help them over what is a desperately lean period “. Does he realize that annually for some years the Government has paid, and will pay this year, £13,500,000 to the consumers of butter to enable them to buy butter at a reasonable price and the dairy farmer to remain in production? Does not the right honorable gentleman realize that the opposition which his party raised to the provision of a development bank was the saddest blow that had ever been struck, at the extension of credit to farmers? The farmers are not suppliants; they are not beggars. They do not come to this Government and ask for help over every trifling little hurdle. They are proud people who have fought their own way. But they do suggest - it is a very reasonable suggestion -that credit would assist them very greatly. The proposal for the establishment of a development bank was made to help the man who had the will and the courage but who lacked finance.

During the last twelve months, the Government has caused credit to be released by the central bank to the trading banks. That money will circulate, and we believe it will enable credit to be extended where it is required1. If the Government had budgeted for a surplus, as it might have done, there would have been a restriction of credit. The fact that we have budgeted for a deficit will mean that funds will be released. Money will be liquid and will be in circulation, with the result that farmers will receive a benefit.

There are many more matters to which I could refer in support of the assertion that this Government has done, and will continue to do, an excellent job in the development of our export trade, particularly in regard to primary products. The primary industries have been established, but the future of this country is dependent upon assistance given by the secondary industries. That is why there has been established the Export Development Council, which is meeting at the present time and which had its inaugural meeting almost concurrently with the delivery of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I remind the right honorable gentleman, who has said that the Budget contains no proposals for vitalized: export drives, that the Export Development Council, which is constituted of leaders in industry, men who have grown up in industry and know what industry needs, is considering how our export trade can be improved. What are the Opposition’s proposals?

Mr Brand:

– It has none.


– It has none, as the honorable member for Wide Bay says. Time and time again in this chamber I have felt constrained to say that it was all very well to criticize the Government, but that if one criticizes one must be prepared to make suggestions that are capable of being put into operation. In all the criticism that has been levelled against the Budget very few such suggestions have been made. I suggest that none came from’ the Leader of the Opposition.

It is not sufficient to think only of our own primary industries. I believe that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) was thinking along these lines, too, although he may not have expressed himself as adequately as I. had hoped. There are close to us undeveloped countries which need stable prices for their primary products. It is all very well to be able to buy goods cheaply for a while, but, if we are to trade consistently with our neighbours, they must be able to develop a stable economy and they must have stable politics. These countries have been selling their primary products as best they could and getting little for them. As a result, their political and economic stability is at a very low level and, if we do not do something about it, the door will be open for communism to creep in and to push the free world further back. This is an international matter. It was first raised as far back as 1947, but it fell by the wayside. It must be revived, particularly now that the serious Communist expansion is so evident.

The Australian Country party has a foundation knowledge and experience of what these countries need. It has a knowledge of its own battle to find markets and to get stabilization schemes. I am hopeful that this matter will be taken up on an international basis at the Commonwealth trade conference, which is to commence in Canada, I understand, in a month or so. There is no person more suitable to initiate the matter than the Minister for Trade who, with his expert touch and experience, is capable of advancing a proposition that would benefit the undeveloped countries to which I have referred. Do not let us forget that peace does not rest on a flourish of arms. Peace rests, in my opinion, on our trade relations with our neighbours and on the state of their economy, more than it does on any show of arms.

The financial honeymoon is over; We have had the loose change in our pockets. We have had what is probably the most prosperous time in our history and we have spent the money, enjoyed the honeymoon and bought the furniture for the new home on hire purchase. Now it is time to get on with the job. We must get back to work. I could refer to many points, but my time is limited. We have built the foundations; we have established social services and have continued with some things that were started even by other, governments.

Mr Duthie:

– You have had good seasons.


– I grant that we have had good seasons, but we have made the most of them. The Postmaster-General’s Department has a magnificent record, particularly throughout the country areas, of establishing much-needed telephone services. In Dubbo recently I was told that not one applicant was waiting for a telephone. How different that story is from the one we heard some time ago! Mr. Chairman, the greatest tribute that we as a nation can pay to our retiring Treasurer is to take the lead from his final Budget, get back into the collar, and apply ourselves as a united, indissoluble Commonwealth to those matters which promote peace, order and good government for Australia.


.- The Government is not so much to be blamed for introducing this useless, defeatist, and disastrous Budget as it is for allowing the economy of this nation to deteriorate as it has, so forcing the Government into the position of having to introduce a Budget of this kind. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) spoke quite proudly of the years of prosperity and the good seasons that have been enjoyed since 1949, when this Government assumed office. Yet we find that, after nine years of prosperity - nine years of honeymoon, as the honorable gentleman termed it - the Government is placed in the position of having to bring down a Budget of this kind in an election year.

The amazing feature is the obvious fact that, if the Democratic Labour party had not existed, this Government would never have dared to bring down such a Budget at this time. I have seen other Commonwealth governments become arrogant and I have seen the result; but this Government has become so arrogant that it believes that it can rely on the Democratic Labour party to ensure its return at the next election. Whether that will happen, only time can prove, but I leave it to the members of the Democratic Labour party to keep in mind that their existence has been exploited by this Government to deprive the people of their just rights. Whether that is the reason for the Government’s attitude on this occasion is, I suppose, a matter of opinion, but that is my honest and sincere opinion. If it is so, then members of the Democratic Labour party may get some comfort and pleasure from the thought that their existence has resulted in pensioners beingdeprived of the increase to which they are justly entitled, in unemployed workers being robbed of the prospect of finding a job in the near future and of mothers being deprived of increases in child endowment: I am pleased to leave those matters on the consciences of members of the Liberal party, the Australian Country party and the Democratic Labour party.

Whether the people will continue to accept the tactics and practices that have been used over the past few years by our opponents remains to be seen. I do not believe that the practice of maligning the Australian Labour party can continue successfully much longer. I am confident that the people will once again support the members of the Australian Labour party, whom they know to be sincere and genuine in their approach, and will not tolerate the bad practices to which I have referred.

I do not propose to occupy much of my time in dealing with speeches that have been made, but I wish to refer briefly to the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), which was delivered on Tuesday night. In my view, it was a joke and a sham. The Parliament and the people are entitled to expect something better and something bigger from a Minister, especially a high-ranking Minister such as the Minister for External Affairs. He exposed his complete ignorance of what is happening in this country. If he did not do that, then at least he did not give any evidence that he is aware of what is happening in this country.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


– When the committee adjourned, I was criticizing the speech made by the Minister for External Affairs last Tuesday night in reply to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition. I said that he showed his complete ignorance of what is going on in Australia, but perhaps he can be forgiven for that, because he is hardly ever in Australia. The same can be said of his leader, the Prime Minister.

When the Minister rose he proceeded to attack the Leader of the Opposition and described the right honorable gentleman’s speech as a farrago of irresponsible nonsense. That expression has been used so often in this chamber - not by the Minister but by the Prime Minister - that it has become almost “ corny “. If an honorable member on this side expresses a view that conflicts with that of the Prime Minister, or, for that matter, of any of his Ministers, we have become accustomed to hearing it said that he is talking irresponsible nonsense. On this occasion we are singularly fortunate in that almost every newspaper in Australia is in agreement with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Hulme:

– Not the “ Courier-Mail “.


– Not the “CourierMail “, but almost every other newspaper in Australia. In their leading articles and their statements regarding the Budget, they have agreed with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech. It is very rarely that honorable members on this side can find anything in a newspaper which they can use to criticize the Government. Personally, I do not like quoting from newspapers, but because this is such a rare occasion, because the newspapers have expressed such critical views regarding what has been included in and omitted from the Budget, I shall quote a short extract from an article which appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “. The article is as follows: -

Whether the Government is returned to office or not at the next election, Fadden’s last Budget will cost them scores of thousands of votes.

On occasions - as on this - the Treasurer, who is Leader of the Country Party, has given certain concessions to rural interests, but why should they be the only ones selected for favoured treatment?

The answer, of course, is that the rump Country party, holding the balance of power at Canberra, has always been able to coerce the Liberal party into giving it key Cabinet posts, including the all-important Treasury portfolio.

It is hard to calculate who has been Australia’s most tragic Treasurer, Sir Earle Page or Sir Arthur Fadden.

I end the quotation there. If honorable members opposite wish to read the whole of the article, they had better get a copy. It makes very interesting reading so far as the Budget is concerned.

Mr Brand:

– And you agree with it?


– This is one time when I can say that I am in complete agreement with an article in a newspaper. We have heard much from the Government about prosperity. When the Prime Minister has introduced a little Budget, on each occasion when the Treasurer has presented a Budget to the Parliament and on most occasions when other Ministers have spoken, we have been told that this country has never experienced so much prosperity in its history as has been the case since the Menzies-Fadden Government first occupied the treasury bench. Yet we find now that the Government must produce a Budget like this one. As I said this morning, if it were not for the presence of the Democratic Labour party in the political field, a Budget of this kind would never have been presented. In any case, the Government is to be condemned for the fact that, although Australia has enjoyed recently many good seasons, with high prices for exportable goods, our economy has deteriorated now to such an extent that the Government has to present such a Budget as this. Time will not permit me to go into the details of the causes of that situation.

Mr Hulme:

– We still have a nice balance overseas.


– The honorable member for Petrie says that we have a nice balance overseas. It is not as stable as it should be, and nobody knows that better than the honorable member for Petrie. What I am saying is that there has been laxity somewhere on the part of this Government so far as our international trading is concerned. If our primary products or other goods are exported in sufficient quantities, and satisfactory prices are obtained, our internal economy will naturally stabilize itself. The fact that our internal economy is not stable - which I shall endeavour to establish in a moment - demonstrates that something is wrong overseas.

Mr Leslie:

– The honorable member for Yarra said the other day that it was stable.


– What the honorable member for Yarra says is one thing. He is entitled to say what he likes. My personal opinion is that our internal economy is not stable.

I am in an extraordinary position to-day. Usually when I speak I find myself at loggerheads with members of the Australian Country party. On this occasion, however, I believe they will support me when I say that there are available to us overseas markets for our primary products of which we have not taken advantage. In the issue of “ Muster “ which I received to-day, there is an article written by Mr. Juan Umali, from the Philippines. I know him and many of the veterinary men who have come from the Philippines in connexion with the export of cattle from this country. I do not wish anything in what I am about to say to be construed as a reflection on the Australian Meat Board. Mr. Shute, the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, and the other officers of the board are doing a very intelligent and competent job so far as our meat is concerned.

The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) may resent what I am going to say, but I have received complaints that a bad habit of this Government is to enter into agreements with the United Kingdom for a stabilized price for our meat and to give away something in the process. I do not believe that the graziers of this country will have any objection to what I am going to say. I have discussed this question with many of them. The United Kingdom has pinned us down to a free quota of only 15,000 tons. That is all right if the quota is confined to prime beef, to the quality of beef which the United Kingdom will take and for which that country is our only outlet. But everybody knows that only a portion of the beef that is available for sale from this country is taken by the United Kingdom. The fifteen-year meat agreement with the United Kingdom was entered into with the best of intentions and provided that prices should be determined from time to time when conferences of the parties to the agreement were called. But markets are available in other countries for beef which the United Kingdom will not take, and Australia cannot take advantage of them. From all parts of Queensland, as well as from other States, untold thousands of cattle have been transported to the East. The Australian Meat Board has no objection to this being done because they are heavier and older types of beasts which are not suitable for the United Kingdom, which is not interested in animals of more than 600 or 700 lb. weight.

Mr Brand:

– They are second-quality beef.


– That is right. They are shipped to the East, particularly to the Philippines. The export of frozen beef is an entirely different proposition and in this respect Australia is tied by the meat agreement with the United Kingdom. I repeat that, provided Australia can supply the United Kingdom with all the prime beef of the class it is prepared to take, there should not be any obstacle placed in the way of Australia exporting beef of other qualities to other markets. But because the United Kingdom will not take other than prime beef we are not able to export it elsewhere.

Mr Turnbull:

– Who negotiated the agreement with the United Kingdom?.


– It does not matter who negotiated it. All that matters is that the present Minister for Trade signed the agreement.

Mr McMahon:

– But your facts are not right. “Mr. ‘EDMONDS.- If they are not right, they are not facts.

Mr McMahon:

– Exactly!


– I will leave it to the Minister for Primary Industry to point out where my facts are not right. I say that they are correct. Twice, within the last twelve months, to my knowledge, an attempt has been made by the Australian Meat Board, or delegates representing it, to get the United Kingdom to relax the free quota of beef under the meat agreement. Many head of stock on properties throughout Australia are of no use to anybody. The abattoirs will not take them, neither will the meat-works. They are no good for the butchering trade, yet they are allowed to roam about and deteriorate and finally die. I am speaking now about lowgrade beef.

Millions of people in the East are crying out for low-grade beef which we could supply but which we are allowing to rot on our properties. It is cheap and fatless - a quality which the Eastern peoples want. They do not want our prime beef and would not take it if we attempted to sell it to them. This market for our lowgrade beef would bring in millions of dollars.

The Minister knows that on a certain occasion I put before him a proposition for exporting frozen beef. It does not matter to me who would be granted the licence to export. I can understand the department, the Minister and the Government wanting to protect to the utmost out market for .prime beef in the United Kingdom; but -I cannot understand why Aus tralia should enter into an agreement with the United Kingdom which prevents us from selling beef .of other quality which the United Kingdom will not take. But that is the position in which we are placed at the moment.

My complaint is that the whole of the community is involved in this matter. Cattle men have told me that .they believe it to be a wicked waste to let this low-grade stock deteriorate and die on the properties. The Australian Meat Board has no objection to livestock not required for export to the United Kingdom being sent to the East, but if they are sent away as livestock and not as frozen beef employment in the slaughtering and freezing sections of the meat industry would .be denied to Australian workers. In my electorate there are two meatworks where, I suppose, some 3,’000 men are employed for about five months an the year. If this second-grade beef could be slaughtered and frozen in Australia it would mean that those workers would be occupied all the year round instead of having only five months of seasonal employment. It would mean, also, that the railways would be busier and would require more employees, and further, that the waterfront would be busier. All the business community would benefit and ultimately the entire economy of this nation would be improved.

I do not wish to detract from anything the Minister, or Mr. Shute or anybody associated with the Australian Meat Board, may have done in an effort -to persuade the United Kingdom to relax the free quota. The Minister knows that members of both Government parties have asked him questions on .this subject. -He knows, full well, that whatever superficial arguments he might advance, the fact of the matter is that low-grade beef is going to waste in this country when it could be readily sold in markets overseas. But we are not taking advantage of that opportunity. I resent the fact that when agreements are being negotiated, greater care is not taken to provide for that class of beef in which the United Kingdom is not interested. I do not think that ther United Kingdom or any other country should he in a position to say, “ We will not take that particular type of beef, but you must not sell it anywhere else “. In the Philippines there is an unlimited market for our low-grade beef, but because of this agreement we are not able to sell it there.

While I am speaking about the Philippines, honorable members may be interested to know that on one occasion I asked the Minister for Trade why this Government refuses to sell Australian dairy products and flour to the Philippines, which needs those products so badly. 1 pointed out that the people there were keen to buy these products because they were cheaper and the distance from Australia was only 3,000 miles as against 8,000 miles from the United States of America. The position is that because we will not purchase certain items from the Philippines they will not buy our flour and other primary products. That is bad business on the part of this or any other government.

I am sure that the honorable member for Wide Bay will be interested to know that the Minister for Trade and others have claimed that Australia is trading with red China. If that is so, why do not these people come out openly and say that the Australian Government has recognized red China and is trading with that country? We should trade with red China to the fullest possible extent. In the last ten months the value of our exports to red China exceeded £7,000,000. It should be much higher than that. Recently, a trade delegate from red China was in Australia and talked about the possibility of buying our sugar. He said that there is a great cry in China for sugar. He pointed out that if it were possible for every inhabitant of China to consume 4 lb. of sugar a year, China could buy, for cash, all the sugar that this country could produce. But what happens with our sugar? Under an agreement, it is transported to Liverpool; then it is transferred1 to Hong Kong and sold to China. Everybody is getting a “ cop “ except this country. Is it any wonder, when things like that happen, that the Government is forced to bring down a Budget of this kind?

I appeal to the Government not to permit a repetition of what occurred when the Australian Democratic Labour party occupied a corner of this chamber. Last night a considerable period was spent in washing the dirty linen of a certain political party.

Mr Chaney:

– We did you a service.


– I do not agree. Honorable members regard the adjournment debate as providing an opportunity to discuss matters affecting their electorates. I again appeal to the Government not to allow the National Parliament to be used as ‘a political wash-tub for one side or another. The people should not be asked to pay taxes to keep this chamber going until 12.30 a.m. so that some one may answer charges which have arisen as a result of filthy political spleen. This Parliament ought not to be concerned with such matters, and I ask the Prime Minister and responsible Government supporters to see that it does not occur again. I give my whole-hearted support to the motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) censuring the Government upon this wicked, useless, disgraceful, defeatist Budget.


.- The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) has just given us a dissertation on low-grade beef. Most of his other remarks were a much higher grade of bull. In common with the practice usually followed on that side of the committee, he pushed the party line and defended his leader. He stressed the importance of the people getting their just rights. But what are the people’s just rights? Presumably they are a defenceless Australia and a welfare state. The honorable member harped on the nine good years enjoyed by the Government, but, like his colleagues, complained that the farmers would receive no assistance from the Budget. I might remind honorable members opposite that the farmers also have had nine good years. The honorable member went on to say that the Australian Labour party was sincere in its claims, but I suggest that we could very well leave that to the electors to decide.

I should like to associate myself with the tribute which has been paid to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden).

Mr Edmonds:

– He is a good bloke.


– He is indeed. I have known him for only a few years, but I know that he has shown courage in both the sporting and political arenas. He has met every emergency with courage and has produced, in his eleventh and last Budget, a responsible and sound plan upon which he is to be highly commended. I join honorable members in offering him my personal good wishes.

Most people seem to regard the Budget as a kind of Christmas tree. 1 do not know whether Opposition members or the people themselves are to blame for this kind “of thinking, but a Budget is neither a Christmas tree nor a hand-out. It is simply a plan for running the country in the ensuing year. If I may be permitted to draw an analogy - the workman in a factory who, during a period of high production, is working a lot of overtime can usually count on a Christmas bonus. Accordingly, his wife and family become accustomed to receiving a little extra at Christmas time or on birthdays. Sooner or later he is obliged to come home and inform the family that things are slack at the factory, and that there will be no bonus this year. The family becomes resigned to the fact that junior will not get his new two- wheel bike for his birthday, and that mother will not get the new dress with the sack look. They may live in hope, and when the bonus does not come at Christmas time they may still feel a little disappointed, but they know why it is not possible for them to do as well as they did in previous years. Something very similar is happening in Australia to-day. The people know the reasons, and therefore understand what the Government is doing.

One of the highlights of the Budget was the information that export income fell from £978,000,000 to £814,000,000 last year. Farm incomes fell by £180,000,000, or onethird. That was one of the main factors which had to be taken into consideration. It is significant that, despite the fall in farm incomes, the internal economy advanced strongly. The Treasurer has described that as attributable to the diversity of our industries, which enables us to withstand external shocks far better than we could in the past.

There is a strong contrast between the trade policy of the Government and that of the Opposition. Opposition members have shown themselves to be isolationists. The Treasurer’s plan is based on three main factors. One is that we cannot count on any major increase in prices for our export goods. The second is the quantum of our international reserves which, although healthy at £525,000,000, might not be able to withstand a prolonged period of low export earnings. The third factor is the necessity to support increased internal activity without producing inflationary pressures.

In his statement on financial policy the Treasurer stated that attention was being paid to enlarging our export markets to combat agricultural protectionism and the dumping of surplus foodstuffs. There was also to be an attempt to promote mining operations within Australia. A calculated risk was to be taken that the short-fall in revenue would be recovered before too great a time had passed - partly as a result of re-investment, or spending on consumption goods, by the holders of maturing bonds and stock. Thus we would find that the public would pay less in taxes, but would receive more income from this increased public spending. From our reduced income, we have to finance the maintenance of our progressive activity, but at the same time exercise caution in going into deficit budgeting to a minimum - or a maximum, if you prefer it that way - of £110,000,000 which, as the Treasurer has said, can be recovered if the position has been correctly assessed with regard to the short-term fall in revenue.

As 1 have said, honorable members opposite are isolationists. By contrast, this Government and the Treasurer are realists. Let us consider the record of the present Treasurer. Ever since this Government has been in power, it has met every commitment out of revenue. Not only that, but it has put aside £45,000,000 towards repaying outstanding debts that were incurred during the 1939-45 war. Surely this is evidence of excellent housekeeping. There is no doubt that this policy of paying for things from revenue has assisted to cushion the effect of the present world recession. There is no doubt that Australia stands in a much better position than most other countries of the world in this regard.

The Opposition’s policy is one of low taxation, low interest rates and increased social services. It could only be maintained if posterity paid; in other words, treasury-bills unlimited or, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, borrowing the life savings of the people deposited with the Commonwealth Bank. The result is undoubtedly to fatten your own goose and to turn your back on the neighbour’s dogs.

If that is not the intention of the Opposition, if it is not the Opposition’s policy to finance all these handouts from treasurybills, it must cut expenditure in certain directions.

In this connexion, I wish to refer to the speech of the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme). It was a reasoned and responsible statement for which, I think, most people are greatly indebted to him. He set out to this committee five headings of expenditure which represent 87 per cent, of the total. They were: Defence Services, War and Repatriation Services, Social Services, Payments to the States and Capital Works. Now, we can put to one side War and Repatriation Services and Social Services for the purposes of the argument. That leaves us three headings to which the Opposition would look to obtain additional funds. I shall deal, first, with Capital Works. Any restriction of Capital Works would be dead against everything the Opposition has clamoured for to end unemployment, so I could not see for one moment any Labour policy advocating a reduction in Capital Works.

I move on to Payments to the States. Ever since the introduction of uniform taxation, there has been dissatisfaction. Some States are receiving moneys in excess of the revenue which they contribute, and still need more money, others, which are receiving much less than they actually contribute to the revenue, as in the case of “Victoria, which has its own Budget deficiencies, would be in a much more parlous condition than they are now if any reduction was made by a future Labour government. That disposes of another heading, and leaves only Defence Services. This is the plum- £190,000,000. You will recall, Mr. Chairman, the 1955 election promises of the Leader of the Opposition. He promised certain social service benefits and various things which he was going to finance in various ways. He estimated that they would cost £100,000,000. In his policy speech? which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 14th November, 1955, he stated that the cost of those benefits would be of the order of £100,000,000. The right honorable gentleman set out exactly how he would finance those proposals. He expected to obtain revenue of £6,000,000 from land tax and £60,000,000 from an excess profits tax, and defence expenditure was to be cut by £40,000,000. At that time, there was a Budget surplus of £50,000,000.

On 14th November, 1955, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to have stated that an investigation made by Treasury officials, an independent investigation, of the election promises made by the Leader of the Opposition showed that they would cost, not £100,000,000 but £188,000,000. Did this mean that another £88,000,000 was to be cut out of the defence vote, thus reducing it by £128,000,000? It will be recalled that the total defence provision in the 1949-50 Budget brought down by the Chifley Government was only £54,200,000. I remind the committee that the estimated expenditure on salaries and wages alone - not including anything in the way of subsistence or quarters - in the present Budget is of the order of £72,000,000, or 38 per cent, of the total vote - £18,000,000 more than Labour’s total vote in 1949-50. The provision for maintenance, food, petrol, oil, &c, in this Budget is close to £70,000,000. What a grand defence force Australia would have if we were left with only £30,000,000 to get new equipment, ammunition, buildings, food, quarters and all the other things needed for defence!


– What has this Government to show for its defence expenditure?


– We certainly have a lot more to show than Labour had for its expenditure of £50,000,000 a year. We must be grateful that the people of Australia are not likely to be taken in by the ballyhoo that was served out by the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday night. If there were any waverers, the spectacle of the Labour government in New Zealand failing to honour its election promises must be convincing.

Like a drowning man, the Opposition is clutching at any straw. With its overtures to the Australian Democratic Labour party repulsed, the Opposition seems now to be stretching out to get the countryman’s vote. Opposition members weep for the poor farmer for whom, they say, the Budget has done nothing. Honorable members opposite seem to forget that one of the greatest benefits the primary producer has received is the 20 per cent, per annum depreciation allowance, which is to be extended for a further three years. I am very sorry in a way that the Government has not seen fit further to implement the Hulme Report and extend this depreciation allowance to secondary industry, which is in quite a difficult condition because of obsolescent equipment.


– Concessions ought to be extended to workmen’s weekly tickets in Victoria from next Monday.


– The honorable member should know, because he travels that way. I should like now to refer to the additional social services benefits conferred by this Budget. The proposed supplementary pension of 10s. a week has been very well received by the majority of pensioners’ societies, but it has been strongly criticized by the Opposition. With many of my colleagues on this side, particularly the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) I pressed some two years ago for a rent adjustment to assist single pensioners who are forced to live in a room or in a backyard bungalow, and who were the most needy section of pensioners. I am very grateful that despite arguments that were raised about the difficulties of administering a means test within a means test, the Treasurer has now departed from normal practice in order to confer this particular benefit. The Opposition has claimed that most, if not all, of the 10s. a week increase in pension for single persons will be grabbed by rapacious landlords.


– Have you read what the Victorian Housing Commission is doing?


– 1 have before me a copy of to-day’s Melbourne “ Age “ which announces an increase of 2s. 6d. a week in the rent payable to the State housing authority by pensioners who are to receive an additional 10s. a week under this Budget. There are a few facts behind this which I think that honorable members should know. Most of the pensioner flats are occupied by two people - whether a married couple, two women or two men. There are very few single pensioner flats. Consequently, in most instances two people are paying for a flat, and their joint pension income is £8 15s. a week, to which £1 is now to be added, making a total of £9 15s. per week. The State Housing Commission is now asking these people to pay an increase of 2s. 6d., from 9s. to 1 ls. 6d. a week. If every landlord in Australia charged pensioners no more for accommodation than lis. 6d. a week I do not think that even the Opposition would have any cause to complain.


– -Those circumstances do not apply very often.


– They apply in this case, and that is what honorable members opposite are cavilling about. Another question relating to the 10s. a week adjustment is how outside landlords who increase rents - they will be few - can be controlled. The Department of Social Services issues a questionnaire every six months in order to ascertain whether there has been any change in pensioners’ incomes. I have spoken to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) on this subject, and 1 understand that it would be possible to adopt a suggestion that I have made to him that, in addition to ascertaining whether there has been any change of income, the department should ascertain whether there has been any change in the amount of rent paid.

This would enable officers of the department to see whether increases in rent become widespread, consequent upon this increase of pension. If they find that rent increases are widespread this will warrant immediate investigation by the State rent authorities in order to see that justice is done. But even if some pensioners do not get the full benefit of the pension increase, a majority of those who receive it will benefit from it. The benefit is being placed where it is most needed - in the hands of single persons, widows and widowers who, with no family to assist them, are forced to live in back-rooms and backyard bungalows. The Government’s proposal will relieve those people in the community who should be assisted first.

Whilst giving my support to this Budget, there are one or two changes which are more a matter of correcting anomalies than granting concessions which I regret have not been included. One of these is the exemption of municipal authorities from the pay-roll tax.


– Hear, heart


– Thank you very much. This is a tax on a tax because the wages of municipal officers are paid out of revenue from rates levied as a tax on property owners of the district. Of course, the payroll tax also reduces the money available to each municipality to spend on road construction and other essential works. I am certain that municipalities in general are being very hard hit by the loss of revenue from Commonwealth-owned property, particularly in the light of increasing Commonwealth activity. It is true that when Commonwealth premises are leased1 for profit, the Commonwealth makes an ex gratia payment in lieu of rates, but when premises are used purely for Commonwealth purposes, no payment is made. It is high time that a more equitable method was applied to distribute this burden generally on all taxpayers so that it shall not fall only on those residing in municipalities which are favoured with Commonwealth establishments.

In one municipality in my own electorate there is a military camp, a civil aerodrome, the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and several other annexes of a munitions nature. If the proposed new jet airport is constructed in the area there will be a loss to the municipality of 3,000 acres of land on which a large sum would be paid in rates if a satellite city were built there. The Commonwealth should pay rates on this land, just as anybody else would pay them. If the Commonwealth cannot pay rates under the Constitution, it should make an ex gratia payment.

There are more than a few anomalies in sales tax. One of the most iniquitous, I think, is in the category referred to as “ returnable containers “. In certain instances tax is paid, again and again, on the original cost of these containers. This applies particularly to signboards which are painted and let out on hire, brought back again after a few weeks, repainted and let out again. Each time, the original cost of the board is subject to sales tax.

There is another anomaly with regard to the sales tax classifications. When a category of goods is exempted from sales tax the Commissioner determines arbitrarily which goods are included in that category, and there is no appeal whatsoever from his decision. I think that that is wrong in justice and in principle and that something should be done about it. An appeal can be made on a question of value but not on a question of kind.

There is another matter which has exercised my mind. The taxation concessions that I had expected in the Budget were very small, but one of them was that donations to worthy causes, other than charitable institutions, would be deductible for income tax purposes. I refer to such causes as the recent appeal to send the Empire Games team to Cardiff, an event from which Australia undoubtedly drew great public relations benefit; also to the fund which is now open to send the Olympic team to Rome in 1960. However, the occasion for making those concessions is past.

This is a good Budget, under all the circumstances which have been mentioned. But it is becoming more evident, year by year, that the economy cannot stand the terrific strain of social services which now take £274,000,000, or 23 per cent, of our total Budget expenditure. Surely it is high time that a compulsory superannuation and national insurance scheme was introduced on the lines of that which has been espoused so often by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). If effective legislation for such a scheme is introduced, Sir, it will not only relieve governments of the burden of social services but also remove from the Australian people the burden of dependence on charity and of the destruction of the incentive to save which are inherent in the means test - those shackles that are the instruments of the socialists and the Communists.

Mr. Chairman, I support the motion that the first item be agreed to, and reject the amendment.


– The expression of his views made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) at the conclusion of his speech was clearer than anything else that he said. I am wondering what he means when he talks about commitments for social services compared with commitments under the system in operation up to the present time. If he means that the basic wage earner should contribute to the National Welfare Fund as heavily as those in the higher income brackets, I can understand why he enunciated his views as he did. Any honorable member who advances in this chamber the proposition advanced by the honorable member for Maribyrnong should be clear about where he is going. The honorable member said that the pensioners should not be obliged to accept the pittance - one could carry it as far as that - and his views go far beyond anything that has ever been intended in the administration of social services in any free country. The honorable member should be careful how he talks on this subject if he wants to continue to represent Maribyrnong in this Parliament after the next elections.

If we honour our responsibilities as members of a National Parliament, we look for three features in any Budget. We look, first, to see whether it reflects efficient national housekeeping over the previous twelve months. We look, secondly, to see whether it reflects national financial stability. Thirdly - and I suggest most important - a Budget, particularly in modern times, should indicate the plans made by the government of the day and should make it plain that they are the result of clear thinking about what will be done in the following twelve months. This last feature, to me, is very much more important than whether the national housekeeping in the previous twelve months was good or bad. In these modern times, if we look back to what has happened in the past instead of forward to the future, we shall be found wanting, because we shall not be able to deal with various situations in which we shall find ourselves.

Having those three desirable features in mind, Sir, I should have expected certain Ministers at least to deal with them in accordance with their impact on the administration of the departments that they control. Those factors must have affected the responsibilities - light or heavy as the case may be - that clearly rest upon them in their ministerial positions.I notice that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is now at the table. Although we on this side of the chamber often disagree with him, he is always prepared to come here and state the facts, as he sees them - and often in a way that is in direct contrast to the Opposition’s point of view. At least he discharges his responsibility to explain the work of his department. If other Ministers displayed more of this willingness to explain the administration of departments, we should get a much clearer picture of where we were going from year to year in Budget debates than we ever get now.

In a Budget debate, it is usual for the Treasurer, first, to outline the national housekeeping over the past twelve months. That is his responsibility, and it is the first responsibility that rests squarely on his shoulders. In the Treasurer’s Budget speech, we have what he believes to be a factual description of the national housekeeping over the last twelve months. Certainly, it is an account that is coloured politically to suit the ends of the Government, which will have to face the electors in the next few months. From the outset, however, the Treasurer’s report on the national housekeeping reflects things with which the Opposition does not agree. The right honorable gentleman dealt with what he termed “ The Economic Prospect “ early in his speech, and said -

Total employment rose and, although unemployment increased to some extent, it did not at any stage reach large proportions.

There, Mr. Chairman, we find the first great difference between the Government’s point of view and that of the Opposition. We. as believers in full employment, take the view that any unemployment should be dealt with swiftly. It should not be lightly disregarded as the Treasurer appears to have disregarded it. Continuing, he said -

In manufacturing, a great many industries increased output - very considerably in some cases - and, cf the other industries, the great majority succeeded in keeping output high.

What the right honorable gentleman did not tell us was that, over the twelve months that he was reviewing, there had been a steady fall, in line with a trend that has been prevalent for three years, in the number of males engaged in industry in Australia. That factor is very disturbing to the Opposition. Any government that is content to disregard a steady fall in the number of male workers in private employment in this fashion obviously is devoid of any thought of distributing wealth equally within the nation. If the situation that the Treasurer neglected to mention in his report to the nation on the Government’s housekeeping is allowed to continue it will retard Australia’s progress. The right honorable gentleman added -

Private investment expenditure is estimated tn have increased during the year by more than 7 per cent. 1 say unequivocally that if the large sums of money being invested in hire purchase were being invested in industry the number of males in private employment would not be falling. Whether the Government likes it or not, the Treasurer’s housekeeping report indicates that, although investment increased by more than 7 per cent., the number of employees in private industry has been declining. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -

The rate of dwelling construction rose and other forms of building activity remained high.

In point of fact, under this Government’s administration, the number of dwellings being constructed has declined over the last two years - and this at a time when we are thinking in terms of an addition to the work force of 15,000 or 16,000 workers a year, due to the natural increase of the population, rising to 30,000 a year within three years! It is clear that the Government has failed to take the action that it should have taken, and the Budget makes it plain that it does not propose to take action in the future.

The Treasurer said, also -

There was a large increase in purchases of motor vehicles.

What he did not tell us was that, over the last three months, there has been a steady decline in the automotive industry. At the present time, the Treasurer and the Government should be thinking in terms of action designed to arrest the decline in the motor industry, which has been most noticeable over the last- three years - so noticeable, in fact, that probably not more than three motor vehicle manufacturing companies can now keep out of the red! Last year, I had the good fortune to be a member of a delegation sent overseas to represent this Parliament. I returned to Australia through the United States of America, and visited the City of Detroit and saw what has happened there as a result of the decline of the automotive industry in the United States. I shudder to think of this Government’s indifference to the pointers to what is happening. In Detroit, where the automotive industry is in a position similar to that now faced by the Australian automotive industry, I found 10 per cent, of unemployment in a city of 3,000,000 people. Since November last, when I was there, unemployment has risen to 17 per cent. Apparently, private industry in the United States can do nothing about it. The position in Detroit, which is almost entirely an automotive manufacturing city, and which has 17 per cent, of unemployment, is reflected throughout the United States, where the total unemployment figure is about 6,000,000.

Last evening, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) talked about a sneeze in the United States causing pneumonia in the rest of the world, and he dealt with the subject in a fashion that indicated that he does not even realize that, in the last three or four months, there has been much more than a sneeze in the United States and the disease has now spread to Australia. This Government either does not know anything about it, or, if it does, it has not bothered to make any plans to protect industry in this country.

The next aspect of the Budget speech to which I wish to refer - and this is a classic - is the Treasurer’s remarks to the effect that public works nearly everywhere have made good headway. I do not know whether the Treasurer and other members of the Government have paid any attention to the decline in the standard of our roadways. That is one of the first items that should be looked1 at under the heading of public works. This Government took over in 1949 from a Labour government that was trying to do something to improve our roads, having realized their importance to Australia in war-time. Nevertheless, year by year since then our roadways system has deteriorated, and it is at this point that we hear the Treasurer reporting that we have made good progress with public works in the last twelve months. That is the Treasurer’s outlook with regard to last year’s housekeeping in the sphere of public works, and not one honorable member on the Government side of the committee has made any comment about that portion of the Treasurer’s Budget speech. Surely, irrespective of politics, honorable members opposite should have sufficient interest in Australia to say something about this matter.

It is obvious that in the matter of public works our housekeeping has not been as good as it might have been. However, I now move on to what I believe is the most important section of the Budget speech, in which the Treasurer mentions our future expectations and our plans to ensure their materialization. The Treasurer has acknowledged Government responsibility, but his Budget speech, as I have said, does not show how the Government intends to discharge that responsibility. The Treasurer said -

In the knowledge of these achievements last /ear we can, I think, face up with greater confidence to the task ahead of us. It is, essentially, ;he task of maintaining a steady rate of growth in Australia, at the same time preserving stability of prices and costs. We know that there is a strong and persistent impetus to expansion within our economy; the important thing is to keep it going.

Not one word in this Budget speech, nor any action taken by the Government, indicates how this objective is to be achieved. We all know of the huge amounts of money that are being channelled into hire purChase, and we know how this Government has allowed interest rates to get completely out of hand. Our State Premiers are constantly travelling around the world trying to induce overseas businessmen to establish industries in Australia. With these things in mind, we must blush at our own incapacity to provide opportunities for Australian industries to expand as they would if money were available to them at a reasonable rate of interest. When overseas firms come to Australia and establish industries here they employ, in the main, Australian artisans. What kind of a Government is this, and what kind of a nation is this, that must invite overseas interests to come here and build industries, when we have the artisans and businessmen capable of achieving the same results if money were available at interest rates comparable to those operating in other countries?

Many United States firms are bringing money into Australia. Let us consider what happened in America. At the first sign of a decline in the employment level, what was the reaction of the Government and the banks? Despite the fact that America’s cost level is at least 100 per cent, higher than ours, interest rates were cut from 3i per cent, to 2i per cent. The Americans realized that money is of little value as capital, and that it must be invested if it is to be of value. We invite firms in the United States to invest in this country money that they obtain at 2$ per cent. interest, while we tell our own business executives that they must pay 5 per cent., 6 per cent, or 7 per cent, if they want to borrow money to accomplish the same objectives.

We should have in Australia a fund, government-controlled if need be, from which money may be borrowed at low rates of interest for the expansion of industry and the establishment of new industries, using our own men and our own brains. We should not be hawking all over the world the opportunities that would be grasped by our own businessmen and artisans if money were made available at reasonable interest rates. As I said previously, when overseas firms come to Australia they employ local artisans. We have the brains and the know-how to achieve results as good as, and perhaps a little better than, those achieved by other countries.

Let me now go a step further. The Treasurer said also -

There must, in other words, be an enlargement of activity sufficiently widespread to ensure employment opportunities for additional labour and absorption of the increased output of mills and factories.

Having heard that statement, I expected that the various Ministers would tell us something about the activities of their respective departments. We have heard something from them. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), for instance, according to a report in the Melbourne “ Sun “, said that tariffs would not be used to protect inefficient industries. Perhaps he is right, but what does that statement amount to? If the Minister means that industries are inefficient because they have to use outmoded machinery, he is very nearly on the hall. If the Minister wants to promote industry in Australia so that it can satisfactorily compete with other nations, he must realize that the Australian artisan must have the opportunity of using machinery not less modern than is being used by artisans in other countries.

It is a fact that there is a great deal of inefficiency at the present time. One does not have to look very far to find it. It is evident in most business organizations today, except in the new ones. When I walk into a long-established organization and find inefficiency, I search for the reason, and in most cases I find that outmoded machines and equipment are being used. Modern machines should be available, either from Australian manufacturers or from overseas, so that the Australian artisan will have similar opportunities to those available to his counterpart in other countries. The fact is, however, that the money that should be available for this purpose is, because of what has happened to interest rates, being diverted into hire purchase.

What a cross-eyed policy we are pursuing! We allow interest rates to go skyhigh, and then we invite United States firms to establish themselves here with money obtained at low interest rates, and to take from Australia the enormous profits that should remain in this country. This is happening because we are not facing up to our responsibility to make money available at reasonable interest rates to those Australians who wish to expand industries or to establish new ones. When the Minister talks about inefficiency, what he is saying, in effect, to industry in Australia is, “ You must bring up to date your machines and equipment, otherwise you will get no tariff protection “. I shudder when I hear that statement, because if we want efficiency, the first responsibility of the Government is to see that management has available sufficient funds at a low rate of interest to enable it to re-equip, as is being done in the United States, Great Britain and Germany. In those countries outmoded machines are ripped out and replaced, because the various governments are making money available for that purpose. The Australian worker, let me repeat, will compete with any worker in the world, given the same kind of equipment and machinery.

I now return to a consideration of the employment situation. Having had the privilege of serving in a trade union organization, I think this is a most important aspect of the current position. It should dominate our discussions. In 1956 there were 1,481,000 employed in private industry. That figure fell to 1,475,000 in 1957, and in May of this year it had fallen again to 1,473,000. With an annual increase in the work force of 30,000 from immigration, and a similar number from natural population increase, I shudder to think what will happen in future years if this Government is returned to power and continues its present policy. When the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold

Holt) walked into the chamber at 8 o’clock last night in all his pomp and glory to deliver his oration I had hopes that he might have read the Budget speech of the Treasurer wherein he said -

There must . . be an enlargement oi activity sufficiently widespread to ensure employment opportunities for additional labour . . .

But what did we hear from the Minister last night? We heard a speech that may well go down in history as being full of fire and bluster, but meaning nothing. It is almost impossible to believe that, at this time in our history, when the machine is taking the place of the man, and when the number of males in private employment is decreasing, a responsible Minister should repeat phrases that were uttered by a Prime Minister in 1931, when instead he should have been casting his mind forward and thinking what the effect of the Government’s policies will be in 1961.

Whether we like it or not, modern methods of production in whatever field we care to move, require less man-power. 3 know that some honorable members are critical of the New South Wales Government for not rushing to implement the recommendations contained in a recent report as to ways and means to improve th efficiency of the New South Wales railway and tramway systems. But if one reads tha; recommendation carefully what does on< find? The recommendation means that over a period - say five years - 6,000 jobs will b eliminated in the transport industry in Ne South Wales. Not only will the transport industry be affected, but so too will all other fields of employment, because the impact o: automation will be felt in this country ii the same way that it was felt in America Automation, and automation alone, has beet responsible for 6,000,000 unemployed ii the United States. We are being warne of the effects of automation by the decline ii the number of males in employment in thi: country. But the Minister for Labour am National Service either is not prepared ti face up to the issue, or else he has not thi capacity to analyse what is happening and t( guard against the four phases of unemploy-ment that follow the introduction of modern machinery and automation.

The first of those phases is external dis placement. That is happening in the textile industry to-day and in some heavy indus tries. The honorable member for Reid (Mi.

Morgan) told honorable members this morning that in the districts surrounding his electorate many people are being put off work hourly. They are being put off not only in the textile industries, but also in other industries that are installing machines to take the place of men. I recently saw how a small textile factory could reduce its staff by 25 per cent, simply by installing modern machinery for quite a small outlay. The same thing is happening throughout the whole employment field. Unless this Government makes funds available to industry at a low rate of interest so that industry may expand, so that employment is not only maintained at the present level, but increased so that positions will be found for newcomers seeking employment, it will find itself heading the same way as America. America to-day is spending large sums of money on the manufacture of jeeps that will never turn a wheel, and on other war equipment. that will never be used. It is doing so in order to stop the downward trend in employment. Yet all that the Minister can talk about are sneezes and pneumonia. When I read his speech, I thought it was time that some members of the Government got sneezes and pneumonia and made way for some new faces. It is more important to me that the whole field of Australian employment should be properly organized, so that everybody is assured of a job, than it is to have a Minister who is not prepared to look at the problem and who can only talk of what happened in 1931.

Anybody who has read the report of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited will know what the second phase of displacement is. It is internal displacement - the machine taking the place of the man. This is happening everywhere. Recently, I saw two machines going into the Commonmonwealth Bank. Those machines have displaced four top level officers. Two girls now do the work formerly done by the four officers. Other jobs have been found for the men concerned, but their previous jobs have gone. What worries me is the opportunity for work in the next three years, ft is not enough, in my view, merely to let the future look after itself. It is not sufficient to allow a Budget such as this one *o go unchallenged, and if they were honest Rome supporters of the Government would challenge this Budget.

Last night, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) spoke about private enterprise setting the pace. The honorable member knows as well as I do that private enterprise will set the pace in whatever direction it can obtain the highest return for its investment. If industries are to expand in order to keep up with the immigration programme and the natural population increase, finance must be made available quickly to ensure that private enterprise gets sufficient money for expansion, and for no other purpose. The money must not go into hire-purchase companies, because if private enterprise continues to invest money in hire-purchase companies at 7 per cent, and 8 per cent, instead of in industry at, say, 5 per cent., the number of males in private employment will continue to decrease. If that is allowed to happen Australia will bc faced with the very situation that the Treasurer visualized. The purchasing power of the community will decline and the standard of living will fall. This country will then be in the same position as America is in now. It would not be a sneeze: it would be pneumonia. Money must be made available quickly in this country to make sure that our industries expand, lt is a standing disgrace for State Premiers to be racing all over the world seeking investments from overseas sources that will employ Australians in this country. We have the know-how and the men to do the job. All that is necessary is for the men with the know-how to be able to obtain the necessary money to expand industry. They could do it just as well as the Americans or the British can do it, but they cannot do it while there is this leakage of funds that has been disclosed by many honorable members in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Fawkner put his finger on the problem, but he did not go far enough. The next step is to make money available for expanding industry. We must place upon a section of our financial structure the responsibility to find money at low rates of interest to enable Australian industries to expand, to improve the efficiency of those industries by the introduction of more modern machinery, and that costs money. But unless that money is made available we shall continue to see a decline in the number of males in private employment, and we shall continue to have State Premiers racing around the world inviting overseas industries to invest money in this country and find work for us. I regard the spectacle of a State Premier gallivanting around the world, inviting people to come to this country to provide work for Australians, as an insult to the capacity of Australians to develop their own nation.


Timson). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- I should like to congratulate the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) first, for introducing his eleventh Budget - a record - and secondly, on his past efforts in fostering goodwill between the two anti-socialist parties now in office. 1 should like also to convey to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) my best wishes on the occasion of his proposed retirement. Two or three days ago I heard him make what is probably his last contribution to the debates in this Parliament. He is now drawing the curtain on his political career. Whilst I offer him my best wishes, 1 feel some personal sorrow at his going because, in a speech following my maiden speech, which 1 made in fear and trepidation at the beginning of my parliamentary career, he gave me some very good advice.

We have heard much from honorable members opposite during this Budget debate concerning the development of Australia, but they have not told us where the money to carry out that development is to come from. Our population is a mere 10,000,000 people and we certainly do not have the money to do all the things we should like to do, but this Government has created and promoted so much goodwill overseas during its term of office that a record amount of overseas capital has been invested in Australia. I am sure the people of Australia will not fall into the same traps as those that have enmeshed the people in New Zealand. They will not take the baits handed out by the Opposition. Any money necessary to develop this country must come out of the pockets of the taxpayers, but that fact was not mentioned by honorable members opposite. I shall treat their arguments and promises with far more sincerity when they tell the taxpayers how much these promised benefits will cost.

Recently, I had the good fortune to spend some weeks in Asia with my colleague the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). We visited Indonesia, our neighbour in the near north, a country with a population of some 82,000,000 people, 2,000,000 of whom are Chinese. President Soekarno is continually stating his claims to West New Guinea, but he has no valid claim to that country. Since the Dutch left Indonesia Soekarno’s economy has fallen to pieces, and in order to divert the minds of his people from his own dilemma he periodically raises his claim to West New Guinea. That is understandable, knowing the state of Indonesia’s internal affairs. Have the people of Indonesia any racial tie with the people of West New Guinea? They have not! Is there any historical or geographical tie between the two countries? There is not.

The Netherlands Government at the present time is spending some £10,000,000 a year on the development of West New Guinea in an endeavour to raise the general standards of housing and education of the people there. After all, they are a stoneage people living according to stone-age standards. President Soekarno certainly is not in a position, having regard to the economy of his own country, to spend any such amount on the development of West New Guinea. Although President Soekarno has built up an intense hatred of the Dutch, the British and the Americans, many Indonesians are very good friends of Australia. Unfortunately, they are being led by this puppet dictator. He has placed large orders for military aircraft with Czechoslovakian factories, according to official reports, but we know that the aircraft he is obtaining are of Russian origin. He has told us that he is bringing these aircraft into his country to combat the activities of the rebels, but the orders were placed long before the revolution broke out in Sumatra. Where is Soekarno obtaining the money to pay for these aircraft? How sincere is he in his endeavour to do good for his people? If he has money to spend, why does he not use it on raising the living standards of his own people? No reason exists why he should be afraid of attack by another country.

During our journey we also visited Singapore, where the political situation is unsteady. The population of Singapore is 80 per cent. to 85 per cent. Chinese. Early next year the first free election will be held there. With the election in view, Communist propaganda is being fed into Singapore from the Chinese mainland with the object of swaying the electors. The local governing body now in power is Communistcontrolled. Every endeavour should be made to combat this Communist propaganda, but unfortunately no information or news from the free world is reaching Singapore.

We next visited Hong Kong, which is faced with the problem of coping with the large numbers of refugees escaping from the torments and terrors of the mainland. The authorities in Hong Kong are making a sincere effort to house these poor unfortunate individuals, and in Kowloon row upon row of concrete tenements are being erected. The Communists are promoting and encouraging an illicit drug traffic, one of their recognized means of undermining the morale of the free world. It is most disturbing to learn just how much the Communists are fostering this terrible practice of feeding these drugs from the Chinese mainland into the free world. It is almost impossible for us to blot out the traffic.

We know that for a number of years now the United Kingdom Government has recognized the Peking Government. This might have been of slight advantage to the United Kingdom Government at one time, but it is certainly of no advantage to it to-day; in fact, just a few days before our arrival in Hong Kong, the Peking Government had refused a trade delegation from the United Kingdom Government permission to enter mainland China. I mention that to give some idea of the insincerity of these people. It is all very well to talk about building up trade with mainland China. The government there will trade with you when it suits it to do so. For instance, during the time we were there, Japan, just prior to its free elections, was trading quite freely with mainland China. Then, in order to embarrass the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Kishi, mainland China cut off trade relations with Japan. It is by journeying through these countries and spending a little time in them that one learns the true position, and is able to see just what is actually happening. It is unfortunate that all members of this Parliament are not able to take a trip to that part of the world in order to see just what is going on there. If they could make the journey, then, upon their return, they would have a true appreciation of the danger facing us as a result of the infiltration by the Communists into those Asian countries.

History shows us that some of these Asian people have always been open to bribery and corruption, and we know that to-day the governments of many of these countries are being bribed and corrupted with money paid by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

In Taiwan, or Formosa, I saw irrefutable proof of what these small islands can achieve under a free and democratic government. A masterly job has been done there. To-day, 75 per cent, of all the arable land is owned by the tillers, the people who actually work the soil. By peaceful negotiation, the government has obtained the land from the landlords and sold it to the tillers under a ten-year repayment plan. That government has proved beyond all shadow of doubt that a free, democratic system of government can work and is capable of lifting the standards of living of the people in those Asian islands.

We flew across to the island of Quemoy, where we found the position to be the exact opposite of what has been suggested in the press. The Chinese army is not having any success there. The people of Quemoy have only one thing in mind - to have a free, democratic way of life. They are totally opposed to communism.

I wish now to speak about Korea. Korea is one of the sad countries to-day. In the south, there are 24,000,000 people, while in the north there are 9,000,000 people, and all are suffering from the effects of an unbalanced economy. In the south are all the agricultural industries while in the north are the secondary industries. The Koreans are just living for the day when they can bring about the reunification of their country.

The Americans are doing a grand job there, pouring in foreign aid, in an endeavour to house the people and do everything possible to raise their standard of living. In fact, the Americans are doing a great job in many of those Asian countries. It has often been said, I think with truth, that the easiest way to lose a friend is to lend him money. In my opinion, that may be said with equal truth of relationships between nations. I earnestly hope that the efforts of the Americans to improve conditions in Korea will be accepted in the spirit in which this aid has been given.

My colleague and I visited the front line on the 38th Parallel and saw with our own eyes the activities of the Communists in no man’s land on the other side. There was certainly a great deal of activity, and what we saw contradicts everything we have read in the press about the Russians withdrawing troops from the other side of the 38th Parallel.

Here I remind honorable members of the temporary truce that was instigated by the United Nations and of the agreement that was signed by the Communists and the Koreans at that time. Under that agreement, only a certain number of personnel were to be held on each side of the 38th Parallel. But the Communists did not abide by that agreement; they brought on to their side of the line three or four times the number of troops they were supposed to have there under the agreement. Agreements mean nothing to these people. Having violated an agreement, they have no qualms about a mere 170,000 troops. The people are living in a very uneasy atmosphere of truce, but I hope, for their own sake, that this is only a temporary state of affairs, and that it will not be long before they achieve the re-unification of their country so that they may enjoy a balanced economy once more. There is no doubt that these people are our very good friends, and I am confident that they will continue to be our very good friends.

I come now to a subject much discussed in Australia. I refer to our so-called White Australia policy. I use the term “ so-called “ advisedly, because, in my opinion, the name “ White Australia “ is a misnomer. After all, it is an internal policy designed, we believe, for the good of the people living in Australia. At no time during our travels through these Asian countries did we find the people in any way upset over our so-called White Australia policy. They know that they have the responsibility of endeavouring to raise the standards in their own countries. They feel that they must do this first and that, having done it, they might speak to us later about our internal policies. Quite often, so-called Christians in this country say, “ It is not very Christian-like to close the doors on these people because they have coloured skins “. Colour of skin has nothing to do with internal policy. If these so-called Christians could first live as Christians in their own country they might have a better argument.

The friendship of these Asian people for Australia is, at the moment, very strong. One has not to remember very far back to recall the relationships that existed when this Government took office. I congratulate our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on promoting goodwill and friendship throughout Asian countries. The people of these countries are really looking to us to take the lead. I hope that we. living in an Asian country - in Asia but not of Asia - can give that lead to them.

I feel no doubt that communism has nothing whatever to show us. We are living in a country with a very broad middle class of people, with very few rich and very few poor. To-day, many Asians say, “We were too stubborn to learn from the West. We taught our grandchildren to hate the West. If we had been ready sooner to learn, we would not have been in the plight we are in to-day “. I believe that that is true. At an Asian conference I heard a man, whose skin was almost jet black, say, “ I was a leader of the opposition in my country. I led the fight to rid1 my country of the British. I was successful in the fight, but to-day I regard that time as the sorriest period of my life, because with the going of the British we lost trade and our economy fell to pieces “.

From time to time we hear it said that certain strongly religious countries are bulwarks against communism. Up to a point, that may be true, but although they have a strong religious faith, of whatever kind it might be, they are not organized as the Communists are, and that is their weakness.

What mainland China has been endeavouring to do in trade with the Japanese is rather startling. We know that Japan, like the United Kingdom, depends for its life blood on importing raw material, manufacturing it, and exporting the product. Unless the Japanese trade, they cannot survive. Remembering that I too served in the war and fought against the Japanese, I say that the best advice that I can give on relations with the Japanese is: less aid, and more trade. If we follow this line, we shall build up a stronger and more lasting friendship. We, in our small way, perhaps cannot do much, but the United States of America can do a great deal.

In conclusion, I should like to repeat some words used by President Syngman Rhee in a conversation with my colleague and me.

He said, “ You are living in a great country. Some day it will be a great nation, without doubt. Your standards are the highest in the world, but be careful to see that your country does not catch on fire about you, as mine did “. He went on to say, “ I believe your country can catch on fire only if Christian turns against Christian, so creating a vacuum and allowing the Communists to drive down the middle “.

Progress reported.

page 402


Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 5)

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Minister for Air · Evans · LP

– I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No.5).]

That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1958, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the fourteenth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the fifteenth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff 1933-1958 as so amended. **Mr. Chairman,** the Tariff Proposals which I have just introduced propose to amend the Schedule to the Customs Tariff insofar as peanuts, peanut kernels, and edible peanut oil in vessels exceeding 1 gallon are concerned. The proposed amendments will operate as from to-morrow morning. The new duties are in accordance with the findings of the Tariff Board in a comparatively recent report. I shall, at a later stage, table the board's report. I shall, at the same time, table three other reports by the Tariff Board. The recommendations contained in these latter reports, which relate to mica, wristlet watch cases and chrome chemicals, have been adopted by the Government, but no action, other than on an administrative basis, is called for. As will be seen from the " Summary of Alterations " which is now being circulated to honorable members, the existing duties in the Customs Tariff 1933-1958 on the products covered by these proposals are - The intermediate tariff rate of duty on peanut oil is not, however, in operation. This means that importations of peanut oil, other than those admissible under the British preferential tariff, pay the duties applicable under the general tariff. It is now proposed to provide for unshelled peanuts and peanut kernels at increased rates of duty of 5d. per lb. British preferential tariff and 8d. per lb. intermediate tariff and general tariff. This represents increased tariff duties of 3id. per lb. British preferential tariff and 4d. per lb. under the general tariff insofar as unshelled peanuts are concerned and 2d. per lb. on peanut kernels under the British preferential tariff and general tariff. On edible peanut oil in vessels exceeding one gallon, the proposed rates are 3s. a gallon under the British preferential tariff and 5s. a gallon under the intermediate and general tariffs. This represents an increase in the tariff duties of ls. 6d. a gallon under the British preferential tariff and 2s. 2d. a gallon under the general tariff. Provision is also made for the admission free of duty from all sources of peanut oil. This provision will continue the existing arrangements whereby free admission is accorded to peanut oil to the extent by which the Australian peanut industry is unable to make available peanuts for oil expression purposes. The Tariff Board, in its report, takes the view that the real danger to the Australian industry lies in the fact that the Australian market is relatively so small that even a small surplus in a major overseas producing country could constitute a threat to local peanut producers. The increased duties recommended by the board should, I feel, provide reasonable protection against low-priced imports. Both unshelled peanuts and kernels are sold by the Queensland Peanut Marketing Board at approximately the same price per lb., and generally, insofar as imports are concerned, there is no marked difference between the average f.o.b. price for both lines. Tn these circumstances the board saw no necessity for continuing the present difference in the rates of duty. The increased duties recommended for edible peanut oil are designed to afford an adequate measure of protection against sharp decreases in overseas prices. As honorable members are no doubt aware, peanuts are grown mainly in Queensland, although relatively small quantities have been produced in northern New South Wales and the Northern Territory. In each of the last four years, the value of the Australian crop was well in excess of £1,000.000. It has been known to exceed £2,000.000. Capital employed in the industry is estimated at some £1,200,000; and the number of growers has averaged 1.205 for the last three years. The locally grown peanuts are used mainly in the edible trade, in which they supply most of the demand. The balance of local production, being culls, is used for oil milling, but forms only a small proportion of the millers' requirements. The Tariff Board is satisfied, and the Government concurs, that the peanutgrowing industry is a useful and worthwhile industry and that it should be assisted by increased duties. It is, therefore, with confidence that I commend the acceptance of these proposals to the committee. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 403 {:#debate-28} ### TARIFF BOARD {:#subdebate-28-0} #### Reports {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-KMD} ##### Mr OSBORNE:
LP -- I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: - >Unshelled peanuts, peanut kernels and peanut oil. I also table Tariff Board reports on the following subjects: - >Wristlet watch cases and movements, > >Mica, and > >Chrome chemicals. These last three reports do not call for any legislative action. The board's recommendations have, in each instance, been adopted by the Government. Ordered to be printed. {: .page-start } page 403 {:#debate-29} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-29-0} #### BUDGET 1958-59 In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed. {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-KID} ##### Mr LUCHETTI:
Macquarie .- I support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt).** This Government deserves to be censured by this Parliament for having failed in the essential work of government. lt has already been censured by the people whose feelings of resentment have been expressed through almost every section of the press. It only remains now for the Parliament to express censure as it has rightly been called upon to do. This is a deficit Budget, **Mr. Chairman.** It is also an election year Budget. I believe there is a distinct relationship between the fact that this is a deficit Budget and that this is the last sessional period of this Parliament. The Commonwealth Government proposes to raise £110,000,000 by treasury-hills; that is, £110,000,000 from the central bank. I have looked over the Budgets of other days, and I have noted that whilst this Government is prepared to spend £1,500,000,000 and take from the Commonwealth Bank no less than £110,000,000, it is not so long since the Budget of the Commonwealth of Australia provided for an amount of £16,245,608. That was the Budget of 1915. I mention that fact to emphasize to this committee and to the nation just how greatly expenditure has grown in Australia. I ask the committee to take into consideration the situation in which the nation finds itself at present when it is obliged to go to the central bank for £110,000,000 so that the accounts of the Commonwealth can be balanced. When I look at the picture that is presented by the world to-day and the statement by the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** himself in directing attention to the problems facing this Government - problems whose existence we all acknowledge freely and frankly - I ask honorable members to consider this passage of the Treasurer's Budget speech - >Meanwhile, the prices of wool, meat and dairy products fell sharply, as also did prices of metals. Our total exports for the year were £814,000,000 whereas in 1956-57 they were £978,000,000. What circumstance is likely in the near future to change the pattern and the chain of events facing the economy of this country? If it is right and proper in this sessional period of the Parliament to have a Budget providing that the central bank shall be raided for £110,000,000 so that the accounts of the Commonwealth can be balanced, I invite honorable members to contemplate what might occur next year, the year after and the year after that. I have gone to some trouble to obtain figures relating to the financial structure of the nation under this Government. I am aware that substantial loans will mature this year. Some of the loans might be redeemed and others might be converted. Of those which may be converted, it is quite reasonable to suppose that some will be converted to short-term loans. One might expect that within the next three years those shortterm loans will fall due for renewal again; but in the coming three years, no less than £1,168,100,000 will have to be found by the Commonwealth Government for the redemption of loans. lt is true that two-thirds of that sum is owed by the Commonwealth and about one.third of it is owed by the States. Consequently, for this purpose the Commonwealth will be required to raise about £700,000,000 in a period when world prices are falling. Wool and wheat prices are down; there has been a crash in metal prices, and farm products generally present a most uninspiring picture. That being so, all T can say regarding the Budget is that the Government has presented a statement that one might have expected from the Administration at this time, realizing that an election is no more than thirteen or fourteen weeks away. This Budget will be known as a deficit Budget; it will also be known as an election year Budget. Should this administration, by some strange misfortune, be returned to power, it is not inconceivable that next year we shall see it coming forward with another little horror Budget to meet a crisis. The economic situation, as presented by the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** on this occasion, gives no room for optimism.' When we look at the position of our overseas funds, we find that our balances are falling, as they have been for some time, and that in this respect a very serious situation faces Australia. Our international reserves have been constantly in jeopardy. At the present time, they stand at £525,000,000. If, in the course of the next twelve months, Australia repeats economically the events of the last twelve months, so that we lose £160,000,000 because of adverse trading overseas and our balance of payments position deteriorates to that extent, it will not take many years before the £525,000,000 which stands to the credit of this nation overseas is entirely dissipated. What is happening is due to the bad trading policies of the present administration. The special accounts of the Commonwealth Bank have fallen by £75,000,000 within the last year. In February, £15,000,000 worth of additional credit was released; in April, £20,000,000; in May, £15,000,000; in June, £15,000,000; and in July, £10,000,000. The amount left in the special accounts is now £265,159,000. How is the nation to overcome the economic problems that face it at the present time? What is the panacea for our economic ills? In the statement made by the Treasurer there was not one indication of how the present parlous economic conditions in this country are to be dealt with in the course of the next twelve months, or even two years or three years. There is nothing to indicate how the nation is to extricate itself from the deficit finance which the Government has introduced. The Government must face the people on this Budget. That is the inescapable issue, and that will be the central issue at the forthcoming general election. There are no side issues. Uncertainty amongst farmers regarding prices, and doubts in the minds of planners in relation to national income, are most important matters. This Government has failed to meet the needs of the people, for instance in relation to increases of age and invalid pensions. While I frankly offer credit to the Government for granting a 10s. a week rent allowance to certain pensioners, I say that it has begged the general question of pensions and has failed to deal adequately with the plight of those in needy circumstances. I know of a great number of people living in my own electorate who have been affected adversely because property values have been enhanced greatly, due to the introduction of an electrified railway service. They include people, such as public servants, who have gone there in considerable numbers to retire, after land has been subdivided. They settled there in the belief that their superannuation payments would be adequate for their needs, only to find to-day that they must pay £50, £60, £70 or £80 in rates to the local municipal council. While the increased payment of 10s. a week will be valuable to the single person who is paying rent, and while the raising of the property limit by £500 will benefit some pensioners, the major questions affecting pensioners have not been tackled. Neither have the questions which concern the farmers. The Government has not dealt with unemployment, although there are people who have been out of work for the last few years. I know of chronic unemployment in my electorate, affecting people who have been out of work since 1956. They are doomed to the serious problems of continued unemployment, such as loss of confidence. Such people have been overlooked by the Government in this deficit Budget. Of course, a Budget of this kind might be expected from this Government, in view of the fall in export income, inflation, maturing loans and unchecked expenditure. The Budget is indeed the hangover from an orgy of spending by this Administration since it came to power in 1949. It is high time that it appreciated the problems that face the country. It is not surprising that honorable members opposite are not availing themselves of the opportunity to speak on the Budget. We hear them speaking in a delightful way of everything under the sun but the fundamental issue - the Budget and what it means to Australia and our economic security. The Australian Labour party is chided from time to time with failure to present an alternative policy to deal with these economic problems, but it is the Government which has the responsibility to do so. It is charged with administering the economy. It has a duty to this Parliament and to the nation to submit a plan and a suitable policy to deal with the grave problems that confront Australia at the present time. Of course, it has failed to do that. Unemployment is one of the most serious matters for Australians to-day. Economic security is one of the most challenging issues that face a nation. Indeed, it involves one of the four freedoms - freedom from want. Under the MenziesFadden Government, insecurity is a grim spectre that haunts the great majority of the people of Australia. Only under a Labour government are the people secure from the fear of unemployment, because a Labour government guarantees full employment as a basic principle of the Labour creed regarding the economic life of the country. What does the Government propose to do about our falling export income, the dissipation of our overseas reserves, and the diminution of the amounts held in the special accounts of the Commonwealth Bank? Will it continue to borrow on the world financial market to try to sustain our overseas funds, or will it go forward and attempt to boost production in this country - to try to increase productivity? Will it try to sell more goods on the markets of the world at enhanced prices, or will we be doomed early next year to meet here for the introduction of another little Budget, with further import restrictions as a means of dealing with our financial problems? 1 should like to think that a constructive policy will be enunciated to deal with such matters. First and foremost, we ought to deal with the matter of our trade. I am concerned about the treatment of Australia in matters of world trade. This nation must earn more from its overseas trade. That is apparent to most people, and it ought to be apparent to every member of this Parliament. How can that objective be achieved if Australia is to be hamstrung by restrictive clauses in agreements, such as those contained in the present meat agreement? I believe that markets for our meat could be greatly expanded. Yet, it appears that we shall be committed to the 15,000 ton quota arrangement. The terms of the meat agreement are, in fact, an attack on our sovereignty. When we buy goods from overseas countries we do not stipulate how the countries from which we purchase them should sell the remainder of their production, and neither should there be any strings attached to us in regard to the sale of our surplus production. We ought to be able to sell it when and where we like and to obtain the best possible prices, for the good of Australia and our economy. The palsied hand of the Ottawa Agreement is still to be felt in our trade dealings. We have always been at a disadvantage in having to buy on a sellers' market and to sell on a buyers' market. That is evidenced by what has happened in regard to the Goulburn wool sales. Overseas buyers have said to the graziers and to the people of Australia, " We will not buy at Goulburn; we do not want to buy there. We will please ourselves where we buy ". We have always been committed to selling on a buyers' market and to buying on a sellers' market. lt is up to the Government to show some backbone in regard to the United Kingdom meat agreement. I commend to honorable members an editorial which appeared in the Sydney "Daily Mirror" of 16th July, and which ought to represent the attitude of the Australian people in their trade dealings. Surely we have grown up. If we have something to sell, we ought to go on to the world's markets and sell at the best price, just as we are compelled to pay the highest prices for what we buy. The editorial in question reads - >The British Government and the mainly British shipping combine is at present putting a nice squeeze on the Australian economy. > >On the one hand, the British Government wants to depress the prices of Australian meat on the United Kingdom market; on the other, the shipping combine wants to put up the price of freight rates for meat by as much as 30 per cent. That part of the editorial - indeed, the whole of it - should be studied by every honorable member. It further states - >On top of this comes the effrontery of the shipping company in seeking a 30 per cent, rise in freight rates. Again Australia is practically powerless, because she is at the mercy of a monopoly - a monopoly expressly sanctioned by law. When I look at the great profits that have been made by these overseas shipping companies in recent times, I am astonished to think that more direct and positive action has not been taken to correct the present state of affairs. In regard to our buying overseas, I was interested on another occasion to hear the honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Clark)** refer to the attitude of the British Board of Trade as reported in the 1953 report of the Tariff Board. The report reads - >Instances have come to the notice of the board during the year where goods vital to Australian manufacturers have been available from U.K. sources only at prices higher than those charged to manufacturers in the U.K. It is quite clear that the British Board of Trade had a finger in the pie there. On the question of shipping freights, one finds that no less a personality than **Sir William** Rootes has had to criticize the shipping monopoly for its attitude. It seems to me that overseas shipping interests adopt the attitude that people " down under " are very prosperous, that they have had a succession of good seasons and high prices, and that, consequently, they are good game to be shot at. To-day's "Sydney Morning Herald " carries a report headed " Big Ship Freight Rises Rejected " and refers to a fight to keep down shipping freights, especially on overseas shipments. I also have before me a report showing the substantial profit that has been made by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Limited. It reads - >The group profit of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, Limited rose £663,564, or 12 per cent., to £6,266,635 for the year ended September 30. This and similar companies are holding this country to ransom at a time when it is called upon to go ahead with deficit finance. If ever there was a time when the Government ought to show a bit of fighting spirit on behalf of the people of Australia, now is that time. With regard to the question of prices, another matter deserves to be mentioned. The "Sydney Morning Herald" of 26th March last records the fact that we are in tow with the Bank of England. The relevant article reads - >Promptly taking their cue from last week's reduction of one per cent, in the Bank of England rate, all the Australian trading banks have dutifully lowered the overdraft charge on post-consignment wool from 8 to 7 per cent. . . . We recall, too, with a good deal of disgust that, when Australia's wool sales were stimulated because independent buyers had the finance to go onto the market, the rate of interest on post-shipment wool overdrafts was increased without any just or reasonable cause. I now wish to refer to a matter which I believe to be of the greatest importance to Australia - the decentralization of industry. It is one of the most important matters facing this country. Time will not permit me to examine this subject as exhaustively as I should like to do, but it is interesting to note that the majority of the people of this continent are living on the seaboard. I have examined the population figures only to the extent of noting the number of people who are living right on the water's edge. As at the taking of the 1954 census, in New South Wales alone no fewer than 2,500,000 people were living on the water's edge, and 907,000 people were living in the hinterland of that great and wonderful State. I suggest to honorable members that there is need for a definite attack on this problem. If we are ever to go beyond the stage where decentralization is no more than a talking point, it is up to this Government, which talked decentralization in order to have itself elected to the treasury bench, to go forward and give tax remisions to industry, especially in country districts. In addition, the Commonwealth and State governments ought to try to meet the situation by giving assistance in the field of freight charges. They are positive suggestions which, if implemented, might help to meet the situation. Another matter that is worthy of consideration is the question of trying to meet our overseas payment problems. How can that be done? One of the suggestions 1 make to the committee is that Australia ought to be prepared to accept the challenge to produce its own essential needs, as other countries have done. I have in my hand a most interesting report on the Sasol project in South Africa. I have not the time now to go into the details of the project, but perhaps I shall have an opportunity to do so during the debate on the Estimates. The Sasol project is proving to be of great assistance to the Government and the people of South Africa. No less than 7,600 tons of coal a day is being won and made into petroleum products. Up to 71,000,000 imperial gallons of petrol is being manufactured each year, in addition to other important petroleum products. Honorable members ought to consider the report on this project. In addition, South Africa has a pilot plant which is engaged in essential research into low temperature carbonization. We find, too, that the United States of America has its coal-to-oil demonstration plants. Valuable information is available also about Germany, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other countries. I commend to the Government of this country what other countries have done and are doing. This is one way in which we can reduce our overseas spending. The exciting experience of the South African Government in producing oil from coal might well be followed by this Government. In many respects, South Africa's problem resembles our own. South Africa has shown the way. The source of petroleum is almost invariably the centre of world tension. It is the cause of tension in the Middle East and, to a minor extent, in Indonesia. The control is not in our hands, but the disturbances in the Arab- world and the rebellion in Indonesia illustrate how important this question is. I sincerely trust that the Government will look at this matter seriously. When we realize that the number of motor vehicles registered is constantly rising and that our charges for petrol and petroleum products are increasing each year, it becomes manifestly clear that we should set out to make ourselves independent, as far as possible - as South Africa has done - of the oil monopolies centred on the trouble spots of the world. That surely is good common sense. When I look at motor vehicle registrations, I find that the registration of motor cars for the June quarter of 1958 increased by 10.4 per cent, over the June quarter of 1957 and by 13.3 per cent, over the previous quarter. Registrations of station wagons increased by 236.5 per cent, over the June quarter of 1957 and by 45.9 per cent, over the previous quarter. Registrations of other vehicles increased by 2.8 per cent, over the June quarter of 1957 and by 6.8 per cent, over the previous quarter. The production of oil from shale should be encouraged, but we have the unhappy knowledge that it was this Administration which destroyed the shale oil industry at Glen Davis, the richest shale oil enterprise in the world. However, new techniques have been developed. Whether this means anything remains to be seen, but surely the responsibility rests on this Government to study the question to see whether what was found by the Denver Research Institute at the University of Colorado is true. We should heed the statement made by **Mr. Johnson,** director of the institute, that this is a vital discovery for the United States and the entire free world, particularly for countries such as Australia which have serious oil problems. **Dr. Charles** H. Prien head of the university's Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division, expressed the Opinion that for the first time this is a feasible proposition. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt).** I believe that this Government, because of its failure to put forward a plan to deal with the economic problem facing Australia, deserves to be censured, as I know it has been censured by the people throughout the length and breadth of the country. {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-JSG} ##### Mr BRIMBLECOMBE:
Maranoa -- This will be the last Budget the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** will present. lt is his eleventh Budget, and that is a record which I do not think will be bettered for many years. I join with other honorable members in congratulating him. The honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Luchetti)** and the honorable member for Herbert **(Mr. Edmonds)** suggested that the meat producers should have the right to sell their beef in any part of the world. They said that the industry should be released from the fifteen years' meat agreement and should not be restricted to the quota of 15,000 tons provided in that agreement. The position is not as simple as those honorable members suggest. This agreement was sought by the graziers and was negotiated principally by their representatives before it was signed and ratified by the Minister for Trade **(Mr. McEwen).** I emphasize that the agreement was entered into at the express wish of the graziers, who agreed that 15,000 tons was a reasonable quota. Some people within the industry opposed the agreement, but most of them are quite happy with it now. They are pleased that they have the agreement, because it stabilized the industry and made it prosperous over the last few years. I agree that there is perhaps a market for our meat, particularly beef, in Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. However, such a market would need considerable organization. I have a report from a producer of first-class quality beef in my electorate. He was inclined to believe many of the stories written by interested people suggesting that there was an unlimited market for meat in this area and in the United States of America. I shall deal with Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines, which this gentleman visited. He went to the area to find out whether a market did exist there. He agrees that there is a market, but points out that to establish the market a big organization to receive the meat and to sell it in proper condition would be necessary. Such an organization does not exist at present, and until it is established we will not be able to handle the meat efficiently and so win a market there. At present, meat from Australia is sold at a very high price, particularly in Japan and the Philippines. For instance, small inferior mutton chops are sold at 2s. 6d. -each, *2i* to 3 lb. tins of Australian tinned ox tongue are sold at 26s. and 12-oz. tins of Australian tinned corned beef are sold at 6s. Those prices are in Australian currency. At present, our meat cannot be placed on the market in this area at a reasonable price to the ordinary consumer. Then, we have the experience of the meat ship, " Tiuam Maru ". New Zealand producers sent 5,200 tons of meat to Japan without any prior organization. When the ship arrived there, no refrigeration space was available for the meat. The ship had to stand out in the harbour for three weeks before arrangements could be made to store the meat. That greatly upset the shipping companies and gave New Zealand a bad reputation in Japan. As a result, New Zealand meat is being sold as Australian meat. I sympathize with the honorable member for Herbert in his anxiety to keep the meatworks open so that people can be employed for the greater part of the year, and to sell meat in new markets, but we must realize that an efficient organization must first be established to handle the meat. I warn the interested parties that at the end of the fifteen-year meat agreement an efficient organization will be needed. Now is the time to start getting it established in these areas. You know, **Mr. Chairman,** that it is almost impossible to keep the meatworks in Queensland operating throughout the whole of a year. During the wet season in Queensland, mustering activities on the "big beef-producing properties are at a standstill. It is impossible to muster. As a result, it is virtually impossible to keep the meatworks operating throughout the whole of the year. I am pleased that this question has been raised now, because the meat agreement has not many more years to run. Now is the time for all those associated with the meat industry in Australia to see that steps are taken to have a proper marketing organization ready to go into operation in these areas at the expiration of the fifteen-year meat agreement. The Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. "Evatt),** during the course of his speech, said that the present Government is going its own sweet way as far as the economy of this country is concerned. He said that the Government began with the rich inheritance passed on to it by the Chifley Labour Government. In one of his speeches in this Parliament in 1949, **Mr. Chifley** had something to say about the inflationary spiral in this country. He agreed, as you will see when I read his remarks, that inflation was rampant here when he relinquished office. He said - >I shall be very interested to see how that task is essayed. That was the task of checking the inflation that was rampant in the country. He continued - >I am not one of those who do not realize that the present inflationary spiral represents a very grave problem. Every government, whether it be a Labour government or a Liberal-Country party government, must be disturbed by it. I do not pretend for one moment that a government, whatever may be its political colour, should be able to find an easy solution of it. No one knows better than I do the extraordinary difficulties that it presents. Those who say recklessly that they will bring value back into the £1, and lead the electors to believe that it can be done quickly and reasonably easily, are merely deceiving the people. I read that last portion for a purpose. Virtually every speaker on the Opposition side during this debate has said that the Government has fallen down on the job of honouring its promise to put value back into the £1. Honorable members have just heard what **Mr. Chifley** had to say about that task. He said that it was going to be a most difficult one. This Government has endeavoured to put so-called value back into the £1, and has been very successful in its endeavours. Compare what the Australian £1 will buy here with what an equivalent sum of money will buy in other countries. We are able to buy more with our £1 here than can be bought with an equivalent sum in any other country in the world. The inflation that honorable members opposite talk about is present throughout the world. They are indulging in a political stunt, in an endeavour to hoodwink the people. They want the people to believe that the Australian £1 is valueless. I heard somebody say the other day that our £1 is worth only 5s., but I would be prepared to give him 10s. for every quid that he has got. Getting back to the Budget, let me say that the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance on plant and structures has been of great benefit to primary producers. One-half of my electorate at the present time is in reasonably good condition, but in the other half drought is still rampant. The 20 per cent, depreciation allowance has enabled property owners to put down more watering facilities and to provide decent accommodation for their employees. They have been able to cut down on their overhead expenses. Many people in drought-stricken areas have been able to save their stock because they put down extra watering facilities. The depreciation allowance enabled them to do that. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- It has provided employment too. {: .speaker-JSG} ##### Mr BRIMBLECOMBE: -- Yes. It naturally follows that, as a result of this impetus, everybody down the line benefits. That is obvious, **Mr. Chairman.** The depreciation allowance has provided wonderful assistance, particularly to people in areas which have been ravaged by drought. Had it not been for this 20 per cent, depreciation allowance, they would not have been able to provide extra watering facilities or to clear most of their land so that it could be used as pasture. Their losses would have been five times as heavy but for this allowance. I commend the Government for its thinking on this subject, and I am happy to see this provision is to be extended for another three years. The Government proposes to increase the zone allowance for both zones. That may not be of great benefit to some graziers in drought areas this year, who will not have to pay any income tax because of the losses they have sustained, but it will be of great benefit to the people In receipt of wages who are working in these areas. It will give them wonderful relief so far as living expenses are concerned. I said last year that although the zone boundaries had been extended, I still thought they did not include some areas in the central and far western parts of Australia which should be included. I know that it is difficult to fix boundaries, but why not err on the side of generosity? I am speaking mainly about my own electorate, because I know it better than I do other electorates. You represented that electorate once, **Mr. Chairman,** and you know that in some areas, which are in zone B, the cost of living is twice as high as in some parts of northern Queensland, which are in zone A. I have pointed this fact out to the authorities, but as yet 1 have not been able to get the Government to go as far as I would like it to go. I am hoping. However, I appreciate the increase in zone allowances provided for in the Budget. 1 refer now to another matter which is exercising the minds of a number of people, particularly in rural areas. It has been stated time and again that credit from the trading banks is not available to enable rural producers to extend their activities. Although the figures may show that advances to rural producers have increased and that, on a percentage basis, they are greater than those made to people in most other industries, these people are still affected by credit restrictions. I will put it this way: Down the years many primary producers, particularly farmers and wheat and sugar growers, were in the habit of going to their broker or storekeeper and obtaining financial accommodation to carry them over their harvesting period of perhaps two or three months. But that does not happen to-day. The broker and the storekeeper cannot get shortterm credit to carry these people over. They have to demand cash and the result is that a hardship is created for quite a number of these producers who require these commodities. It is no good saying that there are no credit restrictions. This is one simple illustration of how producers in these areas are suffering because they cannot get accommodation through their regular trade avenues. They are receiving a pretty raw deal, and I cannot find out why this particular source of credit has been cut off. This is a matter which the Government should examine in order to see whether something can be done to provide shortterm credit to carry these producers over their harvest season. We have heard and read quite a lot recently regarding the development of the northern areas of Australia. It is true that this must be done, and a great deal is being done at the present time; but in my view the progress is not fast enough. Time is running out, and if we are to hold the rich north of Australia the development of that part of the continent must be stepped up now. This Government, in accordance with its policy, has made fairly good progress, but it is not fast enough. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie: -- What parts does the honorable member say should be developed? {: .speaker-JSG} ##### Mr BRIMBLECOMBE: -- The whole of northern Australia, from Western Australia through the Northern Territory to northern Queensland - the whole area north of the 26th parallel. I was interested to read the newspaper report of a statement attributed to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies),** who recently visited the northern part of Western Australia. He said that the development of the various facilities should be proceeded with. I agree, but the matter should not stop there. The development should continue right across the whole of northern Australia. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie: -- It should be a responsibility of both Federal and State governments. {: .speaker-JSG} ##### Mr BRIMBLECOMBE: -- Federal and State governments should co-operate in this matter. We have heard what has been done at Weipa and Mary Kathleen and we know of the progress that is expected in the development of the Mount Isa mine, as a result of the improvement of the railway line from Mount Isa to Townsville. That is all to the good, but there is one area under the control of the Commonwealth Government which, down the years, has been neglected by all governments, that is the Northern Territory. It includes some of the finest country in the world, but it will never be developed until it is populated. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie: -- Has the honorable member visited that territory? {: .speaker-JSG} ##### Mr BRIMBLECOMBE: -- I have; not once, but three times. There is only one way of developing that country, and that is by population. The first step is to provide better communications. I know that this will cost money, but it must be done if the area is to be developed. The production of beef cattle is still the main industry in the Northern Territory, but because of the lack of road and transport facilities it is not possible to get that beef out of that territory and on to the world markets in a condition which buyers demand. That will never be possible until we have a decent system of roads. Various methods of transport have been suggested, such as railways and so on. I agree that a railway could be built, but there are other methods also. The one I wish to suggest may seem like taking a desperate risk, but it would probably yield handsome results. I should like to see the Port of Darwin made a free port for everything other than immigration. 1 know that some will say that this would provide an opportunity for black marketing and that it would be difficult to police the State borders and all that sort of thing. But there was trouble policing the State borders before federation when customs officers were stationed along the State borders. I believe that if Darwin were made a free port, instead of being the dearest place in the world in which to live, it would become the cheapest place and as a result it would attract a large population. Once the people came, the hinterland would start to develop. I think this is the solution to the problem of developing the Northern Territory. We have tried everything else, but it is not being developed fast enough. As I have said, time is running out, and if we do not do something about these areas, the little men in the islands to the north, whose envious eyes are now on these vacant areas, will do something about it. That may not happen for some years, but we should get busy in the meantime. Shortly after this Government assumed office, this Parliament passed an act to encourage meat production. That measure provided that money should be spent in the Channel country of Queensland through to the Northern Territory for the purpose of encouraging meat production. Of the total sum of £2,127,000 which has been provided under that act, Queensland has received £1,297,000. I now understand from the Budget Papers that the final contribution to Queensland for this particular project will be £30,000 this year. If anybody likes to make a study of what has been done with the money that has been allocated to Queensland, he will find that a water supply system has been developed throughout the Channel country whilst it is proposed to complete roads for the purpose of travelling cattle in some areas. In my electorate one of these roads was to be built from a place called Yarraka to Birdsville. Construction proceeded to a few miles west of Windorah and then petered out; the road was never finished. Another road was built from Quilpie westward to Eromanga towards the South Australian border, but the work on that also petered out and it does not lead anywhere. Another cattle road was built from Cunnamulla to Thargomindah, and it was to be taken further. The money spent on the road from Yarraka to Windorah amounted to something like £300,000, but the road was never completed. I want to know why it hasnot been completed. Had these roads been available prior to the recent drought,between 15,000 and 20,000 head of cattle would have been saved. {: .speaker-JS7} ##### Mr Brand: -- Probably more. {: .speaker-JSG} ##### Mr BRIMBLECOMBE: -- I am being conservative in my estimate. I know of one station where, in January of this year, there was a mob of 4,000 fats, but because there were no roads to travel them and no feed on the stock routes, the owners will be lucky to get 2,000 tinners out of them. Had that road been completed those cattle could have been taken out in three days. They would probably have reached our overseas markets and their sale would have helped to increase our export earnings. I appeal to the Government not to abandon the scheme, because it will be a good investment in Australia. It is important to Queensland, and to the nation as a whole, that these projects should be carried through to a conclusion as quickly as possible. We must not wait until there is another drought and then find that we have lost more of our valuable asset. I support the Budget. One cannot fail to support a government which is prepared at all times to do what serves the interests of the people as a whole, rather than a particular section only. I am proud to belong to a party which has had for its leader that brilliant statesman, the Treasurer. He is not only a great Queenslander but also a great Australian. {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
Grayndler .- I must pay the honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Brimblecombe)** the compliment of saying that, unlike other Government supporters, he at least spoke about the Budget. In this debate Government supporters have been significantly silent about it. Very few of those who have spoken have bothered to use all the time available to them. Indeed few Government supporters are ever to be seen in the Parliament, and those who are here may be seen drowsing away the afternoon and thinking of everything except what we are discussing. The Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden),** in the course of his address on the Budget, said, " We must be up and doing ". He then introduced a Budget of £1,500,000,000' which was designed to benefit no one and to leave the Government at the end of the year with a deficit of £110,000,000. He, himself is " up and going ". His attitude is plain for all to see. I have never seen a more forlorn Budget in a period of alleged prosperity, and those of my colleagues who have been here for a much longer period than I have confirm my impression. Never has a government treated the people with such arrogance and contempt. Its Ministers are tired and weary, and care little for the needs of the people. They are disinterested in everything pertaining to national affairs and administration, and rest content in the belief that the people will return them to office as heavensent saviours of this country. As time goes by they will receive a rude shock, because Australians do not like being treated with arrogance and contempt. The sorry record of the Government, and the incompetence which it has displayed in its administration, might lead one to expect that, on the eve of an election, it would give the people some of the things that they so urgently need, but such aid as it has offered pensioners, for instance, has been very minor indeed. The Budget has met with a concerted attack from all sections of the community. Let us look at some of the newspapers which have supported Government parties and see what they have to say about it. On 6th August, the " Daily Telegraph " published an attack on the Budget in these terms - >Leaders of commerce, political groups and trade unions last night criticized the Federal Budget . . . " Granny " Herald, the " Sydney Morning Herald ", one of the greatest supporters of the present Administration, must accept a great share of the responsibility for foisting this Government on the people, yet on 6th August it had this to say - > >The Government shows its confidence by doing nothing at all. It went on to describe the Government's " dismal failure to meet the country's needs ". Honorable members might care now to hear what was said by a journal which occasionally rounds up Australian Country party members. I refer, of course, to " Muster ". On 12th August, it had something very interesting to say on the Budget. I am pleased that the honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Ian Allan)** is present, because I have never heard a more reluctant supporter of a Budget. " Muster " had this to say - >A survey last week of the Budget comment in the major newspapers of all Australian States yielded very little indeed in praise of the Government's approach to immediate and impending economic problems, much in the way of criticism. That is what appeared in their own journal! The honorable member for Gwydir probably read those remarks before he made his speech. I have quoted these passages from the press to show the attitude of the people to this arrogant Budget by a retiring Treasurer. I do not wish to be personal, but I cannot help thinking that we are rather lucky. The Treasurer might have been producing his thirteenth Budget. If the eleventh is as bad as this, what would the thirteenth have been like? The Australian people are not likely to forget that in 1951 this Government went to the polls promising nothing but, immediately it was elected, produced a horror Budget which immediately reduced Australian standards of living. I cannot help recalling what an elector said to me the other day. He asked, " If the Government won't give you anything before an election, what will it do to you afterwards, if it happens to win? " The people generally might well heed that warning. In 1949 - whatever Government supporters may say to the contrary - the present Government took over a buoyant economy. Overseas balances were running at their highest level and stood at £800,000,000. If one takes into account the change since then in the value of money one realizes that to-day the figure would be two or three times that amount. Every one in Australia was employed, and men and women could walk proudly, with their jobs and security assured under a Labour administration. The value of social service benefits had been maintained by prices control and other measures which gave consumers, and especially pensioners, an opportunity to maintain their standard of living. Throughout the country prosperity reigned. Plans were in hand to complete thousands of homes annually. In 1949, Australia enjoyed a measure of prosperty that was not shared by any other country. As previous speakers have said, the present Government gained office by promising to put value back into the Australian £1. In the words of the late Ben Chifley, it made pledges on the £1 which deceived the people. At that time, even in the reckoning of people who are now in government, the value of the £1 was about 12s. 8d. To-day its purchasing power is no more than 5s. or 6s.! After ten years' administration by this monstrous Government we have 67,000 unemployed. Australia is crying out for development - for all those things which make a young country great. Sixty thousand people are jobless and each day the Government is adding to the number by bringing into Australia immigrants for whom employment cannot be found. Standards of living have been reduced. Savings have fallen. Such pension increases as have been granted have been offset by reduced purchasing power. All over the country people are wondering how to make ends meet under this Government, which has completely destroyed the prosperity built up under Labour. I do not expect that the honorable member for Petrie **(Mr. Hulme),** who is on the point of interjecting, will favour us to-day with one of his outbursts of laughter, for I am speaking on a subject which I know hurts him deeply. He is one of those economists who sit in an office and tell people in my electorate that they should be able to exist on £4 7s. 6d. a week - while he earns 50 times as much. I want particularly to criticize the Government's absence of a social service programme. In a Budget of £1,500,000,000 this Government has, in the words of the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** made a spectacular gesture to the people by increasing pensions for those people who are almost destitute by the paltry sum of 10s. a week. This Government has spent nearly £3,000,000 on overseas trips since it has been in office, yet the people who are urgently in need of financial assistance and people who are to-day endeavouring to exist on £4 7s. 6d. a week are to be given a miserable pittance of 10s. if they have survived the means test. Government members opposite have written in their policy speech of 1949, at page 22, a solemn pledge to remove the means test and to restore the purchasing power of the Australian fi. The Government has repudiated that speech and the promises it made to the Australian electors at that time. To-day it is bringing back all those iniquitous requirements associated with the means test which went out in the last century, in the view of people who believe in progress, and should never be reinstituted in this country. What about the thousands of other pensioners, too, who get nothing at all from this Government? The Government could find plenty of money in order to give the judges a retiring allowance of about f60 a week, and plenty of money to give to the wealthy in dividends from companies and profits and that sort of thing, but it has nothing for those people who have only their pensions to live on and who live from hand to mouth and from day to day. The Government promised to abolish the means test. I am glad that the Minister for Health is at the table. He knows as well as I do that in every step taken the Government has forced lower down the scale these people who are dependent on pensions, and they rightly deserve to be condemned for it. This Budget makes what the Minister for Social Services says is a spectacular gesture. I would not expect anything better from him for the simple reason that in this Parliament and in other places he has said from time to time that he does not believe in social services, and on one occasion he went on record as sayins the Australians were a collection of loafers and the sooner they went to work instead of living on social services the better the economy would be. What can you expect when you get square pegs in round holes? What can you expect when you get Ministers out of sympathy with the poor? What can you expect for people who are deserving of benefits and who are living on a pittance from a government that is arrogant, overbearing, and puffed up with its own importance? At this time it really ought to be doing something for the Australian people. Clearly, I say, it is scandalous that when this state of affairs exists pensioners and others are denied these benefits. I want to show how the Government could quite easily have made some money available for the poor. No more scandalous thing exists in this country to-day than the attitude of this Government to the expenditure and waste in respect to its defence programme. In this Budget, £190,000,000 has again been allocated for defence, and £1,500,000,000 has already been spent on defence since the Government has been in office. Yet, according to **Sir Frederick** Shedden and others, this country has never been more defenceless than it is after the expenditure of £1,500,000,000. There is no need to' take my word for it. The honorable member for Indi **(Mr. Bostock),** the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Falkinder),** the honorable member for Farrer **(Mr. Fairbairn),** the honorable member for Bowman **(Mr. McColm)** and the honorable member for Chisholm **(Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes)** have spoken about it, but now they are as silent as the grave, because they are to face the electors shortly. If, unfortunately, the Government is returned, you will find them here arrogantly strutting around saying that this Government's defence programme is no good. They are sitting in their places to-day as silent as the grave because they know that their own political lives are at stake and they are afraid to face their responsibilities in this matter. The Sydney " Sun " published a number of very good articles on defence on 5th August and on other days. I give the newspaper credit for them because, when all is said and done, it has never supported Labour. That newspaper has rarely been right before, but to my mind, on this occasion, it is right on the beam. The newspaper should give the man who wrote the articles a rise, for once in a way he has had the courage to write what is really true about this Government and its responsibility for our defence. The article on 5th August appeared under the headline " Australia Unarmed ". 1 ask the members of the Australian Country party to listen to this - >In a series of articles early this year, former Defence Minister H. V. C. Thorby- Who was popularly known as " Shoot'emdown " Thorby- outlined Australia's " unpreparedness " for World War II. Two years before war broke out, many of Australia's coastal defences could not fire their guns because essential parts were missing, he said. There were no searchlights for the shore defences, rendering them useless at night. He said the Army " lacked recruits, the uniforms to put them into, and the rifles and ammunition for them to fire ". As late as 1940 the Army still relied upon horsedrawn transport. That gives an idea of this Government's administration. The article goes on - >On August 8, 1956, the then Defence Department Secretary, **Sir Frederick** Shedden, dropped a bombshell when he revealed our complete unreadiness for war. > > **Sir Frederick** also confirmed that we had been equally as unready in the previous crisis in 1953. If it was that bad in 1956 and in 1953, it is worse to-day under this Administration. The article goes on - >The following month, Army Minister, **Mr. J.** O. Cramer, spoke of the brigade as " trained to the minute and ready to move at the drop of a hat ". The brigade had no reinforcements, without which it would soon be unable to function effectively under battle conditions. > >The Army is already 5,000 under its strength of 26,000 and recruitment fails even to keep pace with losses from sickness, retirement and discharge. Thus the brigade is militarily worthless. That is, after £200,000,000 has been spent on national service training. The writer went on to quote the honorable member for Indi and others, and pointed out classic examples of the expenditure of this Government on defence at a time when it is justified, undoubtedly, but the money has been spent in a most wasteful way. Supporters of the Government as far back as 1951 prophesied war in three years. Let us hope that no war comes in the next three years or, on this Government's defence programme, we will be defenceless. Labour is not opposed to defence expenditure, and when Labour has been in office it has spent defence votes more effectively than this Government has done. Let us have a look at the position in relation to Army equipment. This Government has purchased 100 Centurian tanks at a cost of £50,000 each. These tanks weigh 50 tons apiece. They use 4 gallons of petrol to the mile and have a cruising range of 30 miles. They are too big to be carried on any Australian railways system and are too big for Australian roads. The only bridge that could carry them safely is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The cost of running them is esti mated to be between £7 and £10 a mile. Whilst I want to see Sydney's north shore protected, I think that it is too much to use them there exclusively. Suppose these tanks were required at Wyndham. If we got notice of an attack there, 10,000 gallons of petrol would be required to get each of these tanks to Wyndham. They are great tanks, but too specialized for this country. Let us have a look at the position in relation to troops. The Army has one brigade of about 4,000 men, with no provision for reinforcements. The Australian Regular Army is collapsing because of dissatisfaction due to insufficient avenues of promotion, lack of housing, long hours, &c. In short, it is a poor way of earning a living compared with outside avocations. It is true that the Government is building luxury homes for the Army big brass in Canberra in order to waste a few more millions of the taxpayers' money. What else do we find? In respect of the Department of the Navy, there is no excuse whatever for the huge expenditure involved in re-establishing the Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay, necessitating the moving of civilians from that area. The Navy personnel could have been trained at any of the Navy's centres in Australia. I do not know the latest estimate of the cost involved in re-establishing the college at Jervis Bay, but there will be considerable waste of the people's money. Then there are reports about H.M.A.S. " Hobart " to the effect that after the Government had spent about £1,250,000 on refitting, this vessel was sold for about £18,000 or £20,000 for scrap steel. I should not be surprised to hear that the Government had made an offer for the submarine " Nautilus ", but if it did, at the rate this Government is going, in all probability there would be delivered to us in its place to protect Australia the submarine that was used by **Sir Hubert** Wilkins in 1932. What is the position in the Air Force? The Government is buying twelve Lockheed Hercules planes. They are cheaper by the dozen, I am told. They will cost £1,250,000 each- a total of £15,000,000. That is a fabulous amount to spend, and T can only assume that the expenditure is intended to bolster up the ego of the former submarine commander who is now Minister for Air. In respect of the St. Mary's project there was wastage unlimited which the Government could not face up to. The estimated expenditure was £23,000,000, but the ultimate cost might easily be well in excess of that figure. At the conclusion of the project there were, amongst other things, 12 tons of nails over, which is enough to build 120 houses. There are only 500 buildings in the project, yet enough nails were bought to build another 120. I understand that these nails were subsequently sold as a bargain lot at a sale of second-hand goods on the project. The money wasted on this project would have gone a long way towards providing worth-while benefits for people who really need them. A total of £1,500,000 has been spent on defence by this Government; yet it appears that we have an army that cannot march, a navy that cannot go to sea and an air force that cannot fly! The Army has tanks that cannot be moved because they are too big and too heavy. Clearly, in obtaining such tanks, the Government's view of defence has been quite out of focus. These are the items in respect of which the Government is seeking the confidence of the people. These are the matters on which it seeks the endorsement of the people. Despite the actions that I have mentioned, the Government has told the people that they cannot possibly be given the benefits to which they are entitled - particularly the benefits to which the pensioners are entitled. Every Minister in this Government has been around the world more times than a Sputnik and at almost the same cost. They are the most-travelled Ministers of any parliament in the world. If travel broadens the mind, we have an intelligent collection before us. Only once - excluding the last few days - have they all been in Australia at the one time since the last federal election. In their arrogance, members of the Ministry are even going away now, on the eve of a general election. In effect, they are telling the Australian people that they have no option but to return the present Government to office; but the Australian people will remember that this Government has treated them with contempt and that Ministers have refused to tackle real issues and so provide effective government. There are many other things on which I could speak and many other matters on which this Government is vulnerable. Item, by item, and step by step, its policy can be torn to ribbons because of its incompetence and complacency, and because of its failure to honour its obligations to the people generally. In this debate, and in the election campaign to come, we will point out clearly and decisively that this Government has failed the people in every phase of its policy. We should point out to them that the Government has not seen fit to legislate as it ought to have legislated in the interests of the people. This is a profiteers' and wealthy men's Government. There is no shortage of profits for people who own industry. There is no shortage for those who manufacture goods or who control the wealth. There is no shortage for the banksand others who exploit the people through hire purchase and other avenues. There is no shortage for people who are in a position to rake it off the populace at large and get their pound of flesh in additional interest. As the honorable member for Stirling **(Mr. Webb)** ably stated, workers' wages are pegged. Workers have lost millions under this Government because of the suspension of quarterly cost of living adjustments. Yet people still require homes as never before. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** said last night that there were no shortages. He should read his journals better. There are 60,000 jobs short and one could not count the number of houses that are short. There is plenty of money for everything but the essential requirements of the people. These are matters on which this Government claims to have a good record and again asks the support of the people. But those who are complacent about these matters will receive a great shock. I ask the people to consider the record of the Government on the eve of its balancing day. It is for the people to decide whether this incompetent administration that poses as a government is worthy of further support. I sincerely believe that a comparison of the record of the Labour Government with the shabby way in which this Government has failed to honour its obligations will give the Australian electorate an opportunity to do the right thing and return a Federal Labour administration. I may say that this is an occasion on which I would have liked to say something pleasant about the Budget. After all, it is the last Budget that this Treasurer will present to the Parliament. I respect him personally and appreciate the energy and zeal with which he has carried out his onerous responsibilities. However, in this gloomy, despondent, unhappy and forlorn document, recording the failures of the past and the inevitable miseries of the future, I see nothing, even on this historic occasion, to move me sentimentally, or otherwise, to say one word of praise. The Budget was introduced to the strains of loud and lusty " Hear, hears ", from the cheer squad of the Government - the equivalent of a fanfare of trumpets - but I consider that it would have been more appropriate had the Treasurer's dreary recital been preceded by a march of Cabinet Ministers and Government supporters in slow time, to the sound of muffled drums, and the strains of the Dead March because, truly, we are gazing for the last time on the decrepit, ageing and palsied political body of the Government before it is buried by the Australian electors. {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN:
Farrer .- We have been treated to a characteristic contribution by the honorable member for Grayndler **(Mr. Daly).** In his usual breezy style and his non-stop humour, he has ranged over at least twenty subjects, and has been completely irresponsible in his approach to most of them. I have not the time to answer all the accusations he has made but, knowing the honorable member, we all realize that he has had his tongue in his cheek all the time, so we really do not mind what he has said. The only advice that I would give to the electors of Grayndler is that when the next election comes along, they should adopt that wellknown slogan, " Change Daly ". What a pity it was that the honorable member for Grayndler did not follow the example of the previous Opposition speaker, the honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Luchetti),** who gave a thoughtful contribution to the debate even if, at times, it was a little coloured politically. At least, he did make a worthwhile contribution and1 showed that he appreciates the financial problems of the country. The honorable member for Grayndler, on the other hand, ranged from one subject to another with complete irresponsibility. I am sure that members of all the services will be deeply annoyed at the remarks that he made about their ability to wage war whether on land, sea or air. But I will not pursue that matter further. What have been the criticisms of the present Budget? Broadly speaking, the two criticisms that have been made have been, first, that there have been no tax reductions and, secondly, that there have been insufficient increases of payments by the Commonwealth Government. I do not think that the speakers who put these arguments forward, particularly the honorable member for Grayndler, realized the gravity of the world situation which has been forced upon the present Commonwealth Government. Do those honorable members realize, for example, that this is the first year for two decades in which the national income has been reduced? It has fallen this year by 1.2 per cent., or £55,000,000. Income-tax collections from individuals this year will be down by £31,600,000. Income-tax revenue from companies will fall by £8,400,000. This means that the Commonwealth Government will have at its disposal £40,000,000 less than it had last year to use for taxation concessions or increased benefits to pensioners. Commonwealth loans due for redemption this year total the very large figure of £337,000,000 in Australia and £26,000,000 in London. 'Hie Government will do its utmost to get the people who hold those loans to convert them, but quite obviously, it will have to make available a large sum of money for the redemption of loans that will not be converted. There will be an increased commitment of £26,300,000 to be met out of the National Welfare Fund this financial year, due partly to an increase in the number of people becoming eligible for social service benefits, partly to the fact that there will be an additional child endowment payment period in the financial year, and partly to relaxations of the means test and other improvements introduced by the Government last financial year, and also others to be introduced this financial year. Then there is the catastrophic fall in prices, particularly the prices received overseas for our primary products. In addition to that, drought has caused a reduction in the volume of these commodities available for export. For example, the estimate for wool alone is that, this financial year, the clip will be 44,000,000 lb. less than that of last financial year. When we read in " Wool Facts", which is published by the Australian Woolgrowers Council, that the average price of wool to-day is exactly twothirds of what the average was twelve months ago, we realize the very big drop in our export income that we are going to suffer. Faced with these circumstances, what could the Government do? I do not feel that it could honestly have given concessions to taxpayers who wanted tax reductions, or any great concession to people who asked for bigger pensions and the like. What did New Zealand do? It was faced with a similar position. New Zealand and Australia are both substantial exporters of primary products, and New Zealand, in common with Australia, has met a severe drop in the price of wool and a drop in the price of butter. I think that New Zealand exports a greater percentage of its butter than Australia does, and we, on the other hand, are more dependent on wool than is New Zealand. The first thing that the New Zealand Prime Minister did was to come to Australia, tell a very sad story, and borrow £10,000,000 from us. Then, of course, the New Zealand Government introduced its horror Budget. There is no need for me to deal with it in detail. Various honorable members have discussed it. As a result of that Budget the prices of commodity after commodity have increased. Taxes have been increased, and the tax bill has risen from £240,000,000 a year to £285,000,000. The tax bill per head of population will rise from £108 to £125 a year. The sales tax on new motor cars will be raised from 20 per cent, to 40 per cent. The price of petrol has been increased by ls. a gallon, and the additional tax imposed will go into the Consolidated Funds. {: .speaker-KIE} ##### Mr Luck: -- Is there a Labour government in New Zealand? {: .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Yes. What was the slogan - " Walter's tax reductions " ? The people of New Zealand have paid a very heavy price for swallowing the bait and heeding the cry, " Put Walter in and have £100 taken off your income tax ". Perhaps the people realize" that the same thing can happen here. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- What about the petrol tax? {: .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Instead of increasing the tax on petrol by ls. a gallon and putting all the proceeds into Consolidated Revenue, this Government increased the petrol tax by 3d. a gallon, paid 2d. a gallon of the proceeds to the States, and kept Id. a gallon for Commonwealth purposes. At least that has not been so bad here. I should like to refer now to the views of **Mr. H.** W. Herbert, the well-known economist, who writes for the " Financial Review ", which is published by out friends, the proprietors of the " Sydney Morning Herald ". Incidentally, I think that the honorable member for Grayndler should receive this week's Oscar for the most ludicrous statement of the week. He said that the " Sydney Morning Herald " is a supporter of the present Government. **Mr. Herbert** pointed out - and it is a fact that we should remember, for we must get some sanity in our thinking on these things - that the initial shock that brought the great depression to Australia in 1931 was a fall in our export prices of about the same magnitude as has been experienced during the last year. All honorable members know that when export earnings fell by £40,000,000 between 1929 and 1931, unemployment immediately became rife. At one time, 30 per cent, of the industrial work force was unemployed. Not only did our export earnings fall, but also overseas investors lost their confidence in Australia. That has not happened this time, and I believe that credit is due to the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden),** the Government and the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for the way in which this awkward and disastrous situation has been handled. As the Treasurer has said, the problem is to expand opportunities for employment, and he and the Government's officers under him have done their utmost to see that the level of employment is maintained. The honorable member for Grayndler said with a flourish, in the course of his remarks upon the very many subjects that he covered in two minutes, that the Labour Government had left no unemployment when it went out of office. That is quite right. There was no unemployment anywhere in the world, for that matter, but when Labour was in office there were periods when there was considerable unemployment. To-day, there are *5,000,000* unemployed in the United States of America. Yet here, only yesterday, the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** was able to announce that the number of workers seeking employment had fallen by 1,200, despite the fact that we are continuing full bore with our migration programme. The honorable member for Grayndler implied that we should stop the intake of migrants just because a small number of workers happens to be unemployed. Does the honorable member not realize that migrants create work because they require housing, motor cars, and all sorts of other things, the provision of which will increase the opportunities for employment and encourage employers to engage more workers? By releasing credit at a time such as this, the Government has promoted employment and maintained it at a very high level. It has arranged for the release of £75,000,000 from the special accounts of the private trading banks with the Commonwealth Bank. It has made an additional payment to the States of £15,000,000. Although the Commonwealth's revenues are down considerably, it has boosted the finances of the States, partly to make up for the losses of revenue that they suffered in the drought, and partly to increase employment so as to take up some of the slack. This Government has raised the Commonwealth Aid Roads grants this financial year by £2,600,000. lt has guaranteed for the States a loan works programme of £210,000,000 for the current financial year. That is an increase of £10,000,000 over the programme last financial year, and I know thai the increase will be of considerable advantage to the States, and will do much to increase employment opportunities. The Commonwealth has guaranteed to Victoria this financial year £10,000,000 for the standardization of the railway gauge between Albury and Melbourne. The real problem that faces Australia to-day is the problem of increasing our total exports. They are expected to be £814,000,000 this financial year. It is not so much a problem of how to cut up the cake as of increasing the size of the cake so that there will be more for every one to cut up. Australia is not a rich country. Unfortunately, in many respects, it is not so rich as are other countries. We have some rich deposits of minerals, but, by comparison with other parts of the world, very few. We have the Broken Hill and Mount Isa fields, and deposits of bauxite have been found recently in the Gulf country, notably at Weipa, and in Arnhem Land. Those deposits give promise of being very rich. But, by and large, this country is not rich in minerals. We have so far been unable to find worth-while deposits of oil. One of the Treasurer's Budget proposals is to increase the income tax deductions that may be claimed by investors in the shares of companies engaged in the search for oil. This has been done in order to encourage the flow of money being offered to companies seeking oil in Australia and Papua and New Guinea. We can only hope that the proposal will achieve its object. If worth-while oil deposits are found, of course, Australia will be well off financially, but at present it is not. Three-quarters of our territory receives a rainfall of ten inches or less a year and does not lend itself to pasture improvement. We have only a very small amount of land on which we can undertake pasture improvement. So our problem is: How can we encourage this great expansion of exports that we can sell in the world's markets in order to earn more for the Australian people? As I see it, our first problem is to carry out an extensive programme of research into every aspect of primary industry. Then we must ensure that the latest scientific advice is speedily followed by farmers. We must improve marketing methods and make our products more desirable in the eyes of overseas purchasers, and we must assist farmers financially to improve their output. For this reason I was particularly pleased to find that arrangements have been made to make available an additional amount of £648,000 for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for investigation work. We all know of the great work that the C.S.I.R.O. has done. We all owe that organization a debt of gratitude. The work it is doing is just beginning, because for every problem that it solves other problems crop up. In fact, very often for one problem solved two more appear. I was reading recently the report of the organization, and I find that the C.S.I.R.O. is at present tackling at least 275 different problems. It is. therefore, very pleasing to see that in a period of reduced returns we have been able to increase the amount of money available to this organization so that it may tackle these problems in earnest. As I have said, the C.S.I.R.O. is investigating 275 matters at present. Let me mention a few of them, as a background to a discussion of the question whether sufficient money is being spent. I still think that insufficient money is being spent on research in Australia. Only last week I read in the press that the Rolls-Royce company in England spent twice as much on research and investigation last year as the whole of the Australian wool industry spent not only on research but also on the marketing of wool. {: .speaker-K6X} ##### Mr Coutts: -- The wool industry will not even use the Si-Ro-Set process. {: .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I agree with the honorable member that the industry has been slow in introducing the process, but it is being brought in. One of the reasons may be that it has not been definitely proved. I am sorry that the honorable member for Grayndler, having made his speech, has now wandered out. The SiRoSet process, which has been pioneered by the C.S.I.R.O., has not been definitely proved to be satisfactory. Only recently I went into a store in my electorate and asked to see some Si-Ro-Set trousers, permanently pleated. The shop assistant said he was very sorry, but the makers had discovered a slight fault in the method and had recalled all the trousers he had in stock. He said that they would be returned by the following week and that he expected that the fault would by then have been rectified. That may be the answer to the honorable member who interjected. I have mentioned only some of the very many problems that face us as primary producers. There is always, of course, the problem of rabbit eradication. Unfortunately, the rabbits are rapidly developing an immunity to myxomatosis. Every rabbit that has a slight dose of the disease and gets over it becomes immune and helps to build up immunity in the whole rabbit community. Within a relatively short time the effectiveness of myxomatosis will have been dissipated. In this field also the C.S.I.R.O. is working hard to find out whether systems used in other countries, such as New Zealand, can be introduced here. New Zealand, which never tried myxomatosis, has been very successful in rabbit eradication. The C.S.I.R.O. is investigating that country's methods to see whether similar methods can be used here, as I believe they can be. However, the organization is not satisfied with that approach alone. I had a most interesting afternoon recently at one of its research stations near Albury. The organization has 15 to 20 acres of land on which colonies of rabbits are allowed to run free. One can climb into an inspection tower in the middle of this fenced area, and with a telescope spend hours watching the rabbits. Every rabbit is tagged with a special colour, the tag being made from coloured reflector tape. Lights are installed so that they may be studied at night as well as by day. This is definitely a long-term project. At the beginning it may appear that there is very little in it for the wool industry, but we know, and scientists know, that it is only by experiments of this kind, carried out over a long period, that valuable information can be obtained about rabbits, information that can be turned to use against them. That is why I say that we must ensure the continuance of this kind of work. Let me mention another matter which the C.S.I.R.O. is, perhaps, spending insufficient of its time and resources in investigating. I refer to a method of shearing sheep. At present shearing costs about 6d. per lb. of wool for every sheep shorn. Honorable members may say that shearing will probably always cost a lot of money. I do not believe it will. I believe that eventually scientists will evolve a system of shearing sheep which will entail either spraying them or giving them an injection or some sort of tablet. As scientists know, and as practical men on the land have seen, sheep that have suffered, for one reason or another, a sudden set-back develop a break in the wool. The wool can then be plucked off them. Although it may sound far-fetched, I believe, and I know that **Sir Ian** Clunies Ross, the head of the C.S.I.R.O., believes, that eventually a method will be devised to induce, shall I say, artificially a fever in the sheep, which will lead to an eventual break in the wool, so that graziers may pluck the wool from the sheep. Obviously many problems are associated with research of this nature, lt would be useless to get the wool off the sheep if the sheep died in the process. It would also be of no use to induce the sheep to shed its wool artificially if the wool came off a little loo soon and was left lying in one of the farmer's back paddocks. However, I believe this matter should be investigated, and I have not been able as yet to find anything in the reports of the C.S.I.R.O. to show that the organization is alive to the possibility. Recently a farmer in Queensland claimed that he was able to get the wool off the sheep by a method of spraying. For my part, I cannot see how one could spray and induce a wool break on the skin without affecting the wool in various other ways. For instance, the tensile strength of the wool must naturally be affected. However, these are matters for the C.S.I.R.O. to investigate, so that we may improve our agricultural and pastoral methods and increase our primary exports. Let me also mention the extension grants to the States. This Government introduced extension grants to ensure that when scientific aids are discovered they will be made known to the farmers as soon as possible. The system has been of enormous benefit, I realize, but unfortunately it is inadequate in scope. I feel that the Commonwealth Government should increase the grant for these extension services very considerably. Unfortunately, a long time elapses before a discovery of the C.S.I.R.O. or one of the Departments of Agriculture in the States becomes common practice on the land. Let me take one instance which I can give to the committee very quickly. Recently the Department of Agriculture and the School of Wool Technology in New South Wales have shown - and, I think, without any doubt - that it is possible to increase the rate of improvement of flocks of sheep about twofold if the culling is done by weighing each fleece as the sheep are shorn, instead of the old method under which the wool classer catches each sheep, opens up the wool, and decides whether the sheep is a cull or not. The new system has shown some remarkable results. I personally have known cases of similar pairs of sheep running in the same paddock, one of which would cut less than 5 lb. of wool, and the other more than 9 lb. Naturally, one culls the sheep with the lowest yield, My point is that although the system is an easy one for farmers to put into operation, there would probably be not more than one property in 100 on which it is practised. We should make available more money for extension services and sec that there are more scientific advisers, more agronomists and other persons available to go around the country and really sell science to the farmers. I am sure that if we did so these new discoveries would be widely adopted much more rapidly than they are to-day, and the standard of agriculture would improve as a result. I had wanted to touch on a great many aspects of marketing. I mentioned wool because I feel that the C.S.I.R.O. is doing an excellent job with respect to wool, but it could do more. I feel that the marketing of wheat is not being properly handled. Wheat is lumped together and sold as f.a.q. lt does nol matter whether the protein content is 7 per cent, or 17 per cent. - it all goes in together. Recently, a shipment of wheat to South Africa was said to contain twelve different varieties in one bag. Naturally, flourmillers cannot do much with such wheat because they do not know its protein content. There is a ready sale throughout the world to-day for soft wheat, and an equally ready sale for hard wheat, but it is not so easy to sell a mixture. We can grow hard wheats in Australia. Last year, the honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Ian Allan)** gave me a sample of some Gabo wheat grown in his electorate. As a trial I planted it in some highly improved land, and by test it showed a protein content of 13.2 per cent. The flour-miller who tested it said that millers would throw their hats in the air if they could get such high-quality wheat. But there is no incentive for people to grow high-quality wheat. They get the same price no matter what the wheat is like, and they sell it all lumped together. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie: -- How did you get such good results? {: .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- The paddock in which I grew the wheat had been sown with clover for twenty years, and the nitrogen fertility of the soil had been built up. If wheat was paid for according to its protein content, as has been advocated for a long lime by **Dr. Sutton,** of Western Australia, people would be encouraged to grow wheat with a high protein content, and this wheat would have a ready sale on the world's markets. The C.S.I.R.O. could help the man on the land in many ways. A Minister should be in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. on a fulltime basis. He should not have any other department to administer. I know that the present Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. **(Mr. Casey)** is very interested in the problems of development confronting that organization, and I do not want the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Calwell),** who is interjecting, to make capital of what 1 say; but the C.S.I.R.O. should be under the control of a Minister who can devote his undivided attention to it. Let me conclude by saying that I welcome this Budget. I feel the same way as **Sir Douglas** Copland feels, and he is a very noted economist. This is a sound Budget. 1 know that it has been criticized but, as **Sir Douglas** Copland said - >There will be second thoughts among the more discerning. They may well take the view that this Budget will go down in history as the most constructive of **Sir Arthur's** budgets, at long last giving substance and positive expression to the Fiscal policy pursued by Australia in its recent phase of great expansion. **Sir Douglas** Copland, and other economists, have never failed to say what they thought about the Government. If they felt that criticism was warranted, then they criticized. We should take notice of what they say, because they have no axe to grind. Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-1V4} ##### Mr CAIRNS:
Yarra .- Speakers for the Australian Labour party in this chamber have condemned the Government for its failure, in the Budget under review, to extend as far as it can a little justice, a fair deal to the mass of the people in Australia. We have condemned the Government for its abandonment of child endowment - and in fact the Government has abandoned child endowment. We have condemned the Government for its miserable handout to single pensioner tenants; much of the handout will be taken by the higher rents that will be charged. Already the Victorian Housing Commission is proposing to take 2s. 6d. of the increase. Those who have spoken on behalf of the Labour party have condemned the Budget as nega tive and depressive, as one which gives no national lead at a time when such a lead has never been needed more. In answer to those criticisms consistently made from this side of the Parliament, the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** and the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** in particular, have claimed that the term of office of this Government has been associated with a stable policy of national development, and that full employment has been maintained. Similarly, they have claimed that we enjoy a high level of prosperity to-day. It is in relation to those assertions that I should like to direct the attention of the committee. Those who know anything of the history of the past 30 years in Australia realize that the most significant task with which governments have been faced has been the maintenance of full employment and a rate of national development without unemployment. Last night, the Minister for Labour and National Service stated that the test of whether a government's financial policy is successful is the rate of national development, the scale upon which an immigration programme is carried out, the amount of employment in the community, and so on. But these have not been the tests of a government's financial policy for long in this or any other country. Tn the 1930's, governments accepted mass unemployment. They were forced to accept it. Nothing could be done about it. A government did not accept any responsibility at all for the maintenance of full employment. Unemployment was an individual responsibility, just as housing is to-day, and here 1 emphasize that just as full employment has become a national responsibility and a responsibility of governments, so will housing soon become a national responsibility and a responsibility of the Commonwealth. In 1945, the Commonwealth Government issued, I think for the first time in the history of the world, a statement in which it accepted responsibility for full employment. It did that in the White Paper issued during that year. It is an economic fact that the responsibility of maintaining full employment without inflation can be discharged only if the Government in its turn accepts the responsibility of maintaining in the country a level of total expenditure which is appropriate for even, unbroken national development without inflation. This means not only that expenditure has to be made up when it is too small but that it has to be reduced when it is too large. The level of expenditure is the key to the problem. I should like now to examine this Government's actions over recent years in these directions. What has it done about maintaining a level of national expenditure which is appropriate to sound development? The first problems with which this Government was faced arose, not out of a deficiency of expenditure, as many people expected after the second world war, but out of an excess of expenditure. In 1950, there was a boom in wool prices. In one year, the value of exports rose from £659,000,000 to £1,051,000,000. In his Budget Speech of that year, the Treasurer recognized exactly what was involved in this. Whether the Treasurer himself was responsible for the statement, or whether he expressed the opinion of his advisers, I do not know, but he did say - >This rise in wool prices will . . . make a further addition to the volume of purchasing power, not matched by an equivalent quantity of additional goods, would increase competition for available supplies and divert resources still further from developmental activities into less essential uses. This would tend to disperse and weaken the national effort at a time when it should be more and more concentrated. Moreover, there would be direct effects on the cost of living because of higher prices for clothing and meat, and this in turn would lead to higher wage costs throughout the economy . . . property values would soar to boom levels. The Treasurer recognized all that was inherent in the wool boom - inflation, the diversion of resources to less essential uses, the weakening of the national effort, increases in the cost of production and increases in the cost of living, not because of wage increases, but because of increases in the prices of clothing and food. Recognizing all this, the Treasurer saw that it was vital to act, and so he said - >The Government will, therefore, bring down measures to restrain the effects which this excess purchasing power would have upon the economy. This was a correct diagnosis of the situation, a correct statement of the need to take . action. And this was at the outset of this great problem of inflation in Australia! But the Government made no more than halfhearted attempts. It imposed a wool sales deduction tax and then withdrew it. Not only did it do this, but it made an additional grant to wool-growers, and allowed the trading banks to expand credit to match the now-inflated levels of expenditure. Of course, the spiral of inflation gained impetus. Prices rose by 10 per cent, in 1950, by 26 per cent, in 1951, by 20 per cent, in 1952, by 7 per cent, in 1953, by 7 per cent, in 1954, and by 11 per cent, in 1955. And so inflation had occurred, and this after the Government had recognized the causes, after the Government had correctly diagnosed the situation and failed to do anything of any significance about it! The Treasurer himself was forced to recognize the facts when, in 1955, he said - >The year 1954-55 brought gathering signs of strain on the economy ... by the end of the year we had around us the unmistakable signs of active inflation. He also said - >The spiralling of prices and costs can be expected to go forward in real earnest. I often wonder what would have happened in those years had this Government really intended to encourage inflation in this country. What would have happened? We all know the costs of inflation - cruel pressures against the living standards of old people, on pensioners and on families. But there are also the other costs recognized by the Treasurer in 1950 when his inflationary boom commenced. First of all, there was the diversion of resources to less essential uses. Let me refer now to the question of building in this connexion. From time to time, the Government has prided itself upon its housing record. Housing is something which cannot be changed overnight, or within a few weeks. The basic economic conditions which determine the number of houses that will be commenced take twelve months or longer to change. In 1951-52, the number of houses commenced in this country was 80,924. For every year since then while this Government has been in office, there was a fall in the number of houses commenced until it was as low as 66,'U6 in 1956-57. That is a dramatic fall in the number of houses under construction. Let us now consider the value of those houses. Despite the inflationary cost of building during those years, the values have risen by only 16 per cent. from £173,000,000 to £202,000,000 over that period. I pass now to another matter. As I have said, over this period there was an increase of only 16 per cent. in the value of the most essential service to the community - the erection of houses. Contrast that with the value of hotels and guest houses erected in the same period. In 1951-52, the value of hotels and guest houses erected was £678,000. By 1956-57, that figure had risen to £8,544,000, an increase of about 1,200 per cent., so that in that year the value of hotels and guest houses constructed was twelve times greater than that of 1951-52. No wonder the Treasurer is popular in some places in his own electorate! During that same period, the value of the most essential of all services - the number of houses erected for the people - increased by only 16 per cent. We are limited of course by the available statistics. The other important figure that I want to quote is in relation to " other buildings ". Some essential buildings are included in this category, as well as those which are less essential in 1951-52 the value of "other buildings" was £43,500,000. In 1956-57. it had risen to £158,000,000, an increase of more than 300 per cent. The very condition which the Treasurer recognized would occur in this country as a result of uncontrolled inflation - inflation which he himself left uncontrolled - namely, a diversion of resources from more essential to less essential uses, has in fact occurred. The housing crisis in Australia is a direct outcome of this situation. Can any one say that a vast increase in the number of houses being built is not needed in this country? Of course, it is needed. Rents are from £7 to £ 1 2 a week now in working-class suburbs all over Australia. The single pensioner tenant, promised a miserable 10s. a week by the Government, is already to pay an extra 2s. 6d. a week to the Victorian Housing Commission. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr Killen: -- That is completely false. {: .speaker-1V4} ##### Mr CAIRNS: -- It is not completely false. The honorable member is completely oblivious to the interests of Australia if he can make such a ridiculous statement. Despite the continuing housing shortage, less money is provided for housing than was provided before. The amount of money provided through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement fell from £14,318,000 in 1954-55 to £11,937,000 in. 1955- 56. While a shocking state of affairs exists in relation to houses in the greater part of Australia, the Government, through the bank which it controls, is directing less and less money to housing. Let us have a look at railway figures. In 1954-55 there were 517,000,000 passenger journeys on railways in Australia; in 1956- 57 there were 499,000,000 passenger journeys. In 1954-55, 48,000,000 tons of goods were carried on the railways, and in 1956-57, 47,000,000 tons of goods were carried. Those figures indicate the extent to which the use of railways is declining each year. That is another essential service which is suffering in this diversion of resources, for which the Government is responsible. Let us have a look at the tramway systems. I know that very few honorable members on the other side of the chamber travel by tram. Still, the great majority of people in the suburbs of the capital cities do so. In 1954-55, 61,000,000 car miles were travelled by trams in Australian cities; in 1956-57, 57,600,000 car miles were travelled. In 1954-55, there were 619,000,000 passenger journeys, but in 1956-57 there were only 534,000,000. How long can this decline continue before these public transport services are out of action altogether? What is the explanation of this diversion of resources to less essential uses, which the Treasurer recognized in 1950 would occur? It is the relative profit or interest principle. which is allowed to operate without any modification by this Government. Essential uses of resources cannot compete with luxury uses of resources in the rate of profit or interest that can be paid. The greed for profit or interest determines where money will be invested. Money is invested where profit and interest are highest. It is diverted from essential services, such as housing and public transport, where the rate of interest is not so high. Nevertheless, as the position stands, the interest burden bears heavily upon these essential uses. I turn now to housing. A house costing, in labour and materials, £3,100, paid for over a period of 30 years at 5 per cent., costs altogether £6,300. The interest cost of obtaining such a house is £200 more than the cost of labour and materials. Yet honorable members opposite talk about the cost of labour and materials being some kind of handicap in the building industry! The greatest handicap that the building industry has to face is the handicap of interest costs. Let us have a look at interest payments by the railways and tramways of Australia. In 1954-55, interest payments on the railways investment totalled £15,493,000. In the following year the figure rose to £17,435,000, and in 1956-57, it was £19,468,000. There was an increase of £4,000,000 in those years. That is the kind of burden that the railways have to carry. During that time there was only a very slight increase in the amount of capital invested in the railways. The position of the tramways is much the same. At a time when there was an actual fall in the amount of money invested in the tramway system, the interest rose from £702,000 in 1954-55 to £897,000 in 1956-57. If ever there has been an economy in the world crucified on the cross of interest, it is the Australian economy at the present time. The governments concerned having, by their own type of financial policy, denied themselves funds for railway, tramway and housing development, have decided to continue the policy of fare increases, which in some instances, perhaps, they can claim to have been forced upon them, in order to get money for replacement and future development. In Victoria the abolition of workers' concession fares on railways and tramways was recently announced. The old fare of 7d. for a second-class single ticket has become ls. or ls. Id. The old fare of ls. return has become ls. 9d. What fantastic increases those are for a person working for a living! Of course, those increases were made by the Bolte Liberal Government in Victoria, which is in office by the courtesy of the Democratic Labour party. However, the responsibility lies not only on the Bolte Liberal Government in Victoria, but also on the Federal Treasurer and his Liberal Government - two governments which stand for exactly the same principle. In Melbourne, tram fares were recently increased. The sections are now so short that, if you have not your money ready when you get on, you have to get off before you have paid the fare. For one section, the fare has risen from 5d. to 6d. for two sections from 7d. to 9d., for three sections from 9d. to ls., and for four sections from lid. to ls. 3d. The Government cannot claim to have succeeded in the test stated last night by the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Government can only admit to having failed in every one of those essentia] requirements of a financial policy. It has not, between 1950 and 1955, maintained anything like the level of expenditure necessary for full employment and a sound rate of national development. It has not succeeded in applying a full employment policy. On the contrary, it has permitted to occur all the things that the Treasurer in 1950 feared would occur - inflation, a cost-price spiral, depression of living standards of those on fixed and periodically fixed incomes, and diversion of resources away from essential uses such as housing and transport. Property values have soared to fantastic levels, and this is the main source of inequality in Australia to-day. Many Australian exports have been priced out of overseas markets. Every one of those conditions feared in 1950 by the Treasurer and his colleagues in the Government has come to pass. The condition of full employment or whatever it was, was not the result of any deliberate policy to obtain a sound rate of national development; it was the result of the policy of allowing those people who have obtained money to spend it as freely as possible. The period of boom in Australia came about, as the Treasurer recognized, as a result of a boom in export values. The value of exports was £1,051,000,000 in 1950-51, and it remained at a fairly high level all the way through. The Government stands fundamentally for allowing those people who have money to do what they like with it; to be as free as possible in the spending of it, even if the result of their spending means inflation and all the problems associated with it. What do we find when we examine a situation of this sort? First, we have to see where the responsibility lies for those conditions I have outlined, which have been present in Australia in recent years. The responsibility lies fundamentally with this Government in Canberra. We have to act also, for when we have to face the problems of inflation again - if we do have to face them - we must know what we have to do to overcome those problems. We must avoid all the pitfalls and mistakes for which this Government has been responsible. Having reached a condition where expenditure has begun to fall for various reasons, we are not getting as much for our exports as we were before. There is insufficient money available for the people to assist in the processing and buying of goods. Does the Government believe in keeping up the total level of expenditure in the community to maintain full employment and a rapid rate of national development? Superficially we might think so. In his Budget Speech, the Treasurer made this rather dramatic statement - >This year the Government is budgeting for an overall cash deficiency of £110,000,000. That is to say, we expect that the total receipts of the Commonwealth from revenue, public borrowings and other usual sources will fall short of our total expenditure commitments by £110,000,000 and we plan to finance that gap by borrowing from the Central Bank. First of all, that is a most remarkable statement. When, in the past, the Australian Labour party and the progressive forces have said that no man shall remain unemployed or that the wheat industry shall not remain depressed because of a shortage of money, we have been accused at all times of turning to the printing press. This Government is planning to-day to turn to the printing press for £110,000,000 this year. But the significant situation that I want to make clear is that this business of turning to the printing presses is a doubtful proposition. The Government has said that, in order to maintain the level of expenditure and employment and to keep everybody happy, it has to have a deficit spending spree of £110,000,000. Might I point out to the committee that the Government wants to get this £110,000,000 for this reason: First, its Consolidated Revenue Fund is in balance to the tune of £1,310,559,000. The Consolidated Revenue Fund is in balance. This £110,000,000, or whatever part of it is going to be pumped into circulation, is going to be brought in by some other way. The money that the Government plans to create if necessary is to be obtained for no other reason than to make up the deficiencies that may arise as a result of the Government's inability to raise money on the loan market, or the inability of persons who already have money in Commonwealth bonds to leave it invested there. This Government is facing a debt reconversion programme of £337,000,000 in Australia and £26,000,000 in London this year. What it is in fact saying to the people is this: " We cannot get the Australian people to lend us enough money to keep going or to encourage those people who have already lent this money to leave it with us; we will issue £110,000,000 of printed money to make up the deficiency ". Why cannot the Government encouragethose people who have £337,000,000 inCommonwealth bonds to leave their money there? The reason is obvious. The people who hold that £337,000,000 want to get their hands on it so that they can lend it to the hire-purchase companies and other institutions at fantastic rates of interest. It is this enormous diversion of resources that is making the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer with no improvement in their standards. The effect has been to increasethe values of hotels and guest houses by 1,200 per cent, while, at the same time, the value of houses has increased by only 16- per cent. That is the situation in Australia to-day. That is the kind of prosperity that the present Government would try to hide from the people. This Budget is not by any means a deficit Budget in the real sense of the word. A deficit Budget is one which is really planned to meet expenditure that is essential for community and national purposes, that is necessary to prevent a condition of stagnation and to provide money for the kind of services that are really needed. It is not to provide money to try to rectify a situation which the Government has brought upon itself by its own unsound economic policy. At present, employment and output is either stable or it is falling in many significant sections of the economy. But prices are still rising because created money introduced through the banking system allows the Government to force up prices without stimulating output and without doing anything which is necessary towards economic development. I want to examine briefly the employment situation. Full employment is not the condition that has been defined by the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt).** The right honorable gentleman's definition is, " Jobs for all who are willing to work ". Full employment is not a stable thing; it is something that is continually growing. The increase in the work force in Australia between 1947 and 1954 was 553,585 or 79,083 a year. In each one of those years, full employment meant that 79,083 more people had become able and willing to work. Since 1954, at least 79.000 people should have come in to work each year, but surely there would be more with an increase of population by immigration anc! in every other way. Surely, if we had maintained full employment since 1954, we would have had at least 79,000 more people going to work each year. But the facts are that the number of wage and salary workers who have come into the work force between 1955 and 1956 totalled 45,800. and between 1956 and 1957, the total increase was 4.000. How can the Government claim that we have had anything like full employment when 79,000 people at least should have been coming into work, whereas the total increase is only 4,000? As the Leader of" the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** has pointed out, there has been a decline in employment in private industry of 3,600 in the most recent year. The general increase in employment that has taken place has occurred only because there has been an increase in Government employment. On the manufacturing side, the increase in the number of wage and salary earners in 1956 was only 12,300. Last year, the number declined by 2,500. In building construction where an increase in employment was most essential, the increase in the work force in 1956 was 3.000, and last year the total fell by 7,100. Let me direct the attention of the committee to one significant feature to show how the economy is unbalanced. In the property and finance section where one would expect an increase in employment there was, certainly, an increase. In 1956, the number of wage and salary earners in that section increased by 5,800 and last year 4,000 more were employed. In other words, there were more employed in the property and finance section than were employed in all branches of private industry put together. There was a fall in other sections of the private economy. The Australian economy to-day is in a state of inactivity and stagnation. All the Government has to offer is the issue of more money from the printing press to pay bondholders who will not convert their holdings or who will not lend to the Government at existing rates. The Government has only to accept responsibility; it has only to take a few simple economic measures and these problems could be rectified. But each of those economic measures would involve some interference with the private financial institutions and they will not accept interference from this Government. In fact, those financial institutions are the masters of this Government. Time and lime again during the last twelve months. I have asked questions of the Treasurer to show how necessary it is to have our investible funds directed to the places where we would get housing, primary and industrial development. The Treasurer has answered every one of those questions by saying that it is not in any way the concern of the Government what the banks or other financial institutions do with the money they have available, lt is a public duty to see that the resources of this country are used for its development. The next great move in the development of an economic policy should be to see that our resources are directed to the best advantage for the benefit of national development. {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade · Murray · CP -- The eleventh Budget introduced by my colleague the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** is a bold Budget. It is a Budget of which he can be proud, and one. indeed, of which the Government itself is proud. It is a fact that here is a Budget introduced in difficult financial and economic circumstances, but a Budget constructed with no timidity at all, a Budget constructed with a real boldness and a real confidence in the future of Australia. It would be well if that confidence were reflected on both sides of this Parliament. It is a Budget which reveals enterprising thinking, but it is a Budget of a kind which could not be introduced except upon the basis of a thoroughly sound economy. lt is quite remarkable that in a country of this size a Budget that visualizes a cash deficiency in the year of £110,000,000 can be accepted in the country and outside of it, without there being any shrinking of confidence in the Australian economy and in the capacity of the economy to stand this kind of injection of central bank credit. I say this is bold and enterprising, but boldness and enterprise would be futile if there were not a completely stable economy here in the first place. We have just that kind of economy. This is a land of growth, development and prosperity. All the indicators, some of which 1 will mention presently, show that Australia is a growing land, a sound land, and, above all, a land of opportunity for Australians and for people outside Australia who come here. This Government is quite determined to preserve that economic stability without which our prosperity and prospects could not exist. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Cairns)** a few minutes ago spoke of this Budget as not being a deficit Budget in the normal sense. That is quite correct. It is a Budget in which there is no unwillingness on the part of the Government to raise by revenue the normal requirements of the services of the Government itself. Upon examination, it will be found that this quite huge cash deficit is the outcome of the extent to which this Government has been prepared to involve itself in servicing the State governments. Almost every penny of the £110,000.000 will be used to enable this country - in circumstances which in earlier years would have been circumstances of depression - to proceed at the federal level, the State level and the level of private enterprise, not only with stability, but with continued growth. We find this great deficit revealed as being the result, not of action in this Budget, but of the honouring of something which the Government, with the Premiers and the Australian Loan Council, undertook to do several months ago - in circumstances of vast falling off in farm income and export income to give the States for their ordinary revenue requirements more than they ever had before, and to give them for their loan requirements enormous sums, far beyond the amounts which could". be seen as possible to be raised in normal circumstances. There is an explanation of why it is not possible to raise these vast sums in the loan market and why recourse is needed to this kind of finance. Whilst there are various factors involved, the overwhelming reason is that this country is so prosperous, is developing so fast and commands such widespread and unbated confidence, that all the people are not only willing, but anxious, to invest in it of their own decision. This Government is preserving both the climate and the opportunity for people so disposed to invest of their own decision and to profit by their investment in a sound economy. lt may well be that a more timid government would be embarrassed to discover that the very prosperity that it had created had provided a financial difficulty. It is truethat our prosperity has created this financial difficulty, but we are masters of the situation, not mastered by it. This deficit budgeting is a deliberate, conscious act of Government policy to sustain, uninterrupted, the tempo of development in Australia, both Federal and State. With it run central bank policy, Commonwealth Bank policy and private bank policy. Running with the Government's expansionist policy, those policies provide continuous additional funds from both the Government banking system and the private banking system for the financing of the enterprising Australian. This Government has gone further than any other government has gone before in involving itself financially to a tremendous extent to sustain the rate of State expansion and development. It is, indeed, the only Government in the history of Australia which has involved itself in raising vast sums by taxation, not only to sustain the ordinary services of the States, but also to invest in the capital requirements of the States. I feel proud to be associated with my colleague the Treasurer, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies),** and other members of the Government, as well as those who support the Government, in such boldness and sound planning. We speak of a stable economy. Stability does not come by happy accident. The stability that has come to us is the result of deliberate planning. This Government plans to keep Australia safe in our ownership. It plans to proceed with the development of this country. It plans consciously and every day of its existence to sustain and enhance the general prosperity of the country. There is manifested in this Budget a willingness not to be daunted by an inability to service our requirements, State and Federal, by recourse to the normal loan market. The Leader of the Opposition has not acknowledged this situation. I doubt whether he has comprehended it. He spoke of a contracting economy, not of an expanding economy. Of course, that is completely wrong. It is true that there are some things that a government cannot control. A government cannot make good seasons, nor can it control the prices that people on the other side of the world will pay for its country's products. Those, broadly, are the two principal factors, the two determining factors, that are beyond the control not only of this Government, but of any other government. In respect of all the aspects of our public or private lives which come within the ambit of the Government to influence by conscious decision, there has been continuous expansion, not contraction as the Leader of the Opposition has said. Let us look at some of these factors. There has been a continuously growing intake of migrants to increase our population. There has been a year-by-year increase in the totality of finance available, not only for governments, but also for private business and industry. There has been quite a dramatic expansion in Australian manufacturing, under the protection of a tariff that is constantly being revised by this Government. As a result, I am able to stand here to-night and say that within the last ten years - which is almost synonymous with the life of this Government - the number of factories here has increased by 50 per cent., and our industrial production by 60 per cent. Rural industry has expanded at almost a commensurate rate The actual monetary and real reward for labour and the opportunity for employment have, year by year, continued to expand under this Government. I say to those who would decry the stability of Australia that I am proud to speak of the reward for labour, the conditions of labour and the opportunities for employment. Such unemployment as there may be here is, at least, lower than that of any other country. Housing, the volume of export production and the total dimensions of all commercial activities continue to expand under this Government. Those are the facts; but this gentleman who would decry his own country says, " This is not an expanding economy; this is a contracting economy ". Those words, spoken, perhaps not consciously, by one so highly placed, are bound to check the confidence of overseas investors. That would be a deadly blow at our economy, for the inflow of capital has been at magnificently high levels in recent years. Overseas investors have had confidence in the stability of the Government of this country. They realize that a proper climate will be provided for the protection of Australian industry, and that they may safely invest their funds here. An indication of overseas confidence has been the inflow of more than £100,000,000 in a year for the development of Australia. Only two things could turn the tide of that confidence. One would be an exhibition by us that we had lost confidence in our own future. There is only one principal spokesman in this chamber for that point of view. I hope that he does not rate so highly that his exhibition of lack of confidence in the future of Australia will deter overseas investors. That is one of two things that could turn the tide against us in this critical necessity to maintain the inflow of capital as a contribution to our balance of payments problem and to the further industrial growth of Australia. The only other thing that could shake outside confidence in our economy and future would be the re-appearance of inflationary trends. There again, although the Leader of the Opposition has not on this occasion been explicit in his financial proposals, he has, in association with policy observations in his speech, promised an alternative Budpet which, if the arithmetic of it is to fit in a faint degree with his political promises, could produce nothing but another real dose of inflation if it were inflicted on this country. The Leader of the Opposition highlights those two points that could shake outside confidence in our stability. Ke tells the world that it should fear for the future of Australia. Does he expect overseas investments to continue when he says that? It is quite destructive >of our national interest, and I hope that this contribution by the Leader of the Opposition to this debate will be dismissed with the contempt that is its due. I said that, broadly, only two factors were beyond the control of this Government. They were the seasons, about which nothing can be done, and export prices. The Leader of 'the Opposition said that there has been no drive for exports. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- No real drive. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- I will accept that; no real drive for exports. This is admittedly the .sensitive point in our economy. It is giving away no secret to admit it. Every financial man knows it, but, having, said that, I add that never before has the world been so conscious of the activities of an Australian government as it is of the efforts of this Government to deal constructively with the problem. Never before have the forces of Government and the civil service joined in partnership with commerce, primary producers, the mining industry and the manufacturing industry to work out a plan to deal with this, the one point in our economic well-being that is admittedly beyond our direct control. I can say only that the response of those who have been invited to work with the Government on this subject .has been magnificent, right along the line. The over-all stability is here. Prosperity is high. Costs and prices are nearly stabilized. Employment is at a high level; investment is at a high level; consumption is at a record high level; and imports remain at a high level; notwithstanding our difficulties. To-day, we are budgeting to continue importing at the rate of £800,000,000 a year, notwithstanding that last year there was a tremendously steep fall, not in the volume but in the realized value of our exports. To-day not only the people of this country in total, but the commercial interests of other countries appreciate the prudence of this Government when, in more lush years, it did not lose its head and spend at the rate of its earnings, but built up a reserve which enables us, in the importing sense as in the general financial sense, to go through this trough almost without feeling a bump. This is not merely a convenience for commerce; it is critical to all Australian industry, because to-day our factories use more than half of our total imports, and any lessening 'Of our ability to .continue to service our factories .will result in unemployment. We are conscious of that fact. We have been preaching it for many years. I am sure that I will not be contradicted when I say that this was being said for the Government long before the manufacturing industries realized their dependence on a continued high level of export earnings. They use about 51 per cent, of all our imports, and another 25 per cent, or so is used to purchase essential plant and developmental material to carry on expansion. I need no reminder from the Leader of the Opposition that there is a problem in export earnings. In the time at my disposal, I shall detail something of what has been done - not promises of what we will do, but what we have done. There are credit and monetary policies here which are expansionist, which are stable, which are understood and which are predictable. The value of a stable economy is that people can predict the future and do not discover every few months, as happens particularly in countries with expanding economies, that they must go along like a concertina - in and out. Here are some of the things .that have been done to stimulate our export earnings: We have stimulated the production of those goods that we are best able to export. In that way, under the authority of this Government, a new stability has been brought to. the primary industries that have historically been our principal export earners. When the wool auction system was assailed, this Government successfully fought the assault and preserved the system. This Government has done things for the stability of the dairying industry, of which even that industry itself has not seemed conscious. Even during this last year the value of dairy products, translated into terms of to-day's value show that Australian butter, taken on its United Kingdom parity is, on a basis of value for value, lower than it was in the deepest depression of the dairying industry in 1922 and 1933. That is literally true, yet the dairying industry goes on its way almost unruffled under the policies of this Government. Two years ago we had an entire crop of wheat unsold and unsaleable but we did not stampede and ask anybody to grow a bushel less. We put £1,000,000 into the building of more silos to hold the wheat and paid (he farmers for every bushel they grew, cash on the nail, the moment they delivered it to the silo. Then, through the organization of our salesmanship, in due course we sold the wheat. The same thing has happened in the sugar industry, lt has never known such a period of expansion and development. That Cinderella industry in Australia, the tobacco industry has enjoyed an expansion such as it never knew before the advent of this Government. So, in the case of. things grown on the land and things which we export,, such as tobacco and the things which we import, there is. a whole array of achievements which have been brought about by the assistance provided by this Government. I mention research and extension services, assistance to industry, co-operation with industry, co-operation with State governments, credit policies and depreciation allowances. Even in a period of inflation when it was necessary, in the public interest, to impose some limitation on the availability of credit this. Government has never found if. necessary to constrict the availability of credit to the great primary and export industries. But when this Government sought to add to the credit facilities of these export industries by incorporating within its banking legislation a new factor for rural credit by means of a development bank, where was1 that proposal defeated? It was defeated by the Leader of the Opposition and **Ms colleagues** in the Senate acting under his instructions. One cannot falk about the need to- have more exports without thinking, in the first place, of growing them;- and growing them involves credit for the enterprising Australian who is willing to produce more. But the Australian Labour party, which prates to us to-day, has denied to the young men of Australia, who want to get on to the land and grow more, the opportunity off doing SO This Government has, by every device within its opportunity, sought to enhance our export opportunities. Australia has entered into trade agreements with the United Kingdom containing explicit conditions for the preservation- of all our preferences and consolidation of other preferences'. There have also been explicit arrangements, for the first time, under which the United Kingdom will buy 28,000,000 bushels of wheat a year. Australia entered into the Japanese trade agreement which any one who knows the wool industry in Australia will realize has been the cornerstone in sustaining the wool industry this year from collapse. This has been achieved under the management of this Government without the impairment in any degree of any Australian manufacturing industry. The Australian manufacturing industries are in pattern with our general policies and *the* Government keeps in closest consultation with their representatives. They were consulted, not after the event, but a year before the Japanese trade agreement was concluded. The moment that the Australian Council of Trade Unions expressed some disquiet about the outcome of that agreement it was offered an official position in relation to the Department of Trade so that its guidance could be available if any Australian industry appeared to be endangered as a result of Japanese competition. So we have entered- into these two great tirade treaties and they have been responsible for an enormous economic development in Australia. They were based entirely upon Government arrangements;. Now, we are in the course of actively negotiating trade agreements with Malaya, and Ceylon. Already, we have sold a great quantity of flour to Ceylon as a result of Government negotiations. As we proceed along these fines we are negotiating, constructively and defensively with the United States of America, through- the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to protect our exports from unfair competition. Tirade missions, led by my colleague the honorable member for Darling Downs **(Mr. Swartz),** were very successful. The Government will spend £1,000,000 this year in the United Kingdom on trade publicity. Australian exporters and United Kingdom importers will combine in publicising- Australian commodities iia the United Kingdom. In one year we have participated in trade fairs and our trade commissioner service has spread throughout the whole world'. If one were to go to- Rhodesia, Trinidad London, Hong Kong or almost anywhere else in the world, one- would find an Australian trade commissioner, generally a man who made his mark in private commerce before joining our Trade Commissioner Service. For the first time, in order that the Australian exporter might be assured of payment for his goods and insured against non-payment, a special export insurance organization has been set up. In the first ten months of its operation, a cover of £11,000,000 was provided for Australian exports. More recently a manufacturing industrial advisory council was established, the members of which include top-flight men in Australian manufacturing industries. They gladly joined in partnership with the Government to work out what is best to be done for this country and for industry. This is the very basis upon which an overwhelming percentage of employment is provided in Australia. Leaders of commerce have joined the Export Development Council in order to give the Government and the country the benefit of their wisdom andadvice. I have just enumerated the items in a category of constructive actions already taken by the Government to create a favorable climate for export. This is the policy of the Government. It is a living policy and it is in operation. Some may ask what is our policy for the future. This is our policy for the future: To continue, day and night, doing the same thing so that the development of this country shall not be stultified through a shortage of overseas funds. Soon we will join with all the other British countries in a great Commonwealth conference at Montreal to try to attain even greater financial and economic stability within the British Commonwealth and, for the first time, try to make a real assault upon the problem of stability in world commodity prices. This is a problem which has been neglected, but it is one in which this Government is giving a lead by tackling it. If we can achieve any measure of success not only will we encourage our friends in New Zealand but also we will win greater friendship and confidence from the Asiatic countries. I can think of nothing that would promote more rapidly a friendly feeling towards Australia on the part of our Asiatic neighbours than that Australia should give a lead in establishing stability in world commodity prices. We must be successful, for it would be too much to hope for political stability in countries which are unable, through their own earnings, to proceed* with their own development and raise their standard of living. This is the living policy of this Government. That is why we, in the Government, have confidence in Australia as distinct from the exhibited lack, of confidence in Australia on the part of the Australian Labour party, represented by honorable members opposite. When it was necessary, this Government was active and constructive in safeguarding the country against the consequences of inflation which, we all know, was a real danger a few years ago. I remind honorable members that it was at the time when we were flush with money and troubled with inflation that the Government drew up the wheat stabilization scheme, entered into overseas negotiations and planned for economic stability. Because the Government was active in guarding against inflation, to-day we are able to face a situation which, in another age in Australia, would have produced a real and serious deflation. During the period that this Government has been in office, individuals, industries and governments have moved through these varying economic circumstances, hardly noticing the changes. Do members of the Labour party recall the fall in world commodity prices in 1929 which led to 30 per cent, of unemployment in Australia and widespread bankruptcy? The policy of this Government, during the last eight and a half years has been to build, brick upon brick, a constructive economic policy which will safeguard us against a recurrence of another depression such as Australia experienced in 1929 and the early 1930's. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order. The Minister's time has expired. {: #subdebate-29-0-s7 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney .- The Minister for Trade **(Mr. McEwen)** in commencing his remarks, referred to the Budget as a " bold " Budget. I prefer to term it an impudent Budget. The Minister for Trade used the very words of the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** when he said that the economy was sound and had " made notable progress ". The Minister went on to indicate, in general terms, that everything was well with the Australian economy, but he did not produce any evidence to support that contention. The fact is that the last nine years of mis-government by the Menzies-Fadden Administration has left the Australian economy in a position which is becoming desperate. The economy is almost on the verge of financial collapse. What is the evidence of that? At question time to-day the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** showed that he was so concerned with the precarious position of certain industries - the primary industries in particular - that he wanted the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** to set up a committee of experts to deal with that aspect of the crisis. The Treasurer, having said that the economy had made notable progress, proceeded to embark upon a survey of what had happened in the last year. He told us that total employment had risen, unemployment had increased, the wool clip was much smaller, the wheat crop was poor, the prices of wool, meat, dairy products and metals had fallen sharply, exports were down by £164,000,000, our overseas reserves were down £42,000,000, and the Government was budgeting for a deficit of £110,000,000. Despite all this the Treasurer tells us that results have been satisfactory! I am reminded of the chap who returned to his farm and asked the caretaker how things had gone in his absence. The caretaker said, "The boundary rider ran away with your wife, your house was burnt down, two of your children were burnt to death, your crops failed, but apart from that everything was all right." Let us examine the balance of payments situation - the really important problem confronting the nation at present. Last year exports fell by £164,000,000 to £814,000,000. Imports increased by £73,000,000 to £791,000,000, leaving a favorable trade balance of £23,000,000. But our invisibles cost us £201,000,000. I refer to freight, insurance, the payment of dividends to persons overseas and interest on borrowings. The total figure was up by £34,000,000. Despite this we read in to-day's press that the international shipping cartel, which has held the primary industries to ransom, is demanding higher freight rates, so next year our invisibles will increase considerably. This Government would not have been able to carry on if there had not been additional capital invest ment from overseas sources. Unless overseas capital is put to very good use in expanding the economy - and the evidence here is all to the contrary - it creates increasing difficulties for governments of the future and simply builds up these invisibles. What are the Government's anticipations for the coming year? The Minister for Trade says that prosperity is here. The Treasurer says it is anticipated that exports will be of the order of £750,000,000 - a considerable reduction - while imports will amount to £800,000,000. That would mean an adverse balance of £50,000,000 as against last year's figure of trade surplus of £23,000,000. The Treasurer's figure contemplates a capital inflow during the year of some £130,000,000, but even he admits that we cannot hope to borrow as much overseas in the next twelve months as we have been able to do in the past. The Government's experts believe that next year overseas reserves will fall by an additional £120,000,000. What effect will that have on the Australian economy? The Minister for Trade said that the Government cannot control the seasons, or be held responsible for falling prices. Let me tell the Minister and every Government supporter that it is the Government's mismanagement of the internal economy, and its refusal to arrest inflation, which has priced us out of overseas markets. The important thing is not how many trade missions or representatives we have overseas. It is whether our product can compete with that from some other country. In the year 1957-58, which the Budget reviews, wool income was down by £110,000,000. The actual decrease was £145,000,000, but I am quoting the figure given by the Government. There was a large carry-over of wool from the preceding season, and the sale of some of that wool reduced the drop from £145,000,000 to the Government figure of £110,000,000. Flour and grain were down by £45,000,000; ores, metals and concentrates were down by £20,000,000; and dairy products, including eggs, were down by £14,000,000. Let us examine for a moment the exact situation in respect to wool. The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers has forecast a fall in wool production this year of £42,000,000. Graziers are seriously worried about the fact that the firm of Patons and Baldwins (Australia) Limited is preparing to manufacture orion yarn, which could be a serious competitor to wool. According to the evidence, which is available to every honorable member, orion yarn is somewhat dearer than wool at the moment and lacks its warming qualities, but it keeps its shape better and dries more quickly after washing. The graziers are very worried about this new development. 1 turn now to wheat because time will not permit me to cover the whole range of Australian exports. This year the United States has forecast a record crop of 1,300,000,000 bushels, and has already a carry-over of 881,000,000 bushels- a total stock of 2,181,000,000 bushels. What do honorable members think that the United States is going to do about it? It is idle of the 'Government to complain about unfair selling methods, but the Americans have announced their intention of disposing of their wheat wherever they can obtain a buyer. They will not worry whether they are competing with our wheat, or with wheat produced somewhere else in the world. I do not blame them for adopting that attitude. It is the duty of the United States Government to dispose of that country's surplus produce. Canada has had a poor season and it is estimated that the Canadian crop will be 375,000,000 bushels. However, Canada also had a huge surplus last year. The European crop has been good, and some countries which previously were importers have now become exporters. Russia has greatly increased its production, but is not expected to enter world markets for at least another year. "What will happen then? If Russia comes into the field as well and begins to dump its surplus wheat in other pants of the world, we can imagine what the future holds for those engaged *m. the* wheat-producing industry to-day. Let -us turn for a moment to dairy products. I 'shall take butter as an example to show what the situation is and what are the prospects of those unfortunate people who have invested their capital in the dairying industry and who are now suffering as a result of the policy of this Government. I asked the Minister for Primary Industry **(Mr. McMahon)** a question in -regard to the prices being received by -the dairy farmers for .the butter they are selling overseas and . the cost of production in this country. The Minister's reply gives the figures from 1953-54 to 1957-58. For 1953-54, dairy farmers received 38d. per lb. overseas and their cost of production was 4s. 3d. To-day, their cost of production is" still 4s. 3d., and the price they are receiving is ls. *Hd.* per lb. So, this industry is obviously in a desperate position at the moment. How does the Government try to keep it afloat? The local price is 4s. 9d. per lb; pre-war, it was ls. 7d. per lb. The consumption of butter is falling. From 1936 to 1939 it was 32.9 lb. per head; in 1956, it was 29.3 lb. per head. Table margarine is now selling at 2s. lOd. per lb. The consumption of that commodity from 1936 to 1939 was .9 lb. per head. In 1956, it had risen to 3 lb. per head, despite the fact that production had been restricted by governmental action. Even in advertising, the manufacturers of margarine are not permitted to refer to butter. They cannot make any comparison between their product and butter. The Government is providing £13,500,000 a year as a subsidy to the industry. In my opinion, nobody wants this important industry to be destroyed. But the factor that is destroying the dairying industry and other primary industries is the present high cost of production, which is due to the inflation that this Government has permitted to continue. This has made it impossible for producers to dispose of their surplus products overseas at a decent price. All that the Government can think of doing every time the industry is in difficulties is to raise the price of the locally consumed product. Then more and more unfortunate people in Australia who cannot afford to buy butter are compelled to turn to margarine because it is the cheaper product. Living standards in this country have fallen since this Government took 'control. According to the Commonwealth Statistician, the consumption of meat, eggs, oils, fats, potatoes, fruit, green vegetables and grain products per head of population is well below the pre-war figure. Why has that happened? Because the taste of the people in the community has changed? Not at all! It is because the people's standard of living has been reduced. They are getting a smaller return for their labour, and that is the reason why the consumption of foodstuffs has fallen. What is the prospect of the farming community? I readily agree that if the farming community finds itself in a desperate position, all members of the community are adversely affected. According to the Government's figures, farm incomes for 1957-58 are down by £176,000,000. Last year's income is level with that of 1948-49 when the value of the Australian £1 was at least two and a half times what it is to-day. So that the farming community is much worse off. Farm income this year is the lowest it has been for ten years, and it may drop next year - I am quoting the Government's figures- by £80,000,000. So the loss suffered in two years will be £256,000,000. What does a subsidy of £13,500,000 mean to an industry when it has suffered such a tremendous loss? All that the Government can provide is an advertising campaign asking the Australian community to consume more of this product. Here is what the Minister for Primary Industry said - >As a special measure to assist in meeting the current overseas position I will be introducing a bill during the current session which will enable the Australian Dairy Produce Board to engage in an intensive programme for promoting the sale of dairy products both in Australia and overseas. The emphasis will be on Australian sales. Yet, this Government keeps the pensioners on £4 7s. 6d. a week! If we want to boost local consumption, the obvious thing to do is to give a greater income to invalids, aged persons, widows, war pensioners and other people who to-day are living at a substandard level. If they were given a special increase that would be a most effective way of stepping up the local consumption of these primary products. I have said this situation arises as a result of internal inflation. What was the position in 1949? We had a stabilized economy. Although the basic wage was less than onehalf what it is to-day it could purchase much more in those days than can the inflated wage of to-day. If we could turn the clock back to the conditions of 1949, primary industries would be in no difficulty because they would be able to sell their surplus overseas, not with an advertising campaign, but because they could out-sell the producers in other parts of the world. What did the Minister for National Development **(Senator Spooner)** say when the question of inflation was raised in 1950? I have " Hansard " here to satisfy any of the doubters on the other side as to what he said. When the present Leader of the Opposition in the Senate **(Senator McKenna)** raised this matter in 1950, **Senator Spooner** said in reply - >This is not a matter which governments can control; it is a matter for the people themselves. They have to control it. What a hopeless government it is which states that it is not a government responsibility to control inflation! Now, despite our mounting difficulties in respect of balance of payments, let us see the result of the Government's action last year when the situation was becoming extremely difficult. In July, 1957, the Government stated that Australians travelling abroad could have more spending money. When I speak of people who travel abroad, I am not referring to workers' sons and daughters who work their passages and have working holidays overseas. I am talking about the passengers on big luxury liners. When they leave this country they are loaded to the plimsoll line with the wealthy section of this community. The Government assisted them by increasing the spending money they could take from £1,000 to £1,300 sterling. Remittances to relatives overseas were increased to £960 sterling a year. I am not suggesting that anybody in this country who has relatives overseas in need should not be permitted to send money to help them, but is there not rather a contradiction on the part of the Government here? It steps up immigration - increases the number of new settlers in this country - and immigrants are the people most likely to have to send money abroad to assist their relatives. The Government is increasing our difficulties in respect of overseas balances in this way. The Treasurer said that the improvement in Australia's trade balance overseas, had allowed this action to be taken. Since the middle of 1957, too, there has been no limit on the amount of dollars - earnings by American films - that can be taken out of Australia. This has caused an additional drain on Australia's overseas reserves, amounting to some hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. So we can see this Government favours certain interests in this country. What is the present trend, because that is the basis of the future policy? The latest figure I have is for the week ended 30th July last. la that week overseas reserves fell by £4,800,000. This was the eleventh consecutive week in which the reserves fell. In eleven weeks, our overseas reserves have fallen by £33,300,000! So last year's deficit of £42,000,000 in our overseas reserves was almost reached in a period of eleven weeks. In July, 1957, our reserves increased by £1,500,000. In July of this year they fell by £13,300,000. It is said by the Government that it has assisted the farming community in this Budget because it has provided for a continuation of the depreciation allowance. Of what great value is that to the farmers? 1 am not suggesting that it will not be of some assistance to them but, in their dire plight, surely nobody believes that they will be able to survive and get along successfully with this meagre handout by the Government. Whilst the Government is talking about assisting the farmers by a continuation of the depreciation allowance, it has done nothing in respect of hire purchase. The farming community is at present being forced into the hire-purchase field. If a farmer wants additional plant he cannot get it by increasing his overdraft at the bank. If honorable members doubt this, let them get the " Sydney Morning Herald " of 4th June and read of the experience of a Dubbo farmer who relates how he went into a bank and asked for an increase in his overdraft. The bank manager admitted that the proposition was sound - that he had a good property and that normally the bank would have increased the overdraft. " But ", the manager said, " We have no funds available. However, if you move down to the end of the counter you might be able to get it from the hire-purchase section." He moved down to the end of the counter and got the accommodation but he had to pay approximately 15 per cent, for it instead of the overdraft rate of 5 per cent, or 6 per cent. What is the method of finance of these hire-purchase companies? They do not raise funds on the share market and for a very good reason. They increase their funds by the issue of unsecured notes and debentures at a fixed interest rate. They do that because, under the convenient arrangement made by the Treasurer to meet their requirements, they are allowed to deduct from their income for taxation purposes the interest paid on their notes and debentures. As a result, these companies have been able to rob or deprive the Commonwealth Treasury of some hundreds of thousands of pounds, even in the last twelve months. To-day, bank advances to the man on the land are limited to £1,000. This matter was raised recently at a conference of the Australian Country party by one of the delegates. He said that men on the land who wanted advances from the banks were unable to get finance beyond £1,000. Let me turn now to immigration. Here is how this hopeless Government reasons: lt says, " We have to maintain our annual intake of immigrants at 115,000, despite the fact that we have growing unemployment in our midst". According to the Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Downer)** we have only just started on this campaign. He has told us that there have been 1,250,000 new arrivals in this country since the end of the war, but that that is only a beginning. According to the Treasurer, the Government has to bring 115,000 people a year to Australia in order to maintain demand in this country for surplus production which cannot be disposed of overseas. What a ridiculous situation! I have read statements by economists to the effect that unless we vastly expand production in this country, by the year 1970 we will be unable to export anything because we will have no exportable surpluses. Yet the Minister talks about an expanding economy and expanding industry! He should get the relevant figures. There are fewer men on the land to-day and fewer farms than there were before the war. So what is the reason for the expansion in production? It is due to the mechanization of farm methods and improved systems of farming. But this Government has proved a dismal failure so far as any effort to provide land for new settlers is concerned. If the Government continues to pile people into this country without making provision for their absorption, it will only create tremendous difficulties for our own people. Let us look at another matter. I do not know of one primary industry which is selling its products overseas for a reasonable return. What will be the outcome if this trend continues? It will be necessary to pay huge subsidies to keep these industries afloat. How will the subsidies be paid? They will be paid by means of higher taxation on the Australian community. This of course will mean reduced living standards. In relation to social services, 1 think that it was the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. Bostock)** who stated in this chamber on one occasion that we had come to the end of the road, meaning that the Government could not afford to expand social services any further. The Treasurer has announced a rental allowance for a particular section of pensioners. But who will qualify for it? The Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** was unable to furnish the information to-day, and I venture the opinion only a very minute number will get any benefit at all. And almost before they obtain it, Liberal governments are snatching it away from them by increasing rents, as is happening in Victoria. No provision is made in the Budget foi the unemployed. What about the men who are out of work for a long period? Are they expected to exist on the paltry unemployment allowance provided by the Government? They are mostly married men. living in rented premises. Are they not to be given assistance? What about those in receipt of the sickness benefit? Are they to be completely ignored? lt is all right for people on the other side of the chamber to smirk and smile as if this were a laughing matter. If every member of the Australian community were in the same position as the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** and had a legacy of £1,000 from some wealthy friend who had passed on from this world, they would be in a much happier position to meet their everyday requirements. What is the position in regard to unemployment? If the drain on our overseas reserves continues, is there one member on the Government side who is not prepared to admit that it will mean more drastic import restrictions? There must be more import restrictions, and that must lead to greater unemployment. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt),** in reply to a question, gave certain information. Obviously he was trying to paint the best picture that he could for the community because this is an election year. He said that the official figure for unemployment included every person who was seeking full-time employment. Whether a person is blind, whether he is an invalid, or whether he is 80 years of age, if he registers at the Commonwealth Employment Office, according to the Minister he is included in the unemployment figure. Either the Minister was deliberately lying in making that statement, or he does not know the facts. The Opposition can produce any amount of evidence to show that not only does the department prevent unemployed people from registering, but that it uses all sorts of devices to keep the unemployment figure down. If a person of 65 years of age goes to a labour exchange he is told that he has to apply for the age pension. That is a fact despite the simulated surprise of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies),** who is raising his Japanese-black eyebrows. This Government wants a pool of unemployed. In England, a committee was appointed to investigate this matter. It was presided over by Lord Justice Cohen who said - >In our opinion it is impossible that a free and flexible economic system can work efficiently without a perceptible margin of unemployment. That is the policy that this Government is following, lt wants a pool of unemployed because it knows that this is essential to its purposes. Consequently, unemployment will continue to increase. Time will not permit me to deal with all the sins and omissions of this Government. But if, in the remaining days of this Parliament, I have not the opportunity to do it, I shall certainly make my voice heard outside on this issue. I will venture the opinion that when we return after the elections, it will be shown that the statement by the Minister for Trade **(Mr. McEwen)** that this Budget has not shaken the confidence of the Australian community is incorrect. The people have not yet had an opportunity to speak, but I have sufficient confidence in their intelligence to say that when they do, they will reject this anti-Australian, nohoper Government, and return Labour to lift Australia out of its present economic difficulties. {: #subdebate-29-0-s8 .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK:
Parramatta -- **Mr. Chairman,** on rising to exercise for the first time my very great privilege of speaking in this chamber, I ought first to remind the committee that I represent a very old city that was lately represented by a very distinguished Australian who served this Parliament very well for a considerable time both as a backbencher and as a Minister of the Crown, and who now represents us at Washington as our ambassador. I am very proud to sit in his place; though I think his place must have been better positioned than the one I have at present. I come to this chamber, of course, new to its ways. I undoubtedly have a great deal to learn. The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward),** who preceded me this evening, demonstrates that to me. I no doubt will take some time to absorb the particular methods of discussion in this place, but I earnestly hope in the course of time, by personal application to the task, to make my measure of contribution in debate. My small pipe will never make the welkin ring, I am quite sure. I shall never be able to aspire to the eloquence of many who now sit in this chamber, or who have done so aforetime, but I hope that I can offer some quiet and thoughtful contribution, as much as possible from an Australian point of view, and never, I hope from the point of view of one who wishes to divide this community by a false emphasis on class. Lastly, before I come to the things about which I wish to speak, may I say that I have not in any respect moved away from my own profession, of which I am particularly fond, and of which I am particularly proud; because I think it is one of the greatest instruments for the preservation and maintenance of fairness between man and man that any community can have. In that profession, I have found untold interest and enjoyment. I am not leaving it for nothing. I leave it because I really think that this country is on the way to a very great future. But that future is not going to come without a great deal of hard thinking and a great deal of work - and not with too much talking, perhaps. I come to this Parliament, if I may say so, to make my contribution towards the attainment of that future. I have sat listening, **Mr. Chairman,** with that intentness that is befitting a newcomer while the members of this chamber have debated the Budget. I had thought that I might choose some subject on which to sneak which was sufficiently relevant to the Budget to pass muster in this debate - and a subject which was perhaps near my heart and of which I knew, or thought I knew, a great deal. But, listening to the debate, ) became conscious that this Budget is an enormously important subject and that 1 would do well to bend my thoughts towards it, and I made the decision that I would speak about it and flatly on it, or, as is sometimes said, bang on it. And that 1 propose to endeavour to do. As I have certain courtesies extended to me in this, my first effort, it would not be proper for me to tell you, **Sir, what** impression some of the speeches that I have heard have made on my mind, or to tell you how little assistance I got from them. Perhaps others could have got more. So, I propose to address myself to the subject from my own point of view and tell you and the committee what I think about the Budget, and why. Other honorable members have a singular advantage over me, **Mr. Chairman,** in that nearly all of them have sat in this place for a long time. That I must confess to be an advantage. I could not fail to notice that, in discussing the Budget, other honorable members become concerned with the past, with who did what, and with how this or that came about. I have not the knowledge of the history of this chamber to display with effect concern about those things, but I have an advantage in this wise: I come from the outside into this chamber, and perhaps I am able to approach this Budget in a slightly calmer frame of mind, and, certainly, without much noise. I am able perhaps to approach it - and I would wish to - from the stand-point of hard common sense and practicality, freed of any emotive influence. I would wish to approach it also as an Australian. Sometimes as I listened here, it would have been easy for me to imagine that the only Australians here sat away on my right. But I claim to be a real Australian, and I should like to examine this Budget from the Australian point of view. The Budget's answer to the problems of the moment is that there is to be continued Government assistance to our expansion bv way of both Commonwealth expenditure and assistance to the States in order that the expansion that we see may continue. The resultant deficit is to be financed bv short-term borrowing from the central bank, and there is to be no reduction in the general level of taxation. As I see it, **Mr. Chairman,** that means that the liquid funds of this community - its money - are to be increased in this financial year by the amount of the deficit, and I hope that those who affect to mould public opinion will tell the people that the deficit means money for the community. It means credit. It means added funds to support employment and wages and to provide the other things that we need. That being what I regard as the solution offered, this Budget, as I see it, cannot be understood unless it is put in its proper perspective. One cannot look at it except against the background of the present situation. Budgets, of course, as all honorable members know, have ceased to be a matter of balancing revenue expenditure against a known or estimated income. The Budget is a part of the machinery of monetary control to enable the community to have economic stability and, in the case of this economy, to have stable expansion. In a community that is not expanding and where government expenditure is optional, that expenditure may or may not be made. A down turn in the economy is met either by a reduction in the level of taxation or by an increase or the maintenance of government expenditure, with any resulting deficit financed by short-term borrowing. That is a well known technique. If our economy were not expanding and if government expenditure were optional, I for my part would not support a Budget that did not release money, through the private sector of the community, by means of tax reductions. But that is not the situation facing us. This country is expanding and government expenditure is not optional. In that event, the question to be looked at is whether the deficit dare be any larger. We are expanding at an incredible rate. Although the honorable member for East Sydney, if I may say so, tried to give the impression that the bottom has dropped out of our world, nobody in this community can believe that. Our economy is buoyant and expanding, and we dare not stop expanding. Around us are people who are working feverishly, efficiently and, if I may say so, cheerfully. If we are to survive, we must continue to expand at the rate we have been expanding in the past. If that is a true statement, as I think it is, the next question is this: Is the level of government spending on the items in Part B of the statements accompanying the Budget Speech necessary for our expansion? I venture to suggest that no honorable member could honestly say that that government expenditure was not indispensable to the maintenance of our expansion. The government sector must provide the framework in which the private sector expands. The Government must provide power, water, roads, houses, hospitals and research - all those things that the private sector cannot provide. Any serious student of the figures in Part B of the statements that I have referred to must concede that, as to both nature and amount, the expenditure is indispensable. If that is right, then the deficit this year is necessary. The question then to be asked is: Dare we make it any larger? With that expansion, what has happened? Other honorable members have spoken about this, and I shall not weary the committee with figures and details. Suffice that I should remind honorable members that Australia has suffered a dramatic drop in her export income. Nobody believes that that drop was government-procured, however much some one may shout it to the welkin. Nobody thinks that anything the Government has done has caused the price of wool to drop by about 35 per cent., metals by about 30 per cent., and butter by about 20 per cent. - a total fall of about £164,000,000. The remarkable thing is that there has been so little local effect from such a dramatic event. That is a very great tribute to the management of Government affairs. Coupled with this fall in prices are these coincident circumstances. First of all, we must maintain a high level of imports because, as other honorable members have pointed out, we need imports to get our secondary industries going so that they can export and improve our secondary export income, thereby supplementing the primary export income, which, for the future, may not always bulk as large as it has done in the past. At present, as honorable members know, secondary export income is about 11 per cent, of our total export income, or £109,000,000. We need imports to maintain that income and we need imports to service our growing population. Next we need to maintain a high level of immigration, because Australia just cannot expand without people. Then we must attract capital from overseas. We cannot possibly generate capital for ourselves, and we need capital if we are to expand. That involves us, **Sir, in** having such stability that we can inspire confidence in those people who have generated the capital and who wish to invest. The next thing that coincides with this dramatic drop in income is that we have an obligation to repay loans borrowed at other times. Honorable members know the figures - about £26,000,000 in London and £337,000,000 in Australia. It is interesting to note that of the total debt, £197,000,000 is war debt, £158,000,000 is money borrowed for State works, and £9,000,000 is money borrowed for Commonwealth works. Fortunately we have good London balances, the result, no doubt, of good husbandry, assisted by good seasons and good fortune. But we know that having regard to the rate we will have to eat into those balances if the down-turn abroad continues and consumer demand remains low, they will not last for ever. Those are the background facts against which this Budget must be approached. What is the task, as I see it, looking from the outside, and perhaps with some degree of innocence? The task is to maintain a high standard of living. No matter how much some people may shout to the contrary, the standard of living in Australia is second to none. The working man in this country was never better off than he is to-day, and he knows it. Also, not only must we maintain a high standard of living, but we must maintain our rate of expansion. Finally, and this is a matter about which I want to speak briefly, we must avoid a recurrence of inflation. We must be careful not to trigger off inflation again, because we all know what that means. Nobody but our enemies, whether they are within or outside, wants inflation. Inflation hurts the widow, the pensioner, the family man on a low income, and the man superannuated on a fixed pension. They are the people who are hurt most by inflation. Any party or any person who plays with the possibility of releasing inflation is recreant to the man at the bottom of the social ladder. I heard it said a while since that the Government does not care about the man at the bottom, but, as one looking from the outside in, I should have thought that the Government has demonstrated its concern for him, because the little Budget was designed to stop inflation, to prevent it hurting the people at the bottom - the pensioner, the widow, the family man and the man on a fixed superannuation pension. Honorable members all know, without my having to remind them, how the Treasurer stood up against the criticism, not by the man at the bottom but by the man at the top, and against criticism by the press, and maintained his view that he was doing right, as we all know he was. During the last year, of course, variations in costs have been almost negligible. The cost level has flattened out. I have indicated that what is most to be feared is inflation. The two pivotal points with regard to this Budget are, in my opinion, first, the necessity for Government spending at the levels contemplated, and, secondly, the extent to which short-term borrowing can be indulged in without triggering off inflation. As to the first point, other speakers, notably the honorable member for Petrie **(Mr. Hulme),** have examined Government expenditure. Of course, I would expect, as we all would, that the Government would be careful to see that there was no wastage and no incommensurate expenditure on any of these items. So far as the second point is concerned, that is, how close to inflation one dare go, let me remind honorable members of what factors are in the field. Before I do so, may I be permitted to quote the language of a very great man on the subject of inflation? **Sir Winston** Churchill is credited with saying - and they are words that might well be remembered - >There must be a continuing value in money if there is to be justice between man and man and man and the state. Inflation is unjust. Now, **Sir, let** me indicate shortly the factors to be considered in discussing the possibility of inflation if the deficit were sent any higher. Since the last Budget the special accounts under the Banking Act have fallen from £363,000,000 to £265,159,000. This means that approximately £100,000,000 has gone into the liquidity of our system. The effect of that has not yet come home, because it takes time for releases to have their effect. We know that the employment position is improving. We know that the rate of housing construction is improving. No doubt these improvements are related in some way to these releases of money. The delayed effect of such releases, therefore, must be borne in mind. We have also the effect of the last Budget. That also takes time to become evident". At least £57,000,000 of tax deductions will be distributed in this current year, due to the last Budget rather than this one. Thirdly, there is the great question whether inflationary tendencies in our expansion are or are not still present. That is quite a matter of opinion. We are expanding, and expansion usually has inflationary pressures associated with it. In setting this deficit figure, one must realize that the inflationary tendencies may still be present. 1 assume that the Government has had the best departmental and technical advice that it can get. I assume that it has weighed this advice. Having in mind the factors that I have mentioned, it has evidently set the figure of £110,000,000 as the upper limit to which short-term borrowing may go in order to supplement the liquidity of our system in the current year. Any one who simply sits down and writes out another figure, thus merely, as it were, raiding the financial Bastille and then distributing largesse in paper, is nothing less than reckless- So I see this Budget as an honest and honorable endeavour to meet a difficult problem in the interests of the whole community, to infuse as much credit into the system as will keep our expansion going at the necessary rate and, at the same time, to ensure that we shall not be plunged into a trough because of the losses inseparable from inflation. So often I hear it said that this is a great and wealthy country, and often it is said in the tone of voice and with the attitude that imply that we may just pick the nuggets up from the street - that we have arrived and that we can sit back at leisure and enjoy all the benefits of this wealthy place. Dangerous words, **Mr. Chairman!** This country has to work for its wealth. As I see it, we need the consistent co-operation of managements and employees to wrest from a very great country a very great future. **Mr. Chairman,** any man who sets man again man in industry harms every one of us. So 1 accept this Budget. I do not regard it as drab. I have tried to analyse it for myself. 1 find that it has a degree of excitement, because it represents honest, intelligent thought put to a very great and difficult problem. I should like to conclude on this note: The Treasurer has long, been a friend of mine, sometimes afar off, for our fields have been different, and sometimes in fairly close personal contact. For him I have enormous admiration. As a fledgling - and that is ali T am - who is about to go out of the nest - and I hate to think what is going to happen when I fall out of it and hit the ground - may I wave a feather at the departing eagle and say to him with sincerity, "Well done; an honest, honorable, capable Budget which time will prove was right, not for any one section of our community but for all of us". {: #subdebate-29-0-s9 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa .- Honorable members have listened to the maiden speech of the greatest lawyer to enter this chamber since the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt),** and the greatest advocate to enter it since the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies). Mr. Chairman,** every member who serves in this place has gained' satisfaction and status from the fact that a practising lawyer who has probably no equal in this country and no superior in the English-speaking world has, at a not inconsiderable sacrifice, similar to that made before him by the two leaders whom I have mentioned, come to serve with us here. His maiden speech was, as one would have expected, disarming, polished and demure. One can well believe, after the first two characteristics that I have described, that there is great truth in the axiom, which has been followed ever since the war by all the principal commercial interests in this country, that if you had a good case at law it did not very much matter whom you briefed to appear for you, but if you had an unmeritorious, an unsympathetic and an unlikely case, your only hope was to brief Barwick. The fledgling has had a thankless task. Even he could hardly make this Budget appear plausible. However much he might resort to appealing to Australiansentiment, to closing the ranks, to comparing our good fortune with lesser breeds without our law, we still should be able to do better in this country and we have to do better if we are to maintain our comparative good fortune. The honorable member has participated, in the courts, in many of those cases which demonstrate our difficulties in administration and which some people say have caused them. Let me illustrate that. He has appeared in the uniform tax cases, in the Melbourne Corporation case and in the banking cases. He, more than anybody in this place, should be able, if he will be bold enough to do it on less restrained occasions in the future, to show how in our archaic, creaking federal system, we can combat inflation in this country, how we can solve the relations between the Commonwealth Government, the State governments, and the third partner whom we all ignores - local government. He can probably, after his experience in the courts, enlighten the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden),** whose personal friendship he values, as we all do, on many of those subjects about which the Treasurer resolutely denies all knowledge. Last week, the Treasurer said he had. no idea of what the constitutional powers of this Parliament were concerning insurance. He has often, in effect, denied any knowledge of the Commonwealth's constitutional powers concerning banks or their subsidiaries. It will be all the more interesting, therefore, to hear the honorable member for Parramatta giving his views on the recent activities of the banking system which he did his not inconsiderable best to preserve in its old form. What does he think of the credit loopholes which have been created by the banks in regard to private savings banks, or in regard to hirepurchase subsidiaries? Or did he advise them of those loopholes? As a gentleman who appeared in the courts on freedom of the air - freedom of Australian National Airways - he might be able to give us his views, to our interest on all sides, as to what should be our attitude to using import controls to prevent an air pioneer - **Mr. Butler** - from receiving licences to introduce the most modern aircraft for our needs. Or he might give us his views on what should be our attitude towards the denial of Commonwealth property - Commonwealth aerodromes - to **Mr. Butler,** thus preventing him from establishing maintenance facilities for those aircraft if he manages to get them into the country. And how would he regard a freedom of the air which resolved itself into freedom for the Government's friends and denial of freedom of competition toeverybody who does not pay to be the Government's friend? He might help us to resolve that greatest transport problem in Australia - our road system - because thereis no other country in the Western world, the motorized part of the world, where roads are deteriorating so much. It was his thesis before the courts which, of course, hasmeant that it is impossible for the State governments to derive a just contribution towards the improvement or construction of roads from those who travel over the roads from one State to another. Under an artificial formula a State can secure a contribution from an interstate haulier towards maintaining a road in its present condition, however circuitous or however precipitous... or however dangerous that road is, but if the State wants to improve it, to straighten it. strengthen it or widen it, or in any way modernize it, it is unable to secure any contribution. True enough, the Commonwealth can raise petrol tax, or diesel fuel tax, but it cannot build a road itself. All these problems which I have mentioned flow from cases in which the honorable member for Parramatta has appeared in his spectacular career at the New South Wales, Federal and English bars. We will wait for some future less demure occasion for his views. We have to wait to see if. as a lawyer, he can now concentrate on the public interest as distinct from the private interest, and if, as a Liberal, he is one of those who are content to mark time, to resist as long as possible, and, when resistance is no longer possible, to retreat to thenearest prepared position. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- - They surrender. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I believe the motto of residents of the City of Sydney, like the honorable member is, "I take, but I surrender ". I propose to pass now to some aspects of -the welfare of the Australian people with which the honorable member had not the time to deal or perhaps could not appropriately deal on this occasion. One does not deny that Australia is a rich country, that Australians are a talented, industrious, level-headed people, but what we on thisside of the committee say is that, after nine years, this Government has no further clue as to how to improve the lot of the Australian people, as to how to improve the economic or strategic or social posture of this country. Let me refer to some of those things. I have no desire to raise any class divisions in this community. Like most persons in this Parliament I am a typical bourgeois. I still realize, as we all do, that there is a better opportunity for education, that there is a better opportunity for adequate housing, that there is a better opportunity for courteous and prompt medical attention if you have inherited some money, or if your parents are able to give you some, than if you are making your own way. The solution for all these things, for housing, for education, and for hospitalization, is in the hands of governments, and increasingly in the hands of this Commonwealth Government. Yet one can read this ninth consecutive Budget of this Government and get no glimmer that it realizes any of its responsibilities in the proper way. Let me refer first to the question of housing. It is unfortunate that the Commonwealth Parliament has altogether inadequate powers to control the economy, to deal with external or internal recessions, or to deal with inflation or deflation. But those methods it has, namely, housing and public works expenditure, it has exercised to excess. One of the troubles in this country in public works expenditure and housing expenditure is that under this Government they have constantly fluctuated. Some satisfaction has been expressed at the fact that there was a rise in the number of houses commenced in the quarter ended 30th June last. Yet we find that more houses were commenced in every quarter of 1954. There was an increase in the number of houses completed in the last quarter, yet more houses were completed in every quarter of 1955. We were not told anything about the number of houses under construction; from the Statistician's latest figures, released at midnight last Monday, I find that the number of houses under construction at 30th June last was lower than at any other date in this list, which goes back to the beginning of 1952. The lesson is that we have been fluctuating, because the Commonwealth can control the public expenditure on housing, by the War Service Homes Division and the housing commissions, and the private investment by banks and insurance companies, which have been encouraged to put more money in when things are receding and to withdraw money when things are booming. It is true that you can, in public works expenditure or housing expenditure, get a quick result by such infusions or withdrawals of money, but it is about time we realized that the need for housing in this country, with a pretty steady birth-rate, and a pretty steady immigration rate, remains constant. It is just as foolish to have a fluctuating number of houses being built as it would be to have a fluctuating construction of schools. If there were the overcrowding and inadequacy in schools that there is in housing, there would be a revolution in the country, but because a multitude of individuals are concerned in housing the Government is able to escape the people's wrath. Housing should no longer be an economic safety-valve. The responsible Government, the Commonwealth Government which controls the public and private investment in housing, should see that that investment remains constant. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- And increasing. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Increasing, indeed, as the population increases. Let us examine the figures given at the beginning of last year by the Minister for National Development **(Senator Spooner),** whose department produced a publication called " The Housing Situation ". This departmental publication estimated that there was at that time a shortage of 115,000 houses in Australia. It postulated what the annual demand would be for housing until 1961. It stated that in that time the demand would remain practically steady, but that after that time, because of the post-war birth-rate and the immigration rate, there would be a very great increase, from 60,000 in 1961 to 65,000 in 1965, 79,000 in 1970, and 86.000 in 1975. The report estimated that if a steady production of 77,000 houses a year was achieved, the back of the problem would be broken in four or five years, or, to take it from this stage, in two and a half to three and a half years from now. Yet we find that instead of 77,000 houses being built last year, the number built was 67,000, and instead of 77,000 in the year before - the first year - the number built was 66,000. Thus at that rate the lag will not be overtaken in four or five years, but in ten or twelve years. We have only five years to overtake that lag, because, on the figures of the Minister and the department, the current need will increase greatly after 1961. We are not meeting it. Let me refer to the housing fields in which the Government is directly responsible. First, let me deal with war service homes which, ever since the First World War, have been undeniably a Commonwealth government responsibility. True it is that more money was made available for this purpose last year than in the previous three years, but the number of houses built and purchased has remained steady throughout that time. Let me refer to some of the disabilities. At the end of 1951, the maximum amount which one could borrow to build or buy a war service home was fixed at £2,750. That was in excess of the average cost of a dwelling and land which the division was providing in any State at that time, but now it is more than £1,000 short of the average cost of a dwelling and land in New South Wales, Victoria or South Australia, and it is £700 short of the average cost in the other three States. It is £2,000 to £3,000 short of the cost in the territories. If we really want people to have these benefits which we promised them, it is about time that we increased the amount that they can borrow. There is too much of the attitude voiced three years ago by the Minister for Air **(Mr. Osborne),** that anybody who has the shadow of a claim for a war service home applies for a loan. A man either has a right under the act, or he has not a right. We do not deny that he has the right, but we fob him off. We make him wait 15 months if he wants to buy a house, and we make him wait nine months, if he has built it with private finance, before the mortgage can be paid off. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- What about if he wants to build a new home? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- It depends on whether he wants the division to build it or whether he wants to build it to his own design, with his own builder and architect. In the latter case, he waits nine months, and in the former case he waits till the division gets round to building it. I now refer to housing commission and housing trust houses. All the money which those authorities spend is provided by this Government, and in the current financial year every housing commission and trust will receive less money than it received in any previous year from this Government. This year 35 per cent, of the amount made available to the commissions and trusts will be diverted to building societies and to service dwellings. The net amount that will be received for the construction of houses which the commissions will let and sell themselves is £24,000,000, which is a smaller sum than was provided by this Government in any previous year. {: type="A" start="I"} 0. have mentioned the building societies. The Ministers aim is to divert to building societies as much money as possible in order to restore their pre-war status. He has increased the interest rates that they are allowed to charge. What has been the result? No further money has been invested in these societies. They are getting less now from private sources, banks, insurance companies, superannuation funds and so on, than they got at any time since the war. What is the consequence of raising the interest rate? It does not get more money. It just raises the cost to the person who is building a house through a society or who has previously bought a house through a society. An increase in the interest rate is supposed to be an anti-inflationary measure, yet it applies to those who built houses before there was any inflation. They suddenly find their mortgages are varied. The building societies increase their repayments or increase the period of their repayments. If you borrow £3,000 and have to pay it back over 30 years, you will now pay back £2, and in some cases £3, more a month just for the money. You do not have a better house and you have not borrowed more money. You are just paying more in interest on the money because of the two increases in interest which this Government has made. One would think that when things became lean, some of the increase in interest would be taken off. In 1952, the interest rate was increased from 31 per cent, to 4± per cent. In April, 1956, it was put up to *5i* per cent. When things get lean, the interest rate remains up. Interest rates are raised by this Government but are never brought down. Now, **Sir, let** me refer to the attitude of the banks and the insurance companies in this field. They are, of course, increasingly lending, not through building societies, but directly. Their interest rates have increased. The private savings banks were given charters three years ago on condition that they lent up to 30 per cent, of their funds on the security of land. That was interpreted to mean for housing. In fact, none of them have ear-marked more than 10 per cent, of their deposits for housing, and only about 5 per cent, of their deposits have so far been spent on that purpose. Where is the solution so far as the rising generation of Australia is concerned from this Government in regard to housing? Housing construction is not overtaking the shortage. The home-builder has to have an increased deposit. He has to pay a higher interest rate on his loan and has to wait longer for it. I wish to refer now to education. There is, in fact, a reference in the Budget to the increase of the living allowance and the liberalization of the means test under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. It is said that these changes follow on the Murray report on Australian universities. We are led to believe that the Government provided the increases in salaries and the expenditure on buildings which the Murray committee recommended, and therefore that it is carrying out the liberalization of the means test and the increase in living allowances which the committee recommended. But it is doing nothing of the sort. Let me refer to the recommendations of the committee in brief. Paragraph 236 of the report states. We concluded that the number of scholarships should be increased without delay. They are not increased. The next paragraph states - >We very much hope that the Commission will ease very substantially the scales of the means test. It is not being eased considerably. Then there was the suggestion by the committee that there should be a number of postgraduate scholarships with generous allowances in keeping with modern standards to encourage people to remain at the university. Let me refer to the number of scholarships and the means test. There are still only 3,000 new scholarships allowed each year. The number of people who are receiving no living allowance is increasing every year. The number of people who are receiving partial living allowance is remaining stationary, and so also is the number who are receiving the full living allowance. The reason is that the means test has not been liberalized. If there are no children in the family under 16, the scholar does not receive a full living allowance unless the income of the parents does not exceed £600, that is, less than the basic wage. There have to be three children under 16, as well as the Commonwealth scholar, in order that the scholar may receive the full living allowance if his parents' income exceeds £800 a year, less than the average income in Australia. The committee's report is not being carried out to any real extent. When this Government was elected to office, there was a recommendation from the out-going Chifley Government that there should be a scholarship scheme not only for university students but also for secondary students. The Government has been in office for nine years but it is still doing nothing about secondary students. The years between the age when a young person can leave school and the age when he can enter a technical college, or a university, are the most difficult. They are the most distracting for the pupil and the most expensive for the parents. If Australia is to realize her destiny, we must see that the people of those years are encouraged, as well as enabled, to complete their secondary education. We will be a richer country and1 the future of the nation will be rosier for it. I want to refer now briefly to transport. It is our greatest internal economic problem and it is one we can solve ourselves. This year we shall see the completion of the conversion to broad gauge at Commonwealth expense of the south-east division of the South Australian railways. That is the least important part of the 1949 standardization agreement. It has not been completed to facilitate inter-state traffic but to obviate it. That is, it is designed to centralize in Adelaide the trade of the Mount Gambier area which would often more cheaply and quickly take place with Melbourne. {: .speaker-KCK} ##### Mr Downer: -- Why object to that? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I say it is the wrong order of priority. {: .speaker-KCK} ##### Mr Downer: -- The honorable member is taking a narrow view. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Let me give the Minister for Immigration the figures. The year before last - the latest figures I have - the amount of freight that went through Mount Gambier, between Melbourne and Adelaide, was 40,000 tons. The amount which went through Cockburn, between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, was 950,000 tons. Where is the sense of priority under this Government which will fritter away expenditure on broadening the gauge of a little used line and leave one of the busiest lines in the country with a narrow gauge - a line which would enable freights to be carried without let or hindrance between Brisbane, Sydney, Broken Hill, Port Pirie and Kalgoorlie? {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr Pearce: -- The honorable member is quarrelling with a decision of the Chifley Government. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I am doing nothing of the sort. The act was passed by the Chifley Government and subverted by its successor. {: #subdebate-29-0-s10 .speaker-KZW} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lawrence:
WIMMERA, VICTORIA -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 446 {:#debate-30} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Political Parties {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- I move - >That the House do now adjourn. I want to return to the topic which the House was discussing late last night - a very important topic, as I think all honorable members will agree. It is the extent to which there has been penetration of the industrial movement of this country as a result of collaboration and co-operation on unity tickets at elections between Communists and members of the Australian Labour party. I feel that before we turn from that topic I should place before the House some further facts which confirm the views expressed from this side of the House last night, and which we feel were not effectively disposed of by the reply which came from the Opposition, although I readily concede it was the most forthright expression of the Opposition's view on this matter that we have yet been able to secure. I preface what I want to go on to say by quoting from one of the most recent isssues of the Communist publication, the " Tribune ". It is the issue of Wednesday, 6th August. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- You seem to be a very constant reader of the " Tribune ". {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- Yes. I find that the honorable member for East Sydney features in it quite prominently - in fact, in nearly every issue. In the issue of Wednesday, 6th August, the " Tribune " had this passage in its leading article. I shall not have time in my ten minutes to read all of the article, but it is available to any honorable members who wish to read it. The article is headed " Unity Feared by Reaction ". I shall read the significant concluding series of paragraphs, which are - >The Menzies Government knows full well that if the unity between Communists and Labourites shown on the industrial field in the recent WWF ballot, was carried into the political field in the Federal elections, its fate would be sealed. > >Therefore, it has initiated, through the columns of the monopolist daily press and the DLP organ, News Weekly, a clamour for expulsion of ALP members whose names appeared together with Communists on the " ticket " which annihilated the Industrial Groupers. > >It is to be hoped that the NSW ALP Executive does not succumb to this pressure from reaction to embark on a head-hunting expedition, which could only assist the Menzies Government and result in serious consequences for the Labor Party itself. > >There are many unions in addition to the WWF which have a joint Communist-Labour Party leadership functioning efficiently in the interests of their members. > >The members of these unions are not likely to tolerate any reversion to the policy of expulsions which characterised the period of Industrial Group domination of the ALP Executive. The claim made in that passage that there are many unions in addition to the Waterside Workers Federation which have a joint Communist-Labour party leadership is, I believe, truly expressed, because the use of unity tickets has enabled the Communist party over recent years to regain control of the Australian Railways Union - federally and in Victoria - and the Commonwealth Council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and to strengthen its position in the Amalgamated Meat Industry Employees Union, the Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Ship Painters and Dockers Union, the Boilermakers Union and the Municipal Employees Union. That may not be an exhaustive list, but it is an indication at least of how extensively this process has been extended. I mention to the House as an example the elections, early in 1957, of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- This is not a quote now? This is your own? {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- This is my own information. One team was selected at joint meetings of the Australian Labour party and the Communist party held at Unity Hall, Melbourne, on 1st and 15th February, with one candidate only for each of the 81 offices to be filled. Industrial group candidates were faced with a straightout opponent. On no occasion in these 81 contests were the Australian Labour party and Communist party candidates involved in any triangular contest. The last A.C.T.U. Congress was a demonstration of the careful planning and thoroughness which Communist party members bring to their work of trying to extend their influence inside the industrial movement. As early as April and May of last year all the elements of the Communist party in the trade unions were instructed to prepare for the congress. The outcome showed only too clearly how well the party had planned and organized to achieve one of its major objectives - a substantial place in the interstate executive of the A.C.T.U. The election of four Communists to the interstate executive of sixteen was a disturbing indication of the strength of support willingly given to Communist spokesmen by senior officials of the trade union movement, drawn from all over Australia, most of those senior trade union officials being active members of the Australian Labour party. It is worthwhile noting that on the first day of the congress an attempt was made to exclude **Mr. Healy,** the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, from the congress, on the ground that, contrary to a ruling of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, with which the A.C.T.U. is affiliated, he had attended an overseas conference sponsored by the Communist-con trolled World Federation of Trade Unions. **Mr. Healy** was saved from that motion by the combined votes of the Australian Labour party and Communist delegates. There was a significant line-up on the crucial political issues at that congress between the Communists and Australian Labour party members against representatives of the industrial groups. There can be no doubt, **Mr. Speaker,** that the split in the Labour movement which resulted in the outlawing of the industrial groups has destroyed the effectiveness of the Australian Labour party to make any real fight against Communist influence. The Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** set out to make clear the attitude of his party to these matters, and he referred to the party's ruling. He referred us to the broad ruling carried - in resolution terms - at the congress of the Australian Labour party in 1948. The terms of that conference decision made it an offence, he told us, against the party to associate or cooperate with the Communist party, or any member of it. It is rather significant that apparently, on his own admission, no authoritative interpretation of that resolution and its application to unity tickets was sought until September, 1956, although the unity ticket technique and the popular front technique have been frequently employed in the intervening period. It is significant that in at least five States of this Commonwealth no division of the Australian Labour party has set out to apply that ruling or to discipline members who disobey it. The Leader of the Opposition has put it beyond doubt that it was always intended that that prohibition should apply to association, not only for political elections, but for industrial elections also. The ruling of the 1956 conference was affirmed again at the Brisbane conference in March, 1957. and re-affirmed, we are told, only three weeks ago at Adelaide, in view of criticisms arising from within and from outside the Labour movement. There has been this constant re-affirmation of the ruling by the federal executive, yet in at least five States of the Commonwealth the State divisions have not attempted to apply the ruling. The State divisions have brushed aside the injuncion of the federal executive, and apparently they have not even had a slap on the wrist by way of reprimand. The question which the Leader of the Opposition, Australian Labour party federal members and supporters of the Australian Labour party must answer is this: If the principle has been in force for many years and had been given authoritative reaffirmation on at least three occasions from 1956 onwards, why has no disciplinary action been enforced in the various States of the Commonwealth? Why has no speech been made earlier in this place by either the Leader orthe Opposition or those who sit behind him? The answer is clear enough. The Labour party knows that it can discipline its members and reject the support of the Communist party only at the risk of losing extensive political and industrial support which it now enjoys. Faced with that hard choice, it has given lip service to the prohibition; it has not been prepared to face up to the difficult task of enforcing its prohibition. {: #subdebate-30-0-s1 .speaker-KSC} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA Order! The Minister's time has expired. {: #subdebate-30-0-s2 .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Barton .- I thought that the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Harold Holt)** might have had enough of this subject last night; he was completely answered in the debate that took place then. I told him exactly what the position of the Australian Labour party was. But what does he do to-day? He does not know that to-day the federal executive considered this matter in the light of the debate that took place last night. The Minister asked why something had not happened. He gave the " Tribune ", which is the organ of the Communist party, as authority for portion of his speech. I do not suppose that that would be accepted as evidence by him or by any one else. He also read something probably written for him by **Mr. Bland.** {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- That is quite untrue. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT: -- Who wrote it? It is not written by the right honorable gentleman. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- It was dictated by me this afternoon. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT: -- I accept the right honorable gentleman's explanation. It is almost an insult to the intelligence of honorable members to have to go through this matter again, but I am determined to read to the House the decision reached by the federal executive to-day. It is quite true, as the Minister stated last night that in 1956 the executive's interpretation was that - any member of the Labour Party who agrees to join with members of the Communist Party and/or any other Party opposed to Labour on any HowtoVote tickets commits an offence against the Party. We therefore direct State Branches to protect the policy of the party by taking action against any member who so offends. I said that it applies to industrial elections. Of course it applies. In regard to political ejections, there is no suggestion that there has ever been a unity ticket. It applies to trade union ballots. Labour party representatives are forbidden to go on these joint tickets with members of the Communist party or of any other anti-Labour party. That is the rule as laid down by the federal executive and federal conferences. Last night the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Killen)** asked me not so much to explain the particular case in Queensland - I do not quite understand that - but to say what the attitude of Labour is. I answered him. I shall now read a passage from a statement made to-day by the federal executive, which is meeting in Canberra. The passage is - >Government members with disregard of all the facts have charged the Parliamentary Leader, **Dr. Evatt,** with not taking action to protect the Party's decision on Unity Tickets. While **Dr. Evatt** stated the Labour Party's position clearly and emphatically in the Parliament, the Federal Executive accepts full responsibility on this question. > >State Branches have been directed to take appropriate action on the normal basis of members being charged where an offence has alleged to have been committed. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- How many State branches have done that? {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT: -- I mentioned one, of which I know. I cannot answer for all of them. I mentioned that there have been penalties, including expulsions, in New South Wales and that some charges are pending. Are you to be the person who is to carry out the internal discipline of the Labour party? I have never heard such impudence! {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- Heaven forbid! {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT: -- Of course, it is absurd. The statement of the federal executive continues - >Reports before the Federal Executive disclose that members have been charged by State Branches, and that where guilt has been established punishment has been meted out to the point of expulsion. > >Reports also disclose that many members have been victims of Communist tactics which have resulted in their names being placed upon so-called Unity Tickets without their knowledge or consent. {: .speaker-KFG} ##### Mr Griffiths: -- The Minister is very disappointed! {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT: -- Of course; this has been a dud. The Minister does not often venture into this field, which has been well described in the United States of America as " McCarthyism ". It is a smear. He knows perfectly well that there is no substance in this allegation against Labour. The statement of the federal executive goes on - >They have immediately and to the satisfaction of the State authority repudiated the action of the Communist Party. Many such incidents have been deliberately misrepresented by Government supporters. > >No complaint has been lodged with this Executive- That is the federal executive - that any State Branch has failed to take action on the basis of Labour Party policy. We reject with the contempt it deserves the suggestion that we should take action as a consequence of the politically motivated and distorted statements made by members of the Liberal and other Parties. We are not unmindful however of the deliberate campaign that is being organized to damage electorally the Australian Labour Party, and as a consequence we resolve as follows: - I direct the attention of the House to this decision, reached to-day by the federal executive, which is the supreme governing body of the Australian Labour movement - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That State Branches are once again informed that it is imperative for them to guard the decision of Conference on Unity Tickets with the utmost vigilance. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP -- That is the fourth time that has been said. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT: -- Four times means we are serious in doing it. If nothing had been done, you would have complained. The decision continues- >Where evidence is placed before this Executive which reliably indicates that offences are committed and State action is not being taken, this Executive without hesitation will take the appropriate Federal action to preserve the Party's integrity on this question. That means that the federal executive will act if the States neglect to act. The decision goes on - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. That having regard for the ideological war that is taking place in certain unions between the D.L.P. and the Communist Party, this Executive calls upon A.L.P. members to preserve the integrity of the A.L.P. against continued attacks from all Anti-Labour forces. What I said last night is now followed up by a decision of the federal executive, pointing out that if there is any delay or failure to carry out these decisions by a State executive, the federal executive will intervene and see that appropriate action is taken. That confirms the answer I gave last night. The Labour party does not depend upon the Communists. In trade union elections, there cannot be joint tickets between the Australian Labour party and the Communist party or any other anti-Labour party. That, **Mr. Speaker,** is the full answer to the Minister. It is no use his saying that he is not satisfied. That is the position in the Labour party and the Labour party will enforce its own rules. It does not want interference from this anti-Labour party par excellence, which is opposed to us. {: #subdebate-30-0-s3 .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE:
Capricornia .-! listened with interest to the explanation by the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** of the Labour party's decision in this matter. {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- No, it is further action by the federal executive. It will take action itself if no other action is taken. {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- I accept the right honorable gentleman's explanation. If the debate last night served no other purpose than to prod the executive into action, then it did achieve some useful purpose. It shows that the vigilance of members on this side of the House has awakened the executive and caused it to take decisive action by way of resolution. But we will have to see whether the executive means what it says. The test case is an easy one. It is the election of the Waterside Workers Federation one month ago. Indisputable proof was presented to the House last night that Labour party members went on unity tickets with Communists and that when the groupers or the Democratic Labour party or whatever you like to call them put out their ticket, the Labour party men who were on the unity ticket with the Communists did not deny that they were on the unity ticket, but they denied any right to be on the ticket with the groupers. In other words, they hated to be on a ticket with groupers but they made no objection to being on a ticket with Communists. This is indisputable, and it must be known to the Queensland central executive. It was known all through the State that this thing went on. It is a matter of grave consequence not only to the Labour party; because this is part of a Communist plan. Away back in 1952, Aarons made a report to the New South Wales conference of the Communist party and stressed the importance of the popular front and the unity ticket. He said - >It is the task of the Communists to assist and lead the Left-wing in the A.L.P. This is a most important task, as our leader, Comrade Sharkey, has pointed out. In his far-seeing mind, he sees the long-range aim of political unity of the working class - that is one party of the working class based on the defeat and exclusion of the Right Wing from the A.L.P. and amalgamation of the two parties on the basis of Marxism-Leninism. The first objective which this far-seeing Sharkey set out to attain, the expulsion or segregation of the right wing of the Labour party, has been carried almost to its end result. We have seen it happen in this Parliament. From the time that Aarons made his report and the plan was instigated, we saw, right before our eyes in this chamber, the drive made to separate the right wing of the Labour party and leave the left wing here. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Tell us how it affects the Liberal party. {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- It affects the Liberal party because, to the great regret of the honorable member, the Liberal party secures more votes from the workers of Australia at general elections than does the Labour party. Consequently, members on this side of the House have a greater right to speak for the workers than have members of the Opposition. But I wish to bring to the notice of the people how the Australian Labour party is being white-anted and destroyed by the Communists. Their first object is to strip the Labour party and leave it with a left wing whose objective is straight in line with communism. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to prove the sincerity of the federal executive of the Labour party by directing the attention of the Queensland central executive of the party to this matter when it meets in Brisbane on 28th of this month when the subject of unity tickets, will be discussed. Will the right honorable gentleman demonstrate to the people of Australia his sincerity by influencing the Queensland central executive, at that meeting, to take appropriate action, as provided by the party's rules which he read out, and expel those ten members who appeared on the unity ticket with Communists? {: .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt: -- The honorable member has asked me a question. That is one of the pending cases. There is another in New South Wales. Can he not wait until the authorities in the Labour party take action? {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- Here is a case in which indisputable proof is given of a breach of the Australian Labour party rules. The Queensland central executive will meet a fortnight from to-morrow, and I am reliably informed that the matter of unity tickets is listed for discussion at its meeting. If the Labour party is honest, let that executive expel from the party the ten wharfies who appeared on the unity ticket with Communists, and then we will be inclined to believe what it says. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- You must think we are in Spain. You want the execution first and the trial afterwards. {: #subdebate-30-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member for East Sydney continues to interject. He knows it is against the Standing Orders. If he does not cease, I shall take action against him. {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- The next test which I put to the executive of the Australian Labour party concerns the election of a secretary for the Ironworkers Union of New South Wales. As I said last night, it is well known that L. J. McPhillips - better known as Jackie McPhillips - is organizing to defeat Laurie Short, the present secretary, by using a unity ticket on which Communist and Labour party candidates will appear. I believe that that election is due to take place in November. Let us test the honesty of purpose of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party in regard to that case. We will have two opportunities of proving the sincerity of the Labour party on this issue, first, in a fortnight's time when the Queensland central executive deals with the subject of unity tickets; and secondly, in a few months time, when the election for the secretary of the Ironworkers Union in New South Wales is held. If the federal executive means what it says, ft will be forced to expel from the party members who have broken the rules which were so carefully and lucidly read to us by the Leader of the Opposition. There is no doubt about the importance of this matter to the Australian public. It is a grave issue. It has caused a split inside the Labour party, and now it threatens to split the trade union movement. In Queensland, a wretched fight is going on inside the Australian Workers Union. But this is not a union matter only. It affects the living and working conditions of thousands of people in that State, as well as their economic welfare. It has split asunder friendships of many years' standing. It creates industrial, economic and. social problems; and it behoves the Labour party, even at this stage, having ventilated its decision in this House to implement it and get rid of Communists even if that involves the honorable member for East Sydney losing some of his friends. {: #subdebate-30-0-s5 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Lalor .- In my lifetime, **Mr. Speaker,** I have heard a lot of the type of nonsense which has just been expressed by honorable members on the Government side. I lived through a period when the people were frightened by the tory parties of the day, which first described the Labour movement as socialism. At that time, the press of this country pictured the socialist tiger. Then it concentrated on the anarchist, and then the fascist. Before that, it allied the old Czar of Russia with the Labour party. The whole purpose of similar fear propaganda to-day is to divert the minds of the people from the main problems which confront them. The plain, unvarnished fact is that the anti-Labour forces in this country must divide the workers. If they can succeed in doing this, they can then proceed ruthlessly, as they have always done, to take the bread and butter out of the mouths of the wives and children of the workers. Honorable members on the Government side may laugh their hollow laugh, but that is the truth. A similar situation exists in regard to sectarianism. The anti-Labour forces set the Protestant against the Catholic, and the Catholic against the Protestant. Then they go on the evil tenor of their way plotting in their clubs and at meetings of the directorates of the great monopolies in this country, which make fantastic profits, to maintain the usurious system which now prevails. They suck high interest rates out of the workers and, indirectly, make their wives and children suffer. What could be more fitting, when the Government parties are confronted with an election, as they will be before Christmas, than that they should raise a matter such as this in an attempt to lead the workers to believe that Communists dominate the political party which, above all other parties, has been responsible for making this country what the honorable member for Parramatta **(Sir Garfield Barwick)** described to-night as the very best country in the world to live in? I remind the Government parties that they opposed the 40-hour week. They opposed also child endowment, free medical services, and every thing that has resulted in the amelioration of the living and working conditions of the people who are least able to protect themselves. I know that this statement of the facts hurts members on the Government side. To-day, Australia has reached an economic position in which, owing to a fall in overseas income, there has to be some re-distribution of the reduced wealth available to this country. The obvious and only correct way to do that is to take something from those in this country who are unduly rich and give it to those who are not rich and who, indeed, are enduring the sufferings of near poverty. I direct the attention of honorable members to the number of wives who have to go out to work to supplement the income of their husbands so that their children may be decently fed and clothed. Under the economic system which this Government wishes to perpetuate, they have little hope of enjoying such amenities as washing machines, refrigerators and television sets. That system is best illustrated by reference to the Budget before us. One can see plainly that the Government does not intend to distribute the great wealth of this country in a fair and decent way. Government supporters, wishing to divert attention from their ill-gotten gains, intrude into the domestic affairs of the great Australian Labour party but, despite all their canards, libels and poisonous statements, we will go on from victory to victory. The people are aware of the reasons for their diversionary tactics, their mean desire to brand us all as Communists and surely as God made little apples, will give Government supporters the surprise of their lives at the forthcoming election. A saying well known to all of us is that one's chickens always come home to roost. That is what is happening to the Government right now. Every one who thinks at all is aware that Government supporters are obsessed with avoiding the necessity of sharing their illgotten gains with the less fortunate members of the community. Those gains have resulted from the fact that, except through the banking system, there is no restriction on hire purchase, on interest rates, on profiteering, on exploitation, or on luxury spending by great capital concerns. The vast emporiums of our cities spend millions, in a time of reduced national income, upon the installation of new plate-glass windows and other amenities in their luxuriously appointed premises. The building force should be employed in providing homes for people who have, for so long, been denied them by this evil administration. I have spoken with some feeling because I believe that there is no hope for the people of this country unless the Government abandons its filthy tactics and realizes that it cannot deceive the community for ever. I have little, faith that that happy day will ever arrive. In the circumstances, and despite what Government supporters allege about us, the people of Australia will have no alternative to returning the Australian Labour party to office. I rose to speak on an entirely different matter, but that will keep for another day. {: #subdebate-30-0-s6 .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr COPE:
Watson .- By special request of several members of the Opposition I propose to read the final figures at the last Senate election in New South Wales. Four senators were elected. The fifth required for election, a quota of 20,000 second preference votes. Three candidates were left in the field. There were McCallum, North and Healy. Healy, having the fewest second preference votes was eliminated, and of his 112,154 votes- {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- What was Healy? {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr COPE: -- He was the No. 1 Communist in Australia. **Mr. McCallum** received 83,122 votes, or 74 per cent, of Healy's preferences, and was elected. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- What was McCallum? {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr COPE: -- He was a member of the Liberal party, and next week he will again take his place in the Parliament. From time to time Opposition members have been accused of being " fellow travellers " because they wanted Australia to trade with Communist countries. Now we are confronted with the alarming and disurbing situation that the Government itself is trading with Communist countries - with red China, with Communist Poland and with Communist Yugoslavia. Does that mean that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** and the Minister for Trade **(Mr. McEwen)** are " fellow travellers "? It is very amusing to see the Government's concern about the future of the Australian Labour party, and the efforts of honorable members opposite to assist it to keep its house in order. Perhaps, in return, we should take a look at the Liberal party. Last session the honorable member for Bowman **(Mr. McColm)** wanted recognition to be given to red China, despite the fact that this was against his party's policy, I suggest that the executive of the Liberal party should deal with the honorable member. We could go a little further and ask it to deal also with the Leader of the House **(Mr. Harold Holt).** I have here the story of how he backed the Kadar Government. He was known around the lobbies as the " Kadar Kid ". At the last conference of the International Labour Organization Australia abstained from voting so that this murderous Hungarian government could be admitted to membership. These very people adopt methods akin to McCarthyism as the only means of diverting attention from their negative and bankrupt Budget. In conclusion, I would remind the honorable member for Mackellar **(Mr. Wentworth)** that Healy still keeps the Illawarra Cup under the bed, and that there are more pianos in Palm Beach than in any other suburb in Sydney. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.8 p.m. {: .page-start } page 453 {:#debate-31} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS The following answers to questions were circulated: - {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Fishing {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: m asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. For what species of fish has (a) a minimum legal length or (b) a closed season been enacted in Australian waters beyond territorial limits by the Commonwealth and within territorial limits by the States and territories? 1. What length and what season have been enacted for each species? {: #subdebate-31-0-s1 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon:
LP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Minimum legal lengths and closed seasons have been enacted in Australian waters beyond territorial waters by the Commonwealth for both the school shark (Galeorhinus australis) and crayfish (Jasus lalandii). Details of legislation introduced by the States and territories in respect of territorial waters would need to be obtained from each of the seven authorities concerned. 1. The lengths and seasons enacted by the Commonwealth for school shark and crayfish in proclaimed waters are as follows: - School Shark (Galeorhinus australis) - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Minimum legal length of 36 inches; and 1. Closed season during November in each year. Crayfish (Jasus lalandii) - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Minimum legal length of four and one- quarter inches measured on the carapace; and 1. Closed season during the period from and including the first day of September in each year to and including the next succeeding fifteenth day of October. {:#subdebate-31-1} #### Desalting of Water {: #subdebate-31-1-s0 .speaker-KXI} ##### Mr Webb:
STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA b asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice - >Can he furnish any further information regarding experiments being conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization into the production of fresh water from salt and brackish water? {: #subdebate-31-1-s1 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
LP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - >Over a period of many years scientists in almost every country in the world have been trying to discover an economic method for the production of fresh water from salt and brackish water. Some of the methods which have been discovered can be economically applied in special circumstances and I have indicated in my reply to a former question (question No. 45 of 1st May, 1958) from the honorable member the ways in which C.S.I.R.O. has contributed to some of this work. The officers of C.S.I.R.O. who are concerned with this and with related problems are keeping closely in touch with the problems of water desalting throughout the world in addition to attempting to develop new methods in their own laboratories. The solution to the problem cannot be found quickly or easily and the honorable member can be assured that any progress that is made by C.S.I.R.O. will be brought to notice at the earliest possible time. {:#subdebate-31-2} #### Lantana {: #subdebate-31-2-s0 .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr Swartz: z asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice - >What stage has been reached in the experiments being conducted jointly by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Queensland Department of Lands into the biological control or eradication of lantana? {: #subdebate-31-2-s1 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
LP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - >It would be made clear that the practical prosecution of this research has been and remains in the hands of the Queensland Department of Public Lands. C.S.I.R.O. contributed financially to the exploratory work in Mexico and to the testing work in Hawaii, but Queensland officers carried out the actual investigations. C.S.I.R.O. has been concerned in the scientific discussions that have taken place on the matter from time to time, and shares with the Queensland Department the important responsibility for any recommendations that plant-eating insects be introduced or liberated for the control of this weed. As a result of this work, it has been recommended that two insect species be liberated in Australia, and the Queensland Department of Public Lands *is* implementing this decision. According to a recent report received from the Department, the liberation of one of these insects (Catabena esula) began in November, 1957, and continued for some months. This species was made available to the Forestry Commission of New South Wales in January, 1958, and liberations have taken place in New South Wales since that time. It is too early to know what will be the outcome of this introduction. Technical difficulties have so far prevented the liberation of the other insect (Syngamia haemorrhoidalis), and as the culture of this species has died out, it will be necessary to import it again from Hawaii, where ii is well established.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 August 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.