23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr. Speaker, as I informed the House earlier this month, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will attend the 1960 annual conference of the International Labour Organization in Geneva. During the Minister’s absence, the portfolio of Labour and National Service is being administered by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who will be represented in this chamber by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt).
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is the right honorable gentleman in a position to say when the committee of inquiry into our taxation laws will be able to report to the Government? If the report is presented while the House is in recess, will the Treasurer undertake to ensure that every honorable member receives a copy of the report before the 1960 Budget debate commences?
– I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that the committee which is inquiring into taxation laws is going very actively about the task which the Government invited it to perform. I am sure that he and other honorable members will regret to know that the chairman, Sir George Ligertwood, has suffered illness which, in recent times, has required that an acting chairman in the person of Mr. D. B. Lewington, one of the members of the committee, should be appointed. That has not interrupted the itinerary of the committee. It is now proceeding to the various capital cities of the Commonwealth and is thus providing opportunities for the making of representations. Already a considerable volume of material has been presented to the committee. I am not able to say when its report will be completed, but I do not expect that it will be available before the forthcoming Budget is presented. However, if there is any information proceeding from the committee which would be of interest to honorable members, I shall see that it is conveyed to them.
– Can the Acting Minister for External Affairs say when the Antarctic Treaty will be ratified? Can such treaties be ratified by the Governor GeneralinCouncil? If so, will the Minister give his assurance to the House that the Parliament will be given an opportunity to approve the treaty before its ratification? I ask this question because of the most singular nature of this treaty, and because it is important that this House and, indeed, the people of Australia should be conversant with its terms.
– I, of course, join with the honorable member in saying that this is a very important treaty to this country. The part played by the former Minister for External Affairs in connexion with it is very notable. The Government has decided to ratify the treaty. It is possible to do this merely by executive action, but the Government does not propose to follow that course. A bill will be brought before this House in the next sittings and full opportunity will be given to discuss the treaty at that time.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that donations to police boys clubs and the Young Men’s Christian Association are treated as allowable income tax deductions. Is he aware of the valuable work that these clubs do in combating juvenile delinquency? In view of the rapid increase in the number of young people in Australia, will the Treasurer consider extending this concession to youth community centres such as the St. George Youth Community Centre situated in Rockdale, Sydney?
– I have arranged for a review to be presented to me by the Treasury of the various organizations and activities, donations to which are deductible for income tax purposes. I am trying to see whether I can work out some general principles which could apply consistently to donations of this kind. Against that background, I shall pay regard to what the honorable gentleman has put to me and see that it receives suitable consideration.
– Can the Minister foi Supply tell the House whether the project at Talgarno is now definitely to be abandoned? If so, is this due solely to the breakdown of British-Australian missile contracts? What proportion of the cost of bringing Talgarno to its present state will be borne by the United Kingdom Government?
– I am not in a position, at the moment, to indicate the future of Talgarno. The cost of Talgarno is included in the total expenditure on the joint project under the agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government. The Australian expenditure is limited, as I have indicated previously to the House, to £9,500,000 per annum. Talgarno is within the total cost.
– In view of the scarcity of information through the usual press channels, can the Acting Prime Minister give a progress report to the House on any tangible benefits which have accrued as the result of the overseas pilgrimage of the Prime Minister?
– If the honorable gentleman will retire to the library in due course and read the newspapers, he will learn that the Prime Minister has been engaged in very important and very delicate discussions which have had a bearing on the well-being of the whole British Commonwealth of Nations. He is now about to take part, as leader of the Australian delegation, in the Seato conference in Washington, and few things are of more critical importance to Australian security than this conference.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Is there any foundation of fact in the statement that if the Commonwealth Government declared hire purchase a banking function it could then control interest rates charged by hire-purchase companies?
– In answer to the honorable member I can say that there is no foundation in fact and no foundation in law. What constitutes banking for constitutional purposes is determined by the courts and it cannot be determined by definition by this Parliament.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it a fact that each year 500 workers are killed and 4,000 injured at work? Has the Government any policy, so far as safety is concerned, on projects under government control? Further, will consideration be given to amending the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act so that the definition of an accident can be brought into line with the definition contained in the Victorian act?
– I can assure the honorable member that this Government is very conscious of the problem presented to Australia and its industries by the incidence of industrial accidents. Indeed, I am proud to recall that it was during my term as Minister for Labour and National Service that the first Australian conference on industrial safety in the history of this federation - it was held here in Canberra - was organized. That conference was attended by representatives from all the States, including industrial representatives from management and the unions at that time. Since then, the State governments which had already been doing a good deal of work on their own account in this field have, I believe, developed further their activities. Undoubtedly, the stimulus thus given has prompted management and the unions to a greater awareness of the possibilities for reducing industrial accidents. The question of policy raised by the honorable member will be suitably examined by the Department of Labour and National Service. As honorable members who have been in this place for a longer time than has the honorable member will be aware, we do review periodically the operation of the Commonwealth employees’ compensation legislation to ensure that the standards prescribed for our own employees are, generally speaking, consistent with those obtaining throughout the rest of Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Was Australian pearl shell production lower for the past season than for the previous year? If so, were there any special reasons for the reduction? Is the present survey of mother-of-pearl shell beds being extended this year to Queensland pearling grounds?
– Australian pearl shell production was lower last season, in the aggregate, than in the previous year, by about 17 per cent. Queensland production was higher by about 22 per cent., but that of the Northern Territory and Western Australia was lower. That was due, in the main, to two reasons an unfavorable market for the lowergrade shell, and discoloration which caused bad underwater visibility. The survey by the pearling lugger “ Paxie “ has been extended to Queensland. Indeed, it was when the vessel was on the way to Thursday Island only last Wednesday week that it had a mishap owing to climatic conditions, and it is now undergoing repairs.
– Will the Treasurer advise me of the decision he has made regarding the request for additional finance for the surf life-saving clubs of Australia to enable them to purchase new equipment in preparation for the forthcoming season? Does the Minister realize that this matter is urgent, because, owing to heavy storms over the past few months, surf life-saving equipment, including surf boats, has been destroyed? Also, will the Minister agree that all surf clubs are in urgent need of mouthtomouth resuscitation equipment and-
– You are not.
– I want the Minister to meet me half-way on this matter. Will he agree that early delivery of this equipment is necessary to overcome the difficulties involved in teaching this modern method?
– The honorable gentleman opens up some interesting possibilities, but, much as I value his retention here as an asset from the point of view of the side of politics that I represent, I question whether, even for that purpose, I could submit myself to the type of resuscitation treatment of which he speaks. I assure him that I am not aware of any formal request having come forward from the clubs. I indicated in reply to an earlier question the general sympathy and appreciation of the Commonwealth Government for the service that is rendered in such a splendid, voluntary manner by the members of these clubs. If a request is received, it will be carefully considered. It would raise budgetary considerations and would have to be viewed against the general budgetary background, paying due regard to the contributions by the clubs themselves.
– I ask a question of the Acting Prime Minister. Is the Government prepared to express its disapproval of the suggestion made by a prominent pensioner of the British Government that Taiwan should be handed over to red China? Would the Government express an opinion on why a man who sold his own life so dearly I refer to his autobiography should want to sell 10,000,000 other lives so cheaply into Communist slavery?
– I understand very well the honorable gentleman’s feelings and emotions, but I think he would be the first to agree that the Acting Prime Minister of Australia ought not to be drawn into making a policy statement based upon a statement by a private member of another parliament.
– I ask the Treasurer, as the Minister representing the acting Minister for Labour and National Service, a question supplementary to the concluding part of the question asked of him by the honorable member for Darebin concerning the workers’ compensation acts. Will the right honorable gentleman take steps to have the forthcoming Premiers’ Conference discuss the co-ordination of Australia’s score of workers’ compensation acts State and Federal particularly in view of the number of heart cases on which the High Court, in the last year, has given new interpretations of these acts?
– The agenda for the Premiers’ Conference will be determined by the Prime Minister, no doubt taking into account the wishes of the Premiers as expressed to him. However, it would be appropriate for me to convey to the Prime Minister, and, in his absence, to the Acting Prime Minister, the substance of the honorable gentleman’s request, and to ensure that it is suitably considered before the Premiers’ Conference is convened.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry in a position to report any progress on the subject of wheat quality, which, I understand, has been under consideration by a conference, specially set up some time ago for the purpose, of all sections of the wheat, flour and bread industries? If not, when can one expect a progress report?
– The final meeting of the full conference on wheat quality was held in Melbourne at the beginning of this month. It agreed upon the terms of the report to be presented, but, as the Australian Agricultural Council instituted this body, the report will need to go before the council and will remain confidential until the council has met and considered it. The report will be presented to the Australian Agricultural Council at its next meeting in July.
– Can the Attorney General inform the House of the progress which has been made in giving effect to the provisions of what is commonly known as the uniform divorce legislation? Will it have full effect on and from 1st July next? Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House of the arrangements which have been made with the various States for the implementation of the legislation?
– I am grateful to the honorable member for his interest in this matter. I have been preparing a public statement, but this is a good occasion for me to indicate broadly the position. The formulation of rules which will be uniform throughout Australia in the conduct of cases under the new act has been a fairly heavy task. I wanted to, and did, seek the opinions of the judiciary, administrators of the various courts and practising professional men. I have received numerous worthwhile suggestions, many of which I propose to adopt. However, that has taken a little time. Indeed, some of the suggestions are only recently to hand. The result is that the actual drafting of the rules, as distinct from deciding the policy involved, is still in progress. I have decided what is to go in them and the draftsman is busy drafting the actual expression of that policy.
Due to these factors, it will not be possible to proclaim the act to operate as from 1st July next. The rules themselves will not be ready to be promulgated on that date, and it will be necessary to allow the courts and the practising men a period perhaps two months in which to familiarize themselves with some of the rules which will contain new procedures designed to shorten, and reduce the cost of, litigation in this field. Consequently, I am not able at the moment to say more than that the act will not be proclaimed to operate before 1st October; but no stone will be left unturned in my endeavour to meet that date.
– I address my question to the Minister for Air: Is the honorable gentleman aware that there is considerable dissatisfaction with the training and other arrangements which have been made for the City of Adelaide Squadron under the new dispensation for the Citizen Air Force? If he is not aware of this, will he investigate and rectify the situation so that a very keen and efficient squadron can continue to maintain the high standards which it has set in the past?
– Yes, I am aware of some dissatisfaction in the squadron to which the honorable member has referred. My attention was directed to it in a recent report from the Citizen Air Force member of the Air Board with whom I have discussed the matter. Steps are being taken to improve the situation, and I hope that any valid causes of dissatisfaction will be removed in the near future.
I would point out to the honorable member that inevitably, with the introduction of widespread changes in the Citizen Air Force such as were made last year, one must expect some passing difficulties. But the new Citizen Air Force has a very important place in the R.A.A.F. which, I am confident, it can and will occupy.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Has he seen the several reports which have stated that there is a build-up of arms in the West New Guinea area? If so, can he say what the facts are in that situation and whether the Australian Government is at all concerned or whether it considers this matter primarily or exclusively the concern of the Dutch and Indonesian Governments?
– The Australian Government is, of course, very concerned to see that no tensions arise between the Governments of Indonesia and of the Netherlands, which might create a situation of a nonpeaceful kind, if I might put it that way. The Australian Government has kept itself informed of the various reports that have come to hand. It has asked its ambassadors at Djakarta and at the Hague to have conversations with each of the parties, always with an endeavour to see that misunderstandings are avoided and that tensions are not allowed to grow. It has also discussed the matter in Canberra with the representatives of those two powers. Beyond that, I do not think I should go at this moment.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the proposed establishment of a Royal Mint in Canberra can he give any information about the future employment of the present staff of the Perth branch of the Royal Mint?
– I am not able to add a great deal to what I have already told the House. The problem is somewhat complicated, because although the United Kingdom Government appoints employees to the Perth and Melbourne mints, their salaries and superannuation are paid by the respective State Governments, and consequently any question of the transfer of employees or of their superannuation rights involves us in discussion with those various Governments. In any event, it will be several years before a mint is likely to be established in Canberra; and as I have already pointed out, even when that occurs the gold refining operations in Perth will be continued. We have recently advertised for applications for the position of a technical adviser, and after his appointment some of the consequential steps can be discussed in more detail and announced more fully.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. In view of the Soviet warning that it will launch a rocket attack on any European or Asian bases used by the United States forces for carrying out spying activities against the Soviet, and the United States assurance that it will regard such an attack as an attack on the United States, will the Minister state what action the Australian Government has taken or proposes to take to prevent the present state of world affairs from developing into a suicidal world-wide atomic war?
– I saw the statement of Marshal Malinovsky, which did go considerably further than the earlier statement by Mr. Khrushchev because Marshal Malinovsky’s statement was not limited to shooting down planes which were on surveillance flights across Russian territory, but would include, of course, planes which, due to human error or other circumstances, inadvertently intruded on Russian territory. It is quite clear that that statement tended not to reduce but to add to the tension. It also emphasized the need to press for some provision for inspection or forewarning such as, for example, Mr. Eisenhower’s suggested “ open skies “ arrangement. However, at the present moment there is no particular activity which I see open to the Australian Government that would ease the mounting tension, and there is nothing at this moment, I suggest, that should be done.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister for Health. I refer the honorable gentleman to a recent survey the results of which were published by the National Health and Medical Research Council, in which the council stated that in the absence of information concerning the resistance of infections, penicillin should not be used in serious staphylococcal infectious cases. I ask the honorable gentleman what steps he has taken to ensure that the medical profession is aware of that fact. Can the honorable gentleman say whether the breakdown of the effectiveness of penicillin has been due to indiscriminate use of this preparation? Further, can the honorable gentleman say whether or not antibiotics generally are being used in an indiscriminate fashion?
– A survey has recently been made by the Commonwealth Department of Health of penicillin resistance and the use of penicillin in staphylococcal infections. A report has been issued and is being circulated to the medical profession. In addition, quite a large amount of information on this subject is published, with considerable regularity, in various medical and scientific journals. I do not know that it is possible to say that resistance of organisms to penicillin is due entirely to the indiscriminate use of penicillin. However it is, I think, obvious that not only penicillin, but also other antibiotics, need to be used with care not only in the treatment of staphylococcal infections, but in the treatment of all infections. The honorable gentleman is probably aware that the use of antibiotics, at any rate insofar as they are pharmaceutical benefits, is regulated by the Commonwealth Government on the advice of its expert committee on pharmaceutical benefits.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Government has announced its intention to limit financial aid to the victims of the Chilean earthquake to a mere £25,000? If this is so, will the Treasurer arrange for Cabinet to reconsider this matter with a view to contributing an amount more compatible with Australia’s great sympathy with these victims, and with the national pride and our comparative prosperity?
– The honorable gentleman uses the phrase “ intention to limit “ in relation to the assistance to be given. I think that that goes beyond what I would understand the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to be. In common with the rest of the world we are, of course, distressed and appalled by the nature of the disaster which has befallen the people of Chile, and as a gesture of goodwill and assistance the Commonwealth Government has indicated that it will give help on the scale that the honorable gentleman has mentioned. That, I believe, is not out of line with the contributions made by other sympathetically disposed countries. When we have a clearer picture of the events in Chile and of the scale of loss, perhaps it would be appropriate for the Commonwealth Government to look at the matter again. I would not regard this as necessarily being our final consideration of the matter.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, concerns superannuation schemes, the number of which has increased enormously during the life of this Government. Is it a fact that some workers, who contribute to superannuation funds to meet their needs in old age, are not able to carry on their superannuation insurance if they change their employment, particularly if they leave the Public Service to enter private employment? Will the Treasurer discuss this aspect with the trustees of the Public Service superannuation fund to see whether public servants may be able to carry on their superannuation after leaving the Public Service?
– I am sure that we all welcome the growing trend in Australia towards provision for old age in schemes such as those mentioned by the honorable member. These schemes, of course, vary from industry to industry, and perhaps from enterprise to enterprise. Variations are to be found even in the schemes adopted by governments. It is very likely that difficulty would occur in effecting a transfer in the event of an employee moving from one job to another, particularly from one occupation to another. I will gladly take up with the appropriate authorities the question asked by the honorable member. If my inquiries elicit any information that would assist the honorable member’s further study of this matter a matter in which I know he has taken a great deal of interest I will be glad to supply it to him.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he will furnish the precise date upon which the first of the 182 instances of telephone interception, which he states occurred since the Australian Security Intelligence Organization was established, actually took place. Is he aware that, in contradiction of his claim that the interception of telephone conversations was authorized during the regime of the Chifley Labour Government, all the former Ministers of that Government who are still members of the Parliament and who have been questioned on the matter, declare that they have no knowledge of any such happening? In order to establish the facts, will he table any papers or documents which he believes support his claim, or alternatively make them available for the perusal of any interested member?
– As to the first part of the question asked by the honorable member, I do not propose to disclose the actual date of the first interception, but it did occur during Mr. Chifley’s regime. As to whether the former Ministers of the Labour Government knew or did not know, I have only this to say: I have the necessary evidence myself to convince me that it was so; and I do know from that Mr. Chifley did authorize interception.
– I still will not believe you.
– I do not mind whether you do or do not. Lastly, as to tabling any of the documents, I have made my position perfectly clear. I did indicate during the debate on the bill that I could put the Leader of the Opposition in touch with living people to whom Mr. Chifley gave instructions.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The AttorneyGeneral has misrepresented my position, and that of every other Minister who was in the Chifley Government, in suggesting that the reference by the honorable member for East Sydney in his question to former Ministers knowing nothing about telephone tapping is untrue. Not one former Minister to my knowledge I have questioned them all ever heard of telephone tapping. It is completely wrong for the Attorney General to say here, without producing any evidence, that we all knew about the things that were going on and that we were party to them.
– May I make a personal explanation? I did not say that I had information that the Ministers to whom the Leader of the Opposition has referred had knowledge of the matters. I said I knew that Mr. Chifley had personally given instructions, and I repeat that.
– My question is directed to the AttorneyGeneral and Acting Minister for External Affairs. Can he state at what height a missile, aircraft or object ceases to violate territory over which it flies? If no height is laid down by international law, would a country have as much right to threaten missile attack on Russian bases from which satellites have been launched, since these have repeatedly flown over the territory of other nations, as the Russians have to threaten attack on American bases where aircraft flights have commenced?
– The answer to the second part of the question, is, I think, “ Yes “. As to the first part, these things, of course, have never been worked out internationally on an agreed basis determining how far upwards the air extends.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that, as from 1st May last, the retailers of a dairy product known as Dairy Delite, which is manufactured by ice cream companies, have been classified as manufacturers of the product, even though they do not know what it contains, and have been told by the Taxation Branch of the Treasury that in future they are to submit in triplicate monthly returns of their sales? Is it true, also, that an increase of about 37 per cent in sales tax has been inflicted on this product as from the same date? If this is true, will the Minister explain how it comes about that ice cream retailers become manufacturers because they retail a commodity through a machine, whereas retailers who sell petrol by the use of other kinds of machines do not come into the category of manufacturers? Will the Minister ascertain the facts of this complaint in order that children and others who consume Dairy Delite shall not be further exploited by the imposition of unnecessary taxation?
– This matter was recently raised by me with the Commissioner of Taxation after I had received an inquiry from some honorable member whose name escapes me for the moment.
– The inquiry was from us.
– I am now reminded that the inquiry came from members of the Australian Country Party. It seems clear that as the law stands this product is taxable as a manufactured product. The question asked by the honorable member for Shortland became somewhat involved as to detail, and I could not attempt to answer it in detail and explicitly now. However, I shall study the text of the question and give the honorable member a considered reply.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to one asked of the Treasurer in relation to the catastrophic tragedy which has recently occurred in Chile. Has the Government considered assisting the Chilean people by a donation of supplies rather than of money, and if it is intended to make a further contribution later should Chile need it, will the Government consider providing supplies, building materials, food stuffs or whatever may be appropriate at the time, rather than making a financial contribution?
– The House may know that the magnitude of the disaster in Chile became known to the Government only about a week ago. There has not been a Cabinet meeting since the extent of this disaster became clear, and the decision taken was made by me after I had consulted the Treasurer and such other members of the Cabinet as were available in order to determine what help could be given immediately and in what form further aid could be provided. I assure the honorable member for Canning and other honorable members that the Cabinet will have an opportunity to consider this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Do Treasury Regulations prevent the Department of the Army from making a direct exchange of one area of land for another piece held by a municipal council? Do the regulations require the department to make two separate transactions by first selling its property and returning the proceeds to Consolidated Revenue and then purchasing the new site out of its own Budget allocation? Does the Treasurer realize that if this is so the enforcement of such a procedure is preventing the Kogarah Municipal Council, in New South Wales, from making a mutually acceptable exchange of land with the Army in order to establish a baby health centre and other civic amenities on a town site presently occupied by the Army?
– I recognize the honorable gentleman’s interest in the problem that exists, apparently, in the area to which he has referred. I do not have in my mind the details essential to an answer that would satisfy the honorable member at this time, but I shall see that a reply is conveyed to him shortly.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister inform the House when a report may be expected from the special committee that was set up by the Government some months ago to inquire into the dairying industry?
– Recent inquiries have indicated that the committee’s report will not be available before the end of June; at least, I hope that I shall receive it about that time. The committee is still wading through the mass of evidence that was submitted, and it has not yet completed its report.
– by leave I wish to make a short statement, Mr. Speaker, relating to the intended visit overseas of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner).
– Not another one!
– I am surprised at the interjection of the honorable member for East Sydney, because the Government of which he was a distinguished member sent every private member overseas. I wish to inform the House that the Minister for National Development will go overseas on the 7th June. The Minister will visit Japan to discuss markets for Australian coal. He will also attend a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, and will discuss atomic energy and mining matters in the United Kingdom, France and North America. Senator Spooner will return to Australia towards the end of July. During his absence, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) will act as Minister for National Development.
Assent to the following bills reported: - income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1960.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1960.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1960.
International Development Association Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Bill 1960.
Excise Tariff Bill 1960.
Telephonic Communications (Interception) Bill 1960.
National Service (Discharge of Trainees) Bill 1960.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill (No. 2) 1960.
Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill 1960.
Copper Bounty Bill 1960.
Judiciary Bill 1960.
Consideration resumed from 11th May (vide page 1603), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
That the order of the day be discharged.
Message from the GovernorGeneral reported transmitting further Additional Estimate of Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1960, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
Ordered to be referred to the Committee of Supply forthwith.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That there be granted to Her Majesty a further additional sum not exceeding £10,000,000 for the services of the year 1959-60, viz: -
PART 1. - DEPARTMENTS AND SERVICESOTHER THAN BUSINESS UNDERTAKINGS AND TERRITORIES OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
– Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve.
Under Control of Department of the Treasury. Division No. 655. - Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve.
For payment to the credit of the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Trust Account £10,000,000.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That towards making good the further additional supply granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year 1959-60, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £10,000,000.
– May I ask for some explanation of this motion? Was this amount of £10,000,000 included in the original Supplementary Estimates or is it another sum of £1.0,000,000 which has been forgotten and is now produced like a rabbit out of a hat? Is this money to come out of the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve? We are entitled to some information.
– The honorable member will get it in a few minutes.
– Why should we be asked to put through this proposal with the leave of the House and all sorts of formal motions when we do not know what it is all about? Surely we are entitled to have this information first. Already calculations have been made and submitted by persons who are generally fairly well informed, and I believe that the loan fund fell short by only some £3,000,000. As we have already provided £10,000,000 in the Additional Estimates that will leave a surplus of £7,000,000. Now we are putting in another £10,000,000. I feel that we should know something more about this before we go on.
– It is not a case of a forgotten £10,000,000 being produced, like a rabbit out of a hat, as the honorable gentleman has implied. When the earlier legislation was before the House there was an assumption, which proved erroneous, that the Parliament would have granted supply by a certain date. As supply was not granted by that date, further expenditure on defence has been necessary out of loan funds, which it has been intended to meet out of Consolidated Revenue. I shall, in a moment or two, in making my second reading statement on the matter, tell in more detail the reasons why this course has been found necessary.
– Mr. Chairman-
– Why not wait until you have the whole story before you?
– Will you give us the full position later?
– I understand that this is surplus revenue that would have gone to the States if you had not adopted this course.
– That is not stating the position fully.
– In that respect, perhaps.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. Adermann do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution and the resolution adopted by the House on the 11th May in connexion with the Additional Estimates for 1959-60.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In presenting the additional estimates on 11th May, an additional appropriation of £31,000,000 was sought for defence expenditure. After the exhaustion of the appropriation of £155,800,000 and pending the further appropriation of £31,000,000, it was estimated that there would have been an expenditure of £6,000,000 on defence services from the Loan Fund.
It is now apparent that this estimate of £6,000,000 will be exceeded and that during the further period, pending the additional appropriation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, expenditure on defence services from the Loan Fund may be as great as £16,000,000. Corresponding expenditure on defence services from the Consolidated Revenue Fund will be less than was estimated and £10,000,000 of the additional appropriation of £31,000,000 for defence will probably remain unexpended. In the circumstances, an additional appropriation of £10,000,000 for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve is being sought.
To give effect to this change, the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1959-60 has been discharged, and this measure, covering both the Additional Estimates which were presented on 1 1th May and a further estimate of £10,000,000 has been presented.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17th May (vide page 1771), on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill is for an act to amend the Air Navigation Act in the manner outlined by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). Its primary purpose is to place in an act of Parliament a great bulk of regulations which have governed air navigation in Australia since its inception. The decision to define in a statute the powers previously promulgated by executive regulation is commendable. It has seemed to me for a long time, in view of the growth and potentialities of civil aviation, that the time would surely arrive when Parliament itself must have some control over civil aviation services, not only within this country, but also to and from Australia. So the Opposition welcomes this bill as a desirable move.
In my view, the background of civil aviation in Australia warrants some examination before we consider the details of the bill. The passing of the Australian National Airlines Act in 1945 marked the first step by the Commonwealth Government into the field of air transportation. It is history that the first aeroplane controlled by the Commonwealth airline, Trans-Australia Airlines, flew in September, 1946. It is now fourteen years since the Commonwealth Government first entered aerial competition in Australia, and I think that time has proved that this was a most desirable and warranted step.
Before that time, air transport in Australia was virtually a monopoly. This monopoly had been developed very quickly by a company which, first of all, aimed at the control of interstate air transport and then swiftly commenced to swallow up smaller airlines which had operated intrastate services. The finance for this company was provided by five great shipping companies. In this year of I960, this country can well be proud of the Chifley Labour Government which, in 1945, provided real opposition to the monopoly control of air transport in Australia.
We sometimes hear the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) talking of the need to examine the monopoly control of many other activities in Australia, but had it not been for the action of the Labour Government in 1945, there would have been by now a complete monopoly in air transport which would not have been in the best interests of the people of Australia. When the Labour Government examined the situation in 1945, it found that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited had already swallowed up about nine smaller companies. With that background, we must extend our thoughts to what the future may hold on an international level.
Before I turn to the bill I should like to direct attention to several matters. The first is the limitations of the regulations governing our civil aviation activities. These regulations were introduced in Australia in December, 1920, a quarter of a century before this Parliament decided to establish what is now known as the Trans-Australia Airlines. This was done by implementing the Air Navigation Act. This involved the intrusion of three main factors into the field of civil aviation at the parliamentary level. The first was to carry out the convention on air navigation which had been signed at Paris on 13th October, 1919. The second was to apply the principles of that convention to domestic flying operations as well as international flying operations. As early as 1920 it was realized in this Parliament that as regulations had to be observed in regard to international flying, principles had to be laid down also with regard to our internal flying. The third factor was generally to regulate civil aviation activities in Australia. For the purposes of administration a controller of civil aviation was appointed whose position was that of head of the civil aviation branch of the Defence Department although the branch was not, in fact, a part of the defence system.
This was the commencement of the control of civil aviation and it was not until a decision of the High Court of Australia in the Goya-Henry case in 1936, sixteen years later, that the Civil Aviation Board, which consisted of four members and a secretary, was set up to regulate and control civil aviation in Australia. That board continued to operate as a unit of the Defence Department until January, 1939, when it was abolished and the Department of Civil Aviation was established under a Minister for Civil Aviation. That position still obtains, and under this bill the Minister for Civil Aviation will have to carry tremendous responsibility with respect to not only internal navigation of airways but also external control.
A news item was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation this morning which makes one wonder where ministerial control, or responsibility, will ever end in a great field such as this. The news item referred to an aeroplane flying twelve miles high and taking photographs of installations in another country. The statement has been made in news broadcasts that an aeroplane can be brought down safely from a height of twelve miles. How this is done was not made clear. But in this country - and I speak subject to correction by the Minister - I have a feeling that if an aeroplane were passing overhead at a height of twelve miles we would not know anything about it. But this bill provides that the Minister shall have authority in respect of an act of that sort if it is an act on the part of a government which is not within the framework of the Chicago protocol.
A host of things intrude into civil aviation other than safety and the various matters that relate to international control. I think of landing charges which any country under the Chicago protocol is empowered to levy in its own area. A study of this has convinced me, at any rate, that air transport in Australia is enjoying favoured treatment not generally enjoyed in most countries. We should remind ourselves that transport in Australia is a very important part of our way of life. When the Labour Government in 1945 decided to enter the field of air navigation, thought was given to the question of air services carrying some share of the cost of development of civil aviation. It is rather a pity that in a bill of this character we do not go further and consider some of the financial problems which must arise. One advantage that will accrue from this measure is that in future the Minister for Civil Aviation will be responsible for presenting to Parliament an annual report on the activities of the department. When that report is presented from year to year, I put it to the Minister that it should include a financial statement showing the total outlay in the area of civil aviation and the income derived from it.
In the balance-sheet included in the report of Trans-Australia Airlines for 1958- 59, which is the latest available to me, I notice that the total revenue amounted to £12,229,451. The sum shown for area charges is tremendously small - £166,448. I know that an amount paid in fuel tax must be added to that figure. But I wonder why even our own airline should be treated in such a favoured way. The point I am endeavouring to make is that the annual report to Parliament should contain a complete statement of the expenditure involved by the Department of Civil Aviation and the income derived from civil aviation, lt is unfair to have an income of more than £12,000,000 and an outgoing of £166,000 in an organization in which public money is being spent if we are not going to extend some degree of preference to every other form of transport in Australia. I recall that the Public Accounts Committee, in its twenty-fourth report to Parliament, stated that it had examined this aspect of the cost of civil aviation; and it recommended that an annual report on the activities of the department should be presented to Parliament. The committee was clearly recommending that a complete report should be presented concerning the finances and everything else associated with civil aviation in Australia.
But we are not concerned now only with Australian air lines. The Minister has told the House that already there are six international companies flying into this country. I shall not nominate them, because the Minister listed them. Why should we, as a country so dependent upon air transport, be involved in huge expenditure upon civil aviation facilities without getting a fair return? In 1945 the Chifley Government decided to play its part in providing air transport facilities in Australia, and in 1947, I think, it decided to impose charges for the use of air transport facilities on a basis that should - in my opinion, anyway - have been regarded as equitable, having regard to the general transport situation in Australia. The analysis made by the Chifley Government before it introduced the measure of 1947 showed that the cost of operating and maintaining the civil aviation system for that year would be about £1,000,000. The cost has grown substantially since that time. Included in that figure is a depreciation charge of £260,000. In 1947 the Chifley Government decided to impose charges that were expected to return to the Commonwealth about 30 per cent, of the annual expenditure by the department on aerodromes and air navigation facilities.
This is a never ending expenditure, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Let me refer again to this morning’s news broadcast from the British Broadcasting Corporation, concerning the tremendous advances in aviation that are expected in the next decade. If the prophecies prove to be correct - and I see no reason why they cannot come true - the expenditure on the aerodromes necessary to accommodate huge high-speed aircraft will impose a colossal burden on this country. The airline companies should be paying something towards it - and something substantial. I know it is easy to look back and to see the mistakes that are made; but looking back on this matter, in my view it is a pity that the Chifley Government’s legislation was interfered with. There is no doubt that when the change of Government took place in 1949, pressure was put upon the incoming government to wipe out the charges - which were considered heavy by those who had to meet them. Of course, it is well known that litigation followed the refusal of A.N.A. and Ansett Airways to meet their obligations, although T.A.A. had met its obligations and had made a success of its enterprise. Following the change of government in that year, preference was given to Ansett Airways and A.N.A., and a settlement was arrived at which required these companies to pay less than one-half of what they should have paid under the 1947 act. We can look back to-day and see what expenditure has already been involved. In round figures, £10,000,000 or more has been spent on Kingsford-Smith aerodrome alone, and money is being poured into other aerodromes in order to meet the future needs of this country.
How wise was the Chifley Government’s approach to the problem in 1945! However, the present Government saw fit to go back on what had been decided by this Parliament. As I say, to-day we are beginning to reap the whirlwind. The cost of providing aerodromes and other aviation facilities will impose an intolerable burden on John Taxpayer if something more realistic is not done under the powers that we have. Great Britain and other countries impose charges on air line companies that can be regarded as at least equitable, but in this country, for some reason that perhaps the Government can best explain, we have taken the line that John Taxpayer shall provide the facilities, not only for the government-owned airline, but also for those that are privately owned.
We lend John Taxpayer’s money to private airlines to enable them to expand their programmes, and we attempt some form of rationalization of services, directly under ministerial control or under an authority that is responsible to the Minister. Finally, what do we get? The Butler organization has gone. It has been swallowed by the big private company, assisted by public money. An attempt is being made to swallow East-West Airlines in New South Wales. The private companies continue to reap cash benefits while using aerodromes and other facilities provided at the expense of the taxpayers. When I see the activity that has been going on in New South Wales over the past fortnight, with Ansett-A.N.A. trying to swallow East-West Airlines, I wonder how far distant is the day when a move will be made to swallow T.A.A. I doubt whether the Government would have the strength to stand up to Ansett-A.N.A. if that day arrived.
These are matters that concern every person who thinks about them. The money that is now being dangled in front of the eyes of the shareholders of East-West Airlines by Ansett may be coming out of the company’s profits. Mr. Ansett has returned to this country and bragged about the aircraft that his company is buying in France. Surely the time has arrived when a fair return should be coming back to John Taxpayer on the money that is laid out for the convenience of companies which reap great profits. They are using facilities provided at the expense of everybody who pays taxes in this country. As I said before, it is unfortunate that the Chifley Government’s legislation was ever meddled with. If there had been no interference, at least these companies would have been paying charges for the facilities provided, in the same way as the railways and other forms of transport in Australia. Give the New South Wales railways the same preferential treatment as these airlines and they would be the most satisfactory form of transport operating in this country. It is not fair, not equitable and not just for this situation to continue.
Having said that, may I again turn to the bill, keeping in mind all the time that our control of airways in Australia is limited. Having regard to the way we are going, it may not matter very much what provisions are made by the Parliament. If Ansett-A.N.A. is allowed to go on in the way in which it has been proceeding, it will swallow East-West Airlines and every other airline in this country except T.A.A. If that happens, this Government will have failed in its duty. It should step in and buy these airlines, so that we can have opposition to Ansett-A.N.A. on the intrastate services. If this Government believes in open competition, it should take that course. It has seen Ansett-A.N.A. swallow the Butler organization - or take control of it and operate it under another name. The Government can see the only other private airline in New South Wales in the process of being swallowed. Why does it not step in on behalf of T.A.A. and allow it to take over East-West Airlines in New South Wales, as Ansett-A.N.A. has taken over the Butler organization? Then we would have some competition on the intra-state routes instead of a complete monopoly controlled by Ansett-A.N.A. - a private organization receiving assistance from this Government.
Now let me turn to the bill. In discussing it, we must keep in mind the recommendation which was made by the Constitutional Review Committee to the effect that the Constitution should be amended to confer on the Commonwealth Parliament an express concurrent power to make laws with regard to civil aviation. I do not think that the Government would have any difficulty in obtaining this power because surely no one would be so silly as to believe that any parliament other than the Commonwealth Parliament should control civil aviation in Australia at every level. I feel sure that if the people had the opportunity to say something on this matter, at least those living in the Tamworth area, who are interested in the future of East-West Airlines Limited, and those living in the Dubbo and other centres who are interested in Butler Air Transport Limited, would grab the opportunity with both hands and give to this Parliament complete control of airlines in Australia so that at least there would be some authority responsible for seeing that in the future they had the kind of service that T.A.A. would and should give, and ensuring that competition between airlines would continue because, considering the features which I have indicated, competition very soon will disappear. As things are moving at present, we are returning to the conditions which existed in 1946.
As I have said, in 1945, when Labour introduced the legislation providing for the setting up of an airline, A.N.A., as it then was, had already swallowed up eight or nine small companies. It was hoped that T.A.A. would break the deadlock which existed and provide competition to ensure that the country people received the best services. It is to the credit of the shareholders in EastWest Airlines that, so far, they have been able to withstand Ansett’s attempt to swallow their company. But they will not be able to withstand the pressure for very long because they have no one to assist them. Ansett-A.N.A. is Australia’s No. 2 airline, and it is attempting to become Australia’s No. 1 airline. If ever there was a time when the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee should be adopted completely, this is the time because the process of swallowing up small companies is now in full swing.
To a point, the task of transferring the civil aviation regulations to a bill has probably been easy although I suppose not one honorable member in this House, including even the Minister, has had the time or the energy to dissect carefully all the factors which are covered by international protocol as compared with those which can be dealt with by legislative action of this character. Nevertheless, we have at least some control which we can exercise.
I want to deal with clause 7 (2.) of the bill which relates to the functions of the Aeronautical Information Service. That body has control of communication and air navigation services and facilities in our own country. Distant as we are from the United States and Great Britain, that becomes, to me anyway, a tremendously important function which we must guard carefully. We must always maintain control of our own communication and air navigation services and facilities. Gone is the time for thinking in terms of attack by dreadnoughts, or even submarines. Perhaps even the potential danger from aircraft has diminished. But if ever a third world war eventuated - let us hope it never will - the enemy would not waste one of his missiles on a far-flung country such as ours. He would attack us in another way. Therefore, not only will our airports need to be under direct control, but also that control must be exercised in such a way that no one can break into our communications and air navigation services. The Minister and the Government should never lose sight of that aspect. We should develop that control to the maximum of our capacity having in mind the necessity of, first, defence and, secondly, offence if an enemy ever obtained control of our airports.
Clause 12 (1.) of the bill reads -
An international airline of a country other than Australia shall not operate a scheduled international air service over or into Australian territory except in accordance with an international airline licence issued by the DirectorGeneral in accordance with the regulations.
The Minister has indicated that already six overseas airlines operate to and from Australian airports.
– lt is eight airlines, not six.
– If Canada and Great Britain are included, eight airlines operate to and from Australian airports. That indicates the extent to which overseas airline services have developed. Qantas has done a tremendous job for world aviation. My main reason for mentioning this clause is to pay tribute to Qantas and to say to the Minister and to the Government that even though John Taxpayer may have to assist Qantas, he does not object to doing so because he knows that he enables Qantas to maintain a high standard of service and to become an emissary for Australia.
Clause 14 (1.) of the bill is in these terms -
An aircraft that possesses the nationality of a Contracting State may, subject to observance of the terms of the Chicago Convention and the provisions of this Act and the regulations, fly in transit non-stop across Australian territory, or land in Australian territory for non-traffic purposes, in the course of a non-scheduled flight, without the necessity of obtaining prior permission.
This clause underlines my statement about the heavy responsibility which falls upon the shoulders of the Minister, because clause 13 gives the Minister power to suspend or cancel an international airline licence if the airline, or any aircraft operated by it, fails to measure up to our standards. Any countries which are, or consider themselves to be, bound by the terms of the Chicago convention will be covered by the provisions of clause 14.
That underlines also the necessity for continued close observance of the terms of the convention. Incidentally, I was very pleased that the Minister and the Government paid tribute to my very dear friend, the late A. S. Drakeford, for the part that he played in the 1948 Chicago convention. As most honorable members know, I was very close to Arthur Drakeford and I believe that when he returned from Chicago he felt that he had done the greatest good of his whole life. He felt that he had really achieved something which would lift the name not of Arthur Drakeford but of Australia to a high place in every country of the world where aeronautical organizations operate successfully. When we examine the two schedules, which consist of more than 100 articles, we must recognize that the Chicago conference in 1948 did a tremendous job for the future of aviation throughout the world. This country can well be proud of the efforts of Arthur Drakeford, who represented our Government at that time. He assisted the conference to such a degree that he was elected to the senior position in the organization which has proved to be of such great value to world aviation. I suppose it can be <?aid in 1960 that on the defence level aviation is taking second place to other forms of missiles which have been evolved; but from the civil point of view, the point of view of ordinary John Citizen, the Chicago conference and the name of Arthur Drakeford will always be synonymous with the progress of aviation as it affects the ordinary man and woman who travel by air.
Proposed new section 15 reads -
A foreign aircraft that does not possess the nationality of a Contracting State shall not make a non-scheduled flight over or into Australian territory unless the Minister has approved the flight.
I hope that in my time and in yours, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the provisions of that clause will not be broken as the result of inadequate defences in our country. When we think in terms of the development of airports, and even in terms of our own twelve giant planes which are capable of carrying so much, armaments and munitions, we must surely envisage the need for the greatest aviation organization we can possibly have.
I refer now to the regulation making power which is covered by proposed new section 26. lt will be noted that tremendously wide power will still be retained in that respect. I suppose it must remain at least until the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee are implemented. I say to the Minister that we should constantly strive to bring aviation directly under the control of this Parliament and abandon control by regulation. Having been a trade union representative in railway matters for so many years, this is perhaps a subject on which I should not embark; but with respect to the railways and many other government concerns, I have always been disturbed by the wide authority which is exercised by regulation in matters which should be dealt with by the Parliament of the State concerned or of the Commonwealth as the case might be.
Finally, many articles of the convention fall within, the category of international understanding and co-operation. Article 14 reads -
Each contracting State agrees to take effective measures to prevent the spread by means of air navigation of cholera, typhus (epidemic), smallpox, yellow fever, plague and such other communicable diseases as the contracting States shall from time to time decide to designate. . . .
When 72 countries bind- themselves to observe that type of international law, it seems almost silly that the Summit Conference has failed. If we could only get the same type of people as we had at Chicago to deal with the problems of world peace, we would get much farther than we got with the Summit Conference.
I feel that this bill is an object lesson to us, and I am sorry that we are asked to deal with it in the closing days of the sessional period. It is a type of bill which would be of great value to many of us if we had the opportunity to study its provisions fully and not merely deal with it as a bill - as the Minister put it - to translate into law something which has hitherto been done by regulation. The measure goes much farther than that. If we analyse it, it gives us an appreciation of the fact that there are in this world some people who understand at least some of the problems of the remainder of the world in a particular sphere. When we see what can be done in the matter of the peace-time control of civil aviation, I feel sure that if each and every parliament concerned did the same as we are doing now, but much more extensively, agreement could be reached on many world questions. Here we have before us an illustration of what can be done in reaching agreement between countries throughout the world which have made their mark in civil aviation and regard themselves as being part of a great brotherhood in the matter of aviation requirements.
It is a pity that we in this Parliament should take this bill merely as something translating into an act regulations which in many cases have not been properly understood or properly examined and which have caused, wonderment as to where the real control exists. It is a good thing to be passing an act to take the place of regulations, and it is a good thing that Parliament should have a report year by year from the Minister in charge of Civil Aviation. In the light of what I have said, and because the Opposition is lending its support to this measure, my concluding request to the Minister is that when that report comes down he should have his officers again read in full the twenty-fourth report to this. Parliament of the Public Accounts Committee. Then we might bring into the clear light of day in this Parliament all the financial factors which are associated with this organization. As time goes by, particularly in the immediate future, still greater changes are going to take place in transport. Heavier planes will take the place of motor vehicles and the like, just as they have taken the place of railways. I feel that the Government took a retrograde step when it changed the 1947 legislation. Had this organization been properly organized and enabled to stand on its own feet, particularly with the international impetus which has come into Australian aviation circles, we could have enabled it to carry its full share of responsibility.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think that most members of this House will agree with the remarks made by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), except in regard to certain features of his speech wherein he chose to use the bill as a means of attacking one of the great airlines operating in Australia to-day. I think that in doing so he rather spoiled his argument, but that does not detract from the worth of the remainder of his statements.
The prepared speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) on this bill covered sixteen pages of foolscap. At the end of his speech the Minister said -
This bill is a milestone in the history of the industry, lt presents for the approval of this Parliament for the first time a large number of important matters affecting the safe and efficient operation of every facet of civil aviation activity in Australia. The bill also ensures that these matters are subject to proper parliamentary safeguards.
May 1 suggest to the Minister that the proper way to handle a bill which, he says, is of such importance* is not by bringing it to this House from the Senate on 17th May, when the House was due to- rise, at the very latest, on 20th May. The printed copy of the bill covers a total of 35 pages, when the schedule is. included. The seven clauses of the bill cover fifteen pages. It is not possible for any member of Parlament or, I would say, for any Minister other than the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who had a large hand in preparing the bill, to be able in the time available, to consider and discuss the bill in the. way that such an important bill should be considered, and discussed, and still have an opportunity of putting forward any amendment thought to be desirable. I notice that already the Government has found that it needs at least four amendments to the Airports (Surface Traffic) Bill. 1960, which was introduced into this House less than a fortnight ago with the same speed as the present measure is being put through.
However, I should like to congratulate the Government on having introduced the present measure, because I agree that it is a milestone in aviation history. I should like, however, to take up the matter that the honorable member for Blaxland mentioned early in his speech - that is, the future situation with regard to landing and navigation charges at airports. Only about eighteen months ago - certainly not longer than two years ago - the Minister for Defence, who is now at the table, announced that civil aviation in this country was being subsidized to the extent of £3 10s. per passenger. From figures which have been issued recently by the Department of Civil Aviation I understand that the loss on aerodromes at the moment is about £9,000,000 a year. It is hoped to reduce this loss to £7,000,000 a year by selling or hiring concessions for the sale of tobacco, cigarettes, sweets and cocktails at international airports, and also at other airports. So the loss on the operation of aerodromes will continue to be at least £7,000,000 a year. Trans-Australia Airlines recently carried its millionth passenger for this year, and it is perfectly obvious that over the whole year all airlines will not carry much more than 2,000,000 passengers. These passengers will be carried at a loss of more than £3 a head. As the honorable member for Blaxland said, if we had subsidized this country’s railways to the same extent they would probably have been out of their financial difficulties long ago. I am not speaking of inter-suburban rail traffic, but of interstate and country traffic.
I believe that civil aviation has done more to. assist in developing the outback, and to. bring outback people into closer contact with the general routine amenities of the community, than any other form of transport has done, and I have myself no objection to the payment of a certain subsidy per air passenger, because of the part that civil aviation has played in improving communications and life generally for outback people. But can anybody in this House tell me why people travelling between Melbourne and Sydney ‘by air should have the benefit of subsidized air fares, which work out at more than £3 per passenger? I know that our air fares are held up as being the lowest in the world, and that our airlines have possibly - I believe probably, and I congratulate the Department of Civil Aviation on it - the highest standard of efficiency and. safety in the world. That is. all right, but why this terrific subsidy to keep down air fares on routes between capital cities?
When the honorable member for Blaxland was speaking the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) interjected and said that the taxpayer paid for the roads in this country. Actually, the taxpayer pays for far more than the roads. In 1958-59, sales tax on motor cars alone yielded £60,000,000. The road programme announced by the Commonwealth Government for the next five years is to cost, on the latest figure, £300,000,000. Sales of private cars and commercial vehicles this financial year are higher than the sales last financial year. The sales tax on all forms of station wagons has been increased. So this financial year the yield from sales tax on vehicles, whether private or commercial, will be far above the £60,000,000 that was received last financial year. In other words, in sales tax alone we are receiving more revenue than we are expending on roads. I make that comment, in passing, to the honorable member for Hume.
The fact remains that the private motorist is subsidizing commercial vehicles, whether passenger or freight, to a very considerable degree. It costs far less to make roads to carry private motor cars weighing up to one and a half tons or, at the most, two tons, than it does to make roads to carry semi-trailers with a loaded weight of 15 or 20 tons, depending on axle loading, or even to make roads to carry 5-ton vehicles. As a matter of fact, I think the ratio of cost of construction between roads to carry heavy commercial vehicles and roads to carry private cars alone is about 7 to 1. If we want to correct that position, all right! There is still, however, the question of how far the private motorist is subsidizing commercial freight and passenger vehicles.
In the present instance we are directly concerned with the subject of civil aviation, and naturally the question of landing and navigation charges, and the cost of running aerodromes, comes into the matter. The Minister who made the statement on subsidies, having been told that he made it, has left the chamber. However, I hope that while we are discussing the matter the Minister, who made the statement when he was Minister for Civil Aviation, will say whether or not the statement is still correct. It is no good condemning the States, who own the railways, for running their transport systems at a loss, when the Commonwealth Government owning, or at least controlling, civil aviation, is contributing very largely to that position as a result of the tremendous subsidies that it pays to civil aviation. It is all right if we decide to continue to subsidize civil aviation, but we should increase payments to the States according to the traffic on their railways, in order to put these railways in a position to compete with the air, and so that there will not be unfair competition.
– Would you agree that we should have the same return on capital expenditure on civil aviation as we do on capital expenditure by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department?
– That is what we are coming to. The question is whether all airlines, whether they be government, overseas or any other airline, should pay reasonable charges for the use of what, in railway terms, would be their stations - their landing stations known as airports - or whether we should subsidize them. If we should subsidize them, to what extent should we do so? That has never been worked out.
The subsidy works most unfairly, except for those who travel by air, because they are the ones who receive the benefit of this very high subsidy. The modern tendency, with fast aircraft, is to have more and more seats and to provide fewer meals and other amenities on the aircraft. In fact, I think that before very long all travel on airlines will be tourist class travel. When it takes only one hour twenty minutes to travel from Melbourne to Sydney, why bother to serve a meal? A meal was very nice when the trip took two and a half hours; it helped to pass the time away. This modern tendency will reduce costs to a certain extent, but at the same time, although this has only an indirect effect on the bill, I still ask why a heavy subsidy remains on travel between capital cities. If we intend to do it with outback traffic - I agree that we should assist the outback in that way - then let us know what we are doing. We should not help one form of transport without helping all other forms.
That is all I have to say on the bill. I frankly confess that I do not quite understand what the Chicago convention is all about. We have not had a great deal of time to look at the bill, and, in addition, I have been engaged on other matters and have not had the time to go through it in detail. I do not profess to be an expert on this subject, but I do want to underline once again what is not happening on this matter of co-ordination of transport. It directly affects the Federal and State financial relations, because losses on the operations of the railways are some of the heaviest losses that the States must carry in their Budgets. I ask the Government to be kind enough, interested enough and truthful enough to reply on this matter of subsidy before the bill is passed.
.- We have had a very great number of bills dealing with civil aviation since the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) assumed office. He sponsored three acts in 1957, four acts in 1958, three acts and an abortive bill in 1959, and now two further bills are before the House. The Parliament passes more acts concerning civil aviation than it does concerning all other forms of transport. We pass very few bills concerning rail, road and sea transport. We pass no bills providing for the co-ordination of the four means of transport.
Road transport is entirely in private hands. It is subject to State regulation, insofar as section 92 of the Constitution allows this. It is the beneficiary of Commonwealth largesse insofar as we choose to disperse sales tax and petrol tax to it. Rail transport is, with a few negligible exceptions, entirely in government hands. It is mostly in State hands, but in a few important stretches, it is in Commonwealth hands. The Commonwealth and State Governments have taken inadequate steps to dovetail the operations of the Commonwealth and State railways. They have taken sluggish steps to standardize the gauges of the State railways with the Commonwealth railways, and no steps to standardize the equipment of the State railways with the Commonwealth railways or the State railways one with another. Sea transport is under a dual system, private and government. The Commonwealth regulates the operations of its own shipping, largely by limiting the operations and expansion of its shipping line to the operations and expansion of the private shipping lines. Air transport also is under a dual system, private and government, but again the Commonwealth makes the laws and provides the subsidies. As the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wil frid Kent Hughes) has very well said, the Commonwealth provides much heavier subsidies in total, and certainly per head or per pound, for air transport than for all other forms of transport combined.
The bill regularizes civil aviation law in this country in some important respects, lt at last puts on the statute-book the international agreement of 1944, as amended by the protocol of 1954. We have, in recent years, passed specific acts to put on the statute-book other international agreements. In 1958, by the Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Act, we put on the statute-book the Convention on Damage caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface, which had been concluded in 1952. Last year, by the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act, we put on the statute-book the protocol amending the Convention of 12th October, 1929, for the Unification of Rules relating to International Carriage by Air, the protocol having been signed in 1955. There is still another treaty, the Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft, to which we subscribed in 1948 and which we have not yet put on the statute-book. I should like the Minister to say whether we are likely to ratify that twelve-year-old convention. We signed it on 19th June, 1948; it is still not operative in this country. Are we going to ratify it? If not, why not; and if so, when?
I have mentioned the acts of 1958 and of last year in which we ratified, as far as the Commonwealth can ratify them, these two international conventions. As the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) pointed out, the Commonwealth’s capacity to regulate civil aviation is still seriously limited. It cannot pass laws concerning intra-state flying, and the States have yet to pass laws on the important subjects of those conventions which we made the law of our country in 1958 and last year, and they are taking their usual tardy time about it. New South Wales in 1952 and Victoria in 1953 passed acts concerning damage by aircraft to persons on the surface. The legislation, so the Minister told me last November, followed correspondence between the Prime Minister and the State Premiers. He told me that to that date other States had not taken similar action but consultation would1 continue. I therefore ask: What other States have yet acted upon the correspondence and the consultation with the Prime Minister?
The Minister also told me that he had contacted the State authorities with the object of obtaining State co-operation in extending the principles of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act of 1959 to intra-state carriage by air. The Minister told me that his proposals were currently being examined by State authorities. I therefore ask as a third question: What stage have those proposals reached in the hands of the various States?
These instances illustrate the unsatisfactory position of civil aviation law in this country. We may have different rights and compensation at different rates may be payable, although we fly on the one airline, according to whether our flight is wholly within the State in which we board the aircraft, is intra-state, is from a State to a Territory, or is from one Territory to another Territory.
This all comes back to the recommendation made by the Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee in 1958, for which the committee gave its reasons to the Parliament last year. As honorable members will recall, there were six members of the Australian Labour Party, four members of the Liberal Party of Australia and two members of the Australian Country Party on that committee. They unanimously and strongly reported that the Parliament should seek to amend the Australian Constitution in order to provide that this Parliament could legislate with respect to aviation. I submit that the administrative, financial and international reasons which were given are completely persuasive. I therefore ask the Minister for Civil Aviation as a fourth question: What is to happen about that recommendation? A great deal of the legislation of the last few years would have been unnecessary if we had had that power, and still more of the regulations of the last few years would have been unnecessary if we had had it. It would be unnecessary to wait for the States to carry out their obligations and complete their proposals if we had that power.
Politics should not come into this matter. The States, in effect, allow the Commonwealth to spend all the money which is spent on civil aviation in this country.
Some States are blithely going about committing the Commonwealth to further expenditure without consulting it, because the States can licence air routes for intra-state services and the Commonwealth is then expected to provide the meteorological information, navigational aids and landing grounds required for those services which the States have licensed. In fact, the Commonwealth may have to undertake added expenditure in providing those facilities for airlines which operate on routes where the Commonwealth itself provides a service through Trans-Australia Airlines or subsidizes a service through Ansett-A.N.A. or one of its subsidiaries.
The position is quite unsatisfactory. In dealing with this latest of a very great number of civil aviation measures, we should be told what has happened to the remaining international agreement which we have not ratified, what the States are doing about the other two international agreements which we have ratified as far as we can, and what the Government proposes to do about the unanimous and strong recommendation of the Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee.
I conclude by saying that there seem to be two very desirable features of this bill. The first is that we are now putting on the statute book an international agreement. There will be more and more international agreements to which the Commonwealth Government will be a party, and to which it alone among the seven Australian governments can be a party - agreements which will govern our citizens and people visiting our shores and trading with us. In many of these cases, it is quite difficult to get the text of the law. This bill represents a great improvement by giving us the text in a ready form.
The other feature which I should like to commend is the provision that there shall be an annual report to the Parliament on the operation of this measure. There are, 1 think, some 60 acts of this Parliament under which the government is required to make an annual report to the Parliament. The practice of requiring an annual report to us is salutary. The Parliament should be told how its acts and its international agreements are operating, and it should be given that information promptly and fully. This bill will ensure that that is done in one further field.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, as there is not any real opposition to this bill but, apparently, just a small measure of criticism, it is not necessary for me to detain the House very long by going into the fine details of the measure. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), in his secondreading speech, said -
The federal regulation of civil aviation in this country is rendered unusually complex because of constitutional limitations . . .
As aviation was in its infancy at the time of federation it is not surprising that there is no direct reference to civil aviation or air navigation in any of the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution.
Immediately after the turn of the century, there was no idea of the great spread and progress of aviation, and therefore it is to be understood that the Constitution makes no provision for present-day needs in respect of civil aviation.
I have listened with interest to the speeches made in this debate. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) objected to what he termed a subsidy paid to each airline passenger a subsidy which he said amounted to more than £3 per air passenger. I suggest to him that it could be said with emphasis that a subsidy is being paid per passenger on the railways. What the honorable member really meant to say in the extravagant language that he used is that every person who flies is subsidized more than £3 for his flight. I suggest that every train passenger, also, is subsidized because, apart from the Commonwealth Railways, every railway system in Australia goes more heavily into debt as the years go by, and these debts will never be met. Therefore, there is an indirect subsidy to passengers.
The honorable member for Chisholm said that road users contribute to the cost of road transport by paying sales tax on motor vehicles and by paying petrol tax. I thoroughly agree with him there. But the situation is very complex and many people who travel over the roads do not pay anything in petrol tax or sales tax except indirectly in the same manner as a subsidy is paid on the railways with their ever-accumulating debts.
I was interested to see that the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James
Harrison) contributed to this debate in a speech lasting for three-quarters of an hour. I listened to him with interest, as I always do. At one time, the honorable member spoke only on union matters, but he now does not hesitate to give us a speech on matters affecting all sorts of people, and even the primary producers, whom we claim to represent. The honorable member said, I think, that the Australian Country Party would even agree with him that people in country areas should have adequate air services. Nobody could agree with him more on that than do members of the Country Party. We believe and advocate that country people must have air services for the good of this great Commonwealth. Efficient air services to country areas, I believe, will be one of the great factors in decentralizing the population. Perhaps I should not use the expression “ decentralizing the population “, because it is difficult to get people back to the country once they get to the cities. But I believe that good air services will be an important factor in preventing a further drift to the cities.
I am very interested in intrastate air services. We have been told I repeat it only to remind the House that the Federal Government cannot allow Trans Australia Airlines to operate intrastate unless the State concerned gives that airline a charter to do so. Leaving the other provisions of the bill aside for the moment, because I am in agreement with them, this matter of intra-state services is a vexed question in many parts of Australia. Recently, it was stated that T.A.A. would be interested in an air service to parts of the Mallee electorate and also to the electorate of Wimmera, but there was no charter for such a service. Already I have had a letter from a certain shire authority telling me that the Commonwealth Government had not granted a charter for a service to operate within the State. Actually, as we in this House know, such a charter can be granted only through legislation passed by the Parliament of the State concerned. Then the problem of competition between the State railways and civil aviation arises.
I believe that something should be done even if we have to go as far as holding the referendum suggested by the honorable member for Blaxland to take this matter further and provide that the Commonwealth Government may legislate to grant a charter when the State governments refuse to act. If that were done, the T.A.A. service which is owned by the Commonwealth Government, could operate intra-state.
Until recently, a company known as Southern Airlines Limited operated a service between Melbourne, Kerang and Swan Hill. That company was never in a strong financial position and finally its finances were so deplorably bad that it ceased to operate. At that time it was gaining more and more passengers and many people believed that if it could have continued to operate, it would have been very successful. I suggest that a charter should be granted to T.A.A. - which has shown some interest in the air service route - to operate a service from Melbourne to Kerang and Swan Hill where there are two excellent aerodromes, across to Warracknabeal where there is an approved airfield, and back to Melbourne. That could be an initial stage in a service which would do much for the fairly extensive population in that country area.
The honorable member for Chisholm referred to the subsidy for civil aviation. If we are subsidizing passengers to the extent stated by the honorable member, how much better it would be to subsidize passengers travelling by air from country areas rather than those who travel from one city to another. This is not the first time that I have referred to the current leaning towards quick flights between capital cities although I do not oppose them. Do you believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that a quick flight from Sydney to Brisbane or from Melbourne to Adelaide will bring to Australia more produce or earn more national income; or do you agree, as one man has said, that in travelling that way we are getting nowhere fast? If we could extend our T.A.A. air services into country areas, even with the help of subsidies, we could almost guarantee a paying load so that the subsidy would not be large if it were necessary at all. Would not that give impetus to decentralization, stop the drift to the cities and lift primary production? Would that not result in fostering increased primary production which is not only important to primary industries, but also would build up our exports and credits overseas and enable us to buy vital raw materials to keep our secondary industries in operation? That is the view of the Australian Country Party as I see it, and we will continue to advocate action along those lines in this Parliament.
.- Possibly no science has developed more rapidly in the past quarter of a century than has aviation. It has brought many advantages to the peoples of the world and has conferred great benefits within many nations as internal air services have been extended. Aviation has brought the peoples of the world into closer contact. It has hastened the transport of both passengers and goods. Any plan for the further development of aviation deserves earnest scrutiny, particularly by those who are responsible for the advancement of air transport. Therefore, the Opposition welcomes this legislation in the hope that it will stir the national conscience on vital matters associated with aviation to the ultimate advantage of the people of Australia and particularly those in isolated areas.
I was interested to read recently that our own government airline operating as Trans-Australia Airlines has conferred upon the people many benefits which are not generally recognized. This organization is training pilots for the outback medical services. It provides facilities for the people of the outback to obtain stores and many things that they require in their everyday living. In particular, these air services have been a great blessing to the people of the Northern Territory who otherwise would have considerable difficulty in supplying their needs. It is noteworthy, as has been stated by speakers on both sides of the House, that this legislation facilitates a review of matters associated with civil aviation by members of this Parliament. This is preferable to leaving such matters within the authority of the executive with consequent direction of civil aviation by regulation. The safe transport of passengers along the airways of Australia is so important that it deserves the closest consideration by this Parliament. I am sure that honorable members would like to have full opportunity to study all aspects of the conventions that are covered by this legislation. For example, I should like to have had an opportunity to read something about the Chicago Convention and the protocol amending various articles of the convention. I feel that this Parliament is entitled to be fully informed on this subject which concerns what is possibly the principal form of transportation in this country.
I pay very great tribute, as did the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), to a former member of this Parliament, the Honorable A. S. Drakeford, who, in the Curtin and Chifley governments, was Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation. I knew very intimately the nature of the work performed by Mr. Drakeford for I deputized for him as acting Minister for Air. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) spoke of the tribute due to this man who had contributed so much to the regulation of civil aviation. His work was recognized, as we have been reminded, when he was made the president of the first international conference on civil aviation. When he returned from overseas he introduced one of the most up-to-date and effective pieces of legislation dealing with safety in aviation. It is to be regretted that the provisions of that legislation have been departed from to some extent and that we have been denied the full benefit which it might have given to this country. I hope that the Government has not failed to learn something during its period of office and that it will be prepared to incorporate in future legislation many of the fine provisions that were contained in the legislation to which I have referred. This would give an added assurance of safety to the increasing number of passengers who travel by the airlines of this country.
I should like to stress the need to safeguard against economies that might interfere with the proper servicing of aircraft. Our excellent record of safety has given to the people of this country great encouragement to travel by air, but knowing the tendency of airlines to effect certain economies - they have related mainly to passenger comfort so far - I feel that there might be a disposition to introduce practices which exist in other parts of the world, much to the disadvantage of those who have had to travel by air. In some countries, risks are incurred which should not be permitted. I am grateful that the Australian civil aviation authorities have strictly laid down the procedures that are essential to the proper maintenance of aircraft.
I should like to emphasize also the growing public concern at the tendency for commercial aviation to become a monopoly. This tendency is curtailing feeder services which formerly were of tremendous assistance to people in the distant parts of the various States. Unfortunately, the distribution of civil aviation powers between the Commonwealth and the States makes it difficult for this Parliament to correct this situation. I am glad to see that some check is being placed on the efforts of Ansett-A.N.A. to take over an airline in the State of New South Wales and I hope that the Government of that State will continue to give its moral and physical support to that airline in resisting the rather impudent overtures that are being made to it.
By means of a referendum, the Commonwealth Parliament should be clothed with greater authority to control civil aviation. Already, we have been advised by the Public Accounts Committee of certain things that should be done in the field of aviation and suggestions have also been made by the committee which considered alterations to the Constitution. I find myself in full agreement with the recommendations of those committees. It is their desire that the Commonwealth shall become the principal authority in civil aviation and that if State governments are required to participate in administration they should do so under delegated authority from the Commonwealth. It is essential that the community should endorse, by way of referendum, the principle that primary authority over civil aviation should be held by the Commonwealth Parliament.
That would relate this subject in a more correct way than it is at the present time. As previous speakers have pointed out the present anomaly is very evident. The Government airline can operate in only Tasmania and Queensland and is excluded from providing intra-state services in any of the other States. Because no legislative authority was given by some of the States to allow the Government airline to operate within their borders, although they would be prepared in some instances to accommodate its operations, the Commonwealth is not prepared to assist by allowing the Government airline the opportunity of rendering its service to the people of those States. I hope that the Government will realize the unbalanced character of this situation. Ansett-A.N.A. is allowed to provide intra-state services in most of the States, certainly beyond that afforded to the Government airline. That is a most anomalous position, and I hope that some attempt will be made to correct it.
A moment ago the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) pointed out what a great disadvantage this was to people in country areas where such a service could be of great benefit, particularly if the Government airline were licensed to operate within the various States. The honorable member is always willing to enlighten the House upon the way in which votes were cast by other honorable members in former times. It might appear to be somewhat inconsistent for him to suggest that T.A.A. was not being afforded the opportunity to render the service I have mentioned when I direct attention to the fact that as late as April, 1959, the honorable member, as a teller, voted with the “ ayes “ against an amendment moved by the Opposition to allow the Government airline to function intra-state in the very way that he indicated, this afternoon, it should be allowed to function. There- is no reason to quibble, because the honorable member’s name appears in the division list concerned, and it shows- that he voted1 contrary to the- way he expressed himself to-day. I> am glad to find that he has now become convinced that what was proposed in April last year by the- Opposition was the- correct line and that he made a mistake on that occasion by voting as he did-. Therefore, I am sure- that we can look forward to the honorable member, on future occasions when we have before us legislation incorporating a provision of this kind, giving his loyal support and advocacy to that principle.
I hope that the Government will press on and make this great service even greater in the Commonwealth. It has been suggested that it is possibly one of the principal competitors with another very important form of transportation, the railways. I am not unaware of the very great effect that civil aviation has had upon passenger traffic, but in regard to freight, I consider that road haulage is doing quite as much damage to the railways as civil aviation, and unfortunately it is not making anything like an adequate contribution to meet the cost of the services rendered. There is no reason why we should feel that aviation has intruded itself to the distinct disadvantage of the railways. Railways still have a very important part to play in the development of the country particularly in carrying heavier kinds of freight. But where ready despatch and immediate contact are essential, surely aviation provides the best solution to the problem. Australia is a country which can rightly be regarded as giving every encouragement to aviation because of its distances and because of the provisions governing the safety of aviation services. Australia should be foremost among the nations in providing civil aviation services at the highest standard. I warmly support the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E.. James Harrison), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and other speakers who have emphasized the importance of this legislation.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim- to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the honorable member for Bonython. Earlier this afternoon I made a speech, and as honorable members know, the honorable member for Bonython has just concluded his remarks. During my speech I advocated that TransAustralian Airlines should be allowed to provide an intra-state service. I stated that I had received a letter asking that the Federal Government should legislate to provide for this. I added, “ Of course, we all know that the States have to legislate”. Now the honorable member says I should have supported a certain measure that the Opposition brought forward that would have allowed the intra-state airlines to operate. I am surprised at that suggestion, for the honorable member knows that nothing that could be brought forward in this Parliament by the Opposition, or by the Government, could achieve that end. It is a State matter, and I said so. Yet he tries to twist it round to make out that it is actually a federal matter, because all the time he is smarting under my opposition to nationalization.
– I do not wish to delay the House on this bill, on which, at the outset, I did riot intend to speak. On perusing the measure, I notice that most of it is related more or less to the international aspect of our airways, but as the debate has progressed there has been some discussion of the operation of airways on an intra-state basis. That is the point that I should like to comment upon now. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). I believe it is high time that we encouraged or assisted the various States to develop air routes. There is no doubt about the value of airways in the development of Australia, but unfortunately in some States the air services are limited. We see that the only airline operating in Victoria on an intra-state basis is Ansett-A.N.A. In Queensland there are a number. Queensland is a much bigger State than Victoria; nevertheless Victoria is in urgent need of airways. The honorable member for Mallee referred to the northwest part of that State. The distances between centres in that area are as great as those between some of the centres connected by air services in Queensland. If air lines can operate over short distances in Queensland, they can operate over similar distances in Victoria.
When there is only one airline with the power to operate in a State, such as AnsettA.N.A. in Victoria, it is a monopoly, as an honorable member interjected a moment ago. While an organization has a monopoly, it is natural that it should pick the eyes out of the various services. If we had a charter for Trans-Australia Airlines, in Victoria, I believe that Ansett-A.N.A. would give consideration to extending its services. One .service that I am particularly concerned with is in the north-west part of Victoria. As the honorable member for Mallee mentioned a few minutes ago, there was a company known as Southern Airlines operating between Kerang, Swan Hill and Warracknabeal. An airstrip was put down at Warracknabeal at considerable cost, which was borne by the local residents. They were assured of a service and they got it. Unfortunately, the service folded up, and to-day all that remains is an airstrip which is being used only by the local aero clubs. If we could encourage the various States to give charters to such companies as T.A.A., the States would reap a great benefit from the extra intra-state services.
A certain amount of opposition to the airways is forthcoming, chiefly from the railways, but I feel that people who use the airways possibly would not use the railways. We find that most people who would use the airways if they were operating to-day on intra-state routes, now use their own means of transport - the private motor vehicle. They do so because their time is valuable. The more cars that appear on the roads, the more problems confront the States. It is up to us as individuals to do all in our power to encourage the States and to point out to their governments that the granting of charters for airways would bring advantages to them. That is all I wish to say, beyond adding that 1 support the bill.
– I think that this bill to a great degree is the result of inquiries made into the Department of Civil Aviation some few years ago. In fact, looking at the Minister’s speech, I find that almost at the commencement he states -
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts, in its 24th report to Parliament, invited attention to the wide powers over civil aviation which the act vests in the Executive and went on to say -
We consider it undesirable to continue to vest such wide regulation making powers in the Executive Council and recommend that the basic principles should be incorporated in legislation enacted by the Parliament.
I may say that this is one of the many instances found by the members of the Public Accounts Committee of a department being able to by-pass the Parliament and, by the exercise of regulation-making power, to control not only civil aviation but also other matters. Right through the inquiries of the Public Accounts Committee we have had to go deeply into the desirability of doing things by regulations. In fact, only recently we found great trouble over regulations in connexion with the 28 per cent, increase in margins that had been passed on by government decree to members of the armed forces. The regulations did not meet the position as they should have done. I do not want to go into that phase of the matter. I want to say, however, that the committee, when it made that recommendation, felt it essential that we should get away from the position that existed, and that still exists, in connexion with the making of regulations for the control of civil aviation. The committee felt that these matters should be brought under legislative enactment rather than dealt with by regulation.
I notice, reading the bill and the Minister’s speech, that the Government will still rely to a degree on the making of regulations for certain purposes, but I am pleased to note that provision is to be made to amend a position, now covered by a regulation, relating to the cancellation of a pilot’s licence, from which there was no appeal. I think one such case went to court, but I forget the details. Provision is now made for an appeal by the person concerned to a tribunal apart from the Minister or the permanent head of the Department of Civil Aviation.
I should like to take this opportunity to refer to the Department of Civil Aviation itself and to the work that is being done in Australia, although we know that the bill before us is designed to ratify an international agreement on civil aviation. As members of the Parliament, collectively responsible for the capacity of the Department of Civil Aviation to control flying operations and to operate aerodromes in this country, we are entitled to get the views of any member of a committee who knows something about the matter. Over a period of many months the Public Accounts Committee investigated certain matters associated with the Department of Civil Aviation, and found that it was conducting its affairs in the best possible way. I have no hesitation in saying that the department has given us air services which I do not think can be excelled or even equalled in any other country.
The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) queried the subsidy that the Government is paying, in effect, to air travellers. We know that a big subsidy is being paid because if we were to charge T.A.A., Ansett-A.N.A. or the smaller companies the full cost for the use of our airports and the flying aids which are available, the general air-travelling public would have to pay much higher fares than at present obtain.
On this aspect of safety, let me go back many years to the time when the sea was the only means of communication between different countries of the world. Something had to be done to protect sea traffic, not only between one country and another, but also, as in the case of the British Isles, coastal traffic including the fishing fleets. Lighthouses were erected later to protect seamen from the dangers associated with storms and tempests. That was a step towards providing safety for ships to enable them to arrive safely at their destinations. A direct charge was not made upon the ship-owners for the service provided by lighthouses. Of course, to-day we charge harbour dues for ships coming into port, but we provide a lot of safety aids for world shipping for which we do not receive any recompense. When I consider the matter in that light, I do not begrudge the money that has been spent on the provision of flying aids.
As an example of what has been done, a device known as D.M.E. - distance measuring equipment - has been installed at Canberra as an aid to aircraft. The Public Accounts Committee on one occasion queried the delay in purchasing the equipment, and we were informed by officers of the Department of Civil Aviation that the Department had been engaged for a considerable period in deciding the right frequency to be used with the equipment. Before it was installed, any aircraft coming from, say, Melbourne, could not depend on landing at Canberra at night or in heavy cloud until they were right over the airport because a short distance from Canberra is a mountain range rising to 5,000 or 6,000 feet and a pilot would not know exactly where he was until he was directly over the tower on the airport. However, when the distance measuring equipment was placed on the top of Mount Ainslie and on a mountain a few miles from Yass, aircraft were able to tune in to the operating frequency and ascertain their exact position. If an aircraft were say, 10 miles from Canberra, the pilot knew that he had high mountains to cross and that not until he was only, I think, 7 miles from Canberra would it be safe for him to start to land. This device has reduced the cost of landing an aircraft in adverse conditions by up to £30 which, no doubt, has resulted in lower running costs and consequently lower fares. The knowledge that these flying aids exist gives air travellers a great deal of confidence. The introduction of the device in the outback areas which are out of range of the regular beams has eliminated the possibility of aircraft being lost and coming down in the Never Never. 1 have mentioned these matters in passing because the members of the Public Accounts Committee obtained knowledge of them during an investigation of the financial operations of the department. We were not sitting as a committee of experts on aeronautics; we were merely inquiring into whether the money which was being spent was being spent wisely and properly.
If honorable members go to the control tower at Essendon and see the way in which messages arc received and sent continually and the precautions which are taken to ensure the safety of aircraft by providing weather information, flying altitudes and so on, they would appreciate perhaps a little more what the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation are doing. When I am in a plane, no matter what the weather is, I am completely confident in the safety of the aircraft because of the aids which have been provided.
The regulations which have been laid down provide adequate safeguards in relation to the ability of a person to fly an aircraft and an aircraft’s airworthiness. These regulations are based on international standards.
Some honorable members have raised matters in relation to intra-state operations. No airline company can operate intra-state without State permission. The flying aids to which I have referred have been provided by the Commonwealth and are available in all States, but if you look at the list of fares on the back of an airline time-table you will find that if you travel to Queensland, a tax which is paid to the Queensland Government is included in the fare. So they have power in respect of intra-state aviation to make whatever charges they desire. They do not have the over-all regulations with regard to safety, but they have a control and we find that in the intra-state field at present T.A.A. cannot fly in every State as it would like to. It would be in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth and of South Australia also if T.A,A. had a com plete licence to conduct flying in South Australia. We know that this matter of the powers of the States in regard to civil aviation was before the High Court long ago, and we are not able to override their powers. They agreed, years ago, that insofar as the regulations common to the whole of the Commonwealth were concerned, they would give the necessary power to the Commonwealth Government to have uniform control in connexion with flying. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the Commonwealth Government has done a tremendous amount towards making flying in this country as safe as it is at present.
We, as an Opposition, are not opposing the bill. I do not suggest that I know every clause or every provision that is in the measure, but, in going through it, I know it reverses the practice which I objected to years ago in State parliaments - the putting through of a skeleton bill giving the Government or the Executive power to carry on by regulation as it desired. I have always been opposed to that broad system, but that is practically what we have been doing prior to the introduction of this bill. In the past skeleton legislation has been passed giving the Government power to do by regulation many things which the Public Accounts Committee felt should be done by direct legislation. I see, in this bill, something being done to give effect to what we put forward at that time. I am very pleased that the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee several years ago should be incorporated in legislation of this description.
This bill may not go all the way and do everything we would have liked it to do. I am not quite sure whether the appeal against an action or a dismissal by a board to be set up goes as far as we thought it should. We wanted the person concerned to be able to go to the court in the ordinary way, but I have not had time to go carefully into that provision. It gives a board of review power to review the matter, but I do not know whether it goes as far as we feel it should in giving power to any one who is penalized to go even beyond the board of review and approach one of the courts of the land to have the matter determined. I do not know whether we will get any information on that matter when the Minister is replying to the debate. In his speech the Minister explained that in England and in other countries they do not give the person affected as great an opportunity to obtain redress by way of appeal as we are giving here. It was stated that we are perhaps going further than others have gone, but I would like to have seen provision that if the person affected was not satisfied with the decision of a lower tribunal he could appeal to a legal tribunal. If that provision is not in the legislation I hope that some day it will be placed there. I support the bill.
– I am not going to speak at length because, first, I have not had the time I would have liked to study the legislation, although that is no fault of the Minister who introduced the bill. It is due to the fact that I have not been able to be in the House, for reasons for which I have been extended the courtesy of this House, which I appreciate. I desire this evening merely to address myself very briefly to two points among the many which I think could be discussed with great interest by this House. I notice that the Minister, in his very informative speech, has stressed the fact that certain constitutional difficulties impose upon the Commonwealth limitations which have not yet been overcome by the decision of the court or by the decision of the people.
As one who was associated with the work of the Constitutional Review Committee I merely want to say that I gave the fullest approval to the recommendations that the control of aviation and of aircraft should be vested in the Commonwealth. I have always been a very stout supporter of decentralization of government and I believe there are elements of common sense which must enter into consideration of human affairs and, as times change and circumstances change, we should adjust ourselves as a wise people to the requirements of new situations. I believe these matters should be entirely within the competence of the Commonwealth. I believe that aviation and aircraft are matters which, in the nature of things, cannot be successfully confined to any one State’s borders. I congratulate the Minister on the fact that as the Commonwealth lacks the constitutional power, he has endeavoured to bring about through act of Parliament a consolidation of the decisions arrived at and spread through regulations, so that the principles involved in those decisions acceptable to the States should, until such time as the wisdom of our people is tested and they have given an affirmative reply, be implemented. I shall not labour that point further except to say that I hope that the day is not far distant when the people will have the opportunity of looking into these matters.
My honorable friend from Wimmera (Mr. King) referred to the difficulties experienced in his State and particularly named one company which is operating there. There is something which has come to my notice since I returned to Australia and which I think is of prime importance to this House. Apparently it arises from the fact that while the Commonwealth can and does control interstate aviation, under the proposed legislation it will control certain aspects by agreement with the States or alternatively by power ancillary to the defence power. A rather Gilbertian situation arises in the matter of the issue of licences. Intra-state licences are not issued by the Commonwealth but by the States themselves. Now in my part of the world if my information is right, a company which for twenty years or more has battled under the gravest difficulties has built up an extraordinarily good local service in the sense that it does not operate solely within the State of New South Wales. Here is a point to which I want to direct the Minister’s attention. This company is in danger of being swallowed up by the company which was named in the course of the debate - Ansett-A.N.A. My information is that they have people out trying to buy shares so that they can get control of that company.
I have fought monopolies, whether in relation to banking or anything else, and I am not in favour of establishing a private monopoly when we already have an excellent co-service running an airline in this country. In this Commonwealth we have TransAustralia Airlines, which is operating on terms which should be regarded as fair by any other airline. But if, because of State control of the issue of licences for intra-state air services, a private company can come in and cut the inside out of a service that has been tied in with T.A.A. from the start, and has always worked well with T.A.A., what is going to be the position in other States? Is every State to be allowed to sanction the transfer of licences? I cannot see how that can be avoided under either existing company laws or under the Commonwealth powers as at present. Are we to permit the growth of a monopoly which will destroy what, in my opinion, is one of the most efficient air services in the world - and I make that statement without reserve - Trans-Australia Airlines?
If all the subsidiary lines are cut out, then the lifestream that flows into T.A.A. and enables its growth is also cut. That is a most dangerous situation, and it is a bad situation when it threatens to destroy an independent private company which, so far as I know, is the only decentralized airline in Australia. It is an airline that has its head-quarters and workshops, and its main employees, all in a country town far removed from the danger of attack on our coast during war.
I will not labour that aspect further, but I want to point out to the Minister for Civil Aviation and to the Government, through the Minister for Defence, who is in charge of the bill in this House, exactly what is going on and what is implied. It is as plain as a pikestaff to me, with some knowledge of business, that if the present trend continues unchecked, T.A.A., in which the nation has a very big stake, will be at the mercy, very largely, of a private combination against which, at present, it is not operating on just terms to itself. I do not think that T.A.A. can buy up other airlines. If it can do so that is news to me. So, unless we put T.A.A. in the position of being able to bid in the market, it is hampered to that extent. The only alternative would be to give the Minister the power to prevent the occurrence of the kind of thing that is going on, by refusing to issue a licence.
I think that we have reached an unhealthy position in this country. It is a position that can perhaps be reproduced in other important directions. So, before I conclude, I urge the Minister to use any legal means that exist of preventing this kind of takeover from happening. I have in mind another country airline. I knew the man who worked it up from nothing. He was a distinguished aviator. The line that he brought into being has disappeared off the landscape as a result of a similar take-over operation. So I hope that in the present instance it will be possible to prevent the same thing happening again.
Whilst I commend the bill, and commend the Government because, within the constitutional limitations, it is doing a great deal that is necessary, I feel that this matter should be taken at least one step further. Until the people give us the necessary power to control all civil aviation, problems like that of the take-over of the airline I have mentioned have to be dealt with in negotiations with the States. New South Wales has a Labour government, and the Labour Party is pledged to nationalization. I realize that the observance of this pledge by Labour governments is tempered by the cool breezes that blow occasionally, and I hope that the New South Wales Government will find it convenient to co-operate in preventing a further increase of monopoly in civil aviation, which is an evil.
.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has mentioned country air services. These services are of extreme importance to the people of Australia because they play such an important part in isolated areas. The company mentioned by the honorable member for New England, East-West Airlines Limited, provides an efficient service to aerodromes in my electorate. Located in my electorate are aerodromes such as those at Forster, Taree, Port Macquarie and Kempsey. These aerodromes are being served efficiently by this country airline. Airlines of New South Wales is now also serving two of these aerodromes, and we are receiving an efficient service.
I congratulate the Government on the bill, but I feel that there is one thing that we must keep foremost in our minds - that is, the value of air services to the people in country areas. In my electorate local councils have done a tremendous amount of work in establishing aerodromes which have helped in the development of rural areas. We should keep foremost in our minds at all times the need to do all we can to assist in the development of air services to rural districts.
I have congratulated the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) on previous occasions for his work in connexion with take-overs and in respect of local government and local area control of aerodrome facilities in country areas. I also congratulate the Government on what it has done about civil aviation, which is so important to those country areas.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 2052).
– This is an appropriate occasion, at the end of the eleventh month of the financial year, for the Parliament to review the activities of the Government over the past year, to see how far its promises of last year have been justified and to examine its performance in the light of its promises. The Government came to power, unfortunately for the nation, in 1949. In 1950, after quite a number of protestations of his intention to do something about inflation, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) called a conference on inflation. Then, the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia issued a special pamphlet called, “ The Threat of Inflation “. This pamphlet contained the text of two broadcasts made by the Prime Minister. As I have said it was almost ten years ago. In the first, he set out to explain the reasons for rising prices and in the second he outlined the Government’s programme to deal with them. I shall not regale the House with all that the Prime Minister said at that time. I shall, however, remind honorable members of the Prime Minister’s diagnosis of our economic troubles, and then of the remedies that he prescribed, none of which he has ever attempted to implement. He said -
The rise in prices is, of course, not peculiar to Australia. It is still substantially true of us that, in relation to our currency, prices in Australia are lower than in either the United States or Great Britain.
I interrupt myself at this stage to say that that was an implied tribute to the Curtin Government and to the Chifley Government, because the Menzies Government had been in power for less than nine months when this first broadcast was made. The position became very different later, and at the present time the comparison of prices between Australia on the one hand and the United States or Great Britain on the other is all to the advantage of the other two countries. The Prime Minister went on -
I should also point out that the rise in prices in Australia has been going on at about the same rate for at least the last three years.
Whatever the rise that had been taking place over the preceding three years, it is undeniably true that in 1949 the Australian £1 purchased as much as the equivalent currency of any other country purchased, and purchased more than most. The Prime Minister continued in his broadcast -
However, it is tremendously important to understand the causes of rising prices generally so that we can the better appreciate what remedies are available and estimate their effect.
After some other comments, the Prime Minister said this -
That may have been true of certain employers, but there was no evidence adduced to prove the charge, and there was no attempt to establish that the workers of that period were “ going slow “, as the Prime Minister suggested. In the second broadcast, headed “ Rising Prices - the Answer “, the Prime Minister said -
If you have considered what I said last night you will agree that some of the factors in the price rise are outside the control of any Government, that some lend themselves to Government action, and that some depend upon the point of view of the individual and will not be cured unless most of us cure our own attitudes towards our jobs.
That was all that the Prime Minister had to say about the matter. No remedy was prescribed there. He merely uttered an exhortation to every one. to behave himself.
When it came to the question of remedies, the Prime Minister had this to say -
The conditions upon which we can slow down and ultimately arrest the rise in prices are -
That the quantity of goods of all sorts, including houses and plant, should be materially increased either by much more efficiency and extensive production in Australia, or by greatly increased importation, or both;
Again I break away from the Prime Minister’s speech to point out that this country is still lacking in the number of houses required to enable young people to set up their homes and to start their married lives without having to wait a long while for accommodation, and certainly without having to wait a long while for financial accommodation. The third point made by the Prime Minister was -
That, in order to concentrate production upon vital and basic industries, means should be devised of encouraging employment in those industries and discouraging it in unnecessary or luxury trades;
Our charge is that for the last ten years - the ten years after that statement was made - the Government has done nothing to damp down the demand for luxury accommodation and has done everything to prevent young people and people on average incomes from obtaining the accommodation that they want. If it were otherwise, we would not have a £4,000,000 luxury hotel being built in Sydney, a £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 luxury hotel about to be commenced in Melbourne and luxury offices being built in Sydney and in Melbourne while young people cannot get the homes that they require. Later in his speech, the Prime Minister asked -
What are we now going to do . . .
He said -
Under this heading, I want to mention a number of matters which I do not necessarily place in any order of merit, because each in its own fashion is quite significant.
The first thing that the Prime Minister said he wanted to do was in this way -
As, in the period of inflation and rising prices, profits tend to rise and, in particular, there are certain businesses in which the acute scarcity of the commodity sold enables the sellers to obtain extravagant profits, we propose to present to Parliament a bill to impose an excess profits tax. This is a novelty, in time of peace.
It will be a novelty in the history of this Parliament if the Prime Minister carries out the promise made ten years ago to make those who have made extravagant profits disgorge some of their ill-gotten wealth. His fourth point was -
We propose to reinstitute Capital Issues Control. We think this should be done so that the absorption of capital and, therefore, of labour and materials into industries of minor importance, at the expense of those of major importance, may be restrained.
We have waited for ten years and we have never had a bill to control capital issues presented to the Parliament. The Prime Minister has fallen down on those two promises - an excess profits tax and capital issues control. In his fifth point, he said -
We propose to institute a control over basic materials, our plan being that until certain grave shortages in Australia have been repaired vital materials, which many people now need for essential purposes, should not be allowed to be diverted to less important uses.
Over the past ten years, the very process which the Prime Minister condemned then, and which he promised to rectify, has continued, and people are still being denied those essential and vital materials which they need. While some people have been able to spend £21,000,000 in the past few years on building up Surfers Paradise on the south coast of Queensland, quite a lot of decent Australians elsewhere in the country have been unable to get homes, hospitals which were greatly needed have not been provided, necessary roads have remained unbuilt and the public sector of the economy has been neglected - all this so that the parasitic few can obtain profits which, in a decent system of society, they should never be allowed to obtain.
I quote the words of the Prime Minister again. Referring to the instituting of control over basic materials, he said -
Don’t think for one moment that this means a sort of “ government grab “. On the contrary, I want a fair deal for all, and not just a picnic for the man or company which gets in first.
Has not that been the position over the last ten years? Has it not been a picnic for the wealthy? Has it not been a picnic for the overseas investors? Has it not been a picnic for anybody with wealth who has been prepared to put his money into luxury goods while the ordinary people of Australia have had to pay heavily in interest charges in order to meet their commitments?
– What document has the honorable member been quoting from?
– My inquisitive friend from Grayndler, my very distinguished and much travelled friend from Grayndler, has asked me from what document 1 am quoting. I am quoting from “ Current Politics “, which is issued by the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia. This is issue No. 7, dated 9th October, 1950, and it is a special issue containing two broadcasts by the Prime Minister on the threat of inflation, the evils that he had to deal with and the remedies that he was suggesting in order to deal with those evils.
– Where did the Leader of the Opposition get his copy?
– I got it from the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party.
– That shows how liberal we are.
– That is right. It shows, also, that I still have friends who will supply me with important information.
The Prime Minister went on to say -
The main means that the Government adopted in order to increase the tax on luxuries was the raising to 66$ per cent, of the sales tax on ladies’ cosmetics and on shaving soap and razor blades. Those were the luxuries that the Government wished to dissuade the people from using.
Then we come to the twelfth point in a fourteen-point programme. The Prime Minister said -
We will . . . convene … a conference of the Public Service Commissioners of the Commonwealth and of the States and of outside persons of administrative experience to find out to what extent there is avoidable overlapping between Commonwealth and State Departments, and to make recommendations for the elimination of this overlapping in the interests of economy.
The conference never met. It has not met once in ten years. All these pious platitudes and all this nonsense that the Prime Minister uttered in his two broadcasts of 1950 were meant to have a soporific effect and were never intended as a programme of action. If they were intended as a programme of action, why have we had all the inaction?
What has happened in the ten years that have elapsed since this Government took office? In 1949, Australia’s currency was better than that of any other country in the Western world. What has happened since? Figures supplied to the Parliament by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) indicate that in the last ten years prices have risen 98 per cent, in Australia, 52 per cent, in Great Britain, 50 per cent, in Canada and only 18 per cent, in the United States of America. Any one who listened to the Government would believe that the battle against inflation had been fought and won. I recall the previous Treasurer saying triumphantly in this chamber in one Budget speech that inflation had been arrested. If it was ever arrested, it was never locked up. It escaped very soon afterwards and it has been at large ever since. I remember an occasion when my distinguished right honorable friend, the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in the enthusiasm of his oratorical efforts, said, “ We now have permanent prosperity “. The Prime Minister, of course, being a little more moderate than was his younger colleague, contented himself with the observation that we were enjoying unparalleled prosperity.
There is prosperity in Australia. We could not avoid it, because the Chifley Government laid the foundations for it. Any inflation that exists in this country to-day is the result of this Government’s administration. What has it done in the way of creative effort. What scheme such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme has it started? What amendments of the Australian Constitution has it made in order to enable the Australian people to live better?
– The honorable member did not talk about that in Queensland recently.
– The Treasurer reminds me that he and I were in Brisbane last week. I recall that he had an attendance of 32 at a meeting in Rockhampton which he addressed in company with the Queensland Premier and the now famous mayor of that city. Of course, it rained that night. I spoke there two nights later. I must admit that I had a few more in the audience, but not too many more.
– Who won the election in Queensland?
– The Country-Liberal Government won under a gerrymandered electoral system. The electorates there are so gerrymandered that the Liberal Party and the Country Party, with only 45 per cent, of the votes, won the election. But they constitute a minority government. With only 45 per cent, of the votes, they won 43 seats. The Australian Labour Party received 42 per cent, of the votes and won 26 seats. Perhaps I may give members of the Liberal Party in this chamber who hail from Queensland another break-down of the figures by pointing out that the Country Party, with 10 per cent, fewer votes than the Liberal Party, won six more seats than the Liberal Party has. If members of the Liberal Party are satisfied with that kind of gerrymandering, they are easily satisfied. The Country-Liberal Government in Queensland will live for another three years, but not much longer. The tides are running out against capitalist governments everywhere.
The Treasurer had something to say in Queensland about the Deputy Leader of the Queensland Labour Party, who represented a minority party and who, if he were returned, would be one of very few representatives of that party. The Treasurer said that that gentleman was as helpless as was a beetle on its back. Is not that a fair description of the Treasurer’s position to-day in the battle against inflation? Is he not as helpless as is a beetle on its back? What has he done over the last ten or eleven months? He has done nothing at all in his period as Treasurer .to correct -the swing towards inflation. He has, of course, exhorted people to spend less. He has asked his friends of the employing class - the big employers and monopolists - to make smaller profits. In Queensland, he said, “ We told the Arbitration Commission that :at this time it should not grant an increase in the basic wage “. The operative words are “ We told “.
– Who said it?
– The Minister said it. He was reported to that effect in the daily press. Surely he will not try to tell me that the capitalist press misreports him.
– We put a case to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission
– What the right honorable gentleman said was, “We told the Arbitration Commission . . .” Is that synonymous with a request or with an instruction?
– We presented a case.
– I believe that the Government instructed the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to do what it did. That is not just my opinion. It is the opinion of quite a number of independent authorities.
– The honorable member is thinking of his own party’s tactics with the judiciary.
– Our tactics with the judiciary were never to pack the benches. That is what this Government has resorted to, and I have a pretty shrewd idea that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is working on some ideas to interfere further in the matter.
– Your former leader would be interested in that.
– My distinguished former leader could have been a judge of the High Court of Australia if we had wished to appoint him. We could have passed a bill if we had wanted to do so; but this Government arranged with Sir Hayden Starke and Sir George Rich to defer their resignations from the High Court bench so that this Government could appoint to the bench persons of its own political kidney.
– That is rubbish.
– It is true. The fight against inflation will never be finished until this Commonwealth Parliament has adequate powers to deal with the problem. I have said that time and time again. That is the opinion of the joint committee which was appointed by this Government to examine the Constitution. That committee sat for three years. It included some of the best men the Government could put on it from its own ranks, and in that committee’s opinion at least 22 important alterations of the Constitution are vital and necessary if the Commonwealth Parliament is to be clothed with power to legislate for the peace, security and good government of the people pf Australia. Yet the Government does nothing about the matter. It merely issues exhortations to the people. It recites incantations. It appeals to the employees not to be troublesome and difficult, and it expects, when its oratory is finished, that the problems of the country will be all solved. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has been so bemused by the Government that he said in this Parliament as recently as 15th March -
You can talk your way out of anything, according to supporters of the Government. The Government has had ten years in which to grapple with the problem of inflation and it has done nothing about it. When he was in Queensland last week, the Commonwealth Treasurer said -
We have done two things by which we hope to win the battle of inflation. We have told the Arbitration Commission not to increase the wages of the workers and we have lifted import restrictions.
– The workers’ wages have doubled under this Government.
– And the cost of living has more than doubled to the average person. Even the lifting of import restrictions is not going to be helpful to all workers. There are dangers inherent in that action. The people who are employed in the electrical trade, the boot and shoe trade, the clothing trade, in the production of textiles and in the toy trade are all badly affected by what is happening since the lifting of import restrictions. In the city of Ballarat, in Victoria, 40 employees in the process department of one big company, the Villiers Engineering Company, were retrenched a week ago. The managing director of Victa Consolidated Industries Proprietary Limited received a letter from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is also the Acting Prime Minister, in which the right honorable gentleman said, after examining the position affecting the company -
These considerations lead me to the conclusion that emergency action against imports of American engines is not warranted. I would, however, be prepared to re-examine the matter on production of evidence of serious damage to the local industry or evidence that serious damage will occur.
Having said that he would not consider the matter at all, the Acting Prime Minister, as Minister for Trade, did examine it, and now the matter goes to the Tariff Board. This Government’s policy regarding import restrictions is one of catch-as-catch-can. That is the sort of thing the Australian people do not approve. The Government has no real policy to deal with inflation or the unemployment that is created by inflation. Workers are being thrown out of the ordnance works in Bendigo today.
– They are not.
– They are. Difficulty has arisen at Mulwala, and I addressed a question to the Acting Prime Minister on Bendigo and Williamstown last week. The right honorable gentleman courteously replied that he would consider the matter, but he gave a warning that the Government could not maintain in employment all people who are engaged on government projects. As I said, I spoke about the people who were thrown out of work at the naval dockyards at Williamstown, and again we were promised that consideration would be given to steps that could be taken to help them. Workers are being thrown out of the aircraft production establishment in Fairfield, Victoria. Some are being dispensed with entirely. Some are to be absorbed. The Treasurer asked us why we do not talk about inflation or supply. These are the products of inflation and the inflationary policies that this Government is practising.
Now, Sir, I want to refer to a few other victims of the Government as a result of uncontrolled inflation. Ever since this Government has been in power, we have become inured to inflation of one sort or another. Some days it is galloping inflation and some days it is creeping inflation, but it is always inflation. It is always with us. There are other victims of inflation about whom the Government cares nothing. There are the people on fixed incomes who want the means test eliminated or progressively eased. In that connexion, I refer to another document of the Liberal Party which was scattered among its friends and supporters, a document which was published in 1951. On the front page, the publishers have superimposed the photogenic features of the Prime Minister. It is unmistakably a true Liberal Party document. In it the Prime Minister stated - we understand the difficult problem of the pensioners in a period in which prices are rising.
Then in thick type, heavy enough to trip a tramcar, the Prime Minister’s statement continues -
We may be relied upon to do full justice to their needs, as we have done before. Meanwhile we are, as we promised, working on the important problem of providing national retiring allowances on a basis which will not discourage thrift.
That was ten years ago. The Government was working on a programme then and it is still working on a programme; but it has never produced a programme to provide a national insurance scheme. I have a letter from the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in which he said it would cost £130,000,000 to abolish the means test. He said there were 650,000 pensioners in Australia to-day and there were 650,000 more of pensionable age who are debarred from receiving the pension because of a means test. But the Government proposes to do nothing at all about any section of those people. We in the Australian Labour Party believe in progressively easing the means test. We stated that during the last general election campaign. Had we received the preference of a splinter group which believed in the policy we enunciated because its leaders said precisely the same thing, we would have been the government of Australia to-day in place of these people opposite. They were elected to office by a section of the community that believes the Government’s economic and social policy is entirely wrong and disadvantageous to the interests of Australia.
There is not the slightest doubt that the pensioners of Australia are worse off now than they have been at any time in the past ten years. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who, without any justification whatever, has gone on a jaunt to Geneva, have both said that the pensioners of Australia have never had it so good. I ask honorable members whether they could find among all the pensioners one who would say that he is better off under the Menzies Government than he was under the Chifley Government. Every one of them would say that he or she was worse off. But Government supporters cook the figures. They base their claims on the C series index. The Opposition bases its claims on the basic wage as determined by the court over the last ten years, and the Court has added prosperity loadings to the basic wage. Are pensioners not just as entitled to share in prosperity as are the basic wage earners? If they are, they should be getting a higher pension.
All around Australia to-day, people are demanding more Commonwealth assistance for education. Not one State says that it has enough money with which to deal with its educational problems. In Labour’s policy speech which the former Leader of this party delivered in 1958, we went on record as stating -
We promised that if a Labour government were elected we would make an immediate and urgent examination of primary, secondary and technical education. We said -
The Murray Report shows clearly that there will never be full and adequate university education unless primary, secondary and technical education are also advanced.
Then followed our promise to appoint a commission to inquire into all forms of primary, secondary and technical education on the same lines as the Murray committee which reported on university education. We challenge this Government, now, to appoint such a commission. If it does not, it is indifferent to the educational needs of the Australian people. Surely we are not indifferent to what is happening in our country in the field of education! The United States of America is doing much more than we are doing. England is doing much more than we are doing. Russia is doing much more than we are doing.
The gross national product in Russia, according to a professor of Harvard University whose statement is reported in the current issue of the “ Economic Record “, is increasing by 10 per cent, annually; in the United States of America the gross national product is increasing by from 3 to 5 per cent, annually; and in Australia by from 2 to 3 per cent, annually. Russia does not need to go to war to conquer the world. Russia need only concentrate on its trade possibilities and it can outsell us in all the uncommitted markets of the world and sway neutral Asian countries towards its cause. We have nothing to offer. We are not producing enough, anywhere near enough, scientists or technicians to develop this country. None of us can be smug about the matter.
I would like to remind members of the Australian Country Party who sit in the corner of the chamber that the American carry-over of wheat every year exceeds all the wheat that Australia produces in eight years. Canada’s surplus is ten times that of Australia. The United States now holds accumulated surpluses of food to the value of £3,000,000,000. Every year it is spending tens of thousands of dollars in providing more accommodation in which to dump more surpluses which it cannot sell overseas. The United States either undersells us or gives its food away. So the future looks dim for the Australian wheatgrower.
In wool production, upon which we depend largely for the funds that we need in London to finance the importation of essential capital and consumer goods, Russia will soon be outclassing us. But the Government goes complacently along and says, “ There is nothing much to worry about. Everything will be all right provided the Menzies Government is kept in office.” We of the Labour Party keep reminding this Government of how disastrous the situation in Australia might become. Recently, the Treasurer closed a loan for £25,000,000 which was undersubscribed, I think, by £3,500,000. He cannot attract money for essential State works. Not enough money is available to finance the public sector of the economy, to provide roads, schools,- bridges and everything else without which the private sector of the economy cannot function. But a gentleman named L. J. Hooker, who has an investment corporation the chairman of which is Sir Arthur Fadden, the former Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and the vice-chairman of which is Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, closed his issue of £500,000 at 8 per cent, with an over-subscription of £2,000,000. There is plenty of money where 8 per cent, is offered; there is not enough money where 4 or 5 per cent, is offered.
The Government does nothing to restrain the rapacity of those people who offer 8 per cent, and who lend the money out to unfortunate victims at 8 per cent, flat, which is the equivalent of 16 per cent, per annum. The history of this country and of every country shows that exorbitant interest rates ultimately bring about a crash. But when we ask the Government to do something about it, Ministers wash their hands, Pontius Pilate fashion, and say, “ It is not our responsibility. We have not the power.” Let them seek the power, and we will help them to get it. We can answer for 43 per cent, of the people. I know that the Government’s influence is dwindling, but it has to persuade only another 8 per cent, of Australians to carry this proposal into law and this Parliament will then have the power that it needs for the nation, not merely to survive, but to progress.
The Treasurer has told us, on occasion, that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has told the private trading banks that they must restrict credit. But the private banks merely laugh at the Government and pass their money over to their hire-purchase companies which extend credit for them. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) raised this matter by way of a question a short time ago. Since that time several private banks have increased the holdings of their hire-purchase subsidiaries.
– They use shareholders’ funds.
– If the honorable member for Henty is fooled as easily as that, he is the only member of this Parliament who is likely to fall into that predicament. While the average worker in Australia is struggling to meet the cost of living, while the Arbitration Commission refuses to give the basic wage worker an increase in the basic wage commensurate with the prosperity about which the Government talks so much, big companies are making enormous profits - greater profits than they have ever made before. The Consolidated Zinc Corporation Limited made £2,600,000 last year as against £1,000,000 the year before, an increase of 154 per cent. Industrial Sales and Service (New South Wales) Proprietary Limited doubled its previous year’s profit. James
Hardie Asbestos Limited increased its profit by 35.6 per cent. Patons and Baldwins (Australia) Limited increased its profit by 51.4 per cent. Brick Industries Limited increased its profit by 30 per cent. Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited doubled its previous year’s profit and most of the companies that could be cited in this connexion deal in household construction materials. Brick kilns, timber companies, electrical companies and all these other people are having a feast, a glorious time while this Government lasts, but the great mass of the people are making a very heavy sacrifice.
– What notes is the honorable member speaking from?
– I am speaking from the stock exchange report. If the honorable member for Hume in the few months that he has left as a member of this Parliament would only read the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which he once read with such avidity, particularly the issue of 2nd March last, he would at least begin to understand the problems with which the nation is confronted. Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ said this, editorially -
It was delivered with astonishing frankness to the address of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission-
And I draw particular attention to the next statement - whose members must already be feeling a little punch drunk from the rain of blows that has lately fallen on their normally well-insulated heads.
That is the opinion of one of my favourite newspapers. This Government has to take notice of the fact that its policy is not winning support among the people nor is it winning support overseas. Even the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank had this to say -
For the future, we must rely increasingly on our capacity to reduce real costs of production by increasing productivity through better technology and our ability to keep the movement of our internal money costs favourable compared with those in competitive countries.
We have not done it, we are not doing it and while this Government lasts, we will not be able to do it. This Government is relying almost entirely upon the inflow of overseas capital to bridge the gap between exports and imports. If that money ever dries up and we cannot get enough money’ from Switzerland, France, America or England and we cannot borrow from theJapanese or possibly the Russian Communists or the Chinese Communists, then therewill be a halt to the country’s expansion. The Governor of the Bank of Canada had this to say -
There is no reason in principle why Canada could not make great progress without drawing on the savings of foreigners on a huge scale to finance our capital expenditures or consumption.
That gentleman spoke from a wealth of experience because Canada’s policy of allowing any go-getter to invest in Canadian securities has resulted in the situation where 60 per cent, of Canadian shares are owned in some American city or other. Surely the Treasurer does not want to place us in a position where we are almost completely owned by overseas interests. We ought to be able to do what other countries have done, but we have not done it.
Now for the benefit of the members of the Australian Country Party, who seem to have sold their souls to this Government, let me remind them that the number of persons engaged on rural holdings in the last year that Labour was in power was 400,772 but the figure in 1958 was 393,853 despite the fact that the Australian population had increased from 7,500,000 to 10,250,000 in the meantime. Let me tell them, too, that the average farm income in 1949-50 was £448 but in 1958-59 it had dropped to an estimated £408. In the year 1948-49 the total of personal incomes in Australia was £1,917,000,000 but in 1958-59 it was £4,778,000,000. All through those years the farmers’ incomes have been falling. People have been moving off the land and the primary producers of Australia can no longer look to members of the Country Party and the rich young squatters of the Liberal Party to protect them in their plight. Australia must return a Labour Government at the next election, and Australia will do so.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has just made one of his very humorous speeches for which T think he has no equal in this House. His speeches always have good entertainment value and I think we would all regret very much if he did not make just that type of speech. When he raises the old bogy of putting value back into the £1, we all know what to expect. We know that he is running out of economic proposals and he has to get back to the old catchcry, now as dead as the dodo itself. He has no other thoughts or ideas, such as the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) suggested, when he was speaking, that he might give us, on how to put value back into the £1. One would think that if the Australian Labour Party is so good and this Liberal-Australian Country Party Government is so bad, it is a strange thing that the electors have successfully shown, parliament after parliament that they have no confidence in the Labour Party. On Saturday last, we saw the spectacle again of the Queensland people showing that they, too. have no confidence in the Australian Labour Party or in the Queensland Labour Party. This kind of thing is repeated every three years in the federal sphere and also in the States sphere.
One can understand very well why the Leader of the Opposition had to work himself into a fury and also depend on humorous incidents, which he is so capable of relating, in order to cover up something that he is anxious to hold back from the people. The Leader of the Opposition is not always quite accurate with his facts. He followed the routine of not wanting to spoil a good story by giving the complete truth when he referred to 40 dismissals in the electorate of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Erwin). Of course, those dismissals have nothing whatever to do with the lifting of imports, to which the honorable member was referring. The 40 persons referred to were employed by a firm in Ballarat just prior to Christmas, in a temporary capacity - a thing that happens very often in big factories where extra staff are employed in preparation for the Christmas rush. The majority of these people dismissed were not family breadwinners, as the honorable member said in the course of his speech, but casual labour put on for a temporary period. But of course, the honorable member did not tell us that; neither did he say anything about the prosperity that this country has enjoyed during the last ten years. These are very embarrassing facts for him and one can very well understand why he quickly passed from that particular subject.
However, I did not rise to discuss that subject or refer to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I want to make a plea, very briefly, for Commonwealth financial assistance for local government. 1 am conscious of the fact that this will be probably the last opportunity that members will have in this House of reminding the Government, or of making a plea to the Government, to consider certain things in the Budget that it will be bringing down in the next session of Parliament. I want the Government when formulating the Budget, to consider ways and means of assisting local government to discharge its obligations to the ratepayers.
I hope, Sir, that I can assist the Government a little in its thinking on this matter by making a few suggestions. I do not want to go deeply into the reason for this position because the question of how and when and why the Commonwealth Government should assist local government has been discussed on many occasions in this Parliament. However, I think it is generally appreciated throughout Australia that under our old-fashioned Commonwealth Constitution the Commonwealth is unable to assist local government because that is not a Commonwealth, but a State responsibility. I think it is a good thing to remind ourselves occasionally when we are considering this subject that the rate of development during the last ten years has been nothing less than stupendous. It flows especially from the prosperity that we have been enjoying in this country - something that the honorable member for Melbourne did not tell the House.
This development, for which this Government is responsible, has brought unprecedented economic troubles to, and pressures upon, local government bodies, and these problems are difficult of solution. Although councils have been anxious to discharge their obligations to ratepayers they have not been able to get away from the oldfashioned methods to which they are tied. They are not able to change their method of collecting revenue as private enterprise is able to do. So I say this, that while it is a State responsibility I do not think the Commonwealth can totally disregard the present financial position of local government bodies. Of course, the Commonwealth should be very familiar with this state of affairs because other organizations have had to appeal from time to time to the Commonwealth Government, and some of them have been assisted. Some have been State instrumentalities to which the Commonwealth Government has had to give some sort of assistance.
Local authorities, being close to the people, are expected to give without reward services which were never intended to be their function when they were first constituted. However, these extra responsibilities have gradually grown upon them and to-day have become a serious embarrassment and a source of great financial difficulty. In my own State of Victoria there has been unprecedented development in the opening of new areas, and local authorities have had to deal with most difficult financial problems. One of these problems, of course, is the provision of sewerage in some of the new housing areas. We in Victoria appreciate the fact that this is not a local government matter - it is a matter for the Metropolitan Board of Works - but it indicates something of the difficulties that local instrumentalities meet because of the tremendous development that is going on at the present time. I remind the House that 89,000 suburban houses in Victoria are without sewerage, and I expect that honorable members from other States could cite even higher figures. Of course, linked with the development that is taking place is the need to improve water channels, to make footpaths and roads - all of which have to be provided by local councils. It is they who have the greatest financial worries because of the unprecedented development over the past ten years.
If the Government cannot assist local authorities directly under the Constitution, I suggest that it might help by making ex gratia payments in lieu of rates on Commonwealth property. We know that at present rates are being paid by quite a number of Commonwealth instrumentalities. I refer to the Commonwealth Bank and some of our airlines and airways. Local councils have received payments in lieu of rates for properties owned by these bodies, but the Government does not pay any rates for post offices. That is one example of a class of Commonwealth property which local councils have to service, but for which the Com monwealth Government pays no rates whatever. So, Sir, I suggest that the Government, when preparing the Budget might consider extending the range of Commonwealth properties for which it pays local rates. Post offices and residences attached to post offices constitute just one example of Commonwealth properties for which no rates are paid.
There is also pay-roll tax, a matter of great embarrassment to local authorities. At the present time, councils are required to pay this tax, and when they are assessing their rates they have to take into consideration the amount of pay-roll tax that is paid to the Commonwealth. This is double taxation at its very worst. These are just two ways in which the Commonwealth Government could help local government bodies - first, by making ex gratia payments on properties for which it is not paying rates at present and, secondly, by exempting local councils from pay-roll tax. I trust that the Government, when framing the Budget, will give favorable consideration to both of these suggestions.
.- The House at the moment is considering a number of financial measures simultaneously, but I wish to talk about one of them in particular.
– Order! We are discussing only one.
– If we are discussing only one that suits me, too. We have before us the Appropriation Bill, or what is traditionally known as the Supplementary Estimates. In many respects the Supplementary Estimates on this occasion virtually amount to a rewriting of the Budget. They are probably one of the oddest sets of Supplementary Estimates that have been presented to the Parliament, because out of a total of £60,185,000 something like £41,000,000 represents, not unexpected expenditure by departments, but transfers of surplus revenue that has accrued during the year. A sum of £31,000,000 is to be transferred to the Defence estimates as an offset to an amount of £37,590,000 which it was expected would have to be obtained from the loan fund. Then there is the sum of £10,000,000 which is to be transferred to an account know as the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, which, again, is an account in the Government’s bookkeeping scheme which serves to camouflage the true financial position of the nation.
It is well that we have these debates so that we can see precisely what the Government intends to do. It has already announced that, as part of its measures to control inflation in the Australian economy, it proposes to take a number of steps. One of the steps about which it is so unctuous is the avoidance in the future of what it called a budget deficit. It is very difficult, because of the way in which the Government’s accounts are presented at present, to know whether, technically, there is a surplus or a deficit in any accounting sense. In one year amounts are included in revenue; in another year they are included in the loan account; in one year sums are drawn out of reserves accumulated in previous years, and in another year they are not. The whole effect is to distort entirely the accounts which are presented to the Parliament. This is a rather serious state of affairs, and I pointed initially to two items to support my statement.
If honorable members look at the Budget which was presented on 11th August, 1959, they will see that, after taking into account all the cash requirements and all the anticipated cash receipts for the year, it was expected that there would be a Budget deficit - that is, a difference between the amount to be raised by taxes and the amount proposed to be spent - of about £61,000,000. That deficit of £61,000,000 presumed that £37,000,000 of the expenditure on defence would come, not out of the ordinary revenue account of the Government, but out of the loan account. The Government says that because the revenue is more buoyant than had been anticipated at the beginning of the financial year, it is now possible to take £31,000,000 out of Consolidated Revenue and devote it to defence expenditure. The same applies to the £10,000,000 which is going into that omnibus account known as the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. Apparently that sum is to adjust short falls in the loan programme for the coming year. I think that my remarks are timely when one tries properly to assess the present economic situation in Australia.
I take up the challenge which was thrown out by interjection by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) who asked what the Opposition proposed to do about inflation. I reply to him immediately by saying that unfortunately the Opposition is not the Government and that the remedying of inflation in this country is the responsibility of the government of the day.
Prior to the House going into recess about a fortnight ago we had presented to us a document called “ The Australian Economy 1960 “. I suppose that technically this is a Treasury document. I think that the remarks of a witness, who appeared recently before the Radcliffe committee in Great Britain, in relation to economic surveys published there may be applied to “The Australian Economy 1960 “. He said -
Of course, the surveys also reflect to some extent the views of the government of the day.
Then he added rather cryptically -
At any rate, the adjectives do.
What are probably more important than the adjectives in the Australian document are one or two nouns and one or two adverbs which are used. We have been chided on this side of the House for not having any remedy for inflation. All I suggest is that we on this side of the chamber believe that you cannot lay the blame for inflation entirely at the door of the wage-earner, as the Government seems inclined to do.
I should like to read to honorable members some extracts from “ The Australian Economy 1960 “ because I think that they are relevant. Bearing in mind that they represent the left hand, if not the right hand of government policy - undertones rather than overtones - they are matters to which the Government ought to pay some attention. After making some, examination of the situation in Australia, the document states on page 10 -
Predominantly, it is clear, the movement -
That is, the upward movement in prices - belongs to our own economy. Rents, mark-ups-
That is, mark-ups of prices by firms - public authority charges-
Such as the recent increase in postal charges - and other elements have contributed; it has by no means been due to wages alone.
The Government ought to do something besides intervening in the arbitration court.
On page 16 the document refers to some things which have happened in the economy during the year. It states -
Unquestionably, too, abundant money has had a part in the inflation of demand for shares and real estate. Under competition from both local and overseas investors, share prices, as measured by the Sydney Stock Exchange index, rose by nearly 40 per cent, in 1959. There is no general measure of real estate values but, on such evidence as there is, they have risen very generally.
The Government intervened in the hearing of an application for an increase in the basic wage by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and suggested that the economy could not stand a third round of wage increases. What has the Government, as the custodian of the economy of the nation, done in relation to rents, mark-ups, public utility charges, prices on the Sydney Stock Exchange and real estate values? It is encumbent upon the Government to answer those questions. If you regard the weekly wage of the wageearner as the price that he receives for his labour, virtually the only price that is controlled in the Australian economy is the weekly wage. Surely, as a matter of common justice, if you control wages, you should do something about the goods and services which the wages are expected to buy. But that is the last thing that this Government does. It imposes a number of indirect controls in this country which it hopes may lead by some process of trial and error to adjustments; but all that happens is that the prices of the ordinary goods and services which the wage-earner wants to buy with his weekly wages begin to rise, and there is no course open to him but to seek an adjustment in his weekly wage through the processes of arbitration and the various industrial tribunals as they operate in Australia at either the Federal level or the State level. That is the position in the Australian economy at the moment. We see in the press every day advertisements by all sorts of individuals saying “ If you leave your money with us we will pay you 8 per cent. - or 10 per cent, or 12 per cent - for very short terms indeed “.
We find, equally, that in order to make its own books balance the Government is using all sorts of curious devices to seek money both at home - by new devices such as what is called the short-term money market, about which I will say a bit more in a moment - and also by the conversion of loans- which are falling due overseas. 1 will quote this as an example of the kind, of husbanding of. the nation’s resources that is taking place to-day. I will quote froma fairly impartial document, and I am sorry that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) is not here, because he might approve the source. I refer to the International Financial News Survey for 25th September, 1959, a publication of the International Bank, which refers to an Australian loan in New York. AH we are told about Australian loans in New York is a cryptic line or two in the press from the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), saying that he has successfully converted a loan. This is the sort of thing which is called successful conversion. This publication states -
The Australian Government has sold 25,000,000 dollars of 51 per cent, twenty year bonds to a syndicate of 70 U.S. investment banking concerns headed by Morgan Stanley & Company. The issue was sold at 94) per cent, and represents a ner interest cost to Australia of about 5.96 pel cent. The bonds are direct obligations of the Commonwealth of Australia and are being offered by the syndicate to the public at 97, to yield about 5.75 per cent, to maturity.
The last bond issue by Australia in the United States was in October 1958, when a syndicate placed 25 million dollars of 5 per cent. 20-year bonds at 97J, representing a yield to maturity of about 5.20 per cent.
That is a premium to Morgan Stanley and the others of two-and-a-half points in every hundred and represents a net interest cost to Australia of about 5.96 per cent. The bonds are the direct obligation of the Commonwealth of Australia and are being offered by the syndicate to the public at 97. In other words in about twelve months the credit of Australia overseas has deteriorated nearly 1 per cent, in the terms of the yield, from 5.2 to 5.96 per cent. But all we are told here about these loans is that they have been successfully converted in a matter of minutes. We are not told that somebody has had a rake-off. You can work out the sum for yourself - 2i per cent, on £25,000,000 - and we are told it is done in a very short time. What it means is that of every £100 Australia has ultimately to pay back we get only £94 10s. on these particular loans. That is one example of the kind of financial husbandry of this nation to-day.
The next matter I wish to deal with is of an internal kind, which is purely set up by this Government. T refer to the short-term money market, and I quote again from the document, “ The Australian Economy 1960 “. This refers to the position in the previous Budget year and comes back to the point upon which I started - that it is very difficult in Australia to know what the national bookkeeping is because to-day you take something from here and put it there, and next year something which was included is excluded, and what you are supposed to do is add up and see whether we have a surplus or a deficit. This is what happened in the previous year when it had been anticipated that there would have been a Budget deficit of £110,000,000, and instead of that it was only £29,000,000. The significant words are -
Although the Commonwealth cash deficit for the year was only £29,000,000 against the £110,000,000 originally estimated, heavy trading bank subscriptions to Commonwealth loans had much the same effect on liquidity as issues of central bank credit.
In other words, instead of the Government issuing at 1 per cent, it allowed the trading banks 5i per cent., or in their case mostly 4 per cent., because they took short-term securities. The position was much the same regarding the loan subscriptions of the short-term market dealers insofar as they were using funds obtained from the trading banks. What kind of circular movement is that? If honorable members look at the figures published monthly in the bulletin of the Reserve Bank, as it is now called, they will find that this institution has subscribed sums, I think, in the region at the moment of £80,000,000, on which the average interest yield is something in the region of 2i per cent. These were sums of money which, previously, the banking system itself or individuals, if they wanted to get interest on a short-term basis, put into the banks which loaned it to the Treasurer on treasury-bills at 1 per cent. But the net effect is that £80,000,000 which previously barely brought in 1 per cent, is now able to bring in 2t per cent. Again let us work out the difference in the terms of £80,000,000 for an average of six months at 1£ per cent, and see what that kind of financial manipulation is costing the taxpayers of Australia.
It is easy enough to say, as the Government does, that it believes in growth; and again we can take the text of the survey for 1960, to which I have referred, which says the emphasis on these papers has been that in Australia we think we should have growth with stability. What we of the Labour Party in Australia believe is that we should have growth with equity as between all sections of the community and not just prosperity for the financial manipulators in the Australian community. I am astonished when I see the price which has to be paid at the moment in Melbourne for a block of building land within any reasonable proximity of the city. A sum of at least £1,000 or often as high as £2,000, has to be paid for land which, as my colleague the member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) knows, was being sold by the acre not long ago, and to-day is being sold by land sharks with almost the protection of the Government. These land sharks are doing very prosperously for themselves but are loading a debt for life onto the potential home-builders in the Australian community.
It is easy enough to point to the figures and say that there are 85,000 houses being built per annum in Australia at the moment, but ask yourself, if you are the father of a son or daughter of about the age of 21, or 22 or up to 30 years of age, who might be getting married within the next few years and who you think is entitled to the same type of home as you have - and measure the financial responsibility they have to incur as against the weekly income that they are deriving - whether you can look forward with any optimism in the next ten years to the same rate of building construction we have to-day. What have we in the Australian economy at the moment? We have growth - but growth in a distorted form. There are no priorities. Certain activities, instead of being cultivated, as they ought to be, are being exterminated or choked, because whoever can offer the highest price for the available money gets the money. The money does not always go to the places where it is most needed. We say that homes, schools and hospitals should have a higher priority than hotels, banks and insurance offices. Go to Melbourne and see the kind of lavish establishments that are being built on some of the major corners there at the moment, and then think of the lists of people waiting for housing commission homes. Ask yourselves how these people can afford to rent even a housing commission home when the average wage is £18 or £20 a week and the rent of some of these places is between £4 and £5 a week. Go to the sort of places I have in my electorate - homes built 80 years ago, which have been cut in two, and each half is being let at £6 a week to a family with two or three children. How can a family man afford to pay that rent from a wage of £20 a week? How are such families to get out of that kind of situation? What is this Government doing, either within the limits of its power under the Constitution, or in conjunction with the States, in the field of rents or prices control or anything else? Let honorable members opposite look coldly at the Government documents and ask themselves whether we are getting growth with stability or whether, on the contrary, it is not a case of our beginning to get a distorted growth than can lead only to social instability and discontent among various sections of the community.
I would suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the time is ripe for a serious reexamination of the whole financial structure as it applies to governments, to financial institutions, and to every aspect of life in Australia at the moment. This will have to be done sooner or later, and if it is done later it will be done only at the cost of a lot of social tragedy in the interval.
We have in this country a Liberal government, which is the equivalent of what in England is called a tory government. Let me contrast the attitude of our Government with the attitude of the British Government. Let me point to the lack of collective responsibility for dealing with the problems we are discussing that is shown by our Government, in contrast with the attitude of the British Government. I shall cite a report which I think many honorable members have read in the last six or eight months. It is the report of a British committee on the working of the monetary system in Great Britain. The astonishing thing about this report is that it comes from a committee that was set up by a tory government. I suppose its members were fairly carefully picked. However, that report states clearly and emphatically that the most important factor in a modern community is that there be no hindrance to the growth of the public side of the economy. In this country, it is the public side of the economy which is allowed to flag, because the volume of finance for public works under this regime, depends on how much is left over after luxury buildings and other things that call for private investment have been allowed to take their share.
That is what the committee in Great Britain held should not be done. One of the things that committee pointed to as needing a great deal of careful husbanding by a government was the control of what might, in general terms, be called the level and growth of the national debt. The committee defined the term “ national debt “ fairly widely, as not meaning only the stocks and bonds issued by the government, but as going back even to the bank notes themselves, because ultimately they are I O U ‘s issued by the government.
– It also agreed to an increase in the rate of interest.
– It was by no means unanimous about the rate of interest. In fact, that was one of the things it was very vague about. For the benefit of the honorable member 1 shall quote from a summary taken from the “ Economic Review” issue number 5, for September, 1959, of the National Institute, London. It summarizes the findings contained in paragraphs 570 to 577 of the committee’s report as follows: -
The Committee doubts whether the market does have some instinct for a “ normal “ level of the long term rate. It sees three factors dragging bond yields up; the steady increase in the debt;- which it says is a novelty in peace time, but is something which is going to continue - the expectation of continuing inflation, and the shift (independently of inflation fears) towards equities.
That is, a shift from gilt-edged securities to private investment. Those are the three factors which, the committee says, account for the higher interest rate in Great Britain at the moment. I would say that the implication is that if there were a proper husbanding of the nation’s resources, we could keep the interest rate here much lower than it is. The committee sees the key to the situation not so much in the interest rate as in the proper handling of, as the committee defines it broadly, the national debt.
I suggest that that sort of scrutiny, that sort of examination, is not being made by the Australian Government at the moment. Because it is not being made, we face dark days in this economy. They will come unless some more drastic and more positive step is taken by the Government. It is the Government, not the Opposition, which has the responsibility for the handling of inflation. I hope that within a short space of time our positions will be reversed, and that the handling of the problem of inflation will be the responsibility of the Labour Party. At the moment, the handling of inflation is the responsibility of the parties opposite. Unfortunately, they place the burden on those sections of the community least able to bear it - -the wage earners and their families, and people on fixed incomes, particularly the pensioners. This is not our idea of growth. This is not our idea of stability. We believe that there should be growth, but we believe that there should be growth with equity. It is the responsibility of the Government to see that equity exists.
– I suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it would meet the convenience of the House and of honorable members if you were to allow the debate on me Appropriation Bill No. 2 to embrace matters included in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill, the Supply Bill and the Supply (Works and Services) Bill. The votes on each of these bills would, of course, be put separately in the usual way.
– Does the House agree with the suggestion? As I have heard no dissentient voice, honorable members may now refer to the four bills in the one debate, but each bill will be submitted separately for approval.
.- We welcome the debate on these bills because it provides an opportunity for honorable members to wander, as it were, over a pretty large area of territory. I have sought the opportunity to speak during this debate primarily in order to say something about defence, particularly missiles, and to make specific reference to the cancellation of the Blue Streak programme. Before I do so, Sir, I am bound to make a few observations concerning the speech which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has just finished. I hope that the honorable member will not collapse with disappointment, but I am not driven to attempt to reply in extenso to his argument. His was a speech heavily in character, a very steady speech, and he seemed to me to speak with all the genuine goodwill and cheer of an undertaker. One would gather the impression from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that this country, if not poised perilously upon the brink of disaster, had already fallen over the brink and lay at the bottom, smashed and ruined.
The truth of the matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that for the past ten or twelve years, as readily admitted by the honorable gentleman, this country has known a time of unparalleled development. That is something that the honorable gentleman is not at liberty to refute. The fact that Australia, with its relatively restricted capacities in many directions, has been able to bring and settle here more than 1,000,000 people is a remarkable achievement. I invite the honorable gentleman, with his infinite capacity for research, to look seriously and honestly at this and to attempt to find comparable circumstances anywhere else in the world. The honorable gentleman attempted to draw a pathetic picture of housing in Australia, when the truth of the matter is that, under this Government and with encouragement from this Government, more houses have been built here than during the time of any other government. It seems to me to be a strange touch of irony that the honorable gentleman should refer to some sections of his electorate and to suggest that there has been an inequitable distribution of the country’s prosperity. I invite him to tour with me some sections of my electorate. He would find that by far the greater number of television aerials are in those areas that support the Australian Labour Party. Where is the inequity in that?
I do not want to continue answering the honorable gentleman, because I want to say something in reply to the extraordinary speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) this evening. Of course, it was an extremely well rehearsed speech. My honorable and gallant friend from Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) said that it was the first speech he heard the honorable gentleman deliver in this House. He dragged it out of mothballs in recent weeks when he journeyed to Queensland to take part in the State elections there. Honorable members will recall the fabulous prophesies made by the honorable gentleman some weeks ago, and his glowing references here this evening. The honorable gentleman said some few weeks ago that the Australian Labour Party would have a great and glorious victory in Queensland. I say this to him: If there had been preferential voting in Queensland, the Australian Labour Party would have been nigh annihilated in the State elections.
What did the Leader of the Opposition do when he came to Queensland, apart from making the speech that he made here this evening? He made what I thought was a very clownish reference to the distinguished Premier of that State, and I welcome this opportunity to say something about it. The Leader of the Opposition addressed what he would style as a well-attended election rally every one bursting with enthusiasm to hear the words of wisdom coming from the new Leader of the Australian LabouParty. I should imagine that there would be twenty of them there, all on the point of collapse with excitement, waiting for these words to arrive In referring to the Premier of Queensland, the Leader of the Opposition said that if Mr. Nicklin had entered local government he may possibly have become a distinguished shire president. Surely the people of Queensland and the people of Australia are entitled to get something with a little more depth of thought in it from the federal Leader of the Australian Labour Party, the leader of a one-time great national party and the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the national Parliament. Strangely enough, on the same day an honorary degree was bestowed on the Premier of Queensland by the Queensland University. This was a great honour, as every member of the House will agree. The citation to the degree said, inter alia, that the Premier was as straight as a reed, well tested abroad and at home. There is gross childish, clownish irresponsibility on the one hand1 and the settled judgment of sober, sensible and reliable people on the other.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who is out of his place as usual and who will never be in his right place until he is out of the Parliament, interjects to the effect, “Wait until he gets on to you “. If my honorable friend could persuade his leader to come to Queensland and deliver to the electors of Moreton the same ill-considered speech that he delivered in the Parliament this evening, my majority would increase in a handsome fashion.
What did the honorable gentleman say this evening? He adopted the same undertaking tones as used by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - gloomy, with a genuine touch of darkness about them, with the suggestion that things are so terrible. But the Leader of the Opposition has never been right. As a prophet, I suppose he has built up for himself an astonishing record of inaccuracy.
– Unequalled, as my distinguished friend reminds me. I shall refer to what he had to say on 5 th February, 1950. This is contained in a Liberal Party publication. I commend these publications to the honorable gentleman, but he should not pick out one here and one there; he should read them all. On 5th February, 1950, he said-
The Menzies Government probably will not last a year and a crisis will certainly come within eighteen months.
– Who said that?
– The Leader of the Opposition. During May, 1952, the Leader of the Opposition said that Australia was heading straight into a depression. This was remarkable, because it was not twelve months before that the honorable gentleman said, “ Buy all you can. Do not save your money because the position is going to be desperate.” Here is the genuine touch of statesmanship, the lofty, isolated, detached approach, giving advice to people on how to counter inflation. He was wrong in his advice. Within twelve months, he said, “ No, there will not be inflation, there will be a depression “. I leave the honorable gentleman with these few sentiments: He is the leader of an obsolete party. The Australian Labour Party to-day is fighting battles that were fought and won 50 years ago, and the honorable gentleman to-day, unhappily, finds himself in a position where he is virtually the captive of the leftwingcontrolled executive in Victoria. As he said of the Prime Minister, he believes that be can talk his way out of things. As long as the Leader of the Opposition is disposed to talk in the way he did to-night the future of this Government is assured.
Having said that, Sir, may 1 move to something that I hope will not necessarily invite any measure of disputation between Opposition members and myself, and that is the matter of defence.
– Surely you are not looking for agreement
– I know I am running a bit of a risk, but you have to run risks now and then, or have you not tried?
Defence must remain the first consideration of any parliament. I use “ parliament “ in the broad sense, because in the final analysis the responsibility falls on the members of the Parliament collectively and not merely upon the Government. The Opposition has a role to fulfil in defence matters, and if it does not do so, it is not fulfilling one of its very responsible roles as an Opposition. There are some people who, in recent times, have been disposed to believe that all that is required in the matter of defence preparedness is to get the leaders of the world together and to make them talk. It is in no spirit of “I told you so” that I tell the House that I am one who for a very long time has stood out against unqualified Summit conferences. I contended all along that it would be completely futile to invite Mr. Khrushchev to talk with people unless there was a prepared agenda.
I recite these things again this evening even though I know that I may be inviting some measure of dissension. I think that until you can settle the fate of captured nations, until you can wrest from the Soviet Union the concept of world domination, you are wasting your time talking in conferences. I believe that it is a form of hallucination to imagine that merely by talking to Mr. Khrushchev about nothing in particular we can get him to turn over a new leaf. It is against that sort of background, Sir, that I want to say something this evening about the cancellation of the Blue Streak project, about missile defence generally and about defence in the broad.
At the beginning of this year, Mr. Khrushchev made a speech on disarmament.
It was a speech which, for sheer hector, I believe, is very difficult to parallel. This is what he had to say -
The Soviet Army to-day possesses such military techniques and such firepower as no army has ever had before. I want to stress again that we already have enough nuclear weapons - atomic and hydrogen - and enough rockets for their delivery to the territory of a possible aggressor . . .
If any one can convince me that that is the fine, the considered, statement of a peacemaker, I shall go quietly and confess to embracing merely the simplest understanding of the English language. During the last 24 hours, one of the Soviet spokesmen in defence matters has issued to the world a terribly blunt warning. It follows very closely on achievements by the Soviet in the missile field and the launching of a particular rocket coinciding with the ill-fated Summit conference, and so forth.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not think that we do our cause - the cause of liberty - any service at all by attempting to disguise the fact that in the field of missile research and missile development we - here, I am speaking of the British Commonwealth of Nations, of the British people - are lagging badly behind. There should be no need for one to emphasize the great danger that this presents. We are dealing with a tremendously vital field, and unless we can bring people to the stage of relinquishing and abandoning those things that make for tension, that create warlike atmospheres, we must, I believe, in quite an undisguised way, face up to our duty and be prepared to see that our people and our liberties are properly defended.
I believe that the cancellation of the Blue Streak project was about the last gap for the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I want to refer to two reasons that have been given for the cancellation of this project. The first reason was that the sites of operation of Blue Streak missiles would be too vulnerable. The second reason given was that in this field of missiles we can depend on the United States of America. If the House will have patience with me, Sir, I want to turn to a fairly brief examination of both of these arguments.
First, I turn to the argument of vulnerability - the argument that the sites for the operation of Blue Streak missiles would be too vulnerable. It is perfectly true, of course, that a liquid-fuel missile such as the Blue
Streak has not the same measure of versatility as has a solid-fuel missile. It takes twenty minutes or thereabouts to fuel and set off a liquid-fuel missile, whereas it would take a matter of seconds to discharge a solid-fuel missile. In order to accept that all liquid-fuel missile bases could be rendered ineffective, one must be prepared to subscribe to the belief that it would be competent for an aggressor to knock out virtually simultaneously every liquid-fuel missile site that we had. I suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there is no evidence at all of the capacity of the Soviet Union to knock out, say, twenty Blue Streak sites spread from one end of the United Kingdom to the other.
I come now to the next point with respect to the vulnerability of sites. Here, I offer no criticism of the Australian Government or of the Australian defence departments for the part that they have played in this matter. I think that they are completely in the clear and completely clean. It has been seriously suggested by allegedly responsible people in the United Kingdom that we have V class bombers and that the deterrent can be sustained by the capacity to deliver stand-off bombs by means of those bombers. If the argument of the vulnerability of a fixed rocket site is a valid one, it applies with even greater force to an airfield. If you can destroy one rocket site, you can destroy an airfield.
Now I turn to the second argument - dependency on the United States of America in this field. I believe that that argument defeats the whole purpose of having an independent deterrent. You either have a deterrent which is independent or you have not a deterrent. If the United Kingdom is prepared to rely on the United States in this field, she must, in brief, be prepared to be subject to United States policy in many respects. Acceptance of this argument means that the United Kingdom, and the British Commonwealth of Nations in its wider sense, depend on a foreign power for protection. I think that this is a very critical circumstance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The consequences will be far-reaching. This circumstance means, among other things, that, for the first time in nine centuries, in peace-time the British people have looked to a foreign power to defend them. There may be some who will argue - and I do not deny the argument - that that power is a friendly one. But I think that one abuses friendship if one is prepared to go so far in depending on one’s friend for support. I believe that while it may be prudent to seek protection through friendship it remains a studied abuse of friendship to shirk one’s responsibilities in this fashion.
The proposition that I put to the House this evening is this: The British Commonwealth countries are not devoid of talent. Neither, I believe, is the British Commonwealth devoid of the material qualities required. I hope that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who is at the table, will listen to this invocation, because we are dealing now with something that, I believe, transcends partisan considerations. If the British Commonwealth of Nations is to be something more than merely a collection of representatives who gather together once every now and again to talk in cloistered surroundings about the development of democracy, and so forth - if that Commonwealth is to count for anything and mean anything - here is an opportunity to make it count. Here is a readymade field for expression to be given to its real meaning. I believe it is quite competent for the British Commonwealth of Nations to develop its own deterrent organization. I propose that a Commonwealth independent deterrent organization, which might be called Cido, should be seriously considered.
It may be argued that there are problems of cost and of organization. That is perfectly true; but it seems very strange that we appear to be able to find a way through these problems when an international organization is involved. I am one of those who believe first in giving expression to the British Commonwealth of Nations and to everything for which it stands. I believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the difficulties should be matched against what is a worthy and very honorable cause; that is, for the British Commonwealth of Nations to regain some of its lost prestige and some of its former standing in the world. It has been given to very few groups in history to have provided so much for the betterment of mankind as has that group of nations known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. That role is not an historical one. The Commonwealth has changed, and no doubt it will continue to change. Those changes should never break our affection for peace with honour. Until some forces in this world find themselves in closer communion with the moral law, a strong and independent British Commonwealth of Nations is not merely desirable but vital.
.- 1 wish to devote my remarks to-night to the relations between the Commonwealth and the States. I regret to say that an examination of this relationship indicates to me, at any rate, that the Commonwealth Government has adopted, in the main, a very cavalier attitude towards the States. As a result, large sections of the community are suffering. I wish to comment first on the conference of State Ministers for Housing in Adelaide a fortnight ago. That gathering was attended by representatives of the various State governments and, as everybody knows, they were of different political complexions. Despite the fact that their outlook was poles apart in many ways, all the Ministers for Housing or their representatives at this conference were as one in saying that the Commonwealth Government was not meeting the State governments fairly so far as the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was concerned. They considered that if there was to be a new agreement next year, its terms should be more favorable to the States and to the people who are clamouring for housing assistance.
From my reading of the press reports, I am convinced that the State Ministers put forward very sensible and sound proposals. 1 do not propose to enumerate at length all the proposals that were enunciated by the various Ministers. Suffice it to say that there appeared to be complete general agreement that if the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was to be re-enacted next year, there should be several substantial changes. For example, we have the comments of the Liberal Minister of Housing in Victoria, Mr. H. R. Petty, who cannot be accused of being favorable to any Labour principles at all. Mr. Petty was very critical of the present housing agreement. He suggested one change to which I suggest this Government should give serious consideration, and I shall refer to it later. At this point, I wish to say that I believe an unsatisfactory feature of the conference was the appearance on the second- day of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). I can only form my opinions on press reports, but it appears that the Minister for National Development adopted a very overbearing and arrogant attitude to the State Ministers. He said it was by no means certain that the Commonwealth Government would re-enact the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement next year. Referring to the money that had been granted to the State housing commissions, the Minister said that, in his opinion, the Commonwealth obtained better value from the money it devoted to the co-operative building societies.
Obviously, the Minister for National Development is totally unaware of the purpose of the State housing commissions. They were formed to provide housing for those people who, because of their financial circumstances, are unable to do very much about it themselves - in other words, the lower income group. While I have no doubt that more houses have been built with the money that has been distributed to the co-operative housing societies, if that trend continues and more money is given to the co-operative societies, the lower income group will receive less and less consideration. I appeal to the Government not to be swayed by the fact that more houses will be built with money provided for the use of the co-operative societies than will be obtained from funds granted to the housing commissions. I say that for this reason: The co-operative building societies use their funds to help people who can provide at least £1,000 deposit for a house and who are prepared to buy a dwelling, whereas most of the applicants who approach the State housing authorities only want to rent a house. If no provision is made for one authority or another to build houses for rental, the housing position as it applies to those who want to rent a house will deteriorate very rapidly.
I hope the Commonwealth Government will look at this problem if it decides to renew the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. If the Commonwealth Government does not do so, I do not know where the States will get funds for housing. The Commonwealth Government should not adopt a stand-and-deliver attitude and say, “ Unless you accept this agreement on our terms, you will not get an agreement at all “. Such an attitude will be deplored by the majority of Australians. Nobody can accuse the Liberal Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, of being a supporter of the Australian Labour Party, but some weeks ago he was reported in the *’ Sydney Morning Herald “ to have made comment along these lines -
Sir Thomas Playford said he doubted whether the Slates had received any additional money under the Commonwealth-State Housing Plan.
Because States had to make finance under the agreement available from their own loan allocations, the Commonwealth had no right to impose rigid restrictions.
That is just what the Commonwealth Government is doing, lt imposes restrictions which are completely intolerable and untenable to the States. If the Government is not prepared to take any notice of me, at least it should take heed of the Liberal Premier of South Australia who has been in office for many years.
– The Labour Party condemned Sir Thomas Playford only recently for all sorts of things.
– I did not do so. I have often condemned the Australian Country Party, and if the honorable member is not careful I will condemn it again, but at this point I do not intend to be side-tracked. I want to stick to my thesis because it is important to many Australians. It might not be important to supporters of the Country Party, but it is important to those who support the Liberal Party and the Labour Party and who live in the great metropolitan areas. The Minister for Housing in Victoria, with whom I agree on this point, suggested that the Aged Persons Homes Act should be amended to enable the Commonwealth Government to make funds available to State housing instrumentalities for the construction of homes for elderly people. Mr. Petty suggested that such funds should be provided on the same basis as that upon which the Government now provides money for Churches and charitable institutions to build houses for aged persons. I noticed that when I made my suggestion, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) shook his head. If he hari nodded his head I should have thought that I was on the wrong track. I am happy to think that T am being opposed by the honorable member for Hume because that indicates that what I am saying is correct. 1 am in good company because my suggestion is based on the statement of the Liberal Minister for Housing in Victoria, Mr. Petty.
The Commonwealth Government, under the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954 makes available £2 for every £1 spent by institutions or societies which are prepared to build homes for elderly people. Up to the moment, £7,056,000 has been given to approved bodies under this act. There is not the slightest doubt that these bodies have done a remarkably good job. Un,fortunately, they have only scratched the surface because they have to raise large sums of money before they receive the Government grant and that requires terrific effort. Because of the large number of charitable appeals that are made to the public, it is very hard for any institution to raise a large sum of money perhaps more than once in ten years. Consequently, each institution has to make one appeal do for a number of years.
Thanks to the medical advances of the twentieth century, the proportion of elderly people in- the community is steadily increasing. But unfortunately the community and this Government have not yet realized the social impact of the lengthening of life expectancy. To-day, a much larger percentage of people over 65 years of age can reasonably expect to live for a number of years than was the case 30 or 40 years ago. Housing has to be made available for them. I can speak with authority concerning the Housing Commission in Victoria because I have made a special study of its activities. It is doing a remarkably good job in building what is known as “ Darby and Joan “ units for married couples and elderly persons’ units for single females who, as a rule, are widows although some are elderly maiden ladies. But the Housing Commission in Victoria, as in every other State, is inundated with applications for housing assistance. The number of applications received has increased from 11,250 in 1956, prior to the new agreement, to 17,500 so, obviously, the commission cannot do very much for elderly people. As could be expected, particularly as a result of the lifting of rent controls in Victoria, the number of applications by elderly people for housing has increased by leaps and bounds.
The Housing Commission has a large waiting list of elderly people. It cannot do very much more than it has done so far which is a veritable trickle. Recently, the commission invoked the assistance of municipalities which it asked to provide land on which homes could be built. A large number of municipalities have, out of their very slender resources, made land available which the Housing Commission has utilized to the best possible effect.
I suggest that the time has arrived when the Commonwealth Government should come to the party. Municipalities, the financial resources of which are very meagre, have supplied land. State governments, the housing funds of which have been reduced by 30 per cent, as a result of the present legislation, have provided accommodation which they can ill afford to provide when they have husbands and wives with four or five kiddies waiting to secure homes. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should amend the Aged Persons Homes Act to make grants to housing commissions to build houses and flats of the kind that I have mentioned.
It has to be realized that the money received by the housing commissions at the present time is only lent to them. They have to pay it back, I think, over 45 years. They receive no special subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. I suggest that, in common fairness, they should receive the same treatment as is meted out to churches and charitable organizations which are doing similar work. The Victorian Housing Commission has embarked on a comprehensive scheme of slum reclamation. The State Government, out of its very slender financial resources, is providing £500 a year for the acquisition of slum property. This expenditure does not come out of the Housing Commission loans provided by the Commonwealth, but out of the State Government’s own revenue. The State Government is engaged in pulling down filthy, unhygienic tenement houses which have been standing for 70 to 80 years. The Housing Commission is building houses and flats - mainly flats - but this is costing a lot of money. Demolition of the old buildings means that a number of elderly people have to find other accommodation. The Housing Commission, naturally, wants to do the right thing and rehouse these people in the locality from which they came, or near to it, but this, of course, restricts the commission’s ability to provide housing for families.
In the inner suburbs of Melbourne, large numbers of houses are being pulled down to make way for factory development. Elderly people who have been paying 25s. or 30s. a week rent in old houses are being evicted and have nowhere to go. They cannot pay the rent of £4 or £5 a week which is required for the average house in Victoria. They go to the Housing Commission in desperation and ask for accommodation. Regrettably, the commission has to knock them back because it has not the resources to provide that accommodation. I seriously suggest that the State Government is entitled to a grant of £2 for each £1 it expends on housing for these people. This would require some amendment to the Aged Persons Homes Act, but it would be carrying out the intention of the act, which is to provide accommodation for elderly people who cannot provide it for themselves. We owe this to elderly people.
There seems to be an emphasis to-day on the provision of everything for the very young. I have in mind such facilities as infant welfare centres and kindergartens. I agree that these facilities should be provided. But surely, when people reach the evening of their life, they are entitled to some consideration apart from a paltry pension. But these people are left to fend for themselves and are called upon to pay up to 60 per cent, of their pension in rent. Therefore I suggest that the request that I make is by no means extravagant. It is in accordance with the consensus amongst State housing Ministers at their conference in Adelaide a fortnight ago. If the Government agrees to my suggestion it will make a substantial contribution to the solution of a very vexed problem for State governments - the housing of elderly people.
The rent payable by a married couple for a “ Darby and Joan “ unit in Victoria is about £1 5s. a week. For a single person the rent is about 14s. Of course, this means that the State Government has to subsidize these rents, because a larger weekly payment than this is necessary to repay the loan over 45 years. Therefore, putting party politics aside, it can be seen that the State governments are attempting to do the job but they are debarred from doing the job completely because of the lack of financial resources. The only Government that has sufficient resources for the work is the Commonwealth Government.
I notice from the Estimates that, over the years, the sums made available for aged persons’ homes have been in excess of the grants which the Government has been called upon to make. In the first year of the scheme, the Government provided £3,000,000, but paid only about £1,000,000. In the second year it provided £3,000,000, but paid only about £1,250,000. In other words, it provided far more than the community has asked it to do. This is quite understandable because it is very hard to get large sums of money for the building of homes, and private individuals have to do it. Naturally the States get from the Government only double the amount that they themselves collect. This proposal would not be asking the Government to provide much more than it provides now in the Estimates. Every year an amount has been passed back into general revenue because the whole of the estimated sum set aside has not been called upon by the various institutions and bodies interested in this type of social service work.
I leave it at that, but I trust that the Government will give the requests of the State housing Ministers most earnest consideration. It is a question that transcends all party politics; it is a matter of common humanity. I suggest that the Government might make a small amendment to the present act and by so doing make life much easier for elderly people who to-day are finding the battle of living most difficult through lack of accommodation or, if they secure it, have to pay such a high price for it; and often it is sub-standard.
Another matter I wish to deal with is the general aspect of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth. I realize that this is a matter of complexity because of the diversity and intricacy of many of the issues which it raises. Unfortunately, there has developed in the mind of the Commonwealth Government in recent years a tendency to become perfectly oblivious to its promises to the States.
Every fair-minded person in this Parliament must concede the desperate financial position of the State governments irrespective of whether they are Liberal or Labour. Last year some relief was meted out to some of the States as a result of the rearrangement of the old formula. Honorable members will recall that as a result of the previous conference, the formula was altered and some of the States, particularly Victoria, got some redress of their grievances. It was not much, but it was a step in the right direction.
All I can say is that that re-arrangement was a tardy recognition of some of the demands for development. The principle was accepted at that conference that allowance should be made for the average wage rates. But it can be seen already that the change did not make much improvement in the finances of the States. The margins increases were totally justified. The only fault I found with them was that they should have been granted some years previously. But there was a dramatic change in CommonwealthState financial arrangements and the States had to re-cast their estimates as a result of the increased margins. The Commonwealth Government did not have to re-cast its Budget arrangements at all because it was receiving additional revenue from increased taxation as a result of the higher wage rates. Many workers who received a marginal increase of 15s. or £1 a week found that immediately a portion of that increase was earmarked as taxation, which went to the Commonwealth. Although the Commonwealth gained, the States were faced with a new problem. The Victorian Premier said that the Commonwealth Government would make a profit out of the increased margins by way of the extra taxation revenue it would receive. On the other hand, the State governments, particularly Victoria, would go further and further into the financial morass.
Because the States lack their own taxing powers they are in an entirely different position from the Commonwealth, which is receiving additional taxation revenue from the higher wage rates. The State governments have the very difficult task of providing a wide range of domestic and other public service in a period of rapid development. It is because of that rapid development that the States have found themselves in a very parlous financial position. The Commonwealth Government has refused to recognize the difficulties confronting the States in this period of rapid development. In normal limes, before the war, when the development of the States was going along at a steady rate, they would not have been occasioned much difficulty if the same arrangement had been operating then as is operating now. But to-day the State governments have to depend very largely for their financial support on reimbursements from the Commonwealth, and they find themselves in a very difficult position.
The present haphazard method of finance is retarding the carrying out of urgent public works by the States, and this is a challenge to this Commonwealth Parliament. We cannot dissociate ourselves from the problems confronting the States although this Government would like to do so. It says to the States, “ Here is a grant. Carry on till this time next year.” There has to be a realization by this Parliament that there must be a national plan to meet the demand for public works, which will reach its peak in this community in four years’ time. I say that because in four years’ time there will come into the education field and into the housing field a large body of people who were born just after the war. They will then demand public services at a much more rapid rate than they are being provided at present.
The Government is completely oblivious to the demands that this large group, now between sixteen and 21 years of age, will make upon the services of the community. The numbers will increase very quickly in a short space of time, and therefore a national plan will be essential to cope with that growth of population and economic expansion by providing necessary public works.
What are the difficulties confronting the States to-day? They are housing, education, health, irrigation, water supply, power, fuel and transport. All these services require rapid expansion if our economy is to flourish and develop. There is nothing wrong with the policy of uniform taxation if it is administered properly. Some State governments are prone to attack uniform taxation, but I do not do that; I believe in it. But I strongly contend that it should be fairly implemented. This Government, however, is :not doing that. When members of the Government were in Opposition they criticized uniform taxation. Since they have been in office they have accepted the policy, but it has been very unfairly applied to the States. The provisions of the uniform taxation agreement have not been carried out justly, and during the ten years this Government has been in office the consideration it has given to the development needs of the States has been entirely inadequate.
On the other hand, the Commonwealth Government is using revenue derived from uniform taxation to finance federal public works. While it does this, it compels the States to finance their development works out of loan money, but this is not possible with the amount they are receiving under the present financial agreement. The States are endeavouring to supplement their revenue by increasing their public service charges, such as rail freights and fares, hospital and electricity charges and the like.
As a result, the cost to the community has increased and a wage increase has become essential. It is a case of the dog chasing its tail. This is a result of the Commonwealth Government’s policy of not meting out to the States fair and equitable financial treatment.
This year the Commonwealth expects to collect in taxation £1,142,000,000. Of this, £465,000,000 will come from indirect taxation and £677,000,000 from direct taxation. On the other hand, the total revenue collected by the six States last year amounted to only £97,000,000. This revenue was derived by the taxing authorities in the States from motor registration fees and charges of that nature. To-day, the States find themselves in the very unenviable position of being almost entirely dependent on hand-outs from the Commonwealth taxation pool to pay for their development services. In addition, they have to bear the brunt of absorbing 100,000 people into the Australian economy.
I consider that the States have a legitimate grievance against the Commonwealth Government and that their complaints should be seriously considered, not airily brushed aside as they are to-day. It is largely as a result of the Commonwealth immigration policy, with which I find no quarrel, that the States are in such difficulties to-day. Our rapid expansion has been consequent upon our large immigration intake. Compare the conditions under which the capital works of the States and the Commonwealth are financed. No wonder the States are suffering under a sense of injustice and grievance! In the last ten years the public debt of the States has risen from £965,000,000 to £2,248,000,000 a rise of 133 per cent. In the same period the Commonwealth public debt has fallen by 5 per cent. That is grossly unfair. The States have responsibilities just as much as the Commonwealth has. They are called upon to provide services equally as essential as those provided by the Commonwealth in some ways more essential, because there is nothing more important than education or health. They are called upon to provide those services out of totally inadequate financial resources; resources that are, in the main, the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to provide.
Surely the Government knows of the heavy impact of the post-war immigration programme upon State finances. Yet all it has done has been to impose burdens on the States without giving them adequate compensation for the acquisition of these burdens. Let us take, for example, the migration intake of the various States. The Commonwealth has never been cognizant of the responsibilities of the States. Some States have taken far more migrants than others, but that fact has not received recognition at the Loan Council meetings.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I had proposed to deal only with two matters in this debate to-night, but in view of what some speakers on the Opposition side have had to say, I should like to make some comments about their addresses to the House. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) spoke about State finances. We have heard this story repeatedly from Victorian members, in particular. Not only are they beginning tocomplain about the present financial arrangement between the States and the Commonwealth; they also complain about the previous arrangement. Prior to the former Treasurer leaving this Parliament almost on the day of his departure I had him inquire for me whether the States had taken advantage up to that time of, I think, section 10 of the taxation reimbursement legislation, which provides that if any State, after ten years of operation of the formula, requests the Commonwealth to call a conference in respect of the formula, the Commonwealth has to do so. Although some States were arguing and growling about how the Commonwealth was treating them, not oneState took advantage of that section to force the Commonwealth to call a conference to discuss the formula. That formula made provision for increases in population, which would cover, of course, the migrant intake.
After the twentythird Parliament began, the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), had further discussions with the States and introduced the latest arrangement. On that occasion every State Premier and Treasurer signified his agreement and pleasure with the new arrangement and indicated that he would be satisfied, but now they are starting to complain again. They may have some cause to say something, particularly in regard to the basic wage increase and the margins increase, but it had to be left to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to ginger up the States to make an appearance before the Arbitration Commission to put their case, so that the whole of the economy could be completely studied by that body. But even when all the States had been reminded by the Prime Minister that they could appear before the commission, did they all appear? Of course they did not.
– They did not show sufficient interest in the matter. That is the trouble. Any Premier of a State who is encumbered by his financial position but fails to arrange for some one to appear before that tribunal to state his case is failing to discharge his duty and responsibility to the people.
This new arrangement still provides for grants to be adjusted in accordance with average increases in wages and also with increases in population. Surely the honorable member for Batman and the Victorian Government do not expect the Commonwealth Government to call conferences week by week or month by month. Is not the matter adjusted at the end of the financial year at the Premiers’ Conference? In making money available for the next year, is not cognizance taken of what has happened in the past year? Although the States had the opportunity to watch these troubles growing, they did not bother to do much about them. They even had to be reminded that they could put their case to the Arbitration Commission. The States are not the only ones in this position. Other sections of the community are in a similar position.
– A lot of them pass the buck.
– I agree. A lot of them do pass the buck. I have a very vivid recollection of a couple of Premiers saying, “ We have great arguments with the Commonwealth with respect to our finances, but, after all is said and done, a lot of us arc only bluffing “. That is what is happening. It is at the Premiers’ Conferences and the Loan Council meetings that these things can be thrashed out.
I come now to the point raised by the honorable member for Batman in respect of homes for the aged. A question based on this subject was asked in the Senate to-day. I heard it over the radio this evening. I should like to be certain that if any such arrangement were made, we should be in a position to say to the States, “ Spend the money to get something done in this matter “. All the money that the States obtain from reimbursements and other sources, except money for housing and matters that are specified in section 96 of the Constitution, can be spent as the States decide. The States can do what they like with the money. Some States have already endeavoured to do something for aged persons. I suggest to the honorable gentleman and the other members of the Opposition who support his belief, that it is a matter to be brought forward in the very near future, at the next Premiers’ Conference. On the federal side, I should like to think that any assistance given to the States in this field would be on a £1 for £1 basis. Let the States prove that they ar: doing the job properly, and then increase expenditure if it is so desired.
I finish my remarks in respect of the questions raised by the honorable member for Batman by saying that there has been criticism from time to time. of the Commonwealth financing its capital works from revenue. But where else can it get the money? In 1950, the Commonwealth realized that the States had a big developmental job ahead of them. Despite the financial agreement whereby the Commonwealth can take the first 20 per cent, of loan raisings, it agreed that all loan raisings both inside and outside Australia would be available to the States. The Commonwealth Government completely vacated the loan market. Where can it get money from except Consolidated Revenue? If we adopted the stupid suggestion of some State Premiers that we should give them more money, interest free, from Consolidated Revenue, would we find them going on the hustings and assisting the Commonwealth with loan raisings? Of course not! They would be silly to do so. If I were a premier and could get interest-free money from Consolidated Revenue, would I talk my people into subscribing to loans on which they would have to pay interest? Of course not! The present arrangement is right and proper. It is operating in some Commonwealth spheres, too, and the screws are being put on even a little harder now.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to-night had what I thought was a preliminary gallop in preparation for the Bendigo by-election. His colleagues are saying, “ Hear, hear “ so my guess must have been pretty right. He spoke about all sorts of gloomy things that would happen under this Government, but he has been doing that now for nearly eleven years. While he was speaking I decided to hunt among my bits and pieces, and I found a report of something he said on 23rd February, 1950. It appears on page 70 of volume 206 of “ Hansard “. Before I read what the Leader of the Opposition said on that occasion, I remind honorable gentlemen that this Government had been in office at that time for barely two months. He said -
The people of this country expect their money to buy full value in goods. If they do not get full value for their £1, if they see their children denied those things which are essential to their well-being, if they have to go on paying 5d. for a peach and 8d. for an apple-
Incidentally, I understand that the ruling price in Canberra for a good medium-sized apple is about 5d. But if an apple cost 8d. and if a peach cost 56. at that time, I would remind the honorable gentleman and those who sit behind him that those apples and peaches were from a crop which was grown in 1949 under a Labour regime. Things were different later. The honorable gentleman continued - if they have to go on paying exorbitant prices for everything they need, they will raise their voices in protest. We on this side of the House will lead their protest in this place, on the streetcorners and in public places, wherever demands are made for better conditions, or for something equivalent to the conditions which obtained under the last Government. We should be failing in our duty as Australian democrats if we did not lead the people, and galvanize opinion in such a way that ultimately it will destroy this Government, and destroy it sooner than many expect.
We have had nearly eleven years of that kind of talk.
– Read the rest of it.
– There is no need to read it because it is all in the same strain. The people have had nearly eleven years of that kind of talk and they still have the same Government. And they are likely to have the same Government if the matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition tonight are an example of the horse and buggy thinking of his party, particularly in view of the Bendigo by-election which may be held very shortly.
The honorable gentleman said that the cost of living had doubled since this Government took office. I remind him that wages also have practically doubled. However, I doubt whether the cost of living has doubled. Indeed, in respect of the articles which he mentioned the cost of living has not increased. I am still receiving only 23s. to 30s. a case for citrus fruits, which is about the same price as I was receiving in 1949. I would sell any honorable member a wheat bag full of lemons for fi if he would care to collect them. So the cost of at least two items has not changed even though the cost of fertilizers and other commodities used by farmers has risen.
The Leader of the Opposition said that when the Labour Party was in office there were 400,000-odd rural workers but that the figure has now fallen to about 303,000. I accept those figures as correct. But he did not tell the people of Australia that the value of rural production had risen considerably since his party left office. I shall quote two sets of figures to support my argument. If you take 1951-52 to 1954-55 as one bracket of four years, and 1955-56 to 1958-59 as another bracket of four years, you will see that income from rural production increased by 9 per cent, and that the actual value of rural production increased by £99,500,000. Unfortunately, during that period there was a decrease in farmers’ incomes. So they have kept the ball rolling even though there has been a reduction in their personal incomes. If you look at another set of figures which have been prepared by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, you will find that the gross value of production of the major commodity groups in 1950-51 was £1,182,600,000 but in 1958-59, the period for which the latest figures are available from the same source, it was £1,227,000,000, an increase of about £45,000,000. At the same time, I remind honorable gentlemen opposite, if they are not already aware of it - they should be - that pasture improvement has so revolutionized rural production that it has been responsible for quite a lot of the increase in money value to which I have just referred.
Another factor of which I should like to remind honorable gentlemen opposite and any one else who cares to listen is that farmers, by the use of myxomatosis, as recommended by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, have been able to eliminate something like 480,000,000 rabbits on the eastern seaboard. On the basis of eight rabbits to one sheep, the C.S.I.R.O. has thus made it possible for an additional 60,000,000 sheep to be grazed. This is something for which the organization must be given credit.
It is completely wrong and bordering on the despicable for any honorable member to say that rural population has fallen without at least giving some credit to those people who have remained on the land and are working under modern conditions to provide our exports which, in turn, provide the funds necessary to import into Australia the raw materials and consumer goods that we need. It is only by obtaining those things that we are able to live in the luxury which we are enjoying to-day. We do not go on the streetcorners and into the public places today, as the Leader of the Opposition said in 1950 that he would do to remind the people of these things. The Opposition can do that now if it wishes and condemn the Government, but I am prepared to guarantee now that as long as the Government parties select a worthy candidate in opposition to the Labour Party nominee, the Labour Party will disintegrate further and go into nothingness before very long, because the people of Australia realize that they are, in the overall accounting, much better off now than they were previously.
Some honorable gentlemen opposite have spoken about the pensioners. I have the greatest sympathy with the pensioners.
– Why don’t you shut up?
– You are the one with whom I should like to deal. You have mouthed the silly idea that pensioners should receive half of the basic wage. Who dissociated the pensioner from the basic wage? The Labour Party did that. What will happen to the unskilled man on the basic wage, or a little better, who is endeavouring to bring up a family, purchase a home, and do all the other things that he has to do if you give the married pensioner couple the same amount of money as he receives? You cannot do it. It will not work out. The whole proposition is wrong. If you use some sense and suggest that the single pensioner be given onehalf of the basic wage, I am prepared to support you. But I will not support any suggestion that the married pensioner couple should receive the full basic wage while nothing is done for the young man who, because of lack of education or for some other reason, is unskilled and has to bring up a family on the basic wage and see that they get a start in life.
– Would you support with your vote that suggestion in relation to the single pensioner?
– I have said that repeatedly, and you have heard me. I do not say things that I am not prepared to stand up to outside and support by my vote inside the House. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I see that nearly 20 minutes of my time has passed and there are still two other matters with which I want to deal. The first is in respect of a sentence in His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, where he said -
My Government is engaged in the substantial task of considering the lengthy and carefully prepared report presented to this Parliament by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. 1 admit that it was a lengthy report and that it covered a large number of matters. It took the committee three years to get that report together, but unfortunately it was beset by some delays by the appointment of Senator Spicer to the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the necessity of getting a new chairman, and so forth. I do not care whether the people of Australia or members of this House or anybody else agrees or disagrees with the report and the recommendations which have been made. I am not worried about that at this juncture; but what I am concerned about is that right from1 949 when this Government took office it has been said that this Parliament would inquire into the Constitution and finally, when the road was paved after the 1955 election, this committee was set up in 1956, with six members from one side of the House and six from the other side, or four from one side of this. House, four from the other side and four senators; and they went through a goodly portion of the Constitution and brought down a report. At its very first meeting in Melbourne that committee decided to put various sections of the Constitution into certain categories which were dealt with in the order of the importance which the committee placed upon them. But there are a few things upon which no report has been brought before this House and I think that the Government should, at the earliest opportunity, reconstitute the committee because in the case of the Minister for Immigration, another member has been elected to take his place. The committee should be given the opportunity to complete a review of the Constitution as a whole and not just part of it, so that this Parliament for the first time in 60 years might have a report by members of the Parliament itself members of both Houses which could be laid before members for their consideration and disseminated among the people, whether we agree with it or whether we do not.
I repeat that there are some things which have not been dealt with by the committee. I shall not delay the House by enumerating them, but there are such things as copyright, fisheries, defence, aborigines, and just terms as far as the States are concerned. There is one thing that has just come to my mind and I think the Commonwealth should do something about it. I refer to company law. We have no federal company law, but as soon as this committee had taken a certain amount of evidence the Attorneys-General of the various States got together. I do not criticize them for doing so. Good luck to them if they can keep the thing going and finally bring down uniform legislation. But what will be the ultimate use of it when it needs only one State to break the agreement and it is gone and we still have no uniform company law? The other matter I wish to deal with is in respect of probate. If a person in Western Australia dies and leaves an interest in New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland, after probate and estate duty have been dealt with - I may not be using the correct legal terms but I want to put over the idea - before the beneficiaries of an estate can get anything definite out of it the whole of the probate and so on has to be re-sealed in every State where the deceased may have had some interest.
There are a lot of small things which affect the community and which we should deal with. The committee has taken evidence on many of these matters, but there are a great deal of evidence to be checked over and reports to be written. The Government should see that this job is carried through to its conclusion. We talked about it for long enough. It took us seven years before we got the matter going and then it took three years to get done what has been done. Whether or not we like the recommendations of the committee and the reasons for them, I say to all honorable members that we should not be so foolish as to leave the job half done or two-thirds done, because that has been one of the troubles with all governments down through the years. The people do not blame you for making a mistake, but they give you all the blame that you should take for not attempt ing to do something or for only doing a job by half. I would like to see the Government reconstitute this committee so that it can complete its job and say to the Parliament, “ There you are. There is the report. Do with it what you like.” It would then be up to Parliament to see if anything is to be done.
Finally, there is something else I want to deal with, and I hate to use the phrase that I am going to use. I refer to the white Australia policy. My mind goes back to 1947 when the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was Minister for Immigration and was introducing some legislation. Somebody said, by way of interjection, “What about the white Australia policy? “ and he said, “ We do not have that nomenclature in our book.” I thought, at the time, that was a very wise attitude. To my knowledge there are very few, if any, informed public men who use that phrase to-day, and from my knowledge of people returning to Australia, it is used very little overseas. But to my horror I read it in newspapers and journals or hear it on television where panels are interviewing people, and my blood boils when I hear them say, “ What do you think of the white Australia policy? “ Only the other night in Perth the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom was being interviewed by a panel which knew that he had been in Malaya and when he was asked what was thought of that policy in Malaya he dropped the subject like a hot brick.
I do not know whether anything can be done about it, but if we are to continue to allow people to use this phrase we will be bringing a rod down on our own shoulders. Whether anything can be done to make the use of this phrase an offence punishable by a fine, I do not know. We have tried to ignore it, but every now and again it flares up; and I feel that it flares up just because some of our newspaper people and publicists go to airports and meet strangers and one of the first things they ask them is, “What do you think of such and such a policy? “ Then mention of it appears in the press again or is heard on the radio or television, and so the position is aggravated all the time. If anything can be done to prevent the use of that particular phrase I hope it will be done soon. In that way we in this country will live up to what we believe and silence some of these people who have no responsibility at all in respect of international affairs or our economy. They toss the phrase into the ring every so often and by their usage of it make us feel ashamed.
.- I think the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), like whisky or wine, has started to mellow with age. The longer he went on with his speech the more I came to agree with him. I was very pleased to hear his comments, first on the immigration policy and programme and, in particular, his reference to the Constitutional Review Committee’s report. 1 hope that the honorable member will bring a great deal of pressure to bear on the leaders of his own party and the leaders of the Liberal Party to impress upon them the necessity not only to table the report in this House but also to implement the decisions and recommendations of that committee. If they are prepared to do that, it will give to this Government and this Parliament - this is one of the things I am mainly concerned about at the moment - power to deal with the monopolies which are growing day by day in this community. So, I ask the honorable member to continue along the line he has been pursuing and to press the views he holds with regard to the Constitutional Review Committee’s report. There are some things in it with which we disagree, but we are prepared to take the bad with the good. Therefore, we as a party are prepared to accept the committee’s report in its entirety - not piecemeal, not a bit at a time, but as it stands. So I ask the honorable member to keep up the pressure on his party leaders.
Now I turn to some of the other points in the honorable gentleman’s speech. One is his condemnation of the various State Premiers who refused to follow the lead given by this Government when it went to the Arbitration Court and stood over the men on the bench when they were dealing with the basic wage case. That is what you people opposite did. You went into the Arbitration Court and stood over the people handling the basic wage case, and forced them to peg the basic wage in the same way as the Liberal-Country Party Government did in 1953 when it brought pressure to bear on the court, which pegged the basic wage for about four years. In October last year, when I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service to go to the court and support the metal trades unions in their demand for marginal increases he said that government policy was to leave it to the court. We condemned the Government for that, because we believe that there should be given the support necessary for the granting of marginal increases which, as the court pointed out on that occasion, were necessary. I feel that the honorable member for Canning was just talking through his pocket on the subject of the Premiers not being prepared to carry out the policy, and follow the dictates, of this Government.
That brings me to the subject of company profits. Whilst the Government supports and, whenever it can, imposes wage-pegging, at no time during the period of almost eleven years for which it boasts about being in office, has it ever attempted to control profits - and control of profits is in my opinion one of the things that it is really necessary to tackle in this community to-day. The Governor-General said in the second-last paragraph of his Speech, delivered on 8th March -
The development of tendencies to monopoly and restrictive practices in commerce and industry has engaged the attention of the Government which will give consideration to legislation to protect and strengthen free enterprise against such a development.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is not in the House this evening, but I hope he will have sufficient interest in the matter that I will bring forward to examine it with a view to this Government doing something about the rubber companies in this country. These companies have got together and set up a common office to handle the distribution of tyres and to control tyre retailers. I propose to bring facts and figures forward this evening to show what these people are doing.
– Private enterprise.
– Private enterprise, yes. Honorable members opposite talk about Government monopolies, but they are the greatest instigators and arrangers of private enterprise. Whenever they get the opportunity they create monopolies and work in the interests of monopolies. I propose to show that there is in existence legislation which will permit the Government to take the necessary action against these people. I refer to the Australian Industries Preservation Act, section 7 (1.) of which reads -
Any person who monopolizes or attempts to monopolize, or combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize, any part of the trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, is guilty of an indictable offence.
The penalty, on conviction, is £500 for each day during which the offence continues, or one year’s imprisonment, or both, or, in the case of a corporation, £1,000 for each day during which the offence continues.
I am not going to say that I know all the legal angles of this matter. I do not. But I suggest as a layman that, on the facts I will present to-night, it is possible for the Government to take some action against these people in order to force them to desist from the practices they are following. The Government talks about free enterprise, and in the Speech which it prepared for the Governor-General it talked about legislation “ to protect and strengthen free enterprise “ against monopoly development. Yet we find that four rubber companies in Australia - the Goodyear, Hardie, Dunlop and Olympic rubber interests - have got together and instead of letting the retailers conduct their own businesses as they have been doing for years - the retailers are independent people and some of them have been in business up to 30 years - are telling them what to do. The retailers have in the past made arrangements to suit themselves in accordance with the requirements of their businesses. They have been giving rebates to people whose business they want to keep. Sometimes the rebates were 25 per cent., or 33 per cent., or 20 per cent., according to how much the retailer wanted to retain a certain customer’s business. Now the rubber companies have stepped in. They have set up a combine and have co-ordinated all their prices. T have here the information regardin e Good vear tyres which is contained in a leaflet issued by the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited to all Goodyear dealers. It is headed “ Terms and conditions of trade. New tyre trading program.”
Another document is headed “ Confidential Volume Rebate Schedule, effective
April 26th, 1960 “. I will read that confidential schedule later to the House so that everybody can be in the know.
Dunlop Rubber Australia Limited issued a document dated 21st April, 1960, and headed “ Notice to all engaged in the resale of tyres and tubes “. Hardie Rubber Company Limited issued a document headed “ Advice to those engaged in the resale of tyres and tubes “. The Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company Proprietary Limited issued a notice dated 26th April, 1960, headed “ Notice to all engaged in the resale of tyres and tubes “.
– All printed in the same office?
– Not in the same office. They were not so foolish as that. These boys have good legal advice. They are not such big mugs as to do that, but they think the community are mugs and they treat this Parliament with contempt. They think that we are a pack of mugs. The Olympic people’s notice, dated 26th April, 1960, was also headed “Terms and conditions of trade “.
The Dunlop people sent out a similar notice.
– I thought this Government was against prices control.
– It is against prices control when it is imposed on behalf of the people, but the great masters of free enterprise can impose all the prices control they like on the terms and conditions that they require to be observed. It is that to which I am objecting. If prices control is necessary, if wage control is necessary, as the Government seemed to think when it forced the Arbitration Court to freeze the basic wage, then I ask the Government to do something about these monopoly interests which are fixing prices to suit themselves and forcing the consumer to accept price increases. Not only do I object to their forcing the consumer to accept the price increases; but T object also to the dirty way they are going about it.
Now I have some interesting figures. Previously the retailer received a 40 per cent, rebate off the retail price list. That was his marginal profit. Within that 40 per cent, he was able to give all sorts of concessions to the large users of tyres and tubes. But now the companies have completely taken away from him that right. They have imposed very harsh conditions on the retailers. I shall touch more on that in a moment. I have a nice little circular letter here which is a beauty, in my opinion. The companies have now decided that they will fix the price of tyres. They have decided who are going to be fleet operators and what category they will come into, and how much rebate they are going to be permitted. For instance, an AA Fleet Operator will be allowed 221 per cent, rebate, an A fleet operator 1 8 per cent, rebate, and a B fleet operator 15 per cent, rebate. Another classification is listed as -
Municipals Councils (unless qualifying for higher Fleet Operator classification) and excluding Capital City, Newcastle and Launceston Councils.
So this does not apply only in New South Wales. The circular issued by Dunlop Rubber Company, dated 21st April, 1960, includes the municipal councils in Newcastle and Launceston. I believe this applies also to other States. The conditions and terms of trade laid down by the rubber companies apply to the whole of the Commonwealth. They do not apply only to Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong or any other city; they apply right throughout the Commonwealth. I believe that the Government has power to act in this matter, and should do so.
I want to show now the way that the rebates have been treated. On many occasions, retailers gave large fleet operators practically the whole of their rebate because they valued the custom and the goodwill that existed between them. However, these rebates have now been reduced for the AA operators from 40 per cent, to 22i per cent., for the A operators from 40 per cent, to 18 per cent, and for the B operators from 30 per cent, to 15 per cent., with a H per cent, rebate on settlement. The ordinary motorist previously obtained a rebate of 15 per cent. I shall take, as an example, the man who wants to buy a tyre for a Holden motor car, which I understand is the most popular car to-day. The purchaser of a 6.40 x 13 4-ply tyre previously paid £10 and was given a rebate of 30s. To-day, that rebate is cut out because the Grand Moguls of the rubber industry have decided that no rebates will be given except the rebates that they specify. The ordinary purchaser of a tyre, therefore, is not able to obtain the rebate previously given to him, and that means a loss to him of 30s. for each tyre that he buys. This also applies to a 6-ply tyre of the same size. Previously, this cost £11 lis. with a rebate of 34s. 6d., but that rebate has now been terminated.
These big rubber companies are interested not only in the new tyre business but also in the retread business. The rubber companies have discontinued discounts of 10 per cent, and 12i per cent, recently allowed to the retread companies on “ camelback “, which is the trade name given to the rubber used in retreading tyres. This means that the retreaders cannot give to their customers the rebates that they previously allowed. A retread for a tyre used on a Holden motor car costs £4 17s. 6d. The rebate of 25 per cent, meant a reduction of £1 4s. 6d. Now, the dealers are permitted to give only 10 per cent., which means a reduction of only 9s. 9d. This also applies to the AA, the A and the B operators. In some instances, the rebate previously allowed has been cut by 50 per cent. The large rubber companies have not only created a monopoly and fixed their own prices, but they have done so in such a way that the customers feel that it’ is being done by the retailers with whom they deal and have dealt for years. When they buy a tyre now from their dealer and are not given the rebate to which they have become accustomed, they go away with the feeling that the dealer has deprived them of their privilege; they do not know that the large rubber combine has done this. The Motor Traders Association met in Sydney three weeks ago and determined the prices that would be charged for retreads. I feel that the Government should investigate this field and stop the growth of monopoly here.
A few years ago, quite a number of independent traders operated in my electorate. Stead’s and Super Tyres have been taken over by Beaurepaire Tyre Service Proprietary Limited, which is the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company Limited. Harrison’s Tyre Service and Stock’s have been taken over by the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited. Lindgren’s Tyre Service Proprietary Limited has been taken over by the Hardie Rubber Company Limited, which in turn has been taken over by the Golden Fleece Petroleum Products. National Tyre Service (Newcastle) Proprietary Limited took over Gurton’s, and in turn Dunlop Rubber
Australia Limited took over the lot. The general movement to obtain complete control not only of the manufacture of tyres but of the distribution of tyres is evident. These large companies will derive the benefit of all the profits available in the rubber industry.
I previously mentioned the matter of volume rebates. All of the agreements that 1 have here and to which I have referred contain identical clauses. They are not necessarily in the same sequence, but the answer is always the same, and that is that, unless the retailer sells at the price specified by the rubber companies, they will terminate their agreements with him. [ should like to give the House some information on the confidential volume discounts which are effective from 26th April, 1960. I do not propose to read the whole of the schedule, but I shall give some idea of the rebates. They are set out in the following table: -
That is the confidential information that was circulated to the retailers concerning volume rebates. The figures are particularly important, because the volume rebate is given in addition to a rebate of 5 per cent. The 5 per cent is allowed in the first place and the additional volume rebate is determined according to the value of the tyres sold. This agreement has been used already against one retailer, and I shall mention this matter in a moment. The terms and conditions of trade contain the following statement -
These terms and conditions form the basis of orderly trade between Goodyear and its dealers. Goodyear dealers traditionally have maintained a reputation for fair dealing and although we cannot overemphasize the seriousness of forfeiture of rebate privilege under the program, we are confident that Goodyear dealers will adhere to these terms and conditions.
To show how fair the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited is, I shall refer to the instance of the retailer whose agreement was cancelled. The same stringent conditions are laid down by the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company Proprietary Limited. Clause 6 of its terms and conditions of trade states -
Any Trader who
Commits any breach or non-observance of the Company’s Conditions and Terms of Trade, or
Sells or supplies Olympic goods at other than Trade List Prices to any other Trader who has become ineligible to receive volume discount. shall become ineligible for volume discount and shall be supplied at Trade List Prices only.
The company also reserves the right to supply any order in part or in full. These companies intend to rule the whole of the rubber trade with a rod of iron, and any retailer who steps out of line will be put out of business. They are not averse to using dirty, snide tactics and will put stooges into a business to catch a retailer. I have given some idea of what is taking place and how these companies are trying to dominate the industry. The documents that I have show that the companies I have mentioned have no concern for the consumer. Their concern is for their profits, and they have no concern for the system of free enterprise that we often hear mentioned most glibly.
I hope that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) will use what power he has to deal with this matter. If he has not the necessary power, we should implement, as early as possible, the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee which I believe would give this Government and future governments the power to deal with those who introduce monopolistic and restrictive trade practices such as those that I have outlined.
I mentioned co-ordination earlier, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The coordinator is B. W. Loder and Company, chartered accountants, 74 PittStreet, Sydney. Before any dealer can give a plant operator’s or a fleet operator’s rebate to any one, he must first write and get the permission of Mr. B. W. Loder and his company. These papers which I have show that before a rebate can be granted to any operator approval must first be obtained from the secretary of the New South Wales Tyre Manufacturers Association, who happens to be Mr. B. W. Loder, of the firm of B. W.
Loder and Company. That firm is the coordinator for the four tyre and rubber companies that I have mentioned.
I shall tell the House what was done to one trader. Last Saturday week, a circular was sent out to most of the tyre people. It was headed “ Tyre Manufacturers Terms and Conditions of Trade “, and stated -
I am instructed to inform you that
333 ChurchStreet Parramatta is no longer eligible for volume discount.
Yours faithfully, B. W. LODER, Secretary,
N.S.W. Tyre Manufacturers Association.
– The address of the retailer mentioned is in the electorate of the AttorneyGeneral.
– That is so. When I spoke to Mr. Maling about what had taken place he told me that he had been in the rubber and tyre trade almost all his life and that he had been in business for a long time. He said that various tyre companies had encouraged him to undercut other traders. They had encouraged him in that practice, but as soon as it suited them they imposed these terms and conditions of sale and told him, “ Cut it out. If you do not, we shall discontinue the supply of tyres to you.” These tyre companies do not even themselves adhere to the conditions that they lay down under which a trader will lose his volume rebate. They have put Mr. Maling out of business. He has now sold his business and got out altogether because the tyre companies were not prepared to supply him with tyres even at the full retail price. He could have got tyres only by buying them over the counter from other dealers and paying the same price that any member of this House or any other person who bought a tyre would have to pay. This happened to him because he had the audacity to stand up to these tyre companies. It is a pity that there are not more people in the community willing to stand up to companies like this, tell them off and let them see that they will not be allowed to dictate the terms of trade in this community.
I propose to tell the House of the dirty way in which the tyre companies went about their treatment of Mr. Maling. One of his men went off work. Another Good year dealer, whom I am prepared to name, said, “ If you are short of staff, I know a fellow who will come in handy “. The replacement was planted as a stooge for the big tyre firms and he topped off Maling. That is the sort of rotten tactics that these big firms adopt in imposing their terms and conditions of trade. As I have said, the result is that Mr. Maling has now sold his business and got out of the game. He has given it away completely.
But the tyre companies are not satisfied only with this sort of thing. I hope that I shall be able to tell the House something about two other examples of their tactics before my time expires. In the next instance, the tyre companies were not even prepared to put their requirements in writing, because the whole thing was too hot. The retailers were advised in these terms -
Advise State Tyre Committee-
That is a committee of which Mr. B. W. Loder is secretary - of any contracts they may have with -
Semi Government Agencies.
Fleet operators or any consumer accounts covering either New Tyres, Tubes or Retreading which are at variance with the Terms and Conditions of Trade.
Date of Agreement
Date of Termination
Whether discount quoted was based on Retail or Trade Price at the time of acceptance.
This means that the tyre companies now will have full particulars of traders’ clients of the clientele that they have built up over the years. The tyre companies will know whether a trader has made a contract with the Newcastle City Council, the Maitland City Council, the Lake Macquarie Shire Council or any other council to retread tyres at a certain charge, and the big companies will be able to send their stooges along to get under the guard of the people with whom the dealer has entered into contracts. If this is fair trade, I thank God I am a socialist.
In the other case that I want to mention, the tyre companies tried to tighten up a little further. I have a copy of a form which was recently circulated. Indeed, the one that I have was received in the mail yesterday afternoon. The retailers are requested to have the fleet operators complete this form, which has to be signed before a Justice of the Peace. It is headed “ Fleet Application Form “ and is in these terms -
Application is hereby made for inclusion in the Register of Fleet Owners in a classification appropriate to our holding of motor vehicles and in accordance with the conditions as set out hereunder, which I have read and accept.
In support of this application, I………….. being Manager of……………. whose address is……………… do solemnly and sincerely declare: -
That the following self-propelled vehicles set out hereunder (cross out whichever not applicable) on the attached list are owned by and registered in the name of that company/firm in New South Wales and are operated exclusively in its business.
The fleet operators have then to give full particulars of the vehicles which they own, including type, registration number and loadcarrying capacity. The form continues -
Once again, particulars of type, registration number and loadcarrying capacity have to be provided. The form concludes in these terms -
AND I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the Provisions of the Oaths Act, 1900.
Declared at in the State of this day of 19 Before me: J.P.
– This is free enterprise.
– This is free enterprise. These are the things that the big tyre companies are prepared to do and the lengths to which they are prepared to go in order to create a monopoly. Where is the healthy competition that we hear so much talk about, Mr. Deputy Speaker? In Newcastle, the big companies have practically destroyed the independent firms engaged in the retailing of tyres and tubes. They have bought many of them out. What is happening, as the House well knows, is that the oil companies are now interested in moving into the tyre trade, and they are buying out the independent firms. We have seen how the Golden Fleece interests took over the Hardie Rubber Company Limited, and we know that other oil companies are interested in other tyre and rubber companies. So the move towards greater monopoly control is on. Nobody can truthfully say that the profits made by these companies are not exorbitant and more than are reasonable.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Jess) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Hulme) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not desire to detain the House for more than a few minutes.
Motion (by Mr. Hulme) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
z asked the Acting Prima Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Commonwealth Office of Education, as the agency responsible for organizing Australian participation in the scheme of Commonwealth educational co-operation, will be in direct contact with the unit when the occasion demands.
x asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the ever-increasing road toll, will the Government give consideration to the introduction of legislation, in line with that at present operating in Canada and shortly to be introduced by the Victorian Government, to make it an offence within the territories under the control of the Commonwealth to drive with ability impaired by alcohol?
– The following information is given in reply to the honorable member’s question: -
The proposed legislation is apparently intended to amend existing legislation which requires proof that a person is incapable of having proper control of the vehicle. Generally the provisions of the relevant legislation applying in the territories under the control of the Commonwealth are not related to a person’s capacity to control a vehicle but provide for an offence when a person drives while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) and (b>-
In the earlier years of the scheme some States were unable to fill the places allocated to them and provision was made for those places to be transferred to other States. However, no places have been available for transfer in more recent years.
The scholarships are awarded on a competitive and not a qualifying basis. The Commonwealth Scholarships Board prescribes a minimum standard for each State below which it will not make an award, but it has never been intended that students who satisfied this standard should be regarded as qualified for a scholarship. Since the commencement of the scholarship scheme its competitive nature has been emphasized.
m asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The information requested is as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s question is under consideration and a reply will be forwarded to him by letter.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s question is under consideration and a reply will be forwarded to him by letter.
t asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
What expenditure has his department incurred in the last two completed financial years in each State?
– The following is a statement of Appropriations and Trust Account expenditure incurred by this department in each State in the last two completed financial years: -
New Power House at Darwin.
s asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 May 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600531_reps_23_hor27/>.