House of Representatives
23 August 1960

23rd Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I preface a question to the Minister for Territories by saying that while I was in New Guinea, I heard rumours that certain traders were charging the natives higher prices than they were charging Europeans who bought goods from their shops. Will the Minister inform the House whether he has heard of these allegations? If so, what action is he taking?

Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– Some time ago several native people in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea complained to the Administration that they were being charged higher prices than were charged to other customers. These complaints were investigated by the Administration Treasury, and I am glad to be able to report that the investigation revealed that this was certainly not a general practice. Over most of the Territory, and in the case of most of the traders, fair practices are followed. As a consequence of the investigation, however, prosecutions are being launched against three separate stores under the Trading With Natives Ordinance. This ordinance makes it an offence to discriminate against natives in trading. I cannot forecast the result of the prosecutions. One must be careful not to say anything that would prejudice the hearing of the cases. However, several summonses against three stores are being issued.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the decision of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to impose a compulsory levy on trade unions to bring to Australia union delegates from Russia and red China, will the Minister inform the House whether this is an attempt to force many trade unionists to contribute to the fostering of a political philosophy in the trade union movement, with which philosophy many of them do not agree? Further, should these delegates arrive in Australia, is it likely that they would be accorded the same shameful treatment that

F.5200/60.- R.- [Ill was accorded to the American trade unionist, Mr. Goldberg?

Minister for Labour and National Service · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I think that most sensible people would agree that the decision of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions was a major error of judgment on its part for two reasons. The A.C.T.U. executive alleges that it is a full and free member of the International Confederation of Trade Unions, and that it does not belong to the Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions. Secondly, in all my dealings with the A.C.T.U., it has stated its abhorrence of compulsion in any form. For those two reasons, I think this was an error of judgment. As to the second part of the honorable member’s question, personally I think this is a matter for the A.C.T.U. itself, and I think it wise to let those members of the A.C.T.U. who disagree with the interstate executive’s policy, handle it in their own way.

As to the third part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I should imagine that those who were so outspoken in their hostility to the representative of the American trade unions will, being Communists, show their complete hostility also to the representatives from Great Britain and the United States but their very great friendship to those from Communist countries.

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– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that the majority of television viewers in Newcastle and surrounding centres are unable to obtain satisfactory reception from Sydney studios? Will this poor reception continue, will it improve when a television station is erected at Newcastle or will it worsen? Is it proposed to build booster stations between Sydney and Newcastle? Has any examination been undertaken to ascertain whether the channels which have been reserved for Newcastle are likely to interfere with existing reception or reception in the future should any new television station come into existence in Sydney? Can the Minister give an assurance that the owners of television receivers in the area between Singleton and Hawkesbury River will receive programmes free from interference after country television stations have been established, or can the people expect to spend in total millions of pounds on receivers and licence fees to receive only second-rate reception?

Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I know that although some viewers in the Newcastle area have been receiving a reasonably good signal from Sydney, that is not common throughout the district. The honorable member has asked whether, when television transmission is extended to Newcastle - as I hope it will be within a reasonably short time - the people in that area will receive an improved signal. The reply to that question is that they certainly will receive an improved signal because a station will be operating in Newcastle. The honorable member has asked whether it is proposed to erect a booster station to serve the Newcastle area. As I stated in the House last week, I have received from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board a report dealing with the extension of television into country areas. The contents of that report have not yet been discussed by Cabinet. Until that has been done, and until I can make a statement to the House T am not prepared to indicate how the service will be given.

The honorable member asked also about the channels that are likely to be used. That also is a matter upon which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has been asked to report. 1 can assure the honorable member that in allocating channels for television services the board is guided by the principle of ensuring that there is as little interference as possible between one channel and another. Sydney channels will not be used in Newcastle. I think that deals with the latter part of the honorable member’s question, but without any knowledge of the local area, I cannot reply in detail. However. I can say that all these aspects were taken into account by the board when it submitted its recommendations relating to the sites for various transmitters. Every effort has been made to ensure that as wide a coverage as possible will be given from the chosen sites.

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Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I address my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will he comment on yesterday’s fall in wool prices? Can he give any indi cation of the reason for this fall of from 5 per cent, to 7i per cent.? Can he indicate whether there is any possibility of a rise in wool prices at some time during the next twelve months?

Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– The main wool sales of this season commenced yesterday in Sydney and Melbourne and, compared with the prices received at the end of the July sales, there was a fall of approximately 5 per cent, to 7i per cent. My inquiries indicate that the reasons for the fall in prices are the substantial stocks which are held in South America, the large quantity of semi-processed wool which is held by Japan, France and the United Kingdom, and the recent rise in the United Kingdom bank rate. Those factors probably have a bearing on the buying plans of the wooltextile industries in those countries at the opening sales. As to the suggestion that I comment on the possible trend throughout the season, I may say that with only the first day’s sales to guide me, 1 am not likely to comment at this stage.

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– I direct a question to the Prime Minister, and I preface it by referring the right honorable gentleman to a statement that he made in Bendigo during the recent by-election to the effect that no retrenchments were planned at the Bendigo ordnance factory apart from normal staff fluctuations. In view of the numerous transfers, demotions and dismissals now taking place at the factory, and the continued unsettling rumours that further big changes are to take place, will the Prime Minister re-assure the people of Bendigo by re-affirming in this House the statement that he made during the by-election campaign?

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– I have no reason whatever to change what I said at Bendigo about this matter. Should there be any circumstances that have arisen since the Bendigo by-election campaign, I will put myself in touch with the Minister for Supply, who is the relevant Minister, or with the Minister representing him. I appreciate the honorable member’s interest in this matter, and if there is anything further that can be said, I will have it stated.

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– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister yet received a report from the committee which was appointed to examine the accounts of the Post Office? If so, when does the honorable gentleman expect to make a statement about the report?


– The committee which was appointed to investigate the commercial accounts and other aspects of Post Office finance took a considerable time and went to a great deal of trouble in going very thoroughly into the whole question. As a consequence, the inquiry lasted longer than had originally been expected. I received an initial report from the committee nearly two months ago. I was informed at the same time that there would be addenda to that report which it was desired to present before the report was finally considered. Within the last fortnight, I have received the second and last addendum, and I hope that I shall be in a position shortly to present the report to the Cabinet for its consideration. As the committee is an ad hoc one appointed by the Cabinet to obtain certain information for it, T can make no statement about the nature of the report or any decision that may be taken on it until such time as the report has been thoroughly digested by the Cabinet.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories. Will the Minister advise me of the methods adopted for the training of New Guinea natives in Public Service administrative work and of the number of natives who are receiving such training? Has consideration been given to arranging a training course in Australia for those who have shown promise in this field similar to the training offered to Asian students under the Colombo Plan?


– Some time ago, we inaugurated in the Public Service of Papua and New Guinea an Auxiliary Division which was designed to be a training division. We admit to that division those native candidates who have not yet attained educational qualifications high enough for entry to the ordinary ranks of the Public Service. Having been admitted to the Auxiliary Division while they are working on the job, they are also trained with the idea that those who can improve their qualifications will then pass into the ordinary ranks of the Public Service. The training is carried out in the Public Service Institute at Port Moresby. That institute was established some time ago for a variety of purposes related to the general training of the Public Service of the Territory. In addition to that, in certain classifications - and medicine is one - we take advantage of some facilities outside the Territory such as the medical school at Suva. A number of natives are trained as medical practitioners at the school in Suva and then returned to the ordinary ranks of the Public Service in the Territory. At present we have about 25 in training at Suva, and, speaking from memory, I believe we have about 350 in training in the Auxiliary Division. In addition, every assistance is given natives to obtain the bare qualification for entrance to the Auxiliary Division.

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– Has the PostmasterGeneral received reports from Brisbane of widespread dissatisfaction with the transmission of television programmes over station ABC - Channel 2? Is he aware that televiewers in the Brisbane area have found it necessary to purchase special equipment for attachment to parts of their television receivers in order to make possible satisfactory reception of programmes transmitted from that station? Is the Minister also aware that these difficulties are not experienced in the case of the two commercial stations in Brisbane? If the Minister is aware of this situation, can he say whether action is being taken to rectify it?


– Some little time ago, shortly after the commencement of operation of station ABC - Channel 2 - the national station in Brisbane - I heard some complaints, which I could not describe as general or amounting to widespread dissatisfaction, that on certain television sets the reception of pictures transmitted from that station was not as good as the reception of those transmitted by the commercial stations. I therefore arranged for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is responsible for investigating anything like this, to have a look at the position, and I can inform the honorable member for Lilley that the fault does not lie with the transmitter. The transmitter measures up to all the required standards laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The board discovered that in some types of sets - I do not know what the types are - a herringbone pattern is set up, particularly towards the top of the picture. This arises from the greater strength, rather than from any lack of strength, of the national station. In other words, the greater signal strength of that station, in comparison with the commercial stations - which commenced operations earlier and to the strength of which receiving sets had been more or less attuned - causes this condition. I repeat that the condition arises only with certain types of sets, and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has been in touch with the manufacturers concerned, suggesting that some minor alteration should be made which would relieve the situation. As the honorable member has said, it is possible to obtain a relatively small gadget called an attenuater, which can be fitted to a set and which will remedy the trouble. I can assure the honorable member for Lilley that the matter has been looked at. If he has some friends who are having this difficulty, I suggest that a talk with a competent television engineer will enable them to solve the problem.

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– Will the Treasurer say whether action will be taken to ensure that the credit squeeze will not be applied in the case of municipal councils, in order that those bodies can obtain the finance necessary to carry out urgent works which have banked up because of shortage of money, such as the repair of the “ heartbreak “ streets which are so common in the suburban areas of all cities?


– As I told the House earlier, the directive in question related to the rate of new lending. I am not in a position to say what individual arrangements councils have with their own bankers. It is realized, of course, that they have important purposes to fulfil, and the Government has itself shown a recognition of the need for them to continue their activities by its concurrence, expressed at the last two meetings of the Australian

Loan Council, in increased loan raising provisions. I do not know whether there is anything further I can usefully add. I will examine the honorable member’s question, and if I can tell him anything further I shall do so.

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– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has received representations from the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners of Australia concerning employment in the Australian Capital Territory. Is it a fact that members of the deregistered Building Workers Industrial Union are given preference in employment over members of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners? If this is a fact, what action does the Minister propose to take?


– I have received two letters from the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners and on Friday I replied to their representations to me. I feel that until the society has had an opportunity to consider my letter, it would be far better that I refrain from making a statement. However, as soon as I have given it this opportunity, I will be only too happy to make a copy of my letter available to any honorable member who asks for it.

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Mi). THOMPSON. - My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. Has the Minister noted that the section of the Treasurer’s Budget speech which set out increases of various classes of pensions, made no mention of the dependent wife of an invalid pensioner, who receives 35s. a week? Was that an omission or was it intended that no increase be given to this section of pensioners?

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

– Consistent with the traditional practice, the entire scheme of social services was reviewed by Cabinet when the Budget was being prepared and every aspect of social services was considered on its merits. As a consequence, the changes indicated by the Treasurer in his Budget speech are the changes that will be effective this year. Any other changes will have to be considered on a subsequent occasion.

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Westbourne Woods


– I direct my question to the Minister for the Interior. Is the area in Canberra known as Westbourne Woods likely to become a golf course? Has the Minister received numerous protests against such a proposal? What will become of the many attractive trees planted there and the rights of the public to have access to the area? Will the Minister give an assurance that any final decision will be in the interests of the community as a whole?

Minister for the Interior · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– There has been a considerable amount of public controversy over the area known as Westbourne Woods and, therefore, I am very glad that the honorable member has raised this point. The area was first planted with trees about 1915 and was designed to be an experimental area to determine what types of exotic trees would flourish in the Canberra climate. In 1945, the Forestry and Timber Bureau requested that the public no longer have open access to the area because of the likelihood of damage to the trees and because this arboretum would flourish better if it were cut up as a golf course, with water supplies and various other amenities added, and the risk of fire damage and vandalism removed. In that year, it was laid out as a golf course, and has ever since been intended to be used as a golf course.

Two questions are now raised: The first is whether its character as an arboretum or tree garden will be preserved and the second is whether the public will be deprived of anything by its use as a golf course. With regard to the first I say quite categorically that the preservation of the trees will be assisted by its use as a golf course; and secondly, the public will be given access to far greater parklands when the lakes are established. About 228 acres are being handed over to the golf club. There will be 1,000 acres of public reserves created around the borders of the lakes, some in larger sections than the existing Westbourne Woods area - areas of over 250 acres in one lump. The students of the Forestry School, the Australian National University School of Botany and research workers in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and all other people interested in the special characteristics of these trees will have access to this area and its purpose will be continued. I am also told that not only will no further trees be removed from the Westbourne Woods area but also that additional ones, will be planted to ensure its preservation for use both as a golf course and as an arboretum.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. Has the Bulolo Gold Dredging Company recently been granted a lease of approximately 19,000 acres of land in the Markham valley in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? If so, what is the period of the lease, what was the purchase price paid and what annual rental per acre is to be paid?


– I am not familiar with the recent granting of leases in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea; that is done by the Lands Department. I will obtain the information for the honorable member and give it to him if his question is placed on the notice-paper. I may say, however, that all applications for land go before land boards in the Territory and if the company to which he refers has been granted a lease the procedure would have been for it to apply for an area of land which had been publicly advertised. All applications would have gone before a land board and the land board would have made a recommendation. The Executive Council of the Territory would have considered those applications and made a decision.

Mr Curtin:

– Do you not have to okay it?


– No, the procedure does not involve reference to the Minister. That is something which is done in the Territory, and it is done on the identical procedure which would be used in any Australian State.

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– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Phillip. Has the Government considered, or will it consider, taking action to prevent many thousands of good Australians from being compelled to subscribe funds for the purpose of bringing to this country a motley collection of political gangsters and hoodlums who completely despise the democratic tradition and who nurse an ambition to destroy the Australian trade union movement?


– Whilst I can understand the manner in which the honorable gentleman has expressed himself, I do not think it is a matter in which the Commonwealth Government should interfere. It is rather a matter for the trade union movement itself.

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– In the absence of the Minister for Supply, I ask the Prime Minister a question about space research at Woomera. Are there indications that the United Kingdom Government will not associate itself with the use of the Blue Streak missile for space research at Woomera unless Australia pays most of the cost? Would it not be a fact that any space research done at Woomera would do no more than duplicate, at considerable cost, more advanced research already being done in the United States of America and the United Kingdom? Will this possibility be taken into account before any costly programme is undertaken?


– I have seen one or two speculative stories to the same effect as the suggestion in the earlier part of the honorable member’s question. They are purely speculative. The position is that we do not yet know what proposals the United Kingdom will put to us - first, through the officers who are coming here and then through the Minister, Mr. Thorneycroft, who is also coming. We will, of course, become better informed on those matters when we have had talks -with them. We have made no commitments of any description. We regard ourselves as quite at large to discuss, on their proper merits, any proposals that may emerge.

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-Is the Treasurer aware that the Treas:y regularly publishes details of the value of. the estates of deceased persons, and indicates who are the beneficiaries? Does he not believe that this procedure could lead to another occurrence similar to the recent tragic kidnapping case? Will he ask the Commissioner of Taxation whether any useful purpose is served by disclosing the size of people’s estates and, if not, will he direct this practice to cease?


– The honorable member is quite mistaken in saying that it is a practice of the Commonwealth Government to disclose information about estates. So far as I am aware the Commonwealth Government takes no action in that respect. It is true that from time to time publication does occur of details of the kind that the honorable member mentioned, but my understanding is that those details are secured from the records kept by State governments for their own probate purposes, which records can be examined on payment of the prescribed fee. That, to the best of my knowledge, is the manner in which the information is secured, and it is not a question of any release of information by the Commonwealth Government.

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– Will the Minister for Health indicate his willingness to make available to any member desiring it a list of the drugs which are available generally under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, and also of the drugs available to pensioners in possession of medical cards? Is cortisone included in the list, and is it available as a pharmaceutical benefit to people who require treatment with that drug for chronic asthma and serious bronchial ailments?

Dr Donald Cameron:

– There is no reason why members should not have the list of drugs if they wish to have it. However, it is a very long and very technical document, and the only reason for a member’s not being able to have a copy of it would be that perhaps sufficient copies have not been printed. As to cortisone, the committee that advises on pharmaceutical benefits lays down certain conditions under which cortisone is available as a pharmaceutical benefit. Cortisone is what is known as a restricted drug, and if the honorable gentleman wishes to know the conditions of restriction I will see that he gets the exact details. It is not a drug which is a pharmaceutical benefit for the routine treatment of asthma. Its availability as a pharmaceutical benefit is restricted to the treatment of what is known as status asthmaticus, which is a severe crisis of asthma.

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– Recently, the Minister for Trade announced that an Australian trade ship would visit South-East Asian ports early next year. Can the Minister now inform the House of any additional details of this project?

Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– The export council of the Australian Chambers of Commerce, in co-operation with the Australian Manufacturers Export Council, not the Government, has arranged, I think with Royal Interocean Lines, that a certain ship that calls normally at Singapore, Malaya, Ceylon and India shall, for one voyage, go in the guise of an Australian trade ship. All the public space on this passenger ship will be devoted to displays and there will be, I think, 38 Australian businessmen who will travel on the ship, which will be a very good shop window for the display of Australian goods in an area to which we have normal shipping services and in which also we have established trade missions. The Department of Trade endorses the project, and the aid of the Australian Trade Commissioner Service, as well as all the aid that the Department of Trade can give at this end, will be available for what, I hope, will be a successful mission.

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Westbourne Woods

Mr J R Fraser:

– I wish to ask the Minister for the Interior a question relating to Westbourne Woods which is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Hume. Has the Minister, for approximately a fortnight, had a letter from me referring to this subject and suggesting that he should make a public statement setting out the whole history of the establishment and use of this area as an arboretum? Will he also publish the conditions which are attached to any lease which may have been granted or which is to be granted to the Royal Canberra Golf Club? Did the Minister, during a personal visit to the area at the week-end or in recent days, obtain evidence of the damage that has been caused by the public of Canberra in the last few weeks?


– I did receive a letter on this subject from the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory some time ago. I was grateful for his helpful views on the way in which I should approach this problem, but I did not feel that I was called on to make any public comment about his letter. It is quite true, too, that I took the opportunity to visit this area myself during the week-end. I was quite interested to note that there was evidence of considerable vandalism but I was also agreeably surprised to see two people practising golf on the fairways there.

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– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House how many flying hours have been lost by Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. in each month of their operation of Electra aircraft since their introduction into Australia? What has been the cost of this lost flying time to each operator in each month? How does the cost of this lost flying time measure up to the alleged economic operation of this most troublesome commercial aircraft?

Minister for Defence · DENISON, TASMANIA · LP

– I do not know the answer to the honorable member’s question but I will refer it to my colleague in another place and get him to supply an answer.

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– The Treasurer is, no doubt, aware that the amount of water and municipal rates paid by home-owners is an allowable deduction for income tax purposes. Is the Treasurer conscious of the relief which would come to citizens who were obliged to borrow money to purchase or build homes if interest payments on these loans were similarly deductible? Will the Treasurer give serious consideration to that most unjust impost with a view to assisting the many people in Australia who are struggling, often valiantly, to purchase homes?


– I have no doubt that it would be of great assistance to a number of people who are paying interest while acquiring a home to be allowed the amount of such payments as an income tax deduction. Of course, to the extent that revenue was lost in this way, additional revenue would have to be secured from other sources. It might very well mean that the persons who benefited from these deductions would share the responsibility for paying increased income tax. Perhaps those who had already devoted a good deal of their working lifetime to making interest payments themselves would be required to carry additional taxation in order that assistance might be given to others who are making their interest payments now. The matter is one of policy which has been considered from time to time, but the proposition put forward by the honorable member has not yet been accepted by the Government.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. How many vessels are operated on the Australian coast by the Australian National Line, and are all States serviced by this line? Are any ships owned by this line at present operating overseas, and, if so, under what conditions?

Minister for Shipping and Transport · CORIO, VICTORIA · LP

– I think there are 39 ships operating under the Australian National Line, calling at every port in Australia. They are of different sizes and carry different types of freight. As the majority of them are bulk carriers, they operate mostly between South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Thereare no National Line ships operating on overseas routes at present.

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– By way of explanation of a question addressed to the Prime Minister, I mention that the right honorable gentleman is also Minister for External Affairs and will be fulfilling the duties of Acting Treasurer during the Treasurer’s absence from Australia in the near future. I now ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the offices of Prime Minister, Minister for External Affairs and Treasurer are the three most important portfolios in the Cabinet, each one being a full-time job. If this is a fact, will the Prime Minister state why and how he personally will administer the portfolios on a part-time basis? Will he also state in his reply whether it is because he does not want to create Cabinet jealousies by selecting other Ministers, or whether, after eleven years in government, it is apparent to him that there is no Minister or back-bencher who is capable of administering these portfolios? Will he also state whether, as his action would appear to indicate, the Cabinet is actually a oneman band?


– I am grateful to the honorable member for the compliment deftly concealed in the tail-end of his question, but I would wish to be excused from going into an argument as to which are the more important portfolios in the Government. I find a considerable variety of views on that point. All I can say is that the tasks that I set myself I will perform. When I find I cannot perform them, I shall give up.

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– My question of the

Minister for Health relates to tick control in New South Wales. Can the Minister tell the House why in the recent Budget there has been such a drastic reduction in the allocation of finance for tick control and eradication in New South Wales?

Dr Donald Cameron:

– As the honorable member will be aware, for many years now the Federal Government has collaborated with the Government of New South Wales in providing large annual sums for tick control and eradication in that State. Last year, it was decided, in the light of existing circumstances, that an expert committee should be set up to review the efficacy of the measures that were being carried on. This committee was set up by the two governments under the chairmanship of a very distinguished member of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and its report is expected to be in the hands of the two governments shortly. What the future course of action, consequent upon the receipt of this report will be, it is not possible to say, but it was decided that at the present time provision should be made by the Federal Government for the expenditure of money on the present scale for the next six months and that the matter should then be reviewed in the light of the committee’s report.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, in commenting some little time ago on Australia’s position in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, he stated, “ We are here, and we are going to stay here “. If it is a fact, does the Prime Minister’s later statement about speeding up independence for Papua and New Guinea represent a change of policy on the part of the Government, and an admission of error in respect of its earlier policy of colonialism? If the Prime Minister claims that there has been no change of policy, will he be good enough to elucidate these apparently conflicting statements?


– The honorable member for East Sydney will be delighted to know that immediately at the conclusion of questions, the Minister for Territories will make a comprehensive statement - an admirable statement - on the subject of Papua and New Guinea. All I need add is that every word of it commands my support, and every word of it is consistent with everything 1 have said publicly on this matter.

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Minister for Territories · Curtin · LP

– by leave - On behalf of the Government, 1 wish to set out as clearly as possible a number of facts concerning the situation in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and to clear away some misunderstanding that may have arisen regarding our aims and our achievements in that Territory.

A number of honorable members have indicated their wish to take part in a discussion of this important national question, and opportunity for them to do so will be provided during this session. Apart from any debate which may arise on the motion for the printing of the statement I am now making, the Leader of the House Mr. Harold Holt) is proposing to allocate extra time for debate on Territories Estimates if members request it. A second opportunity will arise when, as soon as the Budget debate has been concluded, I will introduce a bill to amend those divisions of the Papua and New Guinea Act which relate to thi; Legislative Council and Executive Council.

We wish to present Papua and New Guinea as a national question. Although, as. the Government of the day, we accept our responsibility for what is done in the Territory, we believe that this is a subject on which the vast majority of the Australian people and all Australian parties share one. purpose, and that the only differences which may arise will be minor differences of emphasis or method. i ‘

I believe, too, that those Australians iri the Territory - whether in the Public Service, in private enterprise or in mission work - who give so much of their lives to the people of Papua and New Guinea are conscious that they carry a trust for Australia in their hands. That is certainly the ideal which I have personally always tried to set before my own officers. We know, too - and this is imprinted deep in the most sacred memories of thousands of Australian homes - that those men and women who, in two world wars, gave their lives in Papua and New Guinea were moved by a patriotism which transcends any of the momentary contests of politics. Let none of us forget - and, indeed do not let the world forget - that this country, so close to our shores, is also close to the hearts of the Australian people because over a period of more than 70 years we have given not only laws, not only money, not only good government, but. the blood of our children to nourish its future.

There are two preliminary observations to be made very briefly before passing to the main body of this statement. First, I repeat as plainly as I can on behalf of the Government that, contrary to an impression that has been fostered in some quarters, there has been no recent change in policy nor any change of interest on the part of the Government in Papua and New Guinea. What has been done up to date and what is to be done in the future have the approval of the whole Government and, I know will also have the support of this Parliament.

Secondly, there has been considerable distortion and some misunderstanding of what has been said on behalf of the Government in recent months. I do not propose to enter into any argument but the Government has se’ down in a separate publication a plain record of recent Ministerial statements in order to keep the record straight. This publication is being distributed separately to honorable members and is commended to their attention.

The main purpose of the present statement is to discuss the responsibilities of Australia in Papua and New Guinea and the policies through which we will discharge them. Before opening that discussion, I want to mention a few simple facts in r elation to the Territory which will make it quite clear that the rest of this statement is neither defensive nor apologetic, but a description of policies that have already produced great results and will produce even greater results in the future.

What has Australia done since the war? The return to civil government took place with the establishment of a provisional administration in October, 1945. That provisional administration faced all the problems of the devastation, the disturbance of population, the disruption of civil rule and the loss of trained staff which had been caused by war. In most parts of the country it had to start again from scratch; in some parts it started from behind scratch because of the effects of war. It had on its hands an initial job of reconstruction and rehabilitation and the stabilizing of a population which had become unsettled by wartime experiences. Against that background of war let us ask again: “ What has Australia done?”

Since the war, we have established law and order over more than 50,000 square miles of country which was previously in a state of savagery and belligerence. We have built up an Administration service from nothing to a total of 3,623 Australian public servants, 334 native members of the Public Service and 7,500 Administration native employees. We have provided facilities with each to enable this public service to do its work. We have equipped each of the five main ports with modern wharves, built over 5,000 miles of road, constructed over100 air fields and many alighting areas, provided housing, sanitation, water supply and electricity services. We have re-established and greatly improved thepostal and telecommunications services inside the country. In short, we have put the whole country into working order with many more modern facilities and amenities than people who have not visited the Territory can appreciate.

We have built four large and modern base hospitals, 101 subsidiary hospitals and 1,200 aid posts and medical centres, at the same time assisting the missions to build an additional 92 hospitals and 420 aid posts. To-day, we - and the missions whom we assist - have in operation 578 infant and maternal welfare clinics in various parts of the Territory. We have built from nothing medical services which, counting both officials and missionaries, now have 119 doctors, 16 dentists, 17 pharmacists, 347 trained nurses, 236 medical assistants, 307 other European medical workers and, as a result of training inaugurated since the war, 1,447 native medical assistants, 1,620 native medical orderlies, 390 native nurses and 1,158 other native medical workers. In close association with the missions, we have established an education system so that to-day there are over 400 European teachers and some 5,400 native teachers at work in 4,100 schools attended by 196,000 pupils. In agriculture, we have built up an agricultural department staffed by close on 300 officers, with a high proportion of persons with technical and professional qualifications. Notable among these is the Agricultural Extension Branch with about 75 trained European extension officers, 250 trained native extension officers and 420 native agricultural trainees, who are engaged in work directly related to the improvement of village agriculture and the encouragement and guidance of the native people in the growing of crops for market. We have established 41 agricultural and live-stock stations and extension centres, and in the course of a normal year we are now capable of conducting 200 agricultural patrols by European officers throughout the Territory to bring agricultural services within reach of the people. In forestry, we have established a major industry which has an export value approaching £1,500,000 a year and is backed by a department of forests with a staff of over 100 officers. We have built up a lands department which, although greatly hampered by a shortage of surveyors, has done notable work and is now preparing to undertake the major measures of land reform which I announced to the House in a statement last April.

We have encouraged, guided and instructed the native people in agriculture, with the aid of many private settlers who have taken more than a neighbourly interest in the native people. To-day, we have native farmers growing copra, coffee, cocoa and food crops for market of a value which, it is conservatively estimated, must be returning to them an income of £3,000,000 a year, which will increase steeply as the potential now developing is realized. Under our guidance, although mining has declined as an industry, the native people are themselves mining gold and enjoy the direct income which it provides. We have re-established trade and, compared with a pre-war annual value of trade of £5,000,000, approximately half of which was accounted for by the production and export of gold, we now have a total Territory trade of £40,000,000 a year, including over £18,000,000 export trade.

The Territory now has a banking system. Savings bank deposits by natives have risen from a negligible amount to a current total of credit balances of £1,190,000. The monthly average of deposits in the chequepaying banks has risen in comparatively few years from nothing to close on £8,000,000. Individual native people are sharing in this prosperity and furthermore the co-operative societies, formed and guided by the Administration, have to-day an annual turnover of close on £1,000,000. In the field of political advancement we have moved in less than ten years from nothing to a position where a population of 250,000 people living in more than 1,000 villages is now being served by 36 local government councils, democratically elected on an adult franchise and handling their own budgets for the management of local affairs. We have established town and district advisory councils on which natives are represented; we have set up a Legislative Council on which there are native members and have completed plans for the reform of this council and an increase in its native membership.

During this post-war period, public expenditure of all kinds has totalled not less than £179,000,000, of which £157,000,000 appeared on the budgets of the Territory Administration. That is a record of material achievement. At the same time in major questions such as land, labour and economic development we have made fundamental decisions on policy and administration. We have some reason to be proud of what has been done, particularly when we know the difficulties that have been overcome and the complexity of the factors which had to be considered. The members of this Parliament who have followed closely development in the Territory, and those officers of the Territory on whom constant and unremitting demands have been made by the Government, will be well aware of the great urgency which the Government has given to this task and the initiative it has taken in forcing the pace. We defend the wisdom of building a broad base for future progress. We repudiate the ill-founded criticism that we have gone too slowly. Such limits as may appear are not set by policy but exist in the nature of the situation itself. Every bit of this achievement is solid and there are no shams about it. On this foundation we will see even greater progress in the next few years.

In the light of that record of the post-war years - a record of two governments - let us discuss the future. I propose to make some observations on three phases of the situation in Papua and New Guinea - the international aspect, the existing situation inside the Territory and the Australian domestic scene.

The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is an administrative union formed of the trust territory of New Guinea and the Australian possession of Papua. In respect of both of these territories the Australian Government has accepted obligations by its signature and ratification of the United Nations Charter. In respect to the trust territory, there is, in addition, an agreement between Australia and the General Assembly of the United Nations. I emphasize that these treaties give to Australia both rights and responsibilities. We have discharged our responsibilities with scrupulous care and we intend to continue to do so. On the other hand, we expect our rights to be respected and we will be active to maintain them.

As a result of recent developments in Asia and Africa and of changes that are taking place in the United Nations, there is increased international interest in the Australian administration of Papua and New Guinea. This interest comes to focus each year in the comments of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations and in the debates in the General Assembly. Regularly a visiting mission of the United Nations makes a report on our administration. On the whole, the reports of the visiting missions have been highly favorable to Australia and, speaking in particular of the report by the last visiting mission, I would say that there was no comment in that report that was not acceptable to us and, in fact, where the comments drew attention to this or that problem, the observations made by the mission were very closely in accord with observations which I had personally made in discussion with the members of the mission while it was in Australia. A report such as that presented by the last visiting mission is extremely valuable and helpful to the administering authority.

When the report of the visiting mission goes for discussion to the Trusteeship Council, our hope and wish is that our work in the Territory will be judged only on its merits. If in any way we have fallen short of what we have pledged ourselves to do it will be helpful to us and of benefit to the peoples of the Territory to be told about it. As members of the United Nations and as an administering authority under the trusteeship system of the United Nations we will carry out faithfully all that we have pledged ourselves to do.

It is well for us to remember, too, that the principles of trusteeship towards the native peoples antedates by many years the birth of the League of Nations, with its mandates system, and the later creation of the trusteeship system of the United Nations. Under the influence of thinking which had taken shape in British colonial administration, and drawing on our own experience as a colony that had won its way to independence, we Australians had established for ourselves certain principles in the administration Of dependent peoples even before those principles were written into the League of Nations mandates system or copied into the United Nations trusteeship system.

It is worth recalling that Australia herself took a notable part in the discussions which led to the setting up of the trusteeship system of the United Nations, and that at the first general assembly in 1946 we were among the first nations to make a declaration indicating readiness to conclude agreements respecting the mandated territories under our control. We did not come reluctantly to the trusteeship system. We helped to promote it and we were among the first to embrace it.

Now, what have we undertaken to do? A study of the basic documents reveals clearly that we have undertaken to advance the welfare of the people of Papua and New Guinea. I quote the opening sentence of Article 73 of the Charter - the first article in the chapter which establishes the principles of administration for all nonselfgoverning territories -

Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of .the inhabitants of these territories . . .

All else in the trusteeship system serves those two ends. That being so, the yardstick by which our work is to be measured is: “ Does this serve the interests and promote the well-being of the inhabitants of the Territory? “ The Government stresses as the first principle that the welfare of the people is the objective. That objective should never take second place to any theory or any other purpose.

The end of the trusteeship comes with self-government and independence. One point which should be recognized internationally is that political independence on its own is of limited va’lue unless the people have the capacity to use their independence to their own advantage. On the one hand this requires some preliminary training and experience in the working of the institutions of self-government and it also requires some training and experience in the tasks of administration. Because we are conscious of both .needs we are devoting ourselves to policies which will give the people training and experience in the use of all democratic institutions and which will also bring them in large numbers into the Public Service of the Territory. This work is important, partly in order that the self-governing Territory of the future will have a reasonable level of efficiency in carrying out the tasks of government, but, above all, so that the government of this independent country will be such as to command the confidence and the respect of the people whom it governs. A people may be able to blunder along without being highly efficient in government but they suffer tragically if there is not fair dealing, probity and regard for the public welfare on the part of those who attain power and a measure of trust among those who are governed.

A second requirement of self-government is that a country should be reasonably well equipped to live an orderly and well-rounded life. It is part of our trust to give to these people, not only a parliament, but also a system of law and order, institutions for the administration of justice, hospitals, schools, houses, roads, services of various kinds and the means to provide food and livelihood for the population. History shows with tragic clarity that the past failures of colonialism have been not simply the withholding of selfrule but failures to give the people the means or the capacity for living on their own.

In considering this side of our task we should first understand clearly the actual situation in New Guinea. It is a unique situation and most of the comparisons that are sometimes made between the situation in Papua and New Guinea and situations that may have existed in the past in the newly independent countries in Asia and in Africa are inexact. Except where modifications have been made as a result of the coming of Europeans, New Guinea is still almost unbelievably primitive. It was originally divided into hundreds of small groups speaking different languages and living in a state of fear and enmity towards one another. Even the racial types are greatly dissimilar. There is nothing yet even faintly resembling a sense of nationalism or sense of community over the whole Territory. There was no single religious belief and nothing in the nature of a priesthood but only the fear of the dead and the power of the sorcerer. The existence of most of the people was handtomouth from the garden and the jungle straight to the cooking pot, and, except on the occasions of preparations for a feast, there was little or no storing of food. In their primitive condition the expectation of life was short because of disease, violence and the absence of medical knowledge or hygienic practice. The country itself is made difficult by jungle, precipitous mountains, torrents and vast swamps. These facts are certainly not presented as reasons why the people should not be advanced - indeed we are setting ourselves resolutely to the overcoming of all these difficulties - but, at the present time, the world would be acting in ignorance if it did not appreciate the primitive and unique character of the conditions in the Territory and the size of the basic civilizing tasks still to be completed. The administering power and the advanced native peoples with whom it is working need time for this job.

A further point that is relevant to any international judgment is the relationship between Australia and the people of the Territory. Many commentators both here and abroad have a conventional picture in their minds of what they call a colonial situation. What we want them to do is .to look at the reality of the situation that exists in Papua and New Guinea. The situation there is that the indigenous people number nearly 2,000,000 and the immigrant population of all kinds numbers 25,000. There never has been in New Guinea a situation where the colonizing power has overthrown a previously existing system of government or a previously existing social order. Independence will mean not the restoration of a system or a community that previously existed but the establishment of something which is being newly created under our tutelage.

To this country of close upon 2,000.000 people, who lived originally in a condition of the most primitive savagery, separated from each other into hundreds of hostile groups, we have brought law and order without bloodshed. Our young Australian patrol officers - young Australians of whom we may be very proud - have done by patience, common sense and force of character what was done in some other lands with battalions of troops. We have been scrupulously careful from the beginning about the preservation of the rights of the indigenous people to their own land. To-day, over 70 years after European settlement began, 97 per cent, of the Territory’s land is still in native ownership and occupation. Of the 3 per cent, of the land area alienated over 80 per cent, was acquired with consent of the native owners voluntarily given. The native people have been given the opportunity of sharing in the economic enterprise of the country both through their individual effort and through co-operative societies and today their share in economic enterprise is steadily increasing as their interest in production and their general level of progress are raised. This is a situation in which the indigenous people can and dolook upon us as people who have brought them benefits and not people who have given them cause for resentment. Thanks to the standard set by many Australians of exceptional character who have laboured in the Territory on our behalf we can find in the Territory today many instances of close trust and friendship between the indigenous people and our people.

We Australians should not only be aware of these facts but should recognize them and ask the world to recognize them as providing the conditions on which the people of the Territory can progress towards selfgovernment without the conflicts, the stress and the resentments that have made the path to independence so painful in some other lands.

The foundation of justice, friendship and mutual respect between races is one of the most precious things we have in the Territory. Let us preserve it. It is also one of the best assurances for the progress of the indigenous people. The theme which we put forward internationally is -

  1. The welfare of the people should be the objective, not the gratification of having applied a principle or a theory.
  2. We should ensure that political advancement leads to the welfare and happiness of the people by making sure that it is accompanied by measures for social, educational and economic advancement. At the present stage of advancement law and order, health, education and how to earn a living are the more urgent tasks.
  3. The New Guinea situation is unique and comparisons with Africa and Asia are inapplicable.
  4. Australia is not a colonial power in the sense in which that term is used by anti-colonial critics.

Honorable members, while they subscribe to these statements, may ask whether they will have any effect internationally. It is unfortunate but true that so many questions affecting the welfare of peoples are decided as part of a contest for world power. It is a matter of record that votes in the United Nations are not always the result of a judgment on the merits of a case, but are often cast for reasons remote from the point at issue. Nevertheless, the Government believes that there are countries in the world that will look fairly at the New Guinea situation as it is, will try to understand it as it is, and above all will make a judgment on what will be best for the people of that Territory and serve their happiness and welfare. If that kind of approach can be brought about, the Government has complete confidence in the international judgment on Papua and New Guinea. It must be our constant aim to try to bring about that kind of understanding, in the interest of the people of the Territories themselves.

I have spoken up to date of the paramountcy of the interests of the people. Let us speak plainly, too, of the Australian interest. From the point of view of Australia, in this part of the world, it is of the highest importance that we should have good relations with an independent and selfgoverning New Guinea. We have that in mind, for we are entitled to consider our own security and our own proper selfinterest. If we fail to make sound preparations for their independence - politically, administratively and economically - they may fall in the first years of their independence into such disorder and trouble that instead of being a blessing their independence will be a tragedy for them. We will be held accountable for their ills and goodwill between us will suffer. Goodwill and the good relations for which we are working will not follow if independence is based on inadequate foundations. Let both the people of New Guinea and ourselves be careful about those who would talk us into trouble by precipitate change.

I shall now turn to conditions inside the Territory. At present there is a slowly awakening interest among the more advanced of the people regarding their political future, but there is no pressure inside the Territory for far-reaching political change. There is growing interest in local government - a movement originally promoted by the Government rather than being sought by the people themselves - and we look for a considerable extension of it. The proposals which I will submit to the House later in the session for reform of the Legislative Council will give increased representation to the indigenous people, tooth in members elected by themselves and by appointed official and nonofficial native members. In shaping these proposals for the Government I had the benefit of extensive discussions with the people of the Territory and have followed closely the suggestions made to me in the Territory.

At this point I should record - and I think this statement will be supported by the Leader of the Opposition - that in the Territory in July I had meetings with the leaders of the native people - over 80 in Rabaul, 120 at Lae and several scores of people at Port Moresby - representative of and entitled to speak with certainty on behalf of all the advanced people of the Territory. With unanimity they expressed their desire for us to stay and to help them, their need for us, their wish to be in partnership with us. They rejected talk of early self-government. That was for a more distant future. They told me of their confidence in what the Government was doing.

While saying this, however, I want to repeat what 1 have said before. In the Territory we are dealing with a rapidly changing situation. We need to keep a close and acute observation of these rapid changes, and we must make certain that we do not become set in our ways. Intelligent watchfulness and flexibility are essential in the government of a society that is changing as rapidly as that in Papua and New Guinea, and I think that, as the result of the changes we propose in the Legislative Council, the directions the Government has given for the more frequent use of the native people on boards and committees and the present and prospective growth in the number of indigenous officers in the Public Service, we will have to an increasing extent the assistance of the native leaders to bring sureness of observation and readiness to make adjustments. The Government also recognizes a need to strengthen the Territorial Administration at certain key points, particularly to improve its capacity for planning and carrying out major programmes on matters on which policy has been declared.

The most pressing problems we face in the Territory at the moment are in matters such as education, land tenure, native labour, the living conditions of native people who have left their villages to congregate in towns, and economic development. There is also a need to improve the closeness of our association with the native people through extension services and community development projects. All these require and will receive increased attention from the Government. In the course of the debate on the Estimates I will endeavour to indicate some of our proposals for the immediate future, and members will also find detailed information in the “ Notes for the Budget “ which I am circulating to them this week.

I now turn to the domestic situation in Australia so far as it affects the Territory. I have already said that there has been a good deal of misrepresentation over recent months on matters affecting the Territory. There have been exaggerated stories, and even some untrue stories published about racial discrimination in the Territory. There have been news items and comments which, when read carelessly, have been interpreted to mean that it is only a matter of a few years before Australia gets out of the Territory. There has been no warrant for any of this. These stories have done harm by causing confusion in the minds of Australian people, by damaging Australia’s position internationally and, perhaps most lamentably of all, in promoting doubt and uncertainty in the Territory itself, both among the native people and among the Australians who are working there, and who have contributed their investment and skill to the development of the Territory. Such investment and skill are of the highest importance in the Territory’s progress.

Doubtless many of the statements looking to the early realization of selfgovernment, have been made with a genuine concern for advancing the interests of the people. But I fear that some of them may have been made carelessly and without a close knowledge. The situation in the Territory is not a simple one but an exceedingly complex one, and I doubt whether it is within the capacity of even the brightest of journalistic visitors to see the whole of its complexities in the matter of a week or two. In the course of these comments published in Australia, I think less than justice has been done by Australians to the Australian achievement, and a grave wrong has been done to the Australians working in the Territory.

In particular it is necessary to recognize that the rate of progress is not a policy but a circumstance. We proceed as fast as we can. We have no intention to go slowly but, if one has proper regard for the people of the country, the rate of change has to be geared to the rate of response.

Finally, may 1 summarize the main points that emerge from this rapid survey. Australia is committed by the United Nations Charter to the “ political, economic, social and education advancement “ of the inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea. The end of political advancement is self-government. It is for the inhabitants of the Territory to say, when the times comes, what form of government they wish to have. It is for Australia and the self-governing state of the future to work out by discussion what the relationship between them shall be after selfgovernment has been achieved by Papua and New Guinea. Australia wants the relationship to be close, friendly, direct and permanent.

Both in the present and for the future Australia looks on its work in Papua and New Guinea as being done in partnership with the indigenous people, believing that we need each other, that we can help each other, and that past history and present policy have established respect for each other’s rights and brought friendship as well as justice in race relations.

The indigenous people will always be in a vast numerical majority, and Australian policy on such questions as land, the economic advancement of the people and their training in administration is intended to ensure that their rights and interests are maintained so that they can take an effective part in the progress of their own country.

Subject to this, Australia believes that the term “ inhabitants “ used in the United Nations Charter covers all those who have made their permanent home in the Territory. While the immigrant races permanently resident in Papua and New Guinea will always be a minority, Australian policy is to uphold the rights and the legitimate interests of that minority. Australia has rights in Papua as an Australian territory and in New Guinea by the terms of the United Nations Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement. Our policy is to inculcate and uphold respect for each other’s rights and to allow no one-sided abrogation of rights. This principle is basic to advancement in civilization. We have upheld it in our treatment of the indigenous people. We will maintain it.

Before self-government can be effective in a country as primitive socially and as undeveloped economically as Papua and New Guinea is at present, considerable social changes and economic progress will be required. These changes can only be brought about by major efforts by the Australian Government in establishing and maintaining a system of law and justice, in health, education, agriculture and technical training, and by bringing the indigenous people into public administration and membership of all political institutions. In close partnership with the native people, the resources of the country have to be developed, and a diversity of industries established. Australian policy embraces all such activities.

In this political advancement the objective is that there shall be no differential treatment of races either before the law or in social custom except as may be required to discharge our commitment under the United Nations Charter “ to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned . . . their just treatment and their protection against abuses “.

The Australian Governments - I emphasize the plural - have been working steadily in post-war years to apply the policy described above and will continue to work for it. As the result of this effort we can now see a firm foundation for progress by the indigenous people of the Territory.

The Government is confident that it has the support of the native people and that the big majority of the non-native people in the Territory share its outlook and are working with it. We are also aware of the fact that Papua and New Guinea is still largely primitive and that it is still a dependent territory requiring large support from outside to give it the medical, educational and technical aids it needs.

There is a tendency nowadays for some commentators to lay chief stress on political independence. We should not let the importance of political progress obscure the importance of other measures. The greatest immediate benefit to the welfare of the people in Papua and New Guinea will come through major efforts for the conquest of disease, medical care, infant welfare, schools, more and better food, and opportunity and training to earn enough to maintain higher standards of living, coupled with measures to develop the resources of the country and so lessen its economic dependence. Unless measures to these ends go alongside political change, political advancement will be only a facade that will give shelter to no one. When social, economic and political advancement take place together the political structure will endure.

One last word: We are not going out of the Territory in a hurry. In our judgment of the situation as it exists to-day, the Territory will need our help for many years to come and the advanced leaders of the indigenous people say plainly that they need us for a long time ahead. We are not going to abandon either them or our own people who are working with them.

The situation may change more rapidly than we can now foresee. We will continue to work in close partnership with the native people for their educational, social and economic advancement and there is not the least reservation in our minds that we are advancing them towards self-government. No one is better qualified than they are and we are, in partnership, to work out the successive stages of change. We believe that we have their confidence and that we will continue to deserve it. When the time for self-government comes we want to move towards the final decisions with our confidence, trust and friendship towards each other still strong and with the certainty that not only the day of independence but the long years that follow independence will give occasion for rejoicing to all of the people. Australia wants to stand with honour in the hearts of the people alongside whom we have fought and worked. We believe we shall so stand.

I lay on the table the following paper: -

Papua and New Guinea - Australian Policy - Ministerial Statement

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.

page 263


Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the law relating to income tax.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Treasurer · Higgins · LP

– byleave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The principal purpose of this bill is to give effect to income tax proposals announced in the course of my recent Budget speech. Included in the amendments is a proposal to increase the amount upon which primary producers are entitled to the special 20 per cent. depreciation of the cost of residential accommodation provided for employees, tenants and sharefarmers who are engaged in agricultural, pastoral or pearling activities. At present, the special rate has application to amounts of up to £2,750 expended on accommodation for each employee, sharefarmer or tenant. That amount is being increased to £3,250 and will apply to buildings commenced after 30th June, 1960, and completed before 30th June, 1962. It will also apply if a building commenced by 30th June, 1962, is completed not later than 30th June, 1963. Should the expenpenditure exceed £3,250, depreciation at the normal rates will be allowed on the excess.

An increase in the allowance of subscriptions to trade, business and professional organizations is proposed. The position to-day is that a taxpayer is entitled to allowances up to £1010s. annually for - (a) subscriptions paid to an association that carries out on behalf of its members activities the cost of which would be deductible by the members if they carried out those activities themselves; and (b) subscriptions of a periodical nature paid to a trade, business or professional association. The allowance is being increased from £10 10s. to £21. The amendment will apply to amounts paid during the current income year 1960-61 and subsequent years.

It is now proposed to allow deductions for gifts of £1 and upwards which are made to the National Trust established in Tasmania, the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, which was formerly known as the National Gallery Society of New South Wales, and the Australian Productivity Council. The bill will also entitle donors to deductions for gifts to the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine, the College of Radiologists of Australasia, the Australian College of General Practitioners, and the College of Pathologists of Australia. Deductibility in these cases will be contingent on the gift being for the purpose of medical education or research.

A memorandum explaining the technical features of the bill is being made available for the information of honorable members. In these circumstances, I do not propose at this stage to speak at greater length on the bill. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.

page 264


In Committee of Ways and Means:

Treasurer · Higgins · LP

– I move -


  1. – (1.) That, in this Resolution - “ co-operative company “ have the same meaning as in Division 9 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ friendly society dispensary “ mean a friendly society dispensary to which Division 9a of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies; “life assurance company” have the same meaning as in Division 8 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ mutual income “, in relation to a life assurance company (other than a mutual life assurance company), mean -

    1. so much of that part of the taxable income of the company which has been derived from its life assurance business as bears the same proportion to that part of the taxable income as the amount of the profits divided for the same year of income among the life assurance policy holders of the company bears to the total profits divided among those policy holders and the shareholders of the company in respect of the company’s life assurance business for the same yearof income; or
    2. where no profits in respect of the company’s life assurance business are divided for the year of income but, by virtue of the company’s memorandum or articles of association, any profits to be divided among the life assurance policy holders of the company are required to be a certain proportion of the total profits to bedivided - that proportion of that part of the taxable income of the company which has been derived from its life assurance business; “ mutual life assurance company “ have the same meaning as in Division 8 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ non-profit company “ mean -
    3. a company which is not carried on for the purposes of profit or gain to its individual members and is, by the terms of the memorandum or articles of association, rules or other document ‘ constituting the company or governing its activities, prohibited from making any distribution, whether in money, property or otherwise, to its members; or
    4. a friendly society dispensary; “ private company “ have the same meaning as in Division 7 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ the Assessment Act “ mean the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1936-1960, as proposed to be amended by the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1960. (2.) That a reference in this Resolution to taxable income be read as a reference to taxable income of the year of income.


  1. That the Assessment Act be incorporated and read as one with the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution.

Imposition of Income Tax and Social Services Contribution.

  1. – (1.) That a tax by the name of income tax and social services contribution be imposed at the rates declared in this Resolution. (2.) That income tax and social services contribution payable in accordance with section one hundred and twenty-eight b of the Assessment Act be not imposed by the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution and a reference in the succeeding provisions of this Resolution to income tax and social services contribution be read as not including a reference to income tax and social services contribution so payable. (3.) That, notwithstanding anything contained in this Resolution, income tax and social services contribution be not imposed upon a taxable income which does not exceed One hundred and four pounds derived by -

    1. a person who is not a company;
    2. a company in the capacity of a trustee; or
    3. a non-profit company.

Rates of Tax and Contribution Payable by Persons other than Companies.

  1. – (1.) That the rates of income tax and social services contribution payable by a person other than a company be as set out in the First Schedule to this Resolution. (2.) That the rates of income tax and social services contribution in respect of a taxable income to which Division 16 of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies be as set out in the Second Schedule to this Resolution. (3.) That the rate of income tax and social services contribution in respect of a taxable income in any case where section fifty-nine ab, section eighty-six or section one hundred and fifty-eight d of the Assessment Act applies be as set out in the Third Schedule to this Resolution. (4.) That the rate of income tax and social services contribution payable by a trustee be as set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Resolution.

Limitation of Tax and Contribution Payable by Aged Persons.

  1. – (1.) That this paragraph apply to a taxpayer who -

    1. being a man, has attained the age of sixtyfive years, or, being a woman, has attained the age of sixty years, on or before the last day of the year of income; and
    2. is a resident of Australia during the whole of the year of income, but do not apply to a taxpayer in the capacity of a trustee. (2.) That where the net income of a taxpayer to whom this paragraph applies does not exceed Five hundred and two pounds, the maximum amount of income tax and social services contribution payable by him be nine-twentieths of the amount by which his net income exceeds Four hundred and forty-two pounds, or, if his net income does not exceed Four hundred and fortytwo pounds, no income tax and social services contribution be payable by him. (3.) That where the net income of a taxpayer to whom this paragraph applies does not exceed One thousand two hundred and thirty-six pounds and during the year of income the taxpayer contributes to the maintenance of -
    3. his wife, being a person who is a resident of Australia during the whole of the year of income and has attained the age of sixty years on or before the last day of that year; or
    4. her husband, being a person who is a resident of Australia during the whole of the year of income and has attained the age of sixty-five years on or before that day, the maximum amount of income tax and social services contribution payable by the taxpayer be nine-twentieths of the amount by which the sum of the net incomes of the taxpayer and his or her spouse exceeds Eight hundred and eighty-four pounds, or, if the sum of those net incomes does not exceed Eight hundred and eighty-four pounds, no income tax and social services contribution be payable by the taxpayer. (4.) That, for the purposes of this paragraph, the net income of a person be ascertained by deducting from the gross income of that person all expenses (not being expenses of a capital, private or domestic nature) incurred in deriving that gross income. (5.) That, in this paragraph, “ resident of Australia “ include a person who is a resident of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

Minimum Tax and Contribution.

  1. That where, but for this paragraph, the amount of income tax and social services contribution which a person would be liable to pay under the preceding provisions of this Resolution, after deducting all rebates to which that person is entitled, is less than Ten shillings, the income tax and social services contribution payable by that person be Ten shillings.

Rates of Tax and Contribution Payable by a Company.

  1. – (1.) That the rates of income tax and social services contribution payable by a company other than a company in the capacity of a trustee, be as set out in the Fifth Schedule to this Resolution. (2.) That where the taxable income of a nonprofit company does not exceed Two hundred and sixty pounds, the maximum amount of income tax and social services contribution payable by the company be one-half of the amount by which the taxable income exceeds One hundred and four pounds.

Elimination of Pence.

  1. That, where the amount of income tax and social services contribution which a person would be liable to pay under the preceding provisions of this Resolution, before deducting any rebate or credit to which he is entitled, is an amount of pounds, shillings and pence or shillings and pence -

    1. if the pence do not exceed six - the amount be deemed to be reduced by the amount of the pence; and
    2. if the pence exceed six - the amount be deemed to be increased by treating the pence as One shilling.

Tax and Contribution where Amount to be Collected or Refunded would not exceed Two Shillings.

  1. – (1.) That, notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provisions of this Resolution, where a person has, in accordance with section two hundred and twenty-one h of the Assessment Act, forwarded to the Commissioner a tax stamps sheet or group certificate issued to him in respect of deductions made in a year from his salary or wages, and the difference between the available deductions and the income tax and social services contribution which would, but for this sub-paragraph, be payable by that person in respect of the taxable income derived by him in that year is not more than Two shillings, the income tax and social services contribution payable by that person in respect of that taxable income be an amount equal to the available deductions. (2.) That the last preceding sub-paragraph do not apply -

    1. in relation to a person who is liable to pay provisional tax and contribution in respect of his income of the year immediately succeeding the year referred to in that sub-paragraph; or
    2. in any case in which the amount of income tax and social services contribution which would, but for this paragraph, be payable is Ten shillings and the available deductions exceed Ten shillings. (3.) That, in this paragraph, “ the available deductions “ mean the sum of the amount represented by the face value of the tax stamps duly affixed to a tax stamps sheet referred to in subparagraph (1.) of this paragraph and the amount of the deductions specified in a group certificate so referred to.

Levy of Tax and Contribution.

  1. – (1.) That the income tax and social services contribution imposed in pursuance of the preceding provisions of this Resolution be levied and paid for the financial year which commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty. (2.) That, until the commencement of the Act for the levying and payment of income tax and social services contribution for the financial year commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-one, the preceding provisions of this Resolution also apply for all financial years subsequent to that which commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty.

Provisional Tax and Contribution.

  1. That provisional tax and contribution be imposed and be payable, in accordance with the provisions of the Assessment Act, in respect of the income of the year of income which commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty.

page 266


page 266


General Rates of Tax and Contribution Payable by Persons other than Companies.

The rate of income tax and social services contribution for every £1 of each part of the taxable income specified in the first column of the following table is the rate set out in the second column of that table opposite to the reference to that part of the taxable income: -

page 267


Rates of Tax and Contribution by Reference to an Average Income.

In the case of a taxpayer to whose income Division 16 of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -

page 267


Rate of Tax and Contribution by Reference to a Notional Income.

For every £1 of the taxable income of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by section fifty-nine ab, section eighty-six or section one hundred and fifty-eight d of the Assessment Act, the rate of income tax and social services contribution is the rate ascertained by dividing the tax and contribution which would be payable under the First Schedule upon a taxable income equal to bis notional income by a number equal to the number of whole pounds in that notional income.

page 267


Rate of Tax and Contribution Payable by a Trustee.

For every £1 of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee is liable, in pursuance of either section ninety-eight or section ninety-nine of the Assessment Act, to be assessed and topay tax and contribution, the rate of income tax and social services contribution is the rate which would be payable under the First, Second or Third Schedule, as the case requires, if one individual were liable to be assessed and to pay tax and contribution on that taxable income.

page 267


Rates of Tax and Contribution Payable by a Company Other Than a Company in the Capacity of a Trustee.

In my Budget speech last week I outlined the Government’s proposal relating to the income tax which will be payable by individuals and companies in the current financial year 1960-61. This resolution is designed to give effect to those proposals. Since 1954-55 the rates at which income tax has been payable by individual taxpayers have remained constant. By the resolution it is proposed that those rates shall not be altered. For reasons which have already been stated and which do not need repetition here, it is not proposed to re-enact for this year the rebate of1s. in the £1 allowedlast year.

Consequent on the discontinuance of the rebate, the schedule of instalments deducted from salaries and wages will be revised. It is expected that the revised schedules will come into operation on the1st October next. Provisional tax payable in respect of business and professional income as well as income from investments will be varied to accord with the amounts of tax payable under this resolution. Following the rise of 5s. weekly in the age pension, a corresponding increase in the income tax allowances for aged persons is proposed. That allowance is available to men who have attained 65 years of age and women not under 60 years of age whose incomes are in the lower brackets. At present, no tax is payable by an aged person residing in Australia whose net income does not exceed £429. It is proposed to increase this exemption point by £13 to a net income of £442. In the case of a married couple both qualified by age, exemption is at present provided if the combined net incomes do not exceed £858. It is proposed by the resolution to extend the exemption by £26 to combined net incomes up to £884.

The new exemption levels will coincide with the total increased age pension already announced and the maximum permissible income for age pension purposes. As in the previous years, a measure of relief will be available to aged persons whose incomes are not greatly in excess of the new exemption levels. In the case of a single aged person whose net income exceeds £442 but does not exceed £502, the amount of tax payable will be be limited to nine-twentieths of the excess of the net income over £442. A corresponding limit will apply to a married aged taxpayer where the combined net incomes of the husband and wife exceed £884 but do not exceed £1,236. These extensions of the age allowance are estimated to cost £375,000 in a full year and £215,000 in 1960-61.

The rates of primary tax payable by all companies are being increased by 6d. in the £1. In consequence of this increase in the rates, tax will be payable by public companies at 8s. in the £1 on taxable income in excess of £5,000. The corresponding rate in the case of private companies will be 7s. in the £1. Apart from these features that I have described, the provisions of the resolution conform to the pattern of past legislation declaring the rates of tax and, for this reason, I do not propose to discuss those provisions now. I submit the resolution for the consideration of honorable members.

Progress reported.

page 268


Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent (a) general business talcing precedence of Government business until six o’clock p.m. and (b) the consideration of notices of motion being continued without interruption as required by Standing Order No. 108.

page 269




.-I move-

That, in the opinion of this House, provision should be made for adequate medical treatment of ex-servicemen who served in the 1914-18 War.

The Labour Party is particularly conscious of the nation’s debt to the people who served in the 1914-1918 war. It realizes that administrative difficulties, the lapse of time, and the inadequacy of the records of that time have placed the ex-servicemen of the First World War in a disadvantageous position as far as repatriation benefits are concerned in relation to those who served during the Second World War. So we have submitted this motion in the hope that some tardy justice will be done to those who gave so much service and about whom we talk so much at times of national celebration. The Labour Party has been conscious of this for some time. In fact, the motion seeks to implement, one might say, the statement made in his policy speech by the right honorable Dr. Evatt, at the last general election. On that occasion he said -

The time has come when medical and repatriation hospital attention and treatment should be available to all returned servicemen and nurses of World War I. irrespective of whether war entitlement is established or not.

So our case this afternoon has been endorsed by the Labour Party for some time. It rests on the following grounds: First, the severity of World War I.; secondly, that many ailments are of doubtful origin, and the medical profession cannot tell us what is the cause of some of them; thirdly, that, statistically, the First World War man has less chance of receiving medical benefits under the repatriation system than has the Second World War man; fourthly, that in the period between the wars the administration of the repatriation system was much more rigorous in its interpretation of our duty to the First World War ex-serviceman; fifthly, that extensions of repatriation benefits - one of which was announced in the Budget speech only last week - are creating increasing anomalies in the administration of the Repatriation Act; and, sixthly, that the

World War I. digger is not receiving medical benefits at the same rate as the man from World War II. As the servicemen in each world war were called on to make an equal sacrifice they should receive equal benefits.

I say, too, that the onus of proof provision in the Repatriation Act, as it is interpreted at the moment, weighs heavily against the World War I. ex-serviceman who is now living so far from the time at which he incurred the disabilities for which he claims repatriation benefits. I remind members of this House, many of whom served in one or other of the two world wars, that service in World War I. was such as to create a predisposition, in almost any normal human being, to physical incapacity with increasing age. I shall read some passages of the official history of Australia in World War I. to illustrate this point. I read from Volume 3 entitled “ The A.I.F. in France, 1916 “. You do not need to be a very keen research student to find in that volume evidence that the men who served in World War I. underwent extensive hardship and considerable privation, and that it was unlikely that any of them came through the war unscathed, even if they were among the fortunate 5 per cent. who did not become casualties. The account in this volume states, at page 918 -

On his journey into the trenches, each infantryman now carried his greatcoat, waterproof sheet, one blanket, 220 rounds of ammunition, and, when fighting was in prospect, two bombs, two sandbags, and two days’ reserve rations, besides the remnant of that day’s “ issue “. Thus burdened, the troops dragged their way along the sledge-tracks beside the communications trenches, the latter - except in the actual front-system - being now never used. But the sledge-tracks also were by this time deep thick mud, which, especially when drying, tugged like glue at the boot-soles, so that the mere journey to the line left men and even pack-animals utterly exhausted. In the dark those who stepped away from the road fell again and again into shell-holes;

And so on, for page after page. Another part of the account reads -

Captain Morgan Jones has recorded that he saw one of the 20th Battalion standing with his feet deep in the mud, his back against the trench-wall, shaken by shivering-fits from head to foot, but fast asleep.

Mud and mud (says the diary of the 18th Battalion on November 8). Men cannot stand still long in one place without sinking up to their knees. Rations arrived, but it was only with great difficulty they could be carried up.

One could give these examples hour after hour. The records of the. First World War are full of them. We contend that it is illogical to say that the disabilities of the men who served in World. War I. are the result of age. We say that there is a very strong case for a sympathetic extension of medical benefits and repatriation benefits to. every person who served in the First World War. But there are lots of other reasons. The medical profession is at the moment unable to tell us what are the origins of many of the diseases from which people suffer. We all know of cases of returned servicemen of the First World War, or the Second World War, for that matter, dying of cancer or suffering from rheumatism or heart weakness, who are refused repatriation benefits on the ground that they have not proved that the disability resulted from their service. We on this side of the House claim that if the medical profession is ignorant of the actual origins of most of these complaints, and cannot define the actual cause of cancer, or say exactly what causes heart weakness or rheumatism or arthritis, or any one of similar complaints, it is reasonable to assume that service during the First World War in Gallipoli or France with the accompanying privations and hardships of the rigorous winter - in France particularly - created a pre-disposition to those ailments. We say that therefore it is our simple duty to accept at least medical responsibility for all the men who served in that war.

But there is another case which I hope the Minister will be able to answer. It is based on statistics. For the last three or four years I have brought this matter before the House on each occasion on which repatriation has been debated. The statistics show, to my satisfaction at least, that the First World War man has had less chance of receiving repatriation benefits than has the Second World War man, and that during the 40-odd years since he completed his service this position has prevailed all tha time. I am hopeful that the Minister will this afternoon show me, by statistics, that this is not the case. I have examined the statistics relating to First World War casualties which, of course, stem largely from .the extraordinary nature of that war, and have related the casualties to the benefits paid to servicemen of both wars.

I wonder whether, if honorable members did’ what I have done with these figures, they would not. come to the same conclusion. In the First World War we had extraordinary casualties. Three hundred and thirty thousand troops went overseas, of whom 59,330 were killed, 166,819 were wounded, 87,957 became sick, and 218 were recorded as other casualties, making a total of 314,324 - a casualty rate of almost 95 per cent. Of course, there were a lot of servicemen who became casualties two or three times, so, obviously, more than 5 per cent, came back at least recorded as physically unscathed by their service. We say that anybody who served in Gallipoli or France in the conditions that I have just brought to the notice of the House must have received some physical disability therefrom. I base my case this afternoon principally on statistics. If 330,000 men went overseas in World War I. and we had a total of 314,324 casualties, the returned men of that war ought to be receiving something like the same medical benefits, in proportion, from the Repatriation Department. But this is not so. The Second World War was much less demanding in blood and tears than the First World War. In the Second World War 990,000 troops, or thereabouts, served. We cannot tell very easily how many of them served overseas. Some 30,000 were killed, some 39,000 were wounded, and casualties covering prisoners of war and those who suffered from various sicknesses bring the total number of casualties suffered by Australia in World War II. to about 180,000.

Mr Barnard:

– And there are no records of men who attended the Regimental Aid Posts.


– That is so. It is easy to find sets of figures that differ as regards casualties in the Second World War. I presume that somewhere in the archives there is an official document showing how many casualties there were in every category. In any event, the grand total of casualties in the Second World War was somewhere in the vicinity of 1 80,000. The number of killed was about 30,000. This is only half the number killed in the First World War. The number of wounded in the Second World War is much less than the number wounded in the First World War. Indeed, the number of wounded in the First World War - 166,819 - is almost as high as the total casualties of the Second World War. So it is reasonable to assume that, at every stage, the First World War servicemen ought to have at least the same ratio of service to casualties as the Second World War men. The reports of the Repatriation Commission are very fruitful to those seeking statistics on subjects such as this. On page 21 of the last report are to be found the figures relating to incapacitated members of the forces receiving war and service pensions at the various dates quoted. In 1930, some twelve years after the end of the First World War and fourteen and a half or fifteen years after the first pensions were granted, 74,528 incapacitated members of the forces were in receipt of war pensions. The figure did not rise any higher than that at any later stage. The highest figure occurred a couple of years after the end of the war, in 1920, when 90,000 exservicemen were receiving pensions, but round about 74,000 was the peak of pensions granted in subsequent years. By 1959 the figure for ex-servicemen of the First World War had fallen to 54,000. That is natural. I suppose that the average age of the men who had served in that war was then well into the sixties. The number of 1914-18 servicemen who can become entitled to pensions is decreasing every year.

What is the picture in relation to the Second World War? Casualties were half those of the First World War and it is generally agreed that it was less demanding on the physique of the people who served in it. I have in mind particularly those who served in the first war for any length of time. That is the opinion I have formed from talking to people on this subject. I do not lay it down dogmatically, but it is the impression that I have gained from my examination of history. I think that most people who served in both wars and even most of those who served in the Second World War admit that while the physical conditions under which they served in the second war may well have been, at any point, just as severe and rigorous and dangerous as those of the First World War, there was a certain persistence about service in the First World War which probably took a greater toll of servicemen.

Returning to the statistics published in the official document, I point out that 1959 was some fourteen years after the termination of the Second World War. In that year the number of incapacitated exservicemen in receipt of pensions was 151,249. The battle casualties were much less than that figure and the total casualties were only a little more. Therefore it may be seen from the statistics that whereas twice as many casualties occurred in the First World War as occurred in the Second World War, half as many pensions were being paid fourteen years after the First World War as were being paid at about the same time after the Second World War. Therefore, on the statistics, it is proved, to my satisfaction at least, that the Second World War man has received a better go than the man from the First World War.

I do not say that we have been interpreting repatriation benefits with full generosity for the Second World War man, but I think that the statistics prove that we have treated him better than the ex-serviceman from the First World War. I should like the Minister, when he replies, to give me some reasonable explanation of this differentiation. I know that, of the living ex-servicemen from the First World War, probably half are now in receipt of pensions. I think that last year about 124,000 servicemen of the 1914-18 war were still alive. It might be of assistance to the Government if it included in the next census form a simple question’ about war service so that it could estimate what its liability would be if it extended benefits to any category of ex-servicemen. However, I think that my case is statistically proved. If not, I hope that the Minister, when he replies, will show me where I am wrong.

There are other reasons why the Opposition believes that the Second World War man has received a clearer run in repatriation benefits than the First World War man. Several years ago I asked for statistics of cancellations of pensions. The Minister’s reply was published in “ Hansard “ of 1st May, 1957. The figures will be interesting to people who suffered deprivation of their repatriation benefits through administrative action. In 1929, 4,339 pensions were cancelled; in 1930 the number was 4,236; in 1931, 5,182; and in 1932, 12,347. That was an astronomical leap. The number of cancellations more than doubled in 1932. That was a year of exceptional difficulty for the government of this country and I have no doubt that an administrative instruction went around to see that as many people as possible were scrubbed from this kind of benefit.

Mr Aston:

– Turn it up!


– I am simply asking you to examine these statistics and imagine you were a repatriation beneficiary in 1932. I am not asking you to defend the action which was taken. You are not the person under attack. It is interesting to note that this Government which has not run the Repatriation Department for all the years considers itself to be under attack. Nobody is attacking the Government. Nobody is suggesting that the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) is the cause of the trouble to which I have referred although, judging by his interjection, he would have been if he had been administering the department at the time. I say, simply, that a repatriation beneficiary in 1932 had two and a half times as much chance of being scrubbed as he did in 1931, 1951, or 1961. In view of the history of these things, it seems likely that the people who lost their pensions never applied for reinstatement.

Repatriation was a new activity after the First World War. Experiments had to be made with it. It was necessary to be adventurous at times. On other occasions it was necessary, perhaps, to withdraw from ground to which an advance had been made. I believe that well over 30 amendments have been made to the repatriation legislation in the past 40 years in an attempt to find a solution to these difficulties. I believe that we have approached much closer to a generous interpretation of our duty in our treatment of the Second World War man than we did in our treatment of the First World War man between the two wars. In 1942 or 1943 a parliamentary committee under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) made a great advance in the consideration of repatriation matters.

The Opposition is putting this case, not as an attack on the Government or on any individual, but to support a request that we be a little more generous to the First World

War man and give him the full benefit of medical treatment under the act. This is not asking a great deal. As I have shown, the plea is supported by statistics. The present extent of hospital benefits for people who served in the various wars and for their dependants is quite remarkable. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that the Government intended to extend medical benefits to all service pensioners. He said -

The Government has also agreed to provide free medical treatment for disabilities not due to war service to service pensioners, including Boer War veterans, and this benefit will operate as soon as administrative arrangements can be made.

This means that another 45,818 people will receive these benefits as at 30th June, 1960. These include 419 from the Boer War, 37,447 from the First World War, 7,916 from the Second World War and 36 from Korea. So, for a start, some 45,000 service pensioners will come under the scheme. War widows are already receiving these benefits. My reading of statistics indicates that there are 33,000 of them with some 74,000 children. There are probably another 6,000 mothers and their dependants. The 100 per cent. pensioner receives these benefits. There are 18,495 of those. Again, 16,710 T.P.I. pensioners receive them; and the wives of some of the T.P.I. pensioners receive benefits under the pensioner medical benefits scheme.Thisaddsup toapproximately 127,000 beneficiaries in respect of special repatriation benefits or medical benefits who are already inside the protection of the Repatriation Department.

I cannot say offhand how many are in the anomalous position of seeing comrades who served beside them receiving these benefits while they are not doing so, but I should think that the number of those recipients would probably be half the number of First World War ex-servicemen. Generally speaking, about half the people in the community who qualify for the age pension receive it, so I presume that half the ex-servicemen of the First World War who have qualified by age are in receipt of the service pension whilst the remainder of those still living after service in that conflict will be receiving the benefits under the new budgetary provision. We believe that this provision ought to be extended to every person who served in the First World War. Of course, we on this side would have been more generous than that, because the greatest advance in repatriation benefits was made during the period between 1941 and 1949 when the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was one of those who contributed most significantly to extending these benefits. At that time, he was chairman of a committee that brought down a special recommendation in its report. Some honorable members might have read that report. There are still some honorable members on the Government side who served on that committee, and I hope that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) will support the point of view we on this side are submitting - that exservicemen of the First World War are entitled to all hospital and medical benefits in accordance with the principle which is gradually being accepted by the Government so far as service pensioners are concerned. If that principle can be accepted for service pensioners, it can be accepted for all ex-servicemen, because to accept it would be to extend the benefit to only a microscopic proportion of the Australian public. I know that some will raise the objection that to accept our submission would place a heavy strain on the repatriation benefits scheme. That is no argument at all. Where a public duty is required, it is up to the Administration to find the answer to the problem. I say that by the extension of certain provisions, particularly those that were announced last week, we are creating an anomalous position under which a big proportion of ex-servicemen of the First World War are being denied benefits. This position ought to be rectified.

There are many other reasons, personal and perhaps sentimental, why one feels that the First World War ex-serviceman has received a little less than justice. I have before me the case of a man who came to my office the other day. This man gave me permission to use his name. He is Mr. Arthur Osborne Brissett. of Coburg, in my electorate. Mr. Brissett served on Gallipoli. He was evacuated from there with enteric fever and dysentery. He later served in France and was wounded. He also served in Egypt and was granted six months’ hospital furlough in England. He is in receipt of part pension. He does not receive full medical benefits under the 100 per cent, scheme. He is not accepted as a T.P.I, pensioner. He is not a service pensioner and, on my analysis of the case, with the service he had on Gallipoli and in France and Egypt, the disabilities from which he now suffers all stem from the service he gave to this country, and he is justly entitled to full medical benefit. I challenge the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), who is sitting at the table, to produce evidence to show that dysentery and enteric fever- suffered in 1914, 1915, 1916 or 1917 would not now aggravate the stomach trouble from which this exserviceman suffers to-day. That is only one case of many. I presume that every honorable member on both sides of the House has had similar cases brought to his notice.

Mr Killen:

– You cannot expect the Minister to answer your question.


– I am asking him to answer it because he was very critical about our proposal with relation to onus of proof the other night. If the Minister proposes to show that our proposal now is invalid or illogical, or that there can be no possible reason why the Australian nation should accept such a du.y now, I presume he will produce professional evidence to support his assertion and not just treat the matter in the way in which he treated our onus of proof proposal the other night.

Finally, let me refer to the question of onus of proof. We discussed this matter the other night, and the Minister for Health was very scathing. I think he treated the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) with less than justice. He spoke all the time about reasonable doubt. In section 47 of the Repatriation Act, the word “ doubt “ is not used. Section 47 (2.) reads -

It shall not be necessary for the claimant, applicant or appellant to furnish proof to support his claim, application or appeal but the Commission, Board, Appeal Tribunal or Assessment Appeal Tribunal determining or deciding the claim, application or appeal shall be entitled to draw, and shall draw, from all the circumstances of the case, from the evidence furnished and from medical opinions, all reasonable inferences in favour of the claimant, applicant or appellant, and in all cases whatsoever the onus of proof shall lie on the person or authority who contends that the claim, application or appeal should not be granted or allowed to the full extent claimed.

Yet the attitude of the Minister for Health, as spokesman for the Minister for Repatriation, was in fact that the applicant had to prove his case. This is against the doctrine laid down by a former Attorney-General, now Mr. Justice Spicer, who said that under the Repatriation Act Parliament has completely reversed the normal process. The honorable member for Bass, in his speech the other night, quoted the opinion expressed by the then Attorney-General that it is not for the claimant to prove that he is entitled to a pension but for any opposing person or authority to prove that he is not entitled to it.

On this occasion we believe that we are speaking on behalf of not a depressed minority but a minority of servicemen who have received less than justice through administrative procedures and perhaps through lapse of time in that, being unwilling to claim when theyleft the service, they now find, 40 or 50 years afterwards, that they cannot obtain evidence to substantiate their claims. Is it not notorious that the service records of men in the First World War were far less accurate and less complete than those of the men who served in the Second World War? All we on this side ask is that the statistical chances of First World War men be made equal to those of ex-servicemen of the Second World War. It is becoming too late now for us to trifle with the matter any longer. The simplest and fairest method of avoiding anomalies is to grant medical and hospital benefits, completely free of any means test or any onus of proof requirement, to every man who served in the First World War.


-Is the motion seconded?

Mr Haylen:

– I second the motion.

Dr Donald Cameron:

– I should like to begin what I have to say by reminding the House of the actual terms of the motion. They are -

That . . . provision should be made for adequate medical treatment of ex-servicemen who served in the 1914-18 War.

That is to say implicitly that adequate provision for their medical treatment is not being made. If that is what the honorable member is putting to the House, then I suggest it requires rather more evidence than he gave us to substantiate the facts. Let us look at what ex-servicemen from the First World War do get. First of all, they get medical treatment for all their disabili ties which are due to war service, just as the returned servicemen from the Second World War do. Secondly, they get medical treatment for tuberculosis, whether warcaused or not. Thirdly, subject to certain exceptions - and very few exceptions, I might say - all 100 per cent. pensioners get treatment for all disabilities. Fourthly, returned nurses from the First World War come under the same provision. Finally, service pensioners are entitled to come under these provisions for treatment of disabilities.

These apply to ex-servicemen of the Second World War as well as to exservicemen of the First World War. If they do apply to ex-servicemen of the First World War, it is a fairly tall order to say that those ex-servicemen are not getting adequate medical treatment. In fact, this is tantamount to saying that for 42 years, all governments in this country have consistently refused adequate medical treatment to the ex-servicemen of the First World War. Does any one really believe that is so? That is what this motion, in fact, says.

The honorable gentleman went on to talk about various disabilities. He did so - if he will pardon me for saying so - in a rather vague way. So far as I could judge, the tenor of his remarks was that whatever disabilities ex-servicemen of the First World War were suffering from now, and owing to the fact that most of them are advancing in years, those disabilities were due or contributed to by their war service. He made those statements without producing any evidence to support them except of a very negative kind. I shall refer to that in a moment. If you admit that proposition, you could say that most of the disabilities most of us suffer from could be related to some accidents of the past.

The honorable member for Wills went on to say that as the medical profession was ignorant of the origins of a great many diseases - and I think he mentioned in particular cardiac diseases - it was impossible to say that those diseases were not war caused. With great respect to the honorable gentleman, I do not think the medical profession is really anything like as ignorant as that. The causes of a great many diseases - and certainly the contributory causes of a great many diseases - are well known and thoroughly understood. Therefore, it is not a question of saying that because the causes of many diseases are not understood, you cannot say they are not war caused. That, if I may say so, is a complete non sequitur. You may not know the cause of a specific disease, but you may very well know what is not the cause of a specific disease. So what the honorable gentleman had to say in this rather vague way about diseases from which people suffer really does not mean anything very much.

I hope that the honorable gentleman does not think that, because I say these things, I am unsympathetic with the point of view that the ex-servicemen of the First World War should be well looked after. Not at all! None of us is unsympathetic to that point of view; but at the same time, there is no need for us to slide into methods of illogical and slipshod thought on the matter, and imagine that we can easily dismiss the causes of disease and the understandings of various disease processes by relating them vaguely to events of the past. The science of medicine is a little more exact than that, I am glad to say.

The honorable gentleman would have been a good deal more convincing if he had pointed out specifically how the exservicemen of the First World War are being neglected in comparison with the ex-servicemen of the Second World War. He did not point that out for the benefit of the House at all. If I may say so again, he spoke in rather a vague sort of way about the high number of casualties in the First World War. It is perfectly true that the casualties were high. The honorable gentleman also referred to a statistical argument, and I must say that I found it extremely difficult to follow the statistics he cited and relied upon. I gather that what he said was this: If you have a high number of casualties, you must therefore presuppose from that cause a higher degree of invalidity in those who have not been casualties than you would expect in the remainder in a different war where there has not been such a great number of casualties. That appears to be a most extraordinary assumption and there is really no evidence for it at all. The only real way to approach this question would be to examine the nature of the casualties - a very large number of them or all the casualties if you like - and draw some conclusion that you could base on that series of facts. Each case and each invalidity must be based on its merits. You cannot draw the sweeping conclusions that the honorable gentleman drew.

He went on to say that the conditions for ex-servicemen of the First World War were much worse than the physical conditions for ex-servicemen who served in the Second World War. I dare say that was true, at any rate so far as the Army was concerned; but I doubt whether it was true so far as the Navy or the Air Force was concerned. The fact is that it is fruitless to speculate on whether conditions in the First World War or the Second World War were worse because really it does not have a bearing on this particular argument. All you can do is make a proper assessment of the casualties from the nature of the casualties and the disabilities themselves.

I think there is very little more we need to say about this matter. If you are going to make an assertion that a class of people is not being as well treated as it should be, it is for you to produce specific evidence of this neglect or this failure of treatment. That evidence has not been produced, and until it is produced we are entitled to consider that the ex-servicemen of the First World War really are getting, and have been getting, just as good treatment as are those who served in the Second World War.


.- I am rather astonished at the attitude the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) has taken in this matter and in relation to similar matters that were mentioned earlier in the sessional period. I do not think that ex-servicemen should be treated as a smear on a microscopic slide, or that we should discuss whether some one is illogical or balanced in his approach to these matters. The question is not whether the men who are pensionable or totally and permanently incapacitated are well cared for. The question is what has happened to the great mass of men who in later life have discovered that they have disabilities which they honestly believe were caused by their war service. Every member of this Parliament has met these men who sit before our desks and tell us how they missed a pension from the Repatriation Department.

That was the genesis of this motion. It was submitted because of a feeling that the Australian Labour Party’s policy point on this matter, which was rejected by the electorate generally, might have a general appeal to the Parliament. The Labour Party stated in its policy in 1958 in relation to repatriation -

The time has come when medical and repatriation hospital attendance and treatment should be available to all returned servicemen and nurses of the first world war irrespective of whether war entitlement is established.

The Minister for Health was arguing on a line that had little relation to the suggestion of the Opposition. The argument is not whether those who claim a pension are well treated or whether those who are totally and permanently incapacitated are getting the appropriate benefit. The only argument between the two sides of this House is whether the benefit is enough at all times. When we are the Government, the Opposition thinks the provision is not enough. When the other side is in government, its supporters are satisfied that the repatriation provision is adequate. But this is something quite different altogether. As the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has said this move is not made in any carping spirit. This is the sort of opportunity that we get so rarely in the House to have a look at these almost insoluble problems.

Some of these things do hurt us and give us the feeling that we have not done all that we could have done. Surely we must see that on the fringe of those who performed a great service in World War 1. are a lot of sick men; a lot of men who have fallen by the wayside; men in their late fifties or early sixties who obviously have been either mistreated by the Repatriation Department, which is only human, or have been completely passed over. Now that another world war has transpired the plight of the men of World War I. is not such a burning issue. It is not even such a voting issue. What Kipling said 50 years ago in relation to servicemen and their compensation is as fresh and as potent in its meaning as if it were written this morning. He said -

It’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “ Chuck him out, the brute! “ But it’s “ Saviour of ‘is country “, when the guns begin to shoot.

Of course, there are no more guns shooting to-day.

Mr Chaney:

– Kipling wrote that about the British Tommy at a certain period. Do you think he would have written it about the Australian servicemen?


– Of course he would have written it about them. His poem was directed against the attitude of all civilians - civilian governments included - to the exservicemen. The honorable member for Perth seems to exhibit a personal resentment that this matter is being discussed. But let me ask him to look at the terms of the motion that we have proposed. It is designed to do something for those who have not received a pension. Does the honorable member believe that you can divide ex-servicemen into sections - those who receive a pension and those who do not matter? Does he think that any exserviceman does not know in his heart that we have not done everything that we could have done for those fellows on the perimeter? Every ex-serviceman knows the problem, and every member of this Parliament knows the problem. If we wanted an example of a repatriation doctor, we have had one in this chamber in the attitude of the Minister to-day. He takes the logical approach - you cannot do this; everything must follow a straight line; everything must be worked out according to Euclid. In himself he is a very skilful and a very human person, although he did not show it in his speech which was acid and coldblooded.

We do not ask for pensions. We ask that the remnant of those people who served in World War I. should receive free hospital treatment in repatriation hospitals. Prior to making this point a part of our policy in 1958, our investigations showed that many military hospitals had beds and personnel available when civilian hospitals were crowded to the doors and had long waiting lists of persons seeking admission. Our first responsibility is to do something for these sick ex-servicemen. Many of them have been to the Repatriation Department and have pleaded for a pension, but a pension has been denied them. Their only right to hospital treatment is as contributors of 3s. a week, or whatever it is, to a hospital fund. We believe that they have established a claim on our gratitude. It is true that there is pressure on our medical services, but you cannot allow the bureaucrats to say that this or that cannot be done, .or that this or that form must be completed. What we ask to-day could be done if the Government had the will to do it. It would be a not inconsiderable thing, and a pretty decent thing to do in the long run. Despite the fact that the machinery of repatriation grinds exceedingly small, the general concept of repatriation is a fine thing and, in this country, as fine as anything we possess.

Surely we can look with consideration on the problem of the ex-service man or woman who is sick and would like to be in a repatriation hospital. There is a lot of esprit de corps in this of which exservicemen in this House are aware. Even though an application for a pension may be rejected because the illness has not been proved to be due to war service, the ex-serviceman would still feel very much happier to be in a military hospital with his mates. This matter has been discussed on many occasions and has been agreed to in a general sense. Although the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) made some telling statistical references, this motion does not make any charges in relation to who should and should not receive a pension. The motion is in these terms -

That, in the opinion of this House, provision should be made for adequate medical treatment of ex-servicemen who served in the 1914-18 War.

As the Minister knows, that motion includes the men who receive the 100 per cent, pension. But there are so many lines of demarcation - the man on a partial pension who is able to get treatment in a repatriation hospital only for an injury for which he receives a pension, and so on. Those things should be swept aside in a much more generous approach to the matter.

The question that worries us all is the number of men of World War I. who apply for pensions and are scrubbed. The last statistics that the Opposition repatriation committee took out indicate that 80 per cent, of applications are rejected. Why are they rejected in view of the terms of section 47? We are not able to discuss that matter in detail because it was discussed last week during another debate, but the point is that if the onus of proof means anything - apparently it does not mean anything - the commission itself should decide whether an application should be accepted or rejected. The onus, by inference, should not be left on the ex-serviceman. If you have 80 per cent, of applications being rejected, what a terrible frustration you create in the applicants at the end of their days; what a terrible frustration you create among members of their families who believe the ex-servicemen should get a pension. Why do these men for whom we plead not receive medical treatment? Some may be age pensioners, but because they receive, perhaps, some little superannuation payment from a job on the railways or something of that kind, they are excluded from free medical treatment. So their applications go in day by day and are rejected. What a frustration there must be in their minds! They are not getting treatment when they should be getting it. They can go along as civilians and report themselves to be sick, but we shall not tidy up the question of ex-servicemen generally of World War 1. until we th ow open the doors of the Repatriation Department and afford them full treatment.

There would not be many thousands of persons concerned. If you consider the rate at which totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen are dying - some 80 a month - and if you consider the incidence of death among the 100 per cent, pensioners of World War I., you will see that the great mass of ex-servicemen who receive no compensation by way of pension are passing away at a fairly rapid rate. They have now reached the age of 60 years or more.

We have been attempting to have this matter discussed in the House for many months now. Our motion need only tap the wellsprings of human sympathy. It should not merely be given the bureaucratic answer that this cannot be done or that you will crowd out the hospitals. We have been told by the Government that our progress has been so rapid that we can do marvellous things. We can build £3.000,000 hotels, change the contours of rivers, throw brawling torrents through the mountain ranges to water the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Surely to do a belated service for the sick digger is not beyond the capacity of this country!

The Opposition and, I think, the Government believe that the Government can be caught up in its own bureaucratic machinery. The Minister has not shown very much sympathy although I know that he is a sympathetic person. I thought that his speech was rather arid and antiseptic. He should realize that a problem exists. I challenge any one to say that there is no problem. The member who does not meet these fellows does not look after his electorate. The member who does not know their misery does not get under the surface of his electorate. He does not know what goes on.

This is the sort of thing that happens. The ex-serviceman is able to say that his injury occurred at such and such a place. He knows the spot marked “ X “. If he had reported to a field dressing station or to some other medical unit at the time, the incident may be noted in the records and it may be possible to check the details. In any event, the ex-serviceman is probably unable to find the evidence that he needs to satisfy the onus of proof that is put on him, because Snowy, Bluey or Curley, who were eye-witnesses, have long since passed on. This is the tragedy of it. Had one of his mates lived, the ex-serviceman would probably have been enjoying a full pension as some compensation during the declining years of his life. I have even advertised in country newspapers seeking former comrades of men in my electorate who have assured me that their old digger mates would be able to substantiate their stories if only they could find them.

We know that many ex-servicemen with disabilities have not pensions to-day simply because they belonged to the tougher element of the Army and did not report sick with every headache or belly ache. The Regimental Aid Post - the R.A.P. as it was known - and the medical officer’s hut were anathema to them. You have only to read Doctor Bean’s history of the First Australian Imperial Force to know that that is true. So many of these diggers were country men and tough citizens, and they did not want to report as sick or wounded unless they had had their heads half blown off. But now, in the declining years of their lives, they have nobody to speak for them in the ranks of the present Government, which has adopted a sort of regimented repatriation plan. The Government tells exservicemen that unless they can get over the hurdle they are outside the pale and nothing can be done for them, much as it would like to do something. Surely we can break down that attitude and say, “ We can do something for you. Even if the medical evidence is that you are not entitled to a pension, it looks as though you have been through the mill and have been permanently aged by your experiences. You are a sick man.” Why not give a pension to the old digger, the nursing sister and the others who sustained us in the days of 1914-18? There is no doubt that they ought to have pensions. The job of giving pensions to all of these people who need them would not be easy, but you could do it if you set your minds to it.

What I want to reiterate is that this motion does not refer to the problem of those who have established a claim to pensions or to the problem of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. It refers to people who are outside, as it were, and who cannot get in - people who deserve something although they have not established a claim to a pension. About 80 per cent, of them have been through the horrible, frustrating procedures of the Repatriation Commission, repatriation boards and war pensions entitlement appeal tribunals and have sought the help of the Legal Service Bureau. But, in the finish, they are flat on their faces again. They have taken it all, and we have to do something for them before it is too late. That is why this motion has been proposed. This is part of Labour’s policy.

The Government may hope to establish an excuse in this debate and say that it will not do anything for these people. Incidentally, the debate on this motion would not have come on had the Government not been marking time while it waited for the resumption this evening of the debate on the Budget. It did not want to discuss this matter or other repatriation problems which have been listed on the notice-paper for months on end. But there happens to be a hiatus and a lag in business, and we have been able to bring up the problems of exservicemen and their need for medical treatment - a need that the Government could satisfy. We ask that it do so.

The Government may say that it will have to look at the facilities available in repatriation hospitals. It may ask, “ How many more hospitals would be required? ‘’ Are not we all working out the welfare state under principles which this Government has stolen from the socialist Australian Labour Party - a welfare state which this Government has never made something that it luxuriates in and is proud of? The welfare state means, in essence, that pensions are provided for our citizens. We are working towards a retirement benefit for every citizen. The easing of the means test on pensions is an indication of this. We are working slowly so that we shall not bankrupt ourselves in the process, first, for the payment of pensions and, later, for a medical service which will eventually be free. Let us do something for the exservicemen who are part of our society. Cannot we anticipate the march of time by doing these things now and reviving the repatriation system and giving reasonablebenefits to these people? All that the Opposition asks for in the motion proposed by the honorable member for Wills is that free medical treatment be available to the diggers, nurses and others who served in World War I. We shall doubtless be asked how we are to get the doctors and facilities that we need. All can be provided, and the Government will do a very good thing if it puts its mind to the task.

The pointI make is that comradeship, esprit de corps and the spirit of mateship are part of the Australian character in which we all share. They were implicit in the attitudes of the men who served in the Australian Army in the First World War, the Second World War and in any other wars, and in Army formations in peace-time. The men like to be together. The Government will do a wonderful and relatively easy thing if it says to exservicemen who need medical treatment, “You can receive treatment in repatriation hospitals in Sydney, Brisbane or anywhere else among your mates, even though you are not eligible for a repatriation pension. Because you are an ex-serviceman, we shall give you that treatment without question in gratitude for what you and your mates did in days that are almost forgotten.” Poets have written much about the qualities of Australian soldiers.It was Ogilvie, a Scot, who wrote, in his poem, “ The Anzac “ -

The skies that arched his land were blue; The bush-born winds were warm and sweet;

And yet from earliest hours he knew, The floods of victory and defeat. From fierce floods thundering at his birth, From bush fires ravening as he played, He learned to fear no foe on earth, The bravest thing God ever made.

That was a tribute to the Anzacs. Another who was among the Anzacs - that old man from my electorate who shouted down on this august body the other day and told us what a lousy, inadequate pension he had - would like to get relief and receive medical treatment in a repatriation hospital. This is the burden and strength of the motion, and no matter how niggardly or miserable the Government may feel about the matter, it and not the Opposition has the power and the responsibility to do something. This is a little thing. If there is anything at all in the vaunted patriotism which the Government parades so much as to be almost offensive, it ought to do something for the sick and wounded diggers of the First World War by providing medical treatment for them in repatriation hospitals.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to comment very briefly on the reference by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) to the digger who addressed Mr. Speaker from the public gallery the other day and raised some protest about the Budget. I heard in the corridors of this building that that person had been very keenly briefed by the honorable member for Parkes as to what he should do in the gallery. I think that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, should report that to Mr. Speaker, because it seems to me to be a distinct breach of the procedures of the Parliament. The honorable member has nothing to be proud of. He accused the Government of marking time and allowing the debate on this motion to be brought on-

Mr Haylen:

– The honorable member is just a liar.


– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw his remark and apologize.

Mr Haylen:

– Yes, Sir. Do you want me to comment-


– I ask the honorable member to withdraw his remark and apologize.

Mr Haylen:

– I withdraw and apologize.


– Whatever the remark may do to me, it hardly makes the honorable member for Parkes a gentleman. He said that the Government was marking time, putting off the resumption of the debate on the Budget and bringing on the debate on this motion. It is obvious for whom the Government is waiting if it is watting for the resumption of the debate on the Budget. What would have happened if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had been told to make his speech on the Budget at 3.15 this afternoon? Obviously, the honorable member for Parkes plays politics all the time. Admittedly, he has a reputation for playing politics, but he could at least do it a little more fairly and stick to the subject under discussion. He and other Opposition members would do well to remember that there is one group of people in this country who have memories and who have not changed in the last eleven years. Opposition members can tell us how things were in the old days and how good they will be in the days to come. They can tell us how things will change if Labour is returned to office, but they cannot delude exservicemen, for ex-servicemen are an unchanging group. They are the same group that they were in 1949, and they are fully aware of what has been done for them by this Government and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper).

The honorable member for Parkes stated that so many of these old diggers are seeking repatriation benefits. The reason for this is the generosity of the scheme administered by the present Government. Anybody who reads the annual reports of the Repatriation Commission and compares them with the reports of similar bodies in other countries can see that this Government has nothing to be ashamed of in its administration of the Repatriation Act and its treatment of exservicemen,

I accept the motion in the spirit in which it was moved by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), but it does not say what he wanted to say. Acceptance of his suggestion would mean giving free medical treatment to every ex-serviceman who served in the First World War, regardless of the cause of particular disabilities. This would mean that if the honorable member for Parkes, himself an ex-serviceman, got up from the front bench in this House to approach the table, tripped on the carpet and gashed his chin, he could be taken to a repatriation hospital and given treatment, despite the fact that it is 45 years since he saw war service. The honorable member for Wills now interjects and suggests that we would not know that the war service 45 years ago of the honorable member for Parkes had not given rise to a condition which, after all that time, caused him to trip and cut his chin. Let us be sensible about this.

Mr Haylen:

– We are not arguing that at all; we are merely suggesting that we should give these ex-servicemen a helping hand.


– I am not ashamed, and no other clear thinking Australian is ashamed, of what has been done for our ex-servicemen. I have found that exservicemen in other parts of the world are most envious of our Repatriation Act and the way it is administered.

The honorable member for Wills said that if we looked at the policy speech made by the then Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, in 1958, we would find that it included proposals similar to those now suggested by the honorable member, and that it was expected that criticism of those proposals by Government supporters would be based on considerations of cost. If I remember that policy speech correctly, I believe that no considerations of cost appeared in any part of it, let alone specific costs of repatriation services. The honorable member for Wills paid a tribute, which I would pay myself, to the committee led by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), which in 1943 made suggestions which led to amendments of the Repatriation Act, as a result of which many ex-servicemen of the First World War received pensions which they would otherwise not have been granted.

The honorable member suggested we should study certain statistics. I suppose we would all agree that with the use of figures we can prove or disprove anything we like, depending on the way we use the figures. The honorable member stated categorically that with the use of these figures it could be shown that the First World War exserviceman had a far more difficult task in proving that a disability was war-caused than did the man who served in the Second World War. The honorable member for Parkes cited a certain figure, saying that there have been so many of these applications, none of them having been granted. Obviously these honorable members did not take the trouble to study the report of the Repatriation Commission for the year 1958-59.

I will agree with the contention of the honorable member for Wills up to this point: On discharge the Second World War exserviceman had a very great advantage over the First World War man at time of discharge. Any man in this House who served in both wars would agree with that. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) served in both wars. When he was discharged after his service in the 1914-18 war he, like thousands of others, had only one desire - to be rid of the Army and get back to his home, his farm or his other civil calling. These men refused medical examinations. Because of what happened as a result of that in the years between the two wars, at the end of the Second World War every serviceman on discharge had to undergo a medical examination, whether he liked it or not. It would be agreed also, I think, that the standard of medical records was then considerably higher.

As I say, I can agree with the honorable member for Wills up to a certain point, but I now suggest that we should consider the various tribunals, and in this regard I shall refer to figures which appear on page 23 of the report of the Repatriation Commission for the year 1958-59. The number of appeals involving First Word War men heard by Repatriation Assessment Appeal Tribunals in all States - I will not give details of individual States because honorable members have access to this report - was 3,492. The number allowed was 1,239, and the number disallowed 1,196. In addition, 114 applications lapsed. This would be due, in most cases, to the actions of the exservicemen themselves, and not to any action on the part of the department. The number pending at 30th June, 1959, was 940. In other words, more appeals were allowed than were disallowed, and this was 45 years after the war, when, as the honorable member for Wills said, it is difficult to obtain medical evidence, and it is difficult to get evidence from persons who served with you, because most of them have passed on. Nevertheless, the figures show that more than half of the appeals heard were allowed.

We have to bear in mind that the only kind of appeal tribunal that will be accepted by all as a good tribunal is one that will allow every appeal, and if all appeals were to be allowed there would be no need for a tribunal. The particular cases with which members of Parliament are most familiar are those that have run the gamut of repatriation machinery. They are cases that have been heard by the board, the commission and a tribunal, and have been refused. They then are brought to the various members of Parliament concerned, and some members say that all they can do is to go to the board, the commission or the tribunal themselves.

Mr Duthie:

– You do not approve of that, do you?


– I certainly do not, and if you want to know why, I will tell you at any time. I do not believe that a member of Parliament should appear as an advocate. That is, of course, a personal opinion. I believe that by doing so a member of Parliament can jeopardize a person’s case. I believe that we can offer all sorts of advice, but that we should not appear as advocates. But if the honorable member wants to do so, there is nothing in any legislation to stop him.

Let us now consider the position as it relates to the 1939-45 war. According to the honorable member for Wills, the figures should show a far greater proportion of appeals allowed than comparable figures for the First World War, and the difference in the proportion of allowed appeals should increase as the years go by. Referring to the same page of the report we find that the total number of appeals lodged in respect of the Second World War was 8,499. This is more than double the number arising from the 1914-18 war, but obviously there would be many more appeals, if only because of the effluxion of time. There were 3,736 appeals allowed and 2,598 disallowed. It is obvious that the figures do not bear out in any way the statements made by the honorable member for Wills.

Let me point out that in addition to allowing free treatment for all service pensioners, including veterans of the South African war, as is now proposed in pending legislation, the Government has, during the last few years, granted free medical treatment for nurses who served in the 1914-18 war, and it has also provided for complete treatment for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen and for pensioners on the 100 per cent. rate. I ask honorable members opposite where they would suggest the limit should be set.

Mr Bryant:

– Take the lot!


– That is simple, isn’t it? Let us move on from there and consider the position with regard to ex-servicemen of the Second World War. Do not forget that the average age of those men is now about 45 years. Honorable members opposite say that these considerations do not matter, but this is a problem that some government will have to face, and it is a problem that is going to become serious. There were 1,000,000 people in the services in the Second World War. The Opposition’s proposal implies that at some time in the future all those people will be embraced in the scheme. Our present annual expenditure on repatriation is £97,000,000. The Opposition says that this does not matter! I believe the Government cannot limit its expenditure on repatriation benefits with respect to disabilities directly attributable to war service, but surely the Government must say where its responsibility ends so many years after the war.

Politically we can gain great popularity by telling every one that they can have everything, but it is politically weak to do so. I think some honorable members ought to have a bit of political strength, but I do not suggest that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who is endeavouring to interject, should hop up and be the first to volunteer to acquire some. As I said, our expenditure on repatriation is now £97,000,000 a year. In the space of one year it has increased from £86,000,000 to £97,000,000. I believe we should not be considering repatriation benefits from the point of view of extending them to all ex-servicemen. The honorable member for Lalor is an ex-serviceman of the First

World War, having had a career in the services of which any one could be proud. 1 think he was in the Sixth Battalion and served in the trenches of France. But, on the argument of the honorable member for Wills, the honorable member for Lalor is not worth anything to-day; he is not capable of getting up and talking in this House for a quarter of an hour, because, he would collapse.

Mr Bryant:

– I do not remember saying that.


– You made a brilliant speech along those lines. The honorable member for Lalor, like many other exservicemen from the 1914-18 war, adopts the attitude that he would appreciate some help when he needs it but in the meantime he will look after himself. These exservicemen adopted that attitude on their discharge in 1918 and many of them still hold it. But here we must consider the man with the 95 per cent., 90 per cent, or 85 per cent, disability caused through his war service. Opposition members are now giving to him a priority lower than that given to somebody who has been in good health for 40 years. That is envisaged by the resolution now before us.

Mr Bryant:

– We are giving them all the same treatment.


– No, that is not so, because the statistics show that there are quite a few men from the Second World War with 80 per cent, and 85 per cent, disabilities. The Opposition says that it will, of course, include them later. The report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Repatriation Department in 1954 showed that 17 per cent, of beds in repatriation hospitals all over Australia were available. That meant that the repatriation scheme, with the present buildings, could include about 15 per cent, more cases to have full use of the beds. A repatriation hospital is different from any other hospital because, although the number of persons eligible for treatment is known, an unknown number may suddenly need treatment. Every exserviceman is a potential inmate of a repatriation hospital. The more that eligibility is widened, the more a man with an accepted disability may be handicapped.

Mr Reynolds:

– Repatriation hospitals are not as limited as that.


– Here is the answerbuild more hospitals!

Mr Reynolds:

– Why not?


– You would then take away from the States the right they have under the Constitution to provide hospitals. The Commonwealth has a responsibility to provide hospital accommodation for the man with a war-caused disability. If Opposition members were willing to make the admission, they would say that acceptance of this resolution would penalize the man for whom repatriation was designed. That is a fact and it cannot be avoided. Furthermore, men with no accepted disability would be given priority over those with a 75 per cent, or 80 per cent, disability. A service pensioner may be 25 years old or 30 years old, but he can be accepted into a repatriation hospital. The Government has widened the provision so that those who are in need will receive treatment. It has accepted this responsibility because these men have served in a theatre of war. The Government has done more in this way than has any government since federation. Other countries in the British Commonwealth look with envy at our repatriation scheme.

Mr Duthie:

– You have had the longest time of any government in which to do it!


– Well, it is good to be able to show results for the time that we have had. When we debate the Estimates for the Repatriation Department, we will be able to delve back into “ Hansard “ for the days when the Opposition was in government and see the statements made by Ministers for Repatriation when requests were made to them by the Opposition of that time. It is easy for the Australian Labour Party to provide answers when it is in Opposition and has no responsibility for raising the money and does not have to face the consequences of the adoption of its suggestions. The Opposition would do well to reconsider this suggestion. I do not believe that ex-servicemen generally would agree with the arguments put forward by Opposition members. The report of the last annual congress of the Returned Servicemen’s League will show that it does not agree with proposals of this nature.


.- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) seemed to strike the attitude that this is a matter for party consideration. He spoke about delving into “ Hansard “ for various statements. He had in mind that he may find some occasion on which the Australian Labour Party voted against a proposal that his party supported, and that he may be able to make some political capital out of it, if this party has apparently changed its attitude now. If he wants to indulge in that sort of thing on a subject such as this, he may just as well go back to what the Prime Minister said the rate of pay would be for those who volunteered for service in the 1914-18 war. All the Opposition wants to do now is to direct the attention of the Parliament to the fact that thousands of ex-servicemen to-day have no eligibility for hospital treatment because they do not receive benefit under the service pension provisions. They comprise a very small section of the community and any intelligent parliament would do something for them.

Mr Duthie:

– How many would there be?


– They are very few, but I do not know the number. The honorable member for Perth said that this year the cost of repatriation services would be about £97,000,000. I have the report of the Repatriation Commission giving the figures for 1958-59. Perhaps the honorable member has the report for 1959-60.

Mr Chaney:

– No. I referred to the estimates.


– The report of the Repatriation Commission for 1958-59 gives a figure of £77,000,000. The very pertinent point that the honorable member for Perth misses when he refers to costs is that the proposal of the Opposition would not cost more than a minute portion of the £77,000,000.

The report of the Repatriation Commission to which I have referred contains an appendix setting out the gross expenditure on medical treatment during the years 1958-59 and 1957-58, for all those who were accepted as eligible. The gross expenditure for 1958-59 was £12,173,000. This amount covered maintenance of institutions conducted by the commission; maintenance of repatriation artificial limb factories including the supply, renewal and repair of limbs, surgical aids, &c; maintenance of patients in other than repatriation institutions’, sustenance allowances while undergoing medical treatment, awaiting fitting of limbs, etc.; fees to consultants, local medical officers, etc.; prescriptions dispensed under agreement with pharmacists; fares and travelling allowances to and from places of treatment; recreation transportation allowances for badly disabled members, and cost of gift motor cars purchased; surgical aids and appliances not manufactured by the commission; medical treatment of dependants other than in departmental institutions; and miscellaneous items. The commission’s report also gives an. excellent analysis of the way in which every £1 was spent. We find that medical treatment - I would like the member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) to note this - for all those people who are accepted as eligible for hospital and medical treatment amounted to 3s. in the £1. Therefore, if we take threetwentieths of the total cost we get a sum of approximately £1,800,000 as the extra cost, or at least as the cost for medical treatment and that embraces all the particular expenditure that I have enumerated. It embraces the acceptance of men with infinitely worse and more costly disabilities than it is proposed should come under repatriation benefits if we accepted the recommendation of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant).

Let us look at how the Government reacts to it. In regard to repatriation problems it has always been my honest feeling that it is not the lay members of the Repatriation Commission - not the members of the non-professional staff of the commission - who determine whether a man will be accepted for repatriation benefits. It is the members of the medical profession. All that the lay members - the non-professional, non-medical or nonsurgical staff - can do is to interpret the decision of the medical men. I would be the last to reflect on the good intentions, professional ability and judgment of the medical profession, but just as some people do not look upon judges as being infallible, I am not prepared to regard doctors as being infallible. Nor do I think the present Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) would claim that the diagnoses of the medical profession are always 100 per cent, correct. You will always find another doctor who will give another opinion - not always, perhaps, but very frequently - and it so happens that many members of this House have had that experience. They have consulted a medical practitioner and been told that they have such and such a complaint, and then have said, “ I am not too sure. I will try some other medical gentleman out.” Very often they have had a different report from the other doctor. Doctors have opened people up for certain complaints and disabilities and, lo and behold, just as a mechanic opens up a motor car after hearing a suspicious noise or suspecting that something is wrong with the engine, they have found that something entirely different is present.

It is useless for the Minister for Repatriation - I do not want to misrepresent him - to give the impression that a tribunal acting on the advice of a number of medical officers, determines that a man’s disability is not due to war service and that that is the end of the matter. But is it, and should it be? There are members of this House who suffer war disabilities and are pensionable, but perhaps they are lucky. The case of a man who has a scar or an obvious war injury, is easy to decide. But what about the case of a man who from the point of view of a physical examination, or perhaps a psychiatric examination, has no apparent trouble? ls it not true, that as medical science develops, the medical profession and research workers make discoveries that previously were never dreamed of? Let us take one example. After World War I., the use of X-rays was comparatively rare; but, as time went on, soldiers who claimed pensions were more frequently X-rayed and it has now been discovered through research - possibly largely as the outcome of the atom bomb - that in certain circumstances X-rays can injure the human genes and change the whole blood circulatory system. Who knows what other discoveries will be made as time goes on? Is it not possible that in many cases a distinct injustice has been done? The motion moved by the honorable member for Wills does not suggest that at this stage we should accept a situation that would bring all those possible cases into line; but it does suggest that all men who served in World War I. and who require treatment should be accepted for repatriation benefit.

The honorable member for Perth placed great emphasis on the economic position, but he seems to overlook the fact that, increasingly, responsibility will be . taken nationally even by his own Government for the full cost of treatment of individuals in institutional hospitals. Surely, a little step in this direction will not matter very much. I suggest that the Government might even consider paying on behalf of these men who are not acceptable at the moment - these remnants of World War I. - their fees to a medical and hospital benefit association. I paid my fees during the week-end to the Australian Natives Association for the fullest cover I could get under the hospital benefits scheme, because none of us ever knows what will happen. I think it cost me £5 for the quarter. My suggestion would involve a payment of £5 a quarter to give each of these men cover as full as that provided under the hospital benefits scheme without any charge whatsoever upon the individual concerned. We in this House are fortunate; we have our mental and physical faculties, and I often think that our economic security tends to prevent us from obtaining first-hand knowledge of the situation of many other people in the community.

It is very easy, when you become relatively secure between elections, to fail to appreciate the position of a very large section of the community. Talk about the infallibility of tribunals and of the medical profession! Some time ago a widow who lost her husband in an accident in Victoria came to me. He had received a small pension, and it was alleged before the Repatriation Commission and finally before the tribunal that the man lost his life in this accident because of a wartime injury. That was a perfectly legitimate argument. The case went to all the tribunals and finally to the appeal tribunal and it was rejected. When further evidence was tendered it was also rejected. The widow asked me to take up the case with the Repatriation Commission, and I did so. I even stated the case in this House on one occasion. Finally I received from the widow a letter of thanks informing me that although she had not been a supporter of mine in the past, in future she would support me. I wrote back and told her that she was under no obligation to me for what I had done.

The day I got the letter of thanks attributing to me what had been done for the widow I said to my private secretary, “That is that”. Then I said, “Hang it all, I’ll have another go “. I wrote to General Wootten and reminded him of evidence given before the committee, ot which I was chairman, in which the then chairman of the Repatriation Commission, Sir Norman Mighell, had given as an illustration the case of a man with a leg injury who endeavoured to cross the road and had been struck by a tram and, on application to the Repatriation Commission, had been granted a pension. I quoted some other cases, including that of a man with a stomach disability who had to jump off a train at Albury to seek relief. He was knocked over by a train and, because he had an accepted war-caused injury, he was given a pension. I put those cases in a letter to General Wootten and in due course I received a letter saying that this man was accepted, and his widow got the full pension. The case having been finally rejected, should all that routine have been necessary? Just because in a fit of further sympathy I said, “ Hang it all, I’ll have another go “, the disability was accepted as the cause of death and the pension was forthcoming.

Mr Forbes:

– That is an argument for improving the administration.


– It is an argument for improving the generosity of the Parliament to men who are not as fortunately situated as those who can show actual physical evidence of their disability. People can be the victims of lack of infallibility on the part of the medical profession, just as some people are the victims of lack of infallibility on the part of the legal profession. We have lawyers differing and we have doctors differing. A great friend of mine, who is a very Christian gentleman, is a lawyer. On one occasion I related to him the details of the case of the widow of a man who had been employed by a very affluent gentleman. The husband, an old soldier, had been injured at work. I told the lawyer that I believed that the husband was entitled to worker’s compensation, and that after he died the widow would be entitled to a war pension. He told me that in his opinion the widow was not entitled to a war pension. If that was the honest attitude of a great Christian gentleman, a man who specializes in his own line, what would be the attitude of some of the harder and harsher medical men to whose decision ex-servicemen are sometimes subject. I will give the Minister for Health the details of this particular case if he wishes to have them.

The attitude of mind of the Parliament when it decided the provisions of the Repatriation Act was that, whatever a man’s economic circumstances, whether he was rich or poor, any disability that he suffered was to be accepted by the Government of a grateful country as being warcaused. At that stage all economic considerations were out of it. The people who would be concerned in the extension of benefits that the Opposition requests are a mere fringe of the population. So I appeal to honorable members opposite to take a more lenient view, and to accept the motion. I have here voluminous correspondence from a member of my own unit, who does not live in my electorate, telling of his experiences in running the gauntlet through various tribunals, finally appearing before the War Pensions Entitlement Appeals Tribunal. The time wasted in all this procedure, the mistakes made and the final disillusionment of many applicants are all illustrated in cases that have been mentioned in this House again and again, with all the dates and all the details given.

These things can be obviated. The cost of providing medical and hospital service and all the rest of it under our repatriation system to-day is only £1,800,000 a year. This covers hospital maintenance, provision of artificial limbs and motor cars for ex-servicemen, many other kinds of services, and payment to private and departmental medical practitioners. The amount involved in extending these services to the small remnant of people still alive from World War I. would be probably less than £100,000 per annum. At least the Government might undertake to pay the hospital benefit contributions of these old diggers as long as they live, and so assure them of cover under the hospital benefits scheme. The cost of this would be very small.

I hope that the House and the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), who has an arduous task, will accept the motion and act upon it.I say to the honorable member for Perth that the motion was not moved in a party political spirit, but in a real desire to do something for the people concerned. Even if justice is done to only 100 of these people, it is still well worth doing.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.


– There is merit in the motion submitted by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), which is designed to give some relief to the remnant of the old diggers of World War I. during the declining years of their lives. I do not say that because I am one of them. I believe, with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), that there were hundreds and probably thousands of those people after World War I. who did not know anything about their repatriation entitlements or expect to receive anything from the Repatriation Department. Their one desire was to get out of the services. Had they been submitted to a proper medical examination at the time many of them no doubt would be drawing some sort of benefit to-day.

We are not now speaking of those who are receiving benefits, but of the remnants who cannot qualify for benefits but who should receive some medical treatment from the Repatriation Department. At a recent monthly meeting of the members of my old unit in Brisbane there were more than 50 men who did not answer the roll call. Admittedly it had been an exceptional year in that respect. The old soldiers are dying off pretty quickly. Possibly had some of those who died been entitled to some form of free medical treatment they would still be alive to-day.

An aspect of the matter which the Government should consider is that when some of these old diggers become ill, even if they are in a financial position to pay their own medical benefit contributions, they would probably receive better medical treatment in a repatriation hospital, where they could be with their old cobbers and talk over common experiences, than they could receive elsewhere. They would get out of hospital much sooner and probably be a lot better off.

I believe that this matter should not be treated on a party-political basis. There are only a few of the old soldiers of World War I. now left, and there would probably be few of them who would ask for the right to this free treatment, because many of them are very independent in nature. I think the House should closely examine the possibility of giving this assistance to the old diggers.

Mr Turnbull:

– If they want it.


– Of course. I am not suggesting that it be made compulsory. An extension of medical treatment under the repatriation system would cover cases which are not now covered because the applicants have not discharged the onus of proof that their disabilities are war-caused. We know that many of these old diggers have had their applications rejected as a result of the onus of proof provision, and that under the act as it stands they are not entitled to benefits. I would say that some of the records from World War I. are not so complete as are the records kept in the last war. I do not want to make any comparison of the hardships suffered in the two World Wars. Comparisons between wars are odious. Some units suffered greater privations and dangers than others. The casualty lists show that some units suffered terrifically. One particular division which went into only three engagements in World War I. was almost wiped out. The statistical records quoted by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) will not help his case to any great extent. I think that we have to look at the matter from the point of view of the old burnt-out diggers, aged 65 and over, who are surely entitled to medical treatment among their old cobbers, among the people with whom they can talk as diggers.


.- I have been pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) in supporting this motion. I want to refer to one matter which perhaps has some bearing on the subject. I intended to bring it up during the Budget debate. Service pensioners, when the legislation foreshadowed in the Budget is approved by Parliament, will be eligible for free repatriation hospital treatment. That means that, in Victoria, they will be eligible to go into Heidelberg Hospital.

There are some people in this country little if any better off than service pensioners and yet are ex-servicemen. The Government has provided that people in this income range shall benefit from a taxation age allowance in order to bring their position into line with that of pensioners. If service pensioners are to be allowed hospital treatment for certain ailment’s which i are nol! war-caused, why should not the ex-servicemen included among these other people to whom I have referred receive that treatment? I remind the House that the service pension is different from the war pension. The service pension is paid to the burnt-out digger who is unemployable and can meet the means test He may receive it in certain circumstances at the age of 40 or 50 years, but generally it is paid when he reaches 60. Let us compare the mau who receives the service pension at 60 years of age with the exserviceman who receives the age pension at 65 years of age. Under the act as it now stands, the ex-serviceman in receipt of the age pension is not eligible for repatriation benefits for ailments that are not caused by the war.

Mr Griffiths:

– He can apply for the service pension instead.


– That is what he will have to do. That position is easily overcome. But it is not so easy to overcome the problem of an ex-serviceman whose income from property is such that he is ineligible for a service pension. His income may be only about the same as that of the man on the service pension. I have not much time left in which to speak now but it is my intention, during the Budget debate, to bring this point of view forward. The matter raised by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) is much more embracing than the point that I am bringing forward, but I believe that this matter must receive particular attention from the Government, which has already shown where it stands in taxation matters by providing an age allowance for people in similar financial circumstances to the people to whom I have referred. I am sure that, when the matter is raised during the Budget debate, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) will examine the possibility of introducing amending legislation in order to overcome what I think is an anomaly.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Pearce) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

page 288


BUDGET 1960-61

In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 16th August (vide page 82), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 101 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances £33,650 “, be agreed to.

Leader of the Opposition · Melbourne

– As a mark of censure against this inadequate and unjust Budget, on behalf of the Opposition, I move -

That the first item be reduced by £1.

Last year the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) presented his first Budget. Naturally, the members of all parties complimented him on achieving the laudable ambition of becoming Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, a post occupied by very few before him, and a post that will not be occupied by so very many in the century to come. Last year’s Budget provided for a deficit of £61,000,000, and that was claimed to be the right way in which to restrain the evils of inflation. This year’s Budget is based on the opposite policy, that of budgeting for a surplus of £15,000,000 because that is supposed to be the way to stop inflation in 1960. Those two contradictory policies cannot both be right. My right honourable friend, the hapless Treasurer, has had and shall continue to have the unenviable task of trying to convince a sceptical public otherwise.

Nobody has said that either Budget was a good Budget. The best that can be said about the present Budget is that it is negative, that it lacks imagination, that it is unimpressive, that it is stolid, and so on. I could exhaust a long list of adjectives that have been used by the critics of the Government and of the Budget. And the critics are not confined, of course, to the Labour side of politics!

The Treasurer says that Australia is expanding too fast. He said in the course of his speech that it was necessary to halt our expansion. He did not mean the public sector of the economy; he meant the private sector.

Mr McMahon:

– No, he did not.


– Yes, he did. If the Minister for Labour and National Service will only do his colleague the honour of reading what he did say, he will agree that I have reported him faithfully.

Mr Harold Holt:

– I do not agree that you have reported me faithfully.


– If the Treasurer would read his speech he would find that he said that Australia’s expansion had to be slowed down. That was the central feature of it all.

Mr Harold Holt:

– “ Steadied “ was the word.


– “ Steadied “, in that connotation, is a synonym for slowing down. It could not be otherwise.

Mr Harold Holt:

– Certainly not halting.


– I did not say “halting “.

Mr Harold Holt:

– You did. You used the word “ halt “.


– I said, “ slowing down “.

Mr Duthie:

– He said, “ Halting Holt “.


– We shall leave it to the electors to halt Holt. The Labour Party says that Australia, in the public sector, is not expanding fast enough. In the next generation, if Australia is to be free of fear of challenge to its right to continue to hold this continent, there has to be greater expansion in the public sector, and that expansion has to be commenced now. Our national growth has been far too slow over the last ten years. No matter what credit we might take to ourselves or what the Government might claim it has done since the war, we are still expanding far too slowly if this country it to be held for ourselves and our descendants.

It has not been a bad decade in some ways. It has not been a bad decade for some people, particularly for the speculators, the manipulators of the joint corporations, for those who can preside over take-over bids and the like. It has not been a bad decade for those who can charge what they like for the commodities they have to sell, who can add every tax to the price of everything they have to sell and so make a profit on the tax they have to pay as well as on the goods they have to sell at whatever prices they like to charge. But there has not been much in it for the primary producer; there has not been much in it for the worker, the pensioner, the mother with a growing family, or for all those living on fixed incomes. The Treasurer sneers when I speak about the primary producer. I remind him that the Leader of the Country Party told the Country Party conference in New South Wales quite recently that it was no use asking the primary producers to increase production in order to increase exports because, in the last four years, the primary producers did increase their production by 11 per cent, and in that same period they witnessed a reduction of 11 per cent, in their incomes. The average income of the primary producer to-day is about £408 as against something like £489 in 1948-49, despite the vast depreciation of the currency in the intervening years. Let nobody say that the primary producers of Australia have anything for which to thank this Government.

Mr Harold Holt:

– Do you believe that is all they earn?


– That is all they get, according to the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures. I do not know what sidelines the Treasurer thinks the average primary producer engages in, but if there are any, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) could not find any to reveal to the Country Party conference in New South Wales.

Mr Harold Holt:

– We give them liberal taxation concessions.


– I like the emphasis on the word “ liberal “. It is about as good as anything else that is labelled “ liberal “ in this country to-day.

This second Budget of the Treasurer is only one of the eleven which have been presented since this Government came to power in 1949. The present Government came to power on the promise to put value back into the £1.

Government supporters. - Not again!


– I repeat, the Government came to power on the promise to put value back into the £1, and it has never done it. It has never even tried to do it. On the contrary, the Government has allowed inflation, which it says was excessive when it came to office, to grow worse. I shall not forget the 10 per cents, nor the 20 per cents., nor even the 50 per cents.

During the first four post-war years, the period when the Chifley Government was in office, prices rose by 24 per cent., an average of 6 per cent, a year in Australia. The Treasurer may say that the increase was 9 per cent, in each of the last two of those four years, but it is equally true that in the ten years this Government has been in power prices have risen by 98 per cent., an average of 10 per cent, over each of those t:n years. In 1951, prices rose by as much as 20 per cent, and in the next year they rose by as much as 161 per cent.

Mr Harold Holt:

– Last year it was only 3.2 per cent.


– Of course they slowed down last year, and the reason why inflation was slowed down last year was the imposition by the Government of excessive and burdensome forms of indirect taxation such as sales tax, excise duties and customs duties. Sales tax was taken in 1951-52 to the record height of 66 per cent. Why, at !he worst period of the war, at the most disastrous period when the Japanese were threatening Milne Bay and when they were close to the Coral Sea, at no time did the Curtin Government raise sales tax by more than 25 per cent. The Curtin Government, with Mr. Chifley as the Treasurer, governed in accordance with the right canons of taxation and placed the burden of taxation on the shoulders of those who were best able to bear it. So income tax was taken up to 18s. 6d. in the £1 on all taxable incomes of £5,000 or more, and sales tax and excise duties were kept as low as possible.

But this Government has distorted the whole economy. It has placed heavy tax burdens on the masses of the people and relieved its wealthy friends of much of their share of this burden of taxation. With this Government it will be galloping inflation or creeping inflation, but it will always be inflation. Inflation is the operative word.

The battle against inflation will never be won while an anti-Labour government continues to control the administration of this country. We are now to have a balanced budget - a budget that aims for a surplus this year in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of £125,743,000 against a surplus of £41,000,000 in the same fund last year.

Mr Harold Holt:

– What would you do?


– Now I am asked to produce an alternative budget. I am asked to say what ought to be done. The first thing that ought to be done is to get rid of this Government. This is axiomatic. It is obvious even to the dullest intellect on the Government side. If we get rid of this Government and the Labour Party secures control of the Treasury and learns just what has been going on in the ten years we have been out of office, we shall be able to present the people with a budget in the Chifley tradition; and it was a magnificent tradition. When the Second World War ended the Chifley Government left Australia with the best economy in the whole of the Western world; and let any tyro on the Government side try to dispute the fact.

Mr Bury:

– What is your authority?


– I cite as my authority no less a person than Sir Douglas Copland, and no one would doubt his qualifications as an authority on economics. The gentleman who deserted the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to enter this Parliament as a back-bencher - I refer to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) - poses as a worthy and doughty opponent of Sir Douglas Copland. It is like a sparrow challenging an eagle. Inflation in Australia is worse than in any other British country. I understand that it is now worse than in any part of the European democratic world. Inflation has increased by 98 per cent, in Australia in the past ten years; but in the same decade it has increased by only 52 per cent, in New Zealand, 50 per cent, in Great Britain, 20 per cent, in Canada and 18 per cent, in the United States of America.

Mr McMahon:

– Do you believe that?


– I do, because the honorable member for Wentworth gave me the figures.

Mr Menzies:

– He was the chap you described as the sparrow.


– He has never repudiated the figures. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), who is interjecting, would not know whether they were right or wrong. His sole contribution to national politics since he entered the Commonwealth Parliament was to have the Queen’s monogram put back on the postalvans. He was hard put to it even to think of that one. Anybody else is now entitled to interject if he wishes to do so. As my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has stated much more graphically than I have done, inflation in Australia has increased twice as fast in the past ten years as it has done in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand over the same period, and five times as fast as it has increased in Canada and the United States of America. If capacity to protect the earnings and savings of the people against the ravages and inroads of inflation is a test of good government, obviously the Menzies Government has failed. Indeed, it has never even held the downward trend of the purchasing power of our money even in the year when it reported that inflation had increased by only .7 per cent.

Mr Harold Holt:

– It was 3.7 per cent.


– No, it was .7 per cent. I pay you tribute for not allowing your modesty to claim what is your due. Even if it were .7 per cent, in one year it increased by 2.2 per cent, in the next year and last year by 2.9 per cent. The Treasurer is presently aware that something is happening to propel the forces of inflation forward again.’ I wish now to come to the point of the Government’s failure to adopt remedial action. I shall indicate where the Government failed; and I think it knows just what that failure is.

Mr Harold Holt:

– Last year you said that we failed to give enough stimulus.


– I will give the Treasurer plenty of stimulus before I finish. The Menzies Government retained office in the 1955 and 1958 elections, not because the Australian people endorsed its economic policies, but because of other circumstances that had nothing to do with the realm of politics at all. What happened in those elections had everything to do with political blackmail and with certain extraparliamentary pressures, lt’ had nothing to do with the maintenance of economic stability. Now, Sir, we worry about what is happening in the economy because it affects the great mass of the people - the people whom we on the Opposition side represent. We claim that the Government has distorted the economy. The Treasurer has argued that the provisions of his Budget guide the broad trends of the economy towards certain specified aims. The principal aim in this budget is stated to be the defeat of inflation. Apparently, last year when the Treasurer remitted taxes he was not worried about the battle of inflation at all. lt had seemingly been won last year. Now he proposes to put back the taxes that he remitted last year; so the battle against inflation has to be fought all over again.

We say the Budget does not guide the broad trends of the economy. It merely accepts the condition of the economy established by free enterprise; or what is called free enterprise. Free enterprise now is the enterprise of giant monopolies - large industrial and financial concerns. We say this country is under monopoly control, and the consequences of this monopoly control are felt by the 600,000 pensioners and the low-income families which embrace more than 2,000,000 people. They become poorer, but land and capital owners have become, and continue to grow, richer. That expansion, in the terminology of the Treasurer and the Government, merely means speculation’ because it takes place in those sectors of the economy where financial, concerns can. create, money or, through their power, are able to. determine their own. prices. As I pointed out earlier, the. incomes of the smaller farmers, have continued to fall at an alarming rate, and the basic public services are starved of sorely needed funds.

Only yesterday wool prices opened at a reduction of from 5 per cent, to 7± per cent, on the prices at the closing sales of a week or so ago. The honorable member for Wannon. (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) raised that issue to-day with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). He asked the Minister to don the mantle of the prophet and say how much lower the prices would fall and whether they would ever rise again. It was forecast weeks ago by those in the know that wool prices would fall’ by 8d. per lb. A fall of Id. per lb. inthe price of wool means that the national income falls by £7,000,000. I do not know how the Treasurer will manage his budgetary affairs if there is a fall in the price of wool of 8d. per lb. during the coming year.

The Budget makes no attempt to deal with these distortions in the economy. We say that it will aggravate them. Inflation is not merely, a rise in retail prices since it consists of these distortions in the economy. Only action by the Commonwealth Government can correct the situation. We have told the Government repeatedly that the report of the Constitutional Review Committee - a committee which this Government set up four years ago - will help it to find a solution to the problem of inflation. The committee was representative of both Houses of Parliament and comprised equal numbers from each side of the Parliament. The men on the committee had been in Parliament for a considerable time and had either occupied ministerial office or given distinguished service to their respective parties in other ways. With the exception of the recommendation in regard to economic powers - there was only one dissentient to that - the committee was unanimous that the Commonwealth Parliament should have additional powers. We. on this side of the House have said repeatedly that if the Government will submit a referendum to the people along the lines recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee,, the Labour Party will guarantee that the referendum will be carried. We can. answer for between 40 and 43 per cent, of the people. We know that the influence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is dwindling; but he will have to command’ the affection, and support of only- 8 per cent., of the people. That is all we’ ask of him. By a process of simple arithmetic, our 43 per cent, plus his 8 per cent, will be’ sufficient to carry the proposal by a majority of the people and by a majority of the people in a majority of the States.

What did the committee recommend with regard to economic powers? Incidentally, Senator Wright alone dissented from the recommendation only because the committee was unable to do what no Commonwealth

Government has been able to do since federation and what no Premiers’ Conference has been able to do either and that is divide the tax field satisfactorily between the Commonwealth and the States. The committee recommended, among other things that the Constitution should be amended to provide -

  1. The Commonwealth Parliament should have power to make laws with respect to -

    1. the issue, allotment or subscription of capital; and
    2. the borrowing of money whether upon security or without security; by corporations which engage, or may engage, in production, trade, commerce or other economic activities.

To quieten the fears of those who may have felt that this was the way to wholesale nationalization, my colleagues and I were prepared to add provisos to the recommendation so that that power could be used only for the purposes which I have indicated because the committee further recommended as follows: -

  1. The power proposed to be vested in the Parliament … is not to apply to -

    1. the issue or allotment of capital out of profits or accumulated reserves of corporations; or
    2. incorporated authorities of a State, including local government authorities.

We recommended also -

That the Constitution should be amended by vesting the Commonwealth Parliament with a power to make laws with respect to hire-purchase and other agreements or transactions entered into in connexion with the sale, purchase, hire or encumbrance of goods which involve the making of periodical payments or deferment of payment of the full amount payable.

The committee recommended further -

That the Commonwealth Parliament should have power to make laws with respect to rates of interest and other charges payable in connexion with loans obtained upon the mortgage or other security of land.

This Parliament ought to have those powers. The British Parliament has them; the American Congress can pass valid laws in relation to them; the New Zealand Parliament, having a unitary system of government similar to that in Great Britain, can pass such laws, but in this Parliament we cannot do so. The Government knows that it lacks the powers to which I have referred. It has admitted this time and time again when it has been asked to find a solution to our problems, but it will not ask the people for the powers that it lacks. In this hour of crisis when, after ten years our prices are 100 per cent. higher than they were a decade ago and the value of our money is only one-half what it was a decade ago, no government can govern effectively in the interests of the Australian people unless it has these powers.

The Government of Australia is in truth being carried on by monopolies and corporations which are outside the power of this Parliament. The hire-purchase companies for one can do what they like. The private banks, under an amendment of the Banking Act were permitted to invest their funds where they wished. Whereas in the days of the Chifley Government the industrial finance section of the Commonwealth Bank advanced £15,000,000 of the then current hire-purchase debt of £25,000,000, the Development Bank which the Country Party pretends to support can still advance only £15,000,000 when the total hirepurchase debt is about £450,000,000. The banks have gone out of the field of genuine banking into the field of hire purchase. They now own or control many of the hirepurchase companies. The English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited owns all the shares in Esanda Limited, for instance, and the ownership of other companies by the private banks ranges from 100 per cent. to 12½ per cent. In some cases, as with the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited, the shareholders live in London even though some of the directors are expatriated Australians. So this whole distortion continues, and it will continue while this Government lasts.

This Parliament must have power to fix interest rates other than bank interest rates. It already has power over bank interest rates but not over anything else of a like nature. Until it has that power, no government in Australia can ride the storm of inflation or protect the interests of the small people; the great mass of the people; those who live on fixed incomes; pensioners, wage-earners and those who are retired.

The monopolies, not the National Parliament, determine the state of the economy. To some extent, these debates are only a farce. We go through the pretence of believing that when the Government’s budgetary policy is approved steps will be taken to restrain the greed and rapacity of some people and do justice to those who need justice. But what do we find? Restrictive trade practices, price-fixing, the determination of mutual profit margins, comparable rebates and the carving up of the country into zones are common-place to-day in the business world in Australia. About this, much is known and a lot suspected. All of it, however, leaves this Government cold and indifferent.

We say that the money-grabbing, moneygrubbing controllers of big business have built-in star chambers which inflict severe penalties on those who refuse to abide by, or break, the agreements which they determine among themselves. This can mean, and sometimes does mean, the loss of livelihood for many small shopkeepers, retailers, growers and producers of all sorts who have no court of appeal against arbitrary and unjust penalties imposed by the monopolies. The small people look in vain for protection, and for relief and redress, to the Menzies Government and to the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), who joined the Liberal Party of Australia only the night before he obtained the nomination for the Parramatta seat.

Australia should take heed of the warnings that have been forthcoming from many quarters over the past few years, and should learn from the experience of the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom and other European countries, which long ago took steps to protect the sovereignty of Parliament and the interests of consumers and producers against the predatory activities of the moguls of big business. But from this hapless, useless Government, the Australian people can expect nothing. Ministers display complete unconcern at the growing concentration of financial and economic power in fewer and fewer hands in Australia. Worse still, they show complete indifference to the powerlessness of the Australian Parliament under the present Constitution to prevent the occurrence of such unhealthy phenomena. Falsely proclaiming themselves the champions of free enterprise, the members of this Government are in reality its undertakers, not its underwriters.

There is more than ample evidence available in the day-to-day news of stock ex change activities to justify the Parliament seeking the additional powers that I have mentioned in order to protect the interests of all Australians, wherever they live, because we in this Parliament have been elected to protect the interests of all Australians in these and other matters. But the Prime Minister, in the vernacular, “ just couldn’t care less “. He was questioned on this very matter before his most recent world tour. The right honorable gentleman was reported to have been asked at a press conference -

Have you any kind of programme in mind for legislation on monopolies and restrictive practices?

He replied -

No I haven’t.

Yet this statement was made just three months after the Government had promised such legislation in the Governor-General’s Speech of February last. So the country can only conclude that the matter has been dropped and that nothing more will be heard of it.

On behalf of the Opposition, I now challenge the Government to say whether or not monopoly control and the curbing of restrictive practices, which are at the bottom of the trouble caused by inflation in this country, have any relation to the Budget. If they have, why was no mention made in the Treasurer’s Budget speech of the Government’s present intentions on that question? Surely any matter which concerns prices must be fully considered when the state of the economy is being debated in association with the Government’s financial proposals. But not one word of the Government’s intentions on this very vital and fundamental question can be found in the Treasurer’s Budget speech. What we want to know and, indeed, what the people want to know, is: When will the Government present the legislation which it foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech six months ago?

While we are in an inquisitive mood, let us ask what is happening to the committee that was appointed by the Government some time ago to inquire into our taxation laws.

Mr Cleaver:

– The honorable gentleman knows that it is meeting regularly.


– That is something, surely. People will be glad to know that.

Mr Harold Holt:

– Has the honorable gentleman made any submissions to the committee?


– I have not, because I have none to make.

Mr Harold Holt:

– That is obvious.


– I have very little tax to pay. I do not know of any democrats on the committee and I do not know just what its charter is. But I do know that the activities of the privileged few in this country have led to many uncontrolled abuses in respect of tax evasion and tax avoidance. Not the least of these is playing the stock exchanges by such practices as dividend stripping. Many people know that all this is happening, and one of those who knows most about it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United Kingdom. He has taken action to stop the further development of tax evasion in that country. We have a feeling that the little people have nobody to go to but the Taxation Branch of the Treasury, and they pay what they are told they must pay. But some other people are able to employ experts, and these people work their way round and through every tax law. Every citizen is not able to employ tax experts and do these things.

The Treasurer referred to Australia’s financial maturity and sophistication, but he ignores the true implication of his words. Sophistication has so far meant complete freedom for the powerful vested interests to play the stock exchanges, manipulate share deals and make tax evasion a vast and flourishing industry. Any government worthy of the name would at least try to protect the people against these vast takeover bids that are being made. The Treasurer cannot fill his loans. He said the other day that they were underwritten, but surely it is of no satisfaction to the Government to find that people will not invest in loans floated by the Commonwealth and the States for the financing of the public sector of the economy while they can get better interest rates from the go-getters, from land speculators and people of that type. The Treasurer to-day urges the people to put their money into government loans. So did his predecessor when in office, but that gentleman is now engaged in falsifying all that he ever said by trying to damage the status of this country and the solvency of the government in which he was once Deputy Prime Minister by telling the people to invest their money at high interest rates in companies that speculate in land.

Mr Mackinnon:

– Shame.


– I think it is a shame. Shame on all those who are associated with it. I for one recognize that the public sector of the economy has to be financed. Every government loan ought to be filled, and nobody should do anything to try to prevent the Government from raising sufficient money to see that this nation is able to build the hospitals and schools and to undertake the other public works that are essential to the maintenance, development and expansion of the private sector of the economy. What the Treasurer calls sophistication, Sir, is not sophistication at all.

I want to say just a word or two about the right honorable gentleman’s reversal of form. He has certainly become a sort of put-and-take Treasurer. Last financial year, he remitted £20,000,000 of income tax and £18,000,000 of company tax.

Mr Harold Holt:

– There was no reduction of company tax last financial year.


– Company tax was reduced in an earlier financial year. The Treasurer now re-imposes the income tax that he remitted last year and, in addition, he imposes an extra 6d. in the £1 on companies, to yield a further £18,000,000. At the same time, he allows the indefensible impositions in respect of postal charges to remain. These charges bring in a further £16,000,000, and they have never been satisfactorily explained, either by the Treasurer or by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). The charge of 5s. on prescriptions, which only sick people have to pay, is to remain. We believe that the Treasurer should not have remitted income tax last year. He should have kept the tax at its then level and he would not then have had to provide for additional postage charges and additional charges for pharmaceutical benefits.

It is interesting to recall the justification claimed by the Treasurer for his tax concessions last year. In his Budget speech in August, 1959, he said -

It is important to keep the burden of taxes down to a minimum.

Well, nobody will disagree with that statement of principle. He said also, in justification of his proposals -

There is a case for each of the tax concessions we have proposed. Should these be deferred indefinitely? To do so would reduce the cash deficit, but it would also forgo certain economic advantages, that will flow from the relief given to taxpayers. On the whole, therefore, the Government has decided that it ought to go ahead with these benefits and concessions in the current Budget.

At a later stage the Treasurer said -

The tax concessions we have chosen commend themselves as likely to encourage effort and savings and enterprise.

That was also said about twelve months ago. In this Budget the Treasurer abandons his 1959 principles and puts the taxes back again. His explanation for this change of policy was given on Tuesday night last, when he said -

Under the altered circumstances of this year, the Government finds itself unable to continue this rebate in respect of 1960-61 incomes.

In other words, the Government no longer considers it “ important to keep the burden of taxation down to a minimum “. It now believes that there are no “ economic advantages that will flow from the relief given to taxpayers “, and it has no desire in the forthcoming twelve months to “ encourage effort and savings and enterprise “. This is what the change of mind means when one has regard to the arguments given to the people of Australia by the Treasurer last year. Having put back this year the taxes he remitted last year, he and his colleagues might have had the decency to repeal the increases in postage, telegraph and telephone charges, costing £16,000,000, which were imposed last year, and the prescription fee of 5s. levied on sick people in last year’s Budget.

Finally, I want to say a word about child endowment, which is needed by the mothers of Australia. In his speech on the Budget last year, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that because the workers had received increases in the basic wage since 1951, child endowment was no longer of great consequence to the family income, and that therefore the Government had decided, in effect, to make child endowment a dead letter This year, when the workers went to the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission asking for an increase in the basic wage, the

Government intervened and told the commission that in its opinion the commission should not grant any increase until the economy had absorbed increases that the workers had already been granted. This was the first Government in Australian history to go before an arbitration authority and to say that the workers were not entitled to an increase in the basic wage. This was the first Government to depart from the practice of merely putting the facts before the court or the commission, and leaving that authority to decide for itself without undue influence or duress.

Mr Mackinnon:

– It was the first honest Government.


– Well, that is a gross reflection on the first Menzies Government. When Mr. Justice Beeby, as Chief Justice of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, was called upon to deal with the question of a suggested increase in the basic wage, and said that the basic wage would be increased by 6s. a week unless child endowment was introduced, the Menzies Government of the day decided to introduce child endowment. I think it was quite right in doing so. But child endowment is now a dead letter. As far as the basic wage is concerned, I submit that persons receiving wages and salaries, together with pensioners and others who are dependent upon the will of this Parliament, are the only people in the community who have their incomes regulated and controlled and, in some cases, frozen. Everybody else in the community is free to do as he likes.

These policies are followed by the Government in the name of free enterprise. If this is free enterprise, then I submit that free enterprise will ultimately destroy this country. That is not the sort of free enterprise that the early proponents of the policy wished to see flourish. We are living in an era when the giant corporations dictate the policy of the nation. They are dictating the policy of the world, but they are doing less dictation in other countries than they are allowed and encouraged to do in Australia by the Menzies Government.

Minister for Territories · Curtin · LP

– I think the first thing 1 should do, Mr. Temporary Chairman, is compliment the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), on the fervour and eloquence with which he has said nothing. One assumes that when a Budget is presented, it becomes the business, if not of the whole Labour caucus, at least of those honorable members occupying the Opposition’s front bench, to give some consideration to what the Government has put forward in its Budget proposals, to try to draw up, in a considered and reasoned way, the Opposition’s case, and to determine, in a careful and calculated fashion, what the Opposition would do to deal with the economic situation of the nation, if it had the good fortune to be in power.

One assumes that honorable members occupying the Opposition’s front bench have so met and considered the Budget. One assumes that the vast economic knowledge of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), the legalism of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), the talents and socialistic fervour of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), have combined with the knowledge and experience of other honorable members to produce the economic policy of the Opposition. Having been produced, it would, of course, have been confided to the Leader of the Opposition for presentation to the House. It does appear, from what we have been listening to in the last three-quarters of an hour, that what was presented to the Leader of the Opposition to give to this House and to the nation was of no consequence or significance at all. It revealed no fundamental thinking about the economic condition of the country. But in spite of the poverty of his theme, in spite of the complete absence of any case to argue, the Leader of the Opposition has made a gallant effort. I have never heard so many adjectives presented in defence of a cause so weak.

Let us look at what the right honorable member did say. He commenced by chiding my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), because of the fact that last year he had budgeted for a deficit and this year he is budgeting for a surplus. What the Leader of the Opposition did not go on to say was that the economic situation of the nation last year was quite different, in the estimation of the Government, from what it is this year. Last year, in our judgment - and our judgment has been verified by events - the economy of the nation needed a stimulus, and the Govern ment budgeted for a deficit in order to give that stimulus. This year, in our judgment, Without entering into any panic or any fears for the future, we believe that the economy requires a little restraint and, in order to apply that restraint, we have budgeted for a surplus. No reflection can be cast on the Government for doing that. That sort of action reveals that the Treasurer and the Government are watchful over the existing state of the economy and are flexible and ready to make adjustments to deal with the situation as it actually exists.

The next point which the honorable gentleman made was a general statement that the Treasurer had said that we should halt the expansion of the country. The Treasurer never said anything of the sort. He said that we had to restrain excessive expenditure and relieve the pressures on expenditure so that we could maintain the conditions in which expansion can continue to take place. Over the past decade, Australia has seen development and expansion taking place at a rate never previously known. It has been possible for expansion to occur and for great developmental projects to come into being because throughout the period the Government has been most careful to maintain the healthiness of the economy overall. Once again, that is the objective that we are pursuing in this Budget. In our judgment, what the economy needs now is not a halt to expansion but some restraint in expenditure so that further expansion may take place.

The honorable gentleman’s next point was to the effect that there was nothing in this Budget for the primary producer or the working man; there was only something in it for the companies and those making profits. Of course, he overlooked the fact that in this Budget company taxation is increased. If we look back over the period of general inflationary tendencies of the past ten years, we find that the benefits, if there are benefits from inflation, have accrued to the wage and salary earner no less than to the companies that distribute profits. The figures in the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure show that for the period between 1954-55 and 1958-59, wages and salaries rose by 24 per cent., and company profits increased by 22 per cent. It is not only company profits that are benefiting by this period of growth, expansion, buoyancy and prosperity; the wage and salary earners also are benefiting.

The Leader of the Opposition went on to talk about the rise in prices. He tried to suggest that the rise in prices during the period of the present Government had been greater than previously and that the rise had been greater in Australia than in other countries. Of course, he refrained from quoting figures, and it is the figures that give the denial to what he said. First, let us take the point about the trend of inflation. In 1948, prices rose by 9.8 per cent. In 1949, they rose by 9.3 per cent. This year, as a result of the measure of stability that the Government has achieved, they rose by only 3.2 per cent. This inflationary tendency has been continuing over a long period, but it was rising more steeply during the period of the previous government than it is at present. When we compare our position with that of other countries, we find that between 1953 and 1956, retail prices rose by 8 per cent, in Australia, by 12 per cent, in the United Kingdom and by 12 per cent, in New Zealand. In a more recent period, from 1956 to 1959, they rose by 11 per cent, in Australia, by 1 1 per cent, in New Zealand, by 7 per cent, in the United Kingdom, by 9 per cent, in Canada and by 8 per cent, in the United States. So, the rise of prices in Australia compares quite favorably with the rise in other countries which have an economic structure similar to ours.

The main criticism that one must present against the Leader of the Opposition is this: My colleague, the Treasurer, on behalf of the Government, tried to present, in sober and realistic terms, a description of the present state of the economy. He presented it with some care and gave facts and illustrations to round out his picture. Then, having described the state of the economy, he proposed the measures which, in the Government’s view, would best meet the needs of that situation and would ensure the continuing prosperity of Australia.

Two tasks await the Opposition, and particularly the economic geniuses of the Opposition. One is for them, if they can, to say that the description of the state of the economy is not true, and to try to present an alternative picture of the state of the economy. The Leader of the Oppo sition failed completely to do that. He did< not attempt at any one stage of his speech, either to say that the picture we presented! was false or to present a picture which he considered to be true. He argued with a. multitude of words without having done that fundamental task of saying what in hisestimation is the state of the economy to-day. We do not necessarily want theOpposition to say that our judgment and. description is correct, but if the Opposition is not willing to endorse our description, surely it should tell us what it thinks thestate of the economy is, and tell us not: with a multitude of adjectives but with facts, and figures which will substantiate every word. The Opposition has completely failed to do that. The Leader of theOpposition did not say a word about what he thought the state of the economy was. Because he failed to do that, one mustconclude that he accepted our description’ of the economy as true and as unchallengeable.

If we hold the view that he accepts our description of the state of the economy, we look to him to do a second thing. We look to him to put up an alternative Budget. It is the function of members of the Opposition as candidates for an alternative government to tell the people what they would do if they were the Government. The electors of Australia are entitled to know what the Opposition would do if it had a chance to deal with the economic situation, but the Opposition has completely failed to tell us what it would do if it were in office. It has left us to surmise, from a multitude of adjectives and the rude words said about various persons living in Australia, what it would do if it had the opportunity.

The significant feature of the whole of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition is that where he became most definite and most clear was on the subject of powers. He said, “ If only we would adopt the report of the Constitutional Review Committee and do something to give the Commonwealth Parliament increased powers, everything would be well “. But what the people want to know - not what we want to know but what the ordinary elector wants to know - is what the Australian Labour Party would do with these extra powers if it had control of the Parliament. That is the vital question. I am sure the electors of Australia are not going to hand over to the Commonwealth Parliament any additional powers, and they are certainly not going to confide those powers to the Labour Party until they know what the Labour Party would do with them. They want to know in precise terms what the Labour Party would do with the powers if it had them in its possession. Let us follow what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said - and I paid particular attention at this point because I was very curious to know what was his idea of governing Australia. He made two statements, I think in answer to an interjection by my colleague, who asked what he would do. He said, rhetorically - and it is the sort of thing any of us might say and the sort of thing which is all right on. the hustings but which is not much good in a deliberative assembly such as this - “ The first thing I would do would be to get rid of the Government “. Then he said he would produce a Budget in the Chifley tradition, but he did not elaborate on that.

The late Mr. Chifley - all honour to him - dealt with the economic problems of this country according to his lights ten years ago, but the situation to-day is not the situation of ten years ago. What does the Labour Party mean by “ a Budget in the Chifley tradition “? The electors of Australia want to know something much more definite than that - not a Budget in the Chifley tradition, but what the Labour Party is going to do about taxes and expenditure and about economic incentives. The electors of Australia want to know what the Opposition is going to do in every facet of the Australian economy, and that is where the Opposition has failed to tell the electors of Australia a single word. And because it has failed to tell us anything about what it would do, we are obliged, I am afraid, to do a certain amount of guessing. The Opposition was repeatedly challenged, by interjection, to say what would be its alternative Budget. If the Opposition were in our place, what would it bring forward? Outside this House we have had many statements which give an indication of the sort of Budget the Opposition- would bring down. One of the principal items in it, presumably, would be the item promised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who said that he would give 1 per cent, or possibly 2 per cent, of the national income for aid to Asia. So we write into the alternative Budget an item of at least £55,000,000 and probably £110,000,000 for aid to Asia. That is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested. Then the Leader of the Opposition himself said, outside this House, that he would give £60,000,000 to the Northern Territory. Naturally I am a bit prejudiced in that matter. I wish I was a member of a government which could give £60,000,000 to the Northern Territory, but at all events we write down £60,000,000 for the Northern Territory, and so we have £170,000,000 of extra expenditure.

Mr Holt:

– The Opposition did not spend £60,000,000 on the Northern Territory when it was in office.


– The Treasurer reminds me that when the Opposition had the chance of spending £60,000,000 on the Northern Territory it spent only £2,000,000 there. Apparently the Opposition would also do something in a liberal way about child endowment, but recently it has been much more cautious in its statements about social services than it used to be in the grand and the glorious days of its former leader. In those grand and glorious days when Dr. Evatt had the honour and danger of leading the Australian Labour Party, he used to speak in terms of a provision of £150,000,000 to £160,000,000 for social services. But today the present Leader of the Opposition has mentioned only child endowment. Having envisaged this additional expenditure he has also given a hint in his speech that he would take off the increased postal charges, which would mean losing £16,000,000 of revenue; and that he would not re-impose last year’s taxation reduction, which would mean that he would lose another £20,000,000 in revenue. He has also given a hint in statements outside this House that he would not indulge in overseas borrowing and that he would probably lower the rate of loan interest. I am sure that both of those factors would mean that he would have to find from revenue a much greater contribution towards the financing of loan works, in. Australia.

So altogether, from the faint indications we get, we have the picture of an alternative budget presented by the Labour Party which would land Australia in a mess. The only ray of light for the people of Australia in the whole of the Labour Party’s proposal was given by the Leader of the Opposition in the Bendigo by-election, when he made the fervent promise that he would take Id. per pint off the excise duty on beer. But once again the stern reality would be that his generosity, however acceptable to many good Australians who enjoy their pint of beer, would cost his budget another £7,500,000.

In our estimation the situation in Australia to-day is one which calls for a great deal of wise and careful planning in the Budget. Facing the situation as we analyse it to-day we felt that there was a need for some restraint in expenditure. It is not a situation calling for any alarmist action - not a situation which calls for a severe jolt to the economy - but one which calls for some restraint in expenditure; and we have sought it inside the Budget in two main ways. We have tried to cut down on certain facets of public expenditure which are directly related to private expenditure, such as works expenditure, and we have also budgeted for a surplus in order to exercise some restraint on the spending power of the people - not a major restraint but a restraint which we believe will be useful in the present circumstances.

Now, that is the sort of picture which we present to the people of Australia - an analysis of the present economic state of the nation, which in our judgment calls for some sort of restraint on expenditure and as the result of that judgment the cutting down of public expenditure in certain sectors or a refusal to expand it in certain sectors, and at the same time budgeting for a surplus, with its attendant result of an increase in taxation, in order to have the effect of restraining private expenditure. Let us submit that to the scrutiny of the people of Australia. And what do the people of Australia have to judge on the other side? They have this welter of adjectives presented by the Leader of the Opposition, this fervent and eloquent attempt to disguise the poverty of thinking of the Opposition, front bench. The Labour Party front bench has not produced an alternative budget or any analysis of the present economy in Australia. It has not produced, as far as the Leader of the Opposition’s speech revealed, a single idea about how we should deal with the present emergency.

Mr Cairns:

– This is a pretty low standard of debate.


– I challenge the honorable member for Yarra to contradict the statement that the Labour Opposition front bench has not given us any idea or has no clear idea of what should be done to meet present conditions in Australia. The problems that we are facing in Australia are the problems of prosperity. From our past history, as we know, the problems of poverty can be very acute. Poverty produces pangs of the most painful kind. But even prosperity produces its headaches, and the sort of problems we are facing now are the problems of prosperity.

Mr Reynolds:

– What rot you talk.


– The honorable member for Barton has not had the opportunity, or perhaps the inclination, to read the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure. If he would spare some time on it and turn to table B, which deals with expenditure on personal consumption, he would find there the clearest possible evidence that the Australian community to-day is a community with an increasing expenditure. It is buying its own homes, furnishing those homes with durable furniture, electrical goods and television sets, and maintaining the old standards of expenditure on food and clothing; and it is consuming increased quantities of what might be called the extras, such as tobacco, cigarettes and alcoholic liquor, and is buying more motor vehicles. The statistical evidence is as clear an any evidence can be. That is broadly the state of the Australian nation to-day.

The problem that is presented to us is the problem of the expanding expenditure of a prosperous country - expenditure that is creating pressures of demand which it is the business of the Government to try to moderate. In this Budget we have attempted to moderate them. Of course, the Budget is only one of many instruments at the command of the Government. Monetary policy and trade policy can also be used, and are being used, by the Government in. order to bring about a desirable economic effect.

Sir, in conclusion, the contrast I want to draw is this: For good or for ill, for the judgment of the people of Australia, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, on behalf of the Government and with the support of this side of the Parliament, has produced a Budget which reflects a sober assessment of the state of the nation to-day - a Budget which is put forward for judgment by the people of Australia against the background of that assessment of the Australian economy. We are content to abide by the judgment of the people of Australia on our sense of responsibility and on the accuracy of our assessment of these things. In contrast with that we have heard, on behalf of the Opposition to-night, a speech by the Leader of the Opposition which would win high marks as entertainment - which would result in many votes in his favor if he were a candidate for a position in the entertainment world. But he is not a candidate for a position in the entertainment world; he is a candidate for the position of Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Commonwealth. Has he said anything in his speech to-night which, in the view of the people of Australia, would entitle him to claim their support and their confidence in him as the Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia? He has not produced the slightest analysis of the state of the nation. He has not produced any solution to the economic difficulties of the nation. He has made no suggestion about an economic budget. If one pulls together from the scattered corners of the universe the various stray statements he has made to television audiences, in the newspapers, and to conferences of various kinds, one sees a picture of economic thinking which would, if put into effect, produce a budget that would cause confusion, and even disaster, to this land.

East Sydney

– It is a pity that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has engaged in the usual practice of speakers on the Government side of manipulating figures so as to make a dishonest presentation of the economic situation in this country to-day and of the attitude of the Opposition. He twits us and asks, “ What would the Opposition do? What is the Opposition’s alternative budget? “ The half-hour allotted to each speaker in this debate does not permit any member of the Opposition to put forward, in any detail, an alternative budget.

Let us examine and expose the dishonest way in which the Minister for Territories presented his argument. I have time to give only one or two instances. The Minister compared the increase in company profits with increases in wages, trying to suggest that the workers, even in this inflationary period, were doing much better than the great monopolies and great companies of this country. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the company profits of which the Minister spoke are based on what is termed capital invested. That includes undistributed profits, eventually made available in the form of bonus shares. If these profits were determined on the basis of the actual capital invested, it would be seen that they are much greater than the White Paper to which the Minister referred indicates.

The Minister talked about increases in prices. Strangely enough, the two years for which he gave figures were 1948 and 1949. It is rather significant that the prices referendum was held in 1948. When the Chifley and Curtin Labour Governments had their great war-time powers, they kept this country’s economy in a stable condition. It was only after the defeat of the prices referendum, with the aid of members and supporters of the present Government parties, and after the majority of the people of this country had foolishly accepted the arguments put to them by the people opposite, that prices got out of control. The parties now in office said to the electors, “ If prices control is removed from the federal sphere, the States can handle the situation, and prices will not rise”. The result proves conclusively that the people responsible for setting inflation afoot in this country are the people opposite, who induced the majority of the voters in Australia to defeat the referendum on the granting of power to this Parliament to control prices.

Now let us turn to the present situation. The Minister for Territories said that members of the Opposition had not endeavoured to examine the true economic condition of the country to-day. I say quite frankly that an incoming Labour government will have a most difficult task. This Government has bungled the affairs of the nation to such an extent that any government that takes over from it will have a most difficult task to put things right. The Government’s own Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) does not regard the present situation as being satisfactory, because he said, “ Australia’s economy is balanced on a razor’s edge “. Does that indicate a satisfactory state of affairs? A few night’s ago I tuned to a television feature which was described as “ The Great Debate “. On that programme the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said, “The real test of a budget is what it does for thi nation “. That is exactly how I intend to approach this Budget.

Nobody can deny that in this country to-day the great problem and the great worry of every thinking and sensible citizen is that we have unchecked inflation. The Minister for Territories said that last year the cost of living had increased by only 3.2 per cent. That is creeping inflation. Any type of inflation is dishonest, but evidently, according to the Government, if you have creeping inflation, so that you can rob the people scientifically and only in small amounts at a time, it does not matter. lt is quite in order.

Why are the Government’s loans not being filled to-day? The last three Commonwealth loans were under-subscribed. 1 will tell you why they are not filling. It is because the average Australian citizen is aware of what this Government is doing. Honorable members can work the figures out for themselves. A person who puts his money into a long-term loan raised by the Government receives, when the loan matures at the end of, say, fourteen years, approximately 52 per cent, of the value of his investment. The other 48 per cent, has eroded in the fourteen years. Does anybody think that the Australian public will continue to fall for that kind of dishonesty?

In its presentation of statistics, the Government is dishonest. The Minister for Territories compared expenditure in the Northern Territory during the Labour Government’s term of office with present expenditure. He engaged in the kind of argument in which Government speakers continually engage. There is only one honest way in which to make such com parisons, if Government speakers want to make them, and that is to make the calculations with due regard to the deterioration in the value of money. Measured according to that rule, it will be found that although the Government appears to be spending more than was spent during the time of the Labour Government, it is actually spending less. The way in which the Minister presented his argument is the dishonest way.

Let us look at the Government’s method of calculating the decline in the value df the Australian ti. As the base year on which to assess the value of the £1, the Government takes a fairly recent year. It does not take a year when the £1 could be exchanged for a golden sovereign, and measure the currency’s deterioration in value against the value of money in that year. The Government brings the base year forward a number of years and says that the calculation shows that the £1 has not deteriorated in value to the extent claimed by members of the Opposition.

I heard the Treasurer talk about the national income. Honorable members opposite talk about the progress that has been made in this country. Let me give them the benefit of a little calculation that I made. I based it on the years that were used as an example by the Treasurer on a former occasion. If you compare prices in 1958-59 - that is the latest year for which I can get figures - with prices in 1949-50, you will find that, based on 1958-59 prices, our national income in 1949-50 was £4,130,000,000. In 1958-59 the national income amounted to £5,021,000,000. But if you allow for a population increase in the same period of 121 per cent, you will find that, whereas in 1949-50 the production per head of population was £505, in 1958-59 it was £499, a reduction of £6.

Let us turn to the question of wages to which the Minister for Territories referred. What has happened? The Government says that it wants to curtail expenditure. This is one of its ways of arresting inflation. But in endeavouring to curtail expenditure the Government does not propose to cut down profits or impose a capital gains tax. Instead, it proposes to reduce the workers’ wages. Except in two States the basic wage in this country is no longer subject to quarterly adjustments in accordance with changes in the C series index. The Government has decided, in co-operation with the arbitration authorities, that no longer should these quarterly adjustments apply. Consequently, in Victoria every worker is being robbed of 27s. per week. In other States, they are being robbed to a lesser extent and therefore cannot enjoy the same standard of living as they previously had. f order to show honorable members how the workers are being robbed and fooled into the belief that they are much better off because they get more in terms of money, I shall quote from the “ Financial Review “ which is not a Labour journal but is published by the “ Sydney Morning Herald”. On 8th August, 1957, it was stated in the “ Financial Review “ -

The cost of living rose in 1955-57 by twice the margin indicated by the official “ C “ series index. Basic wage adjustments in N.S.W. would luv.e been almost twice as great had they been based on the more accurate interim index rather than on the older “ C “ series index.

The “ interim index “ referred to is not the one the adoption of which is now being advocated. When the anti-Labour press of this country began to see great merit in what it now terms the “ interim index “ I immediately knew that it would be only another means of forcing down living standards. The Minister for Territories said how prosperous we were to-day. I think that the easiest way to judge whether this country is better off now than it was eleven years ago when this Government took office, is to consider the level of food consumption. According to the Commonwealth. Statistician the Australian community is now consuming less of the basic foodstuffs per head than in the pre- war period. I questioned the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this Parliament on this subject some time ago. When I suggested that people were not purchasing the same quantity of foodstuffs because they lacked the necessary purchasing power to obtain adequate requirements, the Prime Minister said that it was not because the people lacked purchasing power that the consumption of foodstuffs had fallen off but because their eating habits had changed. That is on record in “ Hansard “.

Let us turn to the problem of the balance of payments. We are told that this is the great trouble to-day and that unless it is corrected we could be in serious economic difficulties. Even the Government admits that. The Government has created an illusion of prosperity. There are more washing machines, more refrigerators and more television sets, but the people have not bought them. They have borrowed them because they still owe approximately £420,000,000 upon them. As soon as we enter into a period of slack employment the hire purchase companies will be foreclosing wholesale on these appliances which the workers have in their homes.

Mr Peters:

– They are doing it now.


– Of course they are. How do people manage to keep up their payments on this equipment? There are many workers’ homes which could not carry on with only one breadwinner. Wives have had to go to work. This enables these families to continue their hire-purchase payments and creates the illusion that they are better off than they were a few years ago.

During the 10½ years in which this Government has been in control what has been our situation in regard to the balance of payments? I have discovered that if we take the amount that we have received for our exports and balance it against the amount that we have paid for our imports, we are £1,343,000,000 on the wrong side of the ledger. That is a very bad trading situation. How has it been possible for the Government to meet this situation? Merely by borrowing overseas. The amount borrowed last year, £42,500,000, was a record. It was the greatest sum borrowed overseas by any government in any year since the Australian Loan Council was established in 1928.

According to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold: Holt) the Government intends to induce as much foreign capital to come into Australia as it can. Like an individual, if the Government is able to continue to borrow money it can live beyond its means, but there comes a day of reckoning. The Government has put this nation into pawnand has jeopardized the future of Australia and the economic security of our people. Last year, invisible items such as freights, dividends paid overseas, payments of” interest on loans, and overseas remittances- totalled £233,000,000. That means that in that year, because of the policy of this Government, the Australian producer had to find £233,000,000 of export income before he started to pay for any imports. Last year’s figure represented an increase of £12,000,000, and these payments will go on increasing every year.

The Treasurer said that since the end of the war over £1,000,000,000 of private capital had been invested in Australia. What the Government has been doing is borrowing overseas and obtaining foreign capital to balance the deficit in the trading operations of this country. In this period even our internal indebtedness has risen remarkably. In 1950 our national debt was £2,909,000,000. By 30th June, 1960, it had risen to £4,098,000,000 an increase of £1,189,000,000 in the national debt which is borne by every member of the community. I have heard Government supporters say that it does not matter if the Government owes money in Australia because the public loans are held by the Australian community. I have discovered that in the year 1958-59 our internal loans amounted to £187,000,000 of which the trading banks provided £77,000,000. They could not do that under a Labour government because we did not permit it, but they were able to do it under an anti-Labour government. Savings banks contributed £21,000,000 towards the sum of £187,000,000. Last year, the savings banks’ contribution to Government loans was £41,000,000.

In the year 1958-59 the Government, because it is a big businessman’s Government, released to the private banks large sums of money from what were known as the “ special accounts “ but which are now called the “ reserve deposits “ under our existing banking legislation. The Government said that it wanted to increase the liquidity of the private banks, but the money was not used for the purpose of home construction or development. Immediately these millions of pounds were released by an anti-Labour government from the reserve deposits in which they had been earning interest at the rate of i per cent., the private banks invested the money in Government loans at 5 per cent. That was a completely dishonest act on the part of the Government.

Let us turn to this overseas capital for which we are told we should be eternally thankful. The Labour Party has an entirely different view from the Government on overseas borrowing. We believe that it should be kept to a minimum. There may be some special occasions on which it is needed for the purchase overseas of equipment which cannot be secured in Australia. But we do not believe that it is necessary on every occasion to take every pound that is offered overseas either in the form of private investment or in the form of Government loans. The firm of General Motors-Holden’s Limited has often been mentioned in this Parliament. I propose to refer briefly to certain figures because, as I have said, we have been told that we obtain great benefits from this invested capital. I want the House to remember that it was a Labour government which paved the way for the establishment of this industry in Australia. We were not opposed to the manufacture of an Australian car in an Australian factory by Australian workmen. We encouraged it. But we never intended, when we embarked upon that policy, to place this great wealthy overseas company in the favorable position that it occupies to-day. Last year, General Motors-Holden’s Limited made a profit of £15,000,000, which represented 875 per cent, on its ordinary capital and a dividend of 425 per cent, which it paid overseas. In the few years during which this company has been operating in Australia, it has ploughed back £50,000,000 from profits. And all this has been achieved from the investment of a capital of only £1,700,000!

That capital was not brought in from overseas. This company did not bring one American dollar into Australia. It started off with a Commonwealth Bank loan which was guaranteed by the government of the day, and, with that loan, established this great industry. There was only a handful of preference shareholders in Australia, and the return to those shareholders every year, regardless of what profit this great concern might earn, was only £34,000. Now, in order that it might hide from public gaze in the future the extent to which it is exploiting the Australian community, this company has decided to buy up the preference shares. Nobody can blame those shareholders because this company offered them much more for their shares than they were able to obtain for them on the open market.

It paid General Motors-Holden’s Limited to do that. Although the Liberal Party Premier of Victoria has talked about amending the company law of that State to compel this company to present public accounts in the future in the same way as it has done in the past, no action has been taken up to this stage.

Let us examine the present position. There are no new industries of any great consequence being established by foreign capital in Australia to-day. The reason for that is that Australian secondary industry to-day has not only reached the stage where it can meet local requirements but it has also a surplus for export if export markets could be found for that surplus. Whatever foreign capital is coming into Australia to-day is not being used to establish new industries; it is being expended on taking over existing Australian industries. That is the type of activity in which foreign capital is being engaged.

Let me turn now to the question of the monopoly move. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) correctly said that the present Government represents the great monopolies of this country. I clearly remember the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) saying in this Parliament that company take-overs and mergers in recent years had caused unwarranted fears of the development of monopolies in Australia. Then he went on to say that it would not lead to the development of monopolies because 97 per cent, of the factories in Australia individually employed fewer than 100 people. I say that is a dishonest presentation of the case to the average person who, I suggest, would be inclined to believe, after hearing that statement by the Treasurer, that there was no monopoly move in Australia. Anybody who knows the factory laws of New South Wales knows full well that if a new Australian, or an old Australian for that matter, had what was termed a backyard industry in which he employed two or three members of his own family, he was required to register that industry as a factory. By the use of this type of manipulation, the Government can make it appear that there has been a tremendous increase in factory growth in this country among the people with a small amount of capital.

Let us turn to what happened last year. In that year, 47 ordinary stocks disappeared from the Melbourne Stock Exchange.

They disappeared because they had been the subject of take-over moves by other companies. And so we find the growth of monopolies. In the year 1956-57, which is the latest year for which I have been able to obtain figures, 78 companies in Australia made taxable incomes of over £1,000,000 each. Many of them earned much more than that. One of them, General Motors-Holden’s Limited, made a profit of over £15,000,000. There is no doubt in the world that the Government is allowing these people to control the affairs of Australia. It is allowing them to exploit th; Australian community and the nation without any hindrance from it because this Government is the direct political representative of the great monopolies.

What proposals has the Government put forward to arrest inflation? Everybody knows that inflation is the one great fear in the Australian community to-day. The Government has said, “ We have got to have wage stability “. But how does it propose to achieve wage stability? It proposes to achieve it by intruding into the affairs of the Arbitration Court. It proposes to achieve wage stability by giving the Arbitration Court what is, in effect, a direction that it is not to adjust wages in this country. If that sort of thing is to continue in Australia, is it any wonder that the great body of Australian workers is beginning to lose any confidence it ever had in the arbitration machinery of this country? The Government itself is helping to destroy this system. Then the Government decided to remove import restrictions. Further, it proposed imposing credit restrictions. On whom did it propose imposing those credit restrictions? There is any amount of money available outside the banking system to-day because this Government evidently cannot control those organizations which are operating outside the recognized banking structure. The position simply is that whilst the banks are restricted in one direction the hire purchase companies, with which the banks are closely linked, can go on lending money at any rate of interest, and to any extent, without any interference at all from this Government.

Then, the Government made a pious appeal to the business community to exercise restraint. Honorable members will recollect that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made the appeal to the companies, saying to them that they must not regard profits as being sacrosanct He was asking them to exercise restraint themselves. Now, the Treasurer says that the economic policy of the Government is to prevent large increases in the factors which affect costs generally and that that was why the Government intervened in the basic wage proceedings. I say quite frankly that it was absolute impudence on the part of this Government, through the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, to intervene in the proceedings before the Arbitration Court, a tribunal before which the workers were asking not for an increase but for an adjustment in wages because of the increased cost of living. And this, from a Government which, not so very long before, had handsomely increased the incomes of its members, a Government which had handsomely rewarded itself without recourse to the ordinary form of tribunal before which its members might have been subjected to questioning and cross-examination.

Now, let me turn to one or two other matters. If one were to judge the position on the interjections emanating from honorable members on the Government side, it would seem that they believe it is a practicable proposition to appeal to the business community to exercise voluntary restraint and not to regard profits as sacrosanct The Victorian Institute of Public Affairs publishes a journal called “ Review “. In the January-March issue of that journal, this institute was much more honest in its approach to this question than any honorable member on the Government side has been, for, amongst other things, it published this statement -

It is all very well to appeal for restraint - indeed, it is right to appeal for it - but the truth is that few of us can resist the temptation to try to increase our money incomes whenever the opportunity offers. It is in this natural human propensity that inflation has its seed.

This journal, which represents big business interests in this country, frankly admits that any appeal for voluntary restraint of the activities of big business must be doomed to failure.

If honorable members are interested in what the Government is aiming to do, let me tell them what the Prime Minister said when the Treasurer introduced what was known as the little horror Budget in 1956.

That was exactly the same type of Budget as the one we have to-day. The Government frankly admits that this Budget is a deflationary Budget, and so was the little horror Budget of 1956, when the Prime Minister said -

What we are trying to do is to prevent some elements in our prosperity from aggravating an inflation which could, if left alone, undermine our prosperity.

Now you know what it is all about. You know what the Government is hoping to do.

In the few minutes left to me, let me deal with the existing balance of payments position, which is critical. I do not know that I have ever previously agreed with the Minister for Trade in all the years I have been in this Parliament, but I agree with him that the economy is balanced on a razor’s edge. Last year, we were £10,000,000 on the wrong side in our trading operations. Taking the Government’s own figures, with invisibles totalling £233,000,000, we finished up £243,000,000 on the wrong side. Overseas loans amounted to £42,000,000 and we were able to induce foreign investments in Australia totalling £197,000,000. That did not mean that we got £197,000,000 of new money, because that amount included undistributed profits that had been retained in Australia.

Our reserves overseas to-day, controlled by the Reserve Bank and in the open financial field as well, amount to £700,000,000. This Government could go on risking the future of this country for a few more years, without taking effective and appropriate action. It could go on gambling with Australia’s future. To show how critical the position is, I remind honorable members that in the past thirteen weeks our reserves have been reduced by £60,000,000. If that trend continues for the rest of the year, we will finish this year £240,000,000 on the wrong side of the ledger. In the month of June, there was a trading deficit of £12,500,000. If that continues without acceleration we will be £145,000,000 on the wrong side at the end of twelve months. The export flow to-day is £900,000,000 and the import flow is £1,080,000,000, showing that our adverse balance may be nearer £180,000,000 than the figure I have quoted.

The price of wool has fallen by H per cent. Every time the price of wool is reduced by Id. per lb., lt means a loss of £6,250,000 to this community. We are told by those who are able to make an estimate that this year the production of wool will drop by 5 per cent. It is evident, therefore, that we are facing a critical situation. The Treasurer has said that we will get no new British loans this year because other loans will mature. He has said that there will be a falling off in loan investment. Even taking the most generous view, we can expect a fall in our overseas reserves this year of £200,000,000. Time will not permit me to develop the rest of my case.


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) began by answering the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who had twitted the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) with not using his full time. The honorable member for East Sydney said that the members of the Opposition had not had time to go through the Budget like the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) had been able to do. First, let me put the record straight. The Government made an offer to the Opposition, through the Leader of the Opposition and I assume, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), to give the Leader of the Opposition unlimited time to go through the Budget. The Leader of the Opposition foundered on the way. He had not trained for a full-length bout and faded out in the tenth round.

The honorable member for East Sydney mounted his hobby horse. Some of us can remember the days when his late leader, Mr. Chifley, and the majority of the Labour Party decided to support the Bretton Woods Agreement. The honorable member for East Sydney did not support that agreement, which provided for the introduction of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank, but he did not have the courage to vote against it. He walked out of the House and left the rest of his party to support the legislation. The honorable member has been out of tune with his party on the subject of overseas funds ever since. He was so much out of tune with his party at one time that he opposed the immigration policy which was introduced by the Labour Government of which he was a member. He said that no immigrants should be brought to Australia until the housing position was adjusted. The Australian Labour Party was in office in this Parliament at that time and it had the support of Labour governments in most of the States of the Commonwealth. Ever since it has been in opposition it has criticized housing, national development and other legislation time and time again. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is getting very excited, should not say too much, because he is one of those who have said some very strange things in this Parliament, and I remember all of them.

I want to turn my attention now to the record of General Motors-Holden’s Limited. The honorable member for East Sydney and some of his colleagues in the Labour Party have criticized that company, and I admit quite frankly that I do not agree completely with the profit it is making. I believe that the company could reduce the price of its vehicles somewhat. It may have to reduce the price soon in view of competition from another vehicle that is coming on to the market. To use the honorable member’s own words, the company has ploughed back £50,000,000 of its profits. Surely he realizes that by ploughing back that money into the industry, the company has provided work and wealth for the workers of Australia. The painters, the bricklayers and people in almost every section of industry have had some advantage from the profits that General Motors-Holden’s Limited has ploughed back. If honorable members study the White Paper on national income and expenditure, they will see that purchases of motor cars and motor cycles in the past twelve months have increased by about £36,000,000. Who bought most of the Holden cars? They were bought by white collar workers, electricians, carpenters and all those working people whom the Opposition claims to represent. We know that Opposition members have misrepresented the workers ever since they have been in this Parliament.

The honorable member for East Sydney went on to talk about hire purchase. It has been said many times - and nobody knows this better than the honorable member for East Sydney - that the Commonwealth Government, irrespective of political colour, has doubtful constitutional powers in respect of hire purchase. Some years ago, the Prime Minis :er (Mr. Menzies) and the previous Treasurer suggested to the States that they should refer some of their powers to this Government for a limited period so that it might keep some sort of a curb on hire purchase. What did the States do? The Labour Premier of New South Wales, having refused to do anything about referring powers to the Commonwealth, returned to Sydney to make hire purchase easier than it was before. Now, every time we have a debate on finance in this Parliament, members of the Labour Party mount the hobby horse of hire purchase. Why do not they try to persuade the State Governments to refer their powers to this Parliament? The States would not have to refer those powers for all time. They should try to get the States to act in unison and put a curb on hire purchase, but the honorable member for East Sydney knows as well as the rest of us that the Opposition does not want to do that because it might become unpopular. Any government that is afraid to do unpopular things usually turns out to be a Labour government.

The honorable member for East Sydney referred to prices control. He accused this Government of being the real instigator of inflation. He concluded by almost blaming us for the fall in wool prices. In this day and age, the Opposition would say anything. I remind the honorable member for East Sydney that when a referendum on prices control was introduced by Mr. Chifley, his late leader, in 1948, the Queensland Labour Government led by Mr. Hanlon was diametrically opposed to the referendum.

Mr Ward:

– That is not true.


– Look at the record, and see also what they said in Western Australia. The honorable member spoke of curbing inflation. It has been said that the rate of inflation in the Labour government’s day was something like 9 per cent. What have the honorable member for Sydney and his colleagues done when this Government has made a move to curb or hold inflation in check? Recently, when import restrictions were reviewed, there was a hullabaloo from the Labour Party about it. The Opposition does not believe in allowing the working people to get plenty of goods as cheaply as they can. That is what the lifting of import restrictions would tend to do. The Labour Party opposed the Japanese Trade Agreement, not realizing for one moment how much the Japanese would buy from us, thus creating overseas funds for us, and how it would help our industries to get moving. In its narrow short-sighted way, the Labour Party opposed that agreement.

Finally, the honorable gentleman from East Sydney said that this Government has been hoaxing the people in regard to living standards, and that the people are suffering from an illusion. I think that I know the Australian people very well. Unfortunately, some of them do not know the honorable members in this House. If the people have been suffering from an illusion, it is a wonder to me that during the last eleven years when they have had ample opportunities to turf this Government out neck and crop, they have not done so. Instead, they have repeatedly rejected the Labour Party until to-day in this House it is in a minority by 30 members.

Mr Peters:

– It will not be for long now.


– Let us see what happens in 1961. I am still prepared to have a little wager with the honorable member if that is what he thinks. The Labour Party has been talking along these lines since 1949. The present leader of the party, supported by the honorable member for East Sydney and others, has said how the party would fight on the street corners and get the people to refuse to work for this Government and so on. What do we find to-day? The people have washing machines, motor cars, refrigerators, radios, television sets and every amenity that is available. More houses are being built than ever before and, to cap the lot, despite what the honorable member for East Sydney has said, the latest figures indicate that savings bank deposits amount to £1,490,000,000.

Mr Daly:

– How much per head it that?


– I shall not work it out for you, but there are 8,640,000 accounts. It is no good any member of the Labour Party saying that only the wealthy -have bank accounts because for our population of 10,000,000 there are 8,640,000 accounts.

The Leader of the Opposition referred to the Curtin Government taxing high incomes at the rate of 18s. 6d. in the £1. That is quite true. There was a war on at the time and the people accepted that rate of taxation because a job had to be done. But what was the position immediately after the war from, say, 1945 to 1949? High taxes still were being imposed. What goods were available to the people? Was there any black-marketing? Where was the petrol? Where were the cigarettes? Where were the houses? What was the employment position? How many man-hours were lost? In the three years to 1948 5,000,000 man-days were lost through strikes, but in the three years to 1959 only about 1,500,000 mandays were lost.

The people have not returned the Labour Party to office in the last long eleven years because they know that if they did we would revert to the conditions which operated when Labour was previously in power. According to the Leader of the Opposition, he would see that all loans were filled and he would do this and that. How would the Labour Party carry out its programme if it were returned to office? It would introduce capital issues control and channel all money into one avenue. Then where would the country’s development be and how many jobs would be available for the people that the Labour Party so often claims to represent, but obviously does not? I wish the Labour Party would think a little about this matter. If it kills the goose that lays the golden eggs the working people will suffer. It is only by this Government’s policy of abolishing controls and giving the people the opportunity to invest their money where they wish that we have seen an increase in the number of factories that have been built, an increase in employment, an increase in the development of our natural resources and the provision of the goods that the people want.

In relation to overseas borrowing, I remind the Opposition that some of its supporters played a part in the Government’s policy because the Australian Loan Council authorizes both internal and external borrowing. Why has money been borrowed over seas? To bring capital goods to this country, and to help the States to carry out their developmental programmes which, in turn, have created jobs for the masses and allowed us to absorb the 1,000,000 migrants who have been added to our population over the last ten years.

The Leader of the Opposition in a recent “ Daily Telegraph “ article referred to the fall in rural production. I remind him - he can check this statement with the Division of Agricultural Economics or with the Bureau of Census and Statistics - that rural production has increased by about 37 per cent, over the last few years with a labour force which is not as great as it was in 1939. I remind honorable members, too, that the population has increased over the last eleven years by 27 per cent. We have been able to absorb that increase in our industries. We have introduced budgets a lot worse than the one which is now being considered, and the people have accepted them knowing full well that the Government’s vision and policies could be trusted and that its actions were directed to their ultimate good. Despite what the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) may say, this Government’s policies have been so wise that employment has increased by 20 per cent. To-day we are employing 500,000 additional men in jobs and the value of factory production has increased by 72 per cent, as compared with the position when the Labour Party was in office.

If you want to increase production, you must have more men to do the job. In ten years the number of factories has increased by 37 per cent. But we want more homes and amenities for the people so, to our great credit, steel production over the last ten years has increased from 1,000,000 tons to 3,000,000 tons. This is not a bad effort. The same applies to cement production, which has risen by 1,500,000 tons a year.

Let us look at another venture which was commenced by this Government in the face of the most vehement and hostile criticism of the Opposition - the introduction of large-scale oil refining. Honorable members will recall the storm that broke when we decided to sell British Petroleum Limited, at a handsome profit, our shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited so that British Petroleum could erect a £40,000,000 refinery in Western Australia. At that time, C.O.R. could not produce one pint of petrol that could be used in a service vehicle because the company’s equipment was outmoded. The Labour Party apparently believed that we should run service stations all over the country and have hosts of fellows running around with dip sticks in their hands finding out how much petrol was in the tanks. The Labour Party criticized us and fought the legislation tooth and nail. What is the position to-day? The value of the plant, buildings and equipment in the oil refineries has increased from £3,000,000 to £105,000,000.

Mr Peters:

– And none of it owned by Australians.


– Is that so? If you look at the facts and figures, you will find the true position. The Government’s action in selling C.O.R. has created plenty of work for Australians and saved the expenditure of our overseas funds in buying refined petrol. Now we can import the petroleum and refine it ourselves. 1 have already mentioned motor vehicles. I wonder how many members of the Opposition realize that to-day, despite what they say about General Motors-Holden’s Limited or any other company in the motor industry, 241,000 motor vehicles are being turned out each year. Surely that creates work for our work force and for the boys and girls who are now leaving school. They must be accommodated in employment. We have 1,000,000 television sets in Australia and we have had television for only three years. We have the know-how, the technicians and everything that is necessary to do the job. I wonder how many television licences have been taken out. If you walk around any of the capital cities you will find that most of the antennae are attached to homes in what you might call the middle-class areas - the homes of the working men. Good luck to them. They are in such a happy position because this Government’s policy has been to see that every section of our population gets a fair turn of the wheel and a fair share of our prosperity, and they will continue to benefit if they put their trust in the policies of this Government.

We can take another aspect of development - road construction. We all admit frankly that we should like to see a much greater rate of road construction. Nevertheless, this Government has not made a> bad effort over the. last few years. In the last year of the Labour Government’s term, only £8,000,000 was provided for road construction and maintenance, and last financial year this Government provided £42,000,000. The amount is increasing every year. Under the. formula that is to operate for the next five years, the details of which escape me for the moment, the allocation of funds for roads will continue to increase.

Then there is home-building. Year in. and year out, the Australian Labour Party has criticized this Government’s housing programme. The Government has not provided all the money for housing. As well, as the funds provided under the war service homes scheme and the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, moneys have been provided by banks, insurance companies and other bodies. As a result of the policies of this Government, we are constructing 31,500 homes a year more than were built in any year by the Labour Government.

Mr Duthie:

– There is no credit in that.


– There is a lot of credit in it, because 31,500 homes a yeal represents more than £94,000,000 a year, if each is reckoned at £3,000. Goodness knows how many people are housed by the additional 31,500 homes a year. That effort is more than the Australian Labour Party could ever achieve. If we can continue it - and I am sure we can - the sooner the people will be properly housed and the more contented they will be. Opposition members may in the future repeat the words of a gentleman who was a member of this place some years ago. They do not care about housing the people as comfortably as possible, but we do. I suggest to members of the Australian Labour Party that they study these things instead of trying to jump on the band-wagon and criticize what has been done by the Government over the last ten years.

What has brought about a good deal of these achievements? A few moments ago. I mentioned the peace in industry that has characterized the administration of this Government. Any government that can achieve the record of peace in industry attained by this Government over the last eleven years has a creditable performance behind it. Members of the Australian Labour Party say that only Labour can keep the workers contented, but 5,000,000 mandays were lost during the last three years of the Labour Government’s term of office. What did that mean to the people and to the development of this country? One can measure this Government’s performance by any yardstick one likes to choose and by reference to any industry anywhere in the country. We have had peace in industry since this Administration has been in office. As a result, we have been able to do much of the work that has been necessary. One may take any three-year period one likes, but over the last three years only 1,500,000 man-days have been lost in industry. Yet the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for East Sydney - I dare say a host of others will come forward - criticize the policies of this Government.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. There is our record. We have produced the goods. And the Government will continue to do that. Despite the illusions of the honorable member for East Sydney, I am prepared to say here and now that in 1961 this Government will be returned to office as strong as or even stronger than it is to-day, because its policies will spread prosperity throughout the country and give all Australians the fair deal to which they are entitled.


.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, as one of the newest members in this House, I make no apology for any humility that I may display during and I hope after the period of my initiation here. It may be a hereditary characteristic derived from a dad who gave a lifetime of political service to the people of Hunter and more than 50 years of industrial and political service to the greatest and most constructive political party in this country - the Australian Labour Party, the party to which I am proud to belong. From childhood, I was nurtured in the home of a miners’ industrial representative whose main public consideration was loyalty to the class from which he came.

In my youth, I developed an understanding of the impact of economic recession and depression and especially of its adverse effects on the outlook and minds of those whom it hits so hard. 1 refer to the economic depression of the 1930’s, which are better known as the hungry ‘thirties, at the very beginning of which the northern miners of my electorate were belted into submission by the coal barons and vested interests controlling the coal industry, who compelled the miners to accept a reduction in wages. The men were locked out of the mines and for fifteen months justice wept for the men, women and children of the northern coal-fields of New South Wales, which are in the electorate that I am now proud to represent in this Parliament.

In the 1930’s my dad was frequently away from home. Often, he went interstate to cadge from other branches of the miners’ federation for the relief of the hungry masses in the midst of which I was reared. I well remember his frequent absences from our home. If I can only attain the same degree of loyalty, sincerity, honesty and deep human understanding that he displayed during his lifetime, I shall be contented when the time comes for me to leave this Parliament in the knowledge that I have done my best in the interests of the people that I represent.

I am grateful to the people of Hunter for placing their confidence in me and enabling me to represent them in this place. But that gratitude was tinged with regret that my coming here was occasioned by the departure from the political life of this country of Dr. Evatt, the former Leader of the Opposition, for whom I have great admiration. He had stepped down from the safety, security and dignity of the bench of the High Court of Australia in 1940 to serve the Australian Labour Party and the nation when, soon after, we were threatened with invasion by the Japanese.

This Budget makes no provision for the relief of the people of the northern coalfields of New South Wales and for the needs of the children there in particular. It does nothing that will help to keep families together, and the preservation of the family unit is important in the suppression of one of the greatest social evils threatening this country to-day - child delinquency. I want to bring to the notice of honorable members the present position on the northern coal-fields, which produce the richest gas coal in the world. That coal is recognized by the highest authorities as having no equal, and 90 per cent, of Australia’s gas coal is mined on that field. In recent years, there has been wholesale retrenchment there as a result of mechanization and automation. Mainly for this reason many people have had to travel up to 75 miles a day from their homes to their new places of employment. This has been necessary because no industries were established on the coal-fields to cater for employees rendered surplus by the rapid advancement of mechanization.

The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) proudly boasts that 45 per cent, more coal is being produced with 39 per cent, less labour. We all agree, and the miners agree, that the clock of progress in production cannot be turned back, and that mechanization and automation are here to stay. Not a single thing has been done by the coal barons, who have exploited and sweated my people for many years, to ensure the future economic security of the people on the northern coalfields. We have seen a number of instances of shocking mismanagement in underground mining. We have seen rip-out-quick methods designed to produce cheap coal. These methods have been followed by the coal barons for years, in their clutching greed for wealth. But not one single thing have they done for the miners beyond what they have been compelled to do by law. I remember that when I was a boy there were no bathrooms at the collieries for the use of the miners. The State Labour Government compelled the coal-owners to build bathrooms at the mines, so that the workers could wash off the filth that had accumulated during their working day.

Instead of providing for the future security of their employees, the coal-owners have amassed millions in profits which have been diverted and manipulated to such an extent that the taxation authorities of the country have been cheated of fabulous amounts of money each year. These practices have been indulged in to an increasing extent since the Adelaide Steamship Company, by questionable means, gained control of the J. and A. Brown company 30 years ago. Until the merger with Cale- donian Collieries Limited in March of this year, the Adelaide Steamship Company was in sole control of the J. and A. Brown organization. To-day we see the Adelaide Steamship Company merged with Howard Smith Limited, to give greater strength to the shipowners in their arbitrary demands for increased freight ‘rates. Enterprises such as these have now gained sole control of this section of industry.

I had no particular regard for the J. and A. Brown company before the time of the take-over by the Adelaide Steamship Company, and I have much less respect for it now, because of the questionable methods employed to effect the merger. Advantage was taken of two senile brothers whose eminent forebears were the originators of the coal industry on the Newcastle field. I refer to James and Alexander Brown.

I maintain that the vast deposits on the northern coal-fields, and other deposits in different parts of Australia, do not belong to the steamship companies, to the J. and A. Brown company, or to any other companies or individuals. They are God-given assets, and they belong to the people of Australia. They are a national birthright, and I believe that some lasting benefits should have been bestowed on the people whose labour was used to work them.

I have ascertained that in 1930 the profits of J. and A. Brown amounted to £470,000. The undisclosed profits that were made during the war and in the post-war years have been so fantastically large as to be incapable of estimation. In the mid-1 930’s a progressive scheme for the long-term salvation of the coal industry on the northern fields, involving such proposals as fast transportation, coal washing, improved coal loading, river dredging and turn-round facilities in the port of Newcastle, were submitted by the then managing director of the J. and A. Brown company. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited agreed to co-operate, but the Adelaide Steamship Company rejected the proposals as impracticable, because it feared it might lose control of the coal market. Let me point out that in 1930 gas coal brought 10s. a ton at the pit top on the northern fields. It was landed in Sydney for 21s. a ton, in Melbourne for 35s. a ton and in Adelaide for 45s. a ton. Transport was by private line from the field to the port of Newcastle. The practice of imposing exorbitant shipping freight rates was in operation then as it is to-day, although I believe it is now much more harmful because it is approved by this Government.

The people of my electorate entertain genuine and justified fears for their future economic security and well-being. Wholesale retrenchments, forcing residents of the district to accept jobs in industries located in distant areas, are causing destruction of home units. In the 1930’s I was a victim of similar developments. I had to leave home at the age of seventeen years and live in a room in Newcastle, 35 miles away, to work for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Thousands of teenagers were similarly affected, but they had no alternative, because they found it necessary to augment family incomes. Lack of parental control and guidance does irreparable damage to the social outlook of such young people, and we can expect to see the effects of such evils in the future.

Before coming to this Parliament a few months ago I was engaged for twenty years, as a police officer, on criminal investigation duties. In my work in that field I learned graphic details of thousands of cases of family units being broken up because of economic pressures. I plead with the Government to consider carefully this important aspect of the matter when it is investigating the establishment of additional industries on the northern coal-fields in accordance with its decentralization programme.

Let me also direct the attention of the Government to the possibility of large-scale gas production on the coalfields, the product to be piped for home or industrial use to distant parts of the country. This method is used in other countries. It is widely used, for instance, on the west coast of America. If it can be done there, it can be done here. The Government apparently has not given any thought to the possibility of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization carrying out tests to establish a fusion point for pitchblend. This is a useful by-product of gas coal and is an outstanding road-making material. It is at present being imported. A vast road construction programme is required for the development of the nation and the use of the by-product in this programme could mean the salvation of the gas coal industry. When the fusion point is found, the capital cost involved in production will be regained in a short period by the provision of roads and highways equal to any in the world. Pitchblend is more resilient, safer, more economical and lasts longer than concrete, and would save dollars now spent on the import of this material.

When the New South Wales Minister for Mines, Mr. Simpson, recently returned from Japan, he said that we could hope to export to Japan in the immediate future an additional 2,250,000 tons of steam coal. Mr. Simpson is an assiduous Minister for Mines, but, with the progress of automation and the vast resources available, we must realize that this export prospect is far from sufficient for the stabilization of the industry. Coal of the quality of that in the northern fields cannot be found anywhere else in Australia. But unless the Government urgently provides additional finance to the State for the purpose of encouraging, the establishment of industries in this area, the boosting of the export market and the development of lucrative by-products, the fear that the coal-mining industry will no longer be necessary will become a reality. The Government must be aware that many years will elapse before the production of power from nuclear fission will be as economical as the production of power from modern coal-burning plants.

I challenge the J. and A. Brown and Caledonian Collieries Limited to submit to a complete investigation of their affairs, particularly relating to diverted and undisclosed profits. I also ask the Government to investigate the report that expensive plant and machinery belonging to the Joint Coal Board is at present being used by the company. Such an investigation is necessary to end the mischievous rumours which have arisen since Mr. Warburton, who was secretary of the Joint Coal Board, became Assistant General Manager of J. and A. Brown and the former chief engineer of the board, Mr. Bill Seaward, became the superintendent of collieries for the company.

Additional evidence of the Government’s slavish obedience to the dictates of big business can be found in the fact that at the vast Mortlake and North Shore gas works huge amounts of sludge and lowest grade oils purchased from overseas cartels are being retained at the expense of top quality coal gas, which could be produced at substantially lower costs for local consumption. The chairman of the Australian Coal Association, Sir Edward Warren, who was sole beneficiary under the will of the blind coal baron, Stephen Brown, boasts of an 11 per cent, drop in coal prices generally. However, he says nothing about the export of gas coal and does not offer any suggestions which would enhance the future of the northern coal-fields, which are in my electorate.

It is well known that as far back as 1936, a programme for the substantial development of the northern coal-fields was submitted to the government of the day. This involved the encouragement of industries, the pit-top gasification of coal and the piping of coal gas to the cities and neighbouring country towns. This suggestion should not have been considered on the basis of whether it was a profitable commercial venture but should have been undertaken as a means of providing for the needs of the people and industry generally at a low cost. The fear of economic insecurity and of the stagnation of towns continues to exist in the northern part of my electorate, and the Government should undertake a definite programme to stabilize the coal-mining industry or should make additional finance available to the State so that a constructive policy for the development of the area could be undertaken.

The mining population in my electorate has always been made the industrial scapegoat by anti-Labour governments because it invariably presses for industrial and social improvements. The current fight is for a 35-hour week, which arises from the continued development of automation in industry. Why should the coal-miners be further punished by Government apathy, for the questionable industrial sins of past decades? Long before I entered the Parliament, I was an observer of conditions on the coal-fields. I realize that on occasions unwarranted industrial troubles have arisen on the coal-fields. I have a profound knowledge of the social philosophy of the miner, and I assure honorable members that these people have always had a genuine desire to promote industrial pro gress for the benefit of the masses to which they belong.

The cost of transportation is one of the major problems involved in the production, distribution and export of coal. For many years, I have held the view that a highly efficient transport system can be developed as a commercial enterprise in peace time in this area. I believe that war has gone for ever; that is my conviction. A vital transport system could be established ,by providing canals from an area immediately north of Maitland, which is in the electorate of the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), through the Hunter River, to Lake Macquarie, then to Tuggerah Lakes, Brisbane Waters and Newport, with the final link from Mona Vale through the Narrabeen Lakes to Sydney Harbour. If this were done, an additional benefit would flow to the community in my electorate. The harrowing flood distress constantly created in the Maitland and lower Hunter areas would be gone forever. I have witnessed many scenes of frightening misery, desolation and squalor in this unfortunate flood-bound area.

The cost of providing this system of canals would be insignificant when compared with the cost of other development schemes, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme. The canals would not only lead to the mitigation of floods but would also provide an excellent alternative transport system between the area I represent and Sydney. As long as I represent the Hunter electorate, I will fight for the establishment of this and any other practical scheme which would obviate chaos in the area. I will continue to fight for them as long as there is breath in my body and as long as my voice will ring out. The provision of this transport system should be undertaken as a national project of lasting benefit. It should not be left as the responsibility of any State government. A cursory study of the existing waterways will show that the construction of a few miles of canals would result in this transport system being established.

I attribute a great deal of the responsibility for the atrocious, wicked and sadistic kidnapping, which recently occurred in Sydney, to the Commonwealth Government. Why do I blame this Government?

I say that its hands are stained with the bipod of that innocent young boy of eight and a half years, Graeme Thorne. The New South Wales Police Force is 2,000 men under strength because of the State Government’s lack of finance. It cannot bring up the numerical strength of that force to what is required. The members of the detective staff in New South Wales are among the most conscientious, publicspirited and highly skilled public servants in the Commonwealth. I served with them for twenty years, and I know that; but to-day they are being forced to run from one place to another with a spate of murders, stabbings, rapes and kidnappings being the order of the day. Unfortunately - I do not say this with any vindictiveness but simply to try to protect my former workmates - I feel that the Commissioner of Police, Mr. C. J. Delaney, has been misleading the Government of New South Wales by not giving it a true annual report regarding the volume of crime in that State. The people of that State have been lulled into a sense of false security as to the protection they are getting. One has only to pick up the daily newspapers in recent months to see that crime in New South Wales is beyond control. Yet some courts reflect the report of the Commissioner of Police to the Government.

Recently, in Newcastle a judge gave two hoodlums with a bad criminal record straw bail after a magistrate had refused it, and within 36 hours they were apprehended committing an identical crime, breaking into a bowling club. About a fortnight later, the same judge gave another young criminal with a very bad record bail of £500, a straw bail or a verbal bail, and he absconded and is now committing further crimes. Until this Government grants further moneys to the States with which to meet their commitments, there will be more kidnappings, rapes, robberies, safe crackings and breaking and entering. These breaking and entering crimes have virtually become a sport played by the great majority of the criminals in New South Wales. I urge the Government to try to do something towards granting the States more money so that the burden of crime in that State may be lessened and its people may have greater protection.

In conclusion, as I see federal politics as a disciplined man 1 believe in the principle that some must rule and teach while others submit and learn. But as I see things in this sphere, the Government is doing the ruling and the Australian Labour Party is doing the teaching. We advocated Summit talks five years ago, but they were not agreed to until international pressure told this Government that it should agree. I have no illusions about the Communist Party, but my opinion is that America was responsible for the aborting of the Summit talks by sending its spy plane over Russia a fortnight before the talks were to be held. I take full responsibility for expressing that opinion, because if I came into this Parliament to say things that are false and untrue it would be a pity that I ever got here. I hope that I shall always be able to see my way clear to adhere to the principles of the Australian Labour Party. We believe in peace, progress and prosperity. The Labour Party believes in the principle that none should be exploited and none should be denied.

Progress reported.

page 314



– On behalf of the chairman, I present the second report of the Printing Committee.

Report read by Clerk, and - by leave - adopted.

House adjourned at 10.36 p.m.

page 314


The following answers to questions were circulated: -


Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Did he at a public meeting in the Bendigo federal electorate on 12th July last state that local Communists were guilty of most treasonable actions?
  2. If so, how many persons have been indicted on a charge of treason since the Liberal-Country Party Government took office in 1949?
  3. If no charges of treason have been preferred against any Australian resident during that period, is it because the Government (a) lacks power to take action or (b) lacks evidence to justify proceedings?
  4. If neither of these reasons is correct, will he state why the Government has failed to act?
Mr Menzies:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. As promised in answer to an identical question without notice on 18th August, I960, I have forwarded to the honorable member a copy of the full text of my speech at Bendigo on 12th July last.

Political Parties

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. In view of claims often made that the attitude of political parties to matters arising for their consideration is largely influenced by the source of their party funds, will he arrange for the holding of a public investigation into the source of income of all political parties, and of organizations established to deal with any phase of public affairs, such as the Sane Democracy League, the Institute of Public Affairs, etc?
  2. If he is not prepared to arrange for this investigation, will he state his reasons?
Mr Menzies:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are: - 1 and 2. No.

Resignation of Secretary, Department of Trade

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. When did Sir John Crawford’s resignation from his former position as Secretary, Department of Trade, become effective, and from what date does he commence duty with the Australian National University?
  2. Is it a fact that, as a result of the change in duties, Sir John Crawford will suffer a reduction in salary; if so, what are the details?
Mr Menzies:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are: -

  1. Sir John Crawford’s resignation as Secretary, Department of Trade, will become effective on 31st August, 1960; he will commence duty with the Australian National University on 1st September.
  2. His salary as Secretary, Department of Trade, has been £6,900. The terms of his appointment to the Australian National University are a matter for the university and Sir John himself.


Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

In what States and mainland Territories are aboriginal natives of Australia precluded from voting at elections for the House of Representatives?

Mr Freeth:

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -

In Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory some aboriginal natives of

Australia are precluded from enrolment and from voting at the House of Representatives elections. The restrictions are as follows: -

if resident in Queensland - unless an aboriginal native is entitled pursuant to section 41 of the Constitution or he is or has been a member of the Defence Force, he is not entitled to enrol or to vote;

if resident in Western Australia - unless an aboriginal native is entitled pursuant to section 41 of the Constitution or he is or has been a member of the Defence Force, or he is the holder of a Certificate of Citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act 1944-1958, he is not entitled to enrol or to vote;

if resident in the Northern Territory - an aboriginal native is not entitled to enrol or to vote unless - (i) he is not a ward as defined by the Welfare Ordinance 1953-1959; or (ii) he is or has been a member of the Defence Force.

Half-castes, or persons in whom the aboriginal blood does not preponderate are not disqualified from enrolment or from voting at Commonwealth elections.

Department of Works

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -

What expenditure did his department incur in the last financial year in each State?

Mr Freeth:

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -

Broadcasting and Television Services

Mr Ward:

d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

  1. What legislative restrictions stated to be designed to prevent the growth of monopolistic control are imposed in respect of capital investment in (a) radio broadcasting and (b) television stations?
  2. What limitation is imposed in respect of foreign capital investment in radio broadcasting and television stations?
  3. Are radio and television companies obliged to notify the Commonwealth authorities of any change in their financial structure?
  4. Are details showing the source of the capital invested in radio broadcasting and television Stations furnished to the Commonwealth, and is this information available to members?
Mr Davidson:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The legislative provisions which are designed to prevent monopolistic control of the broadcasting and television services are contained in Part IV. of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1960.
  2. Section 92d of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1960 provides that not less than 80 per cent, of the issued capital of a company holding a licence for a commercial television station shall be beneficially owned by Australian interests and that not more than is per cent, of the issued capital shall be beneficially owned by a person who is not a resident of Australia or by a company controlled by such persons. There is no similar provision in regard to the broadcasting services.
  3. Licences for both broadcasting and television stations are subject to a condition that substantial changes in the beneficial ownership of shares and the memorandum and articles of association of the licensee company shall not take place without the approval of the Minister.
  4. The annual reports of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board provide considerable information on this aspect. The twelfth report of the board for the year ended 30th June, 1960, will be tabled in the next few weeks. Should the honorable member require more detailed information than is contained in the board’s reports, I shall be pleased to discuss the matter with him. I should point out that one of the main purposes of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1960 which was passed in the last session of the Parliament was to make the previous legislation limiting the ownership and control of television stations effective.

Visits to Australia by Former Kings of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.

Mr Peters:

s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Has he any information concerning the reported visits to Australia of the former kings of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia?
  2. Are the visits to be made in a private or official capacity?
  3. Is the purpose of the visits by these former kings to raise funds from among their former subjects to help in the restoration of their lost causes?
  4. If he has no information regarding the matter, will he make appropriate inquiries?
  5. If he finds that the position warrants it, will he take action to prevent any attempt by these deposed kings and their friends to cause dissension among, or to retard the assimilation of, new Australians born in either Bulgaria or Yugoslavia?
Mr Downer:
Minister for Immigration · ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. My department has not been informed of any intention of the former King of Bulgaria to visit Australia. The former King of Yugoslavia, King Peter, has applied for and has been granted a visa to visit Australia, arriving at the end of August.
  2. The visit by ex-King Peter will be in an entirely private capacity so far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned. . 3 and 4. There has been no indication of any intention to raise funds during the visit.
  3. I have been given no cause to suppose that the visit will cause serious dissension of a kind of which the Commonweath Government could or should take note; or that new settlers’ assimilation will be retarded by the visit.

Therapeutic Substances

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. On what dates have the Therapeutic Substances Advisory Committee and the Biological Products Standards Committee met in 19S9 and 1960?
  2. Is it proposed to appoint the Therapeutic Substances Standards Committee as provided in the regulations of January, 1956?
Dr Donald Cameron:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. There was no occasion for either committee to meet in 1959 or 1960.
  2. Yes.

Antibiotics Conference

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

Was an Australian representative sent last year and will one be sent this year to the annual conference on antibiotics in the United States in accordance with the resolutions of the National Health and Medical Research Council in November, 1958, and May, 1959?

Dr Donald Cameron:

– The following is the answer to the honorable member’s question: -

There was no Australian representation at the annual conference on antibiotics in the United States last year. No representative has been appointed to attend the conference this year. The matter is under consideration.

Pharmaceutical Benefits

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. What rates of mark-up have been allowed since 1953 to chemists who dispense pharmaceutical benefits?
  2. From what date has each rate operated?
Dr Donald Cameron:

– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions: -

  1. and 2. For ready-prepared pharmaceutical benefits the mark-up has always been and still is 33i per cent. For extemporaneously prepared pharmaceutical benefits the mark-up in 1953 was 50 per cent, less an overall discount of 10 per cent. In July, 1958, the overall discount was abolished making the mark-up 50 per cent.
Mr Ward:

d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. ls there any arrangement between the Government and the manufacturing chemists and drug houses in respect of the fixing of the prices of products supplied as pharmaceutical benefits in accordance with the provisions of the National Health Act?
  2. If so, what are the details?
  3. If no such agreement exists why was it necessary to adopt a system of price regulation in respect of retail chemists and friendly societies dispensaries but not in the case of the manufacturers and wholesalers of chemical products?
Dr Donald Cameron:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. No.
  2. See 1.
  3. There is no system of price regulation in respect of retail chemists and friendly societies dispensaries. There is a general agreement on prices to be paid by the Commonwealth to these bodies.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.