23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I ask him: Is it a fact that existing legislation covering income tax does not permit the claiming, as a deduction, of maintenance or alimony payments made by a taxpayer to a divorced wife? If that is a fact, is the Treasurer prepared to agree to making such payments concessional deductions similar to the existing deduction for maintenance of a spouse? Further, is he prepared to support an amendment of the existing legislation accordingly?
– I regret to inform the honorable member that the Budget proposals before the Parliament represent the full range of tax concessions which the Government feels able to make in the present Budget.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Is the existing type of rural automatic exchange unsuitable for operating under the multi-metering system of telephone control? Will it be necessary to replace the existing equipment in conformity with long-term development policy? Also, is there available a more suitable type of automatic gear for small country exchanges, and if so, when will it be available in quantity?
– The type of equipment in rural automatic exchanges at present operating is not entirely suitable for the multi-metering system. However, it is possible to carry out some modifications to the existing equipment which will make it suitable. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it will not be necessary to replace the existing equipment in rural automatic exchanges as our plans for the extension of automatic multi-metering extend.
Regarding the third part of the honorable member’s question as to the availability of a more suitable type of equipment the answer is, “ Yes “. The cross-bar system to which I have referred recently in this chamber, which is being placed in our larger exchanges, is also suitable for placing in small automatic exchanges, and it is intended to proceed with that equipment. We expect that this type of rural automatic exchange will be available in approximately two years.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport received representations from Tasmanian timber millers about the shortage of shipping space for timber exports from that State? If he has, has the position been investigated and, if so, is he able to say whether some improvement can be effected?
– Yes, I have received a communication from the Tasmanian timber millers. Investigations were immediately put in hand. I cannot give the honorable member any further information at the moment, but I shall do so as soon as I can. The results of the investigations are being examined now.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade a question concerning the proposal of the United States Senate Finance Committee to impose severely increased tariff duties on imported lead and zinc. Has the Australian Government registered the strongest objections to this proposal in view of the already damaging quota restrictions imposed in September, 1958, and still in force? Is the Minister aware of any developments in Congress which would indicate that this proposal could be adopted?
– I am aware of the Congressional proposals to which the honorable member has referred. Under what is known in Congress as, I think, the Kerr bill, the already high duties on lead and zinc would be severely increased. Indeed, I think that they would be practically doubled. We have already registered the very strongest protest against any further obstruction to the sale of Australian products in the United States. As there are provisions in the Kerr bill other than the proposed duties on lead and zinc, I have some hope and confidence that because the measure mixes two things it will not be acceptable to the American Administration. 1 also have a high hope that, notwithstanding the passage of such a measure through Congress, the President, in the exercise ot his rights, would not permit a further obstruction of this nature to Australian trade.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Some months ago, at Watsonia in Victoria, Army barracks were opened which are a credit to the people who designed them and probably, even to the Minister for the Army. Will the Treasurer take a drive past these barracks on some occasion and examine also the State school which is on the other side of the road so that he can give the Parliament some explanation of the system of priorities which makes the resources devoted to destruction so magnificent and those devoted to instruction so humble?
– The honorable gentleman is well aware of the division of constitutional responsibility on these matters. He also knows that, increasingly over the years and certainly greatly in excess of the provision made in the time of Labour governments, this Government has augmented the funds available to the State governments for their own purposes. I have no doubt that the standard of school accommodation provided by the State of Victoria is, in hat wellconducted and prosperous community, regarded as adequate for the purpose. I should welcome the opportunity, if there were sufficient leisure time available, to take the drive proposed by the honorable member and see with considerable interest both of these important public establishments, but I cannot take very seriously the question in the way he has put it.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question without notice. In view of the fact that, at the opening sales on Monday of this week wool prices declined by from 5 per cent, to 7i per cent, and in view of the request from growers and grower organizations for action to improve the financial position of the industry, 1 ask the Minister whether he will give consideration to the suggestion by the Wool and1 Meat Producers’ Federation that he call for a referendum of growers on the proposals put forward by that organization. Will he call the leading woolgrowing organizations together in a top level conference to discuss the future of the industry? In the interests of the growers and of the economy of Australia in general, will he investigate the possibility of having a full-scale inquiry into the whole of the industry including production, sales and future prospects?
– I think it is general knowledge that the prices paid for wool during this week have receded by from 5 per cent, to 7i per cent, from the level of the July sales. As to the suggestion of the honorable member pertaining to the industry, I want to say that last year I called the two main organizations together in conference and even allowed the head of my department to take the chair because we recognize the importance of this industry. However, the representatives of the organizations were adamant in their refusal to discuss the merits or demerits of any proposal because they stated that their annual conferences had carried certain resolutions. I could not consent to call another conference under those conditions. The suggestion has been made in this House - the honorable member has put it forward again - that the Government adopt a reserve price plan and submit it to the growers. Actually, I have indicated the Government’s policy on that matter and I point out that the Prime Minister has already stated that when the industry can submit a proposal with which a substantial majority of those engaged in the industry are in agreement, the Government will give it serious consideration.
The honorable member has suggested that I call a conference to consider holding an inquiry. Doubtless he will be interested to know that the two major organizations connected with the industry intend to have meetings of their own. They prefer that the growers should consider these matters in the first instance, and I wholeheartedly agree with that approach.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he will report to the House the terms of the agreement he announced outside the House last night under which the United States of America is to give Australia financial and technical assistance for mutually agreed defence research and development projects. In particular, 1 ask him whether the agreement will impose any restrictions on the use by Australia of projects and weapons developed with United States assistance.
– I should begin my reply to the question by saying that I apologize to the House for the fact that this matter appeared as a press statement, lt should not have appeared as a press statement. The statement, unfortunately, was issued at a time when the House was not sitting. The release of this news was to be concurrent with the making of the announcement in the United States of America, and it was assumed the matter would be released’ as a press statement. 1 have taken steps to see that this position will not occur again I propose to take the earliest opportunity this afternoon to lay on the table the actual document and I hope, before the end of the afternoon, to have sufficient copies to allow the honorable member to have one.
– I ask the Postmaster-General whether Radio Peking is now broadcasting on a wavelength almost exactly similar to that of Radio Australia. Is Radio Australia subjected to jamming by Radio Peking and/ or Phnom Penh or Haiphong? Would a booster station at Darwin overcome most of this jamming in the South-East Asian region? If it would, has the Government decided to erect such a booster station, and how long will it take to construct?
– From time to time, over quite a considerable period, I have had reports of the jamming of our programmes in South-East Asia. I know that, from the beginning of this year until about a couple of months ago, Radio Peking was operating on the same wavelength as Radio Australia.
I am informed that about two months ago the channel used by Radio Peking was moved to about three channels away from that used by Radio Australia. Whether that change will be sufficient to overcome the difficulty to which the honorable member is referring, I am not yet in a position to say with assurance, but I know that there has been an improvement. It is rather interesting to notice that this threat seems to have been made at the time or after the initiation of our programmes in Mandarin. From time to time, there has been jamming of our services, and the construction of a booster station in Darwin has been considered by the Postal Department. We have had discussions with the Department of External Affairs to ascertain whether such a station would overcome this difficulty. The fact is that a booster station would improve the reception in the South-East Asian area, but it would not avoid jamming if a deliberate attempt to jam reception was made.
This matter was discussed at the International Telecommunications Conference. A number of nations will abide by the decisions of that conference and will not engage in jamming, but if a nation elects not to abide by the decisions, there is not much that we can do about it. The construction of a booster station at Darwin has been under consideration, as I have said, but no firm decision has yet been made.
As a matter of interest, I have learnt through unofficial channels that the United Kingdom Government proposes to build a high-powered medium wave station at Sarawak in British North Borneo, and it is expected that this station will serve a great number of people owning Japanese transistor receivers, which, I understand, are now available in South-East Asia.
– I should like to direct to the Postmaster-General a question supplementary to that just asked toy the honorable member for Chisholm. I wish to preface my question by stating that I raised this matter with the former Minister for External Affairs about seven years ago. That was about the time when Mandarin was first adopted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, at my suggestion, for these broadcasts. I put forward the proposal then that if Australia’s voice was to be heard in Asia - that was just as important as that the voices of America and Great Britain should be heard - we should have booster stations, not only at Darwin, but also at Wewak or somewhere along the northern part of the mandated Territory of New Guinea. I now ask the PostmasterGeneral: Will he examine anew the whole question of strengthening the position of Radio Australia in the light of the developments that are taking place at Shepparton, but also with a view to ensuring that whatever messages go out from Australia, they will reach as big an area of Asia as possible - both free Asia and captive Asia - so that our messages against communism can be heard by all the peoples who have the sense to listen?
– I think the honorable gentleman’s question was more in the nature of a statement. I assure him that the importance of this matter is well realized by all involved in its handling and development. It has not been possible to do a great deal yet, but I assure the honorable member that all the points he has raised have been under consideration for some time.
– For over a year now.
– Yes. It is a matter which has not been lost sight of.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs, relating to the so-called conference against nuclear warfare that was recently concluded in Tokyo. I ask the right honorable gentleman, first: Was this conference a Communist front organization? Secondly, what Australians were connected with the conference? Thirdly, what were their activities at it?
– The conference referred to by the honorable member occurred between 6th and 9th August, or thereabouts. It was a conference of the kind which pursues the policy of the wellknown World Peace Council. It has occurred now on six annual occasions, and has received very wide publicity in the Communist press in Australia. There is no doubt that, like the World Peace Conference which occurred in Australia, it in cluded a number of persons who perhaps have been taken in, but the dominant people in it, for the most part, are either Communists, fellow travellers or people who have lent themselves to a Communist front.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. In many quarters this Parliament is referred to as the Federal Parliament. Does the Prime Minister agree that it would be preferable to refer to this place always as the Australian Parliament? I raise this matter because I have noticed indicators in some Commonwealth parliamentary offices reading, “ This Way to Federal Members Rooms “. In addition, a book was produced recently with the title, “An Introduction to the Federal Parliament “. When I attended a recent naturalization ceremony a new Australian was puzzled when I was referred to as a federal member. He looked at me as though I belonged to some Gestapo organization. Will the Prime Minister do all that he can to ensure that this place and1 its members receive their proper national titles - the Australian Parliament and Australian members of Parliament?
– I can assure the honormember that his suggestion does not fall on unreceptive ears. I remember that when I was the Attorney-General of Australia we took steps to change the name of this Territory in which we now are located from the Federal Capital Territory to the Australian Capital Territory, which is in line with what the honorable member has in mind. This Territory has been known as the Australian Capital Territory ever since. I would not like to say off-hand what would be involved in making some formal change of the kind to which the honorable member has referred, but I will certainly have a look at the matter.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the Australian dried vine fruits industry is now subjected, in its best traditional markets, to competition from highly subsidized fruits? Does the Minister know that the industry must sell approximately 80 per cent, of its product overseas, and that its production costs are subject to our high standard of living economy? Has the industry sought a Government guaranteed stabilization plan? What is the prospect of such a plan being established and operated?
– I am aware of the competitive market in dried fruits. The industry asked the Government for a costofproduction scheme involving quotas which were in excess of the average production of the industry. Consequently, the Government could not agree to the request, but offered to re-open discussions with the industry on the basis of the latest giveandtake proposal that had been offered to the industry previously and rejected. I understand now from the relevant organization that the matter of stabilization has been referred to the various branches for further consideration, after which reports will be forwarded to the organization’s general conference.
– I address my question to the Minister for Territories. Has consideration ever been given to the establishment of a university in Papua and New Guinea? If not, will the matter receive consideration if the Minister agrees that a university would play a major part in preparing the Territory for ultimate stable self-government?
– The idea that eventually there will be a university in Papua and New Guinea has often been in our minds, and in that sense it has been considered. The question has not been considered in the sense of any plans or arrangements being made for the setting up of a university. The reality of the situation in Papua and1 New Guinea is that by and large the educational effort is a post-war effort. We have established now a comprehensive enrolment of primary school students and we are just beginning to get our secondary school students. I should think that for a number of years secondary school students who qualify by matriculation for tertiary education would come to Australia, and that at some time in the future we would have enough locally educated matriculants to justify the establishment of a university in the Territory.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Is the Minister aware of the existence of an organization in Dubbo, New South Wales, known as Seven Seas Stamps? Can he inform me whether it is legal for this organization to advertise in children’s weekly comics that it will send stamps on approval to any children without security on terms of buy or return? Are children legally liable in respect of more stamps that are sent even after their parents have written to say that no more are wanted? Is the dealer legally entitled then to send threatening letters to the children? I ask this question on behalf of one of my constituents, and I may say that I, also, have had similar experiences on two occasions.
– I am very, very sorry to know that the honorable member has been sent communications that ought to have been sent to children. I have a good deal of sympathy with people who have foisted on them wares which they do not want. I have never heard of Seven Seas Stamps, and, indeed, dealing with such questions as the honorable member raises does not fall within the competence of my portfolio. If the honorable member will allow me, I shall see whether my colleague, the Postmaster-General, has any powers in the matter.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. By way of explanation, may I say that the Minister has informed me that the power of national broadcasting stations in Brisbane and on the Atherton Tableland either has been increased or is about to be increased. However, this will not give the desired result of providing an alternative national radio programme in northern Queensland, although it may bring within the range of the stations concerned additional listeners who, also, will be disgruntled because of the programme reception available. Accordingly, will the Minister have the position carefully analysed from both the technical and economic standpoints and inform the House on the matter in order that honorable members may determine whether it is economically possible to give listeners in northern Queensland the opportunity of being enlightened by broadcasts of the deliberations of this Parliament - an advantage that is enjoyed by listeners in southern Queensland?
– Do I understand that the honorable member refers to a subject that he has discussed with me previously, namely, the establishment of a station to provide an alternative Australian Broadcasting Commission programme?
– That is right.
– I have explained the position to the honorable member previously, and it has not altered since. At present, to use the honorable member’s own term, the provision of such a service is not economically possible. We have set about improving services in the northern areas of Queensland by building up the power of stations at places like Townsville, and I think that as a result reception is ever so much better, particularly out in the west. I can offer no immediate prospect of providing the station for which the honorable member has asked. However, I assure him that we keep the matter constantly under review and that we shall deal with it as soon as we can.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Interior. Can the Minister indicate whether amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act will be introduced during the current sitting of the Parliament? Will all recommendations that have been submitted to the Government from time to time be fully considered when legislation is being prepared?
– For quite a long time, the Government has been considering a vast mass of material relating to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I think I can safely say that all the suggestions that have been submitted have been properly considered, and I hope that we shall be able to bring a bill before the Parliament later in this session.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is it true that the Commonwealth is still making a basic contribution of 8s. a day towards costs of hospital patients? Is this the same small contribution that was made by the Commonwealth when the average maintenance cost of a hospital bed was about a quarter of what it is to-day? Were the States recently given a promise that the Commonwealth would review this rate of contribution? Has the Commonwealth made such a review and, if so, with what result?
– It is true that the rate of Commonwealth hospital contribution is still 8s. a day, but the States now benefit by the payment of additional hospital benefits which, the honorable member will be glad to know, last year made a total of about £15,000,000. It is not true that the States were recently promised a review of the rate of Commonwealth contribution.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. In a broadcast last Sunday over national stations a commentator, Mr. Black, stated that the Commonwealth Government had no definite policy with regard to the European Common Market. Will the Minister comment on that statement?
– I can make this statement of fact. The Commonwealth Government has held the clear view that it is desirable, for the purpose of achieving greater political cohesion in Western Europe, that there should be integration of a kind such as is represented by the European Common Market. We had hoped that the United Kingdom and other countries would have been members of a wider association. At the same time, while we had hoped, for the high policy reasons I have mentioned, that such a common market would be established, at no time did we fail to comprehend that certain factors associated with such a common market could run counter to the interests of the United Kingdom, if it were not a party to a wider arrangement, and could certainly, in some circumstances, run counter to the interests of Australia’s overseas trade. So we have believed in the principle at all times, reserving the right to exercise our influence and say what we feel in respect of particular details. That is the policy of the Government. That is the line we have been pursuing.
– Does the Treasurer recall representations that I made on three occasions, requesting the Government to allow as deductions from taxable income of Australian citizens’ donations to Churches for the building of new church structures or extensions to existing ones, or for the construction of new Sunday schools or youth halls on Church properties? The right honorable gentleman may remember that he promised to examine my request when the Budget now before us was being prepared. I have had a good look through the Budget Papers and have seen no reference to this matter. Can the Treasurer tell me what the decision of the Government was?
– The matter referred to by the honorable member was one of 800 separate taxation requests considered in connexion with the preparation of the Budget. These requests were examined by the Commissioner of Taxation and by the Department of the Treasury and by me in the course of the survey that was made of the Budget generally. As I said earlier in this question period, the proposals that the Government felt it could adopt have already been announced.
– I direct a question to the acting Minister for Supply. In view of current press articles about American proposals to step up the man-in-space programme, can the Minister say whether Australian commitments to the United States of America in this connexion are being adequately met?
– Yes, they are being met completely. The Australian commitment in connexion with this very imaginative programme, “ Project Mercury “ is to manage and man two tracking stations, one at Muchea in the honorable member’s electorate of Moore, and the other at Island Lagoon, Woomera. Both these stations will be manned and in operation by January of next year. The one at Woomera is to be fitted with an enormous radar telescope. This will be installed in October of this year.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he has any information about the revised date on which the vehicle container vessel “ Bass Trader “ will be handed over to his department to commence operations between Melbourne and Tasmanian ports.
– The best information I can give at present is that we believe delivery will be made late in January or early in February of next year.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether at some time during investigations being made by his officers into ways of improving television reception at capital cities and other areas, they could also investigate the possibility of providing radio reception to the northern part of Western Australia.
– The question of improving radio reception in the northern part of Western Australia has engaged the attention of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for some considerable time. It has also been referred to me by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and by other members from Western Australia in this House and in another place. Early this year, I wrote to these members telling them the result of an investigation which had been made by a board engineer in 1958. That resulted in recommendations of which I approved and of which I advised honorable members. The improvements proposed were the establishment of a 10-kilowatt station at Dalwallinu and a smaller powered station at Carnarvon, and an increase of the power of the existing station at Kalgoorlie and the short-wave station at Perth. We believed that this would considerably improve the service to the area. The present situation is that, after a number of test transmissions, a site has been chosen for the Dalwallinu station. Funds have been provided for the acquisition of the site and for the preliminary work to be done by the Department of Works. So, I can assure the honorable member that the board, the department and I are all seised of the need to improve this service as rapidly as possible and we are in fact moving in the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Could not some arrangements be made to ensure that ex-servicemen who have completed final payments on war service homes would become possessed of their titles within a reasonable period - say within three months?
– I will ask my colleague in another place to furnish an answer to the honorable member in due course.
– My question is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Leichhardt and is directed to the Postmaster-General. If it is not economically possible at present to provide a broadcasting service in the area mentioned by the honorable member for Leichhardt, will the Postmaster-General consider waiving the listener’s licence-fee or alternatively considering reducing it for residents in this area?
– The honorable member for Maranoa never loses an opportunity to advise me of the state of reception in the area that he represents so well. Therefore, I know exactly what he is referring to. This is a matter that we have considered from time to time. I think he is suggesting that there should be some zoning which would enable reduced charges to be made where reception of programmes is not adequate. As I have told him previously, apart from the provisions already made, it is impracticable to adopt his suggestion.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Will he confer with the Postmaster-General with the object of having a telecast made of a suitable naturalization ceremony? The purpose would be to have the film shown throughout Australia by the national television stations so as to give some encouragement to those newcomers who have delayed making application to be naturalized and also to allow the whole of Australia to know what takes place at such ceremonies.
– There is certainly merit in my honorable friend’s suggestion, especially as I understand it has already been put into effect in Sydney and Melbourne. The national television service in both those cities has already shown telecasts of naturalization ceremonies; but 1 shall willingly take up with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, the honorable member’s suggestion that this practice be extended throughout the whole continent so that more emphasis can be given to this very worthy objective.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that the Royal Australian Air Force recently obtained from the Royal Canadian Air Force details of exercises designed to keep men physically fit by making five basic movements for a space of eleven minutes daily? If so, can he obtain details in diagrammatic form and make them available to all members of this House?
– The honorable member’s assumption is correct, that the Royal Australian Air Force has recently prepared and issued to its members a booklet on how to keep fit. But the matter of distribution is not quite as simple as the honorable member suggests. It is a sizeable booklet and I think it would be an unreasonable use of defence funds to give it a wider distribution than to members of the service. Each member of the R.A.A.F. is issued with and signs for a copy of the booklet, if the honorable member or any other honorable member of this House wants to undertake this course of exercises, the simplest way to do so would be to join the Citizen Air Force, where he would get not only that but also many other benefits.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Will he have a further investigation made of the need to provide telephone services, at least to the extent of a public telephone, at the village of Uriarra in the Australian Capital Territory? In making these inquiries will he have in mind that his predecessor gave an unequivocal undertaking that a district telephone office would be established there, and imposed no conditions on that undertaking?
Does the Minister recognize that conditions since imposed by his department have been quite impossible of fulfilment by the people in that remote and neglected village?
– I shall be glad to have a look at the conditions prevailing in Uriarra, as submitted by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, and also to look up the records in order to see just what the previous commitment has been in this matter. When I have made those investigations I shall write or speak to the honorable member on the matter.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Opposition. Is the honorable gentleman aware that a Labour member of this Parliament attended what is reported to be a disarmament conference in Japan-
– Order! The honorable member is not in order.
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, with respect, to state the standing order under which you rule that the honorable member for Ballaarat is out of order.
– Order! I said that the honorable member for Ballaarat was out of order.
– In view of the increased American interest in Australian defence scientific research, can the Acting Minister for Supply tell me of any action that is taken to promote the recruitment of young scientists for this type of work?
– The Department of Supply does all it can to stimulate the interest of students and school children in taking up scientific careers. Only this week 600 matriculation students from high schools in Melbourne attended lectures given by officers of the Department of Supply on the defence sciences as a career. These lectures will be extended to students of independent schools in Melbourne and to high schools and independent schools in other capital cities. . I think it is well known, among people in educational circles at any rate, that there is a well-established cadet scientist and cadet engineer system in the Department of Supply to attract students to the scientific service of the Commonwealth.
– I lay on the table the following paper: - Mutual Weapons Development Programme Agreement between Australia and the United States, signed at Washington, 23rd August, 1960.
I do not know whether this document comes under the heading of a ministerial statement but, as I indicated at question time, 1 will lay it on the table. The document contains the terms of an agreement signed at Washington yesterday in relation to a mutual weapons development programme. As I indicated, we will have, before the afternoon is out, sufficient copies of this document for honorable members who are interested in it. I should like to add that if the Leader cf the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) or anybody else wants further information on any point in relation to this which it is within my capacity to give, I will be very glad to provide it. I shall ask one of my colleagues to move that the paper be printed so that, if desired, a debate on it can occur later.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Private Debenture Issue. Mr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins- Treasurer). - by leave - On 16th August the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) asked me a question about a notice exhibited by the Commonwealth Trading Bank inviting applications for subscriptions to debenture stock of Hooker Finance Company Limited1. I indicated at the time that I had no knowledge of the matter and that I should be surprised if such a notice had been exhibited by the Commonwealth Trading Bank. I have since had the opportunity of discussing the matter with the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, and I am informed that a notice of the nature mentioned by the honorable member has, in fact, been exhibited in branches of the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
The managing director of the corporation has explained to me that the exhibition of the notice arises from the fact that the Commonwealth Trading Bank is acting, jointly with the Bank of New South Wales, as banker to the current issue of first mortgage debenture stock by Hooker Finance Company Limited, which is a customer of the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
The managing director has further explained to me that it is common practice for trading banks to act in selected cases as bankers to public issues of shares, debentures, &c, by their company customers. The service so provided, for which a charge is made, includes the acceptance by the trading banks of subscriptions for limited periods to such issues, and has long been regarded as a normal banking function.
In common with other trading banks the Commonwealth Trading Bank provides such a service in selected cases. In the last two years it has acted as banker to the issue for various of its customers on fourteen occasions.
I have ascertained also that the matter raised by the honorable member for Macquarie has been raised1 before in this House. Towards the close of the 1958 Budget session of the House the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) asked a similar question concerning the invitation and acceptance by the Commonwealth Trading Bank of subscriptions to an issue of debenture stock by Walton-Sears Credit Corporation Limited. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), as Acting Treasurer, subsequently advised the honorable member for Bonython by letter that the participation of the Commonwealth Trading Bank on that occasion arose from its acting as banker to the issue for one of its customers in the normal course of trading bank business, and that he did not consider the matter called for further action on his part because he did not feel justified in asking the Commonwealth Trading Bank not to provide for its customers a service of a kind customarily provided by trading banks generally.
In view of the comments of the honorable member for Macquarie, however, and as I can appreciate that from some viewpoints it may seem somewhat incongruous in present circumstances for the Commonwealth Trading Bank to publicize debenture raisings of the kind in question, I propose to invite the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board to undertake a review of the issues involved in the Commonwealth Trading Bank’s participation in such cases.
– For the information of honorable members in their consideration of the Budget and the Estimates 1960-61, I lay on the table of the House an interim report for the year ended 30th June, 1960, of the activities of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. As soon as the final report of the authority is available I will, of course, table it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– I present, on behalf of the Public Works Committee, the report relating to the following proposed work: -
Proposed construction of apron, roads, car parks and engineering services for the proposed new terminal building at Perth Airport, Western Australia; also extension of northsouth runway and widening, strengthening and extension of associated taxi-ways- and move -
That the report be printed.
– Will honorable members be given an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to speak on this report now or at a later date?
– Honorable members will be given an opportunity to debate it, at a future date, when that will be in order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 23rd August (vide page 314) 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.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1.
– -First, I should like to offer my congratulations to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) on his maiden speech, which he made in this debate last night. I also wish to refer to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in which the honorable gentleman pursued what is now becoming the normal annual policy of his party, based on one foundation - gloom. His whole prophecy and forecast throughout his speech were of inflation and a tendency towards depression. Year after year the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in this House - in this case that of the present Leader of the Opposition - has followed the same pattern. I think it is about time that the Opposition obtained, and played, a new. record, because the present one is becoming a little scratchy. From the speech of the Leader of the Opposition one would gather that it is the policy of the Opposition to oppose anything put forward by the Government whether it be good, bad or indifferent. As an illustration of my point I draw attention to the fact that in the Budget debate last year the then Leader of the Opposition and, indeed, the Opposition as a whole, criticized the 5 per cent, rebate on income tax which was allowed in the 1959-60 Budget. They said that it was a bad thing because it would help big business but not the small man. Yet, this week, the Leader of the Opposition has criticized the removal of the 5 per cent, rebate under the 1960-6.1. Budget! Again, he has said that this action will help the big man more than, the small man. This is an illustration of my thesis that the Opposition is prepared to oppose anything put forward by the Government, whether good, bad or indifferent. In relation to economics the Labour Party is as completely out of date as it is in relation to many other things, including international affairs. It is time that members of the Opposition brought their policy into line with modern thinking and conditions.
The Leader of the Opposition went on to quote what he claimed the Government had promised in 1949 and perhaps at some subsequent date. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to prove that the statement to which he referred was actually a promise. At the time to which he referred references were made to putting value into the £1 but there was no specific promise. Let us look at the situation. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to examine the Commonwealth Statistician’s index of wages and prices for the last financial year. There he will find that based on 100 units for 1945-46, whereas the C series index figure had risen to 249 average weekly earnings had risen to 339. The figures show that over the last twelve months there has been an increase in the value of real wages of approximately 9 per cent. I think that that indicates the real state of economic circumstances in this country.
The Leader of the Opposition also quoted figures showing that prices had risen by 98 per cent, in ten years and he condemned the Government for it. I will not go back ten years although I think that the honorable member’s figure is quite incorrect. I shall quote from the latest publication of the National Bank in which reference is made to prices. The publication states -
The general inflation of incomes and prices which we have suffered since the war has contributed substantially to our high cost structure, and this has been largely beyond the control of industry itself. As an example of the cost difficulties, over the last five years our prices have risen by approximately 19 per cent., those of the United Kingdom by 13 per cent., and in the U.S.A. and Canada the increase has been approximately 10 per cent.
There is certainly a very big difference between those figures and the figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition. We must remember, in relation to costs and prices, that circumstances in Australia are quite different from those in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. We are in a stage of great development, and pressures on costs and prices are far greater here than in the economies of those two countries. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that inflation is worse in Australia than in any other country. That is an equally absurd statement. I want to quote one short extract from the “ National Institute Economic Review “ of the United Kingdom for July which has just come to Australia. It refers to the economic conditions in the United States of America and the United Kingdom and says -
World trade may now rise more slowly. The United Slates economy is not expanding, and her imports are not rising; Britain’s own imports may possibly fall a little; primary producing countries’ export prices have not risen since the beginning of the year; the sterling area’s exports appear to be levelling off, and sooner or later their imports are likely to follow suit. The area where expansion - both in demand and trade - is more probable is on the Continent of Europe, and in particular among the six E.E.C. countries.
I merely quote that to show that a somewhat similar set of economic conditions is facing our great friendly countries, the United States of America and the United Kingdom and that our economic situation in Australia is certainly no worse although, in some respects, perhaps, no better than that which is being experienced in those two countries. Let us be fair. Let us not decry what we have done in Australia and so mislead our own people and give a wrong impression overseas.
The Leader of the Opposition referred - rather hopefully I thought - to the fall in wool prices at the initial sales. Whilst we do not know at this stage what the future of the season will be, at least it is no cause for jubilation to know that there has been a fall in wool prices. If anything is likely to upset our economy both the Government and the Opposition should do their utmost to correct the trend. The Leader of the Opposition was also critical of the hirepurchase situation. He knows very well that this matter is under the control of the State governments which are taking some action at the present time. I am sure that he does not really overlook the advantages of the hire-purchase system in maintaining living standards and employment in Australia.
The next Opposition speaker was the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who quoted figures which gave an entirely misleading outlook. He said that production per head in Australia had been reduced over a period of years. That statement is quite incorrect. The figures bear out that Australian primary industries still have the highest output per man of any Western country. I think we should be duly proud of that. Certainly it is not a matter for criticism. Let us look quickly at an extract from the “ Survey of Manufacturing
Activity in Australia “ which is put out by the Department of Trade and will be in circulation during the next few days. Referring to manufacturing industries it says -
I think that that is sufficient indication that the movement of productivity per head of population is upward, not downward as the honorable member for East Sydney claimed. He said also that Australia was purchasing less food per head than in the pre-war years. I have not the exact figures for 1939 from which he may have quoted but looking back to 1953-54 we see a definite upward movement. The total monetary expenditure on food increased from £750,000,000 in 1953-54 to £1,055,000,000 last year, which is an increase of approximately 1 per cent, per capita during that period. These figures are taken from the Treasury’s “ Statement of National Income and Expenditure “ which has just been released. So, again, I say that the figures quoted by the honorable member for East Sydney are an incorrect indication of the situation. The honorable member also said that overseas investment was not good for Australia. In order to answer that allegation I shall quote briefly from a publication called “ Overseas Investment in Australia “ put out by the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council, of which honorable members have probably read. In its opening remarks it states -
Overseas capital has played a vital part in Australian development and the Council is firmly of the opinion that, despite the problems associated with it … a continued inflow of capital from .abroad is necessary to the attainment of our national objectives of full employment, rapid population growth and rising standards of living.
I am sure that every member on the Government side of the chamber will agree completely, as I do, with the findings of that very important council.
The honorable member for East Sydney was also critical of the advice given by the Commonwealth Government to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission when it was represented before the commission recently He classified this representation as a direction by the
Government to the commission. The only thing 1 can say is that that statement is a shameful reflection on the members of the court who are in a position to consider all the evidence before them, and I am sure the criticism will not be accepted at its face value in this country.
The honorable member went on to quote figures relating to our trade balances and the present position of our reserves. Again, some of his figures were not entirely correct. Perhaps they were a little slanted to give the impression he desired so much to convey, lt is a fact that we finished the financial year with a favourable trade balance of £13,300,000 and there was some movement between our invisibles and the investment moneys coming into the country. This did ultimately cause a slight deficit of £4,000,000 in our reserves for the year, but I think, when we look back on the conditions which we expected at the beginning of the financial year, that was a very favorable result indeed.
Let us examine the actual items mentioned by the honorable member. He quoted invisibles amounting to £233,000,000; but when we look at the figure for undistributed income, which is money which could have gone out of the country but which has stayed here and add that amount to the private net capital which has come into the country, we arrive at a total of £239,000,000. So, in fact, there has not been such a great strain on our resources as a result of the difference between capital inflow and invisibles during the particular year. In fact, the situation throughout the year has been most satisfactory when we appreciate the problems that were arising and could have arisen during that time.
If figures are to be quoted, I should like to cite one or two more to indicate that what I have said is correct. The statement on the general economic situation in June and July of this year, issued by the Department of Trade - and it is available for perusal by anybody - indicates that in one industry alone there has been a very substantial improvement which is related to our living standards. I refer to new motor vehicle registrations. It is a fact that in June, 1959, there were 920 motor vehicles registered each working day and that in June, 1960, that figure had risen to 1,115. During the same time, unemployment de creased. The number of applicants waiting for placement dropped from 66,000 to 47,000 in the respective months. The increase in unfilled vacancies was also substantial. Between June, 1959, and June, 1960, there was an upward movement from just over 20,000 to approximately 32,000. 1 think that is sufficient indication that the Australian economy is buoyant and stable at the present time. And this is happening in a rapidly expanding economy with all the inherent pressures and difficulties that accompany rapid development!
This Budget is designed to guide the trend of the economy, to maintain stability and promote continuous development together with high living standards. Over recent years, Australia has been achieving the supposed economic impossibility of reaching and maintaining the second highest living standard in the world while passing through a pioneering stage of development. In fact, we can say that the modern pioneer of Australia drives a motor vehicle, uses a refrigerator, washing machine and television set, and has time for sport and relaxation. This achievement in Australia is all the more remarkable when we realize that it has happened in such a brief period of history and with a relatively small population.
The Government has clearly referred in this Budget to the problem of prices and costs, and the measures it proposes to introduce will assist in steadying those pressures. But the problem, if it is to be solved, still demands the closest cooperation between all sections of the community. As I have said, these conditions are symptomatic of rapid development, of development at a faster rate than has taken place even in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. But we should also realize, in our investigation of the economic situation generally, that cost factors in some industries such as the steel and certain primary industries have, in the main, remained competitive with world costs, although the problem to which I have referred applies in a general sense. At the same time, the condition of buoyancy is indicated by this further extract from the report of the National Bank to which I have referred -
The opening month of the new financial year was marked by buoyant trading on the stock exchange with investors showing greater confidence in current share values and spreading their interests over a wider range of issues.
But Australia’s condition cannot be examined in isolation in the world of today. The comments which I am about to quote give some idea of the interesting situation in the world economic scene and they are pertinent to a consideration of Australia’s position. I quote an extract from the “London National Institute of Economic Review for July, 1960 “, as follows: -
I960 is seeing very little economic expansion in North America, but a good deal in Western Europe. Among the primary producing countries, it is still only the sterling area countries and the oil producers whose exports are running significantly higher than in 1957, before the recession - elsewhere there has been little recovery; the sterling area’s exports may now be levelling off. Primary producing countries’ export prices, after recovering some 7 per cent, in the course of last year, have not moved, on balance, this year.
World trade will probably now go up more slowly: there may not be much further upward tendency in the imports of either the United States or Britain - between them they account for a quarter of the world’s imports - and sterling area imports may rise more slowly. The main area of expansion seems likely to be among the countries of the European Economic Community; output and trade within the Community are rising rapidly and the member countries’ reserves are now so strong that they can afford any likely increase in imports from the outside world.
So, this Budget, because of the guidance it gives to the Australian economy, and the consideration which it gives to world conditions, can be termed in every respect a stability Budget.
Some indication of Australia’s growth during the past twelve months is provided by the total revenue figure of £1,572,600,000 for this financial year, which is £140,800,000 greater than the figure for last year. Let us look quickly at some of the Budget proposals again. The increase of 6d. in the £1 in company tax, and the removal of the 5 per cent, rebate from income tax, have been accepted by the majority of honorable members and the majority of people in Australia as necessary measures to deal with existing conditions. At the same time, it has been found possible to increase social services. Age, invalid and widows’ pensions are to be increased by 5s. a week, and the adjustments to the means test proposed on this occasion are most acceptable indeed. The importance of social service benefits to the community can be gauged from the fact that the total figure in the Budget this year is £330,698,000, or £31,335,000 more than the provision for last year.
It is interesting to see the allocation for defence expenditure this year. Because of the re-organization that is taking place in the services, particularly in the Army, the amount provided will allow Australia to undertake security commitments in conjunction with her great allies. Again, there is to be a reasonable increase in repatriation benefits this year, the total allocation being £96,243,000. The special rate pension is to be increased by 10s. a week, the war widows’ pension will be increased by 5s. a week, and there is to be an increase in domestic allowances. The service pension is to be improved by 5s. a week and1 there will be a further benefit in this direction from the adjustment of the means test. We are all very pleased with the decision to provide free medical treatment for disabilities of war pensioners which are not due to war service. I am sure that all these improvements are completely warranted and fully acceptable to the community.
I want to deal briefly with some aspects of Australian industrial development. In referring to industrial development, I am not overlooking the tremendous importance of our great primary industries, which account for more than 80 per cent, of our export income. These industries are maintaining a high volume of production, and individual industries such as the cattle industry, particularly in north Australia, have a great potential for development. It is a fact that generally, in the light of what has been accomplished already in Australia since World War II., an even quicker rate of development than at present is possible in the next decade.
A continuing growth in population is one feature of the developmental picture, and this seems reasonably certain to continue in the future. Our population was officially recorded on 10th March, 1959, as having reached 10,000,000, an increase in twenty years of nearly 43 per cent. By 1970, it is likely that our population will have increased to 12,500,000. With the prospect of having, within ten years, one-quarter more people to be provided with useful occupation, food, shelter and other amenities of living, the developmental activity of the country is bound to increase. Every sector of our economy must be expanded to support that prospective growth in population; otherwise, the immigration programme cannot be maintained at the present level.
In considering future opportunities in Australia in the next ten years, it is well to look at what has happened in the mineral industry in recent years. Until the development of the Mount Isa ore body in Queensland began in 1922, no major mineral discovery had been made in Australia since the discovery at Kalgoorlie in 1893. For years later, mining in Australia seemed to be more or less in the doldrums, and the prospects of making new discoveries were considered to be rather poor. This view applied particularly to the tropical north, which takes in almost 40 per cent, of the Australian mainland. It was thought that, even if discoveries were made in this region, transport and labour difficulties, and especially the prospect of getting white people to live there, would be against putting them to commercial use. But events over the past decade have brought about a remarkable change in outlook.
Among the more important mineral discoveries made in Australia in recent years were these: Uranium, copper, cobalt and lead at Rum Jungle, in the Northern Territory; uranium at South Alligator River, in the Northern Territory; uranium at Mary Kathleen, in Queensland; copper at Mount Isa; lead-zinc at Mount Isa and nearby Handlebar Hill; lead at McArthur River, in the Northern Territory; bauxite at Gove, in the Northern Territory, and at Weipa, in the Cape York Peninsular; iron ore at Roper Bar, in the Northern Territory; and iron ore at Constance Range, Queensland. All these discoveries have taken place north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and progressive settlement is taking place.
Australia is fortunate in having great resources of the base metals - lead, zinc and copper. It is the largest producer of lead and the fourth largest producer of zinc. Before the Second World War, Australia had to import copper to make up the deficiency in domestic requirements. Now, thanks to the development of new reserves at Mount
Isa, as well as in the Northern Territory, the position has changed rather dramatically. Within the next decade, depending on prices, copper exported from Australian mines could be earning us £15,000,000 a year. The production of iron ore is increasing to meet the demands of the expanding steel industry. Although our high-grade ore reserves are not large by world standards, current exploration activities as well as investigations into the possibilities of using low-grade ores should, in the course of time, considerably improve the situation. Australia’s iron and steel industry is going ahead, and the result is a tribute to our industries and the workmen engaged in them.
In manufacturing, the story of the Australian motor industry - another industry based’ on steel - is a remarkable chapter in our recent development. This industry will make an even greater contribution in the future. Already vehicles made in Australia are being exported, and within the next ten years we can expect to see this industry greatly expanded and adding very much more to our export income.
Side by side with the development of the Australian motor industry, we have witnessed some astonishing advances in the establishment of a modern industry for refining oil from imported crude oil. Australia now has seven refineries handling petroleum products. From a capacity of only 800,000 tons a year in 1953, the industry has expanded so that to-day it is capable of refining more than 11,000,000 tons of crude oil annually. At the same time, Australia’s current activity in trying to locate payable oil is a national enterprise which concerns all Australians. The Commonwealth Government gives practical assistance to the search.
The presence of substantial refinery capacity in Australia has meant that we now have available raw materials necessary for the petro-chemical industries. As a result, large projects have been commenced or are at present in the planning stage for the largescale production of chemical by-products from oil refining, including synthetic rubber and plastics, which are vitally important to our economy.
The technological efficiency of Australian industries is increasing. One interesting example is the techniques that accrue from the use of isotopes. Already radio-active isotopes are saving time and money and enlarging our knowledge in the fields of industry, agriculture and medicine. Isotopes are bringing great and growing benefits in other countries, and they will undoubtedly make an increasingly valuable contribution to Australian development in the coming decade.
Further examples of our industrialization are the numbers of locally produced radio and television sets and refrigerators being used in Australian homes. New cities based on heavy industries are being established and new factories and office buildings are rising in our State capitals. Despite what has been achieved in such a brief space of time, there is a lot to be done to keep up the rate of development. With the prospect of doubling our population in thirty years or so, we have to expand our industries to provide work opportunities. We have to increase the number and range of our industries and increase organization and efficiency all round so that there will be less dependence upon imports for basic plant and materials. We have to increase power capacity and water storage and provide improved transport facilities by road, rail, sea and air.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to support the amendment, which proposes the reduction of the vote now before the Chair. I believe the Budget is most uninspiring and unimaginative. In some ways, it is an inaccurate document. I believe the Budget should be opposed, first, because of its failure to grant greater increases in all social services; secondly, because of its failure to provide adequate measures to combat inflation; thirdly, because of its continuance of a policy which can only result in heightened inflation; and fourthly, because of its lack of provision for planning on a national scale commensurate with development. The Treasurer seems to have adopted for himself another of the cliches which have become so common in a budget speech. Last year the word “imbalance” played a very prominent part in the Budget speech. This year we have the words “ banking liquidity “ and “ pressures “ falling very frequently from the Treasurer’s lips.
If this Government has a policy, it is impossible to follow it. I would describe its policy as being one of by guess or by God. Providence has been very kind to this country in giving us a remarkable succession of good seasons over the last fifteen years. But the Treasurer and Government supporters do not lack modesty. They have claimed for the Government many of the results that are attributable to this remarkable succession of good seasons and not to anything that the Government has done.
This Government’s policy in relation to taxation cannot be understood. It has now abolished the 5 per cent, income tax rebate which it granted only last year. It has done nothing about the supplementary Budget which was introduced in March, 1956. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when introducing that Budget stated that it was a temporary emergency measure to counter inflation. The so-called temporary taxes included an impost of 2s. 8d. a gallon on beer. That tax remains. There was a tax of 3d. on a large packet of cigarettes. That tax remains. A “ temporary “ additional tax of 3d. a gallon was imposed on petrol. That tax remains. The “ temporary “ emergency sales tax of 30 per cent, on motor cars also remains. If you study this Government’s actions both prior to and after 1956 you will see that it has followed an unchanging pattern. It has been running away from the problems that confront us. Its policy has been one contradiction after another.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) last evening made the rather magnificent statement that the Government was exercising restraint in all things. When you have inflation continuing more or less unchecked, and two-thirds or more of the population suffering hardship because of the Government’s inaction in relation to inflation, it is the understatement of the year for a Minister to say that the Government is exercising restraint.
One of the interesting things which have emerged from this debate is the attitude of the Government to constitutional reform. I well remember that when the Constitutional Review Committee, comprising members of both sides and from both Houses of the Parliament, was set up, no less a person than the Prime Minister himself displayed the greatest enthusiasm for it. After many months of protracted and extensive inquiry, the committee brought down certain submissions. However, since the Committee was set up the Prime Minister’s attitude has undergone a remarkable change. For some reason he has suddenly gone cold on constitutional reform. I think that the reason for the change of attitude may be found in the question which the Minister for Territories asked last night - what would Labour do if Parliament obtained the additional powers which the committee has recommended? Instead of considering what is best for the country, the Government is playing politics. The Minister’s speech last night indicated the precise reason for the Prime Minister’s change of attitude to this very important matter of constitutional reform.
Every one knows that unless this Parliament is granted additional powers it will be unable to solve many of the problems that confront us. Unlike most other countries, we operate under a written constitution and, in view of the developments which have taken place in Australia, particularly during the last 25 years, it is of the utmost importance that the Constitution be revised to make it conform with modern trends. But if the Government is more concerned with maintaining party advantage and with playing party politics, there can be no future for Australia. What is the more important, the advancement of the Liberal Party or the advancement of Australia? Does the Prime Minister feel that it is more important for his party to obtain some trifling advantage by failing to press on with this necessary constitutional reform than it is for Australia to progress out of its present backward state which has resulted from the lack of vision and courage on the part of the Government?
Time and time again the Treasurer, when we have questioned him regarding the Government’s attitude to present-day problems, has referred to what happened in 1948-49. 1 have attempted to point out on previous occasions that this is just a form of escapism - an escape from reality - but the Treasurer has persisted in his attitude. He has said quite blithely on many occasions that justification for the Government’s policies can be found1 in the fact that the Labour Party spent so much in 1948-49 and the Government spends so much more to-day. If I wished to indulge in this ridiculous form of reasoning I could point out to the Treasurer that he was a member of a government in 1938-39 which spent only £16,500,000 on social services whereas a Labour Government in 1948-49 spent not less than £90,000,000 in this direction. Of course, the comparison is ridiculous but 1 have stated it merely to show how absurd the Treasurer is in harking back to what the Labour Party is alleged to have done in 1948-49.
In his Budget speech the Treasurer made an interesting reference to speculation. He said -
Speculation in shares and other securities and in land is disturbingly active and prevalent.
Having made such a sweeping statement, one would have imagined that the Treasurer would have foreshadowed some legislation to combat the activities of speculators. But, having mentioned this matter, he completely forgot it.
Some of the features of this Budget seem to me to indicate clearly the thinking of the Government in its approach to national problems. One can give an instance by mentioning the income tax deduction for subscriptions to trade associations and unions. This is to be raised from ten guineas to twenty guineas. The proposal will cost the Government £25,000 in a full year. That amount is of little consequence in this Budget. Who will benefit from this proposal? Most trade unionists pay £5, £6 or £7 a year in union subscriptions. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has suggested that union members pay £6 a year, and that suggestion has my support. A unionist who belongs to some workers’ club or some social club will have to pay another two or three guineas a year, but not many unionists have to meet this expense. So it is obvious that the only persons who will benefit from the increasing of the deduction in respect of subscriptions to a trade organization from ten guineas to twenty guineas will be people who belong to some of the wealthy clubs that dot the landscape in our capital cities. The Government’s actions demonstrate more conclusively than do words the thinking responsible for proposals of this kind, which were never asked for and which will give no benefit to the great mass of the community, but will benefit only the very few.
Another feature of this Budget which has disturbed me - and I have been disturbed from time to time by a similar feature in other Budgets - is the apparent lack of information and clarity. I may be accused of being inexperienced and naive, and I am prepared to plead guilty to the charge. But I believe that a Budget should exhibit more accuracy and clarity than we have been accustomed to find in the Budgets presented in this Parliament down the years. I have tried to get information about the actual net result with respect to the Budget and the Estimates in various years, but on making inquiries I was told that the information I sought was not available in complete form until the financial year 1958-59. One just could not get the overall picture of what was happening in respect of the Budget and the Estimates before that financial year, although I was told that the Treasury had the information.
On inquiring from the Treasury, I was told that it did not publish the net result in the financial year 1955-56, when there was a deficit of £3,236,000. The information was not published in 1956-57. In the Budget speech in that year, we were told that a surplus of £220,000 was expected, but the actual surplus was £16.992,000. The net result in the year 1957- 58 was not published, and although we had been told in the Budget speech in that year that revenue and expenditure were expected to balance, there was a surplus of £10,336,000. We were able to get conclusive figures for the first time in 1958- 59, when the Treasurer of the day budgeted for a deficit of £110,000,000, and achieved an actual deficit of £29,535,000. We all know the story of the last financial year, when a deficit of £61,000,000 was budgeted for. However the deficit turned out to be only £28,922,000. The Treasurer has budgeted for a surplus of £15,493,000 in the current financial year. In view of what has happened before, I think that if the existing trend continues and if we continue to be favoured with the good seasons that we have had up to the present time, the actual surplus will be more like £40,000,000 or £50,000,000.
Estimates that turn out to be completely astray are thoroughly misleading. Nobody expects a government to make estimates that are completely accurate; there must be some flexibility. But when actual deficits are about £80,000,000 and about £32,000,000 below those expected, as has happened in recent years, something is wrong. This misestimating, as I regard it, is quite unfair, in my view, because it provides the Government with a defence and allows it to ignore situations that should not be permitted to arise. It is obvious that if the Government’s estimating were more accurate, social service benefits could have been increased and development could have been promoted. We are told in the Budget speech what the position will be at the end of the financial year, and we find that these predictions are completely astray. This inaccurate estimating, as I have already said, provides the Government with a good refuge.
The Government’s estimates continue to be completely astray. Last financial year, it received in revenue £46,500,000 more than had been estimated - £39,000,000 of it from taxation and £7,500,000 from other sources. Customs revenue increased by £8,681,000 and sales tax collections by £14,185,000. Income tax returned £10,839,000 more and pay-roll tax £1,961,000 more. As a result of this trend the situation is becoming intolerable, because the people on the lower incomes are carrying burdens which they should not reasonably be asked to bear. Under the administration of this Government, which we have heard defended so much by Government supporters, who consistently hark back to 1948-49, the burden of income tax has increased greatly. In 1948-49, income tax amounted to £67 a head. In 1959-60, it totalled £135 a head. Last financial year, excise was £23 10s. a head, customs duty amounted to £8 5s. a head, sales tax totalled £14 5s. a head, and payroll tax represented £4 19s. 9d. a head.
Last financial year, the Government collected £252,000,000 in excise, compared with £229,000,000 returned by the income tax on companies. This comparison is significant. Members of the Government obviously have their tongues in their cheeks “when they talk about the great burdens that are to be imposed on private companies, because, as I have shown, in the last financial year the amount received from one individual item of taxation, to say nothing of personal income tax, exceeded the amount paid in company tax.
Let me now refer to the Government’s record with regard to road construction and maintenance. In accordance with an agreement arrived at last year between the Commonwealth and the States, and which will operate for five years, the Government proposes to distribute to the States £42,000,000 in accordance with an approved formula. But the Government fails to tell the people that it received £68,000,000 last year from the petrol tax, and £80,000,000 from sales tax on motor vehicles. From these two tax items the Government received £148,000,000, but it will distribute to the States for roads purposes only £42,000,000. When it is realized that a mile of major highway costs £50,000 to £60,000, it can be seen that the amount allocated will accomplish very little.
One of the main faults I find with the Government, not only with regard to this matter of roads, but also in respect of other forms of its activities, is that it is trying to do, and is doing, a little everywhere but not enough anywhere. This is evident in a field of government endeavour with which I shall deal next. I refer to civil aviation. At the present time we have not one decent air terminal in this country. The Public Works Committee of this Parliament recently examined a proposal for a new terminal and extensions to the existing air field at Perth. If, as is hoped, the Parliament agrees to the committee’s recommendations, we will have, for the first time, an air terminal worthy of the name. But the point I wish to make is that over the years the Department of Civil Aviation has not been able to plan its programme effectively. I suggest that instead of spreading the money allocated to it in one year throughout the Commonwealth the department would do better to concentrate on necessary work at one location, so that jobs could be done thoroughly. For instance, if the department concentrated on work required at Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, it would not be necessary for it to undertake further work of any consequence at the particular airport for the following ten or fifteen years.
At the present time the department’s activities are so restricted that within three or four years of the completion of a project, as was found in the case of the terminal at Adelaide, the facilities become inadequate to meet increased demands. This inability to plan effectively results from the failure of the Government to face its responsibilities and its refusal to take proper cognizance of future requirements. In planning any project, a government department should be entitled to consider requirements for the following 25 years. Unless the Government accepts this as a principle, we will continue to see projects with very limited usefulness embarked upon. In other words, the Government solves nothing, and merely puts off the day when it will have to face its responsibilities.
Let me refer also to the Government’s activities in the Territories. I believe the Government lacks imagination in its approach to the problems of the Territories under its control, particularly those of the Northern Territory. Again we find the Government restricting the amount of finance available, and instead of doing an adequate job at a particular place at a cost of, say, £100,000, to solve a problem for the next ten or fifteen years, the Government spreads the money and spends £25,000 at each of four different places. In the result, it is merely wasting time and energy and dissipating our resources and our finance.
I now wish to deal with the Government’s attitude towards overseas loans. The optimism displayed by the Government in this field, when one considers its recent action in lifting import restrictions, is quite amazing. This is not the first time that this Government has lifted import restrictions, and we know what happened when it did so on previous occasions. Even some honorable members of the Australian Country Party have boasted that import restrictions will never again be imposed, but I do not believe that any one can be as optimistic as that, because such an assertion completely ignores the economic scheme of things. As I have said before, if there are a continued deterioration in international relations, and consequent drains on our overseas reserves,’ the Government will, of necessity, have to re-impose import restrictions. It may have to do so in any case for the protection of Australian industries, which cannot be left at the mercy of overseas companies. But this Government seems determined to continue increasing our overseas indebtedness. Why it persists in obtaining these loans overseas is incomprehensible. Such loans are merely a waste of money, because in many cases they do not serve to bring capital goods or equipment to Australia, and are used, instead, for the purchase of luxuries. This is, of course, a dissipation of our overseas balances.
The Labour Party does not oppose the introduction of overseas capital into Australia, and claims to the contrary that have been repeatedly made by Government supporters are quite inaccurate and misleading. We do not mind overseas capital coming to Australia if it is going to help our economic development. But we do not propose to sit idly by and see control of our economy taken over by foreign capital, as has happened in other countries. If foreign capital can bring to Australia something that will assist in our development, we have absolutely no opposition to it, but we do not believe that the entry of foreign capital should be unrestricted and uninhibited. On the contrary, we say that it should be considered with caution and discretion.
I wish to say a few words also on the question of war service land settlement. I look forward to what honorable members of the Country Party will have to say about this. We find that while formerly the Government made £6,000,000 available for this purpose, the amount is now reduced by two-thirds. So far as the Government is concerned, war service land settlement has practically ceased.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Let me say at the outset that there are many points on which I agree with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor). He said that it was unprofitable to be always looking backward. On that point I could not agree with him more. I believe one of our faults in this place is that we are constantly looking backward and not thinking enough of the future. My reasons for looking forward are. perhaps, slightly different from those of the honorable member. He analysed expenditure on social services in pre-war times, then in the 1948-49 year, and at the present time. I do not think there is much profit in making such comparisons, except when it is necessary to make the point that a government is treating the matter in a niggardly fashion or is not carrying out its responsibilities to those who need social services. But I do think that, when he refers to the severe taxation which he alleges the Government has imposed, if he wants to use the past he should at least use it to more effect. He said that in the days of the last Labour Government, taxation per capita of the Australian people was £67 and to-day it is £135. That may seem quite a large amount; in fact, it has doubled in that time. However, he did not point out the very pertinent fact that during the same period average earnings and the basic wage particularly have more than doubled and, therefore, on a larger income, it is only natural that the amount of tax paid should be higher. I think that type of argument about the past is not very effective.
During the course of his presentation of the Opposition’s case on the Budget, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) taunted the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) with the allegation that he wanted to slow down the rate of expansion. He misquoted the Treasurer as saying that expansion must be halted. Later, the Leader of the Opposition said that he thought that Australia was expanding too slowly for Australians to hold it. Parallel to this argument, he suggested as a panacea to halt inflation that we should revert to some complicated and stultifying system of controls. It seems extraordinary to me that at this time of peace he should advocate the reintroduction of a system of controls which the Australian people, to give them their credit, accepted as a necessary emergency measure for the conduct of a full-scale national war effort, and should expect that such a system of controls would go hand in hand with expansion. It seems quite elementary that controls kill, or at least cripple, the dynamic incentive which is the driving force of any rapid expansion or progress. If Labour should ever again become a government and endeavour to put into practice the theories propounded by its leader, we would indeed come to a sudden halt in our expansion. Not the least reason for this would be the loss of confidence by those who would like to take a financial interest and underwrite the future of Australia.
Obviously, some disappointment has been felt by that section of primary producers which had been hoping that the Budget would have included some .recognition of the burden bone by many of them us a result of rising costs and the difficulty of selling our surplus products on world markets at satisfactory prices. I would draw the attention of the House to the one or two minor concessions in the Budget. The first concerns the capital sum available for the 20 per cent, special depreciation. The capital sum on the dwelling house of an employee, sharefarmer or tenant has been raised from £2,750 to £3,250. It is a small concession but a useful one. The other, which relates particularly to the dairying industry, is the releasing from sales tax of the tanks that are used for the bulk cartage of milk.
Some farmers were looking for a subsidy on superphosphate or some other form of direct assistance. But a superphosphate bounty, while perhaps of importance to farmers within the higher rainfall areas, would be of little benefit to those in areas where climatic conditions do not favour the use of superphosphate or other fertilizers. At the best, suggestions of this kind of assistance are rather like a sedative for a serious bodily disorder.
In the face of recent world trends, this debate gives an opportunity to appraise the position of our primary exporting industries. I have for some time - I have mentioned it in this chamber on a number of occasions - been apprehensive of the effect on our rural economy of the rising tide of internal costs and the decreasing prices of many of our main products overseas. Australia, with a pressing necessity to bring about conditions of security for her future defence, has undertaken a widescale development, which is designed to strengthen and diversify our industrial potential and to build up our population rapidly so that we may at least distract the attention of some of the more envious people in other parts of the world.
These two demands naturally go together, as it would appear quite impossible to make available sources of employment for our growing population except through the expansion of our secondary industries. The recent trends in farm employment have shown increasing use of mechanical aids and a corresponding reduction in labour required, despite the fact that production has been steadily increasing in quantity except where bad seasons have intervened. In that connexion, my eminent colleague f.om Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) mentioned the greater farm and agricultural production per capita throughout Australia. For instance, the number of sheep in Australia has now reached 155,000,000, which is the highest ever recorded, but the number of persons permanently employed, excluding seasonal employment such as labour in connexion with shearing, has not increased at all.
Obviously, this expansion contains all the seeds of inflation, which must be measured against Australia’s future integrity, particularly when it is accompanied by the various other costs that industries, both primary and secondary, must bear. Higher charges for services provided through government agencies, postal and telephone charges, higher rail freights and higher shipping freights, both coastal and overseas, are a few of the inescapable burdens that all come back eventually to the man on the land. At the same time, the trend of world prices for many of our exports has emphasized the importance of our home market. I should like to accentuate that point, because there is a tendency to deprecate the importance to producers of valuable, thrifty and successful secondary industries. Obviously, with the weakening of conditions in our export markets, we realize the true importance of a home market. But I cannot at this stage imagine a condition where, even with a vastly increased population, our internal consumption can catch up to our production of wool, wheat and dairy products. We must always rely on part of our national production being sold on the world’s markets at ruling world prices.
It is beyond dispute that Australia’s present rate of progress would be brought to a sudden halt, and a very sharp one, if our primary industries which to-day provide the overwhelming portion of our export income became uneconomic due to low export prices and, as a result, decreased production to the level of home consumption. Without the credits provided by our exports, we would not be in any position to finance the vast quantities of imports we require - capital goods for the development of communications and production of power; fuel to run our automotive industries; consumer goods to supplement our local production; and raw materials for industry not available from our own resources. All these must be paid for out of our export earnings, and we must also be in a position to provide overseas funds to service our borrowings, without which our pace of development must be substantially reduced. 1 mention these things, Sir, because I believe there is a tendency in certain circles to ignore the implications that the rising standard of living and the general atmosphere of activity and prosperity are inclined to disguise. And as there are many persons concerned with the problem of exercising restraint - particularly governments, both Federal and State - it is well that all should realize the effect of present internal trends on our farming economy. Of all the components which go to make up our cost structure, the importance of our wages level cannot be disregarded, whatever honorable gentlemen opposite - and particularly the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) - may say about our condition being brought about by profit inflation. In this connexion the pattern of wage-fixing has been determined by a theoretical ability of industry to pay; but at the same time as this principle has been applied to wage determinations there have been other features of industrial determinations, such as reduced1 hours, various types of leave entitlements, superannuation schemes and other charges which have gradually found their way into the cost structure. All those features have exerted a greater or lesser influence on the relative man-hour charge in the ultimate end product and obviously accumulate where processing through various stages takes place.
Moreover, added to these factors are the incidence of the illogical and inflationary pay-roll tax and the ultimate cost-raising charge of sales tax. I am afraid that there is, in connexion with this underlying theory of the ability of industry to pay, a disregard of the effect on our primary industries and especially those that rely so much on export for their income. It would not be so serious if the cost structure and also its wage content could be reduced when returns were significantly reduced, but we saw some years ago the upheaval in the pastoral industry when, due to a serious fall in wool prices, there was an attempt to remove a prosperity loading in the wages associated with shearing which had been voluntarily - I repeat voluntarily - added in the high wool price years of 1951 and 1952.
From the point of view of the man on the land who has a substantial interest bill to meet annually, all those matters are serious and it is on his behalf that I am pressing this point. We on this side of the chamber often hear the taunt about putting value back into the £1, but I remind those who are vocal on this subject that one of the requirements for putting value back into the £1 is that the £1 should also receive its fair reward of work effort. I believe that the problem of securing prices satisfactory to our exporting industries is far too complex to be solved by palliatives alone in the form of producer-subsidies; and the Government has already recognized that there is a need, in this competitive world, to establish, cultivate and expand new markets through the extension of its trade services overseas and by its financial encouragement of research covering the whole range of production efficiency and adaptation to consumer requirements. Moreover, the producers themselves have accepted a financial responsibility towards the promotion of sales both within Australia and overseas.
This is a positive approach which could have tremendous significance for our exporting industries when the potential for expanding markets among the vast populations of our neighbours and near neighbours is considered. Towards this strengthening of economic conditions which should lead to a higher standard of living, more stable political conditions and a stronger buying power, Australia is playing a leading part in its contributions through the Colombo Plan and its provision of technical and specialized advice and instruction.
How much more necessary is this development of new markets when we consider what is taking place in the economic and tariff associations being entered into by a great number of the countries of Europe which have, in the past, been regular purchasers of our exports! Particularly does this apply to our traditional market, the United Kingdom, which must eventually be threatened by the common interests of the associate countries in “ The Seven “ which have not joined the European Common Market organization. I refer to the European Free Trade Association group. Any intensification of the association the United Kingdom has already made must place her eventually in a position where pressures to retain her exports to these countries must have some adverse effect on her preferential treatment of Australian or, for that matter, Commonwealth produce imported1 to her markets. Let me say, Sir, with all due deference, that I expect that sentiment towards Australia will be severely tested under these conditions.
I want, at this stage, to read to the committee part of an article which appeared in the London “Economist” of 11th June, 1960. lt is concerned with the attitude that the British Government and the British economic set-up should have in relation, first of all, to the Common Market group and, secondly, to the European Free Trade Association group. I do not quote the “ Economist” as something which is categorical on these matters, but I do suggest that it is a journal of considerable influence in the British community which could be expected to show which way the straws are drifting. This article reads -
Slowly, tentatively, like a bather in a chilly sea, the British Government is screwing up its courage to decide whether to attempt a full scale plunge into Europe. By its step by step advance, it has already immersed enough of its body to take a traditionalist’s breath away. It is already a much bigger revolution in our history than most people give the Government credit - or discredit - for that Britain is now ready, however tremulously and uncertainly, to consider joining Euratom, the European coal-steel community and possibly even something very like a full customs union - if only the major nations of the continent would accept this as a sufficient package agreement. The probability, however, is that they will not accept it: That most of those now in charge of the German, French - especially - Italian and Low Country governments want full integration with us or none at all. Many, admittedly and embarrassingly, would prefer none.
If the present trade talks in Paris end in continued disagreement, one of the most important questions in all our history will be whether Britain should then try to outbid them by offering the full scale thing. That would mean joining the common market, accepting a gradual integration of social policies, a less gradual integration of economic policies, and the high possibility that this would eventually lead on to radical, political coalescence with Europe - the lot. In the suave way in which these things are managed, feelers are already being put out to discover whether British public opinion would react favourably or indignantly to such a momentous decision.
Later the article says -
For example, Tory ministers used to proclaim from a thousand platforms that Britain could never consider harmonizing its outer - non-European - tariff with the common market six, because that could involve us in raising some tariffs against the Commonwealth; now Mr. Maudling’s assertion that Britain’s mind is not closed to the possibility of a full customs union must mean that the Government is considering doing just that.
And with this paragraph the article ends - “ The Economist “ for one has already made up its mind. With due flourish, and after appropriate consultations with fellow members of EFTA, we believe that Britain would be wise to make an offer of full-scale participation in the European common market and community.
I think none of us in this committee can anticipate what the final effect of a customs agreement, economic integration or whatever we like to call it would be on our traditional trade with our main market, that is, England; but I suggest there is sufficient danger in the situation, and particularly in the short term from Australia’s point of view, for it to be a matter to which we must give most serious consideration. Furthermore, we should be and I believe we are now exploiting other markets where we could establish ourselves if the worst happened.
There is another implication of policy which I believe could have quickly a serious effect on Australia’s capacity to dispose of her products overseas, particularly in her traditional markets in the immediate north. It is a proposal recently canvassed in the United States of America to set up an agency of the United Nations which would control the disposal of food surpluses.
The danger to Australia, particularly in relation to the disposal of wheat, might be that the United States of America, which, through its farm support policies, has accumulated vast reserves of wheat, coarse grains and dairy products, would be the main provider of the wherewithal of that agency. In other words, America would put up all the main supplies provided, and Australia would find herself in the impossible position of trying to restrain the entry of give-away production surpluses into her old-established markets. Cost of production or economic trading principles would not, and could not, be expected to enter into transactions of this type and, whereas in the past we have been able to bring strong representations to bear on the United States of America to exercise restraint in disposing of surpluses which would exclude Australian exports from markets in which we have been regular sellers, it would obviously be far more difficult, and perhaps impossible, to influence a United Nations agency, on which will probably be representatives of some countries that would be very pleased to have those give-away surpluses in their hands. In fact, they would welcome them with open arms.
This question of accumulated surpluses is, unfortunately, not just a short-term difficulty, as present indications, at least on the political level, do not point to any reduction in America’s farm support policies, which are mainly responsible for bringing the position about. I believe that the criticism by the Opposition, and other people, of the trade treaty made by us with Japan - criticism which is based purely on the adverse effect that the treaty might have on some of our secondary industries - ignores the important part that the treaty has already played in the disposal of Australia’s exports. Japan this season became the largest buyer of Australia’s wool exports, and has also already become a substantial buyer of our grain. Furthermore, the indications are that Japan will become a more important buyer of metals, coal and meat. Whatever our personal feelings about this may be, and however we may regret a slackening of our trade interchange with the United Kingdom, we must all realize that the pattern of world trade is not constant, and that the Government’s action in entering into the Japanese treaty has been of great importance to Australian exporters.
It is particularly inept, I believe, to say that Japan has to buy our wool or our wheat or our metals. The facts are that. due largely to the operation of the treaty, we have been able to place large quantities of our exports which our older customers, the United Kingdom and countries in Europe, could not or would not accept.
To sum up, we must keep our primary industries, which are fundamentally responsible for the provision of our export income, economically stable. We must realize,’ when we are talking about our export income, the vast implication that without that export income everything would grind to a halt, and it is not really very necessary to overstress the importance of this subject. There are the two directions in which we are acting and in which we should pursue our policy with vigour. The first requires that those in authority who have executive direction over matters that affect our cost structure must realize what is happening to our export industry and, by the same token, to almost the whole range of our primary industry. Those people include governments, government agencies and services, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, State wages authorities, union leaders and their overall associations and leaders in commerce and industry.
First, all those people must be made to realize the importance of this subject. Furthermore, they should realize the necessity to exercise the greatest restraint in any decision which could influence rising costs. It is no use going on in the atmosphere of the old saying, “ Bother you, Jack, I’m all right “. I come now to the second of these directions. I believe that governments and agencies which they have established must do all they can, in conjunction with private interests, to encourage the development and expansion of export markets throughout the world, particularly to our north, where any rise in standards of living could be expected to replace the purchases of our customers in the European economic area. Also, we would hope to allow for any increase in exports we may achieve.
In the light of these requirements we analyse the Budget and realize that it is designed to restrain costs. It is designed to restrain overspending. There is also concentration, finally, on some of the matters that I have spoken of at length in relation to the development of markets. I particularly refer to the increased grant being made available for trade publicity. This has been increased to £132,000. I refer also to the allocation of funds towards the promotion of overseas investment.
I think, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this subject. Without export income Australia, economically, would grind to a halt. 1, as one who has the responsibility of representing a large number of people who extract their incomes from the export of Australian produce, believe that there is a responsibility on all of us to give this matter our most serious consideration.
.- This is certainly a marking-time Budget. I should like to call it a foxhole budget, because the Treasurer has gone underground. Nobody is going to be hurt by this Budget. lt is a prelude to what is going to happen next year on the eve of the general election, since this Government has a very definite habit of turning a pre-election budget into a political budget. I am of the opinion that last year’s 5 per cent, reduction of income tax, which this Budget revokes this year, will again come into force with the next budget. This reduction will be nicely returned next year. It will be the prettily coloured pill for the electors.
The Budget, therefore, is a marking-time budget. Inflation and rising costs are still the paramount enemies of our economy but, as the result of the anaemic measures contained in this Budget, the twin enemies of inflation and rising costs will continue to erode the economy as dangerously as ever. I believe that the Government has delivered a vicious blow at. inflation with a handful of feathers. The Treasurer said in his Budget speech -
As the Government sees it, then, the situation clearly requires a steadying-down in the rates of increase in expenditure.
This is a deliberate halt, in many directions, to development. How tragic is the situation when one of our greatest industries - housing - is to be hogtied in financial shackles! Nobody will object to dampening down investment in luxury lines and speculation; but any interference at all with the legitimate housing demands of our nation is an act of lunacy.
Housing is basic to family life and to national life. There are approximately 70,000 marriages each year in Australia. Immigration has put further pressure on home building. To force young married people to live with their in-laws, or in garages, is a crime in any case, and I feel that, as a result of the restrictive measures announced by the Governor of the Reserve Bank recently, and also contained in certain Government measures to restrict credit, housing is going to suffer. Merely to say, by way of excuse, that we built 80,000 houses in Australia last year, is still to consign hundreds of prospective home builders to frustration and bitterness.
We have seen some comment about this Budget in the press, which does not usually support Labour. I want to refer to only one or two press comments. The Melbourne “Age” of 17th August said in an editorial -
Its weakness is that it does not offer any assurance that the heavy burst of inflation in the past year can really be brought under control.
It is also stated -
Broadly there are no basic changes in Government policy and the restraints imposed are not as dramatic as might have been expected. The Treasurer has not made any effort to look to anything new in his approach to Budget policy . . . Mr. Holt has preferred to stick to conventional methods, and these have yet to be proved sufficient if the experience in the past is any guide.
In its editorial of 17th August the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ referred to the Treasurer’s “ second Budget “. Last night, by way of interjection, I referred to it as his “second-last Budget”. The “Sydney Morning Herald “ editorial stated -
His second Budget, though barren of the constructive elements which the economy needs, will go further towards performing the negative job of checking the boom than the surface figures suggest . . . The whole Cabinet must, of course, share with the Treasurer the responsibility for the negativeness of last night’s effort.
The editorial also stated -
A lamentable lack of imagination in his budgeting shows up first in the fatalistic acceptance of a prospective fall of as much as £40,000,000 in his loan receipts.
Another comment was made by Brian Davis, who is the federal president of the Australian Workers Union. He reported as follows: -
It was obvious that the Government was building up a profit to present a decent Budget for election next year. The meagre increase in pensions was an insult to the sick and aged. The slight rise in company tax was ridiculous after an examination of the balance sheets of most companies.
Mr. W. D. N. Johnson, director of the Retail Traders Association of Victoria, said -
The Budget is distinguished as an unimaginative document by its paltry treatment of age pensioners, its curious sales tax decision on silver-ware and razors, and its general failure to grapple with the problems of speculative elements in the economy.
Those are just a few comments of the public as expressed in the press. The comment by the “ Taxpayers Bulletin “ is interesting. It states at page 3 of its issue of 20th August -
Inherently, the Commonwealth Budget is the means by which the currently available resources of the nation are divided between public and private use and in the case of public use, allocation to specific ends. There is something inherently wrong in the method of budgeting which substantially is that the Government decides what it wants to do, estimates how much it will cost and then appropriates the necessary finances. The approach should be the other way around - the Government should decide how much of its national resources can be safely diverted to the public sector and pattern its spending programme within that limit.
That, of course, is sound indeed. Mr. R. C. Taylor, the State secretary of the Australian Railways Union in Tasmania sent me a letter this morning advising that a meeting of the union’s executive had passed this resolution -
That this Executive condemns the budget proposals of the Menzies Government as being inadequate and unreal in order to meet the demands of the Workers and Pensioners of Australia. Once again, those on fixed wages and incomes are being forced to shoulder the burden of inflation, without any plan by the Government to meet increasing prices of goods and commodities. In fact, the budget itself is inflationary with increased income tax, payroll tax, &c, which will inevitably increase prices.
I thought that I should read that resolution to the committee because it shows that bodies are meeting throughout Australia at this time to comment on this Budget. Their views are always worthy of consideration. The Treasurer, in this Budget, is tongue-tied on many other vital trends in our country such as the slowing-down effect of high interest rates, the question of profit inflation, the frightening growth of monopolies, the smash-and-grab takeover mania, the creeping paralysis of rising costs, the drainage of credit into high interest-bearing hire purchase, the insidious effect of land speculation on the cost factor, the enforced role of the wage-earner as the sacrificial lamb in stabilizing the economy, and the serious effect of rising costs on our rural industry which was men tioned by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon).
The following illustrations of profit inflation are taken from the “ Age “ of 16th August: - Meggitt Limited has paid a 12± per cent, dividend, having earned a record profit of £88,481 for the year ended 31st May. Ballarat Products Limited, biscuit makers, lifted profit from £32,613 to a new peak of £33,723 in the year ended 30th June. Victoria Holdings Limited, a new holding company for the Victoria Limited, an unlicensed hotel in Melbourne, has established an 11 per cent, dividend rate for the year ended 30th June, which was a record year. The profit of the operating company rose by more than 26 per cent, in one year, from £74,737 to £94,659. Motor Credits Limited, a hire-purchase associate of the Automobile Chamber of Commerce, lifted its profit by 36 per cent., from £105,465 to a record of £143,986 for the year ended 30th June. The Nuffield company also showed an increased profit. These profits were reported in one newspaper alone on one day in one capital city. The same pattern goes through the whole country. I have also some reports from the “ Daily Mirror “ of 22nd August. The first one reads -
PROFIT LEAPS BY 6Ii P.C. LATEC INV. EARNS OVER £300,000.
Latec Investments Ltd., financiers, hotel and motel owners, lifted its profit by 61 per cent, to record figures in the latest June 30 year. Consolidated net profit is up from £200,175 to £323,131 after much higher provisions.
The profit of Gordon Edgell & Sons Ltd. increased by 36 per cent, in the year ended 30th June. These are fantastic figures when one considers that the Government has had nothing to say about profit inflation. Throughout Australia, this is the sort of thing that is going on. Prices are moving upwards week by week and the poor old consumer is being slugged. Profits are rising all the time and companies are making no effort whatever to steady costs. This is one of the things which the Opposition condemns in the present economic situation.
Let us look at the part played by the banks in the growth of hire purchase. We know that farmers cannot get finance from some private banks. That is to say, they cannot get it in the trading section of the bank. But they are sent to the other end of the counter, to the bank’s hire purchase department and there they can get largely what they want at, of course, a much higher rale of interest. Up to February of this year the total amount owing on hire purchase agreements in Australia was £404,400,000. That has jumped to over £420,000,000. The Opposition does not oppose hire purchase. It is the poor man’s mortgage. But we condemn the vicious interest rates charged. The Government says it is a State matter. It has done nothing whatever to tackle this problem of the vicious interest rates payable on hire purchase.
Costs in Australia have increased by 98 per cent, in ten years. The Government has a pathetic record in holding prices. Its main attack on this problem has taken the form of pegging the basic wage and of fighting any increase in wages. For the first time in history, the Australian Government intervened in a recent Arbitration Court claim in Melbourne. Its object was to defeat the unions in their battle for higher wages and it was successful. What justice is there in pegging wages when profit margins are quite uncontrolled? What justice is there in pegging wages and letting prices go free? To me it seems cock-i eyed to attempt to stabilize the economy in that way.
In 1953, when wages were pegged, the Government said that that would solve the problem of rising costs but it has had practically no effect. If the workers could see prices and profits controlled and stabilized, they would not object to the stabilization of wages, but they do rightly object to being made the sacrificial lamb in the economy by this Government. The Government wants to stabilize the Australian economy at the expense of one section of the people alone - the wage earners. Spiralling profits and prices causing an ever-widening gap between income and expenditure have led to the breakdown, not the stabilization, of our economy. At such a point in our history, the Budget before us is a vicious weapon which is being used against the ordinary man in the street whose wife has been forced to seek employment in order to make ends meet. To the wage earners, who comprise the vast majority in the nation, this is a cynical, cruel and crippling Budget. The Government has even withdrawn the 5 per cent, rebate of income tax which it gave last year.
Let me quote the case of one man as an example of how the average worker in Australia is being affected. Hundreds of thousands of workers in Australia are in a similar plight. The Government says this is a prosperous era. For whom is it prosperous? It is prosperous only for a very small minority of the Australian people. The following extracts from a letter written by Mr. John Moore to the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ last Monday are indicative of the invidious position in which the average worker in Australia finds himself to-day -
It is quite noticeable that all the praise for Australia’s alleged fine standard of living comes from people who have never had to work an eight-hour day in their lives.
Let us break down the personal budget of the average Australian worker into fair figures.
My pay is, basically, £18 7s. a week. But my pay packet contains £16 12s. 9d. when I sign for it. I have a wife and three children. This is my weekly budget-
He is getting down to bedrock now. This letter brings home to the family man all this airy fairy talk about prosperity. And this man’s case is typical of that of the person who forms the very basis of our community. This is his budget -
Rent £3/6/6 (I am lucky in having a Commission home!)
Gas, light, etc. £1/5/0
That is cheap -
Greengrocer £1/10/ Fares (myself) £1/10/
That is to and from work -
Fares (school) 15/ TV HP. £1/7/6.
The only hire-purchase commitment he has is for the television set. His budget for the week totals £17 14s. lid., and although his gross wage is £18 7s. a week, his net remuneration after payment of tax is £16 12s. 9d. This man’s letter continues -
No clothes … no smokes … no cocktail parties!
Luxuries? . . . cheap cuts of meat, shabby furniture, debts, fear of sickness.
This is the true picture of the Australian scene for the average working man.
I am not a Communist and have no determined Socialistic leanings, but I do think there is somethink wrong with a way of life that enables a select group to live in luxury without producing anything - while people who work hard and regularly are under the constant threat of poverty.
That is a splendid summary of the position in hundreds and hundreds of Australian homes to-day. That is why I say this Budget deals the working man a vicious blow.
The dangerous upward trend in prices had its birth in the loss of the prices referendum on 29th May, 1948. By that referendum the Chifley Government proposed to add five words to section 51 of the Constitution. That section gives the Parliament power to make laws with respect to certain matters. The words which the Chifley Government sought to have inserted were - (xiva.) Rents and prices (including charges):
What that Government was seeking was a reserve power to be used in times of emergency such as we are passing through now. I was a member of this Parliament at that time. In its case for the referendum, the Chifley Government stated that, if carried, the proposal would give the Commonwealth legislative power over rents and prices and would permit the continuance of protection against inflation, fair rentals, security against eviction, real benefit from wage and salary increases, fair value for money spent, protection of savings and deferred pay and full value for life insurance, superannuation and social service benefits. A further point stated in the case was -
During the two years after fighting stopped in World War I., the general level of retail prices in Australia rose by 30 per cent., food by 50 per cent., rents by 18 per cent. During the corresponding period after World War II., with Commonwealth protection continuing, the position has been quite different. Retail prices generally have risen by only 5 per cent., food by 6 per cent.; rents have remained practically unchanged.
– Now read the case against the referendum.
– I have not the time. The case against the referendum was’ the most vicious piece of propaganda ever seen in Australia. It sought to frighten the people into voting against the referendum. The really guilty ones in that case were the present members of the Government who were then in opposition. I have no doubt about that at all. Mr. Chifley issued a prophetic warning to Australia that if the Com monwealth were not given power to control prices for a certain period we would meet with unparalleled inflation in Australia. That day has come. The value has gone from wages and the value has disappeared from pensions because honorable members now on the Government side went round the country urging the people to vote “ No “. The value of wages and pensions has disappeared because honorable members opposite went round the country uttering cries of “ Canberra control “, “ socialism “, and “ adequate production and competition are the answer to high prices “. What a laugh that turned out to be! The opponents of the referendum said, “ Let the States control prices “. Look at what has happened in the State sphere! The result was that 2,618,183 voted against the referendum and 1,793,712 voted for it. The majority against it numbered 824,471. The result was fairly satisfactory considering the vicious campaign that had been waged against the referendum by honorable members opposite.
What is the position to-day? The leaders of the farmers, John Citizen and the small businessmen are urging that price control be restored. They all consider that control of prices is the only way out of our present troubles. Nemesis is catching up with this country as a result of the defeat of the referendum in 1948.
Who are the men guilty of bringing about the present sorry state of affairs? They are the members of this Government and big business. The Government says that competition will keep prices down. Competition in the true sense does not exist to-day, nor does free enterprise within the real meaning of the term. Big business engages in a sham fight to-day. Big business organizations enter into agreements to charge the same prices to customers, and to charge at the highest level possible at the time. Therefore, present-day competition is a farce. Such competition as is left between manufacturers and retailers is not serious enough to hold prices down. Big business is an equally guilty party in this matter for it has become rapacious, it has engaged in blatant profiteering and it has contributed greatly to the inflationary conditions in recent years, lt has been able to do so because it was given free licence with the defeat of the referendum in 1948.
Let me now refer to the crisis in our rural industries. The wool industry in particular is in a very serious plight. Last year, the total value of our exports was £937,660,000. Of that figure, rural exports accounted for £749,000,000, or 80 per cent. Wool exports represent about 44 per cent, of the total, and it is bad for our economy that fluctuations in the wool industry should affect it so greatly and so quickly. Until we are able to increase exports from other primary industries and secondary industries, it is vital that the wool industry be kept in a sound, healthy condition.
I am gravely concerned at the decline in wool prices. They now average about 48d. per lb., the lowest they have been since 1948. At a time when costs have been at the highest level in our history, wool prices are down to the lowest level for twelve years! Mr. F. R. Howell, the Victorian member of the Australian Wool Bureau and vicepresident of the Victorian Wool and Wheatgrowers Association says that wool prices should be about 120d. per lb. to-day if the wool men are to be as well off as they were in 1948. That is what inflation has done to the wool industry. Apart from declining prices, the effect of rising costs and market manipulations has been serious. Its leaders all pinpoint the danger signs. The manufacturer and the retailer can pass on rising costs but the consumers - the wage earners, the farmers and the pensioners - are at the end of the line. They are in a cleft stick. They are completely helpless and are caught between the twin evils of inflation and price spirals. They must take these things and suffer them because they have no power to do anything about them.
Credit restrictions and high interest rates are two other evils that the farmers must face. This Budget does absolutely nothing to bring help to the farmers, including the hard-pressed wool-growers. Eighty per cent, of the wool-growers are in trouble, according to Mr. Howell, who spoke in Balmoral, Victoria, a few weeks ago. He said it was a tragedy that the wool men were not united. There are two big organizations in Victoria - the Wool and Wheat-growers’ Federation and the Farmers and Graziers’ Association - as well as the Australian Primary Producers Union to which members of both those organizations belong and which acts as a sort of common denominator. Until the wool industry is united in its desire for help and the form in which it should be given, it will be a long time before any adequate help will be forthcoming.
The magazine “ Muster “, in an editorial published on 16th August, referred to the problems facing the wool-growers who want money for development, especially the younger men in the industry. “Muster” believes that the Development Bank is the only hope for adequate finance to increase production, bring new land into use and improve standards.
– The Development Bank will need to be more liberal than it has been.
– Definitely. So far, the Development Bank has been a great disappointment. Referring to finance, “ Muster “ stated -
And the terms? Surely, with an industry on which the whole economy still rests - and will rest in the foreseeable future - something less than standard bank loan rates should be applied.
That is the vital point. The farmers should be permitted to borrow from the Development Bank at a rate of interest much lower than 6 per cent. Anything around 6 per cent, savours of Ned Kelly. Such a high interest rate is not necessary. We should be able to lend money to the farmers at 3 per cent, or 3i per cent, through the Development Bank. Then they could recover from some of their difficulties.
– Ned Kelly was only a child delinquent compared with these people.
Mr. DUTHIE That is true. Overseas markets are essential to the wool industry and other branches of primary production. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) spoke wisely on this matter. First, our home market must be built up. The Australian Wool Bureau is doing all it can to help make wool more attractive to consumers. Synthetics are still breaking into the market; but I feel that wool will win this battle if the industry is alive to the dangers.
I have given some of the reasons why the Opposition condemns the Budget as an unimaginative and negative document. The Government has failed to face the facts of life as it is lived by the ordinary, fair dinkum Australian day by day. It keeps the pensioner in a grim state of penury. The Budget lacks vision and courage. The Government has failed to grapple with the problems of Australia to-day. I have spoken of the real problems, but they are not mentioned at all in the Budget document.
The Opposition congratulates its leader, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), on the statement he made in the chamber last night when he so eloquently condemned the Treasurer for the negative character of the Budget. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had to speak to the Treasurer and stop him from interjecting early in the speech because the Leader of the Opposition was scoring so well off Government members who were interjecting. We hope the Treasurer will take note of some of the observations we have made on the Budget and even alter the document before it goes to another place.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired. [Quorum formed.]
.- Before I proceed with the comments I have to make on the Budget that was presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I should like to make one or two observations on statements that were made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). First, I violently disagree with his statement that there will be concessions in the Budget next year because it will be an election year. Anybody who studies the history of this Government since it first occupied the Treasury bench in 1949 will find that such a practice has not been followed. If I wanted to be unkind, perhaps I could say that, with the complete collapse of the Australian Labour Party as an Opposition, there is no need for this Government to worry about such things.
I have had the privilege of being a member of this honorable chamber for just over eight years, and I remind members of the Opposition that in 1952, the Budget presented by the Treasurer of the day, Sir Arthur Fadden, became known in some quarters as the “ horror Budget “. That Budget was presented, not with a desire to gain votes, but because the Treasurer felt that the steps enunciated in it were necessary to assist in stabilizing the economy. The Budgets presented by this Government since 1949 have never been prepared with an eye to the general elections.
The honorable member for Wilmot repeated what somebody had suggested the Treasurer should do. The suggestion was that the income of the Commonwealth should be worked out and the expenditure planned to fit that income. However, the honorable member criticized the Government because it had not given this or that, and had not increased something else. If you follow his line of argument, you will find that the honorable member completely contradicted himself. There was no continuity in it. I am reminded of a conference that I once attended at which the first resolution which was moved asked for a reduction in income tax. That appears to be a very popular resolution at any conference. The meeting continued to move other resolutions which entailed an increased expenditure by the Government of £700,000,000. On the one hand, some people say that this or that tax should be reduced, and on the other hand, they ask for increased expenditure.
I shall deal later with the honorable member’s comments regarding hire purchase, but the fact remains that the Commonwealth Government has no control over hire purchase.
– You are not game to mention it.
– I shall have something to say about it later. The honorable member’s statement in relation to price control was something else which he plucked out of the air as a solution for the problems that confront us. It is extremely easy for any one to ask the Government to do this or that to solve the problem of inflation, but such action is not always possible.
As honorable members will remember, I have on occasions criticized Budgets that have been presented to us. On this occasion, while there may be some aspects with which we might not agree, the overall picture which this Budget presents indicates that the Government is trying to make its contribution to the stabilization of our economy. The proposed total expenditure on repatriation, social services and welfare generally amounts to over £400,000,000. Of course, certain amounts are spent on social services by the State governments, but for this Government to devote such a huge amount to social services indicates its attitude to the welfare of the people. I have been suggesting for many years that the general pension be graded. Although 1 have been told that certain difficulties stand in the way of the Government meeting this request, a step in the right direction has been taken by the grant of a 10s. supplementary rent allowance. There should not be a flat rate pension for a married couple and for a single person. If the pension were graded to provide a certain rate for a married couple and another rate for single persons and others in certain circumstances, that would enable us, within the limit of the finance which is available, to give a greater degree of assistance where it is needed.
The Tariff Board and tariffs generally were discussed recently. I should like the Government to consider placing a representative of the primary producers on the Tariff Board. If this were done, there would be a new approach to some of the problems which now confront it. At the same time, a very important section of the community would be represented on this body.
Since this Government has been in office there has been a great degree of progress and development in Australia. We do not claim credit for all the progress and development that has occurred, as was suggested by one newspaper, but we can claim to have made a very valuable contribution to it. We have done this by our policy of assisting all branches of primary and secondary industry. We can be proud of the remarkable development which has taken place in our secondary industries, which have made a great contribution to our economy, but we must never forget - I have said this on many occasions, but it is well worth repetition - that primary production is the basis of our economic stability. We are still, in our march of progress, faced with many problems because of our vast area and our small population.
The Postmaster-General’s Department has issued recently a very informative pamphlet which gives some information about the expenditure involved in installing a telephone. It states -
The present cost of connecting each nev/ subscriber to the local network alone is of the order of £300 - material representing about 60 per cent, of this figure. This expenditure is made up of equipment in the telephone exchange, £70; telephone instrument, wiring within the subscriber’s premises and connexion to the street cable or aerial wire route, £20; cables, conduits and/or aerial wires to and from the exchange, including junction cables tor interconnexion between exchanges in the same network, £195; other costs, principally buildings to house equipment, £15. Current expenditure on the full national trunk line network involves a further cost for each subscriber of close on £100.
When we talk about installing a telephone, we sometimes do not have a full appreciation of the difficulties which the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has to overcome. Officers of this department have done a tremendous amount of work. I congratulate the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) on being the guiding force behind the progress which has been made in the installation of telephones in Australia. On occasions when there has been a shortage of telephones, we may have asked why the department did not instal a telephone in a certain location; but we should remember that it is not merely a matter of placing a telephone in a person’s home. There is involved also work on the telephone board in the exchange, the connexion of trunk lines to various postal areas and many other subsidiary jobs. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department has played its part in our progress. I have mentioned this department principally to support my statement that our development and progress has been remarkable when you consider our vast area and our small population.
I have said that we must never forget the contribution that the primary industries are making to our economic stability. The Australian Country Party, of which I am proud to be a member, has published a booklet entitled “ The Crisis in Farm Costs and Incomes”. When dealing with the performance of primary industries, the booklet states -
Australia has a total work force of about 4,000,000. Primary industries to-day account for 12 per cent., manufacturing for 30 per cent, and tertiary industries 56 per cent.
The gross value of production in primary industries has increased from £1,165,400,000 in 1952-53 to £1,227,000,000 in 1958-59. The total export income with which these industries are associated amounted to £630,000,000 last year and is likely to exceed £760,000,000 this year.
Not only do the primary industries provide 80 per cent, of Australia’s export income but they also supply 90 per cent, of the food and fibres required by the local population of ten millions.
That indicates the great contribution that the primary industries make to our economy. Those industries to-day employ 12 per cent, of the work force, and that 1 2 per cent, of the work force produces the commodities that earn 80 per cent, of Australia’s export income, and provides 90 per cent, of the food and fibres required by the people of Australia. So we can see the tremendous contribution to the economy that is made by these industries.
That brings us to the problem which confronts this country with respect to our balance of payments and the earning of credits overseas. A wonderful job has been done here by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Department of Trade. I think that all Australians are indebted to the Minister and the department for the work that they have done in finding new markets overseas in which we can sell our goods and earn overseas credits. But unless we can keep down the cost of production in Australia, the work done by the Minister and the department in this regard will be largely wasted. The Government lifted import restrictions in an endeavour to stabilize prices in this country. The moment such restrictions are removed, of course, application is made to the Tariff Board for the protection of Australian industries. Nobody would deny, Sir, that in certain circumstances our secondary industries need protection, but we must not allow tariff protection to be used to cover inefficiency. During the time that I have been a member of this place, I have heard on numerous occasions the statement that we must enable the man on the land ‘to produce efficiently. That may be true, and I think that in recent years the man on the land has become an efficient producer. But the same thing can be said of secondary industries. We must keep them producing efficiently so that they can reduce their costs of production and increase the level of production generally, thereby promoting the development of our primary industries and helping to maintain our overseas balances.
I could take you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to many parts of my electorate where the man on the land has contributed out of his earnings to funds for the promotion of research and development in the primary industries. This has been done in an endeavour to reduce his costs of production in order that Australia may sell its goods in overseas markets. For this, the man on the land deserves a great deal of credit. He has been assisted in his efforts by various Commonwealth departments which promote research, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, by State departments which engage in research, and by officers of the State agriculture departments, who are doing a magnificent job. But it should never be forgotten that the man on the land, off his own bat, has subscribed funds for the promotion of research and development locally. Any one who says that the man on the land and those who are directly concerned with the primary industries are not contributing effectively to the efficiency of those industries certainly does not know what he is talking about.
Many people have criticized the Commonwealth Government and said that it has done nothing to halt the inflationary spiral. This is a matter that has an important bearing on costs of production. I point out that many things are beyond the control of this Government and beyond the scope of any action that it might take to combat inflation. Many of the factors associated with inflation come under the control of the States. The only criticism that I could make of this Government is that it has not endeavoured to call a conference of representatives of the States, industry and the unions for the purpose of making a concerted attack by all groups and sections of the community on the inflation which confronts us. I have said in this chamber before that big business, in many instances, has not played its part in trying to halt the inflationary spiral. Other sections of the community, also, have not played their part. Many of the unions have failed to contribute to the efforts to keep inflation in check. Some State governments have continued to spend money blithely and then have said, “ Why does not the Commonwealth Government give us more money? “ I realize that sometimes the failure of State governments to act has been due to a fear that action on the part of one State only would cause capital to flow to other States. But 1 believe that unless we in Australia make a concerted effort to halt inflation, there will be no flow of capital at all, much less a flow from one State to another.
I suggest, Sir, that those who blithely ask why the Commonwealth Government does not do this or that show a complete lack of appreciation of the problems and difficulties that confront the Commonwealth owing to its restricted powers. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said, yesterday evening, that he pledged the Opposition’s support in any action that the Government chose to take in regard to the Australian Constitution. Again, I say that constitutional reform is not an easy answer to the problems that confront us in Australia. Those problems are not due only to the constitutional limitations on the Commonwealth. Any alteration of the Constitution will introduce other problems. There are many in Australia who fear - perhaps “ fear “ is too strong a word, but nevertheless I shall use it - the centralization of power in Canberra to too marked a degree. I think that the over-centralization of power, if I may use that expression, in Canberra would be detrimental to the welfare of the Commonwealth. The difficulties that confront us have many facets, Sir, and our problems can be overcome only by a concerted effort by all sections of the community, including our colleagues in the State governments, who could do much to assist the Commonwealth to halt the inflationary spiral. If we can halt inflation, we shall immediately overcome the problem of an increasing need for greater social service and other benefits. If costs are stabilized, increased benefits are not needed in order to keep pace with a rising cost of living.
There will be an opportunity on another occasion to discuss the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but I should like to mention it briefly now. I am glad that the Budget provides for increased expenditure in the Territory. The amount of work done there in recent years has been fantastic. The officers of the Administration are people of whom all Australians can be very proud, and they are making a tremendous contribution to the progress and development of the Territory. We have perhaps sometimes forgotten the full significance of that, because we have heard it so often. As the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) emphasized the other day, the wonderful work done in the Territory has been carried on by all governments irrespective of their political complexion.
We can be proud of the work that has been done in that Territory over a period of years. Because those words have been said so many times, we may, perhaps, fail to appreciate the reality of them. Let me repeat, therefore, that we can really be proud of the work that has been done. I am very happy to see that the Budget provides for increased expenditure in the Territory, because it is only by increasing expenditure, so that we can step up recruitment and effect other improvements in the area, that we can continue the progress and development that have steadily taken place in the past. As I said before, we will have an opportunity to speak on this matter in more detail at a later stage.
I conclude by congratulating the Government on the presentation of this Budget, and on its earnest endeavour to overcome the problems that have been confronting it, some of which, perhaps ironically, having arisen from the energy and enthusiasm of the Government and the great progress and development that the country has experienced since this Government came to the treasury bench.
– This Budget shows quite clearly that the Government is now afraid of the consequences of its own maladministration of the country’s affairs. This, I think, was made quite apparent by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), when he said recently that the country’s economy was balanced on a razor’s edge. No truer words were every spoken by any Minister. The Minister for Trade, who should know better than any one else the state of the country’s economy, says that now, after eleven years of Liberal-Australian Country Party administration, after years of record prices and record crops and seasons, the economy is balanced on a razor’s edge.
The Minister gave point to his remarks when, addressing the recent Country Party conference, he said that our export income would have to increase by £250,000,000 a year during the next five years if we were even to maintain, much less improve, existing living standards, and maintain our present rate of development. What are the prospects of increasing our export income by £250,000,000 a year? We will have to consider this question first, because until we examine the prospects of increasing our export income by the amount that the Minister said is necessary, we cannot say whether it will be possible to maintain existing living standards or our present rate of expansion and development. If it can be shown that we will not increase our national income by this amount, it means, of course, that the rate of development must be slowed down and our living standards still further depressed. It is important in this Budget debate, therefore, having regard to the remarks of this prominent Minister, to examine very carefully our prospects of increasing our export earnings.
We can begin, surely, with an examination of the prospects in the field of primary industries. Can we rely upon greater production? Frankly, I do not think we can. Production in primary industries to-day is only 25 per cent, greater than it was before the war - and with reduced acreage. Oddly enough, or unfortunately enough, we have a smaller acreage in production of wheat and other primary commodities at the present time than we had before the war. Honorable members opposite appear to doubt this statement, but it is a statement that has been made by the Minister for Trade himself.
– Do not forget the increase in the number of bushels per acre.
– I spoke of the number of acres under production. I said, and I repeat, that the number of acres under production to-day is smaller than it was before the war. Production, however, has increased because of the adoption of more scientific methods and, to some extent perhaps, because of the wider use of mechanization. But there is a limit to the amount by which we can increase our production by the use of scientific methods or mechanization, and when one considers that there are 100,000 fewer people employed in primary production than there were before the war one has some idea of the possibility of increasing production to any great extent.
The fact is, of course, that the primary industries of Australia are decaying as a consequence of large areas of farm lands having been consolidated into fewer and fewer holdings, and not being used to their full advantage. Fewer and fewer men are being employed in primary industry. This is surely a serious trend and one that should be halted. I suggest that steps should be taken to rectify this dangerous position.
The Minister for Trade, when addressing the Country Party conference recently, said that farm incomes had decreased during the last four years by 1 1 per cent. This is a statement by the Leader of the Australian Country Party, by a Minister who is in a position to know the correct state of affairs. It is, surely, an alarming circumstance when the Minister, having said that we must increase our exports by £250,000,000 a year in the next five years if we are to maintain our present living standards and rate of development, is forced to admit that the primary industries, far from increasing their earnings, have found that incomes have decreased by 11 per cent, in the last four years.
– The income is down, but the production is up, so the more you export the less you get.
– The honorable member for Lalor has hit the nail on the head. Production has increased, but the income has fallen, and the Minister was speaking in terms of income when he mentioned the amount of £250,000,000 extra that we would have to obtain from exports overseas. The point is, of course, that if the increase in, production is insufficient to cancel out the effect of decreases in prices of the commodities produced, you must end up with a lower income.
Can we possibly achieve the objective set by the Minister, of an extra £250,000,000 a year, by receiving higher prices for our goods? Obviously we cannot. The fact is that prices are going down instead of up. I see that the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who is so disgusted with the way this Government has carried on that he has decided to retire from the Parliament in order to register his disapproval, agrees with everything I have said. The price of wool has shown a decline of from 5 per cent, to 7£ per cent, at the sales that have just opened. Every Id. per lb. reduction in the price of wool, when spread over the production of 1,500,000,000 lb. a year, represents, if you like to work it out with a pencil and paper, £6,250,000 less in national income.
We know also - and these are figures that have been given by the Minister for Trade - that wool production has actually fallen by an estimated 5 per cent, during the last twelve months. When we take into account the decline in production and the fall in price we can comprehend the total effect on our national earnings. The secretary of the Australian Woolgrowers Council, Mr. Chislett, said only recently that the wool industry is rapidly approaching the stage at which it will have to seek financial assistance from the Government. The wool industry, let me remind the Parliament, is one of the industries on which we will have to rely, more than on others, to obtain the extra £250,000,000 in overseas earnings that the Minister says will be necessary to maintain our existing living standards. What is the position with regard to meat - another important earner of export income? The position there is not hard to imagine. This Government has already agreed to a reduction in the price of meat under the United Kingdom meat agreement. How can we possibly expect to increase export earnings from meat when the Government has already been forced1 to agree to a further reduction in the price of meat sold to the United Kingdom?
Prices generally are not rising; rather, they are decreasing, largely as a consequence of the flooding of certain markets by Canada and particularly by the United States of America with products that are surplus to their requirements. Some of the countries receiving those surplus products previously bought our products and others would be potential buyers of our products but for the United States dumping.
What is the position with wheat - another of our main income earners? The fund under the wheat stabilization scheme has now practically been exhausted and it is estimated that this year the Government will have to find some £7,000,000 to keep the wheat-growers solvent. This is not a good picture. It is not a good start to the job of increasing our overseas earnings by £250,000,000 a year, which the Minister said was essential to maintain our existing living standards. What are the prospects of markets in countries that we have not yet entered? They are getting worse instead of better, largely because the United Kingdom may join the European Common Market. If it decides to do this - the present indications are that it cannot very well afford to do otherwise - the United Kingdom, which is the best buyer that we have, will be forced to buy more and more primary products from European countries with which it is associated in this scheme. This is not a happy picture. It is not a picture that would give a government the right to relish the future. I do not relish the future. With this Government’s policy and with these prospects staring us in the face, we must expect a reduction in living standards and a slowing down of national development. This is a serious development in a country which is bringing in about 100,000 migrants each year and which has boys and girls leaving school and entering industry at a rate of 60,000 or 70,000 a year. How can we find jobs for these young boys and girls and for the migrants if our national income is reduced as a consequence of shrinking markets and falling prices?
That is the situation abroad. But the position of the home markets is just as bad. They are being seriously hit by the Government’s decision, willy-nilly, to lift completely the import restrictions that previously protected them from overseas competition. The Tariff Board is unable, or unwilling, because of the cumbersome procedure and1 red tape strangling it at the moment, to give assistance to local industries. It takes from sixteen to 32 months to complete the hearing of a case and it will not begin a hearing until the industry concerned has been operating for twelve months.
– Eight months.
– Very well, eight months, but that does not make a vast difference. Instead of a total of about 48 months, it means that a hearing can be completed in about 44 months. Let us consider the position of the Japanese Trade Agreement. The Government made an agreement with the Japanese Government on trade, and this has had a serious effect upon Australian industries. Its effect can be measured by figures given by the Minister. Since the agreement came into operation, Japanese imports have increased by 245 per cent. In 1956-57, Japanese goods represented 1.8 per cent, of our total imports; they have now risen to 5.2 per cent, of our total imports. Mr. R. W. C. Anderson, a director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, recently said that Japan presented a frightful threat to Australian industry.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was examining the prospects of achieving the goals set by the Minister for Trade. He had said that unless we could improve our export income by no less than £250,000,000 a year and reach that figure within the next five years, we would see a reduction in our living standards and a slowing down of our development programme. I showed that we could not expect to reach this figure by means of increased production, because production in some fields was now actually less than formerly. I showed also that although in some instances production of some commodities was greater, the prices of them had fallen to such an extent that the goal that we had to set ourselves was becoming more difficult than ever to achieve.
We cannot very well expect to increase our national income through exports from secondary industry. In 1952-53 we had an export income, from manufactured goods, of some £55,000,000 and that increased to £ 1 1 1 ,000,000 in 1 959-60. That represented an increase of £56,000,000, of which no less than £16,000,000 was from oil refined in Australia and exported to New Zealand and various Pacific islands. We have to remember that Russia is now entering the oil market and is already a very serious threat to suppliers of crude oil. If Russia had its way it would have entered the Australian market, offering oil at lower rates than those at which we could possibly refine it or purchase it overseas; and it is certain that some of the customers now purchasing refined oil products from Australia and thereby making up this income of £16,000,000 are not going to be so considerate towards the American, Dutch and British oil interests as we were. If these buyers can obtain Russian oil much cheaper than they can purchase it from Australia it is certain that they will do so and, if they do, then to that extent our income from that source of secondary industry will be reduced.
Therefore, it is clear that it is not possible for us to increase our overseas earnings by any appreciable extent. Indeed, export restrictions by overseas investors are actually imposed upon this country in some fields in which we could have obtained increased earnings in our overseas markets. For example, the Minister for Trade said that some overseas companies were actually prohibiting their Australian subsidiaries from exporting, except to limited overseas markets. He said that the practice is regarded as being regrettable, and so it is. Take the Mount Isa mining company as an example. The parent company is the American Smelting and Refining Company of the Morgan group. This parent company in America gave instructions to the Mount Isa company that it was not to export any more lead because, if it did, that would represent a serious threat to lead being produced by other companies owned by the parent company in other parts of the world. So without any say on the part of this Government overseas interests were enabled to reduce our overseas earnings when the parent company’s directorate ruled that we were not to send overseas the lead that we were producing. Therefore, in some instances, this Government is powerless to increase our earning capacity abroad because of the direct control which parent companies overseas have.
Something should be done in regard to profits. The Treasurer said, in his Budget speech, that prices and costs have risen sharply over the last year, and so far the rate of increase does not seem to be slackening. He said that the price level does not rise of its own accord, but rises because people raise prices, and he is correct in that regard. Prices are raised to the maximum that the purchaser can, and will pay, and everybody knows that no one with anything to sell will sell for a lower figure than he thinks he can force the buyer to pay for that article. It is not governed by the cost factor. Anybody who thinks that prices are governed by cost factors knows nothing about human nature or about how monopolies operate. The prices of things are governed only by what the consumers can and will pay for them. The pegging of wages in 1953 proved that pegged wages did not keep prices down, because those who had commodities to sell continued to charge the consumer the maximum amount that he was able to pay and was willing to pay, regardless of the fact that the wages content of the cost structures of the particular items had not risen for more than three years.
Let me refer now to the effect of unpegged wages. Every State award in New South Wales is subject to a quarterly cost of living adjustment. Many industries there operate with an unpegged basic wage governed by the “ C “ series index which fluctuates each quarter. In spite of this, the increase in the cost of living in New South Wales in the last quarter was very much below that in South Australia, where the wages under federal and State awards are pegged. So it is clear that increased wages are not causing prices to rise but merely reflect the effect of price rises and are necessary in order that a given standard of living may be maintained having regard to the increased prices which prevail at the time.
People on fixed incomes, such as pensioners and the like, are the ones most severely struck by rising prices. I believe that this inflationary trend which is doing so much to whittle down the living standards of the people must be attacked at the source. The sources of high prices or the inflationary trend are the artificial and unnecessarily high prices being charged by the producers of goods. I believe that one of the things the Government ought to do in this matter is to impose a capital gains tax that will take from public companies the benefit that they now get by ploughing back profits as undistributed profits rather than paying them to their shareholders so that the shareholders will have to pay income tax on them.
Let us see what has happened. It is safe to say that the capital gains in Australia last year were no less than 200,000,000, because that was the amount that was ploughed back in the form of undistributed profits. The people who benefited thereby paid absolutely no income tax upon the money and yet their capital gains were just as real as though the money was received in the form of income. Let us look at some of those who benefited. Of the main shareholders of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Limited the Baillieu family had 143,000 £1 shares which cost £2 3s. in 1954; and the holders were able to make a total capital gain of £735,000 from 1954 to 1960. Howard Smith’s shareholdings in the B.H.P. represented a capital gain of £2,616,000. The Darling family had a net gain of £1,818,000. The Palfreyman family had a capital gain of £197,000. The Fisher family had a gain of £196,000 in the six-year period and paid no tax upon it. In McPherson’s Limited the McPherson family made a net gain of £154,000, upon which it paid no tax during that period. The family of Taylor, through the shares it holds in McPherson’s Limited, made a net gain of £202,800.
The shareholdings of the Beaurepaire family in Olympic Consolidated Industries are such as to give that family a net capital gain of £978,000 during this same period. The Manifold family made a net capital gain of £38,000 during that period. North Broken Hill Limited, which has capital in Associated Pulp and Paper Manufacturers, made a net gain of £1,543,000. Broken Hill South Limited made a net gain of £1,496,000. Thomas Owen and Company Proprietary Limited made a net gain of £591,000. The Baillieu family, again with capital in this company, made another net gain of £136,000 without having to pay a single penny in tax on it.
One could go through company after company giving instances of enormous profits which have been made. Those profits have been ploughed back as undistributed capital only to increase immediately the share value of the stocks held by shareholders, so that if they sold these stocks on the market to-morrow morning they would have gained over the period this enormous income, upon which not one penny of tax is paid. The Riley Dodds company was able to increase its capital over the period from 1952 to 1959 by 1,198 per cent. H. G. Palmer Proprietary Limited was able to increase its capital over the same period by 1,181 per cent., the Carrier Air Conditioning Company by 969 per cent., South Australian Rubber Mills by 806 per cent., and Ampol by 720 per cent.
I believe that if we were to impose a capital gains tax at least equal to the tax paid by public companies on over £5,000 profit - which is to be 8s. in the £1 - we would be able to raise in additional revenue a sum of no less than £80,000,000 a year. There would then be no room for anybody to say that the Government could not afford to increase child endowment, because by means of that extra £80,000,000 a year in revenue, as the result of a capital gains tax - which would hurt only the very wealthy and would only take back from them that which they cannot spend anyway - the Government could double the child endowment paid to the mothers of Australia and still have some money left over. According to the Treasurer, child endowment could be doubled at a cost of only £74,000,000 a year, which would leave the Government a balance of £6,000,000 from the yield of the capital gains tax. With that £6,000,000 the Government could, also according to the Treasurer, double the amount now paid in sickness and unemployment benefits.
So there is the answer to those who ask, “ Where is the money coming from to double child endowment and sickness and unemployment benefits? “ The Government could double the expenditure on all those things simply by imposing a capital gains tax of 8s. in the £1 on those who now have more than they should have, on those who at the moment are collectively earning more than £200,000,000 a year on which they pay absolutely no tax. I believe that this is one of the things this Government ought to have a look at.
It is not a novel idea that I suggest. It is something which operates already in many of the most advanced countries of the world. Indeed, it is a proposition which was put forward by the Prime Minister himself in 1951. The Prime Minister said then that this ought to be introduced. He went further, and said there ought to be capital issues control. I agree with him there- The Treasurer of that time said, at about the same time as the Prime Minister made his statement, that there ought to be an excess profits tax. None of those things has been done.
If only we faced the facts, if only we faced up to the present situation, when we have companies charging ever so much more than they need to charge, with prices for many things absolutely exorbitant - with sellers charging extortionate prices - we could, without hurting anybody who could not afford to be hurt, raise another £80,000,000 a year. We could use that extra revenue to double child endowment, double the sickness benefits, and double the unemployment benefit. We could also give to the dependent wives of pensioners who, at the moment, get no more than 35s. a week in allowance, an allowance of £4 7s. 6d. a week - the same amount as is now paid to B class widows. All of this could be financed by one tax - a tax on capital gains.
Surely there is no argument against that. Surely the mothers of Australia need increased child endowment more than the Baillieu family needs the exceptional profits it is now making from capital gains. Surely dependent wives of pensioners need extra money above the 35s. a week they now receive, more than the Darlings, the Baillieus and the Beaurepaires need more wealth. Surely that is also true of those who cannot get a job, or who are sick. Are they not more in need of some assistance than the families which would have to pay the tax that I recommend should be instituted.
One has only to go through the official figures disclosed in Wheelwright’s book on capital gains in the various companies to see the extent to which certain companies have benefited from capital gains. Have a look at the position of the Dunlop Rubber Company of Australia, principally owned by the Dunlop Rubber Company (United Kingdom) Limited, which has 600,000 shares. During the last six years it made a capital gain of no less than £733,000, and did not pay a penny of tax on it. One of the shareholders in Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and the Perpetual Trustee Company (Limited) during the last six years has made a total net capital gain of £1,864,000.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to make a short personal explanation, Mr. Temporary
Chairman. During the course of his speech the honorable member for Hindmarsh said that I was so disgusted with the Government that I was considering retiring from politics. There is no foundation whatsoever for the statement. I am quite happy to be associated with the Government, -which I support, and I have no intention of retiring from politics.
– 1 accept that statement.
.- The Opposition has been painting for us the usual pictures of gloom which we get from it every year. We are faced, according to Opposition members, with ruin and disaster. The Opposition’s efforts on this Budget are designed to make the people believe that this is the last Budget of a dying Government which is on its way out. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Everybody knows that rough spots appear in the economy from time to time. They appear now, and they always will appear. Measures are being taken, and will continue to be taken, to deal with those rough spots.
We have heard a good deal this afternoon about primary industry in one form or another, its importance to our economy and its effect on our budgetary figures. Many good points have arisen from the speeches this afternoon. I have said here before, and I say again, that I believe that primary industry is the firm base on which we have already built, and will continue to build on in the future - the firm base to which populations are drawn and round which secondary industries will later flourish. I think that what we should do, and do more often, is take a look at the rate of expansion in the primary industries.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) stated that Australia had the highest rate of output per head of primary products of any Western country. That is a very interesting fact. But although we have reached new levels of production and new levels of efficiency, we should not be self-satisfied about it. We should not simply accept it, and say that all is well in primary industry, because I think it is well recognized that all is not well in primary industry. There are many problems to be solved. I believe that we are not producing at anywhere near the rate at which we are cap able of producing. The fact that primary industry supplies between 70 per cent, and 80 per cent, of the national wealth gained from exports should not be simply accepted as a measurement with which we should be satisfied. We should not say: “ Well, that is fair enough. Let us now turn our minds to secondary industry and make a better balance between primary and secondary industry.” We know that a better balance between them is desirable. For many years members on both sides of the Parliament have agreed that we should have such a better balance, so that we would not have to rely too much on one side of industry against the other. Whilst it is desirable that we should not concentrate too much on secondary industry or on primary industry, it is necessary that we should examine the problem of the level of production in primary industry. The primary producer has a very great number of problems which we often overlook. We have to do all we can to ensure that he has the opportunity to produce to his full capacity. The percentage of our population engaged in actual primary production is very small indeed. Our land, which is our national heritage, is held by these few. It has given us in the past, as it will in the future, a major part of our national wealth. We have relied upon it.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) doubted that we on this side of the chamber believed firmly in private enterprise. I assure him that we believe very firmly in the system of tree enterprise. We believe that every man should be as free as possible to win all the rewards that he can for himself and for his country. Nevertheless, it is our duty to take stock now and again and to make sure that the relatively few people who hold our national heritage, our land, are discharging their trust in full measure by producing the maximum that the land will yield. Their physical and financial resources are very limited. Therefore we must plan with the utmost care to put those limited resources to the best use.
Many primary producers have responded magnificently over the years to the constant call for better and more production. They have kept abreast of science and research. They have done a remarkably good job and the benefits of their work have been spread, not only among themselves, but over the nation as a whole. The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) in his very thoughtful speech this afternoon drew attention to the fact that a good deal of research is carried out by the primary producers themselves. However, I disagree with him on one point. I believe that we still have far too much inefficiency in rural production. He believes we have some; I think that we have far too much. We see it on every hand.
This is true of many aspects of animal production. One might well wonder whether some of our animal producers would or could undertake more intensive forms of production if the opportunity were granted to them. It is a curious fact that a very high percentage of our primary producers have received no formal training whatsoever for their profession. Some have gone through a form of apprenticeship, consisting mostly of repetition, year after year, of the particular forms of primary production that they have been engaged in. I think it is true to say that the standard that they have ultimately reached is not much higher than - and often not as high as - the standard that was set for them originally. Secondary industry demands a much higher standard of efficiency in management, otherwise it could not survive.
Nevertheless, many problems beset primary industries and some of them have been mentioned in this debate to-day. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) dealt well with the subject of markets and the availability of finance. I do not think it can be disputed that despite low wool prices primary producers to-day have a greater measure of security than they have ever had before. Surely honorable members opposite will not argue that this is the first time that costs and prices have been at levels so close to each other in the wool industry. It is only necessary to look at the wool prices graph to see that this is not a new occurrence. This proximity of cost to prices, resulting in a very low return, has happened before. Fluctuations in wool prices are as old as the wool industry itself, and that is very nearly as old as Australia’s history. At this moment there is a “ low “ in prices. That is something that the wool industry has survived before and will survive again.
I think one of our principal needs - and it is a great challenge - is to see what can be done to eliminate or reduce inefficiency where it exists in primary industry. Not only must we attack the problem from every angle from which we see it, but we must attack the causes of it, and one principal cause is that a high percentage of primary producers have had no formal education for their profession.
Many young men have lacked the opportunity to proceed to formal education for rural production. To-day, that situation has improved to some extent. However, education is still not available to those who may want instruction in tropical agriculture. Not one institution run by a State provides a course in tropical agriculture. In the whole of the northern part of Australia the only institution of this kind is a small college at Abergowrie outside Ingham which is run by the Catholic Church and has a limited intake of about 120 boys. That is the only institution that I know of which is doing a worthwhile job, but it is completely inadequate. This is a situation which we must face realistically and quickly. It is hoped that great development will take place in northern Australia in the not distant future. Yet we are not providing suitable training for our young men who want to go on to the land!
Another cause of inefficiency in primary industry is that we do not allocate sufficient money for research and for the extension work necessary to carry the results of research to the primary producer. We should concentrate on research in the fields of primary production that can have the greatest effect on our national wealth. Although we can go to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other research institutions and see the great range of work they are doing, one often wonders whether they are given sufficient finance to conduct the research required for those forms of primary production which can have the greatest effect on our national wealth. I often think that we fail there. The sugar industry has demonstrated clearly what research can do for primary production. The sugar industry is a remarkable example. It has reached a very high level of efficiency indeed and is almost at the stage where it can be said there is no room in it for inefficiency. The industry is thoroughly organized from top to bottom with research applied to it and thorough and1 proper extension work arranged for. As I have said here a number of times, the sugar industry is an example to a number of other primary industries of how research ought to be carried out.
Again, 1 feel that we fail miserably to put the findings of research into practice in many ways. Although the findings are available to us, we cannot get people to accept them and undertake the work involved. We are also slow to investigate those developments in other countries which may benefit us and our primary industries. Some of these developments could’ well have good application here. One of the principal liabilities in primary production in Australia is heavy freight costs. With our vast internal distances and our scattered points of mass population - the population is concentrated mostly in the south-east and south - many forms of food production are hazardous. They must be at no great distance from points of factory or population. One of the main reasons why they are hazardous is the heavy cost of freight. This hazard retard’s development, slows down that decentralization which we need so badly, and prevents us from putting to proper use many vast areas of land eminently suitable for closer settlement and the production of food of many kinds. Heavy freight costs are also a handicap to winning export markets.
I think honorable members will be pleased to hear a little about a food preserving process which has had very great success in Ireland1. I think the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) will be particularly proud of it. The process is known as the accelerated freeze drying of food. It was left to a little country like Ireland to investigate the matter, carry out the research and put into effect this process of food preservation which I think can have a tremendous impact on our national economy. I believe that it warrants thorough investigation. Probably most honorable members know that most forms of vegetables have a water content of about 90 per cent, and meats and fish about 75 per cent. Because of this high-water content, we are carrying millions of tons of water over our transport systems every year. Further, this water is expensive to carry and makes our goods heavier to handle. The first commercial venture into the accelerated1 freeze drying of food in Ireland has just been put into operation. It seems to me to be an extremely good process and it is a wonder that we have not done something about investigating it. The initial plan is to employ 50 people, in one rural district. The aim of the project is to step up production to the stage where 2,000 people will be employed in the plant alone. This will bring benefit to thousands of farmers and animal breeders in that district and the counties surrounding it.
The process is a simple one. It preserves food in its natural form almost indefinitely. The project is an ambitious undertaking and is the result of the co-operative effort of the British Ministry of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food, the firm of Vickers Armstrong, the Aberdeen university and the Irish Sugar Company. The Irish Sugar Company was the principal factor in constructing the plant. The cost of the initial plant was only £100,000. The final cost of the plant, when it will be employing 2,000 people and catering for a wide area of country, will be only about £250,000. Fruit, vegetables and meat will be preserved by this new process for export to England and to other markets in the world. The food will keep almost indefinitely.
I believe that the process can be applied on a tremendous scale to primary production in Australia. Apparently the technique is simple - it is not complicated at all - and the effects are good. Food preserved in this way retains its flavour and texture as well as its nutritional value. The water is taken out of the food and, under many tests, it has been impossible to distinguish between food preserved by this process and fresh food. The main advantage of the process is that the food can be kept in tin foil or plastics and stored on shelves at home or in shops for a long period.
One of the most important considerations is that refrigeration is not required. We all know that refrigeration, particularly of meat, is one of the causes of very high costs. The process has been thoroughly tested in Ireland, and it surely deserves investigation by us. I did ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Dr. Donald Cameron) last week whether he knew of any investigations being carried out in Australia in connexion with this matter, but I do not think any have been undertaken so far.
One industry which would gain tremendous benefit from a process such as this is the meat industry which is now faced with a tremendous freight problem in transporting its products across the north of Australia. The costs of walking and freighting cattle and generally handling meat in that area are tremendous.
We cannot afford to be haphazard about our growth and development. In north Queensland, there is a growing and active awareness of the necessity to plan for the future. Dedicated men are meeting and planning for the future there. They are bringing together all the loose ends of planning advocated over many years. There is a new surge of feeling for development and planning. The State Government is taking some hand in this, but surely it is something in which we also should be helping. The development of northern Australia must be according to a proper national plan. It must not be done in a haphazard manner. The principal use to which land in the north will be put for many years, probably for generations to come, will be for the production of beef cattle. I do not think there can be any doubt about that. At the moment, industry in that part is at a very low ebb. We talk about requiring an increased export income of £250,000,000 in the next five years, but I can assure honorable members that the beef industry of Queensland and north Australia will be able to do very little towards, achieving the required amount in that period. We have left our run a little bit late for that, but at least we can make a start now so that Australia may gain some benefit in the quickest possible time.
We should look to where “our planning can take us in connexion with many other things. Many proposals have been put up for the development of this and that in northern Australia, but we should be very careful, before undertaking any major capital works, to ensure that whatever we do undertake does form part of a proper national plan. We should also investigate, ascertain and state clearly what is really required. For instance, do we urgently need population in north Australia? If we do, what are we going to do about getting the people there? Or, do we only need a rise in the level of production? Is that the most important thing? We should know the answers to those queries for, with our limited resources and population, we cannot bring a large population to north Australia overnight, as it were. What is there in the north? We might spend large sums of money on vast projects in the country to attract population but I doubt whether we would get people there very quickly.
We have vast areas of land which require development but very little has been done with them, and very little can be done the way we are proceeding. Land is held and used in a most extensive manner. If we are to get it into production we should start planning now. It is idle to think that we can make any great impact on the economy in the next few years by production from northern Australia, but we should start at once. We should set our thinking right, get the best advice and make proper plans so that we will not dissipate the limited physical and financial resources we have available and upon which there is so much demand throughout Australia. Everywhere we hear demands on the Development Bank for finance. We hear of good and worthy schemes; but we just cannot be strong everywhere, so it is most important that we should get our planning into proper form, and decide upon each phase and where our priorities lie.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) that this Budget appears to leave a great deal of room for improvement. He has endeavoured to indicate to the Government some of the Budget’s deficiencies. I believe this Budget was a great disappointment to large sections of the Australian community, including probably the section that the honorable member for Herbert represents. It had been hoped that the Government would have seen the need to do more than merely retain the status quo in this Budget. We on this side of the chamber like to think of a Budget as a means by which we can introduce some sort of social reform to overtake the problems besetting the Australian people; but, unfortunately, the great variety of problems - painfully apparent problems - at present retarding national development and adversely affecting the best interests of the public remain untended by this Budget. That is what the honorable member for Herbert has been trying to say in relation to primary industries.
Although Government spokesmen have claimed that the Australian economy is precariously balanced on a razor’s edge, no effort has been made in this Budget to gain control over large sections of the economy which are at present right out of control. That is the fact of the matter. Of course, there are many other deficiencies as well. Child endowment was not even mentioned in the Budget. In the past ten long years, no attempt has been made to raise the rate of child endowment despite the tremendous pace at which inflation has overcome the economy. There is no mention of closer settlement. We have in northern Australia a land of tremendous resources and one of the most enticing parts of the world, but this Government does not appear to have any interest in its future. Indeed, we seem to be content to leave a large part of northern Australia to the L. J. Hooker organization which acquired huge acreages there a short time ago.
As the honorable member for Herbert, a Government supporter, has indicated, no attempt has been made by the Government to provide public services. In that respect, the Government is failing very badly indeed. The plight of local government authorities has been ignored completely in this Budget. Why is there not provision for greater expenditure on education? If we are to keep up with all the modern techniques in this era of science which marks the atomic age, we need greater expenditure on education so that we can be on a basis comparable with that of other countries. Where is there in the Budget any mention of the fact that monopolies have a stranglehold on the country? Restrictive trade practices are running riot. Soaring interest rates are the order of the day.
As one who does not come from a rural area, I was interested in the point of view expressed by the honorable member for Herbert. I think that members of the Australian Country Party, languishing opposite, would probably be disturbed about the deficiencies of this Budget so far as country interests are concerned. I have looked at some of the figures pertaining to primary industry and I would like to have from any honorable member who follows me some indication of the incentives that are provided in this Budget for the farming community.
– What would you suggest?
– The White Paper on National Income and Expenditure shows that some stimulus is needed for the farming section of the economy. I quote from page 4 of this document which stated -
Farm income, after recovering in 1958-59 from the low level of 1957-58, was little changed in 1959-60.
Then there is a graph which shows increases in farm income, as percentage of gross national product, of i per cent. It may be a little less because it is difficult to judge from a graph. At page 7 of the White Paper there is this statement -
Despite the higher prices and increased production of wool, farm income in 1959-60 was only slightly higher than in 1958-59.
This is what happened to the farmers, according to the statement by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his White Paper -
Wool production totalled about 1,690,000,000 lb. or 6 per cent, above production in 1958-59. The average auction price was 57.8 pence per lb. compared with 48.6 pence per lb. in 1958-59. and the total value of wool produced increased by 27 per cent. The value of sheep, cattle and pigs slaughtered was about £20,000,000 higher than in 1958-59.
That all sounds pretty encouraging; but something has gone wrong with the final result. The White Paper continued -
The increase in the value of wool and meat production was in part offset by a decline in the value of agricultural production.
The Treasurer mentioned the disappointing results regarding production of wheat, barley, oats, hay, sugar crops and dairy products. All were disappointing. I have mentioned successful results and disappointing results; but where are the provisions in the Budget in respect of those disappointing results anywhere along the line? The net effect of all this is that farm income and the incomes of farmers remained almost static last year. That is the position and no one can deny it. The facts are shown in the White Paper issued by the Treasurer. It is not an inspiring result for Australia - this great food arsenal of the south - and I doubt if the Australian Country Party is satisfied with the result. If its members are satisfied, they can no longer claim to represent the interests of the farming community in respect of those farmers who have had such disappointing results.
This is a Liberal-Australian Country Party coalition Government, but where is there any provision in the Budget to benefit those engaged in primary industries? Can any one point to anything in the Budget that is designed to improve the position of the primary industries? Certainly the Budget will have some effect on them. The farmers will be taxed more on account of this Budget. The only provision directly affecting the Australian farmers is the extension of the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance available on amounts up to £2,750 expended on housing provided for employees and others on agricultural or pastoral properties. This concession is to be extended to cover expenditure up to £3,250 for each employee, share-farmer or tenant. This concession, the only concession to the Country Party in the Budget, is estimated to cost revenue over a full year no more than £10,000. Is it any wonder that the honorable member for Herbert, a member of the Country Party, rose in his place a short time ago and expressed his disappointment at the rate of our national development and the plans that this Government has for our future. The farming community has been ignored almost completely despite the unsatisfactory position in which primary industries have been placed.
Time runs away far too quickly so I shall now deal with other aspects of the Budget. This Government is in the process of progressively abdicating from economic responsibility. Private entrepreneurs, hirepurchase organizations and other manipulators and speculators are fast filling the vacuum which has been created by the Government’s inactivity. Overseas investments are pouring into Australia at an unprecedented rate, and overseas investors are taking control of many Australian manufacturing industries. Undoubtedly, the activities of these people have been accelerated by the Government’s failure to stimulate exports sufficiently to enable it to balance our current overseas trading account. Overseas investment in Australia since this Government has been in office has reached something like £1,000,000,000.
While the Government is resorting to this temporary expediency to balance its Budget and to obtain some short-term advantage, it is ignoring the long-term spectacle of Australian industries being dominated by overseas interests. This will mean that Australians will be little more than mere pawns in the business of making money for people in other paris of the world. That is what the future holds for us unless overseas investment in Australia is halted. Imagine what would have happened if, at the turn of the century, our wheat and wool industries had been turned over to overseas investors! The great profits of those industries which now contribute so much to our economy would have been going overseas. What a state our economy would be in now!
When we realize what the future holds for us if we do not stop this flow of overseas capital into Australia - the effect on our primary industries; the exploitation of our raw materials in the north of Australia; the loss of our steel and motor vehicle industries, and many others - we must come to the conclusion that our country’s economy is in danger and that the short-term advantage is not worth the risk. We should bear in mind also that land ownership and land speculation by the cornering of huge areas, are becoming the domain of people who originate in other countries.
To find out why the Government tolerates this sell-out we must look at our trading position. To bolster our unsatisfactory trading balance, we not only encourage overseas investment but we also indulge in considerable borrowing overseas. The Budget papers show that in 1956-57 overseas borrowing amounted to £15,300,000. In 1957-58 the amount rose to £29,300,000; in 1958-59 it increased rather sharply to £46,900,000 and in 1959-60 it dropped to £30,500,000. In four years our total overseas borrowings amounted to about £122,000,000. We floated eighteen loans in all, some to finance the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, some to finance the developmental plans of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and some for other Commonwealth and State purposes. We raised Joans in different countries, even, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said last night, going cap in hand to little Switzerland begging for what we could get. We had been already to New York and London and to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In fact, we have been everywhere seeking to raise money.
The “ Treasury Information Bulletin “ indicates that our international reserves are falling. In 1969-60 they fell by £4,000,000 to £512,000,000, and in the previous year, 1958-59, there was a fall of £9,000,000. This decline in our overseas reserves has been going on for a long time. Our reserves now are a long way below the £800,000,000 which the Chifley Government had in London - that great international banking place where it is a good thing to have a stand-by to tide you over a rainy day. No one can deny that this Government has been living by whittling away our international reserves.
Shipping freights and other invisibles play a great part in our economy, but the Government does not concern itself with soaring shipping freights. The general merchandise rate in December, 1950, for goods transported between Australia and the United Kingdom was £6 15s. a ton, but by December, 1958, the rate had risen to £10 4s. a ton. Undoubtedly the rate is a lot higher now. But does this Government do anything to stabilize the position? It could resurrect the Australian National Line from the coastal trade and put it into international trade where it could best serve the interests of this country. Has the Government shown any imagination?
– You have plenty of imagination. You could not transfer the line to the international trade. You would go broke with the existing Australian rates of pay.
– The Australian National Line has acquitted itself well against all competition in interstate trade, and it would acquit itself well against inter national competition. The Government must face up to this problem. If we are to stop the dissipation of our overseas reserves, we must deal with the problems systematically. Until we get a Minister in charge of shipping and transport who has more imagination than the present Minister, we face a sorry future. This drain on our overseas reserves continues each year and the £800,000,000 Chifley nest egg is being dissipated progressively.
Last year our exports increased! by £126,000,000. That does not sound too bad but unfortunately our imports increased by £150,000,000 so we dropped behind1 a little further again. What will happen with our imports this year? The Government has abandoned import controls so we can anticipate that the Australian market will be flooded with something like £1,000,000,000 worth of goods. The other night I heard the Treasurer say on television that the Government is freeing the economy and1 that it has lifted import controls. But it was the same Government which imposed import controls - this private enterprise Government which resorts always to controls when its lack of planning results in a crisis. That is the way that this Government has operated.
The total deficit of current account is estimated at £243,000,000, which is £36,000,000 greater than the deficit in 1958-59. Where would this Government be without the helping hand of overseas loans and overseas investments? It would be in a hopeless position! According to the Treasury Information Bulletin, private capital inflow last year amounted to £150,000,000 as compared with £122,000,000 in 1958-59. In other words, the sell-out is continuing unabated and is now reaching unprecedented proportions.
Labour did not need outside assistance. We did not need any financial sedatives from overseas to sustain us. We were able to carry on without overseas help. In fact, we built up large reserves overseas which this Government is dissipating. We raised loans in Australia. We financed a war in Australia. We financed enormous postwar expansion in Australia, so there must be something wrong with the Government’s policy and it is time that the Government did something about it. We regulated interest rates but this Government is allowing them to run riot. No country is deserving of credit because it is able to entice overseas investment. There is no difficulty in getting overseas investment in any kind of a wholesome country these days, and Australia would be a wholesome country even with a bad government. You could not stop it being a great country, even if it did not have its great natural resources. In Egypt, in Cuba and in other parts of the world they are throwing out overseas investors and confiscating overseas investments as fast as they can.
Other countries are doing those things because they will not allow their people to be exploited any longer. We do not want the Australian people to become subservient to overseas interests. Many countries ensure that the majority of shareholders in their own industries are their own nationals. That is the case with many South American countries in particular, and a similar situation prevails in most parts of the world. But here in Australia there is an open slather. You can do precisely what you like. We have only to instance the case of General Motors-Holden’s Limited, which did not even bring its own capital here in the first place. It obtained capital from the Labour government. Throughout, that company has been most unreasonable in the exploitation and dissipation of the funds that it obtained.
I should like to refer briefly to a statement made by Mr. J. E. Coyne, who is Governor of the Bank of Canada, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Reserve Bank of Australia. So he is a gentleman « of some authority who doubtless has the support of the Canadian Government. This is what he had to say about overseas investment -
We must learn as a nation to live within our means and exhibit the strength and will to do so. It would, in my view, be the path of realism to move firmly in that direction on a broad front without delay.
There is no reason in principle why Canada could not make great progress without drawing on the savings of foreigners on a huge scale to finance our capital expenditures or consumption. . . A more moderate approach to economic development on the part of all sections of the community and more emphasis on a balanced industrial structure would also mean that Canadians would own a greater share of Canadian industry, that we would accumulate less debt to foreigners, and would have to bear a smaller burden of foreign debt service, which could one day become a very serious embarrassment. . . . We do not need to make our economy structurally dependent on our ability to obtain, or on other people’s willingness to let us have, new supplies of foreign capital year after year on a vast and increasing scale.
I venture to say that there is not much difference between Canada and Australia in these things. These are the words of wisdom, born of experience, uttered by the Governor of the Bank of Canada, and a look at his views would do the Treasurer a great deal of good.
In this Budget, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Government proposes to increase taxation and bring in an additional £40,900,000. The Budget will do nothing to alleviate indirect taxes or to ease the burden that was imposed on the Australian people by the little budget of 1956, which, as honorable members remember, increased indirect taxes by £115,000,000 a year. This Budget incorporates all the pernicious provisions of the horror budget of 1952 or 1953, which made savage tax impositions of something like £450,000,000. Similar impositions are incorporated holus-bolus in this Budget. It contains no recognition of the fact that indirect taxes weigh most heavily on the people on low incomes and those who depend on pensions and superannuation. The arrangement that requires those on low incomes to weigh in through indirect taxes as much as is weighed in by those on high incomes is completely inequitable, and the Government should be doing something to correct the situation.
Income tax revenue will be increased by £22,700,000 a year as a result of the discontinuance of last financial year’s income tax rebate of 5 per cent. Why was this rebate given last financial year and why is it being discontinued this year? That is the 64-dollar question which probably nobody can answer. I think that the rebate was given last year in an attempt to create a favorable atmosphere for the imposition of about £16,000,000 in higher Post Office charges. The Government, having got the people accustomed to those additional charges, finally decided to take away the 5 per cent, rebate this financial year. The income tax rebate has been withdrawn at the first available opportunity, but the various tax impositions, like the babbling brook, unrelentingly go on forever.
I should like to direct the attention of honorable members to taxation revenue per head in order to show how taxation has run riot in this country. In 1949-50, direct taxes were £38 12s. 0±d. a head and indirect taxes amounted to £19 15s. Old. a head, making the total taxes £58 7s. Id. a head. In 1958-59, indirect taxes were £45 9s. 5d. a head and direct taxes were £67 13s. 7d. a head, making a total of £1 17 6s. 9d. a head. The estimated figures for the current financial year are £52 3s. 7d., £82 15s. 3d. and £139 12s. lOd. a head. So total taxes represent £139 12s. lOd. a head compared with £58 7s. Id. when Labour was last in office. That is the situation as indicated by the official figures provided in the Budget Papers. Such is inflation under the administration of this Government, Mr. Temporary Chairman. When will the Menzies Government take effective budgetary measures to arrest this unfortunate trend - this unrelenting inflationary trend? Surely it is no exaggeration to say that prices have run riot in this country to a greater extent than in most other countries. In the last ten years under this Government’s administration, prices in Australia have risen by 98 per cent. We know how that compares with the situation in other countries. In the United Kingdom, prices have risen by 50 per cent., in New Zealand by 52 per cent., in the United States of America by 18 per cent, and in Canada by 26 per cent.
The “ Treasury Information Bulletin “ indicates that the C series index for the six capital cities was 6 per cent, higher in the June quarter of this year than in the June quarter of 1959. So apparently prices arc still rising in this country.
– Yet wages have been pegged.
– Wages have not increased to the same degree, as the honorable member has indicated. The “ Treasury Information Bulletin “ shows that in the twelve months to June, 1960, the basic wage rose by 9s. a week in Sydney, 8s. a week in Brisbane, 1 ls. 3d. a week in Perth and 10s. a week in Hobart. But what happened in respect of the Commonwealth basic wage? It did not increase in accordance with rises in the C series index, because the Commonwealth Government intervened and prevented the workers from getting a fair go in this situation of rising prices. When the
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission said that industry had the capacity to pay - not the capacity to pass on wages increases, but the capacity to pay them - that was this Government’s response to the situation. As a result, no State basic wage is below the Federal basic wage, and some are well above it. That is all because of this Government’s intervention.
I should like to deal briefly with a survey conducted by the First National City Bank of New York, which showed that the Australian £1 has lost more value since 1949 than have the currencies of fourteen other countries. According to that survey, Australia came last in 1959, in terms of the value of currency, with a money value index of only 52 compared with the basic figure of 100 in 1949, and a figure of 61 in 1954. Great Britain, by contrast, had an index figure of 66, France 54, the United States 82, Germany 88 and Japan 78. Portugal was at the top of the list with 95, followed by Switzerland with 90, Belgium with 83, India with 82, Italy with 76, the Netherlands with 70, Sweden with 65, Greece with 54 and Finland with 59. I repeat that Australia came last of all, so bad has been the raging or creeping inflation, according to the way we care to describe it, under this Government. That is the evidence of the Menzies Government’s sorry record - a continual inflationary trend. In this regard, we have one of the worst records in the world.
I see that my time has nearly expired. That is unfortunate, because I have only scratched the surface, as it were, in detailing the large number of indictable offences with which this Government can be charged. Its failure to control interest rates lays it open to the most devastating charge of all. The fact that hire purchase has run riot in this country is surely a matter of great concern. In 1960-61 public enterprises are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with business enterprises for the available money. The Australian people are languishing for the want of local government finance. Many people are living in unsewered areas. In the Sutherland shire, a part of my electorate in the Sydney metropolitan area, where there is a population of about 100.000, there are 22,536 sanitary services a week. That is the sort of situation that one can find on the outskirts of Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne or any other city in Australia. This Government is losing control of the Australian economy and abdicating its authority in the field of economic responsibility. Moving in holus bolus with tremendous rapidity and g’reat enthusiasm are the industrial entrepreneurs and the speculators and exploiters who are doing all they can to make unprecedentedly high profits. If one studies the position one finds that £100 invested in Australia is capable of providing a better profit than a similar amount invested in perhaps any other country, and certainly in most other countries.
It is apparent that we can lay at the door of this Government the blame for a tremendous number of our problems. It can be seen from the Budget provisions, just as it was obvious from the Governor-General’s Speech delivered in this Parliament earlier in the year, that the Government has no intention of really coming to grips with any of these economic problems. Many activities in the hire-purchase field should obviously be stopped. Interest rates are running wild. Even the Commonwealth Government itself is unable to compete for investment finance because of the soaring interest rates that are now available in many quarters, and the sharp increase in these rates should obviously be arrested. More money is needed in Australia for public purposes. Honorable members opposite have talked about national development, of the need for roads and bridges and of the need to encourage primary industry. Unless we can bring a greater proportion of the Australian economy under the control of the democratically elected representatives of the people, we will be unable to achieve the results desired by the honorable member for Herbert and by most other thinking members of the community.
I believe that the Government is not facing the facts of the situation fairly and squarely. Some time ago it appointed a Constitutional Review Committee, which included among its members some of the best brains on the Government side and selected members of the Opposition. The committee was made up of a formidable number of fair-minded representatives of this chamber. It analysed the problems of the country. It examined carefully the need for the Commonwealth to acquire additional powers, especially in regard to monopoly powers and interest rates. It appears that every one of that committee’s, recommendations, which were quite numerous, will now be rejected by this Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), in the usual manner of speakers on the opposite side of the chamber, has devoted quite a large part of his speech to the problems of inflation. He has followed the lead of other honorable members of the Opposition, who have suggested that prices have increased by 96- per cent, or 98 per cent, over the last ten years. They have also contended that inflation is caused almost entirely by high profits. They have said nothing of our great developmental programmes, which exert strong inflationary pressures in the country. They have said nothing of the modern social conscience, which demands absolutely full employment, which in its turn exerts a strong inflationary pressure.
Further, Opposition speakers have said nothing of the other side of the story, which involves members of the community who have traditionally been considered supporters of the Labour Party, but who, in recent years, have been supporting the Government. While prices have increased by about 96 per cent, or 98 per cent., average weekly earnings have risen by more than 130 per cent. Furthermore, while this Government has been in office the proportion of national income going to wage and salary earners has risen from about 50 per cent, to about 60 per cent. These figures show that, far from penalizing the wageearning section of the community, the policies of this Government have most definitely benefited that section.
The honorable member for Hughes in the course of his speech made some airyfairy remarks about northern Australia. Those remarks revealed his ignorance. Apparently he knows nothing of what is being done to develop the north. He implied that nothing was being done. He made no mention of the fact that the work of the Katherine Research Station is to be doubled, or that a diversion dam is being built on the Ord River as part of a largescale experimental project involving the irrigation of 10,000 or 15,000 acres, for the purpose of ascertaining what should be done with large areas of the Kimberley district. He said nothing of the fact that during the last twelve months a committee has been working to discover what should be done in the Northern Territory by way of closer settlement to increase various kinds of primary productions, the most difficult task of that committee being to ascertain what can be done economically.
The honorable member shed crocodile tears for the primary industries. It is only a short time ago that honorable members on the opposite side of this chamber labelled any one who owned a sheep or an acre of land a wool baron. Apparently they have now changed their views.
When the honorable member for Hughes is challenged, however, to say what he would do to assist rural industries, which are, I admit, in some difficulty at the present time, he cannot make any suggestion at all. He has failed to realize that the entire Budget has been framed to assist the rural and exporting industries, because if there is any one section of the community that will benefit from anti-inflationary or deflationary measures, it is the exporting section, which is at present being squeezed between local cost increases and lower overseas prices. The whole tenor of this Budget shows that it is designed to assist that section of the community.
Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made some reference to the difficulties we have experienced in finding markets for all our products. Having made this reference, he then proceeded to attack bitterly the Japanese Trade Agreement, saying that it has done great harm to secondary industries in Australia. That trade agreement may have done something, in some small measure, to affect certain secondary industries in this country, but it is quite certain that if we had not had Japanese markets for our primary products over the last few years, not only the primary industries but also the secondary industries would have been harmed to a much greater extent than they may have been by the competition they have experienced from Japanese goods.
– Do you believe that’.’
– 1 certainly do. The honorable member for Hindmarsh made no mention of the fact that Japan is now our No. 1 buyer of wool. Last year Japan purchased 340,000,000 lb. of wool, showing a 40 per cent, increase in purchases during the currency of the trade agreement. The honorable member said nothing of the fact that Japan also purchased 789,000 tons of our f.a.q. wheat over the period that the agreement has been in operation, and now constitutes our second largest market for that commodity. She also purchased more than 100,000 tons of our sugar, and now represents our third best market for that product. Japan also expects to purchase more than 3,000,000 tons of our coal annually by 1965, and that country is by far our largest market for coal. I wonder how the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will react to that announcement. T hope he will approve of it.
I have great pleasure in supporting this Budget. It is not what any one would call a popular Budget, because no Budget designed to tackle problems of inflation could be called popular in the familiar meaning of that word. If the Government had brought down a Budget that the press and the general public might have been disposed to call popular, then in the present circumstances it would, in all likelihood, have been a dishonest Budget. You cannot reduce taxes and increase government payouts in times such as these if you are to bring stability and strength to the economy, because there are inflationary tendencies that must be overcome.
What is proposed in this Budget supplements previous policies announced early this year - banking policy, wage policy as applied to applications being heard by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and import policy - all of which were designed to have some effect in bringing inflation under control. The measure of success of these policies, which we should be able to assess towards the end of this year, will be the measure of assistance that these policies have been able to give to rural industries to enable them to win through in their struggle against increasing costs.
There have been criticisms of this Budget inside and outside the Parliament because it is, or has been described as, a safe Budget, but surely no person wants a Budget that will gamble with the resources of the country. Every person in the community is affected by what is done in the Budget. Surely, therefore, a Budget must be safe. There is no room to gamble when the livelihood of every person is involved.
There has also been the criticism that the Budget does not contain any incentives. I have the feeling that when people say there are no incentives they mean there are no handouts. Those who say that there are no incentives do not put forward suggestions as to the incentives that they would like to see provided, but I strongly believe that they say this because taxes have not been radically reduced or because handouts of one kind or another have not been greatly increased. Again I say that in such circumstances as the present, the pursuit of such policies would be dishonest.
Perhaps the most important criticism is that the Government has not reduced its expenditure in this period of inflation. Indeed, overall Commonwealth expenditure is £81,000,000 higher than it was last year. Those who criticize the Government for this should consider the items that make up the total of £81,000,000. It includes £10,000,000 for works and housing, £29,000,000 for increased payments to the States, £23,000,000 for increased social service payments at the old rates because of the greater number of people receiving social service payments, £8,000,000 for repatriation benefits for the same reason, £3,500.000 for debt charges and £2,500,000 for increased provision for redemptions. That expenditure is completely and absolutely inescapable.
A certain amount of new expenditure has arisen, and I challenge any person in this Parliament or outside it to quarrel with the new expenditure that has been brought into the Budget. In this respect, only £ 1 ,000,000 more will be spent this year than last year on the Melbourne to Albury railway, £8,500,000 on additional social service benefits, of which £4,200,000 arises from the change in the means test - I do not think that any critic of the Budget would quarrel with that - and £2,300,000 on additional repatriation benefits. In the present circumstances, when the Government is pursuing policies of rapid and vigorous development, it is completely impossible for Government expenditure to be reduced. It is true that efforts can be made to keep down the rate of increase, and the Government has done that. The increase in this Budget is £32,000,000 less than the increase in the previous Budget.
I said it was a pleasure to support the Budget, and this is so for two particular reasons. 1 am sure that others who are much better informed than I am will deal with these matters later in the debate. The first of them is the change in the means test, and I am happy that this change has been included in the Budget provisions, lt will be a very great benefit to many people. The second is a small but important thing. It is the provision of free hospital treatment to all service pensioners.
I want to examine, in the long term, the effect of rising costs and falling prices on our export industries. 1 hope mat not too many honorable gentlemen opposite will try to make my words say what they do not mean, but 1 have no doubt that if they wish to do so, there will be some opening for them. 1 question whether in me present circumstances this Budget is sufficiently severe, lt may not be often that a Treasurer hears this point raised, but I am really concerned about the long-term effects of the present situation on the export industries. With the exception of meat, there seems to be no possibility of prices rising to really satisfactory levels. Therefore, we seem to have three matters to consider. They may not all be compatible with each other. We have the effect of the Budget on rural industries which provide goods for export. We have the effect of it on our rate of development and on employment, which is very much bound up with development. If the Budget is as severe as rural industries would like it to be, as far as its effects on the costs of the rural industry are concerned, the rate of our development and our ability to employ every person in the community may be unduly affected. This poses problems that are not easily solved. In the circumstances, the Treasurer has probably brought down a Budget that is the best compromise. It remains to be seen in the future whether the costs of primary producers will remain tolerable or will become intolerable.
The importance of rural industries has often been emphasized and re-emphasized in the Parliament. However, I do not think it would be amiss to emphasize their importance once more. I believe that in the future, as in the past, rural industries will remain our main earners of overseas credits. (It is worth noting that about fifteen or even twenty years ago, when Canada was perhaps at the stage of development that we have now reached, it thought, with increased industrialization and growing population, that secondary industries would be able to take some of the burden of earning export credits from the shoulders of the primary industry. At that time, fifteen or twenty years ago, 80 per cent, of Canada’s exports were primary products, and to-day primary products make up the same percentage. I venture to say that the composition of our exports will not alter very much in the next fifteen or twenty years. A comparison between the pre-war years and the past decade shows that export earnings from primary products, excluding mining and quarries, have remained at a steady 80 per cent. The share that has gone to meat and wool has risen from 47 per cent, to 55 or 56 per cent, at the present time. The contribution made by secondary industries has risen from 5 per cent, in the pre-war years to 11 or 12 per cent, at present. This is an extremely useful 11 or 12 per cent., but there is no real likelihood of the figure growing dramatically in the coming years.
Looking at the import position, we find that we are not less dependent but more dependent than we once were upon our ability to service the imports that we need. Compared with the pre-war years, the proportion of our imports required for producer materials has risen from 40 per cent, to 50 per cent.; for producer equipment, from an average of 10 per cent, to 17 per cent.; and for straight-out consumer goods, the percentage has fallen. Through this pattern, we can see that we are now more dependent than ever before upon the ability of our rural industries to maintain a volume of exports of a sufficient value to service the imports that are vitally needed for our continued industrial expansion. lt has been estimated that our ability to export over the next five years must be increased by about £250,000,000. I believe that at this stage we should consider what rural industries have done in the past. Since 1946-47, our sheep population has increased by 60,000,000. Our production of wool on a greasy basis has increased by over 600,000,000 lb. The production of meat, in thousands of tons, has not quite doubled, but has very nearly doubled. AM this has been done with a labour force that is 20,000 smaller than it was in the prewar years - not 100,000 smaller, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh suggested. This has been made possible, not because properties have become larger and the holders of larger properties have bought out the owners of the smaller ones, but because all people in rural industries - whether they be large or small - have used the high prices of the post-war years to carry out a vigorous programme of capitalization and they are now quite obviously much more efficient than they had been in previous years. Despite this improvement in productive capacity, there is still a tremendous latent physical ability remaining in our primary industries to increase their production of the major commodities even more than they have in the past. This will depend upon many things which will not be as pleasing or fortuitous from their point of view as the circumstances of the last ten years. Except for meat, it is doubtful whether the economic capacity of these industries will be as good in the next ten years as it has been in the past ten years.
I think the Government has shown a recognition of this position in the establishment of the Development Bank, which undoubtedly will be of assistance. Whether the resources available to the bank at present will be sufficient to have a marked effect can perhaps be questioned, and it may be that in another year the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) will be able to increase the funds available to this institution to some extent.
If we want the economic capacity of our primary industries to expand over the next ten years it is worth taking a closer look at the income and cost position at the present time. The figures I am about to quote were issued by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In 1958-59, which admittedly was a bad year for prices, growers in the high rainfall wool areas showed a .5 per cent, return on their capital. The producers in the wheat and sheep areas, largely because of the good wheat year, made over a 4 per cent, return on their capital, and producers in the pastoral areas made a 1 per cent, return on their capital. Taking 1952-56 as the base period, I find that costs, expressed as a percentage of returns, have risen from 51 per cent, to 73 per cent. The costs at the present time compared with the base period have risen 16 per cent., and the returns, which are quite out of the control of this Government, as every one knows, have gone down 20 per cent. What of the future? It does not seem that the prices for any commodity except meat are going to be much more than all right. The present wool price is certainly not all right for a great majority of wool-growers.
Despite this, I strongly believe that a greater volume and value of exports are much more likely to come from our rural industries than from the secondary industries over the next few years. It is worth noting that a 1 per cent, increase in the volume of wool produced gives £4,000,000 in export funds at the present prices, and an extra Id. per lb. in the price of wool increases the national income or the overseas funds available to this country by £7,000,000. The meat or beef industry has a remarkable capacity to expand. I think we can expect greater returns from the beef industry in the coming years, especially if some of the ideas of my friend the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) for the expansion and improvement of the beef industry in Queensland can come to fruition in the next few years.
However, despite this, I repeat that there is a stimulus lacking in the present conditions because of the costs that the primary producers yet have to meet and the prices that they get for their commodities. Recent studies - I do not subscribe to them - have examined this position and have talked of devaluation or of subsidies as an answer to the plight of the primary industries. Subsidies can either be general - so much on a pound of wool - or they can be particular, a super, subsidy or a subsidy for developmental purposes. I do not like the sound of either of these answers because they arc last-ditch answers and we have not come to that stage yet. It is true that it is possible to compare a subsidy of this kind with a tariff for secondary industries because both the tariff and the subsidy increase output and employment. A developmental subsidy for difficult areas could add to our ability to export.
A developmental subsidy, too, would have the advantage over a tariff - looked at in this narrow context - because it would be a once-and-for-all business. Once the subsidy was paid that would be the end of it. Although I do not basically favour subsidies of any kind, arguments can be made out for the rural industries in this regard which are not dissimilar to the arguments which some people make for extremely high tariffs for secondary industries. At this point it might be worth while comparing the experience of the United Kingdom and the United States of America and, indeed, the experience of almost any other rural economy that has turned to an urban or industrial economy. As industrialization has reached an advanced stage nearly every country has found, so far, that urban incomes and industrial incomes have become much greater or unduly high compared with rural incomes.
Despite the vast system of subsidies in the United States of America that country’s rural incomes are, in general, about onethird of the urban or industrial incomes. The point is that every country going through this transitional stage from dependence upon rural industries to dependence upon secondary industries has had to introduce at some stage special measures for the assistance of primary industries. These special measures have, in most countries, been subsidies. However, the solutions other countries have devised for these problems are not necessarily ours and - in one sense our experience is different from the experiences of these other countries, in two senses. First, we are dependent upon rural exports to an extent that they are not and never were, and, secondly, our major commodity, wool, plays such a large part in the general economy and well-being of the nation that the rest of the resources of the nation at this stage are certainly not large enough to subsidize wool.
I am trying to underline what I believe to be the major economic dilemma of our time, that is, how to obtain an amalgum of our national objectives of full employment and an adequate and proper rate of development which is compatible with our ability to service these aims. If the pressure of rapid development is to lead to inflation in such a way that it cannot be contained without increasing costs over the next decade, there will be pressures brought to bear on our rural industries which may well be hard for them to bear. 1 should like to pose these rhetorical questions: With full employment and a very rapid rate of development, can inflation be contained? Will the terms of trade for our primary industries improve? Will economic arrangements sufficiently encourage rural industries to expand to service our export needs? If they do not, will secondary industry service our export needs? If the answer to these questions is “ No “, as I fear it will be, then it is necessary to see what the choice may be for the future. The choice of the future does not necessarily provide an easy answer. If I may, 1 should like to quote a certain section from a speech which the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) made to a Country Party conference in New South Wales. He said -
Notwithstanding all that the Government has done-
It has done a great deal, and they are my words - and all that industry efficiency has achieved, there is still the fact that, despite an increase of 11 per cent, in the volume of rural production in the last four years compared with the previous four years the net farm income fell by 11 ner cent, over the same period. While this was happening, the average weekly earnings of male employees increased by 20 per cent, and company incomes increased by 31 per cent. This has not put farmers out of business. But it raises two questions. Are farmers enjoying a fair share of the nation’s prosperity? Secondly, can the nation afford the risks to our development programmes which are inherent in diminishing incentive for expansion in the rural industries?
The second question which the Minister posed is indeed an important one. If a financial bulletin or a budget put forward on behalf of the Government is only meant to look one year ahead I am in complete agreement with it; but if a budget is meant to give some indication of what will happen over a five-years period, there are parts of the story which are not told. But I think it is unreasonable to expect any government to indicate what will happen five years ahead, because no government can think aloud in that way, least of all in relation to a budget. It must think, crystallize its thoughts, and then act. I am very glad to s;e that the statement made by the Minister of Trade shows that the Government is at least disturbed by the things of which I have been speaking.
– The Budget is supposed to give an indication of the state of the nation and to be a measure of the Government’s record in directing the affairs of the nation. I am afraid, however, that the Budget presented to us last week by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is a very unimaginative document which is no real guide to present economic trends and the consequences that are likely to flow from them.
The debate has centred, quite rightly, round the subject of inflation, which is certainly paramount over everything else that should engage our attention. I find some difficulty in understanding the present policy of the Government for dealing with inflation. Last year, ostensibly with the aim of relieving inflationary pressures, the Treasurer budgeted for a deficit. This was supposed to help in providing the answer to certain aspects of inflation. This year, however, the Treasurer no longer sees merit in budgeting for a deficit; he now desires to have a balanced budget, or even to show a surplus at the end of the financial year. There seems to be some inconsistency between the Government’s budgetary policy this year and its budgetary policy last year, which would indicate that there is a certain amount of floundering in the Government’s policy.
When the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) was brought face to face with the issue of inflation to-day, he indicated that he thought the Government should convene a conference of Premiers with a view to dealing with the problem, which has reached an alarming stage. However, he said that the Commonwealth did not have the power to deal with the problems that either arise from, or produce, inflation. When he was told that members of the Opposition were prepared to support all the measures necessary to give effect to the constitutional amendments that were recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee - a joint committee of this Parliament - the honorable gentleman seemed to imply that even with the increased powers in the hands of this Parliament other difficulties would be likely to arise. In other words, it would not matter what one suggested in regard to dealing with inflation; there would always be some hurdle or difficulty which would deny to this Parliament the opportunity of acting with the degree of authority needed to rectify the very grievous inflationary situation.
The main development of inflation in this country has been over the period of the last nine years, while this Government has been in office. During this Government’s term the problem has grown gradually and continuously. Apparently the Government has not the answer to inflation or, if it has, it has failed to apply it with that effectiveness which we rightly expect from a government.
Under this Government a great deal of the liquid assets of the country which would normally and rightly have been available, through the medium of public loans, for the financing of public works and to assist in relieving inflationary pressures, has been allowed to be channelled into the hands of certain interests engaged in a class of business that has done more to aggravate inflation than anything else I can think of. Savings banking business was once carried on exclusively by government institutions. Money deposited in savings banks was available, to a substantial degree, for investment in Commonwealth loans, which were raised to finance public works and the provision of government services. However, a year or two ago this Government opened the savings bank field to private trading banks. At the end of June this year savings bank deposits made with the private trading banks totalled £268,800,000. I feel that the use to which that money has been put, in many instances, is largely responsible for creating many of the inflationary trends from which we now suffer. I know that the use of savings bank deposits is confined to certain fields of investments. They are not used in the way in which money in the hands of trading banks would normally be used.
At the same time, the money that is flowing into the savings bank sections of the private trading banks is providing them with additional finance for lending purposes. This has relieved the pressure upon trading bank funds which have been largely put into the hire-purchase departments of the private banks.
Thus the savings bank deposits with the private banks have facilitated their financial arrangements so that to-day they have moneys available for hire-purchase business at high rates of interest. This has helped create a further inflationary trend. Moneys have been made available for all manner of items. The private banks have been able to finance the purchase of many such things although formerly they would not have undertaken that class of business to the present degree.
However, the moneys which have been deposited in the private savings bank have not been as substantially available for government loans. Had they been deposited in the Government’s savings bank they could have been made available to the Commonwealth or the States for the construction of schools and hospitals and for the provision of water, electricity and other things that are essential for the general development of our country.
May 1 say to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) that it seems undesirable that we should reduce the amount of money available for the development of these essential services of our country at the same time as the honorable gentleman is bringing to this country great numbers of additional people? 1 am very glad thai he is doing that but while we are increasing the population in that way, other things have to be thought of. In all government activities dealing with community life, convenience and comfort as well as the general development of this country should be considered. When I realize that the last three Commonwealth loans have been undersubscribed, I feel that the Government should not have allowed the sum of £268,000,000 to be diverted to another source. I am sure that the Minister for Immigration is sympathetic with the viewpoint that I express because no doubt he realizes the responsibility which rests upon him to provide the facilities required by those people who come to this country as a result of the policy for which he is responsible. I hope the Government will realize the necessity to extend the opportunities for employment by providing essential services such as housing and ensuring that school children will not require to be accommodated in corridors instead of proper class rooms.
Surely there should have been some forward thinking in regard to certain of the policies of the Postmaster-General’s Department. In that department the supply of equipment and cable and the training of technicians is a long way behind the urgent needs of the moment. This situation should have been foreseen by those at head-quarters who are responsible for general planning. I have numerous constituents who have been affected by this situation. One of them applied, over two years ago, for a telephone. I am instructed that as the installation of certain equipment is essential, it will be another two years before a telephone can be connected. lt seems to me that there has been a serious delay somewhere in undertaking work that is essential to this nation. State officers are not responsible for these delays. I am grateful for their help and courtesy. A comparable situation exists in relation to other government institutions and public works. This is not a moment at which we should arrest in any way the progress of this nation. We should give it an added impetus by ensuring that government institutions are able to carry out the essential duties required of them.
The Budget, as I have said, is very unimaginative. I know that is is very disappointing to many of our people. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, at a State conference held last Monday, strongly criticized the inadequacy of the Budget. The conference has been reported as follows: -
The delegate . . . said the R.S.L. might have to become a pressure group if the Federal Government did not increase the pensions. Chairman of the War Compensation Committee, Mr. Sharp, said war victims had been treated with callous indifference in the current Federal Budget. Conference decided unanimously to reel nest the national office of the R.S.L. to protest immediately to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition about the war pension plan in the 1960-61 Budget.
– And the rate is still less than the basic wage.
– Quite right. The one person in the community who has every right to the utmost consideration is the sufferer from war disabilities. He should receive greater recognition of his service to the country and certainly should enjoy a much higher pension than, is proposed in this Budget.
The age pensioners, too, have a real grievance against this Government for denying them greater relief than the proposed paltry 5s. a week. I earnestly hope that at a very early date the Government will ses the wisdom of again increasing the agc pension so that these unfortunate people may enjoy some relief from their present sad plight.
The wives of invalid pensioners have been denied the justice to which they are entitled. It is tragic that invalids have to suffer the added anxiety of inadequate financial provision for their wives. Widows’ pensions should also be increased by an amount greater than that proposed in the Budget.
I come now to one of the most serious of the Government’s omissions: I refer to its failure to make any provision for increased child endowment payments. I cannot understand this Government’s attitude towards child endowment. It claims credit for introducing the scheme, yet child endowment has not been increased by ls. since the Chifley Government went out of office in 1949. Th present Government certainly displays no realization of the present cost of caring for and educating children.
I now wish to discuss the Government’s attempt to deny the workers of this nation an increase in wages commensurate with the increase in the cost of living. In my view, the Government committed a very serious blunder in intervening in the case before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in order to deny the workers the increase to which they were justly entitled, having regard to the high cost of living to-day. It seems to me to be a most one-sided attitude for, while denying the workers an increase to which they are justly entitled, the Government allows big business interests to extract unlimited profits from the people. The Government has failed to restrain in any way the increasing demands upon the people by big business interests. I consider that the Government should have taken some steps, possibly with the co-operation of the State governments, to place some restraint upon those big business interests which are taking advantage of the present opportunity to increase prices unduly and unjustifiably. It would have been much fairer to require big business interests to make some contribution by way of a steadying of prices than to require the working people to make the whole contribution towards stemming the inflationary trend. In all the circumstances, I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has every justification for suggesting that this Budget does nothing towards solving the many problems confronting the nation at the moment. The Budget lacks both the imagination and stimulus essential to carry this nation forward. It certainly displays a serious lack of confidence in Australia’s ability to improve the living standards of its people. As proof of this we have the fact that in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, and New Zealand, the standards of living are higher than those of this country. When I was privileged to represent Australia on a visit to the United States, I was in the happy position of being able to quote to the Americans statistics relating to the high standard of living enjoyed by Australians. Americans were astonished at the high standard enjoyed by the Australian people and exclaimed, “ Why can’t we have a government like that in the United States? “ In those days, our price levels were the best in the world and our economy was in an extremely sound condition. Unfortunately the position has deteriorated so much since then that the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and even New Zealand are ahead of us. I earnestly hope that the Government will see the error of its ways, withdraw the Budget and offer something more to the people so that they will get benefits commensurate with their needs and a greater measure of social security.
– I have listened with interest to this debate, particularly in view of the newly-found sympathy of members of the Opposition for the great industries which earn our export income. Soon after I was elected to this Parliament nine years ago, I found that supporters of the Government, and particularly members of the Australian Country Party, who referred to the great primary industries were immediately chided by the Opposition with being parochial. We were told we were getting on the band wagon or pushing the barrow of the wool and beef barons. That was the Opposition’s attitude consistently. I was the victim at one time of very severe criticism by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who has always been one of my strongest critics. This afternoon, the honorable member for Hindmarsh delivered a very clever speech. The primary industries were his main theme, and. either deliberately or with intent, he sought to confuse the issue by mixing statistics relating to volume with values. It was so obvious that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) tried to correct him, but he did not take much notice because he knew that what the honorable member for Lalor was telling him was in conformity with what was happening in the primary industries.
Much has been said about the Budget and what is being done to meet the problems of inflation and costs. These problems are becoming very serious, particularly for the primary industries. The Government has made a bold approach to the question, but I think it has lacked some imagination, particularly concerning the cost structure and its effects. Any honorable member who criticizes a financial statement submitted in this chamber must be prepared to put forward an alternative. I have not heard an alternative proposal or a constructive suggestion from the members of the Opposition designed to improve or rectify the position.
– They have not a clue.
– As a matter of fact, I was not altogether surprised. I really did not expect them to put up any practical, concrete or sensible proposals to rectify the position. We know that for the past 40 years the Australian Labour Party has stuck to the out-dated and out-moded plank it has in its platform for the nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) might, very well have simply risen and said, “ We do not agree with a thing you have said. Tt is not in accord with our policy. You are a private enterprise Government. You believe in the freedom of the individual. We believe in socialization.” If he had done that, the debate could have been closed. We would have known then where we stood.
As I have said, if any one is prepared to criticize - and I am prepared to criticize this Budget to a certain extent - he must be prepared to put up an alternative or, in this connexion, to suggest how to ease the cost burden on the industries which earn our export income. 1 shall not traverse the ground that has been covered by other honorable members, but will deal with one industry which has been mentioned in this debate. 1 refer to the beef industry, which has been earning a considerable income for Australia.
Unlike my colleague, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), 1 believe that this industry has a great future. Its prospects of success would be helped considerably if practical assistance were forthcoming from this Government and the State Governments - if we had the cooperation of all concerned. As I have said in this chamber before, assistance could be given in the area I represent by providing better means of communication. That could be done by the expenditure of a few million pounds on roads to enable us to get young cattle into the Channel country and get them out again at the right time. When we have the roads, we must have transports to carry the cattle. We have huge cattle transports operating now in the Northern Territory and in the inland of Australia. We could reduce the cost burden by giving the transport operators exemption from sales tax on their prime movers and semi-trailers. They have not the benefit of good roads, but they are performing a service which is of great value to the nation, and by helping them we would give some relief to this great industry.
When I said that I was critical of the Budget, and particularly of this aspect of it, I did not mean to convey the impression that the Government had not done anything to assist our great primary industries, both nationally and internationally. The Government has been very prominent in promoting overseas sales. It has sent trade commissioners to a number of countries throughout the world. We have found new markets and have been assisted by our Export Payments Insurance Corporation, but unfortunately some of this trade has not been very beneficial because prices have fallen. I believe the Government has been sincere, and that it has done as much as it could to promote the sales of these commodities.
To show that my proposition for assistance to the beef industry is a sound economic proposal, I propose to analyse the losses Australia has suffered because we have not the facilities I have suggested. I shall cite some statistics, which are conservative so far as I can see. They relate to the period from 1891 to 1928, which is the last year for which I have figures. They reflect violent changes in Australia’s livestock population, due largely to drought. Let me refer first to the sheep population. In 1891, we had 106,400,000 sheep in Australia. We have not reached that figure since. In 1902 we had only 53,700,000 sheep, so that between 1891 and 1902, we lost 52,700,000 sheep. Some of those losses could have been averted if we had had a decent transport system. We lost 49.5 per cent, of our sheep. Between 1902 and 1910 our sheep population increased to 98,100,000, but another drought which extended from 1910 to 1916 caused a loss of 25,000,000 sheep. In the next drought from 1943 to 1947 we lost 28,900,000 sheep.
In the beef cattle industry in Queensland, we had 6,600,000 cattle in 1894 but in the 1902 drought we lost 4,600,000 head. We experienced another drought which extended from 1921 to 1928 and we lost 2,200,000 cattle. Even if we could have saved only one-half of the stock that we lost in droughts, I venture to say that on present-day values we could have constructed all the sealed roads that we need between New South Wales and the Northern Territory and still have money in hand.
I believe that I have put forward a practical and economical proposition. The Government could assist the States more than it has. We spent a considerable amount of money on the beef promotion scheme which was inherent in the fifteen-year meat agreement with Great Britain. In my own electorate the Commonwealth has spent between £300,000 and £400,000 on roads, but the jobs that were begun were never completed. Some thousands of pounds still remain to be spent, but this is the. last year of the scheme and the job is nowhere near completion. Some of the work that has been done has already deteriorated to such an extent that the old roads, which were just bush tracks, are being used again. Even if acceptance of my proposition means that there will be a little more inflation,
I think that it will be worth while because the country will benefit in the long run. Why does the Government not complete the job that it set out to do, and thus show that it is sincere in its approach to this question?
We have a Liberal-CountryParty coalition government in Queensland which has approached this matter in a common-sense way. It is tacking the problem, but the job is too big for Queensland because it has not the resources to do the job properly. I appeal to the Government to give serious thought and consideration to my proposition which I regard as being economical and sound.
I want to mention now the sales tax on agricultural machinery and to point out an anomaly that exists in the act. It provides that agricultural machinery, implements, equipment, material and spare parts shall be exempt from sales tax, but there is no mention of materials which are used in repairing agricultural machinery. An exemption from sales tax on materials used in repairing equipment may be issued at the discretion of the Taxation Branch, but this exemption extends only to materials used in the repair of machinery used for sowing and harvesting. An exemption is not granted on materials used to repair ploughs and tillage equipment which are vital for the preparation of the ground before the crop is sown. This anomaly is causing confusion in the minds of the engineers who repair agricultural equipment and the farmers who do their own repairs.
I know that the act would be open to abuse if the exemption were made general. Sometimes in legislation where there might be loopholes a blanket cover is provided with the result that the honest and the dishonest alike are penalized to the same extent. But the majority of people are honest. We should take the risk and make the penalty heavy for those who evade the law and give relief to those who do not. The Government could make the penal clause in the act very strict in its application.
I wish to mention again the zone allowance which is granted to people who live in outback areas. Some relief and encouragement should be given to these people who do not enjoy the same privileges and amenities as do people who live closer to the capital cities. A study of the map of Australia will reveal that zone A covers the north-western part of New South Wales, the south-western part of Queensland, the Northern Territory and certain areas in Western Australia. Here is the anomaly - the centre of Australia is in zone B. This is an area which has to rely on motor transport to bring goods hundreds of miles from the rail head, yet other areas which are served by sea, air, rail and road are also in zone B. 1 do not want to deny the zone allowance to any one who receives it now. I suggest that the zones should be reviewed and increased to three. If this were done, people would be encouraged to go into the outback areas where there are limited means of transport and where costsare higher than they are along the sea coast where many different forms of transport are available.
I support the Budget. Like the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) I believe that it could have gone a little further. It could have been more drastic in certain respects and it could have given more relief in others. I believe that this Budget represents a sincere and bold attempt by the Government to deal with the problems which face us to-day and which may face us in the future. Our main problem is still that of inflation and costs. I am not one of those who suggest that the level of the basic wage is the cause of these problems. The modern equipment that we need to-day is very expensive, and this makes it difficult for us to reduce our costs.
Let us consider the example of the costly equipment that is used on the construction of most of our main roads and highways, and compare the way in which it is used generally with the way in which similar equipment is used on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Frequently, in general use, this expensive equipment lies idle a good deal of the time, and all this idle time adds greatly to our costs. On the Snowy Mountains scheme, however, the equipment is worked round the clock. Two or three shifts a day are worked if necessary. Most of our other construction work could be undertaken in the same way. The present system of having costly equipment idle a good deal of the time adds greatly to our costs.
– Why not alter it?
-We have tried to alter it in certain respects in some of our minor industries. I recall that we suggested that hours of work be changed in one industry and that two shifts be worked in order to avoid the hottest hours of the day. The greatest opponents of the plan were the unions. So the solution of these problems is not as easy as it sounds. In these matters, I look for support from our friends on the Opposition side of the chamber. I think that these suggestions are reasonable. I do not propose that wages be reduced, or anything like that. If a man gives reasonable effort for his wage that is all right with me.
Finally, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I repeat that this Budget represents a sincere and bold attempt to deal with our problems. The Government’s approach to the situation is not a popular one, but I think that in twelve months we shall be getting beneficial results from this Budget.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have listened with great attention to Opposition speakers this evening, and I should like to deal briefly with the remarks made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), which were ably answered in detail by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), who represents an agricultural area. I cannot help pointing out the great insincerity of the observations on agriculture made by the honorable member for Hughes. They indicated a complete lack of knowledge of the subject, because his arguments and complaints were based on things that do not exist. This is indicative of the kind of cheap propaganda that Opposition members attempt to make out of a popular idea.
The honorable member for Bonython also complained that the inflationary pressures with which we are beset have been caused almost entirely by the freedom accorded to certain classes of business to do a variety of things. We have heard much talk about big business and hire purchase. We should do well to reflect, when we talk about the horrors of hire purchase, big business and the like, who are the big business and hirepurchase interests. I wish to remind honorable members that many thousands of people are shareholders in companies the profits of which, whatever they may be, are distributed among the shareholders. Indeed, I have no doubt that some of those shareholders are looking at me now from the other side of the chamber. Big business represents the people. Admittedly, there are a few managers who receive big salaries which, no doubt, they earn.
The Opposition’s tactics of trying to scare the public with the bogy of hire purchase and big business are unrealistic, particularly in respect of hire purchase, which provides an outlet for the investment of the savings of one section of the community, as a result of which other sections of the community are enabled to buy goods and thereby provide a market for the manufacturers who, in the manufacture of those goods, provide employment for the workers. Sound, conservative hire-purchase activity is one of the greatest benefits that Australia has had, Mr. Temporary Chairman. This sphere of activity has been of great importance in our financial affairs, and I suppose it can be said that the financial affairs of the country are of the greatest importance to the members of this Parliament. That may be thought by some to be the greatest under-statement of the year.
Public opinion both before and after the delivery of the Budget speech must be studied. That study is of great consequence to Government supporters. The study of public opinion on the Budget reveals great confusion, but one thing is very clear. All the statements about the Budget made on behalf of responsible bodies and organizations have one thing in common: They all call for the reduction of taxation in all of its various forms, greater government expenditure in a variety of fields, the promotion of progress and development, and the controlling of inflation. It is very unfortunate that there is seldom any attempt to make constructive suggestions and follow them to their logical conclusions. Even the analyses of the requirements of the Budget which are made by the leader writers and writers of special articles in the newspapers present perfect examples of the confusions and contradictions that appear in the consideration of budgetary matters, thus indicating the tremendous difficulties inherent in the financial affairs of modern government. The general cries a-e, “ Spend less “, “ Spend more “, “ Tax less “ and “ Tax more “.
This Budget is an honest and therefore genuine attempt to strike the happy balance between these demands. I sincerely believe that while we have every one a little unhappy we have good government. There is always a risk, of course - an element of a gamble - with respect to the public reaction and the public acceptance of responsibility both for events in Australia and for events overseas. The need to strike this balance is, therefore, a sound reason for the Government changing its policy, or its Budget approach, from year to year. It is absolutely essential, of course, that this should be done.
I think one of the main questions that we should ask is: What does the average man or woman in the street think about it? What does the non-expert say? Does he really believe that the country is ruined, as has been suggested by almost every speaker on the opposite side of the chamber? Does he really think that the living standards are poor? Of course he does not. Reflect for a moment on the rapid growth of Australia, the security of employment, the medical and hospital benefits available, the adequate provision for retirement, the fact that retail stores are full of non-essential goods - which, by the way, are being purchased in great quantities - the fact that very few people are without private motor transport, and finally that there are good prospects for further steady improvements if we are prepared to work for them. What more could any reasonable man or woman require? The only vital question that he or she may ask is this: Is this a false prosperity and can it last?
– Can it?
– I think it can, given sense and co-operation from honorable members of the Opposition. This is where the sanity of a sound government comes in, a sound Liberal-Country Party Government that has no time for sensationalism or tor the vaudeville acts that we have seen put on by honorable members opposite.
The great weaknesses of the Opposition’s arguments against this Budget were amply displayed by its Leader on Tuesday night. His display was more suited to a Broadway musical or a Wirth’s circus performance. He did not offer the sound, logical argument that we are entitled to expect from a responsible leader.
I repeat that there is no question about our prosperity. The question for the Government is how that prosperity can be maintained and increased. There is also no doubt that we are on the verge of losing our prosperity through inflation. On this point J will agree, for once, with members of the Opposition. This is our one major problem. No doubt we will hear many people saying they are sick of the word “ inflation “. I have no doubt that before this Budget debate is finished honorable members of this Parliament will be sick of it, as will the members of the press gallery. But unfortunately we must continue to talk about it. We must continue to make the public conscious of it. It is better to be sick of it than sick from it. The exporters. particularly in the primary industries, are already sick from it, financially sick and getting sicker.
The Australian public is indebted to an organization known as the Institute of Public Affairs of Victoria, for its recent booklet entitled “ Inflation - Everybody’s Business “. It should be read by every thinking person and every responsible person in all sections of the community, from big business to the trade unions. It is a concise review, clearly illustrated, giving the facts about inflation, and endeavouring t.-. answer such questions as: What is inflation? Does inflation matter? Why is it so bail? Who is to blame and who benefits from the high prices?
There is no doubt that the fight against inflation is everybody’s concern. To my mind the problem is chiefly concerned with cash payments for wages, salaries and services on the one hand, and prices on the other hand. Why are we getting out of line with the rest of the world? We have heard many times during this Budget debate thai costs in Australia are not in any way comparable with those in other countries. To understand why, we must obviously study the different systems in operation in the various countries. What do we find is the major difference between Australia and other countries? I think that basically the main difference is the arbitration system in operation in this country. We believe in this system. We could not do without it. But any system should be looked at from time to time. We must ask ourselves whether it is working realistically. Is it soundly based?
I believe that we can chase this problem round and round, skirting the fringes of it and not getting anywhere, unless we realize that no one gets any benefit in existing circumstances, and many are getting a really raw deal. The very people who think they are getting benefits are very soon disillusioned, especially when they come to evaluate their savings and make arrangements for their retirement. Why can we not reorganize our thinking about our arbitration system? This is a national responsibility, and we cannot continue to skate around it. We must face it, even if it involves temporary political oblivion.
We see responsible Labour organizations - the Australian Council of Trade Unions is one of them - demanding at the present time higher real wages and, in the same breath, shorter working hours. How unrealistic can you get? They are doing this at a time when the rank and file of their membership does not want shorter hours, knowing the results that would follow. These members do, however, want and are entitled to higher real wages, so that they may obtain the goods that will help them to enjoy their leisure, rather than have merely a certain number of hours in which to loaf.
As our productivity increases we should look, first, I believe, for longer holiday periods and better retirement allowances. Above all, we should try to ensure that more goods and services are available. This inane support of demands for shorter working hours in this time of crisis in our economic system is completely beyond my comprehension and, I think, the comprehension of practically all the people of Australia. I am reminded of the sage who said that the trouble with more leisure time is that pretty soon you find yourself working overtime to pay for the hobbies you have taken up.
The Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party want to have it both ways. If the Leader of the Opposition was seen daily in this chamber trying to put a 2-in. steel bolt into a 1-in. hole, he would be certified and we would lose the pleasure of his company. But he is mentally and vocally attempting this exercise daily, and with impunity. The Australian Labour Party calls this a lifeless Budget. I would remind the House and the people of Australia that if the present Labour Party came to power it would mean the death of the country.
I have already briefly mentioned the vital importance of inflation in the economy as affecting the exporter, and particularly the exporter of primary products, upon whom the welfare of our country depends to such a great extent. I want to mention more particularly the wool industry, which is by far our largest primary industry. Wool-growers are selling their product at world market prices without having any real control over their costs of production. Must we wait until this industry is completely bankrupt before we do anything to help it? Let us face the fact that continued inflation, over which the wool-growers have no control, with a falling price for wool, will definitely bankrupt the industry, and indeed will bankrupt the nation.
When discussing our prosperity, we hear glib talk of how good we are, what good managers we are, what good workers we are, and how good is our productivity. All these things contribute to our standard of living. However, the plain fact is that our excellent standard of living, when compared with most countries, comes from the sheep’s back. Wool is to us what oil is to other prosperous countries. Wool provides the jam and cream on our bread. As a matter of fact, it almost provides the bread also. When we talk of internal productivity, we do not realize that wool requires a relatively small number of manhours to produce and is exchanged for products which require many more manhours to produce overseas. This is one of the main reasons for our high productivity. Without the benefit of wool, our over-all productivity would be materially lowered. Unless our economy is stabilized and unless we face this fact of life, we will certainly have to take our bread without any jam or cream. I believe that we would, in this situation, have to provide large subsidies or an alteration in our exchange rate in order to keep our producers solvent. I agree that this would be a shocking situation, but we must realize that it will occur unless something is done to keep the costs of these industries at a reasonable level.
Much has been said about the Government’s policy of not interfering with producer organizations but permitting them to control their own affairs. This is a very good policy and it is democratically the right policy. However, I appeal to the wool-growing industry, in the emergency in which the wool producer organizations find themselves, to get together before it is too late, because I consider that it is later than they think. The dangers of disorganized organizations are too great. Responsible government, whatever its basic policy may be, cannot continue to ignore indecision and lack of unanimity in such a vital industry. I have made an independent study of these matters and I believe that the position in the industry is caused by too many ideas and not enough concrete plans. Reason can and must prevail.
Finally, may I say that there is only one basic alternative to our economic difficulties in the midst of plenty? We must face the basic proposition of adjusting wages and costs to prices or prices to wages and costs. The first method has proved a failure. The proposition of the Australian Labour Party of more and more for less and less is the true enemy of the worker, the producer, the fixed income groups, the pensioners and the nation.
– Order! On a number of occasions to-day, there has been too much audible conversation in the chamber. I ask honorable members to keep in mind that some members are not equipped with voices as strong as those of other members, but they too should be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1960. Tariff Board Bill 1960. Customs Bill 1960.
Unemployment in Queensland - Trade Union Levies - Perth Airport - Meat Industry - National Development - Trade with Communist Countries - Communism.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has asked me to bring to the notice of the Government the contents of a telegram which he received to-night from Mr. K. Baynton, secretary of the Gladstone Trades and Labour Council. The telegram reads -
Due collapse seasonal industries central Queensland state of emergency exists request you endeavour have made substantial grants to relieve situation this area.
The employment position in central Queensland has been deteriorating for some time. As the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) knows full well, a public meeting was held recently in Rockhampton and was attended by representatives of every section of the community. Certain resolutions were carried, and facts were placed before this Government and the Queensland Government. I was in Rockhampton, Townsville and Bowen in recent weeks. Business people in Rockhampton told me that business was depressed. They said that when the meat works were operating, there was a general measure of prosperity in the area, but this no longer existed. In Townsville, I was told the same story. Bulk loading of sugar has been introduced at Townsville and as a result 300 waterside workers are no longer required.
The major cause of the depressed conditions from Gladstone to Townsville, through Rockhampton and Bowen, is the fact that meat workers will have their shortest season on record due, first, to the drought conditions that have prevailed in the cattle raising areas. Then, a lucrative market for hamburger meats exists in the United States of America and cattle, which normally would be regarded as store cattle and which would be treated in 1960 to become frozen meat, has been sent to this market. In consequence, we will have the longest slack period for meat workers in Queensland’s recent history. Is it any wonder that the Leader of the Opposition has received a telegram which I read to the House a few moments ago! As the Trades and Labour Council requests in that telegram, substantial grants will have to be made and made quickly if this Government is prepared to stand up to its responsibility and assist the Queensland Government. It is all very well for Government members to come here and talk about prosperous conditions and so on during the Budget debate, but the position is not prosperous for a man who is without a job.
The future of the men who are usually engaged in the meat industry in Queensland is pretty bleak, particularly when we consider the high costs of commodities in those areas and the very low amount that they will get from this Government to assist them during their period of unemployment.
Queensland is crying out for development. Private investors igo there and open small factories, but they build factories of major proportions in New South Wales and Victoria. When you ask them why, they reply that those are the States with large centres of population and a good home market. It is true that Queensland is underdeveloped and that it has a small population. The present Country-Liberal Party Government in the State applied to this Commonwealth Government for financial assistance to reconstruct the TownsvilleMount Isa railway. I will discuss that matter during a later debate, but I want to refer to it now in order to get an indication of the Government’s intentions with regard to Queensland.
The State Government first applied to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a loan. The request was refused, after a delay of two years. The Queensland Government then applied to this Government for assistance and it was offered a loan, but not a straight out grant. In fact, this Government only offered to guarantee a loan of £20,000,000. So £10,000,000, which is required to make up the total cost of the construction of the railway, will have to come from the normal loan funds of the State. In other words, other loan works will have to be curtailed. Those works are principally road construction jobs upon which the men engaged in the meat industry, who will become unemployed, could be re-employed.
The Commonwealth Government is supposed to be interested in development and defence. It should build the roads that are required in Queensland and make grants available to the Queensland Government in order to relieve the unemployment position in the State. The Commonwealth should make grants to enable the construction of an all-weather road from Rockhampton to Longreach and another from Townsville to Mount Isa. Those roads will have a great developmental value, in addition to meeting defence requirements. But recently, a meeting was held at Bourke to ask the Commonwealth Government to make available funds for the building of a road from Bourke to Mount Isa, through the Channel Country in order to divert to New South Wales the cattle from that area that normally go to the Queensland meat works. The Queensland Government asked the Commonwealth to co-operate, and supply funds to enable it to build a shorter road from the Channel Country to the rail-head at Quilpie. The Commonwealth Government scrubbed the request and wiped the Country Party Premier in that State. If he was a Liberal Party Premier, this Government might have a different outlook, but as a Country Party Premier he was wiped right off.
I ask the Government to make available substantial grants, as requested by the Trades and Labour Council, to enable employment to be found for men who face a pretty bleak period of unemployment. I ask the Government to act now and not to procrastinate, because, according to that telegram I read, a state of emergency exists. Something cannot happen next week or next month. I appeal to the Government to take into account its lack of action in making grants available to Queensland in the past and to do something to meet this crisis which exists, and improve the prospects for Bowen, Townsville and Rockhampton. If the Government made the funds available much could be done to relieve the threat of unemployment. The threat is real. A crisis does threaten in north Queensland. I will read the telegram again -
Due collapse seasonal industries central Queensland state of emergency exists request you endeavour have made substantial grants to relieve situation this area.
I leave it to the Government to do something in this matter.
.- The speech that we have just heard from the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) contributes nothing whatever to the employment position in Queensland. It is not true to say that there exists a state of depression among the business people of Rockhampton or the other towns along the coast of Queensland.
– Do you not believe the telegram from the Trades and Labour Council?
– The honorable member would be well advised to mind his own business and to stick to his own electorate, because when he comes into this House and attempts to knock towns on the Queensland coast which are making steady progress, and whose people are enjoying great prosperity, he is doing a great disservice to those towns and to Queensland. A state of depression does not exist in those areas. In the city of Rockhampton during the last four years there has never been a week when the council had not had over £1,000,000 worth of building programmes approved. That is not bad for a city of 45,000 people and it does not indicate any state of depression. It is interesting to hear the honorable member for Kennedy, who has often rebuked me in this House in the past for saying that Queensland was underdeveloped, now state that it is underdeveloped. If there is any underdevelopment in Queensland, the responsibility for the position lies fairly and squarely at the door of the various Labour administrations over the last 50 years.
The honorable member talks about roads to be built. Let me remind him that in his own electorate, under the previous administration in Queensland, the roads were in a shocking state and were kept in a shocking state; but over the last three years since we have had a change of government in Queensland there has been magnificent development in the building of roads in that State. The Bruce Highway, which is named after a venerable gentleman who was with us in this House, has been given a bitumen surface for almost the whole way from Brisbane to Cairns. Only a small portion of that road remains to be bituminized. and yet three years ago, after all those years of Labour administration, hundreds of miles of it had not been bituminized. The Queensland Government has a great deal to do in order to catch up with arrears of work attributable to the neglect and lackadaisical administration of the Gair Government, the Hanlon Government, the Forgan Smith Government and all the other Labour Governments during the last four decades. As I said in Rockhampton to an unemployment committee of which I am a foundation member, it is idle in trying to solve this problem for any one to say that we should go to the Federal Government and get a grant. The honorable member says, “ Get a grant to build a road from Rockhampton to Longreach “. How many of the unemployed meat workers would be employed in the building of a road from Rockhampton to Longreach? Everybody knows that to-day road-building is a highly mechanized job, and very few unskilled labourers are employed in that job.
– You tell the meat workers that. I move among them and live among them, and I know that the great majority of those of them who are looking for jobs to-day are either unskilled or semiskilled in any trade. We have to look for something that will give them employment for their hands. All this airy-fairy talk, used in an attempt to make political capital out of people who are out of work, does nothing but contribute to their misery. It is building up hopes that a fairy godmother - the Commonwealth Government - is going to come in and give millions of pounds. For what? To build a road, the honorable member for Kennedy says - to employ a mere handful of these men on work the plans for which are not even on the drawing board. How miserable to hold that up as a hope to men who are at the moment unemployed!
The unemployment committee to which I have referred has been meeting regularly. I am one of the only two members of it who do not belong to the Labour Party. I believe that we have the confidence of that committee. Week after week over the last couple of months we have been searching for ways and means of bringing some relief to those people who happen to be unemployed due to seasonal conditions, and we believe we are getting somewhere. But we will not get anywhere when people scream out that Queensland is depressed, that it is finished, and utter all this other miserable talk such as we have heard from the honorable member for Kennedy to-night.
What has happened in the Queensland meat industry this year is that, due to drought conditions in the southern corner of the State, southern buyers have gone as far north as Townsville to purchase their cattle. They have purchased cattle for the local market and there has been no cattle, or little cattle, left at this time of the year for the overseas market. So we see a falling-off in that principal industry, due to those seasonal conditions. It is something that has to be measured up to and worked out, and the men and women of the Rockhampton district are quite capable of working it out They are moving along in that direction, and they resent anybody telling them that their towns are knocked down and depressed.
The honorable gentleman says that industry does not come to Queensland. I tell him that industry will never come to Queensland while people like himself knock the State from time to time, and talk about depression and misery in that place. What man in business anywhere in Australia or overseas would think of starting a business in a place which a member of the Federal Parliament stands up here and describes as a depressed area which is losing population? There is no reason to fear for the future of Queensland. It is in good hands, and these emergencies that come upon us will be met by clear-thinking men who are conscientious in their desire to help the people who are out of work at the moment.
I urge the honorable gentleman from Kennedy to join with us in our endeavours to find occupations that will employ these men and women who are out of work, and to stop knocking the State of which he is a representative here.
.- The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) did not set out to knock Queensland. He did not knock Queensland. He directed attention to the shortcomings of the people who represent Queensland on the Government side of this chamber. He pointed to the fact that Queensland has fifteen representatives on the Government side out of a total of eighteen in this chamber, and that they are useless to the people of Queensland. In fact, Queensland might just as well be represented here by fifteen lamp posts as far as any good those fifteen honorable members opposite do in relation to the development of that State. They never raise their voices for their State. They always line up behind the Government in anything it does. They always line up behind the Government when any challenge is made to it in regard to the things it does not do. There is not even one of them who at any time crosses to the Opposition side when issues affecting Queensland are raised.
The honorable member for Kennedy has made a plea for the meatworkers of Gladstone who are out of work. He wants them put into work. He wants a Commonwealth grant to enable them to get work. But all that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) says is, “ Meatworkers cannot make roads “. Well, meatworkers cannot starve. Meatworkers have got to do something in the off season, and they always have done something when they could not be employed in the meatworks in the off season. This year the off season is longer than usual, and their needs are greater than usual. One of the reasons is that Queensland beef is not being bought by the Americans for the making of hamburgers.
That makes me change the metaphor. Queensland is represented in this Parliament by a hamburger representation. It is not the real meat. It is a made-up variety. They are not Queenslanders at all. They just happen to represent Queensland electorates, and they come down here to pander to the big interests of Sydney and Melbourne. Why do they not fight for their State? Why do they not demand of the big interests whom they support that some of them, like the Shell oil interests, the Ampol oil interests, or the Vacuum oil interests, establish an oil refinery somewhere along the Queensland coast instead of down in the southern part of the continent below the 30th parallel of latitude? Why do they not demand that some big industry be established in Queensland? This is the top part of our continent. Unless it is filled and developed the whole of Australia will be lost. The people opposite who represent Queensland electorates should not be so smug, so complacent, so self-satisfied and so indifferent to the needs of their State that they will not even raise their voices to support another member from their State when he makes a plea for money to be spent there.
The honorable member for Kennedy pointed to the treatment meted out by this Government in the matter of the Mount Isa railway, compared with its treatment of the unified railway system from Albury to Melbourne and the South Australian system from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. In relation to these two State railway systems, the Commonwealth Government is making a very considerable contribution. The Commonwealth is accepting its responsibilities in regard to the unification of these railways. In regard to the Mount Isa railways system the Commonwealth has merely advanced the money after a long delay - after it could not borrow it abroad. But the Queensland taxpayers will have to pay it all back. The Queensland taxpayers have to pay their share of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Queensland’s population numbers one-tenth of the people of Australia, and Queensland taxpayers will pay one-tenth of the cost of £400,000,000 for that hydro-electric scheme. They will pay £40,000,000 for a scheme that benefits two States principally - New South Wales and Victoria - and South Australia incidentally.
Where are the voices from Queensland demanding that Commonwealth money be spent on some scheme in Queensland? Government members from Queensland never speak on that issue. They have all got laryngitis, or they are frightened of the big white master, frightened to raise their voices for fear they lose their endorsements. They are prepared to come here merely to be ciphers, prepared to be counted when the divisions are on. I will mix my metaphors as much as I like in order to prove my point. I never saw a more inept or a more useless collection of people representing a State than the people on the other side who represent Queensland electorates. The Tasmanians join with everybody from their State, Liberals and Labourites alike, to push the interests of the State. They act on joint deputations, senators and members both. They try to do something for their State. But it is useless to expect these people from Queensland to do anything. The best thing the people of Queensland can do in 1961 is to forget them, as they have forgotten Queensland.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. In the course of his remarks, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that I had said that meat workers could not build roads. I said nothing of the sort. I said that the project that was proposed by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) would not provide enough employment to meet anything like the needs of the meat workers in their jobs.
– I rise merely to support the case put by my colleague the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). I ask myself what sort of a world of myth and imagination can we live in when we hear a speech such as that made by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) who, to the misfortune of the Navy, was the Minister for the Navy during a Labour regime If the honorable member wants to argue about a matter concerning a constituency that is not his own he has a responsibility to know the facts. What has happened? My colleague has explained the conditions quite clearly. Due to climatic conditions, export cattle are not passing through the Rockhampton and Gladstone meat works and that has caused - a temporary problem in employment in this area.
The honorable gentleman said that unemployment was large scale. On the contrary, the number of male applicants foi employment in the Rockhampton area at the end of July, 1960, was only twenty more than at the end of July, 1959. Indeed, applicants for employment in the whole central area of Queensland, running right up the coast, are much fewer than they were at this time last year. The honorable member for Kennedy claimed that nothing was being done about this situation. 1 point out, Mr. Speaker, that the Queensland Minister for Labour instructed the Co-ordinator-General of Works to give special attention to the problem of central Queensland. It was announced on 26th July that the State Government had approved of new borrowings totalling £872,000 by the Rockhampton City Council, the Gladstone Town Council and the shires associated with those areas. That figure represented an increase of 70 per cent, on the borrowings approved for the corresponding period last year. There, Mr Speaker, you find positive evidence of what has been done by the Queensland Government and by the co-ordinating committees of one of which my colleague happens to be a member. Those committees have done their best to ensure that the number of registrants for employment is kept to a minimum.
I shall deal with two other matters which were mentioned in the bellowing performance of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). In the first place, the £20,000,000 approved for the Mr Isa railway line is the greatest amount that has ever been approved by the Commonwealth Government for the help of any undertaking of a State Government. The work will be a magnificent achievement and an enormous amount of organization will be required to permit the job to get under way. Secondly and exclusively on a national level, under the Budget for 1960-61, the amount to be borrowed on behalf of State Governments has been increased by £10,000,000 and also the amount of finance to be made available to the State Governments on other accounts including State grants will be increased by about £40,000,000.
– Now give us the whole picture.
– If you had listened and understood, you would have got the whole picture. I think, Mr. Speaker, that you and most sensible people will come to the conclusion that the case presented by the honorable member for Capricornia is an exact one and that the argument concerning depression advanced by the honorable gentleman who first spoke on the subject is not merely wrong but is notoriously wrong. This continual harping on depression and unemployment can do nothing but harm to the people of central Queensland. I hope that the argument put forward by my colleague will become known because it must discredit the Labour Party Opposition and prove to the Australian people that the Opposition is hoping for depression in its attempt to win a few votes and get a little support from the area of Queensland concerned.
.- I think that the debate, so far this evening, is nothing less-
– Speak up.
– You will hear me before I finish. I think this debate has been a rather indifferently carried out exercise in the form of a diversion. Apparently, out of a sense of goodwill, the proposal on which I intended to speak this evening was communicated to members of the Opposition and it seems that they had some idea of stifling what I had to say. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) made a miserable and half-baked attack on the honorable and very vigorous member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). Then the Leader of the Opposition- (Mr. Calwell) came in to bat. What did he do? Did he advance any solid, sensible or rational argument? Not a bit of it. The honorable gentleman followed the line which he usually adopts in debate when hopelessly out of his depth. He resorted to personal abuse and the cheap sneer. It is a source of intense annoyance to him and to other members of the Opposition that for over ten years Queensland has been represented in this Parliament by so many Liberal Party and Australian Country Party members.
Having said that, I want to move on to what I have had in mind to say to-night. Yesterday I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Mahon) explicitly whether the Government had considered or would consider protecting many thousands of good Australian citizens from being obliged to pay moneys for the purpose of bringing certain people to this country from overseas. The Minister, in equally explicit language, replied that this was a matter solely for the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I hope I may, without giving offence, say to the Minister and to the House that there is a respectful point of view to the contrary to be put on this matter.
This levy involves two things: First of all, it involves an individual’s liberty. He is told that he must do something. Secondly, it involves an individual’s property. Some honorable gentlemen may say that not much property is involved. I do not think that that is sufficient answer. No matter how little it may affect his property, if it involves his property at all a principle is quite clearly involved. It has taken eight or nine centuries for the British parliamentary system to determine that Parliament alone should have the power to legislate with respect to a person’s liberty and with respect to a person’s property.
I put it to the House quite frankly that if Parliament is to allow a body outside the walls of Parliament to legislate with respect to a person’s liberty and with respect to a person’s property then the whole parliamentary system is being abrogated. This is no trifling matter. If this process goes unchecked it will mean, in effect, at the very least, a tacit recognition of the A.C.T.U. as an extra-parliamentary body.
What if the council, in some extremist state of mind, decides that its affiliated members should attend a physical fitness camp for a week-end every now and again? Am I to understand that this Parliament is to sit and say, “ We can do nothing about this thing at all “? I say, with the greatest of respect to every person who sits in this Parliament, that this King Canute attitude of simply saying, “ We can do nothing about it; it is the business of the A.C.T.U.” is not to be tolerated.
I believe that the question whether this Parliament has power to legislate with respect to the issue of political levies should be determined. It has been suggested to me that this Parliament has no power to legislate with respect to political levies. I say this Parliament should legislate with respect to political levies and await any challenge in the court. If the court should find there is no fount of power in the Australian Constitution enabling this Parliament to legislate with respect to political levies, then this Parliament should seek a reference of that power from the six Australian States. If that approach should fail, this Parliament should seek the power from the Australian people. Therefore, I believe that two very desirable principles should be established in connexion with this matter. Let me read them very hurriedly. They are -
No trade union shall strike a levy for political purposes before a majority of its members have, by secret ballot, approved of the levy. Only those members of the union who, in writing, assent to the levy shall be required to pay the levy.
Moneys raised by a trade union for political purposes shall be paid into a separate fund and no assets of a trade union, other than those forming part of the political fund shall be, directly or indirectly, applied or charged in furtherance of any political object.
I think it is a reactionary idea that every trade unionist in this country is a supporter of the Labour Party. There are approximately 1,800,000 trade unionists in Australia, or an average of 15,000 trade unionists to every Federal electorate. In my electorate, 80 per cent, of the members of one branch of the Liberal Party are trade unionists. I have three members of the Waterside Workers Federation in that branch. I can understand the winges and whines of honorable members opposite at that statement. The people to whom I have referred are Liberal supporters. They do not believe in the Labour Party yet they would be obliged to pay for the purpose of bringing to this country people whom they regard as being completely undesirable politically.
Finally, I say that no party has a licence to believe that it can command the abiding loyalty of every trade unionist in this country. Trade unions are made up of people from all walks of life with varying political views. If this Parliament tolerates the imposition of compulsory levies any longer, then I believe that this Parliament is approving of something that is morally wrong, something that is politically indefensible and something that represents a complete and utter travesty of natural justice.
.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) speaks of problems concerning communism, trade union affairs, and so on, with great fervour and fanaticism. It is strange that, when speaking about them, he usually aims his attacks indirectly and obliquely against the working class organizations of this country which are well able to manage their own affairs. He would do well to examine other sectors of society in Australia that have links, associations and close contacts with Communists, Communist organizations and Communist countries.
Let me give an example of what I mean. There are about 90,000 wool-growers in Australia. All of them are very ardent supporters of the Australian Wool Bureau. They are compelled by the law of this country, which was made mainly at the request of the executives of the woolgrowers’ organizations - and I suppose with the willing assent, of 99 per cent, of them - to pay an annual levy of 4s. a bale to the bureau. That levy is collected by the Government. Furthermore, the Government makes contributions to that bureau from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and that means that every person in the community makes some contribution to it through his income tax. I do not object to that position at all. I pay my few shillings to it by way of income tax, and by way of levy on the wool that a member of my family grows. I note no attack by honorable members opposite upon the Government for allowing this levy to be struck. There is no attack by the members of the wool-growing community of Australia upon the requirement.
– It has the support of legislation, and that is significantly different.
– And you have some dirty roubles at home and in your bank account! You have not said one word in this Parliament against trading with Communist countries, against selling wool to them and so on. Inevitably, when you are trading with a country which you do not like or which has different political and religious beliefs or philosophies from your own you have personal contact. In the course of that personal contact, you may become indoctrinated, dirty or sullied.
Let me revert to the Australian Wool Bureau. Reference to its report for 1958- 59 will disclose an account of its activities in seeking to bolster revenue by sponsoring the sale of wool all over the world. It will also disclose that in that campaign the bureau spent some of the money contributed by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). In that report will be found reference to the fact that one afternoon the bureau was visited by and was pleased to receive a trade delegation from Communist Russia - a delegation of Russian Communists. Hosts and guests had afternoon tea together; they might have had a few drinks together; and everybody went home and was happy ever afterwards! The report concludes by saying, in effect, that it is hoped that much goodwill will flow from this meeting. So honorable members on the Government side get themselves tangled up with these people for money, for gain. But what is their reaction when a small levy is imposed by a trade union on its members? If the rank and file members who, after all, are the people who elect the executive, are required by the rules of their organization to pay a contribution and one or two members object, the honorable member for Moreton makes an attack on the workers’ organizations in this country.
If the honorable member wants to cleanse his stables, if he really believes in all this nonsense and humbug, I advise him to get busy and put his own outfit in order. Let him get busy with the trading banks, with the government departments, with everybody but the workers of this country and the trade union organizations to which they pay a few shillings a week. Let him get busy and attack other organizations, even the wool-growers’ organization for supplying the physical and, indirectly, the mental requirements of the countries that breed and sustain Communists. How small can you get! How stupid, how silly, how ignorant and how arrogant can you get! I advise the honorable member for Moreton, who is a real fanatic - I really think he believes it all, and there is no harm in preaching these things - to get busy amongst the Liberals and other people in the community. I ask him not to attack exclusively the members of radical workers’ organizations because they consider - in their wisdom or otherwise - that their members should contribute funds for particular purposes. Does not the honorable member think that the Australian workers and the union organizers have any moral fibre? Do not you think they have any capacity to read, to reason and to think? Do you think they can be easily indoctrinated as a result of some contact made with trade unionists from Russia or China? To say that that was so would be the greatest insult that you could offer to an Australian. It would be a reflection on his moral fibre and his common sense. That is all I have to say about it.
.- Mr. Speaker, 1 do no want to cry over the backwardness of an Australian State. I want to mention something that is occurring, or should be occurring, in the foremost State of this country, a State where I believe we will see in the near future most of the present inhabitants of the eastern States, because they will realize the great advantages of living in Western Australia.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said that there are occasions when members from both sides of the House should rise and support a plea on behalf of their State. I noticed that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) was here earlier, and I am quite certain that he would support the plea that I am now going to make to the Government, lt concerns the airport at Perth, which most honorable members know. It is an airport which, upon the introduction of jet aircraft, was downgraded from the status of an international airport because of the insufficiency of its runways.
– By the Menzies Government.
– I think it was done by an inter-departmental committee, which probably included as many Opposition members as Government supporters. I ask the Leader of the Opposition not to change his tune now. I remind him that about 30 minutes ago he said that there were certain things that we all should support. Here is his opportunity to support something that is worth while. I hope that he will rise to his feet at the conclusion of what I am going to say and state that he concurs thoroughly with my suggestion.
– Our members on the Public Works Committee supported your plea.
– It is very nice to hear the honorable gentleman say that. There is no reason for him to interject any more. In any case, it was very wrong of him to interject from a seat other than his own, abusing his privileges as the Leader of the Opposition.
This aerodrome has a history going back to the days of the war. In 1941 the old Dunreath golf course was converted into an aerodrome having a couple of 6,000-it. runways for use by the Kittyhawks which had arrived for the defence of Perth. That was a fortunate move. Not every capital city has available within easy reach of the city an area of about 2,500 acres which is capable of development to the stage where it can take any aircraft likely to be in use in the foreseeable future.
I think that a mistake was made by the committee that investigated the approximate cost of the additions and alterations that would be needed to enable Perth airport to take the present jet aeroplanes. The two small strips were constructed in 1941-42, but it was not until after the war, in about 1948 or 1950, that further improvements were carried out by lengthening the runways to somewhere in the region of 7,000 feet. In 1948, another runway was constructed in another direction to provide landing facilities in all types of weather. At the present time one runway is suitable only for very light aircraft of the type of the DC3.
The original estimate was in the region of £750,000, which covered all sorts of improvements and alterations necessary to make the aerodrome fit for use by aircraft such as the Boeing 707, but I think that the committee which investigated the proposal - and which, as was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, comprised members from both sides of this House - thought that there had been an over-estimate and that the work that would be necessary to bring the airport to international standard would cost somewhere in the region of £120,000. I think I read in the press of Western Australia that a representative of Qantas said in evidence that his company would save something like £200,000 if its aircraft on the Singapore run could be routed through Perth twice a week and it was not forced to use the Super Constellations that now operate through Perth.
Looking ahead, in 1962 the Empire Games will be held in Perth, and it is envisaged that most of the athletes and the tourists will travel to Australia by air. Obviously, if things remain as they are, they will not be able to fly direct to Perth from any part of the world, owing to the fact that the runways there will not take the larger jet aircraft. When one takes into consideration the cost of civil aviation in this country, 1 think that the work that would be involved in order to rectify this state of affairs, which the committee estimates would cost £120,000, should be given a high priority by this Government. The Government should have another look at this project in Western Australia and take steps to enable the Perth airport to regain the international status it had prior to the introduction of jet aircraft.
There is another consideration. It must be remembered that, in the event of any trouble in South-East Asia, the alternative route from Australia to Europe is through Perth airport - the route that goes to Cocos Island and to South Africa. On this score, it is vitally necessary for the Government to re-consider this matter with the idea of bringing the Perth airport up to an international standard.
.- I would like to support the view that has been expressed by my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), with regard to the phoney attitude of honorable members opposite regarding the old red bogey that they trot out from time to time. I shall read some figures relating to trade with Communist countries by the antiCommunists, so called, on the other side of the House. These figures were obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician on 26th July of this year. In 1958-59 we exported to Russia greasy wool to the value of £99,000, and in this financial year the value was £12,018,000. The value of greasy wool exported to Czechoslovakia in 1958-59 was £5,557,000, compared with £8,916,000 in 1959-60. Exports to East Germany were of the value of £248,000 in 1958-59, compared with £1,658,000 in 1959-60. Exports to Poland were worth £11,005,000 in 1958- 59, compared with £10,730,000 in 1959- 60- a decrease of £275,000. In 1958-59, we sent to Rumania greasy wool to the value of £330,000, compared with £479,000 in 1959-60. Our exports of greasy wool to Yugoslavia in 1958-59 were valued at £2,499,000, compared with £3,282,000 in 1959-60. I now come to the exports to red China. The anti-Communists opposite will be very interested to hear this.
The value of our exports of greasy wool to China in 1958-59 was £1,818,000, while the figure for this financial year was £4,977,000- an increase of over £3,000,000.
Turning to the figures relating to wool scoured and washed, I find that our exports to red China in 1958-59 were valued at £1,348,000, and that in the last financial year the value was £4,289,000. In 1958-59 we exported wool tops to the value of £3,131,000 to red China, and in the last financial year the value was £4,119,000.
The figures 1 have quoted are very interesting indeed. During the five years that I have been a member of this Parliament, I have never heard one member of the Australian Country Party protest about our trade with the red bloc. I take this to mean that they are satisfied with Australia’s trade with the Communist bloc, and that as they do not protest against it, they are fellow travellers.
I should like to mention also that recently an export trade conference was held in Canberra. Many notable people were invited to this conference, which had the backing of the Commonwealth Government. None other than the leading Communist of Australia, Mr. Jim Healy, was invited to the conference. It is strange to relate that although the Commonwealth Government backed this conference, it invited one of the top Communists in Australia to attend. I do not know whether the honorable member for Moreton was responsible; but I have not noticed any protest by him in this House about Mr. Healy being invited to that conference. Just imagine what would have happened if a Labour government had been in power and had backed this export trade conference. Would not the honorable member for “ Mortein “ have something to say about it?
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member for Watson must refer correctly to the electorate of the honorable member for Moreton.
– I think the honorable member certainly would have had something to say about that. One gets sick of listening to this poppycock about Government supporters being anti-Communist. They are only anti-Communist when they are trying to get a few Democratic
Labour Party preferences in their electorates. They are not fair dinkum about it, particularly the members of the Australian Country Party.
– I cannot allow the statements of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to pass without some reference to them. The honorable member for Kennedy suggested that there was a state of depression and emergency in the meat towns right along the coast from Rockhampton through Bowen to Townsville and, I suppose, on to Cairns. The honorable member is very much out of touch with the situation. Certainly the situation at Gladstone is bad, and at Rockhampton it will be worse than in any previous year. Townsville will have the longest slack season it has had foi many years. Cairns is not in such a bad way because the company trading as Amagraze has undertaken long-range plans that have altered the situation. It has a more efficient system of killing and has tied up better transport.
What is the reason for this situation? The beef cattle industry has not reached this position in five minutes or in one or two years. This is a legacy of 40 years of rotten administration by the previous Labour Government. There is no question about it. Queensland has half the Australian beef cattle population. The deterioration in the industry has been taking place for many years. Nothing has been done to help the primary producers, and the industry has been going downhill slowly. The drift cannot be arrested in one, two or three years. Why, one generation of cattle breeding takes three years! I doubt if the honorable member for Kennedy knows that.
Honorable members opposite speak as though they have some knowledge of the beef industry. Most of them do not even know which end of the beast eats. The honorable member for Kennedy would do well to do something about the beef cattle problems in his own electorate which includes perhaps the biggest cattle-breeding areas in the Commonwealth, extending from the western gulf across to the Northern Territory border and down to the south. What has the honorable member done about improving cattle breeding?
Does he know about the pasture improvement in the Gladstone area? Has he tried to extend that work to his own district? He would not have a clue about what is going on. He would not know even the cattle population in his own electorate. It is utter clap-trap for the honorable member to suggest that the present problem is something new, or to try to pin the blame on the Queensland Government. The Leader of the Opposition tried to blame Queensland members of this Parliament. This Commonwealth Government is making an honest endeavour to help the beef cattle industry. It is the first time for years that any attempt has been made to tackle the problem of seasonal unemployment in north Queensland.
The honorable member for Kennedy claims to be interested in the unemployment situation. He read out a telegram which had been sent to the Leader of the Opposition. But I point out that, in the past six months, two meetings have been called by the Townsville Trades and Labour Council. The honorable member for Kennedy went to Townsville to attend one of the meetings, but he was not present. Why did he not attend? Where was the honorable member for Kennedy? He went to Townsville to attend the meeting on unemployment and to learn about the troubles of the workers, but he did not attend. Apparently he does not realize that at conferences of this kind a number of good propositions are put forward. They are advanced by a lot of men with good, honest intentions. It is true that Communists were at these meetings. The Trades and Labour Council is riddled with them. How could you have dealings with a trades and labour council anywhere unless you tangle with Communists?
There is not a shadow of doubt that the honorable member for Kennedy is trying to pull off a stupid stunt which will gain nothing. Members of the Government’s food and agriculture committee were in north Queensland recently and after a week’s close investigation, they saw clearly the state of affairs that had been left by the previous State administration. The producers had no security of tenure. Although residents in my electorate had been clamouring for about 24 years to have certain land opened up for cattle fattening, it has been opened up only in the past year or two by the present administration. The previous government showed nothing but indifference. That was the main cause of the deterioration of the beef-cattle industry in Queensland. There was no planning and no forward thinking. It was left to Amagraze at Cairns to undertake some constructive thinking. The honorable member for Kennedy knows that very well.
In the last eighteen months the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) and I and others have risen in this Parliament and advocated sound proposals for the advancement of the beef cattle industry. So let us hear no more of this stupidity from the honorable member for Kennedy. The present situation is not new. The seasonal unemployment is worse now than it has been for a long time because the beef cattle industry has deteriorated over the years. I suggest that the honorable member for Kennedy should get to know what is happening in his electorate. He should visit it more often. At present he lives in Brisbane. No doubt the recent State elections have worried him because the electors in Bowen, Collinsville, Scottsville and Home Hill elected a Liberal member with a majority of 500 at his first attempt. Only a few years ago there was a Communist member.
– I will be here when you are gone.
– Very well, but that is the state of the poll, and Dr. Delamoth, the member for Bowen, is one man you will not shift. The honorable member would do well to see what he can do for the cattlebreeding industry in his electorate. He should visit it more often.
.- I support the aspirations of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) in improving the turn-off of cattle in Queensland, but like most other honorable members who approach this matter in a non-partisan manner, I think it must be conceded that this Government has done very little to promote the export of one of the few products we are able to sell at a profit without a subsidy. I propose to refer to three subjects concerning that State - the rail, port and road facilities in respect of meat production - and also, perhaps, to explore the development of its water resources.
Earlier, reference was made to the rail position in Queensland. My leader drew a natural comparison between the assistance that the Commonwealth has given to South Australia and Victoria to modernize their rail systems and the belated and comparatively inadequate assistance which the Commonwealth is giving to Queensland to modernize the railway between Mount Isa, Townsville and Collinsville. The comparison is quite remarkable. In South Australia, in 1949, the Labour Government made an agreement that the Commonwealth should lend the whole of the money required to modernize and, if desired, to standardize the railways of that State. The State had to repay only 30 per cent, of that amount, and it had 50 years in which to repay it.
Three years ago, the Parliament unanimously made similar arrangements for the standardization of the railway between Albury and Melbourne. The Commonwealth was to advance the whole of the cost. Victoria and New South Wales between them were to repay 30 per cent, of the cost, and they were to have 50 years in which to repay it. By contrast, Sir, after three years’ delay - and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) was the first man to mention in this House that there should be assistance for this project - the Commonwealth Government at last agreed to lend the Queensland Government the money, not to standardize but, to a certain extent, to modernize the railway between Mount Isa and the coast. It is lending, not the whole of the money, but twothirds of the money. It is lending the money, not for 50 years but for 20 years, and it is requiring, not 70 per cent, only of its loan to be repaid, but the whole of it to be repaid.
The railway between Mount Isa and Townsville is not merely, as so many people cynically suggest, for the benefit of the mines at Mount Isa. It obviously will be of very great benefit to the meat industry in that area and to the whole of the Gulf country. One of the great difficulties of the meat industry in the north-west of Queensland has been that the train trip takes so long and is so cramped that the animals lose condition. If there is a proper railway, inevitably the turn-off will be increased and production from the Townsville meat works also will be increased. The Queenslanders might well ask why the Commonwealth should lend them only two-thirds of the cost, while it lent the people of the south-eastern States the whole cost; why it requires Queensland to repay the whole of its loan and the other States to repay only three-tenths of theirs; and why it requires Queensland to make the repayments in 20 years and the other States in 50 years. But that is not the end of the matter. The Commonwealth, when it grants assistance to States, may do so on any terms and conditions it sees fit. In this case, the Commonwealth should have made the grant on condition that the Queensland Government, when the Commonwealth desired, would agree to a railway being built from Mount Isa and Cloncurry to the Northern Territory boundary, because we know that one of the shortcomings of the Constitution is that the Commonwealth cannot build a railway in a State without the consent of that State.
It is quite clear that there should be better communications right across the Barkly Tableland. I am not going to be dogmatic and say that it should be achieved by improving rail facilities. It might be that road communications would be better, but the plain fact is that the Commonwealth cannot build a railway between Mount Isa and the Northern Territory boundary without the consent of the Queensland Government. When the Commonwealth made a grant to the Queensland Government to assist with the reconstruction of the railway between Townsville and Mount Isa it should have seen that it secured that consent for the future, if required.
I pass to ports. It is unfortunate that in Queensland every port is under a different port authority. However, under the Labour Government’s legislation the Commonwealth had some power to make grants for the modernization of ports. In respect of Port Alma, one of the large ports of Queensland, the Commonwealth made money available for the provision of amenities, the only instance in which that was done. But in 1956, this Government, in the face of our opposition, repealed the sections of the Stevedoring Industry Act under which the Commonwealth could make grants to the ports of States for the purpose of modernizing those ports. Can any one suggest that that was not a hindrance to the meat industry? Rockhampton, Gladstone and Townsville, which have been mentioned, and several other ports which have not been mentioned, all are crying out for modernization and co-ordination of their facilities. Ships which come from overseas use a variety of Australian ports and must have various kinds of equipment to be able to use the different ports. It is clear that we ought to co-ordinate their facilities.
I come to a third subject of importance in improving the meat industry, namely the provision of roads. In 1949, the Chifley Government introduced the State Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act, while the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. If you look at this year’s Budget Papers, Mr. Speaker, or if you ask the Chairman of Committees to show them to you, you will see that in this year a smaller amount is being made available under that act for the construction of roads in Queensland, in the Channel country, than has been the case in any of the last ten years. That means to say that the Commonwealth’s direct interest in making a grant to Queensland in order to promote road communications through an area that is potentially Australia’s best fattening country for cattle, is petering out.
– Which is the best fattening area?
– It is a very good area. It may not be the best, but on all accounts it is a very valuable area so far as the production of beef cattle is concerned. In those three directions - rail, port and road facilities - the Chifley Government showed what could be done to help a State. In respect of ports and roads, it made direct provision for Queensland to increase the production of meat.
I come to the national development aspect of water supplies. One of the features of the Budget, you might have heard, Sir, is that the appropriation for the Snowy Mountains scheme is being diminished by £10,000,000, or by one-third, largely because the scientists, geologists and others who have planned and investigated the potential of the scheme are now being dispersed. They are going to other countries or are being picked off by private industry. It is to the shame of this Commonwealth Government that it has not offered to the Queensland Government the assistance of those experts, as the Chifley Government offered it to the States of New South Wales and Victoria in connexion with the Snowy Mountains scheme. It is indicative of the lassitude and lack of imagination of the present Queensland Government that it has not asked for the services of those experts. The Commonwealth cannot, by itself, carry out these projects, but with the co-operation of the Queensland Government it could do so.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– During this discussion we have heard of great developments that are taking place in the relatively small States of the Commonwealth, such as Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia, but it is significant that no speaker has yet mentioned the great developments that are taking place in the older and larger State of New South Wales. There is a very simple reason for that - New South Wales is still under a Labour administration. Some works, which were intended to add to the productive capacity of New South Wales, have been carried out in recent times by the Labour Government in that State. There is the Glenbawn dam and the Keepit dam. I am familiar with the Keepit dam, the construction of which extended over twenty years and cost some £20,000,000. Now that the dam is nearing completion, the State Government is deciding what to do with the water which will be stored in it. Many years will elapse after the completion of the dam before the stored water will be used to raise production in New South Wales.
I cannot think of any works, other than the construction of the two dams I have mentioned, which the New South Wales Government has undertaken in recent times. I wonder what has happened to the plans for the construction of the Burrendong dam in which it was intended to store water from the Snowy Mountains area? I wonder what has happened to all the planning in relation to the Barwon and Dumaresq Rivers which run along the border between Queensland and New South Wales and which serve a very fertile valley with a tremendous potential? A dam in that area, which happens to be in my electorate, would help immediately to increase production. We would be able to establish there a large tobacco industry, grow under irrigation a variety of crops such as lucerne, and engage in horticultural pursuits.
But to date the Government of New South Wales, which is virtually the Government of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, has shown no interest in the northern part of the State. In fact, there is only one narrow bitumen road connecting Sydney with northern New South Wales and Queensland - this after about fourteen years of Labour Tule. The Government of New South Wales has not managed to construct one sealed road. The only sealed road leading north was constructed before the Labour Party came into office. Labour has not added to the means of communication between Sydney and the hinterland. New South Wales has not been mentioned by the Labour Party to-night because that State is an outstanding monument to maladministration by Labour.
.- I am pleased at the sudden interest in Queensland which has been shown by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is indeed a pleasure to learn that for once in all its years of existence the Labour Party has shown an interest in that large State. But the Labour Party would do well, before trying to lambast honorable members from Queensland, to look at its own record and at the record of Labour governments which ruled Queensland for many years. Before the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) talks about the lack of roads, the lack of railways, the lack of ports and the lack of water, he would do well to think about how these deficiences arose and the period over which they developed.
In all the years when Labour governments were in office in Queensland, when they had their own taxing powers and when that State became known as the State with the highest taxation in Australia, I know of no action that was taken to use any of the revenue for water conservation. I invite honorable members to study the water courses, the rainfalls and so on, and to try to estimate the billions of gallons of water that have poured into the Gulf and into the Pacific Ocean during the 40 years of Labour’s administration in Queensland without any attempt to store it. If honorable members consider that matter, they must realize how Queensland has suffered.
Let me remind the interested Opposition that Labour governments in Queensland had a very sorry and a shocking record in relation to the construction of roads. I speak from personal experience because, in trying to move from one place to another, I have been bogged over many thousands of square miles in that State where no roads exist. I can think, as every other Queenslander can think, of the so-called road that runs from Rockhampton to Longreach through Bogantungan and over the Drummond Range which you could not travel in a car without breaking something. That state of affairs has existed for many years. I can think of the roads even in the electorate of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), and can remember when the electorate was many times its present size. I know that even though he has represented the area for years nothing happened to improve the roads in the area.
A lot of propaganda has been spread about the Channel country. Most of the people who try to make propaganda out of it know nothing about the area. Probably they have never seen it. It has to be proved that the construction of roads in the Channel country is an economic proposition from the viewpoint of obtaining and sustaining meat production for export. I have studied the subject and I know something about it. It would not be an economic proposition to construct roads out of the Channel country when you consider the rest of the meat-producing area of Queensland and the small proportion of meat that comes from the Channel country, together with the fact, as the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) stated, that the Channel country is of use for only about one year in three. The thinking of meat producers in the Channel country must be changed. In other words, the Channel country, instead of being used as a fattening area, as has been the case for many years, should be used purely as breeding country. As the honorable member for Herbert said, the younger stock could then be moved to pastures and proper fattening areas could be developed’ on the coastal belt at places such as Bowen where we have abattoirs and where we could kill and export throughout the year. But the present problems have resulted from the policy of restriction practised by Labour governments.
I repeat that Queensland, during 40 years of Labour administration when it had its own taxing powers, should have raised the money to do all the things that needed1 to be done. However, Labour’s policy worked in reverse and did everything possible to kill off industries which came into Queensland - Queensland with its State abattoirs, its State shops, its State grocers, its State butchers, its State this and its State that. All these undertakings, with one exception disappeared because they proved to be failures. The exception is being kept alive by the generous attitude of the present Queensland Government.
When the Leader of the Opposition suddenly begins to take a fanatical interest in the development of Queensland, it comes as a shook because all the wonderful things that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues claim should have been done for Queensland1, are things which we have talked about in Queensland for years, but we were restricted left, right and centre by successive Labour governments in that State. No matter how much the Leader of the Opposition may lambast the Queensland Country and Liberal Party members for alleged non-support of their own State, the fact remains unarguable that the blame for Queensland not progressing as it should have, in view of all the magnificent advantages, potentials and resources that it has, lies squarely and fairly at the door at the successive Labour governments in Queensland for over 40 years. But the present Queensland Country-Liberal Party Government is starting to clean up the terrible mess. Believe me, the Nicklin-Morris Government is not making a bad job of it.
.- I apologize for speaking at this late hour, but I believe that the attitude of the Australian Labour Party towards all kinds of levies should be disclosed. When the levies that the Waterside Workers Federation tried to impose on the Hurseys were discussed in the Parliament, members of the Labour Party displayed a great reluctance to debate the matter. They have also shown a great reluctance to debate the subject of unity tickets. Just a few weeks ago I challenged the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who is seated in the chamber, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who has just come in, to state where they stood on the matter of unity tickets.
We now find that the Australian Council of Trade Unions proposes a levy on unionists. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke, he did not say a word about the subject. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is a senior member of the Labour Party executive, followed the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), but he did not make any reference to the levies. As usual, the honorable member tried to digress from the theme of the debate. He commenced by referring to a levy on wool-growers. What a contrast there is between a levy imposed on wool-growers and a levy imposed on the unionists of Australia to bring people into this country from Communist countries for an ulterior purpose. I ask honorable members opposite: Was that the attitude of the Labour Party ten, fifteen or twenty years ago? Of course, it was not.
– Mind your own business.
– I will mind my own business. The honorable member for Moreton has raised a matter that is of great importance to the Australian worker. The Australian workers are supposed to support the Labour Party, but we find that they repeatedly return a Liberal-Country Party Government to the treasury bench. I believe they do it because the Labour Party and its members are suspect.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said that we continually drag in the red bogy. Let us look at the red bogy and see in just what way honorable members opposite subscribe to communism. No one can deny that the peace conference that was held in this country recently was Communist inspired, was Communist run, and at the same time was aided and abetted by members of the Labour Party. What have honorable members opposite done? Only last week they elected to the executive of their party a man who will be a member of the Cabinet should Labour regain the treasury bench. They elected a man who has left-wing views, who is a socialist, who aided and abetted the holding of the peace conference and who assisted in welcoming delegates to it. That man is the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). He undoubtedly is a left-wing man and is a Communist sympathiser.
I remind the House that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is at present in Japan attending a peace conference, to which reference was made to-day by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when replying to a question. What has happened in Japan should be a lesson to right-wing members of the Labour Party and should have a sobering effect upon them. Mao Tse-tung sent to all the delegates to the conference a telegram congratulating them upon their efforts to attend.
Let us return to the matter of levies on unionists. In this chamber last night were two German people who came to Australia as representatives of the German trade union movement. They were brought into the chamber by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay). Their only claim to fame in this country is the reference to them in the “ Tribune “ and the “ Guardian “. They are Mrs. Gertrud Worner and Mr. G. Waterstaradt. To-night three members of the Opposition attended a dinner that was given in their honour. The imposition of these levies upon Australian unionists is obnoxious, and I wish to congratulate those trade unions which have had the guts to disobey the instruction, or not to conform with the edict of the A.C.T.U., four of the members of which are known Communists and five of whom always support the Communist cause. On this occasion the Australian trade unionists have woken up to the Labour Party and to the A.C.T.U. I appeal to the trade unionists of this country not to pay this levy, which has been imposed for the purpose of bringing to this country Communists from overseas to aid and abet not only the Labour Party but also the Communists who are white-anting Australia and are a blot upon this community.
I direct the attention of honorable members to a statement in the “ Tribune “ to the effect that these persons, Mrs. Worner and M.r. Waterstaradt. were welcomed to Canberra by the president of the Plasterers Union. Members of the Building Workers Industrial Union in Canberra, and of the Plasterers Union, have been levied 10s. a quarter to pay for the visit of these Communists to Australia. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to indicate where he stands on this matter. I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is a notorious fence-sitter, whether he is prepared to indicate in this chamber his attitude to it. Does he support the imposition of these levies, or does he not? I believe we will find that the Leader of the Opposition will do as he usually does, and as he did in relation to the subject of unity tickets, and will say that he is not disturbed by it. Let me tell him that the people of Australia are disturbed about the unity ticket issue. Let me remind the honorable member of what his predecessor, to whom so many honorable members opposite gave their allegiance, said on the unity ticket issue. A report in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 8th May reads-
The Labour leader, Dr. Evatt, to-day told the A.L.P. Federal Executive that it must grasp the nettle of unity tickets. Communist infiltration might destroy the Labour Party if the tickets continued.
I say to honorable members opposite and to the people of Australia that if the Labour Party does not take action against unity tickets, not only will it continue on the road to destruction but also immeasurable harm will be caused to the people of Australia and to the great trade union movement which this rabble of a party is reputed to represent.
– What do you think of Sid Einfeld’s chances?
– I do not want to bring sectarian issues into politics as the Leader of the Opposition has just done, and as he did during a broadcast recently. 1 think it is absolutely despicable of the Leader of the Opposition, whose party could form the alternative government of this country, to introduce the names of religious people into debate by way of innuendo. Not only can he not refrain on this occasion; in the great debate on television last Sunday evening, he could not keep to the great financial issues, but again had to drag in Santamaria and the angel of death. Is this a …..rt. hl attitude for the Leader of the Opposition to adopt? I believe that the Australian people think it is not.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.Mr. Speaker, it is obvious now that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) have been manoeuvring all night in order to get a debate on what they allege to be a levy to finance a visit to Australia by two unionists from another country. Those two honorable members are not a bit concerned about that in reality. All they want to do is to indulge in a smear campaign that they have been trying to originate all this week. Even at this late hour, the honorable member for Phillip tries to prove in half a dozen different ways something that is really only a smear against honorable members on this side of the House.
Now I shall tell the House something about the campaign organized by the honorable member for Phillip and the honorable member for Moreton. They were in the company of two security officers at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport before they left Sydney last Tuesday, and they were quizzing those security officers as to the whereabouts, identity and habits of two East German visitors to this country who were invited to come here by the Building Workers Industrial Union. The honorable members were acting as stooges for the security service, and they have come into this House to spread the story that they have told. They spoke to two well-known security officers and I believe that in this instance security is being misused. This is some kind of a tapping though it is not quite telephone tapping, and this means of communication has been used to give a dribble of information to two notorious red-baiters who do not care what they say in this House so long as they smear the Australian Labour Party. They appear to me to be something like the famous parrot in O. Henry’s story who got its dates and colours mixed. I am sure that honorable members recall O. Henry’s classic story in which a parrot used to denounce the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and whistle “ God Save the King “ on the occasion of the celebration of the American victory over the British at Bunker’s Hill.
These honorable members represent things in a completely different context from that in which they happened overseas. Macmillan has been tootling about in Moscow, wearing a Russian fur hat and trying to look like Khrushchev. He even went on a diet to make himself plumper and more Russian in appearance. Perhaps he achieved this by filling himself with koumiss and vodka. Then the other minor people about the place try to do the same sort of thing. The honorable member for Phillip talks about the nefarious things that may happen if unionists or workers from Russia or China come to this country. But we are prepared to go to Russia. I think that a senator who is a daughter of a former principal of the famous Holden motor organization visited Russia recently. A multiplicity of visitors have been to Russia and China. These two honorable members would have us believe that they want the traffic to be one way, but in reality they do not care how many workers come out here and confer with other workers. They only want to smear the Australian Labour Party.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) has revealed to us that the merino has gone red and that £12,000,000 worth of his earning power belongs to the Soviet and its friends. When that is pointed out, the modest members of the Australian Country Party shrink away like the modest violets they are and disappear under the ground until the weather improves. They do not want to say that the exchange of views by workers is a terrible, notorious and nefarious thing. Would it not be terrible if the man who processes the wool talked to the man who sheared it? That would be a sin according to honorable members opposite. But the man who sells wool to an organization in China or Russia is at liberty to go over there and swap vodkas. There could not be anything more dramatically convincing than what the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said about this situation to those two honorable members on the Government side of the House. Every day in this House, one hears stories about the great future of this country, about its development, about the sort of nation it will be and about the migrants and money that are pouring in. We hear from Government supporters all sorts of boasts about the Budget. They have minds like peanuts.
The honorable member for Phillip always talks in a miserable and cavilling way which is most un-Australian. He has a red phobia, as has the honorable member for Moreton.
They can see nothing but red and they can understand nothing. If this is to be a big country, we must emulate the British people, who trade with Russia and China, and who understand that collaboration does not occur of itself simply because there is trade. These two men indulge in narrow-minded little niggles. Neither of them cares about a man and a woman coming from East Germany to confer with the building workers of Australia. They merely seek propaganda to bolster their miserable positions in their electorates and to support their miserable little approach to affairs. Are they not supposed to be members of the Commonwealth Parliament representing the Australian community? The sort of stuff that they indulge in belongs to the meetings of the Dorcas Society. It is the sort of thing that one would expect from ladies who are terrified and think they see a red under every bed.
– Come back to the levy.
– Order! The honorable member for Phillip has already spoken.
– The honorable member asked me to come back to the levy, but he did not confine his remarks to the levy. He made a complete circuit and embraced everything. He talked about what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had said at various times. It was quite obvious that the honorable member for Phillip, apparently given an impetus by his conversation with the security officers at the airport in Sydney, was geared to go on a redbaiting bust-up. But we have called his bluff, and we say to him, “If you want to talk about unity tickets and the inter-change of unionists, we are prepared to meet you on that ground “.
The honorable member may ask me where I stand on those matters. Unions have every right to invite delegates from other countries, both the free and the Communist countries, to discuss the affairs of the world with them. For this is one world and you cannot live apart in a segment of it. You cannot lock yourself up apart from the rest. The honorable member for Phillip would deny the Summit conference. Such a conference is a crime in his eyes. He thinks that it is a crime to meet and associate freely with others. The pinchpenny, niggling minds of honorable members opposite see something terrible in the habit of unionists, which has been evident over all the years of the history of unionism, of meeting and conversing no matter where they are. Unionists have a different outlook. They belong to the freemasonry of the brotherhood in which they work. The problems of all unionists are similar, irrespective of the countries in which they live.
It is obvious that these two great unionists opposite have never paid a union fee in their lives. They get up and beat their chests as do the orang-utans at Taronga Park Zoo. They talk about the rights of the workers, and we are told that one of them has three captive waterside workers in one of the branches of the Liberal Party of Australia in his electorate. That would be the most fascinating thing in history. If Ripley does not know about it, we should send him a telegram in the morning. The honorable member who represents the salubrious electorate of Phillip is trembling in his shoes at the thought of what a man named Einfeld will do to him in the very near future. He is casting about for something with which he can hit at those whom he fears. He realizes that he cannot hit at them by proper methods and sound policies, and so he tries to hit at them by raising the red issue. That is all that his utterances amount to.
What the honorable member for Lalor has said is the truth of the matter. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. It is all right for unionists in any part of the world to confer with unionists from other countries. I approve of it. There is nothing wrong with it. But if it is wrong in the eyes of Government supporters, why is it not wrong to go to another country merely to sell wool? At least, unionists have a humanitarian approach. The basis of unionism is the improvement of crafts, skills and conditions. But the approach of the honorable members opposite is directed only towards sordid trade. When I was in Shanghai, I saw plenty of liberals darting about among the Communists and trying to sell their wool. I saw them seeking mor-tai, the national drink of the Chinese, and the compradors - the men who in the years before the liberation stood between the Chinese and the products of the outside world and who acted as go-between. These are the men who have been dismissed from China. The new traders have come in and they are quite willing to work with the Chinese trade organization, which is highly efficient and is prepared to sell our goods.
The Australian Country Party has been realistic about this matter. Its members say, “What is going to happen to us with the advent of the new market arrangements in Europe - the European Common Market and the agglomeration of markets which are meant to protect primary producers in Europe and not let in too many primary products from countries outside the Continent? “ What would happen if Australia lost its present market for wool in China which is worth £12,000,000? What would happen if Australia lost its growing, most important and significant market in the Soviet and the countries surrounding the Soviet? There would not be a balanced budget, and honorable members opposite would be silenced by their leader.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes, Sir, in a most monstrous fashion. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said that last Tuesday week, together with the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), I consulted with two members of the security service. The falsity of that statement may be judged in the light of the fact that last Tuesday week I was not in Sydney, having travelled from Brisbane to Canberra by car.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes, Sir, most grossly. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said that he saw me in conversation with a security officer at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) aerodrome. Never at any time since I have been a member of this Parliament, or prior to that time, have I ever had any conversation with any security officer on any matter.
The honorable member for Parkes has grossly mis-handled the truth.
– 1 feel this House should require from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) an apology for what he has said, because I cannot understand how anything so grossly untrue could be said. What is the implication behind his remarks? Does the honorable member for Parkes not think that it is the business of the security service to know what Communists are doing? Is that his attitude? Does he not think that every Australian should be helping the security service to find out what our Communist enemies are doing, or does he not regard the Communists as enemies? By his public utterances in this House the honorable member for Parkes has shown himself to be the honorable member for Peking. He has sold his soul to the Communists. He is on the side of the Communists and people who are on the side of the Communists should have no place in this House. I hope the electors of Parkes will remember that and call him to account when the time comes.
The honorable member has dissembled. For many years in this House he has spoken about Government supporters smearing Labour Party members by saying that they were associating with Communists. Now he says that there is nothing wrong in associating with Communists. That is the next stage in the descent to the abyss. Only a short while ago the Labour Party was saying, “ Communists are disgraceful people and anybody who alleges that we associate with Communists is falsely smearing us “. That was done in order to cover up the very close relationship which then existed between the Labour Party and the Communist Party. In those days honorable members opposite were ashamed of Communists and they wanted to cover up that relationship; they did not want to be caught out. Now they have gone a stage further; they say that it is not wrong to associate with Communists. I direct the attention of the House to the concerted action by the honorable members for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), Watson (Mr. Cope) and Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who come into this House and try to belittle the danger of communism. They say, “ It is the red bogy. It is nothing. Get back to something that is really politics.”
All the time this is a concerted move to cover up for the Communists. It is what the Communists want the Labour Party to do. Because the Labour Party is trusted by some people who do not understand what it really is and is capable of misleading honest people, the Communists want members of the Labour Party to come into this House and say, “ There is nothing important about communism. It is just something that happens. Don’t take any notice of it.” And all the time the Communists are inside the Labour Party, making their way towards full control of that party. The distance they have gone was shown to-night by the honorable member for Parkes, who came into this House and said that there is nothing wrong with associating with Communists. He encourages such association.
He spoke about workers coming to Australia from Germany to confer on trade union matters such as skill in the building industry. He must know that that is nonsense and that these two persons are here as political agents. If he does not know that, let him read the “ Tribune “ of 17th August, which sets out the facts. They are not here to help the trade unions in any matter concerning working conditions or anything like that; they are ‘here as agents of a Communist organization which wants to involve the Australian trade union movement deeper in the toils of communism. They are here to further the interests of world communism and for no other reason, and they find as their apologist the honorable member for Parkes, a man who spiritually has gone over to the Communist side and, apparently, really believes in the Communist doctrine.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! The question before the Chair is -
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.47 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Differences in the taxation of co-operative companies and public companies are set out below. The expression “ proprietary companies “ used in the question has been taken to mean public companies. In some contexts, the expression would have been regarded as a reference to private companies. There is, however, a marked difference in the bases applied in taxing the incomes of cooperative companies and private companies. A comparison between the taxation of those two classes of companies would accordingly be of very restricted value.
Rebates and Bonuses. - Deductions are allowed for amounts actually distributed by co-operative companies as rebates or bonuses based on business done by shareholders with the company. Under the general provisions of the law, public companies and other persons are entitled to deductions for rebates, bonuses or discounts allowed to customers.
Interest and Dividends on Shares: A special deduction is available to co-operative companies for interest and dividends paid on shares. Because the deduction applies only if the company does 90 per cent, of its business with members, the interest and dividends on shares are, to a very large measure, paid to persons whose transactions with the company have made practicable the distributions on shares. The same circumstances do not apply in the case of public companies and the law does not authorize a corresponding deduction for distributions to shareholders.
Repayment of Moneys Loaned by the Commonwealth or a State: Assessable income applied by a co-operative company for or towards the repayment of any moneys loaned to the company by the Commonwealth or a State is deductible if -
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
What sum was expended upon roads in each State during the last five years by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the State and (c) local governing authorities?
– The information sought by the honorable member is as follows: -
Due to different methods of accounting in the States, the omission of certain details in some States’ published financial statements, and the delay in publishing some annual statistics, accurate figures of roads expenditure in each State during the past five years are not available. However, the following estimates of roads funds provided from each of the Government sources have been prepared by the Department of Shipping and Transport from authoritative information: -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The following is a list of trading vessels under construction or on order for Australian shipowners: -
In Australia. - (i) For the Australian National Line -
For other owners -
All the above vessels are eligible for the Commonwealth subsidy. There are other ineligible non-trading craft such as tugs, dredges, Stc. under construction at various yards throughout Australia.
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
What sums would have been paid to each State in 1959-60 if the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1954 had remained in operation?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
If both the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1954-56 and the Commonwealth Aid Roads (Special Assistance) Act 1957 had remained in operation for the financial year 1959-60 the following estimated sums would have been allocated to each Stale: -
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
How much pay-roll tax was paid by each State railway system in the last financial year for which reports have been published?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The amount of pay-roll tax paid by the various State railway systems during the financial years 1958-59 was as follows: -
In financial year, 1957-58, Tasmanian Railways paid £57,464 in pay-roll tax. This figure is published in the report of the Transport Commission, Tasmania. The commission has not yet published its report for the year 1958-59.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. My department does not keep records that would enable this information to be given.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Minister for Repatriation, accompanied by Lady Cooper and his private secretary, recently visited the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America to make top level contacts with the various ministries and organizations dealing with the welfare of ex-servicemen, particularly with limbless and severely disabled exservicemen.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount of revenue and what percentage of its total revenue did each State receive in 1958-59 from (a) Commonwealth sources and (b) its own sources, apart from business undertakings?
– The information requested by the honorable member is set out in the following table: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 August 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600824_reps_23_hor28/>.