23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the amendment which he spontaneously moved in the United Nations General Assembly. Before moving his amendment, did the right honorable gentleman confer with or seek the likely reaction of the President of Indonesia and the Prime Ministers of India and Ghana, who were among the proposers of the original motion, or the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the representative of South Africa, who abstained from voting on his amendment, or the other three Commonwealth representatives from Pakistan, Malaya and Ceylon, who voted against it? ( also ask whether he will arrange for honorable members to enjoy as ready access to the text of his speech on the amendment as they have already been afforded to his other speech before the General Assembly and his television interview in New York.
– In reference to the second part of the question, I will be delighted indeed to have copies of the speech on the amendment made available to honorable members. I was not aware that they had not received it. As for the proceedings themselves, I propose to-night, by leave of the House, which I trust I will obtain, to make a full statement about these events and about the meeting of the General Assembly. I feel that this is a matter on which all honorable members would wish to have whatever benefit may flow from my own impressions of certain of the activities at the General Assembly meeting, and in particular an account of my own participation in it.
– T desire to ask the Minister for Labour and ‘National Service a question concerning the present conditions on the New South Wales coal-fields. He will recall previous discussions ‘I have had with him on behalf of a number of my constituents who are vitally interested in this matter. As I am about to take part in further talks, I ask: What is the present position in regard to employment and wages on the New South Wales coal-fields?
– I am very glad to be able to tell the House that yesterday the Joint Coal Board reported that in New South Wales the number of people medically examined and accepted for employment in the coal-fields rose to the very high figure of nearly 1,200. This is the greatest increase there has been for at least the last five years. Of equal importance is that the number of people leaving the industry has considerably diminished. As to wages, I am sure the honorable member will be pleased to know that the average earnings of coalminers working under incentive schemes have increased to a little over £1,500 per annum during the course of this year. That is a substantial improvement, but the important fact is that the increase can be attributed largely to incentives. Mines which offer incentives are paying something like £300 a year more to employees than are mines which do not offer incentives. The honorable member will also be very glad to know that the Joint Coal Board itself has reported very favorably on the improved industrial ‘relations between the owners and the leaders of the miners. I am sure the whole House will be glad to know of this, and I hope that that state of affairs will continue.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that on various occasions he has described Mr. Khrushchev, the Russian leader, as being untruthful, deceiful, unscrupulous, tyrannical and treacherous? Did the Prime Minister, on his own initiative, recently seek a personal interview with Mr. -Khrushchev in New York, ‘which is said to have lasted well over an hour? If so, can this be taken as an indication that the Prime Minister’s opinion of Mr. Khrushchev has changed? If not, will the Prime Minister state what he hoped to achieve by a discussion with the Russian leader who, according to the Prime Minister himself, possesses all the obnoxious qualities to which reference has been made?
– I think the honorable member for East Sydney rather exposes himself to a risk in that question. After all, I have been known to have discussions with him. I ask the honorable member to be patient. He may learn later not only why 1 saw Mr. Khrushchev, but also what then and there occurred. What I had to say about Mr. Khrushchev was said quite openly in the General Assembly, and I think it met with a certain amount of approval here.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy: Is it a fact that more than 50 members of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union have received notices terminating their employment at the Naval Armament Depot at Byford in Western Australia as from January, 1961? If so, what are the reasons for these dismissals? What effect will the dismissals have on the efficient operation of the Navy’s supply administration in Western Australia? Finally, as many of these men are returned soldiers in the over-sixty age group, will the Minister take action to see that the men are re-employed elsewhere, if the dismissals are effected?
– I could hardly be expected to know all the details relating to the matter to which the honorable member for Stirling refers, but I undertake to direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy to his question and to see that he gets an answer in due course.
– My question is ad dressed to the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that, under the social services legislation, a couple who are in receipt of pensions may earn up to £7 a week or £364 in a year and still be paid pensions at the full rate? Does the legislation state that the amount of £364 may be earned within any period but, when earned, the department shall be notified accordingly? If that is the position, what is the reason for the policy under which a pensioner who is working and receiving from £15 to £20 a week in wages is expected to notify the department accordingly after seven or eight weeks, and under which, upon receipt of such a report, the department decides to reduce the amount of the pension being paid? In view of this interpretation, will the Minister state the precise meaning of the provision relating to the permissible income of £364 a year?
– The means test with respect to income is applied to all appropriate pensioners from time to time. If a person notifies the department that he is in employment and that the rate of the wage or salary being earned is likely to lead to an overpayment of pension, the department must either reduce the rate of the pension or suspend payment of the pension until the position has been clarified. When the position has been clarified, and if income in excess of the permissible limit has not been earned, the pension is immediately restored and retrospective payments are made.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I preface it by saying that on 17th October the Queensland Government approved a drought relief scheme for primary producers, principally dairymen, in Queensland, and decided to ask the Commonwealth to assist in providing funds for the making of loans and for meeting half the losses incurred. Has this Government received a request from the Queensland Premier in these terms? It so, has the Government made any decision on it?
– My own inquires reveal that so far no formal request has been received from the Queensland Government. When such a request reaches us it will, of course, be carefully considered against the background of the view generally taken by the Commonwealth Government on these matters in the light of our experience. Generally speaking, Commonwealth governments - not only this Government but also other governments before it - have taken the view that drought losses are rather different from those caused by bush fires and floods, which create immediate distress of a kind which presents an emergency, and we have joined with the State governments in helping to meet situations of that sort. In general, the view taken of drought losses has been that, although they may have a serious effect on the finances of primary producers, the Commonwealth Government can hardly put itself in the position of virtually under-writing the seasonal factors encountered in the primary industries. Consequently, only in rare and exceptional circumstances has the Commonwealth Government participated with the government of the State concerned in some scheme of drought relief. I make those general observations, and I assure the honorable gentleman that when we hear from the Queensland Government we shall examine carefully what is put to us.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Does he know that the Postmaster-General’s Department is encountering considerable difficulty in obtaining and retaining the services of letter-carriers in the city of Canberra? Does he know that numbers of “these young men have recently left this employment? Will he ascertain whether these difficulties are due to general dissatisfaction with both conditions of employment and the payment received by these young men? In the interests of efficient letter delivery within this rather widespread city, will the Minister see what action can be taken to improve either wages or conditions, and preferably both?
– The honorable member knows that matters such as wages and conditions are determined by the accepted method of arbitration and that it is no particular function of mine to attempt to alter them. My understanding of the position in respect of the wages paid is that they are reasonable and are regarded as satisfactory. I am not immediately aware of the position regarding letter-carriers in the city of Canberra. From time to time, of course, departmental employees for some reason or other move out into other spheres, and no doubt that may be the reason for the situation which the honorable member has mentioned. However, I shall have a look at the position in the light of what he has said and shall let him know exactly what the situation is and what can be done about it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. If one or both of the dairy industry organizations asked the Minister to consider whether the Government’s interim guarantee of 40d. per lb. for commercial butter can be increased by Id. or Hd. so that the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited may make higher interim payments, would the Minister consider the request sympathetically?
– The decision has been taken by the Government so far as this particular financial year is concerned. But if the Australian Dairy Industry Council, which embraces the organizations connected with the industry, supported by the Australian Primary Producers’ Union which generally submits a case, puts that request to me, the Government will certainly consider it for the future.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday met leaders of Australian hire-purchase companies and informed them of the bank’s views on the state of the Australian economy. Is this an indication that the rapid increase of hire-purchase loans over the last twelve months is causing anxiety and, if so, has the Government any plans to meet the situation?
– I gather from the newspapers that such a meeting was held, but it was not held either with my knowledge or at my request. Apparently, either on the initiative of the hire-purchase people or of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, a meeting of an informal nature took place. I ‘am not able to say what was said at the meeting or what was the purpose of it. The Government’s economic policy and its view on the economy generally are stated from time to time by the Prime Minister, myself and others in this place. Our policies are determined, of course, by Cabinet discussions, and it would not be in accordance with practice to announce these in answer to a question without notice.
– Will the Minister for Trade state what is the difference, as a protective device, between a primage duty and customs duty?
– In respect of goods which are similar to those made in Australia I have no doubt that any imposition at the point of entry, whether it be described as a. customs duty or a primage duty, would have a protective incidence. The term “ customs duty “ is principally applied to an imposition which is arranged after an inquiry by the Australian Tariff Board and is the result of a deliberate act by the Parliament designed eventually to protect Australian industry. On the other hand, the primage duty, as we first knew it in the 1930’s, was a duty imposed for revenue purposes or as a deterrent to imports in those days in which a grave balance of payments situation existed. It has not the status of a protective customs duty. No Australian industry would be justified in expecting a continuation of what was described as a primage duty, notwithstanding that* it might have a protective incidence. In short, one is the result of a deliberate act of protection; the other represents a deliberate act to raise revenue or to achieve some purpose other than protection.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation able to state whether 80 representatives of airline companies at the international air transport conference in Cannes have agreed to reduce air fares by up to 35 per cent, in several parts of the world, but not to Australia? Is it correct that the fares agreed upon will operate for a period of two years? In view of the extensive campaign to encourage tourists to Australia, is there anything that can be done to- reduce air fares to Australia, in line with the proposed reductions elsewhere, so that Australia will not be discriminated against?
– 1 am not conversant with the details of the meeting mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall get them from the Minister for Civil Aviation and let the honorable member have a reply as quickly as I can. Unquestionably, Australia enjoys the lowest air fares of any country in the world.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Did the talks in which he was engaged overseas d?al with the problem of falling world prices for commodities? If so, can he say whether any progress has been made towards finding a means of checking this trend?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that at our talks in London at the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council with the Finance Ministers of the Commonwealth nations represented there, and at the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank in Washington, there was a good deal of discussion about this problem of reasonable and profitable commodity prices, particularly for the commodities produced by the less developed countries. There was a good deal of talk as to how these under-developed countries could be assisted in their development through schemes such as the International Development Association and others, and I took the opportunity to point out that even a moderate decline in the prices for the commodities produced by those countries would more than offset all the aid which could go to them under the schemes we were then contemplating, and that therefore it was vital to their stability and their continued progress that they be assured of some degree of stability, at a profitable level, of the prices of the primary commodities that they produce and export. I believe that the seriousness of the position has been acknowledged by the industrialized countries. I cannot, however, say that at this point any proposal or formula has emerged which would provide the answers to the problems. All I can say is that I know that study is continuing of the position of those under-developed countries, and of the position of countries like Australia, which are not under-developed in the same sense but which rely very substantially on the export prices they receive for a sound internal economy and continuing national advancement.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I preface my remarks by advising the Prime .Minister that as a fourth generation Australian I am most concerned by the threat to Australia’s defence involved in a recent happening in this Parliament. Has the Prime Minister been advised that during his absence abroad on a mission which, the Parliament was told, was necessary in the interests of the defence of Australia, a certain happening took place which could have grave consequences to the best interests of Australia? Has the Prime Minister been advised that recently the Minister for Shipping and Transport, in company with the Liberal member for Wentworth, in New South Wales, the Liberal member for Griffith, in Queensland, and the Liberal member for Fawkner, in Victoria, were in deep conversation for a long period-
– Order! I think that the honorable member should get down to his question.
– I am asking-
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. He may seek information and press for action.
– I ask the Prime Minister: In view of the fact that a meeting took place between a well-known top Communist and those members of Parliament and at a convivial lunch, with copious-
– Order! The honorable member is now making comment.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Will he have a close investigation made into this matter, and the fact that at a convivial lunch-
– I ask the Prime Minister: Will he make a close investigation into the fact that a Communist cell may be uncovered in the ranks of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party themselves, and will he, at the close of his investigation, bring down a report to this Parliament so that members may be put on their guard against insidious forces which, I believe, are at work, as is clear from the circumstances of that particular convivial lunch?
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that a conference of the National Farmers Union is to be held in Canberra next week? Does this conference represent a genuine attempt on the part of the major primary producers’ organizations in Australia to produce a situation where the National Farmers Union can speak with an authoritative voice on the problems of primary industry? Does the Government welcome this prospect? Will the Minister do everything in his power to accord the conference ‘the recognition and status it deserves?
– There is to be a conference of the National Farmers Union in Canberra next week. I understand that it will be opened by His Excellency the Governor-General and that the Right Honorable the Minister for Trade will also speak. I believe I am to close the day’s proceedings in the afternoon. I think due recognition will be given to the work of this organization for the welfare of primary industry.
– Has the Minister for Territories made any inquiries about the delay that has occurred on the part of the authorities in Port Moresby in completing the amendments that he suggested should be made to the company ordinances for New Guinea, since the questions concerning this matter were directed to him yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and by myself?
– Following the questions asked yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hindmarsh I had recourse to the departmental files in order to make sure what the position was. I find that as long ago as October, 1957, ministerial approval was given for the preparation of legislation. In the course of the subsequent work, a great number of extremely complex matters emerged and our legal advisers pointed out various difficulties. Eventually, in November, 1959, draft legislation was submitted, together with comments directing attention to the great complexities involved. At that stage further instructions for additional work were given to the officers and that work has been proceeding.
After examining the matter again yesterday, I asked the officers to see whether they could give separate and early attention to the matter to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition directed attention - that is, the position of the indigenous people in the Trust Territory of New Guinea in respect of shareholdings in companies.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: What is the factual position regarding job vacancies and applicants for employment? Is it relatively easy to place people in employment even when pockets of labour become available due to reorganization in some industry or in some government department?
– On the latest information available, the number of job vacancies is much in excess of the number of people applying for employment. The number of people, applying for unemployment benefit continues to fall. I think it can therefore be said that if a person unfortunately loses his job, whether due to reorganization or to any other reason, the likelihood of his quickly getting another job is very good.
– My question to the Prime Minister relates to the agreement reached by his Government with the State Premiers in relation to tax re-imbursement grants. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he made the following statement in the House: -
Every State Premier accepted the new arrangement. The Premiers did not accept it, as might be suggested, unwillingly - but each of them accepted it, with great expressions of satisfaction.
I ask him whether he is aware that on 20th September this year the Premier of Victoria, in reply to a question on notice, stated -
Victoria . . . made it perfectly clear at that time that Victoria accepted the arrangement only with the greatest reluctance.
Will the Prime Minister explain to the House whether it is he, or the Premier of Victoria, who is trying to mislead his respective Parliament?
– This is not really a matter about which offensive remarks need be made. The record of the conference with the Premiers indicates their attitude quite clearly. It is true that the gentleman who spoke for Victoria reserved, as that State has done for years, its position in relation to uniform tax. Subject to the reservation that Victoria was not to be taken as abandoning its views on uniform tax, the representative of that State concurred most heartily with the proposal, so far as I can judge from reading the transcript of the proceedings. / was not there, but my colleagues who were present at the conference will support that statement. If the honorable member wishes to satisfy his mind on this matter, I shall see that he secures the verbatim record of the conference at which these views were expressed.
– Is the Treasurer aware that during the debate on the sales tax amending b’ill last night I asked that he consider preparing a special list containing as many as possible of the goods that are free from sales tax if purchased for use in primary industry? As such a list would be of great value to, and would be appreciated by, primary producers, will he seriously consider my request?
– Yes. I shall have a talk to the Commissioner of Taxation and find out how far it is practicable to meet the honorable member’s wishes.
” SOUTH PACIFIC “ MAGAZINE.
– My question to the Minister for Territories relates to the bimonthly magazine “ South Pacific “ which the Australian School of Pacific Administration commenced to publish just after the war. Why did the honorable gentleman suppress this publication, or allow it to lapse, a year ago?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is giving a completely wrong impression when he uses the word “ suppress “. The publication was never suppressed. It was produced by the staff of the School of Pacific Administration for officers of the Papua-New Guinea service. About a year ago I asked the school staff to prepare proposals for either consolidating the journal with other publications or preparing it in a new form. I understand that discussions are still proceeding in the school council about the new form that the publication should take.
-I address my question to the Prime Minister. Has any decision been made with regard to the provision of our own ice-breaker to give regular service to our Antarctic bases and to provide continuity of research in Antarctica? At present we hire an icebreaker on an annual basis. Would it not be advisable for such a vessel to be serviced and maintained by the Royal Australian Navy? Has any request been made for air crews of the Royal Australian Air Force to train with the United States Air Force on the air transport routes in Antarctica? I understand that we have had one observer with the United States Air Force since 1958.
– I am sorry that I cannot answer the question off-hand. I know the honorable gentleman’s great interest in this matter and I will take the earliest possible opportunity to obtain a detailed reply to his questions.
Restriction of Credit
– I direct a question to the
Treasurer. Is it a fact that, as has been stated by the managing director of the firm concerned, the ten-pin bowling alley recently opened at Hurstville, Sydney, cost £150,000, that other alleys are to be opened throughout Australia, and1 that the estimated turnover from them during the next twelve months will be £10,000,000? If these are facts, will the Treasurer say on what moral or economic principles the Government justifies the spending of this money at a time when banking policy dictated by the Government has curtailed credit, and has even stopped the advance of money for the purpose of building schools and providing improved educational facilities? Having these considerations in mind, will the Treasurer undertake to remedy the injustices of the Government’s present financial policy by providing money for the development of this country, or by re-imposing capital issues control, so as to ensure that millions of pounds will be provided for schools, housing and other essential services, instead of for luxury projects and unessential works such as ten-pin bowling alleys?
– The honorable member has endeavoured to disguise his socialist principles, but I think he is becoming contaminated by association with some of the more authoritarian types in his own party. It is a novel suggestion that the Government should impose some kind of embargo, based on moral grounds, on commercial and economic activities. I have never heard the honorable member suggest that we ought to suppress breweries or close down race tracks.
– Or get rid of the onearmed or two-armed bandits in the honorable member’s own State.
– That is right. The honorable member has not suggested that we remove the two-armed or one-armed bandits that are at present operating in New South Wales. The Commonwealth Government has not the power, nor has it sought the power, to control activities of this kind. The general economic policies of the Government provide for the maintenance of the principles of a free enterprise system, and I am sure that the people of Australia generally approve such policies.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it true that American trade unionists are’ showing increasing interest in arbitration as a means of determining wages and conditions of workers, as they have found that collective bargaining causes too many costly losses and too much violence? Is it also true that the Australian Communist party, on the other hand, follows a policy designed to destroy arbitration and to introduce the collective bargaining system?
– I think it would be be true to say that the Australian Communist Party has one real objective, which is to destroy the system of law and order in this country, including the system of industrial arbitration. That statement, I think, answers the second part of the honorable member’s question. As to the first part of it, Mr. Laurie Short of the
Federated Ironworkers Association has reported that in America the working man is becoming sick and tired of strikes, and I think the working man in that country is simply reflecting what is in the mind .of the average working man in Australia. Working men here are also sick and tired of strikes, and I am sure they would very much like their Communist leaders to stop calling them out on strike on the most frivolous of pretexts. From the information coming to me it does appear that the American working man now wishes to consider the introduction of the arbitration system, but I am not sure how far the trade union leaders have taken their consideration of the matter.
– Has the Minister for Air read the reports of unidentified flying objects sighted in Australia in the last two years, especially the detailed description of such an object seen at Cressy in my electorate by the Reverend Lionel Browning and his wife two weeks ago, and twice last week-end? Incidently, the reverend gentleman was my Liberal opponent at the 1951 and 1954 elections. Does the Minister accept responsibility for investigating these sightings? Does his department make any record of them? Has the Minister any information about them that may be of interest to the people of Australia?
– I have read the press reports of these sightings in Tasmania, and in accordance with the usual practice, all the information that is available concerning them has been furnished to my department and is now being examined. The Department of Air does obtain information about all well reported cases of unidentified flying objects. The department not only receives information about them but also exchanges it with the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. There is a regular exchange of information on these matters. I can tell the honorable member for Wilmot that although reports of this sort have been investigated very carefully for years, nearly all of them are explainable on a perfectly normal basis. Sometimes they are found to be weather balloons, high-flying aircraft or even stars. On one occasion, it was established that a reported space ship was the moon. Of all these reports, only 3 per cent, or 4 per cent, cannot be explained on the basis of some natural phenomenon, and nothing that has arisen from that 3 per cent, or 4 per cent, of unexplained cases gives any firm support for the belief that interlopers from other places in this world, or outside it, have been visiting us.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether, at the meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council which he attended in London recently, the problems created ‘for the British Commonwealth of Nations by the moves towards a common market and a free trade area in Europe were discussed? If so, did the British Government make any specific proposals to the meeting relating to its intentions?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, there was a good deal of discussion at that meeting on developments which have occurred in relation to the problems of the common market in Europe and the possibilities of some United Kingdom participation in a mutually acceptable scheme. Opportunity was taken to ascertain the general views of the Commonwealth countries towards these possibilities - possibilities which did not take the form of any concrete proposal but merely general, possibilities that some formula might be found in the future. The United Kingdom Government made it quite clear that it had no definite proposal to put forward, nor had any been submitted to it by any other country of Europe up to that time.
After the discussion had proceeded some distance, the United Kingdom made ft quite clear to the other countries participating that in any future discussions that might occur it would have in mind, first, its relations with other countries of the British Commonwealth and the problems which might arise; secondly, its relations with its associates in the European Free Trade .Association; and thirdly, the problem of its own agriculturalists which is a separate and distinct matter from its point of view. So I think we can be assured that in any further discussions which may take place, all these considerations will be very much in the mind of the
United Kingdom Government, and we have been assured of full consultation by that Government as developments occur.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker. I noticed that an attendant a short time ago restrained visitors seated in the public gallery from taking notes. This is an action which 1 accept as correct; but in view of the fact that many of the visitors are from overseas countries, and so that they might not form a wrong impression as to why they are prevented from taking notes in the gallery will you, Sir, study the possibility of amending the forms of the House so that some visitors to the Parliament, especially those from African or Asian countries, may obtain special dispensation for the purpose of taking notes of their impressions of the proceedings of the Parliament, provided application is made to you for that purpose?
– I will consider the point raised by the honorable member.
– I present the fourth report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk, and - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act 1947-1 958.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve an agreement relating to sugar made between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland.
Motion (by Dr. Donald Cameron) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to weights and measures.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Explosives Act 1952-1957.
Aborigines - Civil Defence - Banking: Restriction of Credit - Pensions - Table of Precedence - Employment - Aged Persons Homes - Housing- Hospital and Medical Benefits Funds
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
.- The matter I wish to raise was put to the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) the other day in a question asked by an honorable member on the other side of House. I have raised this matter here a good many times, and have taken every opportunity to put the point of view of people who have little opportunity to express their opinions themselves. The point of view I wish to express was supported recently, I was interested to note, by the leader of Russia. I hope I make it clear that I was in this field before he was and that in this instance he is following our line. The question I raise is that of Australian aborigines and the legal difficulties in which they find themselves.
Recently, a good deal of distress and concern has been caused by the conditions of some aborigines in Armidale, New South Wales. Leading articles in newspapers have suggested that this is a field of activity for the New South Wales Government alone. However, a question was asked on this matter by an honorable member opposite who, I think, represents the area. The Acting Prime Minister, in his reply, made clear that he considered the task was one purely for the people of New South Wales. I say that this is a task for the national Government. The initiative in this job can lie only in this Parliament and the appropriate Ministers. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), early in his career as a Minister, took the initiative on several occasions and called a national conference to discuss the problems of aborigines. Generally speaking, the problem is very closely related to the housing needs of. aborigines. The Victorian Aborigines Welfare Board in its latest’ report, made clear that housing is the greatest single need of these people.
Reports from Armidale and Gunnedah, in New South Wales and from Western Australia, Queensland and wherever else aborigines reside, whether under the jurisdiction of Liberal-Country Party or Labour Governments establish that State governments cannot adequately handle this matter with the resources at their disposal. Some national action should be taken by the National Parliament through the appropriate Ministers. I suggest that the Minister for Territories, acting in concert with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), take some immediate action to call a national conference and, if necessary, make special grants to the States to help in this matter. Even a most superficial examination shows clearly that this is necessary. A national housing advance should be made to the States to help them meet the needs of aborigines. The States with the smallest white population - Queensland and Western Australia - have the largest aboriginal population and it is unfair that other States such as Victoria which, according to the report of the Commissioner of Taxation, is the wealthiest State but has the lowest aboriginal population, should leave this problem solely to the States most vitally concerned. As a simple matter of justice, this should be treated as a national problem.
I want to take this opportunity to mention the legal difficulties that arise as a result of the provisions of section 51 of the Constitution, the relevant part of which reads -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: - (xxvi.) The people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws:
This has been interpreted, since federation, as placing the right to make laws concerning aborigines beyond the province of this Parliament. Only last year, the Government decided that it could make provision for aborigines in its social services legislation. The result of this is that an Australian aboriginal cannot be sure of his legal position unless his legal adviser travels with him. Some of the acts passed by the various parliaments in Australia have been restrictive in the extreme. The Victorian Government - it was a Liberal government - removed all restrictive legislation relating to aborigines from the statute-book. The Tasmanian Government, although it was directly concerned with only a few hundred aborigines on some of the islands to the north, removed restrictions in 1952, and this was a Labour government. Yet some very restrictive legislation still remains on the statute-books.
I want to tell the House particularly of the provisions of the Queensland act and the regulations made under it. This is not an attack on those who administer the act; they are not .the people who created it. It is interesting to note that aboriginal welfare legislation, except perhaps in the Northern Territory, has had fewer amendments than has any other social legislation. The repatriation legislation has been altered about 40 times in 40 years; the social service legislation is altered every year and occasionally a couple of times ayear, but State legislation concerned with the welfare of aborigines remains static year after year, despite the growing concern of the community generally and the growing knowledge of social welfare ‘ requirements. Under the Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act of Queensland, an aboriginal can never be free in that State. In Queensland, the aboriginal has fewer rights than the last-arrived migrant. The protections and freedoms that are applicable to the rest of the citizenry just do not apply to the aboriginal in Queensland. Under the act to which I have just referred, a half-blood is defined as -
A person -
One of whose parents was an aboriginal and whose other parent had no strain of the blood of an aboriginal or aboriginals; or
Both of whose parents have a strain of aboriginal blood, and who himself has a strain of more than 25 per cent, of aboriginal blood but who has not a preponderance of such blood.
This act will apply to almost any person with aboriginal blood in his veins if he moves into Queensland, because it is applicable to any aboriginal native of the mainland of Australia or of any islands in the territorial jurisdiction of Australia. The Queensland Director of Native Welfare may exempt aborigines from the provisions of the act, but, unfortunately - some of the
States have removed this provision from their acts - he also has power to revoke the exemption. The Queensland act provides -
The Director may at any time revoke any exemption, and thereupon the provisions of this Act shall apply to such aboriginal as if no exemption had ever been granted.
I have no doubt that the director always has due respect for the duties of his office when exercising that right, but the fact is that he has power to take away from people of aboriginal descent the ordinary civil freedoms. Those to whom I have spoken are deeply concerned about this. They are hurt and indignant. Unfortunately, the position is that if they start to make too much fuss, they are described as dangerous agitators. The Queensland act gives almost unexampled powers over aborigines. For instance, the Department of Native Affairs, through its director, can take possession of, retain, sell or dispose of any property of an aboriginal whether real or personal. The director is also the guardian of the aborigines’ children, for section 18 of the Queensland act provides that the director shall be the legal guardian of every aboriginal child in the State while such child is under the age of 21 years. By section 19, the director is given complete control over their marriages. The section provides -
No marriage between aboriginals shall be celebrated without the permission of the protector of the district in which the parties to such marriage reside.
The director has absolute control over the freedom of movement of an aboriginal in Queensland, and “ aboriginal “ is very widely defined in the Queensland act. Section 22 provides -
The director may by writing under his hand from time to time cause any aboriginal, save and except an aboriginal to whom this section does not apply, to be removed from any district to a reserve and kept there . . .
Therefore, the director has power over freedom, property, children and the right of aborigines to marry. I believe that there should be. no such legislation on the Australian statute book. I believe that there ought to be welfare legislation, in line with the developing legislation relating to repatriation and social services, and the welfare departments of the various States. We must take steps to remove from the States the sole responsibility for the welfare of aborigines. It is not a matter of Canberra control; it is a matter of Canberra initiative.
There are other aspects of the act which, in my view, are restrictive in the extreme. For instance, the wages of aborigines may be taken from them and cared for on their behalf, and they are required to contribute to a welfare fund. In effect, this is a form of income tax. The scale of their contribution is set out in the Queensland act, which states -
Aboriginals other than those residing on a settlement or mission reserve or whose employment is controlled from a settlement or mission reserve -
Single men and women without dependants, widows and widowers without dependants at the rate of 5 per cent, of their gross earnings.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to grieve this morning about the situation in which we appear to find ourselves in connexion with civil defence. 1 feel very perturbed - I know other honorable members do also - at the way in which things are proceeding. Let me recall to the House the various moves that have taken place in this direction, because they will emphasize the point I want to make this morning.
For years, many people have been pressing the Government to have a thorough look at the civil defence situation in Australia and do something about it. Eventually, on 29th September last year, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who is responsible for civil defence, spoke during the debate on the Estimates and announced the Government’s attitude to civil defence. Those of us who are interested in civil defence felt that this was a real step forward. Not everybody agreed with what the Minister had to say, but at least he did put forward a positive plan and proposal which could lead to some action being taken to establish in Australia a civil defence organization appropriate to the needs of the strategic situation with which we are faced.
The Stales are very much concerned in this matter. The Minister said in his statement that there would be conferences of the State Ministers responsible for civil defence to discuss the framework of the civil defence organization which should be set up. The first of those conferences was held in January and was attended by representatives of all the States. At that conference the chairman of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee gave a broad review of the strategic situation and indicated the way in which civil defence fitted into it. It was then agreed that the States would consider what part they should take and report back to another conference, which was held in June of this year. After that conference, it was announced that the State Ministers had indicated their willingness to co-operate with the Commonwealth in an expanded civil defence programme. They indicated how far they were prepared to meet the cost of their State programmes and what financial aid they considered the Commonwealth ought to make available. What worries me is that although that conference took place in June, practically nothing has been done. To-day there is no more sign of an adequate civil defence organization in Australia than there was when the Minister made his statement in September of last year, except in New South Wales. I compliment that State for what it has done. Under very great difficulties, it has gone ahead and endeavoured to establish its own organization. I should like to know why nothing else has been done. I have many suspicions - I know other honorable members have also - as to why this situation has arisen. I believe that there has been a dispute between the Commonwealth and the States over the division of responsibilities in this sphere. I am not surprised that there has been this dispute because an examination of the Statement made by the Minister last September will disclose the seeds of differences of opinion over the division of responsibility. The relevant part of that statement reads -
I hope to take an early opportunity to discuss the whole civil defence problem with representatives of the State Governments. However, I think I should state now the Commonwealth’s view that, as a basic principle, the States should be responsible for the development of their own civil defence planning and programmes, with the Commonwealth providing national guidance and co-ordination as necessary. Moreover, we should aim at the development of common doctrine, organization and training, and standard or compatible equipment where possible.
It must be clear to the House that that statement contains ambiguities and the seeds of many differences of opinion with respect to responsibility. If the Commonwealth Government maintained that attitude during the conferences, then 1 am not surprised that there have been delays in establishing civil defence organizations in the States.
Surely the question of responsibility in this matter is clear. Constitutionally, the Commonwealth is responsible foi defence, and civil defence is just as much a part of defence as any other aspect. That being so, the constitutional responsibility is quite definite and clear. It cannot be disputed. The difference between civil defence and other forms of defence is that effective civil defence requires the coordination of instrumentalities controlled by State governments, but that does not shift the burden of final responsibility. The responsibility for civil defence is still squarely on the shoulders of the Commonwealth Government. Of course, if the States refused to co-operate, that would make civil defence impossible. But has any one suggested that that is the case? When at these civil defence conferences the Commonwealth has said, “ This is where your instrumentalities fit into the overall defence plan “, have the States said that they will not co-operate? Of course they have not. On the contrary, they have said that they are prepared to make their instrumentalities available. But as I understand it, the fact is that they have not been given a detailed plan in which to co-operate.
When I asked the Minister for the Interior a question about a point in relation to civil defence made by Sir Thomas Playford, the Minister said -
I remind the honorable member, who talked about a detailed, comprehensive plan for civil defence, that more than 4,000 members of the State public services and other organizations in the States have attended the Civil Defence School at Mr Macedon precisely for the purpose of enabling them to go back to their States with an idea of what is required in their own areas.
This implies to me that the States have been left to pluck a plan out of the air solely with the help of the people who have attended the school at Mr Macedon. I do not think that such a situation is realistic. If this is the Commonwealth’s approach to civil defence, the Commonwealth Government is avoiding its responsibility, for this represents a definite abnegation of responsibility on the part of the Commonwealth. I should like to have the Minister’s assurance that this is not true.
If the Commonwealth is responsible for defence, it is our job to provide a detailed civil defence plan and to provide and pay for the frame work of a civil defence organization. Then - and only then - can we ask the States, with their instrumentalities, to co-operate with the Commonwealth in that framework. The gentle art of passing the buck, of suggesting that some one else is responsible for something which you should have done yourself, has been developed to a high degree in Australia, particularly by the State governments. But this time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I believe that it is the Commonwealth which appears to be to blame - and in a context which is a good deal more important than usual, because it could involve people’s lives.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to return to a matter about which this morning I asked a question of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). More broadly, I wish to deal with the Government’s financial policy and the manner in which money is being channelled into completely unessential purposes to the detriment of essential developmental work and the provision of essential facilities in this country. This morning, I asked a question about the spending of £150,000 on a ten-pin bowling alley that was opened at Hurstville recently and about a statement by the managing director of the company concerned that a further £10,000,000 per annum turnover would result from this game because it was proposed to construct bowling centres at Fairfield, Blacktown, Bankstown, Sylvania and Balgowlah, in the Sydney metropolitan area, and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth. I am not opposed to this sport as such. The fact that the sport about which I am speaking happens to be ten-pin bowling is quite incidental. The point I wish to make is that money is available for such purposes and it is denied for essential purposes. At a time when the free-enterprise banks are curtailing credit, no doubt on the instructions of this Government, and when the constituent banks of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation will not advance money to meet the needs of primary producers and for the construction of schools and the provision of other services, it seems fantastic that more than £10,000,000 per annum is to be allowed to go into the development of a game known as ten-pin bowling.
I may be a bad judge, but I have watched this game on television and I have read how to play it as set out in what I suppose is one of the most elaborate prospectuses ever issued. Goodness knows what it cost. It contains about 20 or 30 pages of the finest-quality art paper, and sets out full details of the way in which the game is played and of everything associated with it. From my observations on television and of the way in which the game is played, as set out in this prospectus, I think one can summarize the situation by saying that in times not quite so advanced as these this game was known as skittles. In the game of skittles, the object is to knock over a few pegs with a ball, and points are allotted for each peg. The player who gets the most points wins.
At a time when this Government’s policy of curtailing credit is being put into effect, it is tragic in the extreme that £10,000,000 a year is being spent by one company alone on a game that is known broadly as skittles. In my electorate recently, certain school construction work was stopped because, as a result of the restriction of credit, a bank refused to advance more money. The point I make is that the Government cannot have it both ways. It says that it is a freeenterprise government, and that it believes in competition. It says that its policy is to make money available for the development of this country. If that is so, it should make money available freely for development. I believe that in this country, with its expanding economy and its great developmental prospects, there ought to be continually a truly liberal policy with respect to the advancement of funds for development and the provision of schools, essentia] services and the like. That should be the policy of this Government if it adheres to the principles on which it says it was elected. But, evidently, it does not do so.
Money is available in unlimited amounts to-day for things such as ten-pin bowling alleys. Unlimited funds are available for the share market and for land speculation of the worst possible type as is exemplified in many parts of Australia. But, on the other side of the ledger, school construction work is stopped because funds are lacking, and there is no money available for primary producers. People who require money for housing to-day have to go into debt to the money-lenders of this country on a scale unparalleled in the history of this nation. Instead of this Government’s policy of credit curtailment, high and exorbitant interest rates and lack of money for essential purposes while ten-pin bowling alleys are given unlimited opportunities to get the money that they want, there ought to be a system of priority control of money so that the available funds may be directed into the channels that matter - the channels from which the country will derive the greatest benefit. At any time when anything is in short supply there must be some measure of priority. A programme for essential needs must be laid down.
I am one who believes that there is no real shortage of money in this country. We should soon find that out if a war broke out to-morrow. There would be plenty of money available, regardless of the political colour of the government, for the protection of this nation - and rightly so. But to-day, in time of peace, when we should be making money available for essential purposes, funds are restricted except for companies which conduct games of the kind that I have mentioned and which participate in other unessential activities. The Government must do one of. two things. It must either abandon its existing policy of imposing credit restrictions on the banking system or re-institute capital issues control and thereby make money available for essential purposes according to a proper order of priority in order to give justice to the Australian people.
I was not at all impressed this morning by the light-hearted - I would even say “ light-headed “ - reply given by the Treasurer this morning to my question on this very important issue of the provision of funds for essential purposes. Every member of the Australian Country Party knows - or should know - that there is no money available to primary producers today to enable them to do many things that are essential to the community. No doubt the people of the country electorate of Calare, in which a by-election campaign is being fought at the present time, will be happy to hear that there is plenty of money available for ten-pin bowling alleys but none available to enable primary producers to get essential equipment for their properties so that they may increase production. 0
These matters should not be flippantly cast aside. Recently, one of the big estate companies in this country sought £500,000 from the people of Australia. Its issue was £2,000,000 over-subscribed, although at the same time a Commonwealth loan was £3,500,000 under-subscribed. In other words, money is going into land speculation in preference to government bonds. If the money that is going into land speculation were put into government loans, it could be made available to the State governments and to other instrumentalities for essential purposes such as the provision of sewerage and transport services which are so necessary and which would be of great benefit to the people.
The Government’s policy cannot go on indefinitely. It gives unlimited profits to the speculator. Money lenders and others dealing in high interest rates get money in a very easy way at the expense of people who really need finance. I wonder what thousands of people in electorates throughout the Commonwealth think when they hear of £150,000 being expended on a skittle alley while, at the same time they cannot get £1.000 from a bank for a deposit on a home!
State governments are begging the Commonwealth for money to provide essential services and housing. There is an unlimited waiting time for finance from the War Service Homes Division because of lack of funds. The Government curtails credit and refuses the introduction of a priorities system, but makes available finance for the construction of such things as bowling alleys. When looking at television we see advertisements for the free enterprise banks. But their policies are identical. To all intents and purposes, if not in actual fact, they are a combine.
The policy of the Government is to give to those who are not in need at the expense of those who want. I am not opposed to development. I like to see hotels going up and cities being improved with good buildings, but there is another side to that picture. The Government says that money is short. I say it is not. If the Government contends that money is not available it should either curtail investment in unessentials by a form of capital issues control - channeling money where it will give the greatest benefit to the greatest number - or it should itself make money available to provide for all the needs of the people.
I invite the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), when he speaks, to express some of the pious sentiments that he expressed in days gone by before he was emancipated and made a Whip. I should like him to say why he supports a policy of credit restriction, imposed by what he terms a free enterprise government. Many people in country districts would not have their farms to-day if it were not for the Rural Bank of New South Wales and the policy of the State Labour Government under which money has been made available for primary producers. I will be interested to hear the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) come into the Calare electorate and tell the people that there is no money available to develop their farms, but that if they want a ten-pin bowling alley he will make £150,000 available. He will not say that.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The intrigues that go on inside the Labour movement never cease to amaze me. The opportunity has been taken on this grievance day by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) to take a sly poke at the Premier of New South Wales. He has said, in effect, “ This is a dreadful thing. The New South Wales Government is building ten-pin skittle alleys”. He did not tell us that they are being built by public subscription; that people are voluntarily putting their money into this project and, as far as I have been able to find out, the share issues are being well subscribed. The honorable gentleman’s real motive was to attack, not the Liberal Party but the New South Wales Premier, because he gave permission for the company concerned to erect the bowling alley at Hurstville. The com pany could not have built this establishment without specific approval from the New South Wales Government. So the honorable member for Grayndler has had this little poke at the New South Wales Premier for having approved the establishment of a game in a working-class area for the recreation of working-class people.
It was the Premier himself who, last Friday night, opened this centre. He spoke in the most glowing terms of the benefit it would bring to the people who wanted sport and recreation in that district. This, evidently, did not please the honorable member for Grayndler. Due to some devious working of his own tortuous mind, he said, in effect, “ Heffron has done wrong in this. Heffron has approved of bowling alleys; I object to them. Heffron wants the workers to have a place of recreation; I do not. Heffron has opened this place and spoken of it in glowing terms; I will cut his legs off and damn the thing”. It is a good technique and I leave the honorable member to the tender mercies of his Premier in New South Wales.
I want to take up the question that was raised by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) this morning concerning the attitude of the Social Services Department to the earnings of age, invalid and widow pensioners. The honorable member set out very clearly the difficult situation in which many pensioners find themselves, due to the instructions that officers of the Social Services Department have, rather than to the social services legislation. The act provides that a single pensioner may earn £182 per annum without “it affecting his pension. A married pensioner couple may earn £364 per annum, either jointly or singly. Throughout Australia, as far as I have been able to discover, a good deal of heartache and suffering has been brought to pensioners because of the interpretation of the act within the department.
The pensioners have the provisions of the act clear in their minds. A couple may have an income which is below the ceiling for the complete year. They feel free, as I believe they should be, to earn up to the ceiling amount in a year. But the department says to them, “ If, after seven or eight weeks you have earned more than £7 a week you must tell us and your pension may be reduced1 or even suspended while inquiries are being made”. To my mind, that is a heartless approach to the problem. I believe that the procedure should be established along specific lines. The act provides that a certain income may be earned in a year. The pensioners are entitled to know when their year commences.
Does the act refer to a financial year - the normally accepted business year? So far as I can discover, it is not so. Some authorities have told me that the year commences from the date of the grant of the pension and that a pensioner couple may earn £364 in that year. Another authority has told me that that may be so, but that if the pension is changed as a result of a review, the year in which the stipulated income may be earned starts from the date of the change in the rate of pension. Another authority - and I believe this is the Minister’s own view - has said that the year starts from the date when the pensioner commences earning. There you have four opinions. The year of income could date from the granting of a pension, from a change of the rate of pension, from the commencement of earning, or from the beginning of a financial year. How can old people understand that when we have this muddle in our own thinking in this place?
What do I say to a pensioner who comes to me and says that in a time of seasonal work he has got a job at the meat works and has earned, perhaps, £25 or £30 a week for ten weeks. He is still within his maximum income. When does his year of income start? From the day on which he started work? From the day on which he first got his pension? Or from the date on which the pension was last changed? It is most confusing. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) should take this up now with his department and notify the pensioners in writing of how much they may earn in a year, when their income year commences and when it finishes. A pensioner couple will then know that, starting from a certain date of which they have been advised, they may earn £364 up to a specified expiry date; that it is incumbent upon them to notify the department when they have earned that amount; and that if they earn more in the income year their pension will be reduced. This is a most serious matter. It is all very well for us to be academic about it but old people who are in need are not as well informed as we are, and even we are confused.
I believe that the department also is confused. It is time we had some clear thinking on this matter. It is time that these facts were put down in black and white on paper and supplied to pensioners so that all this confusion and heartache and subsequent misery could be ended. I urge the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme), who is now at the table, to bring this matter before his colleague, the Minister for Social Services, and ask him to act promptly on it, because it is causing a lot of trouble and distress to a large number of people.
The other point regarding social services about which I wish to speak concerns the officers who do counter duty and deal with the public at the department’s offices in various places. I believe that the men who perform such duties, which include answering inquiries made by pensioners or prospective applicants for pensions, should be highly trained, skilled and experienced officers, and should be paid accordingly. I am told by the authorities that the Public Service Board will not permit the placing of a senior man on counter duty, and will not approve of a public servant on counter duty being paid a salary commensurate with the skill and experience that I think such a man should have. To my mind this is all nonsense. The man on counter duty is the “ front “ for the Department of Social Services. The people who come to him to make inquiries are seeking information, and they want it given to them in a clear and authoritative form. I do not wish to reflect on the people who are at present on counter duty in the department, but I believe that the most experienced, helpful and sympathetic men should be allocated to this work. I refer this matter to the Minister for Social Services also.
I now wish to discuss an entirely different subject. I believe that the New South Wales Government is revising its table of precedence. I have before me a copy of the Commonwealth table of precedence which Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to approve. As far as I know, Canberra is the only place where this table of precedence approved by Her Majesty is followed. Whenever royal, vice-regal or other important visitors move from State to State, or, indeed, from town to town, they meet with confusion as a result of the lack of a uniform table of precedence.
– The States have their own tables.
– Each State has its table, but it is not necessarily called a table of precedence. It may alter from visit to visit. This matter has been raised in New South Wales because the authorities there are dissatisfied and are going to overhaul the table. The authorities in Queensland are also dissatisfied. The position is so confused that a Supreme Court Judge may be called in precedence over a Justice of the High Court of Australia, or a shire councillor may be called in precedence over a Minister of State of either the Commonwealth or a State. This can be extremely embarrassing not only to the people present at a function, but also to the important visitor who is the guest. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) says that uniformity is the policy of the Labour Party. Let us have uniformity on this matter and save time.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to a statement made yesterday by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). I am not going to contest his statement that at the present time there are only 30,000 people out of work in Australia. Possibly if that number of unemployed were equally divided among all the electorates represented in this House it would not seem so great, but I know that there are members here who never have to worry about who is out of work or who is in work in their electorates. It is a different thing when the bulk of the out of work people reside in a comparatively few electorates.
The Minister claims that the Commonwealth Employment Service has more vacant jobs than it can fill. The position is, of course, that many of these jobs are at places well removed from the places in which large numbers of the unemployed live. In order for the unemployed to fill such vacant positions their families would have to be split asunder.
I have in my hand a letter which concerns a shocking case in connexion with social services. A member of the Government, the Minister for Social Services (Mr.. Roberton), has given about four verdicts regarding the conditions of time under which a man may receive unemployment, benefit and the amounts that pensioners are allowed to earn independently without their pensions being affected. I know that there is very little use hoping for something to be done about this particular case, but I will leave it with the Minister in the hope that something will be done about it.
There is a Commonwealth employment office in my electorate. People whose applications for war pensions and invalid pensions are rejected are told, despite their disabilities, to go to the employment office and seek work there. But nine times out of ten, they are told at the employment office to see their federal member. When I am in Sydney I come in contact with a lot of such cases. Many of the people concerned have to live from week to week waiting until their applications are dealt with, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. They include invalids whose applications for invalid pensions have been rejected but whose disabilities prevent them from taking on some of the jobs that are available. When they apply for unemployment benefit they are sent by the employment officers round various places to look for work, and are told that they must bring back the addresses of at least three places at which they have applied for work and failed to obtain it. I think that the onus should be on the Commonwealth employment office to communicate with the companies concerned, by telephone or otherwise, and get jobs, if they are available, for the applicants. At present applicants for help to keep themselves alive are pushed around from authority to authority, from the repatriation authorities to the social service authorities, and so on. These people should be allowed to have definite information as to exactly when they may receive unemployment benefit or a pension. When a man reaches the age of 65, or a woman the age of 60. he or she is advised by the Commonwealth employment office to apply for the age pension.
If people in poor circumstances and out of work, or in ill health, while waiting to have their applications for some form of assistance approved, are lucky enough to get themselves accommodation at £2 or £3 a week - and they have to be lucky to do that nowadays - they have to live with the constant fear of being checked out of that accommodation before they receive the social service benefits for which they have applied. So I hope that the Minister for Social Services will get down to Sydney and look into some of these cases. If the position is as the Minister states, and not so many people are applying to the Commonwealth employment office for work, that is all the more reason why the employment officers should be able to give better service to the people who do apply. I will leave the matter there, and write to the man who sent me this letter, telling him that we have had two or three different answers as to the position from the Minister for Social Services.
Now I turn to another matter - the presentation of cheques on behalf of the Government in connexion with institutions built under the Aged Persons Homes Act. The other night there was a row in the House about this, with the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) saying that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) could never adequately represent him in the presentation of such a cheque. The provision for the subsidy by the Government, of £2 for £1, for the erection of homes for the aged, is a very good thing. It was initiated by the Labour Government prior to the general election in 1949. After that election the present Government paid the subsidy on a £1 for £1 basis. The charities concerned were grateful for that. Later, as the result of constant agitation from this side of the House for the subsidy to be raised to the level of £2 for every £1, the Government, as it has done on other occasions, followed our lead and increased the subsidy. But how much did the Government give for this purpose? I have the figures right here. Over six years it has given £7.000,000. which is not much more than £1,000,000 a year for the building of these homes. In the last year or so, with the cost of everything rising, one would have thought the Government would have doubled the amount it gave in the previous year or at least doubled the amount which it gave when it started making this money available. But the amount given last year was less than that made available in the previous two years. If the Government is sincere about the housing of aged people it must agree that they cannot live on £5 per week. They must pay for their rooms or sleep in a park or in some hovel where they can get in out of the night air. Every one realizes that these old people cannot live on £5 a week. So why does not the Government give the £2 for £1 to the councils? Surely it can depend on bodies like the Sydney City Council and the Randwick Municipal Council, which have the facilities and the land available, to build homes for aged people in their areas. Occasionally one sees a man with plenty of money who has lived in a shack all his life because he prefers to remain in the surroundings in which he is used to living.
If the Government would advance the £2 for £1 to the councils, instead of talking about who will hand out a key or pass over a cheque, as it has been doing for the last six years in my electorate, it would help in some measure to relieve the trouble which exists at present. I appeal to the Government at least to consider giving this £2 for £1 to the councils. If it does not do so, it should hide its head in shame because of the miserable pittance which it is at present giving while it is spending £200,000,000 on war preparations, millions of pounds for Asia and millions for everything but the mothers and fathers of our soldiers and people in this country who are not able to look after themselves. The Churches and other organizations which have availed themselves of this assistance are limited by the amount they themselves can raise and by shortages of staff. I repeat that if the Government was sincere it would give the councils the £2 for £1 and thus enable them to build the homes that are required.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise on this occasion to deal with a matter which I raised in this House in a question to the responsible Minister, and which was referred to at some length this morning by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). It deals with people of the aboriginal race. Recently the city of Armidale, in my electorate, came into the news following reports which, unfortunately, were all too well founded. Those reports referred to the deplorable conditions under which the aboriginal population - perhaps more correctly I should say “ the half-caste aboriginal population “ - are living on the outskirts of that city. There are certain aspects of this matter which I think should be dealt with not in the light of party considerations but out of humane consideration for the descendants of the aborigines who are still in New South Wales.
I would not like it to be thought that every part of the administration of the aboriginal laws in that State is typified by what has been found to apply to the outskirts of the city of Armidale. In the northern part of my electorate between Urbenville and Woodenbong, for instance, there is an excellent settlement where these people have very useful country, nice cottages and their own school, as well as their own dairy herds. They are a respected section of the community with the rest of whom they mix freely. I would say that their conditions of life are extremely pleasant. I have seen, although not for some years, a settlement near Tumut which I think is called the Brungle settlement, where excellent conditions obtain. I regret to say that I have seen in years gone by some settlements, notably in the west of New South Wales and elsewhere, that I regarded as a reflection upon the capacity of that State effectively to handle this problem throughout its entire area.
A great deal has been said about the position of aborigines among the white population in New South Wales. Going back to the time when I was Minister for Education in that State, I can recall the occasion of a strike in a country school where some 40 children of white parentage stayed away from school and 22 aboriginal children were left there. The truth of that matter was that two children of aboriginal birth attended the school in a dirty, verminous and neglected condition. The parents of the white children objected and the matter went before a police magistrate, who bound the two aboriginal children over to a mother who, I believe, had an intelligence quotient of about 40. In other words, she was a mental defective. The condition of the children did not improve and again a complaint by the parents of the white children took the matter before the magistrate. On this occasion he bound the children over to two aged grandparents, who simply could not look after them. At that stage the white parents got fed up and said that they would not send their children to the school until the matter was settled.
Aboriginal children in that locality had been going to the school practically ever since there had been a settlement there, but it was found that there had been an influx of aboriginal people from the coast whose standards were perhaps not as high as those of the aboriginals who had always lived in the vicinity. When the matter was dealt with and the verminous and neglected children had at last been removed from the school and certain people returned to the coast, there was no further trouble. My point is that it fell on my shoulders to lay down a policy and I laid it down in clear and certain terms, in a minute which I believe is still observed in my old department. That minute was to the effect that no child was to be excluded from any school simply on the ground of colour, birth or nationality. A child of aboriginal birth could only be excluded for the same reasons as any white child could be excluded, namely, that it was dirty, verminous, neglected or uncontrollable; and that rule is applied to white children also.
It was obviously a fair rule to apply to any child. The only exception is that where there is a settlement expressly for aboriginal people, with a school expressly for their children, those children are expected to attend that school. There is no such school in Armidale itself, and I want to clear that city of any suggestion that there has been neglect by its people on this question. Aboriginal children have attended the schools there and, as far as I am aware, there has never been the slightest trouble. I know that 22 aboriginal children attend one of the smaller schools.
Let us turn now to a discussion of the people amongst whom this epidemic broke out in Armidale. Dr. Ellen Kent Hughes, sister of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), has been a fighter for better conditions for aboriginal children. Father Fisher of the Roman Catholic Church has done excellent work. People of other denominations who have worked amongst the aborigines have tried again and again without success to have the official policy applied in an intelligent way in the hope of cleaning up what is a disgraceful state of affairs.
I regret to say that the settlement in question is on a road that I very seldom travel, but I happened to pass it a few weeks ago and was appalled at the conditions under which these people are permitted to live. Conditions are most insanitary and are absolutely disgraceful.
We must face up to one difficulty associated with aborigines. They have an excellent communal rule. If a member of a clan prospers the remainder can more or less camp on him. The rule has great merit and white people could copy it occasionally with advantage. There have been occasions - not in Armidale - where objection has been raised to decent aboriginal couples making homes amongst white people not because the white people take exception to the coloured couple as such, but because they object to a whole nondescript group suddenly forming an encampment practically in their backyards. These are real problems, but they should not be permitted to obscure the necessity for more sympathy and a greater drive by the authorities to assist these unfortunate people.
I have raised the question of constitutional competency in this matter. If the Commonwealth and the States were willing, the Commonwealth could take control of the problem without an amendment of the Constitution. According to a statement which was issued by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), we spend £4,000,000 a year in the Northern Territory on about 70,000 aborigines, quite apart from other advantages which aborigines can share with the rest of the community. I commend the Minister.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to refer also to slums, not the slums in which aborigines live, as has been mentioned by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), but the slums in the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Public conscience is stirring in relation to the community obligation to rid civilization, as we know it in Australia, at the first opportunity of these detestable buildings. Housing is the responsibility of the States, but any State government which courageously tackles the problem of slum reclamation faces a tremendous task because of the lack of finance. The New South Wales and Victorian Governments have made some progress and have succeeded to a degree - not a very appreciable degree unfortunately - in cleaning up these sinks of iniquity.
Let us consider the position in Melbourne which is justifiably known as the Queen City of the South. It has 1,000 acres of run-down and depressed houses. Under the present set-up, the Victorian Housing Commission - an instrumentality which has been established by the State Government - has power to deal with slum reclamation. It has power to proclaim certain areas as slum areas and then to acquire them. But of the 1,000 acres of slum housing in Melbourne, the Housing Commission has proclaimed only 100 acres. This leaves 900 acres of depressed housing in Melbourne which has not yet been proclaimed a slum area.
In 10,000 or 15,000 family units in the 1,000 acres to which I have referred about 40,000 or 50,000 people live in conditions of almost indescribable filth. I point out that this is not because of the attitude of the residents but because the properties are so old that they are entirely incapable of improvement. The State Government provides £500,000 annually out of its funds to acquire properties. The Housing Commission has power to select properties for reclamation and to conduct negotiations for their purchase. The Housing Commission then rebuilds on the cleared areas but, as all honorable members know, the funds at its disposal are altogether inadequate to enable it to do a satisfactory job. The commission receives annually from the State Government £7,300,000 with which it has to meet the housing requirements of the lower income group which forms a large section of the Victorian community. The commission has on its books 17,500 applications for units, so it cannot d’o an adequate job of slum reclamation.
Despite the fact that last year many inroads were made upon the commission’s altogether inadequate funds, it spent £520,000 on building homes on areas which had been cleared. It must be recognized generally that here we have on our hands a social problem of the greatest magnitude. The longer it remains with us the worse it will become because an increasing number of homes become slums as time goes on. We can dilate at length upon the problem and produce maps showing the areas in which slums exist, but nothing can be done unless adequate finance is made available. Obviously this can come only from the Commonwealth Government which controls the pursestrings and which makes agreements from time to time with the States in relation to housing.
It has been estimated that it will take 50 years to reclaim the existing slum areas in Melbourne, and this .will cost between £40,000 and £50,000 an acre. Obviously, the houses cannot be purchased for nothing; they must be bought at the market price because the owners cannot be expected to give them away. It will cost £50,000,000 a year to acquire them. I do not indict the Victorian Government because it is doing its best in circumstances which have been brought about by an apathetic Commonwealth Government, but at the present rate of expenditure it will take 50 years to complete the present clearance programme. However, in 50 years another group of slums will be with us. Obviously, this job is too big for the State governments. When the Commonwealth Government is considering the terms of the next Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement it should recognize the necessity for separate additional funds to assist State governments to tackle the job of slum clearance.
The State Governments are to be complimented on the way in which they have tackled this problem, having regard to their limited resources. They are doing their best in very difficult circumstances, but obviously they cannot do very much because, as well as clearing slum areas, they have to provide houses for people in the lower income group. I suggest to the Go vernment in all seriousness that it should consider the points I have raised when negotiating the next Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. There is widespread conjecture at the moment as to whether the provisions of the new agreement will effect any improvement. All I can say is that if the existing conditions are not improved it will not bc worth while bringing the agreement before this Parliament, because we know that at the present time the amount of money made available to the States is far too small to enable them to do a thorough job of slum clearance.
There is nothing wrong with the present situation in Victoria, because the State Government there realizes that it has some obligation to clear slums, and it is making available £500,000 a year for this purpose. We have a Housing Commission, a readymade organization possessing the techniques and the know-how to enable it to get on with the job. Only one thing is lacking - money. This problem is one that is exercising the mind of every decent-minded person in Australia. It is not a question to be considered on the basis of party politics or party divisions. It is merely a matter of recognizing the existence of a great and increasing social problem that is gnawing at the very vitals of an unfortunate section of our community. The Government should seriously and earnestly consider increasing the amount of money made available to the State Governments, which are keen to obtain enough money to enable their housing authorities to tackle the problem on a practical and broad basis, so that results may be achieved in the foreseeable future. If the Government does so, then we may at least have a plan to eliminate slums. At present, there is no concerted plan. The whole matter is dependant on the whims of the various State governments, and their decisions depend to a large extent on the strength of pressures brought to bear o i them by various sections of the community. Very often, being under pressure from various interests, governments tend to overlook the problem of slum clearance, but I hope the Commonwealth Government will give it serious consideration before completing the next Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) suggested the extension of the Commonwealth Government’s grant on the basis of £2 for £1 for the building of homes for the aged to municipal authorities that wish to build houses for elderly people. With this suggestion I heartily agree. In Victoria, we have a plan under which the municipalities work in with the housing authorities in the erection of flats for elderly people. Municipal councils in Melbourne make areas of land available to the Housing Commission without charge, and the commission then builds on that land serviceable Darby and Joan flats for the housing of elderly people, who find it very difficult to obtain accommodation. In my own municipality of Northcote the council recently gave a block to the Housing Commission for this purpose.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I take this opportunity to make a few comments on the operation of the National Health Act. I refer particularly to the special accounts provisions of that act and, more particularly, to the manner in which the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia is using or interpreting those provisions. I shall cite a particular case, without mentioning the name of the person directly concerned. The facts are fairly brief, and I shall recount them to the House. The Medical Benefits Fund of Australia - and let there be no misunderstanding as to the particular fund to which I refer - decided that the special account provisions should be applied in the case of Mrs. X, because, in the opinion of the fund, the ailment in question was what is referred to as preexisting; in other words, an ailment from which she had suffered before transferring from one table to another.
I had the opportunity of speaking to the medical referee of the Medical Benefits Fund in Brisbane. I put to him various points of view. Among other things this doctor said to me, in reply to my submissions, “ We “ - that is the Medical Benefits Fund - “ are not interested in diagnosis “. I thought that was an arresting comment, and I gave him an opportunity to modify it by pretending I had not heard him correctly. However, he repeated the statement, “ We are not interested in diagnosis”. This statement had arisen from a suggestion I had made that it was quite possible that a diagnosis made by the patient’s doctor was in error. He said, “ We are interested in symptoms “.
The Medical Benefits Fund of Australia publishes a form of application for persons wishing to join the fund and obtain benefits from it. In the “ Summary of Membership Conditions “ printed on the back of the application form we find this statement -
Fund benefits are not payable in respect of any illness or disability or symptoms thereof in evidence to the patient at or prior to the date of admission as a contributor or registered dependant.
The person to whom I have been referring had been a member of the fund on one of the lower tables, and had transferred to a higher one. She later entered hospital and underwent a fairly serious operation. The fund then said that the illness which led to the operation was pre-existing, and that as a consequence she would be paid at the special account rate.
This poses an interesting problem, because symptoms are classified under several headings. There are many different types of symptoms, such as accessory, assident, accidental, complex, concomitant, constitutional, delayed, direct, dissociational, equivocal, grouping, local, objective, passive, pathognomonic, physical, rational, signal, static, subjective and sympathetic. You, Sir, may go along to your doctor and complain of indigestion, and he may say, “ I cannot diagnose the trouble with complete accuracy, but I suggest that you take this powder “. You may then join the Medical Benefits Fund and later you may undergo an appendectomy. The fund may then approach your doctor and ask him, “ Has Mr. McLeay ever been a patient of yours? “ He will say, “ Yes “, and the fund representative will then ask him, “ What was your diagnosis of his illness? “ The doctor will then say that he made an indefinite diagnosis, and the fund can then claim that the symptoms which led you to approach the doctor were symptoms of an irritated appendix. It can claim that the symptoms came under any one of the headings I have mentioned, ranging from accessory to sympathetic.
I think this situation is a bit grim. The responsibility in the matter, of course, is thrown straight back on to this Government or this Parliament, but the fund is enabled to escape its obligations. I thought it was a scandalous thing for the medical referee of this large organization to say to me, “ We are not interested in diagnosis “.
I later went to the specialist surgeon who performed the operation and asked him for his views. He gave me a certificate that in his opinion the illness was not pre-existing before such and such a date. This man was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of London and Edinburgh. I also obtained a certificate from a specialist radiologist setting out certain facts. These documents were placed before what is called an appeal board within the organization of the medical benefits fund. The person concerned is given no right of appearance at the hearing by this board of his appeal, and I wrote a letter on behalf of the patient. The fund then rejected out of hand the opinion of the surgeon, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and also the opinion of a specialist radiologist. On what grounds did it do so? A doctor may say in a particular case, “ The cause of this illness is so and so “. Another doctor may take quite a contrary point of view. That sort of conflict is quite intelligible. But by whose leave does the fund say to the patient: “ I do not accept Dr. So-and-so’s view. Clearly he is in error “ ? That is the inference that may be drawn from the fund’s rejection of the surgeon’s opinion. When this situation is considered in association with the declaration by the medical referee that the fund is not interested in diagnosis, we have an arresting and serious position.
I have run to earth an opinion expressed by a great Australian jurist. Sir Isaac Isaacs, on the matter of ambiguity of language. There is an ambiguity of note here relating to symptoms. I ask any honorable member: If you have a particular illness, what are the symptoms of the illness? In such a case, you find there is an almost infinite range of possibilities that you can reach. This is what Sir Isaac Isaacs had to say on ambiguities -
It by reason of its own language in relation to the matter, or bv reason of the context or of conflicting or differing provision elsewhere, a term when fairly read is doubtful or ambiguous and reasonably susceptible of two constructions, that construction should be adopted which is the more favourable to the assured, because that is of the two the more reasonable in the circumstances.
Sir, there is no doubt in my mind that if this patient took the Medical Benefits Fund into court and sued it for breach of contract, the fund would lose; but where is a widow to get the financial resources to tackle a large organization such as the Medical Benefits Fund? lt is of no avail for the Minister to say, “ You have your civil rights “. The National Health Act approved the existence of the various funds, and there are ample powers for this Parliament to bring to the Minister for Health such an anomaly. 1 hope the Minister will take action to provide that in the event of a conflict between a medical benefits fund and a patient, if the patient is supported by medical certificates and the evidence of his or her own doctor, there will be some right of appeal to an independent medical referee appointed by the Government. As it stands at the moment, a widow is not in a position to commence an action against a large organization. AH the organization has to do is to find some technical point of law, take the action from a magistrate to a Supreme Court and then probably on to the High Court of Australia. Where would a widow get the funds to fight such an action? I hope the Minister for Health will adopt my suggestion. I give fair warning - not in any threatening way - that if the suggestion is not adopted, I shall be prepared to test the feeling of this House by introducing an amendment of my own to provide for the appointment of an independent referee by the Government. This is a state of affairs which brings no credit at all upon the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) has brought before the House a very important matter. He mentioned one of the many anomalies and injustices affecting subscribers to medical benefits and hospital benefits organizations in Australia under the so-called national health scheme. It is a national health scheme in name only. There is no protection for the various subscribers to the scheme. Time and time again, honorable members on both sides of the House have pointed out to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) the anomalies that exist and the injustices that are being done, but rarely do we get a reasonable reply from the Minister. In his concluding statement, the honorable member for Moreton said that if he did not get satisfaction in this matter, he would be prepared to test the feeling of this House. I hope he does that because many honorable members on this side of the House agree with him on this matter.
I know of a wage-earner with a very low income who thought he was providing for the care and protection of his family by subscribing fully to a medical benefits association. He thought that he had covered himself, his wife and his young child. The child, unfortunately, became ill and the medical practitioner who was consulted said that the infant should be taken to a children’s hospital in South Australia for examination by a specialist. Naturally, the father took the child to the children’s hospital. The specialist saw the child on numerous occasions there. Finally, the hospital authorities pointed out that the man was consulting the specialist at the hospital and they said, in effect, “ This is a public hospital and we must look at your income”. They then decided that he had to pay £1 a visit because he was seeing the specialist at the hospital. When the man applied to the medical benefits organization, he was told that if he had gone to North Terrace to consult the specialist, it would have refunded the money he had spent, but as he had seen the specialist at the hospital they could not do that.
That man took his child to the hospital because a doctor had sent him there to see the specialist. I took this matter up with the specialist, and ultimately the man was told that the child should go into a semipublic hospital for the care of children so that the child could be observed and nursed. Again, the father had to pay a modest sum - a couple of pounds a week - for the care of his child; but he was only on bare wages. He had to pay a couple of pounds a week although he had acted in all good faith in subscribing to a medical benefits fund for the care of his wife and child if they became ill. When they became sick, he found that there was no real cover whatever. It is only when you become sick that you find out how really bad this national health scheme is, especially in relation to the special accounts section to which the honorable member for Moreton referred.
I did not intend to speak on that subject. I desire to refer to the recent resignation of the chairman of the Assessment Appeal’s Tribunal in South Australia, Mr. Griff. I want to place on record my appreciation of the very good- service that has been given by Mr. Griff as the chairman of that tribunal. It is most unusual for any tribunal to have the complete confidence of the people who come before it on repatriation matters; but Mr. Griff established such a good record that the ex-serviceman’s organizations and all advocates who appeared before him had full confidence in him. Even if the decision went against them, they were satisfied that they were given a fair and sympathetic hearing. The Government is losing a very capable chairman. I do not know why Mr. Griff resigned. The South Australian Government will get the benefit of his experience, as he has been appointed a magistrate.
I know that Mr. Griff had some very strong views on the onus-of-proof clause and many other aspects of repatriation. The Government should try to obtain the views of such men who can help in many ways to give more satisfaction to appellants and a proper interpretation of the onus-of-proof clause. I asked a question some time ago of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) on this matter. I asked him whether he agreed with views expressed by the Chief Justice of New South Wales, Mr. Justice Evatt, Chief Judge Spicer, who was formerly Attorney-General in this Parliament, and Mr. Justice Joske, that the onusofproof clause was not being interpreted as it should be. I would like the Government to supply to all members of the Parliament the opinion of the Attorney-General on this matter which has been circulated privately to some Government supporters and certain persons associated with the Repatriation Department.
– That is nonsense. Some Opposition members have received it.
– I have not got a copy. If it is not so private, why did not the Attorney-General give it to us when I asked him a question in this House?
– Why not speak the truth?
– The Attorney-General said he would not make it public, when he gave me a reply in this House. I wanted to know whether he agreed with Chief Judge Spicer and Mr. Justice Joske that the onus-of-proof clause was not being interpreted to give fair and just consideration to ex-service men and women.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 291.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1.46 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act, which this bill proposes to amend, provides that a tax, known as the stevedoring industry charge, shall be paid by stevedoring employers on each man-hour worked by registered waterside workers employed by them. This charge, which now stands at 2s. 6d. per man-hour is collected monthly by the Taxation Branch and paid to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The charge is virtually the only source of income of the authority which, as honorable members know, is responsible for the payment to waterside workers of attendance money and for payments in relation to their annual leave, sick leave and statutory holidays. The authority also incurs expenditure in connexion with its regulatory and administrative functions, but the payments to waterside workers which I have mentioned absorb most of the funds derived from the charge.
Some time ago the employers of waterside workers pointed out to me that among the 22,000 registered waterside workers were nearly 200, distributed among six ports, who were permanently employed on weekly hiring. They submitted that for a number of reasons they should not be required to continue paying the levy on the man-hours worked by these permanent men. The work performed by these permanent men some times goes beyond that which is normally done by waterside workers. They are paid at a weekly as distinct from an hourly rate. They work a 40-hour week. Once allotted by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to an employer they stay with him more or less indefinitely. No attendance money is paid to these men and their annual leave, sick leave and holiday pay are paid by their employers. The balance of the authority’s functions bear only very indirectly on the employment of these permanent waterside workers.
It is clear, therefore, that the responsibility of the authority in relation to these waterside workers in terms of financial cost is really only marginal and in fact the employers in having to pay the charge are paying, and have been paying for years, a tax for which they receive practically nothing in return. In particular, they are paying twice for their employees’ annual leave, sick leave and holiday pay and are paying for the cost of attendance money which their permanent employees never receive. The Government has, therefore, decided to exempt the stevedoring employers from payment of the charge in respect of their permanent employees and in respect of whom the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is under no obligation to pay attendance money and annual, sick and statutory holiday leave entitlements and the purpose of this bill is to enable that to be done. I might add that this concession will relate to only a fraction of 1 per cent, of the waterside labour force and will be equivalent to a reduction of £40,000 in a total collection of about £3,750,000.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to approve a supplemental agreement to the Sugar Agreement 1956-61 between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. The supplemental agreement amends the original agreement in three aspects. These are -
Until well into the present year the wholesale price of sugar had remained unchanged since May, 1956, despite increased wages, freights and other production costs. The sugar industry was able to offset many of these increased costs by its increased efficiency, particularly in respect of its yield of sugar per acre. Substantial savings were also effected by the introduction of bulkhandling of sugar at mills, wharfs and refineries. However, the industry was unable to continue to absorb rising costs and earlier this year made a submission to the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government for a variation of the sugar agreement by an increase in the wholesale price at which sugar is made available in State capital cities, at Launceston in Tasmania and at Darwin in the Northern Territory by the equivalent of1d. per lb. in the retail price.
After a thorough investigation by officers of the Department of Primary Industry into the cost of production figures submitted by the industry, the Government decided to concur in the increased price requested. By agreement with the Queensland Govern ment the wholesale price of 1A grade sugar was accordingly increased from £821s. a ton to £90 5s. 2d. a ton and IXD grade - that is, manufacturers’ grade - from £80 to £88 a ton with effect from 16th May, 1960. I may explain to honorable members that wholesalers receive a 21/2 per cent, discount on the price of 1A sugar and, while the retail price is not actually controlled by legislation, it is generally recognized that the retailers’ margin is 133/4 per cent, on the wholesale price. The addition of this percentage to the amended wholesale price results in a new retail price of11d. per lb. in State capitals for refined sugar.
On the question of rebates, I may explain that the agreement provides that the sugar industry shall provide a fund from which a rebate shall be paid on sugar used in processing fruit products. The payment of the rebate is subject to certain conditions, the principal of which is that processors shall pay not less than prescribed minimum prices for fresh fruit. The rate of rebate provided in the original agreement was £2 4s. a ton, which rate had operated since January, 1933, when the wholesale price of sugar was £32 10s. 9d. a ton, equivalent to 4d. per lb. retail.
Fruit growers and processors requested that this rate should be substantially increased in view of the many increases in the sugar price since 1933. The Government, with the concurrence of the Queensland Government, decided that the rate should be increased to £5 a ton and that the question of any further amendment to the rate should be referred to a committee of inquiry, to which I shall refer later. The increased rate of rebate necessitated an increased payment by the sugar industry to the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee, which administers the fund from which the rebate is met. The increase is at the rate of £144,000 per annum, and has been provided for in the the supplemental agreement.
Australian export industries have not been adversely affected, so far as their sugar cost is concerned, by the increase in the Australian sugar price, as the agreement provides that the sugar industry shall pay an export rebate on the sugar content of goods exported. The rate of rebate is determined monthly by the Export Sugar
Committee and, briefly, may be said to be the excess of the Australian sugar price over the estimated price at which the cheapest available foreign sugar can be landed in Australia, duty free. The rate of rebate therefore rises automatically when the Australian sugar price is increased. The agreement, however, provides that an exporter may elect to take an option for a period up to twelve months at the rate of rebate determined for any month, the idea being to enable exporters to know in advance the net cost of sugar used in goods to be exported. Those exporters who had elected to accept rates of rebate determined before the price rise would have received a lower rate of rebate than they would otherwise have received. Clause 3 of the supplemental agreement empowers the Export Sugar Committee to adjust the rebate rates of option holders, and I understand that this has been done.
The Government has announced its intention to appoint a sugar inquiry committee to inquire into the sugar and fruit industries and their relationship and to report to the Government before the current agreement expires on 31st August, 1961. It is proposed that the committee will hold public hearings and interested parties will have an opportunity of expressing their views to the committee.
Sugar agreements between the two governments along the lines of the present agreement have been supported by both sides of the House over a long period of years. I am certain these agreements have done much to establish and stabilize the very efficient Australian sugar industry, and at the same time have protected the interests of the domestic consumers and manufacturing industries using sugar. The Australian market has always been assured of ample supplies of sugar at reasonable and stable prices.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Dr. Donald Cameron, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has power to legislate in regard to weights and measures. In the report of the Commonwealth Royal Commission on the Constitution, 1930, attention was directed to evidence given to the commission urging that the Commonwealth should use its constitutional powers so as to provide for a uniform system of weights and measures for Australia. It was pointed out in evidence that each State had established its own standards of measurement and that considerable difficulties arose from lack of uniformity between the provisions of State weights and measures acts.
At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in 1939, reference was made to a resolution of the Premiers’ Conference 1936 to the effect that if the Commonwealth Government enacted legislation covering the establishment and maintenance of Commonwealth standards of measurement, the States would co-operate in regard to the adoption of such standards throughout Australia.
In my predecessor’s second-reading speech on the bill which resulted in the passing of the Weights and Measures (National Standards) Act in 1948, it was pointed out that the Government had already taken the necessary steps for the provision of the various standards of measurement which are required. A national standards laboratory has been established in Sydney under the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and it is equipped to maintain the Commonwealth standards of measurement of the various physical quantities. The purpose of that act was to give legal sanction to those standards of measurement.
At that time, it was pointed out also that in exercising its power under the Constitution Act, the Commonwealth did not intend to take over complete control throughout Australia of the administration of weights and measures but rather to arrange for that administration to be carried out through the existing State instrumentalities. Provision was therefore made in the act for Commonwealth standards of measurement which will be the ultimate reference standards throughout Australia, and for the existing State standards of measurement to be calibrated against the Commonwealth standards and thus be given legal validity and made uniform. It was intended that the normal functioning of the State weights and measures instrumentalities would not be interfered with and that they would continue to function as in the past in regard to the protection of the public against unjust trading practices involving the use of measures of length, volume or weight.
The words “ weights and measures “ are often thought of in their respective historical sense relating to weights and measures used in commercial transactions. In fact, however, they apply to the standards of measurement of all physical quantities with which commerce, industry and science are concerned, such as mass, length, time interval, volume, area, pressure, density, electrical current, electrical power, illumination, temperature, quantity of heat and so on.
The 1948 act recognized this and aimed to cover these widely varying aspects. In drafting the act, consideration was given to discussions in Britain and elsewhere on the subject of weights and measures legislation and the strong body of opinion which indicated that much of the technical matter in earlier legislation had become obsolete through advances in scientific method and that in future such technical details should be omitted from the acts and incorporated in regulations. The act provided for a national standards commission of five experts to advise on the regulations in question.
In preparing the regulations to be made under the act, the commission has been faced with breaking entirely new ground. It became aware that the problem of introducing Commonwealth standards of measurement which were to supersede the State standards of measurement without interfering with the normal functioning of the State weights and measures instrumentalities was rather more complex than had originally been evisaged.
Arising from the commission’s discussions with legal and technical authorities from both Commonwealth and State instrumentalities, it has become clear that several relatively minor, although somewhat technical, amendments should be made to the 1948 act if legal difficulties in deciding the relative scope of Commonwealth and State legislation in this field are to be avoided. The commission has recommended that a number of rather formal amendments should also be made to clarify the intention of several sections and to avoid problems that had come to light during the framing of regulations. The Parliamentary Draftsman has advised that these amendments might more readily be incorporated in a fresh act than in an amending act and accordingly the present bill has been introduced to clarify the intention of the original act and to avoid the difficulties I have already outlined. It is intended that regulations to give effect to the provisions of the act will be made as soon as the act has been amended.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Opperman* and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes to amend the Explosives Act 1952-1957 in order to achieve two objectives. The first is to resolve doubts that have been raised on the validity of the act as it is at present worded and the second is to extend the scope of the act to include explosives of friendly nations which, in the interests of collective security, may at some time have to be brought to Australia. The definition of “ Commonwealth explosives “ in the act is worded in such a manner as in the opinion of the legal adviser to the Australian Port Authorities Association places the validity of the whole act in question. The proposed amendments will not limit the powers of the Commonwealth under the act, but will place its validity beyond doubt.
The trend of international affairs since the end of the last war has developed in
Australia a defence policy based on the concept of collective security with active participation in regional security arrangements to which the Commonwealth is a party. Our commitments include responsibilities under the Anzus and Seato treaties and to the United Nations which, in the interests of our national defence, may at some future date require the entry into Australia of explosives the property of, or in the possession of, a force of a friendly nation. Should such an occasion arise, the explosives will be handled in conformity with the normal State regulations as far as defence needs will permit, but there may well be a position where, as a matter of urgency or because of some inadequacy in the State facilities, it will be necessary to take measures similar to those which under the act are now used for Commonwealth-owned explosives in simitar circumstances. A comparable position exists in the United Kingdom, which for some years has provided for the handling and transport of explosives of visiting forces of major Commonwealth countries and the United States of America on the same basis as those of its own forces. The United Kingdom legislation has recently been extended to include all member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The second objective of the bill is to make similar provision in Australia for the handling and transport of explosives of a friendly nation in order to minimize as far as possible any delays which may occur and concurrently to provide that the safety measures to be observed during the transportation of such explosives are on the same level as those which now apply under the Explosives Regulations to Commonwealth explosives. Although at present there is no known requirement for the exercise of this power, it must be realized that in the existing state of international affairs such a need could arise at short notice and it is a. wise precaution therefore for Australia to be prepared in advance to facilitate the handling and movement in this country of the explosives stores of a nation with which it is joined in a collective security agreement.
The proposed amendment to section 10 of the principal act will enable the Commonwealth to indemnify port authorities and others whenever explosives of friendly nations are being handled under the pro- visions of the act, and therefore I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 264), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to make some remarks on behalf of the Opposition about this bill which will make one or two changes in the methods of assessing income tax payable by individuals and companies throughout Australia. Here, we should bear in mind that the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act is by now becoming a very thick document, prescribing as it does the conditions under which the incomes of individuals and both private and public companies shall be assessed.
According to the estimates of revenue prepared by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), it is estimated that in the current financial year income tax on individuals will yield £510,000,000 and income tax on companies will yield, in round figures, £268,000,000. Also, for the first time, there will be in the current financial year a yield from the dividends withholding tax, which is expected to return £4,500,000. So, in the aggregate, income tax on individuals and companies is expected to yield in this financial year about £782,000,000 out of the total Commonwealth tax revenue of £1,400,000,000. In other words, in the debate on this bill we are contemplating the principles in the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act which determine the way in which more than onehalf of the total tax revenues of the Commonwealth shall be raised, and I think it will be timely to-day to consider, as we did yesterday in the debate on the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1960, some of the things that are involved in this wide field of taxation.
To-day, as we know, the Government expresses concern about the problem of inflation. There cannot be any doubt that some of the inflationary circumstances that exist in the community have been seized upon by certain individuals in the country who take advantage for themselves from the way in which income tax is levied at the present time. As I have pointed out, income tax on companies is expected to yield about £268,000,000 in 1960-61, and the way in which companies are taxed has some significance in respect of the methods by which they raise money from the public. And this involves the channels into which a large part of the investment made by the Australian community is directed. Whether money is raised from the public by companies in one way or another depends not so much on urgent national priorities as on the advantages to be gained from the tax situation by raising funds in one way rather than in another. I shall touch on that aspect of the matter in more detail later.
The principal act provides that certain deductions shall be allowed in computing the taxable income of individuals - the proportion of the gross income which is subject to tax. A married taxpayer is allowed a deduction for his wife. If he has children he gets an allowance the rate of which depends on whether he has one or more. In addition, certain other circumstances are recognized. Such things as medical expenses, life insurance premiums and rates paid on property are examples that come to mind. The bill makes donations to certain specified institutions deductible for income tax purposes. All these are concessions which the Government, in its wisdom, has permitted. There are quite a number of other items in respect of which, no doubt, a case could be made out for treatment in the same way. The Government seems to use a logical process in determining the basis of some concessions, but in other cases the logic is difficult to find. Why is it that under the income tax law only £143 may be deducted from the original income as an allowance for a wife, whereas a maximum deduction of £400 is allowed to the person who is fortunate enough to be able to invest some of his income in life insurance? Why single out life insurance to be so favoured?
Later on, I want to go into some of these amounts in more detail because I think that the original implications have been lost sight of over the years and some of these deductions now operate in a rather peculiar way in view of the aggregate of tax collected and the way in which income is distributed among various sections of the community. As I have said, income tax is the most significant tax, producing over £500,000,000 in revenue from individuals and £270,000,000 from companies. The total of these two sums accounts for well over half the total revenue raised by the Government.
I should like to consider in some detail one of the amendments envisaged in this bill. That is the amendment which alters the amount that may be claimed by certain individuals as subscriptions under section 73 of the principal act. Again, we have pinpointed here, it seems to me, some of the peculiarities that arise from definition and some of the differences in treatment according to people’s social or economic position. Section 73 is divided into three parts, two of which I think need to be read fully in order to make more clear the point that I want to make.
Sub-section (1.), which will not be altered by the proposed amendment, reads as follows: -
Where the carrying on of a business-
I stress the word “ business “ - from which assessable income is derived by the taxpayer is conditional upon membership of any association, any periodical subscription paid by him in the year of income in respect of that membership shall be an allowable deduction.
So an unlimited amount may be claimed as a deduction provided that it is a subscription paid in the course of carrying on a business. But in order properly to understand the ambit of this section, it is necessary to refer back to section 6, the definitions section of the principal act, in which “ business “ is defined in this manner - “ Business “ includes any profession, trade, employment, vocation or calling, but does not include occupation as an employee;
In other words, in this definition, “ business “ covers almost every activity in the community with the exception of that of an employee. Therefore, whilst an unlimited amount can be claimed as a deduction if a person belongs to an organization such as a medical association or a law society or a stock exchange organization, that generous concession does not extend to an employee.
The employee is covered by a later subsection which the bill before the House proposes to amend.
In order to indicate how the law in different parts of the world regards this kind of situation, I refer the House to a work by those very learned gentlemen, Mr. J. A. L. Gunn, Mr. O. E. Berger and Mr. R. E. O’Neill. There have been two editions of the volume since the fourth edition which I have, but this proposition has not varied. The book is called “ Gunn’s Commonwealth Income Tax Law and Practice “. Commenting on the operation of section 73 (1.) of the principal act, this work quotes a Canadian case, “ Cooper versus the Minister of National Revenue., ”, which is reported at page 149 of “ Canadian Tax Cases “. It was held that dues paid to a union, membership in which was essential to employment, were deductible under the Canadian act. In other words, because “ business “ was not defined, a provision similar to that in the Australian act was held to embrace subscriptions to a trade union. I think it is rather significant that the court held that there was no difference, for the purposes of income tax, between a member of the bar who is required to pay annual fees to a law society in order to be authorized to carry on his profession and a person who is bound to pay dues to a trade union. This book also quotes the case, “ Bond versus the Minister of National Revenue., .”
I should think that that would be at least an equitable enough decision - that professional people who join organizations for their mutual benefit are not employees in the same sense as members of a trade union. But the benefit under the Canadian section would flow without limit to members of organizations whether or not they were members of professional organizations or members of trade unions. In Australia, however, because of the definitions section of the act, the scope of sub-section (1.) of section 73 does not extend to a member of a trade union. He is, instead, covered by sub-section (3.) of section 73, which again I read. It is -
Any periodical subscription, to which the foregoing provisions of this section do not apply, paid by the tax-payer in the year of income in respect of his membership of any trade, business or professional association, shall be an allowable deduction:
Provided that the total deduction allowable under this sub-section in respect of subscriptions to any one association in that year shall not exceed £10 10s.
In other words, no limit was placed on the amounts that could be claimed by people belonging to a professional association. If the Law Society fixed a contribution at 50 guineas a year, no questions were asked about a deduction claimed by a taxpayer in that regard. Nothing was said. This part of the act can give benefit to an individual purely because he follows a certain profession. No questions asked, no limit set. On the other hand, if a person chose to be organized as an employee in a trade union, the amount which he could claim under the sub-section was limited to £10 10s. a year.
A trade union directed my attention to the fact that it levied its members the sum of 10s. a week, or an aggregate of £26 a year. It was a closed sort of union operating in one of the provincial cities of Victoria, which found it more convenient to be organized that way. Its costs of upkeep were greater per member than might have been the case had its membership been larger. There are not many trade unions whose membership subscriptions at the moment are in excess of £10 10s. a year. Part of the proceeds of the membership subscriptions of this union went to provide the normal services of a union, in payment of officials and provision of transport for those officials when they were inquiring into disputes and so on, as well as in postage charges and payment for the secretarial services required for the proper functioning of a trade union. Part of the subscriptions went to provide health benefits for the members of the union - quite a worthy objective - and part of them were in the form of a levy to provide a building for the union in order to obviate its having to pay rent over a long period. All these things added together meant that the subscriptions needed to be cast at the rate of 10s. a week per member. The members of the union found, when they claimed their subscription as a deduction under the income tax legislation, that the amount they were allowed to claim was limited to £10 10s. a year.
After the union directed my attention to this, I wrote to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold
Holt) pointing out that if the Australian act were drawn in the same way as, apparently, the Canadian act was drawn - in other words, if from the definition of “ business “ there were deleted the words referring to an employee - presumably the trade union’s members would have been brought within the full ambit of section 73 (1.), and would have been allowed a deduction without limit for their subscriptions to the union. However, what the Treasurer has apparently chosen to do rather than make available to trade union members the unlimited deduction available to people organized in professional associations, is to extend the allowable deduction from £10 10s. a year to £21 a year. At least this goes the major part of the way, as far as this particular trade union is concerned, in meeting the difficulty.
However, the difference in the treatment of trade unionists and members of professional associations remains. I suggest that it is purely a social and economic difference which makes available higher allowable deductions to some persons in the community as against the deductions allowed to others. Sometimes I wonder whether this sort of invidious social distinction ought to be perpetuated in an act dealing with income tax, which is supposed to treat all subjects on an equal basis. I ask the Treasurer to ponder a little that social distinction which at present is implicit in the income tax laws. Let me contrast it with the provision in the Canadian act under which. I take it, unless it is otherwise defined the term “ business “ would be presumed to cover occupation as an employee just as it covers occupation as an employer, or self-employment. This is apparently not the case under the Australian law.
I do not know how far back the history of the present definition goes, but it seems to me that this particular anomaly is the kind of thing that it is occasionally wise to review. The Treasurer did not accept the solution that I propounded - namely, that he should remove the word “ employee “ from the definitions section, which would then make the full advantage available under section 73 (1.) applicable to trade unionists, and would make superfluous the need for the other part of the section. He has left the first part as it was, but has increased the allowable deduction.. Treasurers have to make these distinctions sometimes, and I am never quite sure of the underlying philosophy of their decisions.
I turn now to the broader concepts which I indicated earlier. Again, by way of contrast to what takes place here in the face of problems similar to those that exist in the United Kingdom, I point out certain amendments made by the House of Commons to the income tax provisions contained in the United Kingdom Finance Bill, as amended in committee. Part II. of that bill deals with income tax. The bill is divided into parts because it contains provisions relating to customs and excise also, a practice which constitutional usage makes rather difficult in Australia, however suitable and comprehensive it may make a bill for consideration by the United Kingdom Parliament. Clause 19 of this bill is headed, “ Restriction of relief for losses “. I cannot, Mr. Speaker, see any justice in a system that allows one concern which profitably engages in one kind of economic activity to buy up another concern which is engaged at a loss in another kind of economic activity, not in order to continue to carry on the kind of activity that the acquired concern has been carrying on but primarily because the acquired concern, particularly if it is in the form of a company, has accumulated a loss which is treated as an asset under the system followed by the acquiring party. We had an example quoted in the House the other day by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), dealing with a large institution known as Territory Rice Limited which, over a period of several years, has unfortunately accumulated losses of £1,200,000. Apparently, because it is incorporated as a company, and the company rate is 7s. 6d. in the £1, that accumulated loss is worth near enough to £500,000 to some other company which might take it over. The assumption has been that L. J. Hooker Limited - mainly a land speculation company - is the potential buyer. Supposing that transaction were to take place - I do not presume that it has or will, but I am using it as an illustration - what sort of equity is there in the proposition that the Commonwealth Government should lose £500,000 in respect of the successful conduct of L. J. Hooker’s business because of the unsuccessful conduct of Territory Rice Limited?
As I see it, the intention of the recent amendment to the British act is not to make a loss of that kind available to anybody else unless that person or organization is to carry on the same sort of entity and for the same purposes. I cannot see any inequity in that kind of approach to the matter. If you carry on a textile business, that does not seem to be any warrant for you to buy a run-down company dealing in something else because its losses will reduce your tax liability on the successful conduct of your textile business. I see no equity whatever in that, and I suggest that it is a loophole in our existing taxing legislation which could well be closed up. Other subjects that received the attention of the United Kingdom authorities were legislation relating to certain building companies not carrying on a trade, amending legislation having application to the sale of shares in holding companies, legislation affecting transactions between associated dealing companies and other companies, legislation dealing with the sale of shares in an investment company to an associated dealing company - the sale of securities cum dividends - I think this was described in Great Britain as “ dividend stripping “, a process by which shrewd financiers found that they could gain advantage over others purely because of the way the income tax law was drawn - and, finally, the cancellation of tax advantages from certain transactions and securities.
I suggest that something of the same kind of climate exists in the Australian community at present. A lot of economic activity that is going on in the community is directed the way it is not because of social benefits but because certain people with money to invest find it better to invest their funds in one way rather than in another, owing to the peculiar way in which the income tax law is drawn at the moment. One of the fields which has been covered in New Zealand is investment in companies by individuals in the form of debentures, rather than in the form of shares. Here you get to the heart of this significant problem in an advanced economy such as ours. You get to the heart of the large corporate entities in the community, sometimes rather vaguely described by honor able members on the other side of the House as private enterprise. They use the terms “ private enterprise “ or “ free enterprise “ to suit themselves, whether the term used covers the little mixed grocery business at the corner or an entity of the order of G. J. Coles and Company Limited or Woolworths Limited. We had recently the spectacle of those two organizations engaged in a battle - purely on a financial scale - to decide which would take over another entity, apparently without any great concern for the employees of that entity or for the public interest in the matter. That is the kind of thing to which this Government ought to be giving some attention. It is the kind of thing which at the moment has been given some additional impetus because of the way in which our tax laws happen to be drawn. I cannot see what amount of enterprise there is in Woolworths Limited, for either the average shareholder or the average employee. The enterprise, if it exists at all, is mostly in the hands of a vague body - very difficult to get at - called the management, somewhere between a myriad of shareholders on the one side and some thousands of employees on the other side. Where enterprise exists for either of those two groups in that sort of system seems to me to require a bit more fineness of definition.
We get a lot of information on company statistics from the published statistics of the Commissioner of Taxation, dealing with the legislation which we are considering at present. In the last figures that are available from that source, in the thirty-eighth report of the Commissioner of Taxation, at page 207 we read that for the year ended 30th June, 1957 - the year on which the statistics were based - there were 79 companies in Australia with profits of between £500,000 and £1,000,000 per year. Those 79 companies derived total profits amounting to- £56,000,000 and paid an aggregate tax of £18,000,000. In addition, there were 76 companies which had profits in excess of £1,000,000 per year and which derived total profits aggregating £202,000,000, after depreciation had been allowed for. They paid an aggregate tax of £66,000,000. If honorable members add those two sets of figures they will find that there are 155 entities in Australia which, between them, derived £257,000,000 of company profits, or something like 40 per cent, of total company profits earned in Australia. Yet the law is drawn to treat that group of 155 companies the same as something like 50,000 other organizations are treated and which are registered in the community as either public or private companies according to the definitions in the act- I suggest that the income tax law in Australia in 1960 is entirely inadequate in that organizations of the sort to which I have referred are not the same as the bulk of organizations which the income tax law was originally drawn to cover.
The time has arrived when entities of this kind, as distinct from others for which there may be still some warrant for having a certain amount of privacy in their conduct, should be treated differently in relation to taxation from the way in which they have been treated in the past. These organizations have more public than private significance because they extend from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. If you listed these 155 companies you would find that whilst technically they may be incorporated in one State, most of them operate in every State. Their activities include agriculture, manufacturing, foundry work, engineering, assembling vehicles, publishing papers, making textiles, supplying electricity, gas and water, shipping and stevedoring, road transport, storage, wholesale and retail trade, investment and finance, banking and insurance. In fact, they reach into every aspect of Australian economic life.
– What rate of tax would you impose on them?
– I shall come to that in due course. All I am suggesting at the moment is that to treat organizations like Myers and Woolworths, which have a turnover of about £1,000,000 a week, in the same way as you treat a business which has a turnover of about £100 a week, is ignoring economic reality. Our tax laws apply with equal force to big and small companies, with the exception of the provision relating to the first £5,000 of profit and the even more minor and insignificant provision relating to private as distinct from public companies.
In the field of public companies, from which the major part of company income tax is derived, and where control is being con tracted increasingly into the hands of relatively fewer enterprises, the time has arrived when we should be considering not trivial amendments such as we have before us, relating to donations of £1 or more to such organizations as the Australian Productivity Council, but whether the income tax law is not inextricably bound up with what we in the community call take-overs, and whether one form of finance is being used rather than another.
There is no denying that there has been a significant change in Australia, particularly over the last ten years, in the- way in which most new finance is found for the major part of our industries. To a great extent, that new method of obtaining finance is conditioned by the archaic way in which our income tax law is drawn. If any government is serious about the problem of inflation, it should worry about the operations of Woolworths, Coles and Myers and by banking, finance, shipping and wholesale and retail trade organizations, not about the smaller economic entities. Very comprehensive statistics relating to the amount of depreciation that is allowed to companies every year and the amount of new plant that they buy appear at about page 1 50 of the thirty-eighth report of the Commissioner of Taxation. The value of something like 40 per cent, of the cost of new plant that is bought by all companies in Australia is bought by these large companies. When you buy new plant or when you set aside a depreciation allowance to provide for new plant, you pattern the ways in which investment will be channelled.
Organizations which already are economically strong and powerful are pretty well without check in determining in what direction investment will go. If you are satisfied with that as a pattern - I am not, and I am sure that my colleagues on this side of the House are not - I suppose you will not worry very much about the structure of the income tax law. But if you feel, as I do. that you need to look at the anatomy of this tax rather than at the aggregate, you will consider its effect on these huge entities.
In the time remaining at my disposal I want to cast a critical eye upon the other aspect of income taxation - the taxing of individuals.
– Will you tell us what alteration you suggest?
– A system of company taxation which treats all companies as though they were the same is wrong. I have neither the time nor the inclination now to indicate the precise solution to the problem. I merely suggest that the existing system is wrong and that it is helping to create a situation which the Government deplores when it suits it to do so, but which it takes no practical step to overcome.
Let me now deal with personal taxation. What kind of logic is it that allows deductions to be claimed for a wife, for children and for certain expenses? These concessions mean, in effect, that the Government forgoes a certain amount of revenue that it could collect if the concessions were not allowed. I conducted a survey of this aspect a year or two ago, and recently my colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) placed a question on notice in relation to it. The answer appears on pages 663 and 664 of the current “ Hansard “. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) admitted that concessions allowed as income tax deductions amounted, in round figures, to £150,000,000- something like one-quarter of the total amount that is paid in income tax.
When you seek the logic of this system, you will find that concessional deductions, as they are called, are ostensibly a scheme for adjudicating between the circumstances of taxpayers, with a supposed emphasis on family responsibilities because allowances are made for a wife, children, medical expenses, rates and so on - expenses which are presumed to be family in origin. How rough an instrument of equity this is, however, is clearly seen when you take the group of taxpayers with incomes in excess of £1,500 a year, that is, people who receive more than £29 a week. They number only one-tenth of all taxpayers and one-sixth of married taxpayers. Between them they support less than onefifth of the community’s children, yet they derive 37 per cent, of the benefit that accrues from the concessional deductions under the provisions relating to personal income tax. By contrast, if you take the other group - the group with which I have more sympathy - consisting of those who have incomes between £700 and £1,500 a year, that is, between £13 10s. and £28 10s. a week, you will find that it contains onehalf of all taxpayers, and three-quarters of the married taxpayers, and that it supports three-quarters of the community’s children. But it derives less than 60 per cent, of the total benefit of these concessional claims! The latter group contains five times as many taxpayers as the former, supports four and a half times as many wives and four times as many children, yet gets only one-half more benefit from the concessional advantages than the former group gets. I think these factors are worthy of consideration when a debate of this kind is being conducted, and I ask honorable members to ponder these statistics very deeply.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not wish to speak at length on this bill, which amends the law relating to income tax. I would like to refer briefly to only two aspects of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. The first concerns the partial exemption of income from certain mining operations. As honorable members are aware, income derived from mining gold and uranium is exempt from taxation, and dividends received by shareholders in companies mining these two minerals are also exempt. Shareholders in companies prospecting for petroleum, in either Australia or New Guinea, also receive taxation concessions in respect of certain share moneys.
These concessions have been granted for the purpose of encouraging investment in mining companies, because we not only derive extra income from the export of any minerals that may be won, but we are also relieved of the necessity to import those minerals from overseas. In every case, mining success means that we are able to build up our overseas funds.
Apart from the help that is given to companies producing the two minerals I have mentioned, assistance is also made available, by way of taxation concessions, to companies which are either prospecting for or producing other metals. Mining companies are allowed to write off the cost of exploration and development, and also certain capital expenditure on plant and housing. All of these concessions are generous, and it is right that they should be granted, because without them the mining industry would not be able to make the contribution to our export income that it does to-day. However, the only direct concession given to shareholders in companies producing minerals other than gold and uranium is by way of a provision that they shall pay income tax on only 80 per cent, of the income which they derive from dividends from mining companies.
The. various State company laws make, it an offence for an ordinary trading company to pay a dividend from the original subscribed capital. In other words, dividends can usually be declared only from profits, although bonus issues of shares may be made from an appreciation of assets. Mining companies, however, have to deal with a wasting asset, and they may, from time to time, declare dividends from their net earnings. Mining generally is a risky business and it is conceivable that a shareholder in a mining company may receive a number of dividends which in total amount to less than the capital that he has subscribed, and he may then find that either because the mineral deposit has petered out or because the price of the mineral has fallen to such an extent as to make further operation unprofitable, the mine has to close down. He may, therefore, lose some money as a result of his investment, yet he will have had to pay income tax on dividends which are, in reality, only a return of part of his capital.
I realize that many shareholders in companies other than mining companies can lose some of their capital investment, but they are much less likely to do so than are shareholders in mining companies. Because of the peculiar circumstances in which it operates, the mining industry already receives special concessions, and if we are to give it the encouragement which I believe is warranted, then these concessions should be extended, so that a shareholder will not have to pay income tax on returned capital. lt is not logical that he should. I believe he should be given the opportunity to elect whether to pay income tax on dividends received from mining companies or to claim an exemption until such time as he has been repaid the whole of his capital investment in the company. It should not be hard to administer such a concession.
– Suppose he sold his interest in the company?
– I am coming to that. I believe that it would not be hard to administer such a provision. Under existing law a manufacturer may depreciate machinery, and a commercial traveller may depreciate his motor car if he uses it for business purposes. But if the machinery or the car is sold and yields more than the amount of its written-down value, the difference must be brought in as income. I believe a similar provision could be made in respect of mining shares.
– But he would get his capital back if he sold his shares.
– But I suggest that if a shareholder in a mining company sells his shares and receives for them an amount which, when added to the dividends which have been previously paid on these shares, amounts to more than the original subscribed capital, then he should be assessed on the difference in the year in which he makes the sale. The principle involved does not differ to any great extent from that which allows a contributor to a superannuation fund to claim a deduction of his contributions in the year in which they are made, and then to bring in the payments as assessable income in the year in which they are received. I suggest that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) should have a look at the proposition I have put forward, as a means of encouraging investment in the mining industry.
The other aspect of taxation legislation to which I direct some remarks concerns appeals against income tax assessments. About twelve months ago, I asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then Acting Treasurer. I asked him whether, in . cases in which the Commissioner of Taxation appeals to the High Court against a decision of a Taxation Board of Review favorable to the taxpayer, the costs of both parties would be borne by the Crown. The Prime Minister was good enough to write to me at some length on this subject, and he also wrote on similar lines to the president of the Taxpayers Association of Australia. The right honorable gentleman pointed out that in the United Kingdom, when the appeal is regarded as a test case and the taxpayer is not represented by counsel, the Crown bears the costs of both parties. He also pointed out that in Australia cases in which the taxpayer is not represented by counsel in the High Court are rare, but that on at least two such occasions the court had made no order as to costs. Otherwise the position in Australia broadly corresponds with the United Kingdom practice which was approved by the royal commission of 1955.
The whole trouble, of course, revolves around the interpretation of the term “ test case “. The Prime Minister, in his letter to the Taxpayers Association, said that if the Crown accepted the liability to pay the costs of both parties in such an appeal as I have mentioned, a taxpayer wishing to contest a legal issue clearly calling for a judicial decision could first request a reference to a Taxation Board of Review, in the hope of obtaining a favorable decision and so be relieved of the obligation to pay costs in the event of a subsequent appeal to a court. The Prime Minister said that decisions of the Taxation Boards of Review are subject to appeal only when questions of law are involved.
In fairness to the Commissioner of Taxation I would point out that in a period of four years to the end of June, 1959, the Commissioner appealed against decisions of Taxation Boards of Review only nine times, although in the period 570 decisions were given. However, a case has been brought to my notice in which the Commissioner of Taxation gave notice of an appeal to the High Court against a majority decision of a Taxation Board of Review favorable to the taxpayer, when the amount of tax involved was only £156 2s., which is a very small amount indeed when compared with the cost involved in defending an appeal to the High Court, which the Commissioner of Taxation is virtually forcing the taxpayer concerned to undertake. When the taxpayer’s solicitor asked the Crown whether it would meet the taxpayer’s costs in connexion with the appeal, he was informed that the case was not a test case. Yet, as I have pointed out, the amount of tax involved was £156 2s. Surely the Commissioner of Taxation would not go to the trouble and expense of an appeal to the High Court of Australia to recover £156 2s. unless a principle was involved. If this particular case can be taken as a criterion, no tax payer can be assured of reasonable protection under the present principle respecting appeals by the Commissioner.
The firm which has written to me believes that such an attitude on the part of the Commissioner of Taxation is tantamount to forcing a taxpayer who has obtained a favorable decision from a board of review into withdrawing from defending himself for fear of having to meet not only his own costs but also those of the Commissioner of Taxation if the Commissioner is successful in the appeal. That is very likely if there is nobody to argue against the case put by the commissioner. I am given to understand that a number of organizations, including the Taxpayers Association of Australia, the New South Wales Bar Council and the Incorporated Law Institute of New South Wales have asked the Crown to pay the appeal costs of both parties in cases such as I have mentioned. I believe our hereditary sense of British justice should ensure that such a policy is implemented.
.- In this debate, members of the Opposition are able to. examine the taxation position and expose the irregularities of the Government’s policy and the exploitation of the people generally and the working people, in particular, by this Government. We on this side of the House take the opportunity also to expose the Government’s attitude to taxation and its record in that regard since it was elected to office. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox), who has just spoken, was concerned about a section of the community which is able to carry on under its own power without any assistance. The Government, which should be studying the real problems of the nation, is doing very little about priorities. What is the position in that connexion? Should we allow capital to flow into luxury hotels, bowling alleys and bigger and better bumper bars for motor cars? Is that the way to develop Australia? We know that is the attitude of this Government which is doing nothing to direct finance into the proper channels, or to allot finance according to planned priorities.
We on the Opposition side believe that something should be done about priorities, and that the money should be directed into the most useful channels. We believe that we should have better roads before we have bigger and better bumper cars on motor cars. The roads between the capital cities should be developed. Every time we get a little heavy rain, traffic is bogged down on the Hume Highway, the main highway between Sydney and Melbourne, for a couple of days. We say that hospitals and schools should have priority in the allocation of finance. This Government gives priority to expenditure on armaments. For every £1 that is spent on education, the Government is spending £2 on defence.
– Order! The honorable member should direct his remarks to the bill.
– I do not wish to canvass the ruling of the Chair, but a study of this bill shows that it is closely related to the expenditure of money in the community. Apparently I am upsetting supporters of the Government, so I will address my remarks to taxing powers. Instead of raising money through indirect taxes - a dishonest and hidden method of taxation - the Government should raise revenue by direct taxes. Let us study the record of the Government. I shall go back to 1951-52, the first year after this Government was elected to office, because we must allow it twelve months to get on its feet. In that year, the Government raised £919,000,000 by taxation. Customs revenue totalled £114,000,000, or 12.2 per cent, of total tax revenue. Excise revenue, another indirect tax, brought in £100,000,000, or 10.7 per cent, of the total.
– There is no mention of those taxes in this bill.
– Then let us get down to the sales tax which has something to do with the bill. In 1951-52, sales tax yielded £95,000,000, or 10.2 per cent, of the total tax revenue, and pay-roll tax amounted to £37,000,000, or 4 per cent, of the total.
– Those taxes have nothing to do with this bill either.
– Perhaps the Minister for Supply will argue that income tax has nothing to do with it. In 1951-52, income tax on individuals returned to the Government £386,800,000. That is the only equitable tax. I shall apply my remarks to this form of taxation because supporters of the
Government are touchy about indirect taxes. What is the policy of this Government on income tax? In 1951-52, it raised £386,000,000 from income tax on individuals. That was equal to 42 per cent, of the total tax revenue amounting to £919,000,000. Income tax is an equitable tax, because it is an impost levied according to income. This year, the Government will raise £442,000,000 from income tax, or 35.5 per cent, of its total estimated revenue of £1,243,000,000. That means that the percentage derived from income tax has decreased by 61/2 per cent, compared with 1951-52. On the other hand, taxation has increased, and the figures tell their own story. This Government has continually extracted more revenue from hidden taxes. Allowances for depreciation of plant totalled £96,000,000 in 1948-49, or 4.2 per cent, of the gross national product. This year, the allowance for depreciation will be £512,000,000, or 7.5 per cent, of the gross national product.
– We have prosperity.
– We know all about prosperity. I will tell you in a moment something about prosperity and the great wealth in capital gains that has been made by the small percentage of taxpayers that this Government represents. We all know that this Government represents 5 per cent, of the taxpayers - those in the higher income bracket. I will give honorable members some figures as to the number of taxpayers. These figures are taken from the latest report of the Commissioner of Taxation. Of about 4,000,000 taxpayers in Australia, 2,559,000, or 65.7 per cent., earn less than £1,000 a year and 1,139,000, or 29.2 per cent., earn between £1,000 and £2,000; but only 198,000, or 5.1 per cent., earn more than £2,000 a year. The Government represents that small number or the top 5 per cent, which receives 21 per cent, of the total income. Just imagine! There are 4,000,000 taxpayers in the country, but this small number of 198,000 receives 21 per cent, of the total income. I note that honorable members opposite have become very quiet; a hush has descended over them.
We find that this 5 per cent., apart from being the chosen few who have accumulated great wealth, have many ways of evading tax left open to them and receive many perks.
The capital gains they make from the handout of shares by public companies gives them great wealth that is tax-free. I will give an example of what happens when shares are given to these people. It is unfortunate that in doing so I must mention the names of families, but these families hold large numbers of shares in Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I will deal first with the Baillieu family. At 1st January, 1954, this family held 143.000 shares, which at that time had a value of 43s. To-day, the shares are valued at nearly £5. If the Baillieu family took up all bonus and cash issues of shares to 1st January, 1960, it would have made a capital gain of £735,000, tax free. The Darling family is in a similar position. At 1st January, 1954, the Darling family held 393,000 shares and, of course, these shares had exactly the same value as the shares held by the Baillieu family. If the Darling family had taken up all cash and bonus shares issued to 1st January of this year, it would have made a net profit of £1,818,000, tax free.
But that is not all. Only a few months ago, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited made an issue of one share for every two held. At this time, the number of shares held by the Baillieu family had increased to 300,000, assuming that all bonus and cash issues had been taken up. These people are very wise in the ways of making money, and I have no doubt that they took up all share issues and that the number of shares held had increased from 143,000 in 1954 to 300,000 now. With a bonus issue of one share for two, I take it that this family will be entitled to an additional 150,000 shares, which would be worth about £750,000. This is a great profit for the Baillieu family!
– Order! I think the honorable member has dealt sufficiently with families. I ask him to deal with the bill now before the House. The purpose of this bill is to amend the law relating to income tax.
– Income tax, after all, is not-
– Order! The honorable member will not argue with the Chair.
– I bow to your wishes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The income tax laws provide a way for us to bring about a redistribution of wealth by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. But we should use a system of priorities. We need priorities so that our efforts will result in the provision of better schools, better hospitals and better roads. After all, the Government is not doing this; it is not deflecting this great wealth-
– Order! That is not in the bill.
– I can see you are getting very tough with me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall deal with another matter which, I take it, is within the scope of the bill. I would like to refer now to another exploitation that is allowed to continue and that is in the matter of raising money by the issue of debentures.
– That is not in the bill. What has it to do with taxation?
– After all, company taxation is mentioned in the bill. I ask you a question, Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is not company taxation mentioned in this bill? I say that I have a right to mention debentures because companies pay interest on debentures and that affects company taxation, which is mentioned in the bill.
– You have no right to argue with the Chair, at any rate.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, who is in charge of the House, you or the Minister at the table?
– You will find out, if you continue in this way.
– I now wish to draw attention to the way that companies control the use of our wealth. On the question of priorities, I ask: Which should we have first, bowling alleys and bigger and better bumper bars on motor cars or better roads? This Government is doing very little about the issue of debentures by companies. The last loan raised by this Government was under-subscribed by £3,500,000, but time and time again debenture issues are advertised in the daily newspapers. If honorable members examine any daily newspaper, they will find advertisements offering debentures in competition with government loans. For instance, Retailers Discounts Limited are adverting that they will pay 8 per cent. for money. Again, in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” there is an advertisement in which Cambridge Credits offer 9 per cent.
– I rise to order. You have already ruled, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member was not in order in conducting a nosey exploration into the affairs of families, and I ask whether he is in order now in referring to debentures. I submit that debentures have nothing to do with the provisions of this bill.
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the provisions of the bill.
– I am talking about the raising of capital by companies. My advisers tell me that that matter comes within the ambit of this bill.
– Order ! We are now discussing a bill to amend the law relating to income tax. The honorable member must confine his remarks to the provisions of that bill.
– -Is not the raising of capital by the issue of debentures covered by the bill?
– I rise to order. There is provision in the bill relating to company taxation, and I submit that if the honorable member for Reid connects the question of interest paid on debentures with that of company profits, he will be in order.
– As yet, the honorable member has not done that.
– I thank the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). It would seem that there is some comradeship between us even though I may be a bit rough on him at times. It is common knowledge that companies pay interest on debentures before taxation is assessed. In effect, this means that although a company may be advertising that it pays 8 per cent, on money paid for debentures the actual cost to the company is only 5 per cent.
– That is not right.
– If the Minister will keep quiet for a moment longer I shall explain the position to him.
– It will be interesting to listen to your logic.
– Most of these companies pay taxation at the rate of 7s. 6d. in the £1. This leaves them with 12s. 6d. or fiveeighths of £1. They therefore pay 8 per cent, interest on only five-eighths of £1, so that in effect they pay only 5 per cent, on 20s. in the £1.
Now let me show exactly how these companies are evading taxation. At the end of June, 1955, the share capital invested in companies amounted to £59,700,000. Debentures, registered notes and deposits in those companies amounted to £27,500,000. By 1960, we find a totally different picture, in that the share capital of companies amounts to £48,200,000, while debenture raisings have increased to £193,600,000. In 1951, share capital raised represented approximately £2 for every £1 raised by the issue of debentures, but by 1960 the ratio was approximately £1 of share capital compared to approximately £4 of debenture capital. As interest is paid on debentures before company taxation is assessed, honorable members will appreciate just how these companies are exploiting the issue of debentures in order to evade taxation and obtain cheap money. These monopolistic companies are using the people’s money for the development of such projects as the manufacture of bigger and better bumper bars for motor cars, the construction of bowling alleys and so on, at a time when that money should be at the disposal of the Government for the provision of better roads, better hospitals and better schools. The Commonwealth Government has complete power under its taxation laws to alter this situation. It has power to provide that interest paid on debentures shall be taxed in the same way as interest paid on dividends is taxed.
I said earlier that this is a 5 per cent. Government. It favours 5 per cent, of the taxpayers. It favours those companies which are amassing great wealth by building up undistributed profits and increasing the depreciation rate on plant. To illustrate this, I point out that in the last year of the Chifley Government’s administration depreciation on plant amounted to £96,000,000, whereas this year it has jumped to £512,000,000.
Let me now refer to the inequity of the tax rebate system. I propose to show how huge sums are being refunded to a section of the community which does not need any help from the Taxation Branch. Statistics show that those in receipt of incomes ranging between £700 and £1,500 number 2,039,000. They support 1,008,000 spouses, 891,000 first children and 944,000 subsequent children. The value of the tax rebate to those 2,039,000 taxpayers is only £47,000,000 for their spouses and children. On the other hand, those in receipt of £1,500 and over number 410,000. They support 224,000 spouses, 224,000 first children and 241,000 subsequent children, and to them the tax rebate for those dependents is worth £19,600,000.
– Order! I again remind the honorable member that this matter has nothing whatever to do with the provisions of the bill.
– I am only referring to the tax rebate system. Tax rebates are allow able under the act, as you will find if you look through the bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I think I have upset the Government sufficiently by exposing the inequalities in its tax laws. Direct taxes are the only equitable taxes, but this Government has diverted taxation from direct to indirect channels. It has favoured hand-outs to 5 per cent.- of the people. It is just a 5 per cent, government, and I want to get the truth through to the people of Australia by exposing the Government and revealing the injustices for which it is responsible. This Government does not face up to the issue of priorities. It is, in effect, a government that favours bigger and better bumper-bars rather than better roads. For my part, I have greatly enjoyed trying to expose it this afternoon.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Anderson) adjourned.
.- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 20).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 21).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 22).] 1, That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1960, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that on and after the twenty-first day of October, One thousand nine hundred and sixty, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected accordingly 2, That in these Proposals, “ Customs Tariff Proposals “ mean the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely: - 19th. May, 1960; 16th August, 1960; and 8th September, 1960.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, the three tariff proposals which I have tabled relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1933-1960. The alterations will take effect to-morrow morning. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 20, in the main, provide for changes in duty on aluminium foil, lightning arresters, and cathode ray tubes; and these changes arise from consideration of Tariff Board recommendations on these commodities.
Honorable members may recall that on 19th May last I moved tariff proposals which provided for changes in respect of metal foils. Although there was no imme- diate change at that date in rates of duty on aluminium foil, provision was made for protective duties of 15 per cent. British preferential tariff and 22i per cent, otherwise to be > applied to these goods at a later date when supplies in commercial quantities were available from Australian manufacturers. Recent inquiries have disclosed that this stage has been reached and so the provisional protection can now be made effective. Rather than impose such duties by proclamation, as was envisaged by the May proposals, the changes have been introduced by to-day’s proposals so that the Parliament can consider this change in the ensuing debate on all outstanding tariff proposals, which I hope can be arranged early next month.
On the recommendation of the Tariff Board, protective duties of 10 per cent. British preferential tariff and 20 per cent, otherwise are being provided for valve type lightning arresters which are rated at 5,000 amperes and are suitable for the protection of electricity supply systems operating at pressures between 6 kilovolts and 33 kilovolts. However, the Tariff Board pointed out that those lightning arresters in the 22 to 33 kilovolt range were not yet obtainable from Australian sources, and it is proposed to admit them under by-law free of duty under the British preferential tariff and at H per cent, otherwise.
The protective duties on cathode ray tubes have been reduced. Picture tubes as used in television receivers now become subject to duties of £6 each under the British preferential tariff and £6 each plus 124- per cent, ad valorem otherwise. The £6 is not a protective duty, as it is matched by an equivalent excise duty of £6 each charged on Australian-made tubes. The rates for other cathode ray tubes are free under the British preferential tariff, and 7i per cent, when coming from a most favoured nation. These tubes are not subject to excise duty. The duties on glass envelopes for cathode ray tubes have also been varied. The Tariff Board has found that rates of free British preferential tariff, and 25 per cent, otherwise, are necessary during the next three years. The board has recommended that after that period the most-favoured-nation rate be reduced to 1 5 per cent, ad valorem. This future reduction is written into the current tariff proposal.
In regard to electron guns for cathode ray tubes, these goods have in the pas been admitted under Customs by-law a> rates of free, British preferential tariff, am Ti per cent, otherwise. In recommending that they should no longer be admitted under by-law, the board recommended that the substantive rates of duty, that is, those which would apply in the absence of bylaw provision, should be reduced from 17 i per cent. British preferential tariff to free, and from 42i per cent, mostfavourednation tariff to 12i per cent, ad valorem. These are the rates proposed for electron guns for television display tubes. In addition, the board recommended substantive rates of free, British preferential tariff, and 7i per cent, otherwise, for electron guns for other types of display tubes, for example radar tubes. I mention this point particularly because it is so often believed that any adjustment to the Australian tariff invariably means an increase in tariff rates. Here is an instance where Australian industry is able to compete on a continuing basis against imports with a minimum tariff protection.
The other alterations in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 20 are designed to improve the tariff structure and to show more clearly the intention of the items concerned. Specifically, these alterations relate to changes proposed in September last. They concern gas-operated guns and rifles which are to be treated similarly to air-operated arms, and photographic paper and transfer media. A drafting change is made in these items to make even more abundantly clear the protective incidence of the earlier alterations. No variation in existing duties is involved.
Tariff Proposals No. 21 implement the Tariff Board’s recommendations on electrical testing and measuring instruments for the imposition of protective duties of 27i per cent, ad valorem, British preferential tariff, and 45 per cent, mostfavourednation tariff on this wide range of electrical equipment. The goods covered by the Tariff Board’s inquiry concerned electrical testing meters, oscilloscopes, signal generators and signal modifiers of types used by persons engaged in the manufacture, repair or servicing of radio and television and like equipment. As the board found .that the significant rate of protection was that recommended under the mostfavourednation tariff, that is, 45 per cent., it has been necessary, because of Australia’s international commitments, to fix the British preferential rate at 321/2 per cent, ad valorem for cathode ray oscilloscopes and oscillographs, and 35 per cent, for other measuring and testing instruments, in lieu of the 271/2 per cent, rate actually recommended by the Tariff Board. The alternative would have been to impose a 271/2 per cent, duty on British goods, but the most-favoured-nation rates would have had to be reduced by a similar amount. This would not have given adequate protection to Australian industry for imports from most-favoured-nafion countries. A minority report was also made by a member of the Tariff Board for a lower rate of protection on measuring instruments and signal generators. After very careful consideration, the Government has decided to accept the majority’s findings.
Proposals No. 22 result from the Government’s examination of a report by the Tariff Board on clocks and watches. The opportunity has been taken to redraft the whole of the existing tariff structure on these goods. The board found that the importation of spring type clocks and clock movements of all types should not be subject to protective rates of duty as there is in effect no commercial manufacture of this class of goods.
The Government has taken the opportunity, as suggested by the Tariff Board, to reduce the duties on instrument panel clocks to free, British preferential tariff, and 71/2 per cent, otherwise. This will line these rates up with those now payable on similar goods imported for use as original equipment in motor vehicles and it could result in a reduced cost for repairs or replacements of such clocks. In addition the board recommended that tariff protection of 271/2 per cent., British preferential tariff, and 45 per cent, otherwise, should be imposed on master and slave clocks, and on other electrically operated clocks.
However, as the rate of duty on clock movements, asrecommended by the board, are free, British preferential tariff, and 71/2 per cent, otherwise, the Government felt that to accord a duty of 271/2 per cent. British, and 45 per cent, otherwise, on fully assembled electric clocks would be imposing too high a level of protection for the mere assembly of such movements into cases. The Government therefore decided to maintain the existing rate of duty on electric clocks, that is to say, 171/2 per cent. British and 421/2 per cent, most favoured nation, for electric clocks having wooden cases and free, British preferential tariff, and 171/2 per cent, intermediate tariff, on electric clocks with plastic, metal or other cases.
Other changes made in the proposals maintain existing tariff rates but set out the provisions in a more logical sequence which will simplify administrative procedures. I should also, perhaps, mention that primage duty has been removed from all clocks and watches. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House the reports of the Tariff Board on the following items: -
Cathode ray tubes and parts therof.
Clocks and watches and movements therefor.
Electric testing -and measuring instruments.
These items are covered in the tariff proposals which I have just announced in committee. I also table Tariff Board reports on the following items: -
Cutlery, not completely manufactured.
Internal combustion engines and parts therefor.
Metal-working milling machines.
These -items do not call for any legislative action. The ‘board’s findings, in these instances, have been adopted by the Government.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 2241).
.- The last speaker on this bill from the Opposition side, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) discussed direct taxation and indirect taxation. The bill deals with income tax, both for individuals and companies. This is direct taxation. According to the honorable member for Reid, indirect taxation is a dishonest form of taxation. It might be as well to see how the philosophy of the Opposition compares with its views on taxation. Opposition members are socialists and, therefore, their demands must be related to their philosophy.
There is only one country in which socialism has been practised fully without opposition and that is Soviet Russia. For 40 years, socialism has been practised in that country without opposition because the opposition was killed. The Soviet Government had income tax - the direct tax - but it is abolishing it and introducing the indirect taxation to which the honorable member for Reid, who is a socialist, is opposed. Sweden is also a socialist country. Recently, its government won an election on a promise to increase Swedish social services which already are the highest in the world. How does Sweden finance its social services? By taxing on the basis of the taxpayer’s capacity to pay? Of course not. The Swedish Socialist Government has imposed a sales tax of 4 per cent, over the whole range of commodities. So when Opposition members advocate increased direct taxation and the abolition of indirect taxation they are recommending a completely contrary course to that adopted in socialist countries.
The bill before the House proposes to reimpose the 5 per cent, rebate which was allowed on income tax last year. Personally, I was never very keen on that rebate. I pay my taxes, as does any one else, and a tax reduction is very pleasant. I think that taxes should be as low as possible so as to give incentive to people to produce, but I have always been opposed to the payroll tax, and I am sorry that, instead of providing the income tax rebate last year, the Government did not reduce the pay-roll tax. I believe that the income tax is a better way of taxing than the pay-roll tax.
A question which has exercised my mind for a long time concerns the deductions allowable in respect of a wife and children. These deductions remain the same as last year. If I were Father Christmas, as members of the Opposition apparently so often would like to be, and I were examining where taxes fall most heavily on the community I would say that they fall most heavily on the married man with children. I notice this particularly because I have employees, some of whom are married, with children, and some unmarried. The difference in their pay cheques is so little that 1 feel that deductions for dependent wives and children should be much higher than they are.
The farming community will gain very little from the taxation proposals of the Budget. One advantage is that the allowable deduction for the building of houses for employees and share-farmers has been increased from £2,750 to £3,250. This is a help because many families are growing up and require additional rooms. This provision will also offset the increased cost of building. But I feel that more should be done for the farming community because, after all, farm income is our main means of economic survival.
I am glad to note the increase in mining activity in this country as a result of the provision that the first 20 per cent, of profits will be free of income tax. I should like to see some similar provision introduced to provide an incentive to the farming community, which has to face continually rising costs. There is not much more than can be done to help farmers than this Government has already done, but it could help in the way I suggest now. The Government has done a great deal to encourage investment in farming by its generous provisions relating to depreciation allowances and expenditure on improvements such as new fencing, housing, water supplies and so forth, which may be averaged over five years for tax purposes. Corporate companies can draw investment money from many sources, but the only sources available to farmers are private loans, loans from the banking system or investment from their own profits. If the farmer is encouraged to invest more in his own industry the improved efficiency that will result from new machinery and so on employed on the farm will help to offset the rising costs from which farmers to-day are suffering. Such investment would be encouraged if the first 20 per cent, or 30 per cent, of profits from farming were free of tax, provided that that portion of the profits were invested by the farmer in his farm.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who led this debate for the Opposition, was like most socialists in his attitude, although he is fairer than the average socialist. He spoke about the great differences between large companies and small companies. I can never understand the Opposition’s reasoning in this matter. Anything which is large is offensive to honorable members opposite. They completely ignore the fact that large companies do not belong to one person. They belong to a great number of unknown people who are shareholders either directly, or indirectly through the investment of life insurance funds and unit trust money and so on. Honorable members opposite ignore the fact that big companies like General MotorsHolden’s Limited and Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and banks, have thousands of shareholders. Admittedly, these companies are big, and anything that is big is, according to the Opposition, bad. To me that is very ugly. If the motor cars produced in this country were made only by small companies their price would be prohibitive, because the costs of production would be so heavy.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) talked about depreciation allowances. Only five minutes ago the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) introduced on behalf of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) tariff proposals involving a number of changes about which the Minister said that, from the Tariff Board report it was obvious that Australia was getting into the position of being able to compete on the world market with other secondary industry countries. How did Australia achieve that position? The answer is: By investment. The increase in investment which flows from the operation of a sensible depreciation allowance policy means that industries can confidently buy new machinery - and that is when they start to get to the position where they can compete on world markets. In addition, the purchase of new machinery and the consequent increase of efficiency in an industry permits greater production, and greater production means the provision of more employment.
This Government’s policy in regard to depreciation allowances is part of its policy of full employment. But any action that the Government takes to produce full employment is immediately regarded by the Opposition as a hand-out to our supposed friends. This is either ignorance on their part, or worse. Why do the American workers prefer to work for companies which make big profits? Because they see security in working for such companies. The more money that is ploughed back into an industry, the more modern the machinery used in an industry, the greater is the production of that industry and the lower are its costs of production. All this adds up to greater security of employment for workers in the industry. If company tax is too high and a liberal proportion of a company’s profits is not left for reinvestment, the company will not be able to strengthen its competitive capacity. By legislative provisions which allow as high a proportion as possible of the profits to be ploughed back into the industry we can increase the efficiency of the industry and place it in a competitive position with similar industries elsewhere. We cannot look at this matter merely on the basis of what comes back to the Government in company tax.
The Government’s policy on company tax has far-reaching effects which are not immediately visible. Its method of taxation, so strongly criticized by the honorable member for Reid, has many virtues which are not obvious to the careless eye. The honorable member suggested a tax on rising capital gains. Company tax does not necessarily take care of that. He asked why we should not tax capital gains. Such a tax could be a very improper tax for a country in our position, but the whole thing has to be considered very carefully. I do not like any taxpayer to be able to evade his tax dues. I think that everybody should pay the requisite tax; but the fact that some people have very large incomes as a result of capital gains whilst others have not, is immaterial. I was at an election meeting once at which a man asked me, “ Do you think it is right for a man to have an income of £100,000 a year? “ I answered, “ What is wrong with that? “ He said, “ It is very bad “. I then asked him, “ Would you rather see that income taken from that man and divided so that, say, 100 people’ would have £1,000 a year each?” He said that he would. Now let us look at the economies of that suggestion. A man with an income of £100,000 a year pays about £72,000 of it in tax to help to finance social services, armament and all the costs of government.
– But he still has £28,000 left.
– He still has £28,000 left, but he is paying £72,000 to the Government. Assume that from that man’s income we created 100 new taxpayers with £1,000 a year each. They would pay in tax a total of approximately £12,000. So we would be down by £60,000 in our tax revenue, and this leeway would have to be made up. We would have to tax those 100 people and other taxpayers in order to get that missing £60,000.
It is easy to discourage people by taking in taxes too much of what they earn. People who pay large amounts in taxes are contributing tremendously to the revenue. The idea is, not to have a few people with £100,000 a year, but to have hundreds and hundreds of millionaires. But that is not the idea of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Reid talked about taxing capital gains. Capital gains are often illusory. Honorable members opposite do not consider the people who have capital losses. They consider that such people are just mugs, but the person who has capital gains is, to them, an exploiter.
– He is a bandit to them.
– Of course they think he is a bandit. Here are the questions that I ask honorable members opposite: Do you want to tax capital gains half a dozen times or once? Can you tax a capital gain if it is not realized? What happens to people with capital gains of enormous value, when they die. The answer to that one is that the gains are all taken by the Treasury. Are you going to tax people with capital gains during their life, until they have nothing left to tax?
You can only get so much out of people. What should really be done is to create a strong economy as a result of a sensible taxation policy. The curious thing is that year after year, over the last ten years, the Opposition has been talking about the imminence of widespread unemployment and depression. Yet, although hundreds and thousands of new workers have come into the labour force in that time, there is still plenty of employment. So either they are wrong or we are wrong. The curious thing is that our policy is working out. Each year we have been accused of creating depression and unemployment, and each year those accusations have been completely wrong. I ask, with all humility, that those who make such accusations consider whether sometimes we are right and they are wrong. Some capital gains are inflationary and do not represent a real gain. To an equal extent capital gains arising as the result of a fall in interest rates may be illusory, since they do not increase investors’ future incomes. If we want direct taxation, income is what we want to get at. Capital gains are not only irregular but are often unsought and unexpected and do not, therefore, represent the same kind of taxable capacity as does a regular and expected income.
A tax on realized capital gains may be administratively feasible, but it is inequitable because it depends on the realized assets in the year in which that realization takes place, whereas appreciation may have accrued over a number of years and direct taxation is imposed in the year of realization. If you have had your money invested in shares which have not paid dividends for years and suddenly they increase in value, they become important, but over that long period they have accrued no income. Are you going to tax that increased value suddenly because over the period there was no income? The taxing of capital gains sounds very good in theory, but when you apply the tax it is not quite so good. I would ask the people who wish to apply a capital gains tax in preference to company tax and income tax, whether they would offset that by depreciation of values of unrealized assets over the year. How can you apply your tax if you do not realize your assets? Supposing you tax in one year the assets which you realize and you have a lot of assets which have been losing money for the whole time and which you have not realized. That is often the case. Very often an investor sells, in order to raise money, shares which are profitable, and hangs on to the shares on which he has been losing. So if you tax the capital gains when you realize them, that is grossly unfair and inequitable to. the taxpayer.
There may be, in certain countries, methods whereby you could, to some extent, tax capital; but in a young expanding country such as this it would be disastrous, because it is on our savings that we must build our future. Honorable members of the Opposition continually complain about imported capital, but if we tax people’s savings, they just will not save. How many times do we find that a shearer, as he starts to go higher with his run and so has to pay more income tax, slows up and says, “ Why should I be working for the Government? “ The investor, the capitalist, the bad man and the exploiter are prepared to risk their capital and to deny themselves pleasures and various things they want, in order to save. It does not matter whether the person concerned denies himself a new Rolls-Royce, a new yacht, or a new suit of clothes; it is still a denial in order to save, and those are the people we want. We want people to save and invest their savings, and the only way to achieve that end is through our taxation policy. That is one reason why I favour some degree of indirect taxation, because the person who pays it can select it, although I believe in the lowest taxation possible. I support the increase of 5 per cent, in income taxation because of inflation, although I am sorrry that the reduction made last year was not used to replace the pay-roll tax. I dislike the pay-roll tax intensely because it bears particularly heavily on our importing and exporting industries, and especially on the farmer. The farmer pays pay-roll tax on everything he does. I would rather see higher income tax than the pay-roll tax, which is a tax on costs rather than on income.
I have been astonished at the methods of the Opposition in attacking some of -the provisions for depreciation allowances and other allowances dealt with in the bill before the House. I think it was the .honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who referred to the £400 allowable tax deduction for life insurance as against the £143 deduction for a wife. This is one of the few occasions upon which I agree -with the honorable member. Whilst I approve .the £400 spent on life insurance because it does not go into a profit-making company but into a mutual benefit company, which in turn invests money .in “ exploiting “ companies, I feel that the allowance of £143 for a wife is much too low. That is one quest-ion which I think the Government must review in its next Budget.
I feel very strongly about the attacks made on the system which the Government is employing. It is the system of private enterprise and of the encouragement of initiative through taxation policy. When people put money into new plant, for instance, I feel that honorable members of the Opposition do not realize the value it brings in greater efficiency and greater capacity to employ people, which are two things that we have to fight for. We must have greater employment to carry a greater population, and this has been accomplished successfully by the Government’s policy. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Against the advice of some experts on depression and unemployment, we have provided full employment over the whole of this period. I would like the Government to have another look at the different treatment as between private and public companies. In the case of private companies, if a sufficient distribution is not made of dividends to shareholders there is a high tax of 10s. in the £1 paid in the form of the undistributed profits tax, whereas public companies pay a tax on all their income and are not taxed on undistributed profits. I believe there should be a change of policy because I feel that private companies get a rather tougher deal than public companies in the tax field.
.- The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) made a comparison of what he called the socialist philosophy in Australia with what he called the realization of socialist philosophy in the Soviet Union and socialist philosophy in Sweden. I must confess that I had great difficulty in seeing the parallel between Soviet society and Swedish society. In the Soviet Union all profits belong to the State. All profits made out of labour belong to the State and the prices charged in shops are determined by the State, so that if the price of an article is raised the authorities there need not call that a tax. I could not see the analogy that the honorable member was driving at. He also seems to support, as fair, the system of exemptions. Before you consider any exemptions at all, if your income tax is fairly graduated - if you have drawn a curve of taxation which is utterly fair - what case is there for exemptions at all? I admit that we have never, for instance, brought in a law dealing with wife endowment, but we have brought in a law dealing with child endowment. The former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, informed me that if we abolished the tax exemptions for children, we could double the child endowment.
To come back to first principles, what is the Government attempting to do when it grants an exemption of income tax for children? It is endeavouring to assist you to bring up your family. What is it doing when it grants you child endowment? It is endeavouring to assist you to bring up your family. The object of the exemption and the object of child endowment are exactly the same.
This question arises, therefore: Which is the fairer way to assist a family? When you have a tax exemption it is clear that the higher the income the greater is the assistance that is given. Take my own case as an example. Last year my income tax was 6s. 5d. in the £1. An exemption of £91 is allowed for the first child. Ninetyone times 6s. 5d. comes to £29 3s. lid. So, to assist me to bring up my eldest child, the Government exempted me from £29 3s. lid. in tax. Of course, the ordinary taxpayer is confused. He believes that somehow or other the £91 exemption means that his tax is reduced by £91. But the position is as I have stated it. In my case the £91 exemption at the rate of 6s. 5d. in the £1 meant that I received an exemption of £29 3s. lid.
Had I received a lower income and paid tax at the rate of 2s. in the £1, the £91 exemption would have meant that the Government assessed the assistance Required by my child at £9 2s. That is what is happening. As long as I remain a member of Parliament I shall be in a higher income bracket, and, as I have said, my eldest child is assisted to the extent of £29 3s. lid. If I returned to teaching, my child probably would be assisted to the extent of £9 2s. If Sir Arthur Fadden claims that by abolishing those exemptions we could double child endowment, is there not a case for abolishing the exemptions and doubling the endowment? If this were done, the man who pays 2s. in the £1 and is being assisted to the extent of £9 2s. for his first child would be assisted to the extent of £26. In my case there would be a reduction in the amount of assistance, but the nation would know that each child bad equal value.
So long as you have a system of tax exemption as a means of assisting children, you are saying that the higher the income of the parent the greater the value of the child from the point of view of the State. I think that there is a case for reconsidering that aspect. As I said at the outset, if you have already struck a tax curve which you regard as fair, there is no real case for tax exemptions from it.
I admit that it is not easy to amend the law in that respect, first, because the general body of taxpayers believe with great joy that when they write £91 in the deductions column provided on the income tax form they are obtaining a big reduction in the taxation for which they are liable. In some vague way they seem to believe that it means a reduction of £91 in tax which, of course, it is not.
– How could any man who receives between the basic wage and £20 believe that he is getting a concession of £91 when he knows that his total tax is nowhere near that figure?
– I do not think that it is a rational consideration; it is more psychological. The £91 that the taxpayer writes in the deduction column makes him believe that he is getting a great concession whereas it is merely a variable concession according to income. I am trying to argue for equity for all children. I believe that the State could better assist all children through child endowment, which confers equal benefit, than through tax exemptions. If the £91 exemption were cut out, the taxpayer in the higher income bracket - the 10s. in the £1 man - would have to pay £45 10s. additional tax and would receive, to offset that, only £26 in child endowment. On the other hand, the 2s. in the £1 man would have to pay £9 2s. additional tax but would receive £26 in child endowment. If this proposal were adopted the tax system would provide equity in the community.
However, I suppose that there are cases where something can be said for inequity. 1 do not think that anything can be said for inequity in terms of income, but something can be said for it in terms of age. If a man is 65 years of age and his wife is 60, the Government proposes to exempt £884 of his income, which is equal to what he would be permitted to earn on his own and his wife’s behalf plus their age pension. It is clear that there are other people in the community - basic wage earners with children - who earn £884 a year but who are not exempt from tax. The pensioner and the basic wage earner could receive exactly the same income, but because one has reached 65 years of age, he is exempt from tax while the other is not. Nevertheless, there is something to be said for that provided the Government carries right through the principle that it is endeavouring to express in this legislation.
I take it that the Government, first, is encouraging people to save for their old age, and secondly, recognizes that in some of these cases it will recover, when the people pass on, something in the way of death dues if they are not forced to realize on their capital before they die. The Government recognizes also that during one’s earning life there is the incentive to save and provide for one’s old age. Building security is a good motive to have in the community.
In that case, there is something to be said for amending the income tax law to bring it into line with the legislation in Canada. I understand that in Canada the Government progressively reduces income tax when a person reaches the age of 55, in the belief that between the ages of 55 and 65 elder citizens should be given a chance to save for their old age. Further, after a person reaches the age of 70 the means test is abolished completely. The means test applies only between the ages of 65 and 70. But a provision to reduce income tax progressively after a person reaches 55 would, I think, be an extension of the principle incorporated in this legislation that with the husband at 65 and the wife at 60 income amounting to £884 is exempt from tax.
I think that all honorable members on this side of the House were pleased to see the 5 per cent, rebate for individual taxation abolished. It was another modification of what the Government has deter mined is a fair curve. If the Government had struck a fair curve of taxation, what ground was there for giving every one a 5 per cent, flat-rate cut, irrespective of income? It merely meant that the Government reduced taxation for persons on higher incomes to a greater extent than it did for those in the lower bracket. Either the tax curve was not fair in the first instance or, if it was fair, the Government proceeded to make it unfair against the lower echelons of income earners by allowing the flat rate 5 per cent. cut. The abolition of that rebate is an important step in the right direction.
I agree with the honorable member for Hume in relation to the housing of rural workers or share farmers. I do not know why, in all tax law, we do not strike a realistic figure representing the cost of a house. The farmer, more than any one else, would be very hard put to build a house for £3,250. Usually he has to bring tradesmen out from the city. It would be a good thing if this tax exemption were determined by considering thecost of the house to the farmer. If the Government wishes to encourage rural industry and a high standard of housing in the country - which is one way of keeping people in country areas - an allowance of £5,000 would be more reasonable than the amount of £3,250 which has in fact been provided. The honorable member for Hume says that there is a case for the farming community to be allowed an exemption in the same way as are investors in mining companies. If we encourage the production of minerals, we are encouraging a form of primary production which is of considerable assistance to our export trade. The honorable member argues, presumably, that as the farming community earns the bulk of our export income, there is a case for it to be treated in the same way as we treat the mining community - that is, by exempting the first 20 per cent, of income. On the other hand, mining investment is surely much more speculative.
– Both are speculative.
– I agree that the farmer has seasonal hazards to contend with.
– And price hazards-
– And price variations. We can cancel out the price variations, because metals fluctuate in price also. The two industries are the same in that respect. But the prospect of getting minerals is perhaps not quite so certain as the prospect of getting a clip or a crop. In view of the present trend,, with farm incomes falling behind general community incomes, there is a case for consideration, as the honorable member says, but I am not certain- that the case is entirely analogous to that of income earned from mining.
In terms of equity, the objection to deductions for families applies with even greater force to deductions for gifts. As the Government allows tax deductions in respect of gifts to certain educational institutions*, what case is there for ignoring organizations such as parents and citizens’ associations? I assume that the Commonwealth is endeavouring to assist the research institutions specified in section 78 of the principal act and in the amendment to it proposed in this bill. But. the Commonwealth also is making direct grants for scientific purposes and so on. The higher your income, the easier it is for you to make these gifts, and the more you get back from the Treasury for having made the gift. I am inclined to think that that is a fatal objection, in principle,, to concessions of this kind.
I wonder whether these concessions really have a great deal of effect in advancing science: Until 1958 the University of Western Australia did not have a medical faculty. For many years, agitation was directed at the State Government, suggesting that it ought to raise the money for a medical faculty, but suddenly various medical practitioners in Perth abandoned that agitating and set out to appeal to the public. Very quickly, an amount of £580,000 was raised and a medical faculty was established. Large sums of money were given by all sorts of organizations. For instance, the Waterside Workers Federation in my constituency gave £2,000. The objective having been explained to the public, the incentive to make a gift was not, in my view, the tax exemption; it was the sense of responsibility of the person concerned. I think that there is an exaggeration of the extent to which tax deductions act as incentives to give -money to the educational and research enterprises that the Government wishes to encourage. If gifts to universities are allowed as tax deductions, surely there is also a case for treating in the same way gifts to ordinary schools and to parents and citizens’ associations. Here, again, I think there is- an inequity- in. the way in- which the laws operate. I do not wish to labour the point any further.
I am glad that certain honorable members have spoken about the allowance for a wife and the need to make it somewhat more realistic. An allowance of £143, at the rate of 6s. 5d. in the £1 which I mentioned earlier, is worth £45 17s. 7d. I think that my wife is worth more than £45 17s. 7d., and she costs much more. I think that the case for revising and increasing this allowance is much stronger than was the case for revising and increasing the allowance for life assurance. After all, the people who spend £400 a year on superannuation or life insurance must constitute a very small percentage of the community. I do not know how much that concession costs the Treasury, but I think that there is a better case for revising family allowances, such as the wife’s allowance, than there was for revising that concession.
Honorable members opposite, who attacked the statement- of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) about direct and indirect taxes, went back to the period of the Chifley Government. The criticism that I am making, of the principle of tax deductions applies with equal force to the policies of the Chifley Government. We certainly granted deductions for children, as- well as child, endowment. I think that our child endowment payment was more realistic,, having regard to the cost of living in those days, than is the present rate of child endowment. This, is one of the things that has not been adjusted to take account of inflation. I think that what is not understood is that the gravamen of the argument of- the honorable member for Reid is that the Chifley Government came down on the side of direct taxes much more heavily than on the side of indirect taxes. It tried progressively to reduce indirect taxes. A rather remarkable theory was put forward by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who said that the Chifley Government was able to reduce indirect taxes because it received £30*000,000 from disposals sales. He said that that money should have been applied to the: reduction of war debt. He ignores the fact that the Chifley Government did, in fact, repatriate £183,000,000 of our overseas debt..
– And it made a gift of £45,000,000 to the United Kingdom.
– That is so. I do not want to labour these points. In framing a budget, a government must choose between direct and indirect taxes. Equity requires that you draw a fair curve of taxation and cut out many of these exemptions. If the Government wants to assist children, it should do so, not through exemptions, but through increased child endowment. It should look at what sections of the community it is favouring when it makes such great concessions in relation to life assurance and things of that nature.
.- This bill is designed to give effect to the Budget decisions that were announced some few months ago. On a general approach, none of the amendments provided in the bill calls for headlines or great excitement. Nevertheless, when they are carefully looked at, it is seen that they relate to fundamental principles- which in themselves are very important and worthy of our taking time to- emphasize. There is in existence at the present- time, as honorable, members are aware,- a Commonwealth- committee inquiring into- our taxation legislation. I think it is generally recognized that the committee’s terms of reference restrict its- inquiry primarily to the Income Tax and- Social Services Contribution- Assessment Act. I submit, therefore, that it- is quite reasonable for the Government to confine its amendments to this act to- those that are immediately essential pending the submission of the committee’s report.
We have all asked ourselves, no doubt, what kind of report will be eventually submitted to this Parliament by that allimportant committee of inquiry. I take the liberty of suggesting that we are very hopeful, that the report will, within, the committee’s terms of reference, survey the spread of tax payments over the whole community. The terms of reference indicate that the committee is not at liberty to recommend- taxation measures which would result in the raising of less revenue than is received at the present time. Nor is. it in a position to make wild recommendations for allowances, or deductions vastly more liberal than those that are available at present. We can expect, therefore, that the report will be largely concerned with the anomalies that exist under current legislation.
I want to stress my personal hope that the committee will- bring forward recommendations concerning specific anomalies connected with the raising of revenue, as well as- anomalies with regard to allowances and deductions. Most of the evidence that has been and- will be presented to the committee, by people whose natural inclination is to emphasize their personal hopes and’ ambitions, will, of course, be concerned with allowances and deductions.
There are five major aspects of this bill, which have been referred to by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his secondreading speech. Speakers who have preceeded me in the debate have also touched on those major points. I am well aware, therefore, that I shall be traversing ground that has already been fairly adequately covered, but perhaps I can mention one or two aspect’s which will command some interest amongst honorable members as the debate progresses. I shall refer, first, to depreciation allowances. I am one of those who are keen to see the complete implementation of a very valuable report that was presented some years ago, and which is known generally as the Hulme report on depreciation. This Government has progressively implemented the recommendations contained in- that report, so that most of them have now been gwen effect to There still remain, however, one or two features of that report that are well worthy of consideration.
I remind the House that depreciation on buildings has not yet been brought within the ambit of the legislation. I believe a just case can be made out for such a depreciation allowance. Representations have been made to the Government again and again by responsible people for the granting of this allowance. The leaders of our secondary industries are to-day well aware of the importance of this kind of depreciation allowance, because although the useful life of buildings is much longer than that of working machinery, depreciation cannot be overlooked. We see buildings everywhere being torn down at present so that they may be replaced by structures more suitable for this modern era.
I believe, too, that in the not-too-distant future the Parliament will have to turn its attention to the question of obsolescence. When we have dealt with depreciation, as that term is understood to-day, we have by no means exhausted the subject. We must also consider the wider ramifications of obsolescence of very expensive machinery, which, after a period of time and before it can be said to have completely depreciated, must be cast to one side. In a scientific age, in an age of change and advance such as that of to-day, and at a time when we have high hopes that the future will bring even more rapid change and greater advances, I believe that obsolescence presents a very great challenge to this or any government.
The amendment in the bill before us refers particularly to section 57aa of the act, which provides for the writing off over five years of expenditure on the provision of suitable accommodation for employees in primary industries. This special 20 per cent, depreciation allowance is at present available in respect of structural improvements for land used in agricultural oi pastoral pursuits. Mt also applies to structural improvements used wholly and exclusively for the purpose of pearling operations, provided the improvements are erected in the vicinity of the port or harbour from which these operations are conducted. The allowance of 20 per cent, remains unaltered. However, until now the capital value of the improvements concerned has been limited to a maximum of £2,750, but the amendment will increase this to the more realistic amount of £3,250. I believe that this merely reflects the effects of rising costs, and meets the wishes of primary producers to provide more suitable and adequate dwellings for their employees. [ believe the Parliament will agree that the amendment is fully justified.
Clause 5 of the bill provides for an increase from £10 10s. to £21 of the amount that may be deducted from income for taxation purposes in respect of subscriptions to trade, business and professional organizations. My experience of working men who seek advice regarding the compilation of their returns and the allowances they may claim convinces me that this is a worthwhile and realistic amendment. I have been somewhat concerned at the amounts that trade unionists to-day are called upon to pay to their organizations. A few years ago, in my ignorance, I may have thought that the amount a trade unionist had to pay was only a few pounds, but in many cases I find that it exceeds the existing allowance of £10 10s. If any man is entitled to a full deduction of subscriptions to trade organizations, it is the working man. In addition, those who pay subscriptions to professional associations find that these payments have increased from £3 3 s. or £4 4s. a few years ago to £12 12s. or £15 15s. at the present time. In my view the increase of the allowance to £21 is fully justified.
I want to devote some time to the subject of gifts. I was most gratified at the attitude to this matter displayed by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who preceded me in this debate. Allowances or deductions from income on account of gifts are covered by section 78, sub-section 1, of the principal act.’ In my opinion, this section of the legislation has got completely out of hand. The original intention has been departed from. It seems to me that this provision was introduced to cover gifts made to certain kinds of worthy activities or organizations. This is obvious if one studies the original provision in the act. It has become the practice, however, to add to the list of organizations, gifts to which are allowed as deductions from income. Year by year we add specifically named organizations, and I ask the question: At what point will the list come to an end?
Living, as we do, in an expanding country with advancing cultural pursuits, and becoming increasingly aware of the part we must play in international affairs, we will want to establish more and more worthwhile funds. Must each of those funds be considered? Must we be faced with constant requests from organizations? There is not one honorable member who is not besieged throughout the year with requests for help to obtain exemptions under the income tax legislation in respect of gifts given to various organizations. Let me say emphatically that in my opinion philanthropy should not become contaminated by scheming for taxation deductions. Nowadays a frantic rush to the Commissioner of Taxation is a prerequisite to the launching of many appeals. There are bodies of men who would say to us, “ We will not undertake a public appeal unless we can tack on to our publicity the statement that gifts to this worthy cause we are sponsoring will be automatically allowed as deductions for income tax purposes “. This is a highly undesirable development. Accordingly, I am glad to be able to associate myself with the comments of the honorable member for Fremantle.
Although annually, prior to the presentation of the Budget, the Government has the choice of including various organizations and activities in the list of those in respect of which deductions will be allowed, I do not find it easy to reconcile with that choice the exclusion of the parents of children who are giving such splendid service to parents and citizens’ organizations and who are sponsoring kindergartens. These people are members of our own communities. The people who contribute this service and sacrifice their time, and who make a constant contribution from their incomes, are not associated with big business, as it is sometimes described. These people would appreciate a recognition of their loyalty in seeking to satisfy the needs of the local schools. They are doing something which is in the interests of the young people of their district. They are not doing it for themselves. Although unfortunately, not every parent makes this kind of contribution, the efforts of those who are rendering this service are spread over all the children of the school or community concerned.
The honorable member for Fremantle referred to the lifting of the rebate of 5 per cent, that was granted last year. Many of us may feel that what was done last year was not done in the best way. I want to take up the argument of the honorable member. He criticized the rebate and proceeded to say that it was spread inequitably over the whole field of taxpayers. He said that tax rates are fixed in accordance with the income curve. Therefore, the honorable member must acknowledge that the incidence of taxation is heavier as the income increases. To my humble mind, it cannot be justly claimed that the rebate favoured the taxpayer with a larger income as against the taxpayer with a lower income. I believe there must be equity. Now that the rebate has been lifted, we have not very much to argue about. But I believe that the argument submitted by the honorable member was not as logical as he may have thought.
I have referred to the lifting of the 5 per cent, rebate. Likewise, there is to be an increase in the rate of tax imposed on companies. I believe there is no need for us to apologize for this increase. As the House well knows, the Budget was designed to achieve a balanced economy, and part and parcel of the calculation made by the Government was the opinion that, in view of the profits of private and public companies, a greater contribution was justified. It is not a large increase. The Government has budgeted for this increase, well recognizing the ability of companies to pay. Therefore, I submit that we need not apologize for this provision, which the bill seeks to implement.
I am very interested in the provision that has been made for the necessary adjustment to the age allowance for elderly people. This, of course, can be regarded as being a machinery measure following the normal increase of the basic rate of pension for aged persons. But the opportunity is given to us once more to point out how logical the Government is in its approach to the matter of social service benefits - particularly now in regard to the allowance that is made for men over 65 years of age and women over 60 years of age in respect of the payment of income tax. I have said before that it is quite apparent that the Government and those of us who are associated with it do not expect the pensioner to live on the bare pension. It is our hope that this allowance will make living a little easier for the pensioner. The Government has indicated its attitude to the pensioner by making provision for him to earn £3 10s. a week over and above his pension, making a total income, in the case of a single person, of £8 10s. a week and, in the case of a married couple, £17. Providing theses people comply with the age test, they are allowed, in the case of a married couple, to regard that weekly income of £17 as being exempt from income tax. So I praise the Government for having awarded the increase to which we. have previously directed our attention and which is now reflected, as a natural corollary, in the income tax legislation.
They are the major points. Reference has been made to the partial exemption from the payment of income tax of certain mining profits. I do not think that matter calls for any elaboration. May I revert to the age allowance? One point I did not stress was that aged persons are given a concessional allowance over and above the sum of £8 10s. in the case of a single person, and £17 in the case of a married couple. It is provided that the income tax payable shall not exceed ninetwentieths of the excess of the net income over the exemption point. That is quite a realistic figure.
I have much pleasure in directing attention to these points. They are general observations, but they knit into the very fabric of the income tax legislation as we know it to-day. I conclude by saying once more that I do not think the Parliament can expect any major amendments of the income tax legislation until the Government has before it the recommendations ot the highly qualified committee which, after a number of years, has been called into being to review the. legislation, and until it arrives at a decision upon those recommendations. Let us hope that perhaps early in the new year we shall see an implementation of the committee’s recommendations with a consequent reduction of the volume of the legislation, which is becoming increasingly involved as amendments are made to it. Let us hope that there will be presented to the Parliament recommendations of merit relating not only to the allowances and deductions that individual taxpayers and companies may claim but also to the spread of taxation. This, I believe, is something for the future to which we can look with great expectations; so I associate myself with the support of the bill and praise the Government for the action it has taken.
Ms. THOMPSON (Pont Adelaide) 15.26]. - In debating this bill, we can speak of the principles adopted in relation to income tax rather than any specific alterations m the incidence of the tax because, in fact, ‘the bill does not alter the income tax scale materially, for the ordinary person anyway, apart from the withdrawal of the 5 per cent, concession that was allowed last year. I agree with that portion of the bill entirely. I said last year that I believed the 5 per cent, concession was wrong. I was opposed to it because I thought the money that the Government was handing back to the taxpayers could have been used to assist needy sections of the community.
I remember attending a meeting some years ago when a prominent South Australian Labour member spoke on taxation. He said .then that the view of the Australian Labour Party was not that taxation was simply a means of extracting money, but that it was a means of dividing the wealth of the community reasonably among the people generally. We are still of that opinion to-day.
I am entirely opposed to the views expressed by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who said that he agreed with indirect taxation. He said that you could please yourself whether you bought something and so paid an indirect lax on it. Obviously, a family man who wants something that is necessary for his home must either go without it or pay the indirect tax that is imposed upon it. Therefore, I cannot agree that a person has an option whether he will pay the tax or not. I am entirely opposed to indirect taxation -which has been taken to extremes by this Government.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said that if the curve of income tax was correct, we should do away with exemptions. I do not think the curve of income tax is correct. I believe that if you strike a curve of taxation to raise money for defence and other national obligations, you should do it in a way that is fair and equitable for every one. The present system of imposing income tax and then superimposing indirect taxation is rather absurd.
The honorable member for Fremantle and several other honorable members have referred to income tax deductions in relation to child endowment. The honorable member for Fremantle said he had been told by the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, that if income rax deductions for children were abolished, the rates of child endowment could be .doubled. I have studied recent figures and I do not believe that the additional revenue that would be raised by abolishing the concessions for children would be sufficient to enable the Government to double child endowment. I think it would require considerably more money to do that. But the outlook of the honorable member for Fremantle is shared by many others on the Labour side of the House.
We believe that rates of child endowment and income tax deductions for children bear no relation. Let us consider the benefits a family man derives from tax concessions for children. A man with an income of £600, or approximately £15 a week - a little above the ‘basic wage - is allowed a deduction for his children at the rate of 38d. in the £1. A mar! -who has an income of £3,200 a year pays income tax at the rate of l’05d. in the £1 on his taxable income. So he is allowed tax concessions for his wife and children at the rate of 105d. in the £1, compared with the rate of 38d. in the £1 for a man on £800 a year. That is not equitable. The working man is entitled to as much in the way of taxation relief for his children as is the wealthy man or a man on a much higher salary. 1 remember when the Chifley Labour Government was in office the relative merits of tax rebates and tax deductions were -debated. That Government had endeavoured to reduce -the imbalance between high and low salaries by introducing .a rebate system based on the average of the income, and not on the maximum income which is of most. benefit to the man on the top salary. The honorable member for Hume, who is interjecting, is consumed with the idea that you must allow the man on the top to retain a large portion of his income so that he can build factories or lend money to the Government and generally assist other people to carry on.
– That is not my argument at all.
– That is an analysis of the view you expressed earlier. You referred to the man with £100,000, and you said that if he paid £70,’000 in taxation and had £30,000 left, he did not have sufficient means for capital or business expansion. If his money were made available to other people, it would certainty go round. When a small businessman expands his business, he does so from his profits. The more people that deal from him, the more opportunity “he has of expanding his business from his profits. But I have been amazed at file outlook of the average small businessman. These people are afraid that if they return a Labour government to office, it will tax them so heavily that they will not be able to carry on. Therefore, they vote for a government such as that which is now in office, never realizing that the best investment for the small businessman - the man with a corner shop - is a high wage level for the workers. At the end of the week, the worker goes to the shop and his custom pushes the business ahead. We on the Labour side have to contend continually with the attitude of the small businessman to taxation.
I wish to refer now to the concessional allowance for a wife. Reference was made to this matter by the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver). We know that as a wife’s income rises above £65 a year, the husband progressively loses the benefit of the concessional allowance. Of course this concession is of no value to the taxpayer whose wife has a substantial income in her own right. The greatest benefit accrues to the man who has wholly to maintain his wife. Let me quote again the figures I mentioned previously. A man earning £15 a week can get a deduction in respect of his spouse at the rate of 38d. in the £1, whilst that for a man earning £3,200 a year is calculated at .the rate of 105d. in the £1. As I endeavoured to interject when the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was speaking, “To him that hath shall be given “. This Government gives the most consideration to those members of the community who have the highest incomes. That has always been my contention.
The difference between Labour and the Liberals is that Labour believes that everybody should pay according to his capacity, whereas the Liberals believe that the people should “be taxed at a flat rate. Some members of the Government might challenge that statement on the oasis of the income *ax rates I have quoted. The point I am making is that during the last eight or ten years this Government has raised a much greater amount of revenue by taxation than any previous government has done, although there has been very little increase in the rates of taxation. But look at the huge amount of revenue that is derived by the imposition of sales tax at flat rates. If a person goes into a shop to buy a piece of furniture, whether he is earning £10,000 a year or £10 a year makes no difference; he pays sales tax at a flat rate. I have always felt that this system was inequitable.
I think it was the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who said that company tax is not being levied equitably. Companies that earn a huge income, in common with those who earn small incomes, are called upon to pay tax of 8s. in the £1. The Labour Party believes that if a big company is making a tremendous profit it should pay a proportionately higher rate of tax.
– Should you not relate the tax to the percentage return on the company’s investment?
– I think the tax should be related to the amount of profit, not merely to the return on investment. I think that progressive rates of taxation should be applied to companies in the same way as we apply progressive rates to personal incomes. A company earning a profit of £10,000,000 would then pay proportionately more than a company earning a profit of £20,000.
– What about freezing profits?
– I do not like freezing; I would sooner keep things warm and moving. I do not agree with some of the ideas that have been expressed in connexion with the taxing of capital. I do not know that it would work out like some people think. It would be fairly difficult to administer such a tax. In a bad year very little tax would be collected. If a government were depending on a yearly increase of taxation revenue to carry on, it might find that in a bad year, when the people were most needing assistance, the additional money it needed would not be available. Members of my own party believe that a capital tax would be a good thing, but I feel that very careful consideration would have to be given to the matter. I would not be prepared to say that such a tax would provide sufficient revenue to enable the work of government to be carried on from year to year. We must recognize that every year greater demands are being made upon the revenues of the Commonwealth to satisfy the expanding needs of the people. That applies to pensions and to health and medical benefits. Additional money is needed each year for these purposes. The point I am making is that we must have money to carry on the functions of government in good years as well as in bad or indifferent years.
I remember the occasion when Mr. Chifley, away back in the 1940’s, introduced the legislation for a separate social services contribution. One of the reasons Mr. Chifley gave at that time for introducing the measure was that the Government had to be in a position to pay pensions in a bad year or during a depression. He referred to the depression years from 1929 to 1931. We all know what the position was like then. The Government could not collect sufficient revenue by way of taxation because the people were not earning much money. Honorable members will remember that a notable person from England advised the Government at that time. He told the Government that in order to get the necessary money to pay pensions it would have to be prepared to reduce pensions. He said that if it was not prepared to do that, it would have to stew in its own juice. Honorable members on this side of the House do not forget things of that sort. A system that would permit a repetition of that sort of thing is not satisfactory to a country like Australia. At the present time, we can sit back and say, “What about giving £50,000 for this or that purpose? “ We are able to vote the money because we are in a position to do so at the present time. We are able to get the money in.
Let me refer again to the graph that was mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle. He said that if the graph were correct we could do away with all exemptions and deductions and pay the increased amount of revenue thus obtained in the form of an equitable distribution of child endowment. Let me say again that if we make ourselves dependent upon a tremendous amount of revenue derived from the taxation of company profits, or from indirect taxation, and then strike a slump when the companies do not make huge profits, and a large sum of money from indirect taxation does not come in - because the people have not the money to purchase goods - we will find ourselves in trouble. It would then be too late to consider alternative ways to obtain money. I believe that we should be prepared to tell the people how much money the Government requires - how much they are called upon to pay. I do not believe for one moment - as some people may think the Labour Party believes - that we should soak the rich. I do not believe in that at all. I believe that every man should be prepared to pay his portion towards the needs of the community according to his income. Several thousands of years ago, in biblical times, people were asked to contribute 10 per cent, of their incomes to help’ meet community needs. But to-day, people would resent any suggestion that they should all contribute 10 per cent, of their incomes. According to the figures presented by the honorable member for Hume, the man receiving £100,000 pays about 70 per cent, of his income in taxation. Just as the people in biblical times believed that it was fair to contribute 10 per cent, of their incomes to community needs, so to-day we must recognize that a proper percentage of our incomes should be used to meet community needs.
One other matter raised by honorable members related to the allowance for gifts. The honorable members for Swan and Fremantle spoke about this matter. If I donate £5 to the funds of a church to help build a school, I am allowed to deduct the amount from my taxable income. But I am not allowed to deduct any donation I make to the funds of an organization that keeps young children off the streets after school by arranging swimming and other sports for them. If I send £5 along to such a body and then claim the amount on my taxation return, a blue or a red line is put through it, and the claim is not allowed.
– Where is all the money coming from for these donations?
– I am sure that we all have a few pounds to spare that ve give to various organizations at times. I am merely giving an illustration now; 1 cannot afford to give £5 to all these organizations. But the point is that a distinction is made between the organizations. A donation of £5 to build a school is allowed as a taxation deduction, but a donation of £5 to an organization that encourages children to engage in sport is not allowed. I agree that the right to deduct an amount may be an incentive to make donations to some bodies. It may not be an incentive in some instances, but in others it may be. It may be reasoned that if a deduction is not allowed for a donation, the whole amount is gone, but if a deduction is allowed, part of the donation is recovered. You are inclined to gauge the amount that you will give by the net cost to you. If a deduction can be claimed, the institution and not the Government gets the benefit. I think that the matter of deductions for gifts should be reviewed. Gifts for school buildings, for church buildings or for building the bodies and characters of young children should all be treated on the same basis and I hope that the committee that is reviewing taxation matters will consider this point.
The honorable member for Swan raised the question of a depreciation allowance on buildings. The fact that no such allowance is granted bears very heavily on people who are not getting a fair return from their property. People who let their property under fixed rent conditions must show the whole income from the property, less expenses, for taxation purposes; no amount is allowed for depreciation of the property. I know that an allowance is made for repairs and renovations, but I ask that + some consideration be given to granting a depreciation allowance. I am not asking for 10 per cent, or anything like that, but I do think that some reasonable amount should be given.
As I said earlier, in speaking to this bill we can express opinions on many matters. I believe that if we are to continue granting concessional deductions for children, we should increase the amount. I advocated this several years ago and prepared a table showing what the increases would mean to the man with a small income and to the man with a larger income. The deduction for a wife has been increased, but the Government should increase it further. If it cannot be increased by a substantial amount, then it should be increased to at least £156, which would be an additional £13. The deductions for children should also be increased. Family life is of the greatest value to the community. Our future is dependent upon the families of the present, and we must do more than we have been doing for children.
If the present rates of child endowment were doubled, or almost doubled, it would cost between £60,000,000 and £70,000,000 - and that is no flea bite. The money must come from somewhere. I do not want the money to be raised by indirect taxation; if it has to be raised, it should be raised by direct taxation. This would enable parents to do more for their children than they are doing now. I know that some people will argue that taxation should not be increased so that the rates of child endowment can be raised because workers to-day receive a good wage cm which to live and to rear a family. But I believe there is some value in making these payments. If a couple with an income of £5,000 a year decide selfishly that they will not bother with a family, they should not receive the same consideration as a couple on a similar income who have five or six children. The family man on a high income is entitled to receive child endowment just as is the family man on a lower income. One should not be penalized as against the other.
The honorable member for Fremantle referred to comments, made by Sir Arthur Fadden; who said that if taxation deductions for children were abandoned, child endowment could be doubled. I think the honorable member also referred to the fact that Sir Arthur Fadden said that no wife endowment had. been, provided. This matter was put to me several years ago. A man at a Labour meeting wanted to know whether the Labour Party could do something for the husband and! wife with three or four young children. The wife in this situation cannot go to work, but the woman next door with no: children or with children old enough to look after themselves, can go- to work if she wishes to do so. This man wanted to know whether some allowance could- be paid to the wife with young children who could not be left while the mother- went to work. I told him that that matter, had never been thrashed out by any party. Whilst I am not advocating a wife endowment at the moment, I do say that we should give better recognition to children than we are giving to-day. If the Government said, “We have to increase taxation by £60,000,000 a year in order to double child endowment” I would support the Government all the way. These are the matters we have to remember in regard to taxation. The Government should not mulct the people or just take money from them. Taxation should be used as a means to make a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the community over the whole community and not to enable some people to have more money than they need while others have not enough to give them, a reasonable and proper standard of living.
Debate1 (on motion by Mr. Wilson) adjourned.
Sitting, suspended from 5.55 to 8 P.m
– by leave - Sir, I arrived at the United Nations General Assembly on the afternoon of Friday, 30th September. The general debate was on. President Soekarno spoke for two hours. He circulated a copy of his speech. The speech consisted of 66 pages of foolscap. There was an added slip circulated. It was marked “ Vital “, and was to be inserted at page 65. This sheet contained the terms- of the proposed fivepower resolution1, of which I became aware for the first time, the five powers being Ghana, India-, the United Arab Republic, Yugoslavia and” Indonesia. The terms of the proposed resolution were these’ -
Deeply concerned, with the recent deterioration in international relations which threatens the world with grave consequences
Aware of the great expectancy of the world that this Assembly will, assist in helping to prepare the way for the easing of world tension
Conscious of the grave and’ urgent responsibility that rests on the United Nations to initiate helpful efforts
Requests, as a first urgent step, the President of the United States- of” America and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to renew their contacts interrupted recently so that their declared willingness to find solutions of the outstanding problem* by negotiation may be progressively implemented.
For some reason my distinguished friend, the Prime Minister of India, rose at the end of President Soekarno’s speech and formally moved the resolution. I was, I confess, greatly concerned about the terms of the resolution, not because of its opening paragraphs, with which everybody would agree, but because of the operative clause, that operative clause, being: the request that the President of the- United States of America - named; as such - and. the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics should renew their contacts.
That was a very, very important proposal. First of all, it. had defects and it had dangers. “ To. renew their contacts, interrupted recently “ was: a. clear reference, if to anything, back to the Paris conference when there was to be a summit conference, when, the four people were to meet. That was the only period- of interruption, and the contacts, which’ were interrupted were interrupted at Paris- when those four great men were to meet. Yet, Sir, the resolution moved by Mr. Nehru- did not call for a summit meeting of the four; it called for something quite different. It did not call’ on the four great men, the- four responsible men-, the four men who led atomic powers, to meet again; it called on two people out of the four. That seemed to me to lend colour to what I believe- to be the false but not uncommon, propaganda that the real world issue is between the Soviet Union and the United^ States of America.
The first real step was to get the four atomic powers, the four powers which have, beyond all understanding, the great powers of peace and war in their hands, to meet. I would have thought that that was the first thing - to get those four people to come together, not because of some oddities about Great Britain or the United States or France - not at all - but because they happened to be the people who had atomic weapons and who, therefore,, had enormous powers of life and death for all the rest of us in the world. Something could come, from my point of view,, of a meeting between the four; nothing could come of a resolution which said that two out. of the four ought to meet together.
That resolution was moved, and then the distinguished Prime Minister of Great
Britain, the Right Honorable Harold Macmillan,. and I - he very naturally, and I by some chance - were invited to come to Washington to see the President of the United States- early on Sunday morning, 2nd October. Very naturally we agreed. We said we would go.
On Saturday, 1st October, I had lunch with Mr. Macmillan and with Lord Home. We had a little talk and we then flew to Washington. I dined with them at the Australian Embassy, with our Ambassador, Mr. Howard Beale. We dined, and we talked about these matters. Like me, they were troubled about the resolution - and they were troubled about it for very obvious reasons. Straight-out support of the resolution would be travelling, we all thought, in the wrong direction. Here was a resolution which said, “ Let two people get together and then everything may be arranged “. But, on the other hand, straightout opposition - if we all voted “ No “ - would be misinterpreted. People would look at the first three or four recitals in the resolution, all in favour of peace, and then, if we voted “ No “, we would be told that we did not want peace. Therefore, straightout opposition would be- misinterpreted.
That was; a very difficult, problem, Sir. I suggested on- the Saturday, night that an amendment in positive terms might be put, and my- distinguished friends, Mr.. Macmillan and Lord Home, having heard what I- had to say about this- matter, said that they would like to think it over-. On- the next morning at 9.30 - a rather intolerable hour on- Sunday morning - we went to the White House. My former colleague, our distinguished Ambassador, Mr. Beale, was there,, and we had a> close discussion - President Eisenhower; Mr. Herter, the Secretary of State; Mr. Macmillan, the distinguished Prime Minister of Great Britain; Lord Home, the Foreign Secretary, and myself.
I think, Sir, that I might be allowed to say that- that morning, and under those circumstances, the Americans were worried about the- position that had been created by the five-power motion. The President himself had received letters, from the five powers - India, Indonesia, Ghana, Yougoslavia and. the United: Arab Republic; - enclosing tb.fr resolution. The President had been working on a draft reply setting out reasons why a personal and special meeting with Khrushchev was not, in the then atmosphere, acceptable. I would not wish honorable members to believe that this was a rather dour attitude on the part of the United States of America. All who have witnessed these things know that Khrushchev had made it just about as difficult as anybody could make it for a meeting to occur.
In the course of the talks on the Sunday morning,I said - and let me say at once that I take full responsibility for this - that I thought it quite useless to be coming down in favour of a resolution which, on the face of it, did some wrong things, as I understood them, or to be coming down flatfooted against the resolution, in which case a lot of people would misinterpret the vote and misinterpret the views. Therefore, for better or for worse, and I still think for better, I said, “ This kind of resolution is not one that you can flat-footedly oppose or flat-footedly support. Why do we not have an amendment of this resolution which will bring the whole of the United Nations back to the realities of the position?”
I say this, because I understand there are some people who think that I was a sort of “fall guy”- I think that is the term. On the contrary. I have great pride in being the Prime Minister of this country and in having views of my own on behalf of my country. Therefore, I said, “Well, why not have an amendment? Why meet this thing full face? Let us have an amendment which in positive terms will say what we believe to be the truth? “ We had a discussion about that. I do not want anybody to believe that they all agreed at once with what I had to say, but at least I said it.
I want honorable members to understand that the United States of America was itself deeply concerned about this matter. It knew that to have a resolution passed which put the whole onus on the President of the United States was wrong. The Americans knew that this was putting the whole situation out of balance. They knew, as I believe, that this idea that the whole conflict in the world is between the United States and the Soviet Union is a false idea, a wicked idea; something that has been devised and promulgated by people for no good purpose. Therefore, they were deeply concerned. So, Sir, after an hour and a half of discussion that morning, I said that I thought we ought to have an amendment. I did not care very much who moved it, but we ought to have an amendment. There we were - the President of the United States of America; Mr. Herter, the Secretary of State; Mr. Macmillan, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Lord Home, the United Kingdom Foreign Minister; and myself. We were all discussing this matter to and fro.
In the meantime, President Eisenhower had received a letter from the five powers, signed by Dr. Nkrumah of Ghana, and containing the resolution, about which I will say something later. The President himself had been, for the previous 24 hours, discussing with his advisers the problem of how this letter ought to be answered. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, Icame in with my idea that you could not deal with a problem of this kind by saying “ Yes “ or “ No “; that you might deal with it by saying, “ Here is a positive proposal “. And the positive proposal that I had to make was that there ought to be a renewed effort to get a Summit meeting of the Four - not some theoretical meeting of the Two, but a positive Summit meeting of the Four.
We debated that and they said, “ Well, do you have an amendment in mind? “ I said, “Yes”. They said. “What is it?” I indicated it in a rather vague way, and said, “ All right. I will go away and draft it.” This is very interesting. We finished at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning. I went off, having promised to draft an amendment and to send it to the Secretary of State, Mr. Herter, at lunch-time, and to Mr. Macmillan and Lord Home. They got it by lunch-time. There it was. With some small amendment, that was the amendment that I moved in the United Nations General Assembly. They received it at lunch-time, and after lunch we met at the British Embassy - the British Prime Minister, Lord Home, Mr. Herter and I. They had the terms of this proposed amendment. By the time we had talked it out on the Sunday, I understood - I have no reason to believe now that I had been wrong - that they approved of it.
I think it is proper, Sir, to tell this House in my own country what the proposal was.
In the early part of the five-power resolution there had been three paragraphs with which nobody could quarrel. My amendment was designed, not to omit the earlier paragraphs, which were quite good, but to omit the last paragraph. The amendment was in these terms -
Omit the last paragraph of the draft resolution submitted by Ghana, India, Indonesia, the United Arab Republic and Yugoslavia (A/4522), and substitute therefor the following:
I must ask honorable members to forgive me for this strange form of words used in the United Nations -
RECALLING that a Conference between the President of the United States of America, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was arranged to take place in Paris on 17 May 1960, in order that these four leaden should examine matters of particular and major concern for their four nations,
I think that is something that every honorable member would agree with: Recalling the fact that the four great leaders had met, not to discuss all the problems of the world, but to discuss matters on which they, as the leaders of the four great atomic powers, might have something to say. The amendment continued -
RECALLING FURTHER that the Conference did not actually begin its work,
NOTING that the President of the United States of America, the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland thereupon made a public statement in the terms following:
I quote the words of three out of the four - “ They regret that these discussions, so important for world peace, could not take place. For their part, they remain unshaken in their conviction that all outstanding international questions should be settled not by the use or threat of force, but by peaceful means through negotiation. They themselves remain ready to take part in such negotiations at any suitable time in the future.”
I think it is not a bad idea to recall the minds of honorable members to the fact that three out of the four leaders of the powers at Paris used those words, and meant them. I went on from that to say in my amendment -
Believing that much benefit for the world could arise from a co-operative meeting of the Heads of Government of these four nations in relation to those problems which particularly concern them,-
Obviously, those problems were, for the atomic powers, Berlin and all those things which are flash-points of international affairs -
BELIEVING FURTHER that progress towards the solution of those problems would be a material contribution to the general work for peace of the United Nations,
URGES that such a meeting should be held at the earliest practicable date.
I would have expected, Sir, speaking in my own Parliament and among my own people, that nothing would be said against that view. Here it was. Here was a call to the four great powers to sit down together and try to make the world more safe for ordinary people.
I put in my amendment. That was on a Monday. At that moment, it was well known that Khrushchev was not going to meet Eisenhower - unless, of course, Eisenhower went through the remarkable performance of apologizing about the U2 incident and withdrawing all his claims about the RB47 incident - and that the President himself had said that he was not going to meet Khrushchev on those terms. Therefore, the position was that the current President of the United States and the current - if that is the right word - head of the Soviet Union were not willing to meet personally without conditions which mutually were completely unacceptable. On top of all that - and let us be sensible about this matter - at the very time at which we were having this debate, a new President of the United States was about to be elected, and what he would do or say, who would know?
I want to pause here, Sir, to make a few observations, because I have been told by my friends - nobody is so frank as a friend - that some complaints have been voiced in Australia. I have tried to understand them, because I am really a tolerably broadminded fellow. I understand that the first complaint is that I was being used by the United States and the United Kingdom, which happen to be the two greatest powers in the free world and our most powerful and devoted friends. I hope I have answered that complaint. For better or for worse, the proposal for an amendment was mine, not theirs. I thought, in my new-found innocence, that Australia was entitled to a mind of its own. Indeed, I have been told by some of my friends opposite in the past that their great complaint is that we do not :have a mind of our own. As I have said, I thought we were entitled to a mind of our own. Believing that a certain course was right, I advocated it. I need not add any words to that.
In the second place, I gather from the critics that, in the interests of Australia, I should have preferred pleasing the five nations which I have named by supporting something with which I strongly disagreed - and with which I utterly disagree at this moment - to acting in concert with our most powerful and most unambiguous friends. If that is the price of admiralty, then I resign from admiralty. I have learnt, perhaps, very little in my life, but I have learnt to know who are our friends.
Contrary to my expectation, it was ruled that the five-power resolution and my amendment should ‘be discussed separately from the general debate, on Wednesday morning, 5th October. My major speech - which appears to have missed fire here, for some reason or other - had been listed for the afternoon. Therefore, unlike anybody else at the United Nations, I had to make two separate speeches instead of one. Therefore, on Wednesday morning - knowing that on Wednesday afternoon I had to make my most considerable speech - I moved my amendment.
At question time this morning, when I was treated so kindly, my distinguished friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said to me, “ I would like to know what you said on your amendment “. I want to say at once that I have arranged that the full text of what I said will be made available to members, because, unhappily, it does not appear to have been rather widely reported. I will permit myself the luxury of quoting a few of the things that I said that morning to the cold and unresponsive audience of the United Nations General -Assembly. J think I should do so. A motion had been put down in the name of five powers, and I was moving an amendment. Among other things, I said -
Let me say at once, that nobody can more warmly appreciate the high motives of the sponsors of the resolution than I do. They feel, no doubt, that it would be a bad thing if all the Heads of State and Heads of Government departed from this Assembly -without leaving behind some visible evidence in the shape of a decision. They believed, no doubt, that the people ‘of the world would be disappointed and perhaps disillusioned if we all departed and nothing at all emerged. They therefore introduced this resolution and part of its purpose, as it has been explained to me, was to try ito take advantage of the presence in North America at the same time of President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev. But if I .believe, as I do, that the effect of the resolution, if carried, would be undesirable, then I am bound to say so.
I hope that honorable members will realize that that was an authentic Australian voice upon this matter. 1 went on to talk about the conference in Paris - the conference which did not occur, the conference which broke down because of Khrushchev’s -attitude. I said -
Many of us -had thought that the discussions about nuclear tests could have been brought within .reach of finality.
I still believe that. I continued -
After all, the great nuclear powers were not so widely separated on this issue that some effective lead could not have been given. But the Paris conference failed even to begin, because the leader of the Soviet Union would not participate. I have my own view about his stated reasons, but at this moment T would not desire to debate them.
This was said in the morning.
The material and relevant fact was that the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, promptly made a statement in which they said: -
I trust that this will be remembered for years, but not, I hope, with tears - “ They regret that these discussion, so important for world peace, could not take place. For their -part, they remain unshaken in their conviction that all outstanding international questions should be settled not by the use or threat of force, but by peaceful means through negotiation. They themselves remain ready to take part in such negotiations at any suitable time in the future.”
My speech continued -
This, it will be agreed, was a fair enough proposition, good-tempered and tenacious in the cause of peace. Should it be rejected now? If we have now reached a point in our discussions when we feel that talks of this kind should proceed, why should we not say so? Why should we, by carrying the five-nation resolution, dismiss the United Kingdom and France from the first act?
Then I went on to say this, and it is worth remembering -
Mr. Nehru himself has frankly stated that there are serious limits to the usefulness of bilateral talks; but what I would wish to know is whether any valid reason can be advanced for supposing that in some way the President of the United States was the stumbling block, and that therefore- in any renewed discussions he should be the one leader of what we call the Western World to be brought under persuasion or pressure.
My own view is- that we should encourage the resumption of these summit talks. No doubt, a meeting at the Summit cannot be arranged quickly or without preparation. We shall have to feel our way forward, and a way may be found. But it will not be found in the next few days, and I doubt whether it can. be found by trying to rush at it. The Australian amendment reflects what I believe is the view of the majority here, that we should try to recapture the hope that was offered to us in the early part of this year when we were moving towards a Summit meeting.
I concluded this excerpt by saying -
There may indeed be other amendments. I should like to say for myself that I am much less concerned about the details of draftsmanship than I am to avoid the perpetuation of the notion that the world conflict is between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Well’, Sir, before the morning session ended; in the course of which I regret to say that my distinguished friend, Mr. Nehru, made a somewhat remarkable commentary upon my amendment and my speech, the President indicated that two further amendments were being circulated and that the matter would be concluded at the night session. This was on the Wednesday. I will by-pass, for the moment, the afternoon session. At the night session Cambodia, which after all is an Asian country, indicated that it would have supported my amendment as a separate resolution. This was a merely technical objection to its form. For some reason or other, and I still do not understand it, because in these United Nations affairs I am a new boy, the foreshadowed further amendments that had been referred to by the President in the morning were not submitted.
So, the first thing- which happened after Cambodia had said this was that we voted on the Australian amendment. Of course, the result has given immense pleasure to a few people. I do not know why they should be so pleased that an Australian amendment should be defeated. Still, one lives and learns. So the Assembly voted on my amendment. It was supported, on the vote, by France, by the United Kingdom, by the United States of America, by Canada and by ourselves - not a bad voting group, I think. There were 45 people who voted “ No “ and 43 who abstained. Very interestingly, among the people who abstained, and so said neither “ Yes “ nor “ No “ were the Soviet Union, the entire Soviet bloc, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia - for the reason I have referred to. It was then proposed that separate votes should be taken - this is a highly technical but fascinating problem for us who are parliamentarians - on the inclusion in the five-power resolution of the words “ the President of “. See what I mean? The President of the United States of America - and then “ the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of “. This, of ccurse, is something which we in our innocence in this Parliament know nothing about. Anyhow, it was proposed that separate votes should be taken, and my distinguished friend, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, objected, I thought, with great force, that if these words were omitted the five-power resolution would be meaningless because, of course, diplomatic relations had not been cut off between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. They had never been interrupted.
I might say I thought he had a great deal of force in that but, as I did not like the five-power resolution, I remained relatively unmoved, except intellectually, by this argument. Sir, what happened? Separate votes were put to the vote of the Assembly. I want to mention this to honorable members because some people rather foolishly have tried to make it appear that I, representing you m this Parliament; had done something foolish and had been left out on a limb. But when the separate votes were put to the vote those in favour of separate votes - in other words those who must be regarded as being not in favour of the five-power resolution as a whole - were 37, and against them were 36, with 22 abstentions. It is lovely, you know. Some of you have been there, but I had not been there before. Somebody says “ abstention “ in English and somebody, being brought up in the French language, says “ abstention “ in French, but it amounts to the same thing. There we were, 37 in favour of separate votes, 36 against and 22 abstentions. Those in favour of separate votes, - and I mention this because some silly fellow who tried to pretend that I am becoming bad friends with the Asian countries suggested the contrary - included Pakistan, China, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand.
And if I may permit myself to say so, I do not mind finding myself standing, as to three of these countries, alongside our colleagues in the South-East Asian Treaty. When the separate votes were taken, because it had been decided there ought to be separate votes, those in favour of retaining what I will call the “ separate phrases “ - the President of the United States of America, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union - numbered 41 with 37 against and 17 abstentions. The President ruled that there should be a two-thirds majority. There was not a two-thirds majority, and the President’s ruling was upheld. All this was going on in the one day when oddities of all kinds - Heaven help me! - were being published in my own country. Those who voted against the retention of these personal phrases, in other words those who voted against the idea that we should be telling President Eisenhower and Chairman Khrushchev to get together, included all of the South-East Asian countries. That, I think, is something worth noting.
After all this argy-bargy - I think that is the expression - Mr. Nehru, the very distinguished leader of India, stood up and said that, having regard to the voting, the five-power resolution would be withdrawn. So at one o’clock in the morning of the same sitting day the five-power resolution had gone. You may ask what had happened to my amendment submitted on behalf of Australia. Many people have been eager beavers to say that my amendment was just ridiculous and that I had made a fool of my country. When I make a fool of this country I hope that you will expel me.
The fact was that by one o’clock in’ the morning the resolution to which my amendment had been an unsuccessful alternative had been withdrawn - withdrawn because other amendments had been moved or other procedures had been adopted which persuaded its sponsors to withdraw it.
I want to stress to honorable members that this is not a party political matter. All of us are Australians and we want to feel that our country counts. The fact is that by the end of that day two remarkable things had occurred. First, the proposal sponsored primarily by Yugoslavia, the United Arab Republic, Indonesia and others had gone. It had been withdrawn. In the meantime, in the course of the voting, four atomic powers - the only four atomic powers - had been called to the ballot. You may think that I am rather foolish, but at any rate I called them to the ballot. Four of them, Great Britain, France and the United States, had voted unhesitatingly for a convening of the Summit conference as contained in my amendment, and the Soviet Union had not voted “ No “, but had abstained from voting.
Four days later, under circumstances which vex the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I had a talk with the head of the Soviet Union, Mr. Khrushchev, in which he made it abundantly clear that he wanted a Summit conference. That was why he had not voted against my amendment. He wanted a Summit conference and by one o’clock - after midnight that day - I went back feeling in my simple vanity that at any rate we had now got to a state of affairs’ in which there would be, after the American presidential election, a Summit conference. It is very difficult, even for such an old hand as myself, to understand why this achievement - because it was something of an achievement - should be regarded as in some way discreditable to our country, to which most of us were born.
To sum up, Sir, my amendment was lost, but the resolution was withdrawn. Three atomic powers had voted for a Summit meeting and the Soviet Union had abstained. Not one of the four atomic powers was opposed to a Summit meeting.
I pass on from that. I made a speech that afternoon. In my simplicity I thought that that was the major speech, and my distinguished colleague, the Treasurer, who was present probably - God bless him - thought likewise, because the speech in the morning was on this technical problem. As I have said, I made a speech in the afternoon. It lasted for about 40 minutes. It is very interesting for an Australian to go abroad and make a speech on the great United Nations platform. This was the only occasion in my life when the American press swept a speech of mine into its columns. But that did not happen here in Australia. A pity! It is a pity that we should have this inferiority complex because after all, Mr. Speaker, in my speech in the afternoon I had made up my mind that if Mr. Khrushchev were to come and bully people - taunt people, and beat things on the table, including his shoes - it was really high time that somebody speaking for 10,000,000 people - that is all - should make it quite clear to him that we are not frightened. Therefore I let myself go, as you might say. But of course, what happened in the United Nations Assembly, apart from all the beating on the table and the wearing out of boot leather which was all very funny from our point of view? I think that Mr. Khrushchev wanted to persuade or terrify new nations into coming into his camp. We know nothing about that. We are not easily persuaded, and we certainly are not easily terrified into somebody else’s camp. But that seemed to be his idea. He had his heelers with him. There were with him about half a dozen representatives from his satellite nations who would not dare to applaud without first looking round to see whether he gave the high sign. Wonderful! I wish that I could organize that sort of thing some day! Mr. Khrushchev talked about colonialism. He tried to read into the minds of some of the delegates a bitterness about their old status. He was talking for the most part to people who represented countries in Africa which, by wise providence on the part of the United Kingdom, had ceased to be colonies and had become independent nations. I thought that was a monstrosity. Anyhow he did it. Therefore, I thought on your behalf - if you do not agree with what I did you will say so - that I ought to use a few words mildly about this situation. Let me quote one or two of the words that I used, because apparently there has been some difficulty in reporting them in Australia. I said -
I beg of all these distinguished representatives
I was referring to the representatives of the new countries, primarily in Africa - to put bitterness out of their minds. So far as they are concerned, the past has gone. The dead past should bury its dead. It is the present and future that matter. Most of them know that political independence can be won more swiftly than economic independence.
I pause here to repeat the last sentence because some rather silly fellow has said that I was not on the same wave-length as the new countries. I leave it to the House to decide. I said -
Most of them know that political independence can be won more swiftly than economic independence. And yet both are essential to true nationhood. Under these circumstances, nations which are older in self-government should not be looking at new nations as people whose support should be canvassed, but as people who need objective assistance with no strings if the material prosperity of their people is to be improved.
It is one of the significant things in contemporary history that the advanced industrial nations are, because of their scientific and technological advantages, improving their standards at a phenomenal rate; while less advanced countries, lacking the same techniques on the same scale, are advancing at a slower rate.
This is not one of the facts of life which one may observe and, having observed, forget. Its significance is that the gap between the advanced and the relatively unadvanced tends, unless we do something about it, to grow wider every year. It is not a state of affairs which civilized and humane thinking can indefinitely tolerate.
I said this on Australia’s behalf, and I am sure that no honorable member will disagree with it.
If in this Assembly and in the nations here represented we will constantly remember that our trust is for humanity and that, indeed, the United Nations itself has no other reason for existence, we will more and more concentrate our efforts on providing economic and technical help for new nations to the very limit of our capacity; not because we want, to put it crudely, to buy them into our own ideas of things, not only because we really and passionately believe in independence and freedom, but also because we believe that our fellow human beings everywhere are entitled to decent conditions of life, and have enough sense to know that independence and freedom are mere words unless the ordinary people of free countries have a chance of a better life to-morrow.
This point of view seemed to me to underlie the temperate and persuasive speech of Mr. Macmillan and other speeches made by democratic leaders.
But there are others who have so far misunderstood the spirit of the United Nations as to resort to open or veiled threats, blatant and in some instances lying propaganda, a clearly expressed desire to divide and conquer. They should learn that “ threatened men live long “, and that free nations, however small, are not susceptible to bullying.
I am still quoting myself, which is an ill business. I continued -
I will permit myself the luxury of developing this theme, though quite briefly, in the particular and in the general.
I hope honorable members will not think me boring but this was a phase of my speech which, I believe, had an immense impact on the Assembly. I :said -
In his opening speech, Mr. Khrushchev made his .usual great play about “ colonialism “. As Mr. Macmillan reminded us, the answer to much of his story is to be found in the presence in this Assembly of many new nations, once colonies and now independent.
Mr. Khrushchev said among other things: “ Nations -who oppress other nations cannot themselves be free. Every free nation should help the peoples still oppressed to win freedom and independence.” This was, in one sense, a most encouraging observation. It made me wonder whether we were perhaps about to see a beginning of an era in which the nations of Europe, which were once independent and are now under Soviet Communist control, are going to receive the blessings of freedom and independence. What a glorious vista of freedom would be opened up by such a policy! ‘How much it would do to relieve the causes of tension, and promote peace!
I venture to say that it is an act of complete hypocrisy for a Communist leader to denounce colonialism as if it were an evil characteristic of the Western Powers, when the facts are that the greatest colonial -power now existing is the Soviet Union itself.
This brings me now to the point. I said -
Further, in the course of this Assembly, Mr. Khrushchev was good enough to make some references to my own country and its position in relation -to the territories -of Papua and New Guinea. He calls upon Australia to give immediate full independence and self-government to New :Guinea and ‘Papua. As a piece of rhetoric this no doubt has its points. But it exhibits a disturbing want of knowledge of these territories and .of the present stage of their development. Nobody who knows anything about these territories and .their indigenous people could doubt for .a moment that for us in Australia to abandon our responsibilities would be an almost criminal act.
I am quoting this part of my speech because, subject to correction, I feel that these words impressed themselves upon our friend. I said -
Here is a country which not so long ago was to a real extent in a state of savagery. It passed through the most gruesome experiences during the last war. It came out of it without organized administration and, in a sense, without hope.
It is not a nation in the accepted term. Its people have no real structure of association except through our administration. Its groups are isolated among mountains, forests, rivers and swamps. It is estimated that there are more than 200 different languages.
Probably my distinguished colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) would tell me that I underestimated the number. I continued -
The work .to be done to create and foster a sense and organism of community is therefore enormous.
But, with -a high sense of responsibility, Australia has attacked its human task in this almost unique area.
Since the war some form of civilized order has been established over many thousands of square miles which were previously unexplored.
We have built up an extensive administration service . . .
Really, I do not need to trouble honorable members about this. I told them the simple, dramatic and moving story of what has been done in Papua and New Guinea, and I ended by saying -
I could go on like this almost indefinitely.
The achievement has not been without cost We have -put many more millions into Papua and New Guinea than have ever come out.
We have established many local government councils, democratically elected on an adult franchise, and we have set up a Legislative Council on which there is a growing number of indigenous members.
Mr. Khrushchev includes us in his diatribe against “ foreign administrators who despise and loot the local population”. I have shown how exactly opposite to the truth this is in our case. His further extravaganza about “the overseer’s lash “ and the “ executioner’s axe “ must relate to areas with which he is more familiar than he is with New Guinea and Papua.
We do not need to be lectured on such matters by a -man who has no record whatever of having brought colonial people into freedom and selfgovernment. We indeed are proud to be in the British tradition of the 20th century - a tradition which has by sensible degrees and enlightened administration brought the blessings of self government and a seat in the councils of the world to many former colonies.
I also spoke about neutralism, and I inflict this on honorable members -
Neutralism is, of course, one of those rather rotund words which does not readily admit of definition. If, when we say that a nation is neutral, we mean that it will not under any circumstances take arms in any conflict which does not concern the protection of its own immediate boundaries, it seems to be a notion hard to reconcile with the Charter of the United Nations which contemplates under certain circumstances the use of combined force in terms of the Charter itself.
Mr. Nehru, the distinguished leader of India, has not, I think, used the word “ neutral “ in this sense. He and his government maintain large defences in their own country, and are active supporters .of the Charter. What he has consistently made clear is that he stands for non-alignment, in the sense that he will not engage in any special military or quasi-military alliance.
My own country does not subscribe to this view, since we are party, for example, to the South-East Asian Treaty with the military associations which are either expressed or implied in it. But we do not quarrel with -each other about these matters. I would think it impossible to believe that some of the greatest leaders of so-called “ neutral “ countries would regard themselves as being neutral in the great conflict of ideas.
Sir, having said all that at, I am afraid, too great length, I now turn, quite briefly I hope, to some general observations about this rather historic General Assembly meeting. First of all, a determined attack was made by the Communist powers upon new nations to encourage what I have already described as “ retrospective bitterness “. I do not mink that on this matter the table-thumping succeeded.
In the second place, attempts were made to defeat or to undermine the SecretaryGeneral. In particular, a very remarkable proposal was put forward that there should be three secretaries-general instead of one; and for some very odd reason, one ought to be from what we would call the Communist group but what Mr. Khrushchev - I apologize to my friends opposite - calls the socialist group, a second from the neutralist group and a third from the capitalist group of which, no doubt, I was one of the representatives. There ought to be three secretaries-general, and everybody would have a veto on everybody else, and therefore, of course, nothing would happen, and therefore the United Nations would come to an end. He did not get very much success with that remarkable proposal.
But there are some aspects of his general campaign about which I think I should report to this Parliament. First of all, I believe that what he has been saying and what he has been doing are designed to divide the United Nations into the disunited nations. After all. if there is one thing about the United Nations that matters, it is that it possesses a sort of universality. As I said in my own speech, he wants ito produce a result like ancient Gaul - according to our late respected friend, Julius Caesar, all Gaul was divided into three parts. This man wants to divide the United Nations into three parts and therefore into the disunited nations.
One of the groups that he wants to produce in this disunited body is what he keeps on describing as the neutralist group. What is a neutralist group? Sir, one of the things that I beg all honorable members on both sides of the House to avoid is this fallacy of easy classification. So-and-so is an African, therefore he must think like all other Africans! If one African is neutralist, there fore he must be neutralist! This is an insult to people. Does anybody suppose that because people were born west of the Soviet boundary in Europe, whether they are Germans, Frenchmen, Englishmen or Italians, they are the same kind of men with the same kind of ideas? This, of course, is utter nonsense. You may go over the whole zone of Africa and tell me that so-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so must think the same way because they are all Africans and they are all African leaders. Sir, I tell you that the greatest speech made at this General Assembly was made by the Prime Minister of Nigeria. He is a most remarkable man, and his speech made an unforgettable impact on the minds of all of us. It would insult this great man - the head of the Government of the greatest single nation in the whole African continent, a nation of 40,000,000 people- to be told that his country must be classified, along with other countries, in a group or a bloc. No one could have been more explicit than he was about the need for every nation to live its own life, to face its own future, to accept its own responsibilities. The people who want to denigrate the whole of modern independence, and to treat new. nations as if they were merely groups to be bought like bunches -of bananas, make a very great blunder. That was perhaps the greatest blunder that Khrushchev made.
Let us consider the ways in which Mr. Khrushchev failed. He failed to undermine the Secretary-General. He failed to destroy the work that has been done with regard to the Congo. He failed on occasion after occasion, and I will not take up the time of the House in recounting them all, because I have already taken up too much of its time. He had some success, no doubt. He may have frightened somebody and he may have weakened a little the position of the Secretary-General; I do not know. You and I in this House are fortunate to have grown up in such an atmosphere that we can laugh at nonsense and not be frightened by it, so how am I to know to what extent Mr. Khrushchev succeeded in frightening people? He tried to disunite the United Nations. He tried to introduce some .strange dogma about neutralist .groups.
He had some point, I suppose. He said that when the United Nations was established it had 50 member :nations, that now it has nearly 100, and that therefore there ought to be some reconstruction of the structure of the organization. I do not object to that suggestion, so long as it is understood that one of the dangers that have grown up in the modern world is that the General Assembly, which has relatively little power, has become tremendously important because the heads of governments attend it, whereas the chief executive body - I am not using the word “ executive “ in a technical sense - the Security Council, has been put rather on one side. The Security Council, Sir, must continue to include in its membership people who represent the great powers, which themselves are the backbone of the United Nations and which themselves carry the major responsibility for peace. But, subject to that proviso, I do not object to the suggestion that a reconstruction of the United Nations should be considered.
I want to say only one or two things more. I had the very valuable opportunity of seeing, on your behalf, a number of world leaders. I would not wish any member of this Parliament, on either side, to believe that I was being exclusive, talking to this side and not to that side. In the course of rather less than three weeks 1 had the closest discussions with President Eisenhower, with the American Secretary of State, Mr. Herter, with Mr. Macmillan and Lord Home and with Mr. Nehru. 1 had a long interview with Mr. Khrushchev. I sought the interview, and I tell you quite frankly that the main reason why I sought it was that I thought that if I came back here and my friends, or friendly opponents who sit opposite, asked me whether I saw Khrushchev and I replied that I had not, they might think it rather odd. So I sought an interview with Mr. Khrushchev.
I had already expressed myself, as honorable members will have gathered from what I have already said, with a certain degree of clarity. Nevertheless, I had 70 minutes with Mr. Khrushchev. I want to say to the House that I came away from the interview quite satisfied that he would like a Summit conference. Being more interested, as I am, in substance than in form, and as what I was trying for from the day I arrived at the United Nations was the substance of a Summit conference, I am very pleased to say that three of the atomic powers voted for a Summit conference on my amendment, and that the fourth, through Mr. Khrushchev, has indicated to me in the clearest possible terms that a Summit conference is considered a good idea.
I saw, of course, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is an old friend of mine. I had a talk with President Tito. I spoke to Mr. Luns, the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands. Dr. Subandrio, of Indonesia, was a guest of mine, and I had a long talk with him. Indeed, one would be surprised at the number of people who concern us in this world with whom, in the course of a fortnight or three weeks, one can have useful talks.
I have occupied the time of the House long enough. Having said that I believe that Mr. Khrushchev wants Summit talks, and that I think something might come of them, I would like to conclude by saying that 1 have by no means been disposed to defend myself on the matters about which I have spoken. I believe in my heart and my mind that I pursued the right course at New York, and that I spoke and acted in the best interests of my country.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
General Assembly of the United Nations - Ministerial Statement. and move; -
That the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) making his speech without limitation of time.
– I thank the House for its generosity. I shall not occupy very much of its time. I move the following amendment: -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the Prime Minister erred in not conferring with all Commonwealth countries before moving his amendment to Mr. Nehru’s motion, failed to serve the interests of
Australia and the cause of world peace, provoked a public disagreement among Commonwealth countries and compromised Australia with the new members of the United Nations”.
I believe this amendment expresses clearly and without any possibility of doubt the opinions of the great majority of the Australian people. The Opposition was eager that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should attend the United Nations. We were not satisfied that Australia was being properly represented by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), because he was not the Prime Minister or the Minister for External Affairs. He was merely the Attorney-General. After it was announced that Mr. Khrushchev and other leaders of states were attending this fateful meeting of the United Nations, the opinion was expressed by members of the Opposition that the Prime Minister of this country should attend. 1 first made the suggestion myself. On 27th September, after it had been announced that Mr. Nash, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, was attending the United Nations, I asked the Prime Minister whether he was likely to change his mind and attend also. On that day he said that he saw no reason why he should change his mind. On the very next day he announced in the House that he had changed his mind. We of the Opposition were pleased that he was going. He certainly went with the goodwill of most Australians. I personally wished him well in what seemed to me to be his greatest assignment, his most important overseas mission.
We were astonished to learn that after he arrived in New York he went into conference immediately with Mr. Macmillan and President Eisenhower and completely ignored Mr. Nehru and other representatives of the Afro-Asian bloc, particularly the representatives of the new nations within the British Commonwealth with whom our future is so definitely and indeed inextricably associated.
No matter how much we in this country may agree on certain issues, the great political parties in Australa - the parties represented by the Opposition and those represented by the Government - have never had a bi-partisan foreign policy, and it looks as though they may never have one. Other countries may have bi-partisan policies, but in this country the differences between the Opposition and its political opponents are real and fundamental.
– They are deep.
– They are very deep. Some people may think that is unfortunate, but that they do exist is historically true. If we canvass the pages of history we find that in 1910 when the Fisher Government wished to establish an Australian navy, the leader of the Liberal Party of that day, Alfred Deakin, wished to present a dreadnought to the British Navy instead. During World War I., our political opponents, or their predecessors, stood for conscription for service on overseas battlefields, but the Labour Party did not. During World War II., when Prime Minister Curtin called on President Roosevelt to send General MacArthur to this country to take charge of the whole of the American and Australian forces in this area, the decision was attacked by our friends opposite. When the Curtin Government decided to recall the 6th and 7th Divisions because it believed that the Pacific War was as important as that of the Atlantic, and declared that it would not support the slogan of “ Defeat Hitler first “, our opponents opposed the return of those divisions.
I instance those happenings to indicate how strongly we disagree about what is best for the well-being of Australia. Sir, all of us in this Parliament try to serve Australia according to our lights, but we see things differently. That is the essential fact.
– We see them more clearly.
– We think we see things more clearly than do our opponents. We were astonished at the fact that the Prime Minister, when he went to New York, met only the representatives of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It is his wont when he goes abroad to associate himself principally with the representatives of those two great nations. We think that is a big mistake. His boast that the representatives of three atomic powers voted his way and the representative of another atomic power abstained from voting proves nothing. When all is said and done, are the representatives of the atomic powers the only virtuous people in the world? Are they the only people in the world who really matter? Are not the representatives of all people in the world of equal importance? What may seem right to people it. the United States and the United Kingdom does not necessarily seem right to us. We live in an area of the world which geographically belongs to Asia, and our contacts with ‘Asia and/ the new Asian nations are much closer than are those which the United Kingdom and the United States have with these countries.
I read the second speech which the Prime Minister delivered on the first day of his visit to New York.
– It was a very good one, too.
– It was, except in certain respects. I have heard the Prime Minister recite large extracts from it to-night. I have no objection to offer to most of it. All I am sorry about is that it was not the first speech that he delivered. If he had delivered that as his first speech, he would not have delivered the speech to which we take objection in our amendment.
The Prime Minister, in his second speech, uttered some very great truths. He stood on very strong ground. I have no criticism to offer of this observation of his which he did not quote to-night -
If. . . . we will constantly remember that our trust is for humanity and that, indeed, the United Nations itself has no other reason for existence, we will more and more concentrate our efforts on providing economic and technical help for new nations to the very limit of our capacity . . . because we believe that our fellow human beings everywhere are entitled to decent conditions of life . . .
No one can object to that. There is a lot else in that second speech that is equally praiseworthy. I do not disagree with his criticisms of Mr. Khrushchev or his condemnation of the totalitarian barbarity that is being practised by Communist countries and the satellites of Russia. I certainly applaud what he had to say about Papua and New Guinea and the work of Australia in that Territory. I most certainly agree with these words - the widespread world feeling is that the United Nations represents the great hope that it is better to debate freely about grievances and occasions of difference than’ to make war about them.
I do not agree, however, with the Prime Minister’s strictures upon the neutral countries. I do not agree with his criticism of Mr. Nehru. I do not agree with the suggestion that the people who are neutralist in the power politics of to-day are in some way or other betraying humanity. If we were part of a country of 400,000,000 people where poverty abounds, where destitution and misery are rampant, where there are many languages, where the country is partitioned because of religious differences, would we be very eager to ally ourselves with either what we call the free world or what we call the Soviet world? I believe that Nehru and the other leaders of the neutralist bloc are playing a very great and important part in preserving world peace. If we adopted the attitude that the Prime Minister adopted at the United Nations in sabotaging the resolution put forward by five nations - of which India was the principal one - we would be helping to drive these people in a direction in which we do not want to drive them.
The sentiments uttered by the Prime Minister in regard to dispensing help to all those under-developed countries are noble, but he vitiates all those sentiments by adopting a policy of condemning Mr. Nehru and the leaders of the other nations because they will not come in with the United Kingdom and the United States of America and be satellites of the Western powers. We cannot persuade them to go our way at this particular moment. If we give them aid to the limit of our ability - the Prime Minister suggested that, and there is nothing wrong with it - we will be attracting them to our cause. It was not only because the Prime Minister of Australia moved a resold tion against, something that Mr. Nehru believed to be right, proper and just that the leader of India burst forth after the defeat of his resolution and expressed him: self in a way that is unusual for him. Mr. Nehru’s outburst must have been the result of pent-up resentment against the treatment which this Government has accorded his country since it was elected to office.
There has been a difference of attitude in that respect between this Government and the Labour Government. The late Mr. Chifley was a friend of Mr. Nehru. Mr. Chifley believed the proper thing to do was to cultivate Indian opinion. Our political opponents have never felt that way. They have ignored India, and most Ministers have a complete contempt for Mr. Nehru and the policies he has followed. They have very little regard for the opinions of any other people in the Afro-Asian bloc. The members of this Government believe in strength. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) happened to be in New York when the Prime Minister was there, and he went out of his way - I admire his enthusiasm and loyalty, but not his judgment - to try to defend, explain and justify his Prime Minister for what he had had to say and what he had done.
– That was not difficult.
– The Treasurer thinks it was not difficult for him to defend and explain his Prime Minister, but let me quote what the Treasurer had to say about some of these things.
– I hope you will quote what I said, and not what some newspaper reported I said.
– I always quote the right honorable gentleman to the best of my ability. He does not give me copies of his speeches, so I have to quote what has appeared in the press. He did say that he believed the Prime Minister’s voice was the voice of Australia.
– Hear, hear!
– I hope I have correctly quoted the Treasurer there. The Acting Prime Minister, (Mr. McEwen) said the same thing. But where in Australia is there anybody who will confirm their opinion? All round Australia, and from one end to the other, you hear the same criticism of the Prime Minister: That he had a chance to serve Australia and failed; that he let Australia down. The Prime Minister must have been conscious of the fact himself because he said, “ I was not a stooge “ - he used the word himself - “ of Mr. Macmillan or of President Eisenhower “. Nobody accused him of being a stooge. It must have been guilty conscience that made him use the word, or he must have thought that the things he did left him open to that charge. He must have felt that his actions gave cause for the belief that he was a stooge. He used another term to-night - about being a “ fall guy “ for President Eisenhower.
I followed the right honorable gentlemen’s narrative with great interest. I thank him for being so explicit and for helping us by putting events in complete chronological order. I thank him for telling us that he went to President Eisenhower and to Mr. Macmillan and said - these are not his words but the general idea - “ I have a very great proposal to put to you. I think I can solve all these problems by moving an amendment to Mr. Nehru’s resolution.” They said, “ Well, we would like you to do it. We all agree with you.” I notice that the Prime Minister had a series of dinners. I notice that he had there his “ distinguished friend the Ambassador “ - his own words - but he did not have his distinguished friend the Attorney-General or his distinguished friend the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). He had a number of people there, and everybody agreed with him. Perhaps they were anxious to use him as a catspaw. Perhaps they were anxious that he should put forward a proposition which they wanted put forward. And what was it? Not that two people - the two important people at this particular time - should meet, but that four people should meet.
The Prime Minister’s justification for his action was, “ Well, you could not get the two to meet”. If you could not get two to meet, how could you get four to meet? He put forward a proposition that the four should meet, and his proposal was voted down. He attracted only five votes - his own, Canada, which apparently could not possibly keep out anyhow, and the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France - the representatives of the atomic powers. Now, with a great grandiloquent wave, he says, “Well, Russia abstained from voting”, as if that was a great victory.
If the Prime Minister had not moved’ his motion the chances are that Mr. Nehru’s resolution would have been carried, and that would have represented some progress towards peace. As it turned out, no progress was made at all. The resolution that attracted only five votes and got us nowhere has passed into history. Then a series of other proposals were put and ultimately Argentina, encouraged by Australia’s sabotage activities, put forward a proposition that nations should be substituted for persons. In the end, nothing was done, and after that Mr. Nehru expressed his very definite and forthright opinion of the action of the Australian Prime Minister and of Australia’s attitude.
Since the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly the Prime Minister has been hard put to defend himself. He went on television on 13 th October and said he did not like the idea of the United Nations passing the five-power resolution because, he said, it would have been useless. Why would it have been useless? We have only his word for that. Ultimately, nothing at all was passed, and the world is the worse for having nothing but failure to record in respect of this last meeting - this abortive meeting - of the Assembly. Then the Prime Minister implied that there was every reason to believe that the resolution would have been passed. I believe it would have been passed if he had not interfered. I think he should tell us more. He should tell us why the Americans and the British were so anxious that he should put forward the proposal that he submitted. Surely they must have known that his proposition could not have helped the cause of world peace and, in any case, was not likely to be carried. Were they anxious for reasons best known to themselves that the five-power resolution should not be carried? I am sure that if Australia had not acted in the way it did then, as I said previously, Russia would have been bound to have supported what India had put up. The argument of the Treasurer that Russia abstained from voting because it did not want to embarrass the neutral bloc was a very good reason why we should not have wanted to embarrass the neutral bloc either. Was there anything wrong with not wanting to embarrass the neutral bloc? Are we to take it from the result that Russia behaved much more shrewdly and more intelligently than we did on this particular occasion? The facts seem to indicate that it did.
The Prime Minister said on this television interview that one would not meet the other except under conditions that were obviously not capable of being reconciled. Yet he has told us that there might be a Summit meeting next year. A Summit meeting, of course, will have to be held between representatives of the United
States and Russia and among other people. Is it to be assumed that Mr. Nixon, if elected, will be any more acceptable to Mr. Khrushchev than President Eisenhower, or that-
– You are backing Mr. Nixon, I see.
– Or that Mr. Kennedy will be any more acceptable than President Eisenhower? Why should we be led to believe that a Summit meeting will succeed next year when Mr. Nehru’s motion, if carried, at the end of September or October of this particular year would have failed to bring the leaders of the United States of America and Russia together? I have no doubt that Russia has its own reasons for not wanting to meet at this particular time, and I am sure that if the resolution that was submitted had been carried, the weight of world opinion would have been against any power that refused to attend. Had the resolution been carried, President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev would have been forced to attend, and the one who refused to attend would have lost the propaganda struggle among the uncommitted powers and among all the democratic powers. Anyhow, there is a very strong body of opinion in the United States which suggests that the loss of a little face is of small consequence if the stake is world peace.
If Chester Bowles is to be judged on what he has said in regard to many matters, then a Kennedy victory would be sure to put Chester Bowles into some high executive position in the United States, and there would be a change of attitude on the part of officialdom in Washington on many matters. That might be helpful. In 1945 when we were debating the question of the formation of the United Nations the Prime Minister said -
The functions of these small powers will be to influence, so far as the;/ can, the great powers.
Yet, when he had the chance to help the small powers to influence the great powers the other day he passed up the opportunity. What Ghana, Indonesia, India, the United Arab Republic and Yugoslavia sought to do in their resolution was -
As a first urgent step-
And those are important words - to arrange a meeting between President Eisenhower and Premier Khrushchev . . .
These are the remaining terms of this portion of their resolution - . . so that their declared willingness to find solutions of the outstanding problems by negotiations may be progressively implemented.
Anybody who would oppose a proposition of that sort would, I think, put himself on the defensive immediately. The Prime Minister floundered completely. He blundered badly to-night in trying to justify himself. I do not think he convinced anybody in this House, and I am sure he convinced nobody outside. The only time he raised a cheer amongst his own followers was when he raised his hand. That seems to be a new technique. That is the way that Khrushchev gets his cheers. When he wants applause he raises his hand and his docile followers accommodate him. When the Prime Minister raised his hand to-night, it was the only occasion when he stirred the slightest interest in his own Country Party and Liberal Party supporters.
The Prime Minister in moving his amendment criticized the resolution and said that to -
Narrow the issues down to matters which may, in the initial sense, be discussed by the heads of two Governments is to put the world’s problem out of perspective.
Why is that so? These two people represent the two most powerful nations in the world, and when I say that I am not reflecting upon Great Britain or the United States. We of the Australian Labour Party are certainly neither anti-British nor antiAmerican. Our attitude during World War II. in inviting the Americans here, in the classic words of Prime Minister Curtin, “ without inhibitions of any kind “ was evidence of our pro-American sentiment. The manner in which we helped1 the British people with donations and services of all kinds right up to the end of the war, even to the point where we endangered our very prospects of victory in 1949 by maintaining petrol rationing so that Britain could buy food on the dollar pool - against the opposition of our opponents - showed that we had no hostility towards the British people.
We are realists and we know that unless we can get the heads of the two great powers together either alone or in combination with other people then there is not much hope for world peace. The five- power resolution in our view was unobjectionable, and the tortuous line of argument pursued by the Prime Minister did not convince any one in the United Nations. The Treasurer said that the Prime Minister was warmly applauded. How could he have been warmly applauded when two-thirds of the benches were empty? How could he have been applauded when he could only get five votes for his amendment? This was the greatest defeat that Australia has had in an international gathering. We on this side of the House, not wishing to embarrass the Prime Minister while he was abroad, kept all our criticism until he returned to this country, and we then gave him an opportunity to present himself and put his case before we told him what our views on his actions were and are.
I have referred, Sir, to what the Prime Minister said about neutral powers. I think that some of his references, of their nature, were, to say the least, uncomplimentary. They could almost be interpreted as sneering at the neutral powers. On 13th October he said -
I think there is an awful lot of nonsense being talked about a neutral bloc.
There is not an awful lot of nonsense being talked about a neutral bloc at all. People who have adopted a neutralist policy have adopted an attitude of self-defence and in the United Nations they have put forward their own particular point of view. They do not agree with us, and they have a right to disagree with us if they like. Again quoting from his address to the General Assembly the Prime Minister said -
Neutralism is, of course, one of those rather rotund words which does not readily admit of definition.
He repeated that to-night. The people who say that they follow a neutralist policy know what they mean. They mean that because of their poverty, because of their lack of arms and because of their defencelessness they are not going to be involved in wars between the two great powers. It is an understandable attitude. It may change if they become as strong as the rich and powerful Western powers. The Prime Minister knows that what he said to-night and what he said to the Assembly was a complete distortion of the whole situation. The neutral powers have striven to remain independent of either power grouping and at the same time they have desired and worked to strengthen the United Nations. It was because they wanted to make the United Nations a strong force that they put forward the amendment which the Prime Minister set out to destroy.
When he condemns the neutrality of India, the Arab countries and Ghana, he also, by inference, condemns the neutrality of Switzerland and Sweden and, I suppose, condemns the present-day neutrality of Austria. What can those countries do? If they are not neutral they will be overrun. They have the right to determine their own foreign policies in accordance with their own best interests, just as we have the right to determine our foreign policy for the same good reason. I am sure that the Prime Minister stung Mr. Nehru, a strong, sensitive and devoted man, the beloved leader of 400,000,000 people in his own country, the best-respected leader of all the neutral countries, and a man who has done much to try to keep the world at peace and to prevent it slipping into war, into making his strongly critical speech. I am sure that if it were not for the neutral powers, the United Nations would not be in a position to-day to take preventive action as it has done in the Congo, in Korea and in the Middle East. We see nothing to condemn about the neutral powers.
The Treasurer invited me to quote exactly what he had said while he was in New York. On 7th October last, he addressed the American-Australian Association in that great city and asserted that the world would be better off if the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics walked out of the United Nations. He does not deny that.
– Doesn’t he!
– That is what he said.
– I will tell you what I said.
– I will tell you what you are reported to have said. Surely the Treasurer will not tell me that the capitalist press of this country has decided to misreport him. I shall repeat what he said and the Treasurer can plead guilty or not guilty after he has heard the indictment. He said -
If he (Mr. Khrushchev) wants to leave the United Nations the world would get on a lot better and get a damn sight more done. Judging by the experience of the Washington meetings, if Mr. Khrushchev would like to walk out of the United Nations I think it would be a good thing.
If he did say that, he said something that was the opposite of what the Prime Minister has said. The Prime Minister told us that he spent 70 minutes talking amiably and agreeably with Mr. Khrushchev. I read the communiques that were issued after their encounter and they were pearls of euphemisms. They said the most disagreeable things in the most pleasant manner. They said in effect that these two men had agreed to disagree.
All. that the Treasurer is taking pleasure in is that in the United Nations, the Prime Minister of Australia and Mr. Khrushchev abused each other to their hearts’ content. The Treasurer says, “ If Mr. Khrushchev likes to walk out of the United Nations, that will be a good thing for humanity “. Was the Treasurer speaking for Australia when he said that? I do not think that any Australian wants to see the break-up of the United Nations. I think that what the Prime Minister said about the United Nations being an important body is completely right. But this disunited Liberal Party, this Liberal Party with so many voices and so many leaders, apparently can condone a lot of opinions that conflict but do not seem to matter in the final analysis. _t
The Prime Minister makes a speech and every one on his side of the House thinks that that ought to be an end of the matter, and nobody ought to criticize him. I refer the Prime Ministers and his colleagues to press opinions in this country published while he was away and since he has returned. As one who has suffered at the hands of the cartoonists, I refer the Treasurer to some of the cartoons that have been published depicting him because of his association with this business. These newspapers are not Labour newspapers. I have seen only one metropolitan daily newspaper in Australia that said anything in favour of the Prime Minister’s attitude.
– What was it you said? “ Curse the press “, was it?
– No, I did not. Why should I want to curse the press? It made me. It was my best friend, but it did not seem to know it.
Let me say just a few more words about this matter. How could the speech of the Prime Minister have been widely applauded, as the Treasurer and the Deputy Prime Minister said it was, when two-thirds of the General Assembly benches were empty? How could the speech have confirmed the Prime Minister’s stature as an international statesman, as these two Ministers have claimed? The Prime Minister could attract only five votes, no matter how he may have juggled the figures to-night to convince himself that in the end with five votes he still had a majority out of the 97 votes that were available.
– The mystic five!
– Do not talk over the Prime Minister’s head. A reference was made to a mystic five during his absence, and perhaps his colleagues will explain to him what it means. He received five votes, but he was far short of a majority of the 97 votes that were available. How could the speech delivered by the Prime Minister have enhanced what was claimed to be his already very strong prestige in the world when the only three supporters on whom he could really have counted in New York on the night he delivered his speech were the Attorney-General, the Treasurer and the honorable member for Mackellar?
– And the honorable member for Banks.
– The honorable member for Banks would certainly not have supported the action of the Prime Minister. The speech upon which such sycophantic praise has been bestowed by Government supporters received the condemnation of the Australian people. If the Prime Minister does not believe this, let him ask his Liberal Party organizers up and down Australia. Everywhere there was a condemnation of his attitude. His speech was condemned as a failure, and all his rhetoric to-night and all his special pleading cannot alter the fact. World commentators, Australian press comment and Australian press opinion generally support the view of those who witnessed the scene, that Mr. Nehru tore the Prime Ministers speech to ribbons and left him, figuratively, without a feather to fly with. Mr. Nehru had logic on his side, because he was striving for a meeting of world leaders, and he felt that the intrusion of Australia had destroyed a chance that may not recur for a considerable time.
Sir, we of the Australian Labour Party do not intend to let the Prime Minister get away with the idea that he first thought of Summit meetings. Dr. Evatt proposed Summit meetings four years ago. When he first put forward the proposition, he was sneered at, abused, vilified and regarded as a friend of communism. However, in due course the Prime Minister became a convert. If you give the Prime Minister time, you can always convert him to the right course, but it generally takes a long time. When he does come over, he is a real 100 per cent, convert. He now believes in full employment, in the welfare state and in Summit meetings.
– I even believe in you.
– And I am demonstrating to-night that I do not believe in you. Not only does the Prime Minister now believe in a Summit meeting, but he wants a series of Summit meetings. He wants the meetings of the Heads of State to be in session almost constantly. He has created for himself the illusion that having thought up the great idea, he should be able to attend these meetings of Heads of State in Europe instead of staying in Australia for a little while every now and then and doing something for which the Australian people hold him responsible. If he could have succeeded in arranging a Summit meeting on this occasion, even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce have forborne to have cheered him on, but he missed his chance.
He failed where his predecessor in the office of Minister for External Affairs failed. What is his name? Lord Casey, yes. He wandered around Europe and Asia and waited outside conference rooms to be introduced to delegates. He was out of Australia far longer than he was ever in Australia, and because he was an apparent failure the Prime Minister relieved him of his post and as a solatium for his wounded feelings - I do not think much of the proposition - the Prime Minister put him in the House of Lords, and there he is right now.
The Prime Minister is in the extraordinary position that he is surrounded by so many dunderheads that he cannot find anybody to succeed the former right honorable member for La Trobe as Minister for External Affairs. He would like to appoint the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), but if he does that he will not be able to find anybody to appoint to the position of Attorney-General. So he has to gather all these portfolios to himself. That is evidence of the degeneracy of the Government, and I suppose Australia will not regret the fact.
I am coming to the end of my speech. The Treasurer said that the Russians would have liked to support the Prime Minister’s proposal. I hope the Prime Minister will tell the Australian people that when he goes on his next ranting tour of Australia, when he is warning the country against the menace of communism and so on.
– Or when he speaks at the Olympic Pool in Melbourne.
– Or when he performs again at the Olympic Pool - I mean by speech only. When he performs again, I hope that he will tell the people that Mr. Khrushchev was really disappointed that he did not have the opportunity of supporting the Australian Prime Minister because, for the reasons I gave earlier, he wished to avoid embarrassing the neutralist nations. Obviously, the neutralist nations count for something to Russia, and they should count for something to us. Our political and diplomatic strategy should be to live at peace with all peoples of the world and we should try to do so. We ought to offend nobody because we are a very weak nation. In truth, we have a very big country to defend. We can be strong in our principles, but we should not go out of our way to offend people, as the Treasurer did. Perhaps he will say whether he was correctly reported on the occasion when, with a touch of chauvinism, he said -
Although the Menzies amendment attracted only five votes, they were the votes of the countries which carry the major burden of securing the freedom of the free world.
I regard that as an insult to the other countries because it implies that they are not included in that group, and that they are not able to do anything to maintain the freedom of the free world. But perhaps in a little while those countries will be much stronger and will be able to play a greater part. They play their part according to their ability. Those countries which possess atomic bombs are not doing all the work of maintaining freedom and enunciating right principles. In that observation by the Treasurer there is an implied sneer, and I do not think it will be missed by the neutral countries of the world.
If this somewhat surrealist attitude, this self-righteous pose, which is so typical of the present Government in international affairs, is continued, it will create difficulties for us where none need exist. In offending and turning away nations with which we have to live in close proximity, and in respect of which Great Britain and the United States of America have not the same reasons to have the same mutual understanding of those other nations’ problems as we in Australia have, we will be doing a disservice to ourselves.
I am sorry that the Prime Minister’s speech to-might was such a poor performance. I am sorry the efforts he made to defend himself, justify himself and explain his actions were so ignominiously bad. I am also sorry that the high hopes held out for him by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and the Treasurer have been dashed to the ground. The speeches made by those two gentlemen in relation to this occasion were, like other speeches they have delivered, more noteworthy for misguided enthusiasm than for any real consideration of Australia’s security and best long-term interests.
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in opening his speech to-night, said that the Opposition sees things very differently from honorable members on this side of the House; and the further he went in his speech the more abundantly clear he made his opening proposition. As a matter of fact, I think it is because honorable members opposite do see things so very differently from honorable members on this side of the House that they have been in
Opposition now for eleven years anr! were defeated at the last general election by the return of a record majority of supporters of the Government to this place. While I was overseas, I heard a delegate, speaking for his delegation, describe the policy of his country as one of dynamic non-alinement. As I listened to the honorable gentleman’s speech to-night, I thought that that was the most apt description I could produce for the foreign policy of the Australian Labour Party at this time. If anybody could delve out of the woolly headed exposition to which we have just been listening a foreign policy for Australia, his powers of perception are very much keener than mine.
I have considered it desirable to speak early in this debate for two reasons which seem to me to be important. The first is that I had the advantage, not possessed by other honorable members of this House, of being present in the United Nations General Assembly when the Prime Minister spoke.” I also - this is my second reason - had the opportunity about that time of presiding over a conference of 68 member governments in Washington, where the atmosphere, mutual co-operation and teamwork were in such sharp contrast to what happened at the United Nations in New York that I felt the significance of the difference between those two assemblies should not be allowed to go unnoticed.
I turn first, Sir, to the fact that I was at the United Nations General Assembly when the Prime Minister spoke. It is important to try to recapture something of the atmosphere of that time, because atmosphere can make a very great difference to judgments which may be formed upon the facts of the case. That is abundantly evident from the very different attitude adopted by the official and accredited observer of the Australian Labour Party at the United Nations in New York from the attitude revealed by his party here to-night. I do not intend to embarrass the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa). He is there as the representative of his party. But I think it only proper to say, because he made no reservations on the matter, that he entirely endorsed the amendment which the Prime Minister put forward. Indeed, he expressed to me, and to others in my hearing at that time, even after Mr.
Nehru had spoken, his view that the amendment was a good one and that it should be supported. He was on the spot. He was able to assess the feeling and atmosphere at that time. But in what marked contrast is the treatment given to Australia’s Prime Minister, the representative abroad of our country at this great international assembly, by honorable members who sit opposite here to-night! They could not conceal their glee at the fact that some press criticism had developed here in Australia.
We are not unfamiliar with the fact that when a representative of this country goes overseas he lends himself to all manner of criticism and, indeed, attack, at times, from the press of this country. The newspapers seem to take an almost sadistic delight in the performance. I should have thought that we were perhaps rather unusual in that respect, but it is one of the ironies of public life that I find that amongst the newspapers of India - and I shall not quote from more than one of them - there was quite strong criticism of the attitude taken by Mr. Nehru. I say this not by way of personal criticism of Mr. Nehru. The Prime Minister has expressed, for us all, the respect which is felt for that very distinguished leader of his country. But it is not without, I think, a little comfort and also amusement in this place to find what the “ Times of India “, a very important, perhaps the leading newspaper of India, so far as I am aware, had to say about Mr. Nehru’s speech to our Prime Minister’s amendment. In its editorial of 7th October, headed “ A Lesson “, appears the following statement: -
Mr. Nehru’s outburst was all the more remarkable on the part of an Asian leader who has repeatedly emphasized the advantages of moderation and calm in international affairs. The tendency to detect non-existent diabolical plots against the Afro-Asian Powers in any amendment or proposal sponsored by a non-Asian Power is most unhelpful and in falling a victim to this tendency Mr. Nehru attempted to defend something which required no defence whatsoever. It has been openly acknowledged that the role of the Afro-Asian Powers in world affairs will be an increasingly important one in the future and that, sooner rather than later, certain structural adjustments in the United Nations might be necessary to make the organization more truly representative than it now is. That, however, is an issue which has no direct bearing on the central question of reducing international tensions and the Australian amendment was in itself as worthy to be. considered as the five-Power resolution. To have dismissed it as a “ jumble of words “ and “ trivial “ was in effect to evade it and also the obligation to explain precisely why the amendment was unacceptable. Mr. Menzies as the representative of a comparatively small Power could hardly be suspected of proposing that iiic major problems of disarmament and world peace were the exclusive concern of the Big Four or that the smaller States should be confined to *’ outer darkness “. Mr. Nehru, in other words, condemned the Australian Prime Minister for something which he did not propose and in the process represented himself as a gallant defender of the interests of the Asian-African bloc.
Are we to have some resolution in the Indian Parliament saying that Mr. Nehru has compromised relations between the Commonwealth countries because of the action that he took? In New York itself, where they are rather more accustomed to these exchanges, a very different interpretation was put upon it. Again, without wishing to weary the House with quotations, in my limited time, I think I should just give this representative sample of editorial comments from one of the New York papers, the “New York World Telegram “, on the following morning. It is headed, “ U.N.’s Best Show “-
Khrushchev has been stealing most of the headlines at the United Nations. But one of the most stimulating performances to date was the debate between India’s Prime Minister Nehru and Australia’s Prime Minister Menzies.
The subject - the proposal of five neutral nations urging an Eisenhower-Khrushchev meeting and an “ amendment “ to it by Menzies - later soundly defeated - urging instead another four-power summit meeting.
The issue- and the debate were close to academic, the important thing, about this is that both men represent nations which are part of the British Commonwealth and the healthy thing is that two men with close Commonwealth ties and genuine dedication to democracy and freedom could stand before this world forum and disagree - almost violently.
Khrushchev has bandied about the words “ democracy “ and “ freedom “ at the U.N. - and it is unfortunate he was not present to see Nehru and Menzies demonstrate them.
What a day it would be if Poland’s Gomulka, Czechoslovakia’s Novotny, or Hungary’s Kadar strode to the U.N. iostrum and tore to shreds an idea or a proposal of Khrushchev as Nehru did to Menzies!
That was the atmosphere over there, and that was the comment on what anybody who was present would recall as the minor aspect of the Prime Minister’s contribution.. His major contribution was made in the second speech which he delivered, the one which was always intended to be the major con tribution on the part of Australia. I hear honorable members opposite sneering about what they call the half-empty benches. It is true that when our Prime Minister began to speak there was a very thin house, just as there may be in this Parliament when some not very exciting speaker goes ahead. The speaker who preceded the Prime Minister spoke in a tongue other than English and, he was not a representative - I do not say this in any slighting sense - of one of the major powers. But as the Prime Minister’s speech gathered momentum, as the impression in the lobbies there - they have television sets out there and can see what is going on inside - registered, the Assembly began to fill up quite rapidly, and in what is notoriously a very dead and unresponsive chamber he was repeatedly applauded, indeed, he was applauded from the time he left the rostrum to go right to the back of this very large assembly until he reached “his seat. A leading pressman there - not an Australian pressman but one attached to the United Nations - gave me what must be admitted to be an unbiased verdict. He told me that Mr. Menzies’s speech was rated amongst the greatest performances of the session, and was linked with that of Mr. Macmillan as one of the two most impressive performances of the session. Why should honorable members opposite try to belittle something which, if they bother to get out and read the American newspapers which are to be seen in our own National Library, they will find attracted tremendous interest in America and received very wide and impressive television coverage that evening and the following day? One felt proud, as an Australian, to hear the comments which were made subsequently.
Because I rather suspected that the Prime Minister would not get from some of the press in his own country the treatment that his performance merited, I brought back cuttings from the New York section of the American press and honorable members are welcome to study them in order to see what was said by the American newspapers. Without wishing to take up too much time, I will quote the concluding sentences from a special article written by Andrew Tully, representative of the Scripps-Howard newspapers.. In this article, headed “ Menzies
Stands up to Bully Khrushchev “, appearing in the “ New York World-Telegram and The Sun “ on 6th October, Tully quoted the following passage from a speech by the Prime Minister -
In Australia, we are . . . resolutely opposed to communism. It will never prevail in unconquered Australia. It runs counter to all our traditions, our instincts and our hopes.
Tully wrote -
In this international city hall where the Marxist bogeyman stalks many free peoples, it was good to hear the voice of a man unafraid.
Honorable gentlemen opposite wish to propose, in the face of a performance of that kind, a resolution which implies or states that the Prime Minister of this country brought no credit on his country and, indeed, did it a great disservice.
Let us come to what happened about the amendment. Here again, we see exposed the unrealistic thinking of honorable gentlemen opposite. The Leader of the Opposition said, “ We found the fivenation resolution unexceptionable “. But the great flaw in the resolution was that the two people who were invited to meet by the resolution both took exception to it. Both announced that they were not prepared to play. So, we have our friends opposite with a foreign policy that should be designed to see this country through its difficulties, saying, “We found entirely acceptable to us a proposal which was entirely unacceptable to the people to whom it was to be directed”. They brush aside, with a wave of an empty hand, the fact that associated with Australia in this proposition were the three major powers of the non-Communist world - the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France - the summit powers, other than Russia, as the Prime Minister has reminded us. Honorable members opposite treat it as something that is almost contemptible to say that, whether honorable gentlemen opposite like it or not, those powers carry with them our security and that of the rest of the free world, including the so-called neutralist countries. 1 do not accept the definition of neutralist countries. I reject, as did the Prime Minister, this easy classification, this superficial classification, of people into this bloc or that bloc. There are just as important differences between the various countries of Asia, one with the other, and of Africa, one with the other, as there are between the countries of Europe. We pay them no compliment when we lump them all together and imagine that they are all going to react in exactly the same way.
In the light of the significance given to this matter by the Leader of the Opposition, there may be countries which have no great military strength themselves but which are not neutralist in spirit. They know where they stand. They know the principles they stand for. They know that they stand for democracy and for individual freedom. They recognize the Prime Minister of this country as one of the most articulate and powerful voices speaking for democracy and freedom ever to stride to the rostrum of the United Nations Assembly. Therefore, Sir, it is to falsify completely the facts to say that we lost ground with the uncommitted nations of the world. I have no doubt in my mind that, from what occurred at the United Nations, not only has our Prime Minister emerged from his first contact with this Assembly with his own great prestige further enhanced, but also that this country has a more effective role and a more effective voice, thanks to the strength which he has been able to bring to the Assembly and the representation given for us at that time.
In the few minutes left to me, Mr. Speaker, I want to make a point of the contrast which I instanced earlier between what can happen - and this is where some distortion of what I said in New York occurred - where you have friendly, co-operative countries meeting together for mutually useful, fruitful and constructive purposes, with a constructive will being brought to bear by member governments, and circumstances where you have an obstructive and a destructive will such as was demonstrated by the head of the Soviet delegation and his colleagues at the last meeting of the General Assembly. The representatives of 68 governments met in Washington - not all governments with the same form or method of government and not all free enterprise governments; there were representatives of socialist governments and even of a Communist government, that of Yugoslavia. We had a constructive will. We did not have efforts being made by Soviet representatives and their satellite associates to sabotage our proceedings. The result was that our proceedings could be conducted in an orderly way, with positive resolution showing the value of international teamwork.
It is a great pity, Sir, that so much world attention, including that of the press and television, is fastened on the Assembly where there occurred the discord and the chaos we have seen on this occasion. All around the world at this time there is evidence of increasing international co-operation which is frequently overriding national boundaries and ideological differences, for very good and useful purposes. One thinks of the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and organizations of that character, to name only a few. In those organizations, to a degree that would have been thought impossible ten or twenty years ago, the nations of the world are getting together and achieving positive and constructive results. What a tragedy, Sir, that when we have advanced to that extent in those forums, we should have at the centre and at the most important Assembly of all, this discord and turbulence created by the deliberate policies of the Communist bloc. It was because of that, Sir, and the threat of Mr. Khrushchev to smash the United Nations, that one was able to say, “Well, if he carries out his threat, at least on the experience that we have had the world will get on with its work in a much more constructive way than so far has been demonstrated by this Assembly “.
We are asked to believe that our Prime Minister did not speak for Australia. As I came to the House to-day I was greeted by a painter, dressed in the white overalls of his trade. He said. “ Mr. Holt, would you thank Mr. Menzies for me for the great job that he did for Australia? He said what many Australians wanted to have said, and he said it in a way that only a good Australian could say it “. I should prefer to believe. Sir, that that more faithfully represents the reaction of the people of Australia, the voters and citizens of this country, than the exposition of an alternative which the people of Australia have repeatedly rejected and, on to-night’s performance, would never accept.
– I feel that I express the view of the great majority of my fellow Australians, irrespective of their party affiliations, in welcoming the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) home. We may, and we do, differ sharply in our political opinions, but I think it is now common ground among Australians generally that while the Prime Minister at home is a source of frequent tribulation to the people of this country, his activities abroad are positively disastrous to the nation. Therefore, his return home is generally welcomed with genuine relief.
I should like to reply immediately to several statements that have been made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). In the first place, I think the House will prefer to await the statement of the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) on his attitude to the course pursued at the General Assembly, rather than to take the view given to the House to-night by the Treasurer. In the second place, I contradict absolutely the statement that either President Eisenhower or Mr. Khrushchev declared that they would not agree to meet if the Assembly of the United Nations asked them to do so. There was not the slightest advance indication by either of them that they would reject a request duly made by the United Nations General Assembly for a meeting between them. Thirdly, while some latitude ought to be allowed to a loyal lieutenant to express praise of his leader, the grossly exaggerated statements of the Treasurer to-night are denied by the actual voting figures in the Assembly and by the fact that Australia was able to achieve only five votes out of approximately 100 and, indeed, provoked the anger and resentment of many uncommitted nations represented there.
The Treasurer has just sprung to the Prime Minister’s aid. The Prime Minister might very well ask to be saved from his friends, because the Treasurer failed, even in his speech to-night, to deny the statement attributed to him which won the prize for the most inept and foolish statement made by any one during the crucial sittings of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. His contribution to international understanding, made in a luncheon address to American bankers, was that Mr. Khrushchev ought to pack his bags and return to Moscow, that the United
Nations could get along much better without him. In other words, he raised the stupid placard, “ Khrushchev go home “. Of course, that won him applause from those who were listening to him, and it won him newspaper headlines the next morning. But he made no attempt whatever in the United States of America to deny the accuracy of the report in which that statement was attributed to him.
– The honorable member flatters me. 1 do not think that a word of my speech was reported in the United States.
– It was reported, all right.
– Not in the United States.
– It was applauded and reported. If you are prepared to pay the price of folly, you can always get those things. But the mischievous effect of the statement was most obvious when a walk-out by Russia and its satellites from the councils of the United Nations was actually a danger gravely to be feared. The statement was made by the Treasurer at the very time when his own Prime Minister was striving for another Summit conference with Mr. Khrushchev present as essential to the cause of peace, and when the Prime Minister was at the same time seeking by every means to obtain for himself a private interview with Mr Khrushchev. The fact that the Treasurer did no harm by his foolish and inept statement was due not to any good sense on his part but to the fortunate fact that no one took him seriously.
It was this same Treasurer who on his return to Canberra last week flourished in the faces of journalists at Canberra a large sheaf of American newspaper clippings, all of which, he said, praised the Prime Minister’s attitude and his speech in the General Assembly. This was done at the very time when the Prime Minister was desperately trying to disprove that he was a dupe or a “ fall guy “ for American interests. It was at a time, also, when, while American newspapers were patting the Prime Minister on the head, almost every Australian newspaper was strongly criticizing him.
– -That shows how illinformed the Australian newspapers are.
– No. It shows that the Treasurer could scarcely have served his leader worse than he did by using this method to demonstrate whose interest the Australian Prime Minister was actually serving at that time.
– Since when has the honorable member had such a high opinion of Australian newspapers?
– I say that the viewpoint of Australian newspapers shows that the Prime Minister was strongly criticized for his representation of this nation, while the American newspapers which the Treasurer quotes with enthusiasm show that he was strongly praised in the United States. Whose interests, then, was the Australian Prime Minister really serving?
Then, of course, the Treasurer finally let the cat out of the bag completely. He disclosed that while the Prime Minister could not obtain the support of other British countries for his amendment and while by that amendment he deeply angered the neutral nations in this part of the world whose friendship we have done so much to seek, yet, at the same time, in the Assembly he had the backing of the Soviet leader, Mr. Khrushchev, himself for his amendment. The Treasurer revealed that “ the Russian delegation would have supported Mr. Menzies’s proposal had it not wanted to avoid embarrassment with the neutralist countries “. Whose interests, then, was the Australian Prime Minister really serving with this amendment? In other words, if the Treasurer is to be believed, the Prime Minister of Australia was playing the Communist game. He was pulling Mr. Khrushchev’s chestnuts out of the fire.
Mr. Khrushchev, said the Treasurer, liked the Prime Minister’s amendment; he would have voted for it except that he did not wish to offend the neutralist nations. But, of course, Mr. Khrushchev was perfectly happy to allow the Australian Prime Minister to offend the neutralist nations. And what a thorough job our Prime Minister made of it the speeches of Mr. Nehru and the various representatives of others of the neutralist nations have amply shown. Talk about how to win friends and influence people! It took the Prime Minister less than an hour in his speech to the Assembly to undo the good work patiently achieved by our diplomats with those countries over a period of many years. What was the cause of this tragic blunder by the Australian Prime Minister?
– That is a matter which may never be precisely determined, but the honorable member has, I think, correctly suggested arrogance as being a considerable factor in it. The Prime Minister insists that he was not a stooge for the United Kingdom and American Governments. He declares stoutly that the amendment was all his own work. But even if he did think it all up for himself - the reasons for it must remain incomprehensible - surely he had around him expert Australian officers who could have advised him on its folly from our national viewpoint. Was the Prime Minister, then, so selfwilled and so self-important that he would listen to American and British advice, but would not listen to the advice of his own Australian advisers and expert officers?
– Would the honorable member call a Summit conference folly?
– Of course not, and I shall come to that. If the Prime Minister could consult beforehand with Mr. Macmillan and President Eisenhower, why could he not consult beforehand with Mr. Nehru? No answer to the question has ever been given.
– Did Mr. Nehru consult him?
– I am asking why the Prime Minister, if he chose to consult Mr. Macmillan and President Eisenhower before moving an amendment to a motion moved by Mr. Nehru, could not have consulted Mr. Nehru himself. And if, as the Prime Minister says, Mr. Nehru is now probably sorry for some of the things he said about him, why is it that in the United Nations to-day Mr. Nehru is voting with the Soviet bloc of nations for changes in the United Nations administration, and how much responsibility for that attitude of Mr. Nehru is borne by the Prime Minister of this country?
– Does the honorable member support that view?
– I do not know what your question means.
The Prime Minister is putting himself forward now as the architect of a new Summit conference. At least, no one will deny that. He bases this on the fact that Britain, America and France voted for his Summit proposal - as though he had convinced them of the necessity for a Summit meeting! To what lengths can absurdity be carried, Mr. Speaker? As the Prime Minister himself reminded the General Assembly in moving his amendment, the leaders of those three nations had already explicitly declared long ago, following the failure of the first Summit conference, that they would be ready immediately to take part in such negotiations again at any suitable time.
Then there is the Prime Minister’s declaration that he feels that Mr. Khrushchev will not be able to resist attending another Summit conference. The implication of this is that the Australian Prime Minister’s private meeting with the Soviet leader did something to bring about this attitude on Mr. Khrushchev’s part. The facts are that in New York on 10th October - days before - in a television interview widely publicized throughout the United States, Mr. Khrushchev made the public declaration that he was ready to attend another Summit meeting and that he was certain that such a meeting would be held. Then what purpose was achieved by the Prime Minister’s abortive amendment except the destruction of the very real and sincere proposal put forward in the Assembly by the neutralist nations?
– Why was it beaten if it was so wonderful?
– Of course the amendment was not wonderful. It was stupid and foolish and utterly detrimental to the interests of the Australian people.
– We are talking about the neutralist motion.
-The neutralist motion might well have been carried if the Prime Minister’s bedevilling amendment had not been submitted, thereby confusing the whole issue before the General Assembly.
As to the private meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr. Khrushchev, it might well be asked: What was the Australian Prime Minister doing there at all, if we judge by all his abusive references to Mr. Khrushchev over the years and by the provocative and bitter language which he used towards Mr. Khrushchev in his second speech to the Assembly on 5th October?
– He is not an angel.
– It is to be noted - and I am sure the honorable member who has just interjected will realize the point of this - that the meeting between the Australian Prime Minister and Mr. Khrushchev was held in the Russian leader’s quarters. Mr. Khrushchev did not come to the Prime Minister. He did not even bother to attend the Assembly when the Prime Minister was speaking. But the Prime Minister went to him. It is beyond doubt that it was the Prime Minister who asked for the meeting and Mr. Khrushchev who granted it, saying as he did so, that ten minutes would be enough although he subsequently extended the time. In other words, the Australian Prime Minister saw the Soviet leader on the Soviet leader’s terms while he could not be bothered consulting the leaders of British Commonwealth countries.
Is it true that Mr. Khrushchev at first refused to see the Prime Minister? I do not know. Is it true that the Prime Minister, in renewing his request for an interview, sent along a copy of his amending Crimes Bill whereupon Mr. Khrushchev said, “ For an imperialist, you are a man after my own heart “, and agreed to see him? In contradiction to the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House to-night, all right thinking persons who listened to the Prime Minister on the air last night or who read in the press this morning his comments at his meeting with Mr. Khrushchev must have had cause for deep concern indeed. Some one has been pulling some one’s leg, but it does not seem to have been Mr. Khrushchev’s leg that was pulled. If the right honorable gentleman was not bewitched by Mr. Khrushchev, was he brain washed? His performance in the House to-night gave the impression that he was. How else explain his genial, almost flattering references to the arch devil of red aggression and imperialism?
In the Prime Minister’s words, Mr. Khrushchev had a nice, earthy, sense of humour. It is not a view which will be shared by many who have suffered under the Soviet tyranny; but it is the view which the Australian Prime Minister, in his new attitude, has revealed to the House since he returned to Australia. Everything had been relaxed and easy between them, the Prime Minister added. That, again, is not the way in which many of Mr. Khrushchev’s victims have found him over the years. The Prime Minister recounted with delight that he told Mr. Khrushchev that, for a Communist, he improved on closer inspection. Maybe it is the Australian security service which should have a closer inspection of the Australian Prime Minister. For, unless he was bewitched or brain washed, how does it come about that the Prime Minister accepts at face value all the things that Mr. Khrushchev said about a Summit meeting, about the matters to be discussed there, and about the No. 1 priority of disarmament?
He now invites the House to accept the statements of Mr. Khrushchev as an accurate and continuing representation of his intentions. Surely the very essence of the debate in this House to-night is how the Prime Minister served Australia in the General Assembly - not how he served the United Kingdom or America or Russia or how he won the flattery of Mr. Khrushchev, but how he served this nation which he went abroad to represent. The essence of that, in turn, rests upon the motion submitted by the neutralist nations and the amendment to it moved by the Prime Minister. The resolution to which Mr. Nehru lent all his immense influence and prestige simply expressed the hope for a renewal of personal contact btween Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev.
Mr. Macmillan had been meeting the leaders of the various nations. President Eisenhower had been meeting the leaders of the various nations. So had the Prime Minister himself. The motion put to the Assembly was designed to encourage the two men who had been on terms of ill will ever since the Paris conference also to meet in exactly the same quite informal way. It was moved in the light of the fact that since the breakdown of the Paris Summit there had been no relations between America and Russia save of the most formal diplomatic kind, and that the prospect that the Assembly could end with increased ill will between these two greatest world leaders would cause only increased tension and the utmost world dismay. As a result of the Prime Minister’s actions in the General Assembly this has been brought about.
– Do you not believe in a Summit conference?
– Of course, I do. No one could say what the outcome would have been if the neutralists’ resolution had been carried. It might well have failed to achieve its purpose. But if the objective could have been achieved and the two men could have come together, even to talk informally for a little while, what but good could have been the result?
– Had they not both said before that they could not meet?
– No. Neither of them said beforehand that he would refuse the request of the Assembly for a meeting between them. Whatever its outcome, the fact remains that it was not a manoeuvre or a tactic on the part of the neutralist nations, but sprang from a sincere and deep anxiety of mind on the part of the sponsors of the resolution. Even the Prime Minister, as he pointed out tonight, frankly acknowledged that fact in a speech to the General Assembly when moving his amendment to the motion. Here, then, was a proposal which particularly gripped the imagination of the Afro-Asian nations and, indeed, of all those nations which, not possessing nuclear weapons themselves, will yet equally perish in a world nuclear conflict.
Why on earth did the Prime Minister decide deliberately to slap them in the face. Upon what meat has this our Caesar fed that he has grown so great? Why, in the words of one observer, did our Prime Minister, in putting forward his amendment, adopt a tone of lofty grandeur towards the lesser breeds, now freshly represented at the United Nations General Assembly? Here was a resolution which might have succeeded or might have failed but which expressed a deeply felt wish which was simple and practicable. Nothing that the Prime Minister has said explains his amendment except in terms of a tragic blunder.
He did not need to move the amendment. He could have allowed the resolution to be passed and then have moved a separate resolution for a Summit conference and could probably have had it overwhelmingly supported in the Assembly. By his disastrous failure to appreciate the facts of the situation, instead, he destroyed any effective action on the part of the Assembly. Whatever the motive animating the Prime Minister, the judgment must be that at the United Nations he served neither Australia’s interests nor the cause of peace, and that it would have been better, indeed, if he had stayed at home.
.- Some time before I entered this noble House I said that on every occasion on which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) travelled overseas he upheld the prestige of this country and made an impression in those countries in which he travelled. The latest visit of the Prime Minister to the United Nations has done nothing to alter my opinion in that regard. This nation owes a debt of gratitude to him for making this trip to the United Nations at this time. There has been a great deal of comment with regard to the number of times that the Prime Minister and the former Minister for External Affairs, now Lord Casey, have gone overseas. If we have a consciousness of the part that Australia is to play in the international situation we realize that the more occasions upon which men of the calibre of our present Prime Minister and of Lord Casey travel overseas the more important Australia’s part in world affairs will become.
Sir, in view of the responsibilities and the duties of the Prime Minister in this country, I am sure that he did not lightly decide to go to the United Nations. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) mentioned that he had asked the Prime Minister whether he was going to the United Nations and had received a reply in the negative. A little later he was informed that the decision to go had been made. I think that that proved that it was not a personal wish for himself which caused the Prime Minister to decide to make the trip. He went because he felt that he could make a contribution to international affairs on behalf of Australia. If we look at the situation, I am sure that we will agree that he made that contribution.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) asked, “ To what length can absurdity be carried? “ I think that we, on the Government side of the House, might ask the same question in regard to the arguments put forward this evening by members of the Opposition. For example, great play has been made on the amendment moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) by members of the Opposition and on the fact that only five countries voted in favour of it and that so many other countries voted against it, and that there were so many abstentions. Yet we are told by members of the Opposition that this move by the Prime Minister destroyed the possibility of the motion moved on behalf of the five neutral nations being carried, and indeed caused it to be defeated. The absurdity of that argument is that, if that were so, surely far more nations would have voted in favour of the amendment moved by the Prime Minister.
So it is obvious that what happened in this situation was that the Prime Minister moved an amendment along lines which he felt were right, lt was not agreed to by most of the other nations. But does that necessarily mean that the Prime Minister was wrong in what he did? Let us look at it. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that the five-power motion would have been agreed to - but that is a doubtful point. Nobody can prove that, because the situation did not arise. Let us go into a further theoretical argument. If it had been agreed to, what value would it have achieved? No one can say with definiteness that the President of the United States and the leader of Soviet Russia would have met, and I think it would have been a greater slap in the face to the neutral nations and the United Nations had that motion been passed, then failed to produce the meeting it was designed to produce. We have in the United States of America at the moment a domestic situation in which the person who is the President is not going to be President of that great country for very much longer. There is a possibility of a Democrat being elected
President, just as much as there is a possibility of a Republican being elected. How could a man coming to the close of his term of office as President commit the United States of America in any definite way?
So I feel that, when one looks at the situation and studies the Prime Minister’s amendment, and examines all the factors related to it, that amendment was at least a step forward towards a meeting of the four major powers and towards an easing of the tensions which are facing the world at the present time. Play has been made here to-day on the alleged opposition of the Prime Minister, in days gone by, to a Summit conference. Any one who takes the trouble to look at the records will find that there was never opposition by the Prime Minister to a Summit conference. There was opposition to a Summit conference without the proper preparations being made. That is a completely different thing from what is being asserted by honorable members of the Opposition this evening. Would anybody say that in the present international situation we should go into a Summit conference without some preparation and some assurance that it was going to succeed? With all due respect, the speeches of members of the Opposition have done harm to this country. Stress has been laid all the time on how much we have offended other countries. Is the making of incorrect statements like that a contribution to peace and friendship? But, even if the statement were true, would it be wise to stress it constantly at this moment?
Referring to a suggestion that the Prime Minister should have consulted Mr. Nehru, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that the Prime Minister had consulted President Eisenhower and Mr. Macmillan. The Prime Minister went to see the President of the United States at his express invitation, and T feel that that is a completely different thing from what is implied in a statement that he consulted the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in regard to this matter.
What has been the criticism of the amendment moved by the Prime Minister? Frankly. I feel that it is completely unfounded. The argument is that the amendment destroyed the possibility of the five neutral nations getting their motion through. That is a doubtful point and one with which I could not agree. The amendment proposed a meeting of the four powers, not a meeting of the two powers. Even excluding the facts of the domestic situation in the United States of America at this time, would it have been wise to have a conference between the two major powers, leaving out powers such as the United Kingdom and France when previous Summit conferences had been of the four powers? I feel that the amendment moved by the/ Leader of the Opposition will do harm to himself and to the Opposition. It states -
The Prime Minister erred iri not conferring with ail Commonwealth countries before moving this amendment to Mr. Nehru’s motion, failed to serve the interests of Australia and the cause of world peace, provoked a public disagreement among Commonwealth countries and compromised Australia with the new members of the United Nations.
Never in my life have I heard such trash, with no indication of the realities of the situation at all, and no understanding or appreciation. Even if one disagreed with the Prime Minister of India, surely he had the right to criticize an amendment put forward by the Prime Minister of Australia. We may not agree with him, but because he criticized the amendment and voted against it - after all, India is a free country in a free Commonwealth - does that mean that there has to be a complete disruption of the nations of the Commonwealth? I am sure that at Prime Ministers’ Conferences on ‘ various occasions there have been many times when the Prime Minister of India has disagreed with our present Prime Minister and with other Prime Ministers of Commonwealth nations.
Let us look at some of the statements made in the speeches to the United Nations by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said -
In short, Mr. Khrushchev has on this occasion, so far from working towards an easing of the cold war, for the very existence of which his country carries a grievous and major responsibility, set out to exacerbate the cold war by fomenting tension, by encouraging bitterness and by seeking to paralyse or confuse the minds of the free peoples. I speak for a small nation with a love of peace, without nuclear weapons, with a burning desire to develop itself, a task which consumes every ounce of energy it possesses; to raise its standards of living; with no aggression in its heart; utterly independent, though with strong historic and present ties with its sister nations of the Commonwealth.
And then, further -
As has already been said, disarmament and inspection are inseparable. Again it is to me unthinkable that we should imagine that the risks of war would be diminished if the nations disarmed in the nuclear field but not in the field of what are politely called “ conventional arms “. For the fact is that it is only the possession of nuclear weapons, terrible though they are in their possibilities of destruction, horrible as it is to contemplate their continued development, which deprives the Communist powers of instant and overwhelming military superiority in the relevant areas. Nuclear, thermo-nuclear and conventional arms must, therefore, all be dealt with together. The second point I make is that I cannot honestly accept the view that armaments are the major cause of world tension. That view seems to me a serious over-simplification. True, if any power or combination of powers has shown that it is aggressively minded and seeks to extend its boundaries of control wider and wider by force if necessary, then the possession by that power or group of powers of vast armaments will be the cause of tension. But if the non-aggressive powers are in result driven into maintaining and developing great defensive armaments, it is proper to say that their armaments are the result of tension and not its cause.
Would the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Opposition say that words such as those, in those two speeches, fail to serve the interests of Australia and the cause of world peace? The more you look at this the more absurd becomes the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. As on all such occasions the Prime Minister, with logic, and in a calm, dispassionate manner, this evening told us of the case he presented to the United Nations and the reasons for putting it forward. I think that any reasonable person in this country will agree that his case was put forward, first, with the highest motives and secondly, with an appreciation of a situation that required the calling together of the four powers so that they might work for the alleviation of this tension. Let me quote from the text of the television interview given by the Prime Minister at the United Nations head-quarters on 13th October last. In answer to a question, the Prime Minister said -
Well, there are various reasons for that. I saw the Five Power Resolution, as I will call it, on the Friday when I arrived when it was first mentioned in President Sukarno’s speech and, quite frankly, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the main one was that it concentrated attention on two people named as individuals and that seemed to me to lend colour to the propaganda that goes on in the world; that the whole division in the world - the whole conflict - is between the United States and the Soviet Union; that all the rest of us presumably are mere onlookers - all in a sense, all of us, neutral.
The Prime Minister explained that answer in his speech to the Mouse this evening. I remind honorable members and the country at large - but particularly members of the Opposition - that just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War there were certain neutral countries that thought that by avoiding alinements with one power or another they would be safe. What happened to those neutral countries when Hitler commenced his invasions? Every time a concession was made to Hitler he regarded it as a weakness. Whenever a concession was made to him he took advantage of it and advanced another step forward. All the concessions and all the efforts of Neville Chamberlain and men of his ilk were not successful in preventing what happened on 3rd September, 1939. When certain of us in this House declare that Australia must be strong - that she must be prepared to defend herself and must not show weakness - we are accused of being warmongers and seeking war. Anybody who has had any experience of war will never want war again. War is not caused by countries such as Australia but by powers or groups of powers bent on aggression for the domination of the world and the imposition of their way of life.
I remind the House and the country that included among the men who were branded as warmongers in the British Parliament were men like Duff Cooper and Sir Winston Churchill. The latter led Britain and the Empire - in fact the world - out of chaos and disaster into peace. This nation and the Western world have nothing to fear but fear itself. If we in this country stand firm to the principles in which we believe we can face this Communistic and atheistic threat that confronts us. We in this House have a particular responsibility - not in an arrogant sense but in a sense of deep humility and consciousness of what is our responsibility - to give to the people of Australia and the Western world a lead. We must show that our noble heritage and the other things that we hold dear have been won by blood, sweat and tears. We must show that we in this day and age will not lightly stand by and see those things lost. We must let Khrushchev and others like him know with certainty that in the future, no less than in the past, Australia is willing courageously to make sacrifices to preserve her way of life.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Apart from the provision of rations and accommodation the company provides to the employee and accompanying dependents: (1) clothing, bedding, toilet gear and eating and cooking utensils; (2) facilities for first aid and medical treatment; (a) sporting facilities; and (4) school buildings for education purposes and kindergarten facilities free of charge.(b) It is not possible to express those extra benefits in terms of weekly value.
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What have been the dates and terms of agreements made with the States for the provision of hospital benefits for patients in public hospitals?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The current agreements with the States for the provision of hospital benefits for patients in public hospitals were made on the following dates: -
New South Wales- 1st October, 1952.
Victoria - 23rd December, 1952.
Queensland - 3rd November, 1952.
South Australia- 20th August, 1952.
Western Australia- 20th August, 1952.
Tasmania- 21st August, 1952.
The terms of the agreements cover four pages and I have arranged for the honorable member to be supplied with a copy of the agreement with New South Wales, which is in substantially similar terms to the agreements with the other States.
s asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1-5. I do not think it is in the public interest that I should particularize the matters referred to by the honorable member otherwise than to the extent contained in my answer on 13th October, 1960, to a previous question of the honorable member. Portions of the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage, however, may Derra to illustrate some of the questions that have arisen.
m asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
What salaries and allowances are received by judges of (a) Federal courts, (b) State supreme courts and (c) territorial supreme courts.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It is assumed that by “ allowances “ the honorable member means fixed annual statutory allowances of the kind payable to judges in some of the States in addition to their normal salaries, as distinct from travelling allowances. On that basis, the salaries and allowances in question are at present -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601020_reps_23_hor29/>.