23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral say what progress, if any, has been made towards introducing promised legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and monopolies? May we expect any legislation?
– If the honorable gentleman had followed the announcements in the press with the interest which he seems to display here, he would have noticed a statement that the State Attorneys-General and I met recently and made considerable progress towards the formation of a bill.
– I ask the Treasurer, in his capacity as Leader of the House, whether it is a fact that the Government had made arrangements for Notice of Motion, No. 5, General Business, on the business sheet to be dealt with today, and that subsequently a matter of urgency was placed upon the business sheet. Would he clarify the position for me?
– The order of events in this matter is as follows: As honorable members will be aware, the honorable member for Mackellar has a motion standing in his name relating to the events and practices in Communist countries which restrict the movement of emigrants from those countries. Thursday, at this time, is normally Private Members’ Day. Earlier, I had intimated to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that if the Opposition wished to go ahead with the Budget debate we would not press on with private business this day. Subsequently, it was represented to me by the honorable member for Mackellar that his motion had some topical significance and importance in view of recent events in Berlin. After discussions with the Prime Minister, it was decided to provide an opportunity for some debate on the matter in the House this morning. I sought to notify the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of this decision last night. I think the time was about a quarter to nine.
– A quarter to ten.
– It was a quarter to nine when I sought to notify the honorable gentleman.
– You saw me at a quarter to ten.
– I confess that ii is not easy to follow the various stratification developments in the party opposite, but I still understand that my friend on the other side of the table, the honorable member for Werriwa, occupies, nominally at any rate, the post of Deputy Leader. I was told at that time that he was at a meeting and could not be disturbed. I could well understand the importance of the discussions he was involved in at that stage, so I left a message signifying the Government’s intention and later discussed it with the Opposition Whip, who told me that he was aware that we were taking action along the lines I have indicated. This morning I learned for the first time that a letter had come forward from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports proposing that a matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion. On inquiring of you, Sir. I learned that the letter had been received by you after the adjournment of the House last night. It would appear, in the circumstances, that the proposal of this matter for discussion is merely a device to avoid debate on the very important matter which is the subject of a notice of motion on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Mackellar. In the circumstances the Government does not propose to alter its intention. It will ask the House to suspend Standing Orders after question time, in order that the honorable member for Mackellar may make his motion, and so that the House may discuss it.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that the former Treasurer and Leader of the Australian Country Party. Sir Arthur Fadden, provided for a deficit of £110,000,000 in the 1958-59 Budget to relieve unemployment? T ask the right honorable gentleman, further, whether this step caused inflationary pressure on our primary industries at that time.
– The record and the details of the Budget of that year are available for honorable gentlemen. It would be quite impracticable to debate the economic circumstances of that time, and the policies of that time, in answering a question addressed to me at question time.
– You debated it yesterday.
– Yes, but not at question time. There would be strong resentment if I sought to take up the time of the House in that way. All I say is that my predecessor, Sir Arthur Fadden, with the full support of the members of the Government parties, brought down a Budget which he believed to be appropriate to the circumstances of Australia at that time. I, Sir, with the full support of my colleagues of the Cabinet, and, I believe I can claim, with the support of members of the Government parties, have brought down a Budget which we believe to be appropriate to the economic circumstances of Australia at this time.
Access by Papua and New Guinea.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. It relates to the European Common Market and to exports to that market of the products of Papua and New Guinea. By way of preface. Sir. I remind the House that under the terms of the Treaty of Rome the overseas territories, or the former overseas territories, of the member nations of the European Economic Community are to have free access to the Common Market for their products, mainly such tropical products as coffee, cocoa and copra, and that in return, subject to some qualifications regarding local industrial development, such territories are to give free access to their markets to manufactured goods coming from the European Economic Community. I ask the Minister whether this development has been studied in its relationship to Papua and New Guinea, in respect of both export markets and of imports, and whether the Government has formulated proposals in this connexion for negotiation with the Economic Community.
– This question has been given some attention at the departmental level. The matters raised by the honorable member are primarily within the province of my colleague, the Minister for Trade. All I can say at the moment is that the preliminary steps taken departmentally have not given rise to any particular concern on behalf of Papua and New Guinea. However, I shall be discussing these matters with the Minister for Trade.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that overseas capital flowing into this country is being used to support the consumption of goods which are brought in as raw materials for industry, but which are not of a capital nature? If this is so, is it not a dangerous practice to fritter away money borrowed overseas on consumer goods? Has the Government any plans for ensuring that as these goods leave no lasting assets they shall be paid for by exports?
– The honorable gentleman does not, in my view, accurately set out the facts or the course of events following the flow of capital for investment in Australia. Normally, capital investment here is either investment in some industrial or commercial establishment or portfolio investment in Australian equities.
– That means taking over Australian industry.
– There is nothing in the statistics to suggest that there has been any substantial inroad in the way in which the honorable member for East Sydney suggests. I have told the House more than once that 90 per cent, of investment in Australia is still proceeding from Australian sources. So there is no serious unbalance from our point of view. Certainly it is not developing at this stage. What the honorable member for Batman is seeking to convey is that because we have had a very strong and continuing flow of capital from overseas we are able thereby to sustain a level of consumer imports which otherwise would not be possible. My recollection of statistics relating to imports indicates that the percentage of consumer goods has been remarkably close to the percentage in earlier periods. There has been a very small movement one way or the other over the last twelve months or so. The overwhelming proportion of value in our imports at the present time is producer’s material or goods for the needs of our transport industry.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the changes which occur from time to time in taxation allowances such as have been introduced in the recent Budget, will the Treasurer consider publishing a booklet similar to that put out by a previous Treasurer, the Right Honorable Sir Arthur Fadden, and make it available to all those who desire to study it?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable gentleman’s question. My recollection is that since the time when Sir Arthur Fadden issued the booklet it has become the practice to publish more details of these matters on the tax return form itself, lt may be that a study of the form by the honorable gentleman will disclose that, in substance, the information that he is seeking is provided in that way. However, if he believes that more could be done, I shall be glad to discuss the matter further with him.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that further dismissals of mine workers are taking place in the northern and the western coal-fields of New South Wales? Will the right honorable gentleman make grants available to local authorities to provide employment for those who are being displaced? I further ask the Prime Minister when we can expect the report of the expert committee on coal utilization appointed by his Government? If the inquiries of the committee have not been concluded, when may we expect them to be concluded?
– I will be very glad to secure an answer to the honorable member’s question from my colleague, the Minister for National Development, within whose jurisdiction these matters come.
– I remind the Treasurer that I have made previous representations to him regarding the operations of the Australian Medical and Accident Insurance Company Limited. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether he is yet in a position to give further information to the House regarding the activities of this company. Further does he consider it wise for members of the public to incur heavy legal expenses to claim amounts owing to them which the company may not be able to pay if its unpaid claims liability exceeds the initial deposits held by the Treasury or if the company goes into liquidation?
– This company is incorporated in South Australia, and carries on business in all States except Queensland. It has got into difficulties, but an amount of something more than £35,000 is held on deposit by the Commonwealth to meet the claims of depositors and people who may have rights against the company. I would not attempt to give a detailed reply to the honorable gentleman now, but in the course of the day I shall try to get a very much more detailed answer to him by way of letter.
– I ask the Treasurer a question regarding capital raising by companies by way of debentures. May I preface my question by quoting what the Treasurer had to say in regard to this matter on 15th November last year? He said -
With the general rate of company tax-
– Order! How long is the quotation? The honorable member may make a passing reference only to it
– It is a short quotation, Mr. Speaker.
– 1 rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I ask your ruling in view of the standing order which provides that a question without notice may not relate to debates in the current session.
– I think that the Minister is correct. I must also say that what we want to do is to assist honorable members to gain information and I suggest to the honorable member that he should not abuse any apparent laxity on the part of the Chair.
– The Treasurer said on that occasion that with the general rate of company tax at 8s. in the £1 the net cost to a company of a 5 per cent. loan is only 3 per cent., and of an 8 per cent. loan only 4.8 per cent. I now ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that real estate speculators are building luxury home units in Sydney and the other capital cities, raising at 8 per cent. money which in fact costs them only 4.8 per cent.
– Order! The honorable member is now proceeding to give information to the Treasurer. I suggest that he ask his question.
– Local government bodies are paying a higher interest rate.
– Order! If the honorable member persists in giving information I shall have to ask him to sit down.
– Is it a fact that the same conditions exist to-day as before the 15th November? The Treasurer said–
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
Purchase of Side Drums
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House whether the Army is presently negotiating for the purchase of some 300 side drums? If this is so, can he tell the House whether any attempt has been made to obtain those drums in Australia, or are they being purchased overseas?
– I am afraid I shall have to make some inquiries and let the honorable member know the result as soon as possible.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister by referring to a statement that he made in a speech which he broadcast to the nation on 8th June this year. Whilst admitting that there was a little unemployment and some loss of confidence he asked, “ Is this too great a price to pay for controlling our overseas funds and controlling inflation? “ I now ask him, as the number of registered unemployed has substantially increased to 113,000 since that broadcast: Does the right honorable gentleman still believe that 113,000 unemployed is not too great a price to pay for controlling our overseas funds and controlling inflation?
– I had thought that there was a standing order that prohibited the inviting of opinions. However, if the honorable member will restrain himself, I hope to have an opportunity of addressing the House to-night, when I will deal with this matter, among others.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. I refer to a recent statement by Mr. Shute, Chairman of the Australian Meat Board, that the Government’s export incentives would greatly benefit the meat industry. Can the Minister indicate the ways in which these incentives can be used to benefit the Australian meat industry and the likely results?
– I can, Mr. Speaker. It was with great interest that I read of the decision of the Australian Meat Board to use its influence to stimulate the search for new markets and the export of new types of meat. In earlier days, the export of Australian meat was almost invariably by the carcass. There is an increasing opportunity around the world for the sale of meat cuts and canned meats in special forms in specialized markets. The incentives provided’ by the Government and approved by the Parliament give an opportunity for much of the cost of investigating and exploiting new markets to be recovered by an entrepreneur who avails himself of these incentives. I am sure that is what Mr. Shute and the Australian Meat Board have in mind.
– I ask the Minister for
Supply whether it is correct that an important discovery has been made by Australian research scientists at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories and at the
Defence Standards Laboratories in relation to chromium alloys used in the construction of aircraft turbine engines. Is it correct that the world-wide Du Pont organization has paid the Commonwealth a substantial sum for the right to this discovery? What is the amount involved? Will this payment deny to Australia the ownership of this important formula? Will this prevent our using it and deny rights to the governments of British Commonwealth countries?
– Certain developments in respect of chromium alloys have taken place within the laboratories mentioned by the honorable member. Unfortunately, we have not the resources to continue this development. The Du Pont organization in America, a very large organization with tremendous facilities, has sought a licence for the assessment of the information we have and possibly the further development of the process by that organization. The licence relates only to the development to this stage. Australia will be able to obtain from the Du Pont organization any additional information that it obtains as a result of further research. Australia retains the right to issue a licence to any country besides the United States of America. Any other country receiving a licence will have to enter into separate arrangements with the Du Pont organization in relation to any additional information that that organization may obtain.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a report in the New South Wales “ Country Life “ that the New Zealand Meat Board is far ahead of the Australian Meat Board in the results achieved in the sale of mutton to Japan, particularly in the Tokyo area? In view of the importance of our export trade, is the Australian Meat Board in a position to remedy this state of affairs? If the board can do something about it, will the necessary action be taken quickly?
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker, more for clarification than for anything else, ls it in order for an honorable member to ask a question based on a newspaper report?
– Order! An honorable member is entitled to cite a newspaper report in asking his question but he must not quote from the contents of the report.
– I have noticed the article to which the honorable member has referred and the criticism voiced therein. At the outset I point out that the New Zealand Meat Board is a selling authority whereas, although the Australian Meat Board stimulates and assists the making of sales, it is not a selling authority in the same sense as is the New Zealand board.
So far as our mutton is concerned, the fact is that the major portion of it is being sold in the United States at a better price than can be obtained elsewhere. That is the simple reason why it is going to the United States in preference to Japan. Although it commands a premium price in Japan, and although it has been sought to a degree by Japan at that premium price, the price obtainable in the United States is higher.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that when announcing the number of registered unemployed as at the end of July last he said that the figures showed signs of an increase in the demand for labour? If so, will he be good enough to explain by what devious reasoning he reaches the conclusion that an increase of 1,755 in the number of registered unemployed indicates an increase in the demand for labour?
– There were two factors on which the conclusion was drawn that there was some improvement in the labour situation. The first was an increase in the number of job vacancies notified to the department during the month. I believe that to be a trend which, if continued, is worth reporting. It is a simple statement of fact and requires no reasoning on my part, whether correct or devious. The other important factor is the fall in the rate of registrations for employment. From that the conclusion can be drawn that at least during the month of July the position showed signs of some improvement. The facts which I have mentioned are those on which the conclusion to which the honorable member has referred was drawn.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Repatriation I refer to the recent announcement to the effect that the full rate of sustenance will be paid to patients discharged from repatriation hospitals for convalescence. Will the Minister inform the House of the conditions governing the payment of this sustenance which will be so helpful to ex-servicemen generally? On whose authority will the payment be made? What limitations will be placed on the period of payment?
– For a long time it has been part of the repatriation system that an ex-serviceman undergoing treatment in a repatriation hospital for an accepted disability is paid a rate of sustenance equivalent to the pension paid to a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman. This is now £12 15s. a week and is shortly to be increased to £13 5s. a week. For many years it has also been part of the system that on discharge from hospital, if ordered to undergo a period of necessary convalescence the ex-serviceman is paid sustenance at a lower rate equal to the general rate war pension. This at present is £5 10s., but it will soon be increased to £5 15s.
Ex-servicemen have pointed out for a long time that a man’s need for sustenance is actually greater when he is convalescing at home than when he was in hospital, because while in hospital he was being maintained. The Government has recognized this, and arrangements are now being made to pay an ex-serviceman who is ordered to undergo convalescence at home after discharge from hospital the same rate as he received while in hospital. He will be paid the full T.P.I, rate.
The conditions under which this payment is made are, first, that the convalescence is deemed to be necessary by the Repatriation Department doctors who discharged him, and secondly, that it must occur immediately following his discharge. There is no limitation on the time for which it may be paid other than that it must be considered necessary by the medical authority.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. It concerns the statement, which the Minister releases each month, giving the number of registrants for employment with the Department of Labour and National Service and the number of persons who are paid the unemployment benefit by the Department of Social Services because they have been unable to secure work through the Department of Labour and National Service. I ask the Minister: Why, in that statement, does he not also give the numbers of persons - immigrants and others - who receive special benefits from the Department of Social Services because they, too, are unable to obtain work through the Department of Labour and National Service? Why has the public to wait for several more weeks before both sets of figures are published by the Commonwealth Statistician? Why cannot the public get these figures at the same time as the statistics relating to recipients of the unemployment benefits which are published by the Department of Labour and National Service, particularly as the number of persons receiving special benefits is now the highest for four years - that is, since the aftermath of the previous credit squeeze?
– I would say in reply to the honorable gentleman’s speech that he has answered it himself. The figures relating to the special benefits paid to migrants who have not been placed in first employment, and are still in reception centres, are published by the Commonwealth Statistician. They are not published by the Department of Labour and National Service because the migrants are still in the centres and have not been placed in first employment. Consequently, my department has no direct jurisdiction over them at that stage.
– Will the Minister for Trade inform the House whether there have been any further imports of canned pig meats since the Government imposed a temporary duty on such meats last year? Will the Minister also state when the Tariff Board’s report on imported tinned meats is likely to be released?
– Early in this year or about the end of last year - I forget the precise date - there was an importation of canned ham from Canada. After investigation, it was concluded that this meat was probably being subsidized by the Canadian Government. In those circumstances, my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, referred the matter to the Tariff Board, in his own right, for inquiry as to whether the meat in question was the subject of subsidy and, therefore, liable to a countervailing duty. In the meantime, in accordance with the functions of the Minister for Customs and Excise, he required that a cash deposit be paid by those importing the meat. This was done. It was decided that the imports were subsidized. There have been no further imports, and the cash deposit demanded on importation has been retained in accordance with the law. That deals with that situation. At the same time, the question of canned meat generally was referred to the Tariff Board for report. The report has been received by the Government and is now being studied. Then Will be no avoidable delay in releasing it.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that an applicant from outside the service was appointed as Victorian manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Were senior and capable members of the commission’s staff rejected in favour of this applicant? Is it a fact that the person appointed had no specialized knowledge of broadcasting and television? Have the rejected applicants from within the service any right of appeal? Has the commission made several appointments recently from <outside the service to top level positions? Does this imply that the commission has failed during its years of operation to produce its own managerial talent, or does it imply that the A.B.C. broadcasting and television stations have been operating with incompetent and inefficient staffs? Will the Postmaster-General amend the Broadcasting and Television Act to provide for the right of appeal of members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff against appointments from outside the service so that rejected applicants for top level positions may have the opportunity to prove then efficiency and capabilities?
– I am aware of the fact that some little time ago an appointment was made to the position of Victorian manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from outside of the commission itself. This is a matter which is completely within the power of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to determine. It is not a matter which is referred to me as Minister. I understand that the appointment was made after very careful consideration of the qualifications of the person eventually appointed and of those of all others who had been under consideration. Therefore I have no intention whatever of doing anything to interfere with the statutory rights of the commission to handle such a matter as this.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is he aware that in recent years nematodes have caused serious damage to peach trees, leading to an increasing loss of production? Has the C.S.I.R.O. been able to find a way to combat this menace?
– Peach trees grown, especially in the Murray valley, for commercial purposes have suffered serious damage from a worm which attacks the roots of the trees. The C.S.I.R.O., in order to overcome this, imported the seed of other varieties of peach trees from America. It has grown them and has grafted the Australian varieties on to them. In the experiments done by the C.S.I.R.O. these varieties have proved quite resistant to the worm which has attacked the Australian trees. The C.S.I.R.O. now has a large number of these trees available for trial on a commercial scale. In addition, it can make some available to nurserymen who may want to grow them for seed purposes. It looks as though this is a most promising result from the experiments carried out to overcome the difficulties of the fruitgrowing industry.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. During his recent Budget speech he referred to certain amendments proposed in respect of the Superannuation Act. Can he inform the House when further information in this respect will be made available to honorable members?
– I have not the precise details available to me at the moment, but I shall go into the matter with Treasury officials and see when the legislation is likely to be coming before the House.
– In view of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in this House on Tuesday last that in discussions on the European Common Market we should stop playing ladies and gentlemen and get in now and fight as roughly and toughly as we are able, I ask the Minister for Trade: In all such discussions will the Minister for Trade completely disregard this suggestion and continue to put the case for Australia in the strongest possible terms, at the same time preserving the gentlemanly and courteous approach that has highlighted his political career?
– I thank the honorable member for his reference to my unfailing courtesy and tolerance at all times. I feel that in these negotiations one need not confuse directness with rudeness. We can be direct in negotiation without offending.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman seen reports of a statement emanating from United Kingdom Government sources to the effect that the full profits earned overseas by United Kingdom companies operating abroad should be repatriated to the United Kingdom? As this policy would have damaging effects on Australia’s economy, what counteraction, if any, does the Australian Government propose to take?
– We are seeking clarification of this matter. My understanding is that the statement related principally to companies conducting business enterprises in countries outside the British Commonwealth of Nations. I do not expect any marked effect on the repatriation of profits or capital from this country to the United Kingdom.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has he seen reports of a recent statement by the Leader of the Opposition that there would never have been any question of nationalizing the banks in 1947 if the private banks had not challenged in the High Court of Australia every section of the 1945 banking legislation? Is there any record in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department to support this statement by the Leader of the Opposition?
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I recently made a statement based on my recollections as a member of the Labour Cabinet. I submit that what happened in the Chifley Cabinet has nothing to do with the administration of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– No point of order is involved. The question which has been directed to the Attorney-General is a little close to the line, but I think it is in order.
– I have not looked at the records in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, but I shall look at them. I may say, from my own personal recollection, that the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition was without foundation. He was quite in error. The private trading banks did not challenge in the High Court of Australia any section of the 1945 Banking Act before nationalization was announced. What happened was that the corporation of the City of Melbourne, for its own purposes, and to protect its own interests-
– And at the instigation of the banks!
– Not at the instigation of the banks, but entirely on its own account, the corporation challenged one section of the 1945 Banking Act which required the State governments and local government authorities to bank with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The corporation also took another point. That other point was that the compulsory lodgment by the private banks of certain moneys in the special account amounted to a tax and that because such a requirement constituted a tax it could not, because of section 55 of the Australian Constitution, be associated with other provisions in the 1945 act. The Melbourne corporation contended that this would have required the act to be set aside because it should have been split into two parts. In point of fact, the corporation abandoned that point before any argument began in the High Court, and the only challenge to the Banking Act 1945 actually made was the one that succeeded on the ground that the Commonwealth did not have the power to compel the State governments to lodge their funds in the Commonwealth Bank. The private banks did not take part in the litigation, either overtly or covertly.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been grossly misrepresented, and by an eminent barrister, too, which makes it worse! I did not say that the banks challenged the 1945 Banking Act before nationalization plans were announced. I said that they challenged the act after nationalization plans bad been announced and that they challenged every section of the act. The challenge was made by the Melbourne City Council, and the solicitors for the Melbourne City Council were the solicitors for the associated banks. All sections of the act were challenged, as the Prime Minister knows.
– I know a good deal about those happenings.
– Of course you do, and what you know is different from what the Attorney-General has said. Subsequently, the challenges to all sections except that one section upon which the High Court gave an opinion–
– Order! The honorable gentleman is now debating the question of banking. He has a right to clear himself where he has been misrepresented.
– The section that was challenged was the section requiring State departments and State governments to bank their money with the Commonwealth Bank.
– That is what be said.
– He said other things as well, and most of what he said was wrong.
– I concur in everything that he said.
– You look up the records and you will agree that most of what he said was wrong.
-I rise to order.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented.
– Yes. The honorable gentleman said that what I said was wrong.I want to emphasize that what I said was true, and, for the benefit of the House, I propose quoting from my speech.
– The honorable member will not be in order in quoting from his own speech. In what way has the honorable member been misrepresented?
– I have been misrepresented by the honorable gentleman–
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the point on which he says he has been misrepresented. He will not be in order in quoting from his own speech.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be sus pended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 5, General Business, being proceeded with forthwith.
– The Opposition opposes this motion. It believes that there are more urgent matters already on the notice-paper, and which have been on the notice-paper much longer than has this matter. It also had proposed, by letter, to you, Mr. Speaker, for discussion as a matter of urgency the question of strategic and economic dangers in the Government’s failure to place orders for naval and merchant ships in Australian dockyards. That is quite obviously an urgent matter, and one which is within the control of the Australian Government. The motion which the Government now proposes to have debated this morning is one about which the Government has done nothing, and about which no Australian government has done anything since the Chifley Government went out of office, or since the time when Dr. Evatt, as Minister for External Affairs, tried to have it solved in the proper place - the United Nations. For twelve years, successive Ministers for External Affairs under this Government have failed to raise the matter in the proper place where countries of the size of ours can do something about it.
It is not now being raised in the proper manner, the manner in which one would expect such an important and sensitive matter of international affairs to be raised, in that it is not being raised by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Menzies) himself, who, when he speaks on these matters, usually and rightly asks us to give him unlimited time to speak at 8 o’clock at night when the House is on the air. We have never refused him leave to speak on a matter of such moment, or any matter connected with external affairs, in this place. Furthermore, when he speaks, he does us the courtesy of allowing us to have a copy of his remarks a couple of hours beforehand so that, if we wish, we can follow him. In that way, there is a proper and considered debate of an important matter at an important and prominent time in the proceedings of the House.
This matter is being brought up by a private member who, when he was an observer at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly last year, was not allowed by the Government to speak on this matter. We now have the farce of a back-bencher, who was not allowed an audience outside the country, being allowed to bring up this matter at this time. Apparently he is to be trailed by the Minister for External Affairs on this occasion.
This is an important matter, but this is not the proper place to deal with it; nor is this the proper time to deal with it. On the first day on which this Parliament sat this sessional period, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked the Minister for External Affairs to afford the House an opportunity to debate this matter. His question was -
The Minister for External Affairs replied -
If it turns out to be practicable, as no doubt it will, to prepare a statement which is not too long, because that would require a great deal of work to get ready all the documents, I think that in those circumstances it would be useful if I were to produce that document and make some remarks in relation to it, thereby giving opportunity for debate on the subject.
The document has not been produced in the succeeding nine days. We would welcome debate on this matter, coming from the proper source and with proper preparation, but those conditions have not been observed on this occasion. Where is this document? Are not honorable members on both sides of the House entitled to have the document which the Leader of the Opposition sought, and which the Parliament generally and the Minister for External Affairs think should be produced? It is not being produced. This is purely a trick to displace more urgent matterswhich have been on the notice-paper for many days.
– I do not want to interrupt the honorable gentleman, but the statement I was asked for was a paper containing the basic documents and the facts leading up to the Berlin issue. As a matter of fact, I might add that that document is in course of preparation. I shall be able to see it myself at the week-end. I shall table the statement next week, and I shall make a preliminary statement, as I said I would, and that will enable a general debate on the Berlin issue to follow. The motion relates to a particular problem.
– And it is portion of the Berlin issue. We are being asked to debate one particular matter - the question of refugees from East Berlin going to West Berlin - which is only portion and a continuing feature of the general Berlin situation.
Why should we take one aspect alone and debate it at this time? The only reason we are being asked to do so is to displace matters which are on the notice-paper ahead of it, and which are more embarrassing to the Government. Among the matters which are on the notice-paper, and which should ordinarily be debated, is one part-heard matter which was first put on the noticepaper by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). The debate on the matter submitted by the honorable member for New England has not yet been concluded. If we want an urgent matter to set aside the debate on the Budget, what more urgent matter could there be than the question of work in the Australian dockyards, which are essential to our economic prosperity and our strategic security? There are many more urgent matters.
During question-time, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that he tried to contact me last night to give me notice of his intention. I find that he left with one of the girls in my office a message, asking her to leave a message for me, not to take the message to me. I did not get the message, nor did the Leader of the Opposition get a message, until after 10 o’clock last night, and we were in the office of the Leader of the Opposition for the whole of last evening. The proposed procedure, to which the Treasurer, as Leader of the House, has referred, did not come to our notice until quite a late hour.
The arrangement that was made last week was that the whole of this week and the whole of next week should be devoted to the Budget debate, because during that debate any of these matters which are the subjects of notices of motion on the noticepaper can be dealt with. In those circumstances the Opposition was prepared to cooperate with the Government and not to insist on specific discussion of the matters appearing on the notice-paper ahead of the matter which it is now proposed to debate, and which is the subject of a notice of motion by the honorable member for Mackellar. If, however, the Budget debate is to be temporarily suspended, then we contend that there are more urgent matters than this for the House to debate, even if they are more embarrassing for the Government.
– Mr. Speaker–
– Mr. Speaker–
– Does the Minister intend to close the debate?
– Yes. There is just one point I want to make in reply to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
– Order! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) rose to speak. He has the call.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 447) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority.
– I move -
That this House puts on record its detestation of the Soviet practice which makes a prison house of its peoples, and refuses to them and to other peoples under Soviet domination the right to emigrate freely to countries which they prefer and which are willing to receive them.
At the outset, I thank the House for tis courtesy in allowing me to move this motion although I regret that this courtesy has not been unanimously extended to me. This discussion comes on in a morning which is normally private members’ day or grievance day. I believe that most honorable members, when they hear what is to be said on this matter, will agree that in no way could the time of the House be better spent. The Government might well feel itself able to be associated with the motion at this time but it is not inappropriate, I think, that it should be brought forward by a private member because it relates to the rights of people - private people, little people - crushed down by the governments of their countries and unable to voice their own individual rights.
I hope that members of this House will be unanimously on the side that I am trying to put in this matter. It is true, indeed, that it is involved with the Berlin affair because the Berlin affair has once again brought before the public eye this aspect of the totalitarian regime. But it goes beyond the Berlin affair. The Berlin affair is merely a topical illustration of a general principle which I shall endeavour to talk about. I would have hoped that honorable gentlemen on the other side of the chamber, following the lead of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions - the democratic trade unions - would have disturbed themselves to take the initiative or, at any rate, to support the kind of proposal that I am endeavouring to put before the House.
It is important, indeed, that the people of Australia, the people of the United States of America, the people of Great Britain, and indeed all the peoples of the free world, should realize what is happening in Russia and in countries under Russian domination and should register in the clearest possible way their detestation of these practices. I hope that the motion which I have put before the House is carefully drawn. I have endeavoured, at least, to do that. The phrase “ which makes a prison house of its peoples “ is chosen, as honorable members will recall, from the old Leninist-Stalinist jargon which denounced the old Czarist Russia as being a prison house of its people. Nothing illustrates better the basic duplicity and insincerity of the Soviet than the way in which, having used this phrase, it has now enslaved the nations of eastern Europe and of western Asia on its borders and is endeavouring everywhere to push forward the borders of its tyranny.
It is essential that men who prefer of their own free will to emigrate because they find the countries in which they live intolerable and the conditions under which they live intolerable, should have the opportunity to go to lands that are ready to receive them. Again, I say that I hope the motion is carefully drawn. It is vital that we insist for all peoples on this basic right because in this present age it is necessary for us to bring about changes in the Soviet system inside the Soviet orbit itself. We must do this by helping the people of those areas to control their own affairs and to break the tyranny under which they groan. One of the great instruments of that tyranny is the prohibition on people inside Soviet borders from getting out. The Soviet Government says, in effect, “ There is no escape. Abandon hope all ye who live here.” That is the Soviet mechanism whereby the Government is able to keep control of its people.
That is not the only tyranny inside the Soviet Union. There are tyrannies of labour discipline, oppression of all political rights, and the tyrannies of the full police state. This is a matter to which we should pay particular attention for three reasons. First, the events in Berlin have highlighted it. Secondly, this is a point where we can make a clear line of demarcation. It is not easy, always, to say that you can do this or that and give - for example - freedom of political organization. It is not so easy to determine in every case; but it is a clear, easy and defined thing that we can say to the Soviet Union, “All your people who want to leave you have the basic right to go to those countries which are ready to receive them “. If we do this - if we can break the reign of terror which the Soviet Government holds over its own people because they cannot get out, because there is no escape - if we can break that feeling, if we can get the doors of the prison house open, then we have taken one major step towards allowing the people of the Soviet Union to break down the Soviet system themselves. As democrats - as Australians - do we not believe that this is their right? Do we not believe that, as human beings, this is what they want to do?
Now, Sir, the Soviet Union has for long recognized that this mechanism of the prison house is a vital part of its system, and the Soviet criminal code, adopted in its present form in 1959, says this in one section -
High treason, that is to say an act intentionally committed by a citizen of the U.S.S.R. against the national independence, the territorial inviolability, or the military power of the U.S.S.R.: desertion to the enemy, espionage, the giving away of state or military secrets to a foreign power, flight across the frontiers and refusal to return to the U.S.S.R. . . . is punishable by deprivation of liberty for a period of from ten to fifteen years with confiscation of property, or by death and confiscation of property.
– You are quoting from the Crimes Act.
– Order! The honorable member must cease interjecting.
– To cross the borders of the U.S.S.R., to get away, is an offence punishable by death. To be caught in such an offence is to die. This, Sir, is an extraordinary section which ranks the mere crossing of a border with the highest crimes of treason against the State. It is a re-statement of the law of 1934 in this regard. The law of 1934 contained the provisions I have read, and also certain other provisions, but I am not sure whether or not these are still in force. However, I will read those other provisions, because they will help honorable members to understand the full nature of the situation and the enormity, in the eyes of the Soviet, of this crime of leaving its borders.
Any such crime,- says the 1934 statute - if committed by a person in military employ, is punishable … by death by shooting.
If a person in military employ takes flight across the frontier by air or otherwise, any member of his family who is of full age and who assists him in preparations for or in committing the treason, or who, having knowledge of it, fails to bring it to the knowledge of the authorities, is liable to deprivation of liberty for a period of from five to ten years and confiscation of the whole of his property.
It goes on -
Any other member of the traitor’s family who is of full age and was living as a dependent on him at the time when the crime was committed, is liable to deprivation of electoral rights and exile to remote regions of Siberia for five years.
So, if you knew about it, ten years and loss of property. If you did not know about it, and were simply a member of the family, a lesser penalty. The Soviet Union keeps control of many of the people it sends abroad by tyrannizing their families. Those people know very well that if they refuse to go back to the Soviet Union their families will suffer - not just the two penalties that I have read out, but even perhaps the administrative death sentence which is still dealt out in the Soviet Union by the secret police. Russians abroad know that if they make a break for it the Soviet Government will take it out on their innocent families who did not even know what they were doing. This is the measure of the danger which the Soviet Union sees to its own system in the lowering of the prison bars.
Nor is it only in the Soviet Union that this kind of provision exists. For example, section 48 of the law of Hungary - the Soviet law of Communist Hungary - enacts a similar provision, and the official commentary on it says that it applies to the abuse of passports and to illegal or unauthorized border crossing. It sets out border crossing as an act directed against - and I quote - “the very existence of the State in the present stage of the class struggle “. In Hungary - and the same would apply in other satellite states - they rank flight abroad as high treason, and they punish it as such. This is a measure of how important it is to them to maintain the psychology of the prison. This is a measure of how important is it for us to protest against it and to alert our own people about it and tell them the facts.
Nevertheless, in spite of all this, many people have escaped, and many are continuing to escape. We are hearing, dramatically, of what is happening now in West Berlin - a constant sore to the Communists, not only because of its prosperity as against the grim greyness of the Communist sector which is a constant reminder of the superiority of the free way of life, but also because it is the escape route through which East German citizens leave for freedom when they can. The Communists are endeavouring now to close that escape hatch. In the years since the war nearly 4,000,000 people - not far from one-quarter qf the population of East Germany - have crossed the border, have left East Germany of their own will, have abandoned their possessions there and come to the West from conditions which they found intolerable. It is noteworthy that the majority of the people who have managed to do the crossing are young. This is one of the things that the East German Government finds particularly offensive - that even the young people who have grown up under the Soviet system, which has existed in East Germany since 1945, and who can recall nothing else, still find it preferable to escape to the West because they know that the conditions in the east are not those that free people can accept.
I have here, taken from the “ Times “ of last month, a detailed graph showing the number of refugees from East Germany in each month since 1949. Last month the figure rose to some 40,000, and the week before the border was closed recently the number was up round the 12,000 or 13,000 mark. Those are people who are escaping. This is the escape route which the Communists now find it essential to close. I have spoken of massed numbers, but each one of those millions or hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands is a man or a woman.
Last December, when I was in Vienna, 1 took the opportunity to go eastwards for 50 miles to Moerbisch and to see the iron curtain erected there between the borders of Austria and Hungary. Let me tell the House what it was like. First there was a series of border posts. Behind them was a high multi-strand barbed-wire fence on concrete posts. I think it was 10 or 11 feet high, and it had an outrigger at the top to prevent any one from crossing it. Then there was a lethal minefield 50 or 100 yards across.
– How do you know?
– I will tell you in a moment how I know. Behind that minefield was another similar fence. Behind that again was a cleared area and then a series of trip wires and alarms. Behind that, stretching for miles, was a series of tripod watchtowers 50 to 60 feet high, each one manned by armed guards who could be seen on the platforms at the top. They had orders to shoot and to prevent people from crossing. I was shown where in the minefield an animal had endeavoured to cross. Its corpse was still lying there half under the snow. I was told of something that happened at this place only two or three days before I was there. Three Hungarians had tried to cross. They had crossed the trip wires and made their way into the minefield, but one had lost an eye, one had lost an arm and one had lost a leg when a mine exploded as they were crossing it.
– You nearly lost your head there.
– Order! I will not warn the honorable member for Watson again. He is out of order, and he is out of his place.
– I regret this, because it shows where the honorable member’s heart is. I am very sorry that some honorable members opposite - not all by any means - should be trying to make propaganda for the Russians in this manner. Unfortunately, that is what they are doing.
The three Hungarians to whom I am referring had crossed into the minefield. The two who were still able to walk to the Austrian side left the one who had lost a leg and could not walk and went to get help. When they came back with help, they found only a blood trail leading back towards the Hungarian side. Let me read from the Manchester “ Guardian “ an account of a more recent instance. The newspaper published this story -
A Hungarian mother and two children, trying to escape into Austria at Moerbisch-
That is the place I have mentioned - on July 19, were trapped by mines placed near the barbed wire by the Hungarians, the Vienna correspondent of the Manchester Guardian reported on July 21. The mother and her 15 yearold daughter each had a leg torn off, but the uninjured boy managed to reach Austrian territory to get help.
When the Austrian guards arrived, the two women were trying to crawl the last few feet to the Austrian frontier. Meanwhile, a Hungarian frontier guard had heard the explosion and come to the spot. He stood over the two women with a sub-machine gun, preventing them from reaching the frontier. In spite of the requests of the Austrians and the pleading of the women, the guard stood over them for three hours. When a Hungarian officer and 10 soldiers appeared, the Austrians again asked for permission to give first aid. But the Hungarians crawled over to the fugitives and pulled them back.
Do honorable members opposite find it in their hearts to laugh about that? Can they in their hearts believe that this is a matter that does not concern them? Do they find it in their hearts to believe that we can shut our eyes and our mouths without protest about what is happening across Europe, where apparently the last hole in the iron curtain is to be sealed at Berlin? Have we no compassion for these people? If we have no compassion, have we no prudence for ourselves? Do we not understand that the Communists are able to mobilize strength against us because they can tyrannize their own peoples, make slaves of them and make them do what they want? One essential part of the mechanism of this enslavement is to keep above the bars of the prison house the sign, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here “. If they can get that mentality cemented into the minds of their own people, then they have the means to destroy all freedom throughout the whole of the world.
This is not happening only in Europe. Only a little while ago, we heard of the flight of the Dalai Lama himself from Tibet over the ramparts of the Himalayas. Other numberless unknown refugees have tried- to follow, often with loss of life, the same difficult route. Refugees have come from China and from Korea. When I was in free China some years ago with the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler), who will remember this, we saw the Chines? prisoners who had refused repatriation to their Communist China homeland and had chosen freedom instead Do we not remember that this was the crucial point of negotiation in the truce of the Korean war? Do we not remember that the point which really stuck in the throats of the Communists was the possibility that some of their own people would escape them? Have we forgotten all this?
Many people here in Australia, who have come to us from Europe, have followed this difficult escape route. I have in my hand a book written by a man now living in Sydney, Nimigeanu, a Rumanian, who tells the story of how he got out at the risk of the lives of himself and his family. If honorable members opposite want to know about these matters, they should go into their own electorates and talk at first hand to the people who know about them. There are many such people in the electorates. Perhaps Opposition members would not be so ready to laugh at those people as they were to laugh earlier to-day in this House.
I hope that what I have said will enable honorable members with a clear conscience to give support to the principles I have endeavoured to put forward in this motion. I believe it is our duty to make our stand plain and to help to give a lead in this respect to the Australian people. It is our responsibility to make them realize what Russia is doing to its own people, why it is doing this and the dangers to the free world if it is allowed to continue to do this.
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
.- Underlying the motion of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is a great fact of the last decade and onehalf - the movement of people. The movement of people - a movement analagous to what Lenin called “ voting with the feet “ - has been consistently away from Communist powers and Communistoccupied territory. The movement of people has been from East Germany to West Germany; from China to Hong Kong, presenting that colony with a tremendous problem of over-population; from northern Indo-China to the south; from North Korea to South Korea and, as the honorable member has suggested, from Hungary to Austria. The claims of the Communist idealogy on the mind and the will are total. No one is conceded the right to reject it, and emigration from a Communist country is construed as rejection.
The speech of the honorable member for Mackellar, if one can ignore some of the attempts that he made to use it politically against a member of the Opposition, raises against the Soviet Union one of those issues of civil liberty which, in the context of the cold war, are raised frequently by the Soviet bloc against regions of moral weakness in the West. If I have misconstrued the honorable member’s remarks where he implied that because some honorable members interjected at certain points they were supporting Soviet policy, men I apologize to him, but it seemed to me thai he did make that accusation and therefore I am entitled to say so.
It is the aim of the Communists, fox instance, to discredit the whole of the Wes in Africa and Asia by highlighting any act, real or alleged, of race discrimination or insensitivity in Australia, Angola, Algeria, South Africa or the United States. Where these actions are real, the damage is permanent. When Dr. Evatt was President of the United Nations General Assembly he permitted a debate on slave labour camps in the Soviet Union. In retaliation Molotov raised the question of the chaining of an aboriginal man in Western Australia. The Soviet always appears to aci on the assumption that an action which has implications of discrimination on the ground of colour has more force as a manoeuvre in ideological war than has any other. It is clear that it certainly has more force in the minds of the people of Asia and Africa. The cruelty of a European to a European, as in the slave labour camps, makes less impact on the minds of fewer people of Asia and Africa than does an action which implies colour or race discrimination.
The Soviet Union has denied freedom of movement to its peoples since 1917. The motion now moved by the honorable member for Mackellar expresses sentiments which, as far as I can determine, have not been expressed by Australian diplomats in the Hi years that the present Government has been in office. One would welcome a diplomatic initiative of this kind, and one would have welcomed it as a statement bearing the full authority of the Commonwealth Government in the initial stages of this debate.
President Kennedy said recently that the Soviet Union acted on a simple formula in its diplomacy. The cardinal principle for Soviet diplomacy was, in effect, to say to the West, “ What is ours is ours; what is yours is the subject for negotiation”. This assumption underlying Soviet diplomacy is actually based on the Leninist principle - “We enter into negotiations with other parties in order to destroy them “. But that initiative has been left almost constantly to the Soviet by Western diplomacy, including Australian diplomacy. At Potsdam, the subject of discussion was how far Soviet occupation zones might be extended beyond what the Soviet had conquered. At Yalta, in essence the same subject was on the agenda. At Geneva, the West acknowledged a new fact - the extension of Soviet power in northern Indo-China. The settlement over Korea acknowledged the advance of a new frontier of communism.
The Soviet Union has raised the question of Western entitlement in Berlin, but the West has not asked for free elections under United Nations supervision in East Germany, Hungary, North Korea, northern Indo-China, Laos or anywhere else. The Soviet bloc has never been put on the defensive by demands for a United Nations investigation into happenings in Tibet, as the West has been embarrassed by Soviet demands for a United Nations investigation into events in south-west Africa. I recall no request by the Commonwealth Government in the United Nations for an investigation into happenings in Tibet, even when there have been allegations of genocide.
The motion of the honorable member for Mackellar deals with something which is perhaps measurable in a way that freedom of elections is not measurable. But it is certainly not ideologically basic. The right to elect a government, with the existing Communist government confronted by freely-organized opposition, would quickly lead, as one consequence, to freedom of movement.
The sharp issue in relation to freedom of movement to-day surely is Berlin. Twelve and one-halt million East Germans have migrated to West Germany. The motion probably implies the present Berlin situation but does not mention it specifically. The movement of these people began with expulsions from what is now Poland and with the expulsions from what were once called the Sudetenland regions of Czechoslovakia, against which expulsions Sir Anthony Eden protested. Now it is not a question of expulsion; it is a question of refusal to allow a people, denied any other form of vote, to vote with their feet by leaving East Germany. It seems clear that the whole policy of expulsion failed. It was designed to surround the govern ment in Bonn with unemployment and confusion and to bring it down. Instead, it created possibly the basis of tremendous German recovery. That policy having failed, the alternative policy of denying freedom of movement towards West Germany has been adopted. But the West seems to make very little use of this fact in its ideological battle or in asserting the freedoms for which democratic governments really stand.
There are real senses in which one can oneself be controlled by Soviet policy and power. I remember making representations on behalf of a former Baltic States citizen who wanted to bring his wife to Australia. He had come to Australia before the war intending to bring his wife here later, but then, as a result of the Potsdam settlement, his country was incorporated in the Soviet Union and his wife could not join him. My representations, which went through the Department of External Affairs, led to the woman being sent to Siberia. Recently, after fifteen years, she was allowed out, but the delay had destroyed their chance of having children. The stage is reached, of course, at which such people whose cases you take up come to you and say: “ Please do not do any more. We understand what happens. We receive no letters from our relatives but we have been informed through other quarters that they have been sent to Siberia” - as in the case that I have mentioned. You are asked to desist from any further representations and, out of consideration for them, you do so. In those cases we are being controlled by the Soviet Government because of the fear of retaliation against the relatives of the people for whom we have made representations. That same fear controls the refugees who have escaped to the West. Most Western diplomats are silenced on these issues by this kind of tyranny if their cases are raised publicly.
The misapprehension underlying much of this situation was the belief of the Western Powers that they might make a deal with the Soviet at Potsdam. Without any attempt to permit selfdetermination for the peoples mentioned in the motion, the Western powers acquiesced in the Soviet’s incorporation of the peoples of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bessarabia and Eastern Poland. These peoples are not Russians and had never evinced any desire to be incorporated in the Soviet Union, any more than had the people of the former Russian territory of Finland.
In my view the honorable member’s motion would have had more force if it had applied to the immediate issue of Berlin. As it is, it is one line of protest against one aspect of the Communist theory and structure of government which will not permit dissent by the written word, as demonstrated in the case of Pasternak, dissent by organization, or dissent by emigration.
The Labour Party stands for the right of any person to migrate from his own country. It is a self-evident right which is accepted in Australia as not in question and, therefore, is not asserted in any political platform. But the political rights which underlie freedom of movement are clearly stated.
The Labour platform states that the Labour Party - believes that politics should be conducted within a framework of free election on the basis of universal adult suffrage; that governments may be freely elected and freely dismissed by the electorate; that the right of constitutional opposition to s government is essential to freedom, and the Party rejects the conception that any government once installed is irremoveable . . .
The Labour Party supports at all times the basic civil rights guaranteed in the past by such historic documents as Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus; it supports the separation and the independence of the judicial power from the Executive and the Legislature, freedom of worship, of the Press, of speech, assembly, and association.
The Labour Party has asked by resolutions this year - resolutions which got astonishingly little publicity in the Australian press compared with anything that could be interpreted as remotely sympathetic to communism - for self-determination in elections under United Nations’ supervision in Cuba and Laos. East Germany is possibly analogous. This issue should certainly have been raised by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Menzies). Since the Opposition understands that he is going to speak, the Opposition hopes that a responsible statement of policy will be made, indicating what Australian diplomats will be instructed to do at the United Nations and elsewhere. They should certainly be instructed to press for the human rights for which the honorable member for Mackellar asks.
To be effective diplomatically in these questions, Australia should insist on, and be prepared to accept, wide powers of United Nations’ inquiry into breaches of human rights, including inquiry into charges loosely directed against this country on aboriginal questions. The open society, confronted with communism, has taken all the disadvantages of being an open society, but has seldom insisted that Communist governments should permit the freedoms of the open society. We should get back to the principle of self-determination which the West generally abandoned in Korea, Indo-China, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The future policy of the Government on this question is important for us to know. If the motion of the honorable member for Mackellar clarifies Government policy on this issue, it will have been justified. If not, it will be a mere declaration of sentiment, disappointing to the people it hopes to help, and raising hopes that we are not really asking be fulfilled, as we should be asking.
– I do not propose to speak at any length now because, as I said in the House the other day and again this morning, I propose, in relation to the whole Berlin issue, to produce to the House a collection of facts and documents and to precede them by a statement of my own. Therefore, there will be, at a suitable time, an opportunity to have that general discussion.
– Is that to be soon?
– As soon as possible. So far as I am concerned, I shall be ready for it by the time the House meets next week. Whether we should interrupt the Budget debate to have that discussion then is a matter that we shall discuss in the usual way.
I think the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has done a service to the House by bringing into sharp relief the aspects of this matter to which he has referred. From my point of view, the astonishing thing about Soviet policy - the policy advocated by friends and supporters around the world - is that it is such utter humbug. The Soviet Union practises one thing in its own country; it preaches another for people outside. Unfortunately, human beings have a considerable capacity for gullibility. Consequently, when the Soviet Union brings forward a proposal or resolution about colonialism - a word that is so frequently in the mouths of Soviet representatives - many people are inclined to think that the Soviet Union is opposed to colonialism and is rallying the anti-colonial forces in the old colonial territories. I have spoken about this in the General Assembly of the United Nations. The fact is that the Soviet Union is the greatest colonial power in the world.
Its colonizing processes consist, not of dealing with primitive peoples and raising them up, but dealing with advanced peoples and crushing them down. This is an entirely different kind of colonialism.
Two other words that are frequently in the mouths of spokesmen of the Soviet Union are “ self-determination “. I thought that everybody knew where we stood in relation to self-determination. The Soviet Union will be heard through its representatives in the United Nations and in the various specialist agencies talking about self-determination. There is no selfdetermination for the people of East Germany. There is no self-determination for the people in any of the satellite countries. There is no self-determination for the people in East Berlin who want to go to their ordinary daily work in West Berlin. We talk about East Berlin and West Berlin, but it is one city. One of the most extraordinary aspects of recent events was that about 50,000 East Berliners, on their way to do their work in the offices or shops or wherever it might be, were held up on the border, and were deprived by one single stroke - not only of their liberty of movement, but also of their employment. Yet the Soviet Union talks about self-determination! I think we do well, whenever we have the opportunity, to expose the utter hollowness of those claims.
Spokesmen of the Soviet Union and those who support them frequently refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whenever it is convenient, representatives of the Communist powers will be heard to accuse people in what we call the free world of having denied a right to somebody or other. They have been the most prominent performers in this orchestra. If you look at the Declaration of Human Rights - as apparently they have not for some time - you will find in Article 13-
Every one has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
That, as we know, is denied in the Soviet Union, because there is an elaborate internal passport system there. Article 13 also states -
Every one has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
That right is utterly denied by the very nation which, wherever international bodies meet together, is to be found boasting about the Declaration of Human Rights, attacking colonialism and urging self-determination for every country except a country which happens to be under its own command.
Sir, this is one aspect by no means an unimportant one of a very great problem. I feel that this discussion which was on a high plane until, perhaps, I spoke myself will, if made widely known to the people of Australia, have a great influence on their minds and help to bring about a realization of the truth of Soviet policy and a growing determination, if that is needed, to resist it.
.- Honorable members will have been delighted to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) call in aid an article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which bears upon this point. The declaration has been quoted from this side of the House on two occasions in the last year - in respect of the question of South Africa and in relation to the question of voting rights for aborigines. On each occasion the validity or the legality of the declaration was disputed or rejected. We, on this side of the House, believe that the declaration is valid for all purposes, whether it relates to the beams which are in the Soviet eye or the motes which are in our own.
The question of the continuing flow of refugees from eastern Europe to western Europe and, in particular, from the eastern half of Berlin to the western half of Berlin, has been very much agitated in various parts of the world in the past few months.
It is agitated all the more vehemently whenever there are imminent elections for the West German Parliament. It happens to suit the interests of both the Conservative and Labour sides in West Germany - those represented in the current election by Dr. Adenauer and Mr. Willy Brandt - that the question of the re-unification of Germany should be brought to the fore at this time. Whenever there are such matters being agitated the flow of refugees increases.
There can be no question that we believe that people should be able to leave their country or be able to move about within their own country if they want to do so. There are motes in our own eyes in this matter. You cannot leave all the Australian Territories or States for other territories or States if you happen to be an aboriginal. I am not suggesting that the sense of grievance among our aborigines is in any way similar in degree to the sense of grievance which has caused so many people in eastern Europe to go to the West. Nevertheless, for whose benefit are we talking in these matters? We will not convince the Soviet, and the Soviet will not convince us. The real issue in these matters is what impression can be made by each side on the non-committed or non-alined people in the world. Each side is playing for their support or for their sympathy.
It is regrettable that in the last few months there were many occasions in the United Nations - and many matters have not come before the United Nations - when Australia has helped to blur the reputation and smudge the image of the western countries in the eyes of those non-committed countries. How often has our Government, and how often have honorable members who support the Government here, condoned the actions of English, Dutch, French and Portuguese speaking peoples in the continent of Africa? I do not approve of what goes on there, and I do not approve of what goes on in East Germany. I do not approve of many things which go on in our own lives. I have from time to time made constructive suggestions with, I hope, the minimum embarrassment to this country outside, on the way in which we can improve our record in these matters in our own colonies, in the Northern Territory and in our own States. That is because none of us is without sin in this matter; and because we are more advanced, as the
Prime Minister puts it, should we be more oblivious of those who are more primitive, as he describes them?
All human beings are entitled to the human rights set out in the declaration to which we subscribed in 1948. It is regrettable, as we said at that time, that the only nations in the United Nations which did not subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were the Soviet Union itself, with the Ukraine and Byelorussia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and South Africa and Saudi Arabia. They did not acknowledge it and we were disappointed at that time that they did not admit these human rights. All that is guaranteed is the right of exit from one’s country; but even there we do not give completely free exit to all our own citizens. You cannot get from the Australian Government a passport to go to any country in the world, and there are many of our allies who are just as restrictive. It is just as difficult for a Russian to secure a passport to go to America as it is for an American to get a passport to go to Russia. These are matters, if you like, of degree, but do not let us deceive ourselves that the non-committed countries in the world, the people to whom we are addressing ourselves, do not think that we also have faults in our record. We shall not persuade the Soviet and the Soviet will not persuade us.
What are the real issues in East Germany, East Berlin and in eastern Europe in general? What steps have we, as a nation, or as a government, taken to see that democracy or self-determination are preserved or promoted in those countries? These matters have not been raised by any motion which we have moved or to which we have subscribed in the United Nations at meetings of the General Assembly. There have been passing references - rhetorical references - at the United Nations, but in the only place where anything could be done about it we have declined to do anything. The last time anything was done about Berlin in the United Nations was in November, 1948, when Dr. Evatt was the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He and the Secretary-General wrote to the four great powers which were charged with the control of Berlin - France, Britain, America and Russia - after a unanimous resolution in the General Assembly. It was supported in the General Assembly by the representatives of those four great powers. It was transmitted by Dr. Evatt and Mr. Trygve Lie to the heads of state of those four great powers and they did nothing about it at the time and have done nothing about it since.
What is to be the Australian Government’s attitude towards the re-unification of Germany and the self-determination of any of those countries? It has never raised the issue. Re-unification becomes an issue when there is a West German election pending. There are, however, numbers of elements in West Germany that do not want re-unification, and we know that there can be no reunion of Germany and no solution of the Berlin problem until the four great powers sign a peace treaty with Germany. But America, Britain and France will not agree to the re-unification of Germany and will not sign a peace treaty with the whole of Germany unless they can be assured that the reunited Germany will favour the West. Russia will not agree to the reunification of Germany or sign a German peace treaty with a complete Germany unless she can be sure that the reunited Germany will favour Russia.
We have to accept the position that Germany will remain divided as long as those four countries remain divided. It is to the interests of both sides that Germany should remain divided, and there are political elements in both West Germany and East Germany who are well suited by the division of that country. That is the ultimate solution of this question. But what has this country ever done about it over the last thirteen years? We brought the matter up, when there was a Labour government in this country, in the only place where our country, as an outsider, could do anything about it, in the United Nations; but our initiative has not been pursued by this Government.
Now there is the question of the selfdetermination of the countries of eastern Europe in general. The seconder of this motion, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), has on many occasions referred to the arbitrary boundaries in eastern Europe. I think that in his first speech he produced an equation of the number of people who have been absorbed by Russia since the Second World War. In actual fact, of course, Russia has ruled a smaller area of the earth’s surface since the Second World War than she did before the First World War. But if honorable members refer to the question of self-determination in eastern Europe, what is to be their attitude to some of the boundaries that they never mention? I constantly hear them talking about the boundaries between Estonia. Latvia or Lithuania and Russia. They never mention the boundary between Lithuania and Poland, between Poland and Germany or between Germany and Czechoslovakia. Do honorable members who raise these matters in this House accept the de facto boundaries or do they advocate the moving of those boundaries? And which way would they move them?
The reason why the Oder-Neisse line, for instance, which is basic to this question of self-determination for East Germany or for Poland, is never mentioned is that the honorable gentlemen who raise the subjects of Soviet imperialism, the shifting of boundaries and the acquisition of territory do not want to alienate Polish migrants in this country by suggesting that the pre-war boundary between Germany and Poland ought to be restored. Those honorable members do not wish to alienate German migrants by suggesting that the present de facto boundary ought to be maintained. Indeed, there is a very considerable lack of frankness on this subject.
Why are these matters brought up in this Parliament? What do we expect to achieve by discussing them? The Budget debate has been suspended to enable this private member’s motion to be brought on, but we have to wait until the conclusion of the debate on the Budget for the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Menzies) to make, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), a considered statement on Berlin. What do we really expect to achieve by bringing up this matter at this time? Are we so grandiose as to think that anything that we say on this subject will have any effect on the result of the elections in West Germany? Do we think that anything that we say in this Parliament while we remain mute in the United Nations will have any influence on selfdetermination in any countries in Europe, on the re-uniting of Germany, or on the restoring of Germany from three states - East Germany, West Germany and Austria - to two states or to one state? What is the Government’s attitude to Germany? Does it consider that there should be one German state or two or three?
Subjects such as this are brought up in this Parliament largely for internal purposes relating to migration. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said - and my experience accords with his on this matter - there are very great numbers of migrants who are worried when these matters are raised. I am proud to represent in this Parliament more migrants than are represented by most other honorable members - certainly more than are represented by any other member in this Parliament who holds an electorate in New South Wales. I regret to say that many things which have been said in this Parliament for local consumption have served to defer the reunion of families and also the formation of families. I also believe that the general intention is to give migrants the impression that the Liberal Government is solicitous of their interests. The fact is that 90 per cent, of the people who have come to Australia from eastern Europe - they have come from every one of the countries which have been mentioned - came here either during the four immediate post-war years, or in the first year in which this Government was in office. I point out that through the four immediate post-war years the present Leader of the Opposition served as Australia’s first Minister for Immigration and established the policy which has given a new home in this country to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Europe. Furthermore, these people who came from Europe in the first year of office of the present Government were brought here under shipping and other arrangements which had been made by the present Leader of the Opposition as Minister for Immigration.
– There has been a change since then, though.
– No migrants are coming from those parts of Europe now, although, in 1956, many came from Hungary. But many went back to Hungary in the following year and shortly afterwards.
What is the general world situation with respect to these matters? What are we going to do about them? What Russia does in restraining people from leaving her territories is done in right of her sovereignty. Constantly, the Prime Minister invokes the concept of sovereignty. That concept constitutes his reason why the United Kingdom should not join the European Common Market. It is his reason why we should not superintend what goes on in South Africa. It is his reason why no questions should be asked abroad about what we do to the aborigines or what we do in our administration of Papua. That concept is his reason for asserting that what should be done in West New Guinea is entirely a matter for the Dutch. In every instance, the concept of sovereignty constitutes the Prime Minister’s reason for standing pat or covering wrong-doing. Of course, the solving of these problems relating to the countries of eastern Europe, the promoting of human rights and the attainment of selfdetermination in this world involve the abridgment of sovereignty by international action through the United Nations. The United Nations was where the Labour Government brought this matter up first, and where the present Government has done nothing about it.
It is typical of their derivative attitude that so many honorable members on the Government side of the House devote very much of their attention to what goes on in Europe. They make no reference to what goes on in the newly emerging nations. Most countries would regard war over Berlin as a shocking waste of treasure and a wanton risking of human life. The four countries which signed the Potsdam agreements in 1 945 ought to get on with the job which they undertook. Until they get together and get on with the job, instead of talking to everybody else and never to one another, the rest of the world will be in turmoil. The newly emerging nations are sick of the quarrels of Europe.
Australia, as the most remote outpost of European civilization, ought now to be making some contribution to the alleviation of the very real suffering which occurs elsewhere in the world. The greatest human suffering is not in the parts of the world to which the Prime Minister graciously accords the title of the advanced countries; it is in the primitive countries. And the greatest suffering in the primitive countries is being caused largely by our confederates and allies. We do not use our influence with people whom we can influence. We do nothing to influence them to mend conditions. Instead, at the time of the elections in West Germany, and with our own elections imminent, we bring up in this place, where nothing can flow from the discussion, a subject which we debate in inflammatory and extravagant terms in the hope of influencing people in other countries who will not be and never have been influenced by us. We refuse to raise this subject in the only place in which discussion of it can have any effect. We refuse to use our influence - and we ought to have some - with people who in fact are responsible for just as much human suffering, and in many instances much more wanton human suffering, in the newly emerging nations.
Let us realize our opportunity, as the most remote country with a European heritage, to project a good image of European civilization in the emerging nations. European civilization involves matters of human rights, self-determination and so on, and English-speaking countries always used to be in the forefront in those matters. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was charted very largely by Australians and other English-speaking people.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Barnes) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to. 2.15 p.m.
– As it is now past the time provided for Grievance Day, Order of the Day No. 1 will not be called on. The Committee of Ways and Means will be set down for a later hour this day.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) each speaking on the Budget for a period not exceeding 45 minutes.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 23rd August (vide page 429), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 101- The Senate - namely, “Salaries and allowances £34,250”, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). All honorable members of the Opposition should wholeheartedly congratulate our leader, first for the excellent case he made against the Budget, and secondly, for the logical propositions he submitted for stabilizing the economy. I am certain that the people of Australia have now seen the light, that they now realize that they can expect no stability in Australia’s economy until the present Leader of the Opposition becomes Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. This is obvious from the favorable criticism the Leader of the Opposition has received in the press since delivering his speech the other evening.
The points brought forward by him are worth repeating. The first was that when it becomes the government at the end of this year, the Labour Party will introduce a fresh Budget which will provide for an immediate deficit of some £100,000,000 in order to ensure that the 113,000 Australian men and women who are now unemployed will be provided with employment. Another point brought out by our leader was that the whole of the petrol tax must be repaid to the States, so that the road system of the Commonwealth may be developed properly. Those of us who have had the opportunity of travelling through the north of Australia have some appreciation of the urgent need to spend more money on roads, not only in the north, but in all outback areas of all the States. Our leader’s proposal to abolish pay-roll tax will of itself help to defeat inflation and bring down costs in the country. Again, Labour’s proposal - one about which we have been speaking for some time - for the development of the north is deserving of the utmost support because in the north we have vast open spaces with nobody living in them.
If we fail to develop them and the teeming millions of adjoining countries, believing that we have not discharged our responsibility to develop Australia, seek to invade us, we shall have nobody to blame but ourselves. Further, Labour’s proposal to set up an Australian shipping line and an Australian insurance company will do much to help in the general development of the country. It will also greatly assist in improving our overseas balance of payments. For these reasons, we must congratulate the Leader of the Opposition for the sound logic of the case submitted by him in Opposition to the Government’s Budget last Tuesday evening.
There has been some adverse criticism of the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition. For instance, in the Sydney Morning “ Herald “ yesterday appears the heading -
Prime Minister Walks Out Laughing after Calwell’s Speech.
Might suggest that that laugh-
– Was a hollow one.
– Was a hollow one, as the honorable member for St. George has said. It was the laugh of a punch-drunk fighter just after he has stopped one on the chin that has just about flattened him. The Prime Minister realized that the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition had done the Government untold harm, and I am confident that it will be the means of bringing about the downfall of this Government, especially when it is appreciated that, in this Budget, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has not given one acceptable reason why the present Government should remain in control of the treasury bench. Honorable members on the Government side are continually attempting to ridicule the Opposition’s proposals. All we hear from them is, “ It can’t be done, it can’t be done, it can’t be done “! but they offer no logical argument why it cannot be done.
Let us examine the Government’s record over the past ten years. For instance, the Government continually boasts about the marvellous job it has done in connexion with our overseas balances. Let me remind honorable members that when this Government took office it took over at a time when the Labour Government had built up our overseas balances to £800,000,000. Since then, this Government has gradually whittled them away until now they stand at only about £570,000,000. When we examine the figures, however, we realize that they have been maintained at £570,000,000 only because of heavy borrowings. For instance, at 30th June last year the total overseas borrowings by this Government stood at £694,000,000. Since that date, the Government has borrowed £10,800,000 from the United States of America, £6,200,000 from Switzerland and £8,900,000 from Canada, and it has drawn from the International Monetary Fund to the extent of £78,000,000. It will be readily appreciated in those circumstances that the Government has been able to hold overseas balances at £570,000,000 only by begging, borrowing and placing this country in debt overseas to the tune of an additional £278,000,000, of which over £100,000,000 has been borrowed in the last twelve months. The Government is deserving of the severest censure from the people of Australia for such a policy. I repeat that it has been able to maintain overseas balances at £570,000,000 only by borrowing £278,000,000. In effect, this means that only £292,000,000 remains of the original £800,000,000 left to it by the Labour Government. This Government has no more right to say that we have overseas balances of £570,000,000 than has the private citizen to say that he has £1,000 in the bank if £500 of that £1,000 is borrowed money.
Let us now look at our overseas indebtedness. Shortly after this Government took office, our overseas indebtedness, on 1st January, 1950, was £520,600,000. To-day, as a result of the borrowing policy of this Government, Australia’s overseas indebtedness stands at £798,900,000. The Government seeks to conceal these facts. It has not the courage to disclose them to the people. While claiming that overseas reserves total £570,000,000 the Government neglects to tell us just how that position has been achieved.
This Government points proudly to the extent of overseas investments in Australia, but what it does not tell the people is how capital outflow compares with capital inflow. It talks all the time about the hundreds of millions of pounds invested in Australia by overseas financiers, but if one examines the facts and figures presented by the Commonwealth Statistician, one finds that from 1947-48 to the end of 1959 capital inflow amounted to £945,000,000, while capital outflow was £743,000,000. In actual fact, therefore, all we gained in that period of twelve years was £202,000,000. Furthermore, if overseas investors, by some chance, found a more lucrative market than is available to them in Australia today, we would still be committed to the outflow represented by the dividends payable on money that has been invested in Australia. As a result of the investment of money in Australia by persons overseas, our children and posterity generally have been committed to the repayment of those investments, in addition to the dividends that will be derived from them from time to time. Let us consider in more detail this question of capital inflow and outflow. In 1959, the amount that came in was £118,000,000 while £113,000,000 went out. These figures make me wonder what great benefit is being derived by Australia from the investment of money here. Posterity will be committed to meeting the outflow represented by dividends that will most assuredly become payable.
The Government has strongly emphasized the fact that overseas investors are sending a good deal of their money to this country. But what is the position internationally? Where else could these people overseas invest their money? Let us consider South America as an example. The international investor can no longer invest his money in that country with safety and security because he is afraid of the possibility of an uprising of the people there. He can no longer invest his money in South American countries and feel certain that he will receive the dividends payable on it. When he looks around the world he finds that Australia is obviously one of the safest countries in which to invest. South Africa is no longer a safe and secure country from the point of view of the investor. The Middle Eastern countries are in the same position, as are the Asian countries and many other countries. The Government has nothing to be proud of in this connexion. Irrespective of any efforts it has made, overseas capital would have come here. The international investor does not care where he invests his money so long as it is safe, and so long as he is assured of getting his dividend when it falls due. As I say, the Government cannot take much credit for having induced overseas investors to send their money here. In any event, I have very grave doubts whether these investments will ultimately be of much benefit to us. At the moment overseas capital is of advantage to Australia, but do not forget that in the future we will have to repay the money and also foot the bill for dividends.
Let me now say something about unemployment. I am gravely concerned about the rise in the level of unemployment since the Government decided on a policy of unemployment. It is a fact, of course, that on 15th November last year this Government decided to implement a policy of unemployment. We should, perhaps, congratulate the Government on the achievement of its objective, because that objective has most assuredly been achieved. It has been achieved, of course, at the expense of one class of people in the community, the working class. The Government has boasted about the stability of its policies. What is the true position? In 1951-52 a horror Budget was introduced, which resulted in the number of unemployed reaching 79,000. In March, 1956, the then Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, brought in another horror Budget. In February, 1960. we saw a change of policy by the Government, when it decided to remove import controls, oppose a basic wage increase and balance the Budget. The Government achieved all these objectives. In August, 1960, the Government budgeted for a surplus and changed its policy again. On 15th November, 1960, a little Budget was presented to us, and the provisions of that document have resulted in the number of unemployed rising to 113,000. In February of this year the Government made another statement of policy, and in March and April we were presented with yet another policy statement, concerned with hire purchase and other subjects.
My point is this: There is no stability in the Government’s thinking. It has displayed no continuity of thought. It stops and it goes. One day it has one policy, and another day, perhaps a month or six weeks later, it has another policy. The result is that, even though the Government has released additional credit from the Reserve Bank for the trading banks, the community as a whole no longer has confidence in the policies of the Government. Sometimes a statement of policy is delivered by the Treasurer, sometimes by the Prime Minister. One sometimes wonders whether each of those right honorable gentlemen formulates his own individual policies, each of them having a crack at the economy from time to time. Notwithstanding its action in increasing liquidity by releasing additional funds from the Reserve Bank, the Government no longer enjoys the confidence of the people, which is essential if full employment is to be brought about. I believe that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition must be agreed to. It amounts to a vote of no confidence in the Government, and if such a vote is not carried by the members of this Parliament, then it will be carried by the people of Australia at the election which will be held later this year. There we will see the real vote of no confidence in the Government, and the Opposition will then have an opportunity to carry out the policy outlined by the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday evening.
The Government has told us that import controls cannot be re-imposed. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) said that Article XII. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade prohibits the reimposition of import controls. Let us see what this article says. Under Article XII. of Gatt, any contracting party may impose import restrictions to safeguard its external financial position, but such restrictions must not exceed those necessary (a) to forestall the imminent threat of, or to stop, a serious decline in its monetary reserves, or (b) in the case of a contracting party with very low monetary reserves, to achieve a reasonable rate of increase in its reserves. But that Article XII. was in existence when this Government lifted import controls. According to that article, the Government was not entitled to have import controls in operation in Australia on 28th February, 1960. Nevertheless, we had them, and we had them for many years. We had increased them and reduced them as circumstances changed. What is to prevent us going back to that system and re-imposing import controls, so that we could assure the people of Australia of full employment? We could then say to the 20,000 textile workers in New South Wales and Victoria alone - who do not form part of the 113,000 registered unemployed - who are to-day working only three or four days a week, “Your employment will be assured “. We could say to the men in the steel industry, who have been displaced, “ Your employment will be assured “. I refer, briefly, to the two destroyers for which orders have been placed overseas, and which will cost us £40,000,000. Why could not those destroyers have been built here, so that employment could have been provided for our own people? I shall not go into details of that matter at the moment, but I shall have something to say about it later when we are considering the estimates for the defence departments.
The Government has said, on various occasions, “ If we relax the credit squeeze the volume of imports will increase and we will no longer be able to maintain our overseas trade balances “. The position, at the moment, is this: We are maintaining our balance of trade position, at the present time, by the use of two devices. One is the restriction of credit that has been imposed by the Government, and which has reduced the spending power of the people, and particularly of the 113,000 who have no employment. The Government has a responsibility to the Australian people. The Government has a responsibility to the 113,000 unemployed. Therefore, it must immediately give consideration to imposing import controls of some description to assure these people of full employment.
– Selective controls.
– They could be selective. Assistance is needed for the textile industry and the steel industry. On 5th January a great splurge appeared in the “ Newcastle Morning Herald “ under the heading “ No Estimate of Steel Exports Potential “. It included a report of a long statement by the Prime Minister.
What is the real position with regard to steel? In 1959-60 we imported £23,000,000 worth of steel and exported £31,000,000 worth. But what has been the trend since the Prime Minister’s statement on export potential was made? In 1960-61 we imported £55,000,000 worth of steel and we exported £27,000,000 worth. So, to-day we are importing more steel than we are exporting. Yet, according to the Prime Minister’s statement on 4th January, there was a great export potential for steel! The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Australian Iron and Steel Limited - they are, of course, virtually one company - have fallen down on their responsibilities to this country. They have put profit before national development. They have not undertaken sufficient development. If they have not had the finance to do it they should have asked the Government for assistance, and the Government should have given that assistance. But the reverse was the position. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited announced in its financial statement that it has £32,000,000 invested in Commonwealth bonds. This money should have been invested in the development of the steel industry.
We should not be exporting iron ore to Japan or any other country. We should be processing it in Australia and manufacturing commodities. Then we would not have to import £55,000,000 worth of steel and so cause thousands of men to lose their employment in the steel industry. This has happened as a result of the Government’s policy which has permitted the flow of steel into Australia. The Government has a lot to answer for and so has the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited because of its failure to keep pace with the development of this country. When the Opposition becomes the Government next year it will most assuredly ensure that the steel industry is developed, together with the other industries mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition.
The Treasurer has announced that the Government proposes to make money available for the development of the coal ports of the Commonwealth. That announcement was long overdue. I have been writing to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) asking that the Government make money available for this purpose but every reply that I have received from the Minister has been to the effect that this is not the responsibility of the Commonwealth and that the Government does not intend to make any money available. I am pleased to learn from the Treasurer’s announcement that apparently somebody inside the Cabinet has more sense than has the Minister for National Development.
Whilst this matter may be primarily a State responsibility, the Commonwealth has a duty to ensure the development of ports, roads, railways and other means of transport.
If coal is to be a great export item and a great income earner we must have facilities for its export. To-day, coal is carried on bigger ships than the old coal tramp steamers of 7,000 or 8,000 tons. Bulk carriers of 40,000 tons must be able to get into the various coal-loading ports such as Gladstone in Queensland, and Newcastle, Balmain and Port Kembla in New South Wales. Adequate facilities must be provided at those ports. There is no hope, at. present, of getting a 40,000 tonner into. Newcastle harbour even if it were empty. The harbour bar needs to be deepened by 13 or 14 feet in order to provide about 38 or 39 feet of clearance for ships of 40,000 tons.
The Commonwealth would derive the” benefit of increased export earnings as a result of expenditure on work such as this. The same principle applies to wheat, wool and other commodities which can be shipped from Newcastle or from Port Kembla which I believe will be developed to the necessary stage one day. The Government must accept responsibility for the deepening of these ports and I am pleased to see this provision included in the Budget.
Another matter with which I am concerned is the Government’s decision to reduce the sales tax on household equipment. In this matter, I feel that the Government has gone only part of the way. As previous speakers have mentioned, the tax has been reduced only by about 6 per cent. - from 8i per cent, to 1 per cent. If the Government were fair dinkum and did not intend to reimpose the tax at a later stage, it would have abolished it altogether. This would be a very good thing because household equipment would be cheaper and so the general standard of living of the people would be increased.
– The cost of administration is probably more than the imposition on household equipment yields.
– Yes. The administration costs, I would say, will exceed the revenue from the 2i per cent. tax. So the Government is only imposing an unnecessary hurden on the cost structure of these items. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the reduction of the tax will not have any great effect on employment in this field of industry. He mentioned discounts of between 10 per cent, and 20 per cent. A firm in my electorate has advertised that if you buy a television set you can have a refrigerator free. The firm has been ringing people up and asking quiz questions. It rang my home on one occasion and asked my young son a question. When I came home he said, “ I won a reduction of £50 on a television set to-night “. I said, “ That is pretty good - if we want a television set “. That shows how far these firms are prepared to go. The question which this firm asked was a stupid question which anybody could answer. Another of their stunts is to ask you whether you have a 10s. note with certain digits in the number. There are hundreds of such notes around but if you can produce one they will cut the price of a television set by £50 or give you a refrigerator with it. So where is the value of this 6 per cent, reduction in sales tax?
The motor industry is another matter to which I feel that the Government should give serious consideration and here I shall direct my brief remarks to our old friends the leaders of capitalist industry in motor car manufacture-General Motors-Holden’s Limited. During the last twelve months that firm has bought up all its preference shares that were held in Australia. While those shares were held locally the firm had to publish a balance-sheet in Australia. It used to put out a nice booklet such as the one I have here which contains a lot of information that Opposition members could use in attacking the company. What has happened to the booklet this year? Has any honorable member received the 1960 annual report from General Motors-Holden’s Limited?
– They cannot afford one.
– They cannot afford one! They made only £15,000,000, or 800 per cent, profit last year. This year this particular company is saying that it cannot afford it, but the fact is that it is not prepared to continue to disclose to the people of Australia how it is exploiting the car users of Australia. The company is creating unemployment because it is not prepared to carry its employees when business slackens off a bit. It would rather lay them off than reduce the price of its cars so as to attract more buyers. It is quite obvious that the company could well and truly afford to reduce the price of the Holden motor car. The same goes for the Ford motor company and the rest of the car manufacturers in Australia, although the British Motor Corporation has reduced the price of a limited number of its cars by making an advance of £100,000,000 for that purpose. But the Holden company, which is anxious to cover up its profits this year, is not prepared to reduce the price of its cars. I believe that that is something else about which this Parliament could do something, so as to force those in control of the motor car industry first, to stabilize the industry and secondly to provide employment for people. They should be forced to sell their cars cheaper than they are doing at the moment instead of being allowed to make exorbitant profits.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) got his figures mixed. I am not sure that he appreciated the full significance of many of them, but I know that he will be concerned with whether the Communistcontrolled Newcastle branch of the Seamen’s Union will come to light with £7,000 for the Labour Party’s election expenses.
The Budget debate gives all of us the opportunity to air some of our dreams and aspirations, including pipe-dreams, and I am sure that most of the people who studied the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), setting out the Labour idea of the kind of Budget required to meet to-day’s problems, would realize what delightful deams most of his promises would turn out to be if a Labour government were elected at the end of this year. First, he talked about budgeting for a deficit of £100,000,000 in order to restore full employment within twelve months. It is going to take twelve months to do, even on that basis! That amount of £100,000,000 would have to be made up by somebody, sometime, and I have unpleasant visions of a return to those inflationary trends that we have tried so hard to suppress - trends that would bear heavily on the rural sector and primary producers who are looking at this time, more than ever before, for a reduction of cost and prices to help them grade up to metropolitan standards of living and enjoy the same level of prosperity as is enjoyed by people engaged in secondary industries.
The Leader of the Opposition talked of cutting taxes in order to revive home-building and the motor industry. Cutting taxes is a pretty popular proposition - provided you do not find that you have to cut services to make it possible. The home-building industry, however, does not carry a great burden of tax. The present Government has taken energetic and effective steps to stimulate the building of new homes by releasing credit and encouraging investment in this field rather than in debentures or some other rather dubious fields. There is no sales tax on building materials for the Leader of the Opposition to cut, and now the reduction to a mere 2i per cent, of the sales tax on furniture, carpets and a long list of household items that would be wanted by any one setting up a home will assist people who are setting up homes.
I presume that the Leader of the Opposition’s reference to the motor industry is a half-promise to reduce sales tax in order to encourage the sale of motor vehicles. A reduction in sales tax would result in cheaper cars, certainly - but there are a lot of people besides myself who firmly believe that the car firms can make some very solid reductions in prices without making any great dent in the very prosperous balance-sheets they can still produce.
Giving the States the whole of the proceeds of the petrol tax is one of those hoary old platitudes that was blown out so long ago as to have completely lost its savour. The present Commonwealth Aid Roads grants to the States are on a much more effective and generous basis than they would be if tied to such an old-fashioned system as giving the States the proceeds of the petrol tax.
We would all like to get rid of pay-roll tax, but to dismiss airily the £61,000,000 that that tax brings in, and appoint a committee to find some other way of collecting the same amount of money, would not do very much towards lowering overall costs.
The Leader of the Opposition has set out to create a depression where none exists. Instead of producing some sound ideas about building up confidence and getting a return to normal after the excesses of last year’s boom conditions, he prefers to try a course of pep pills that would do no more than build up a false confidence.
In contrast to the Opposition’s gloomy picture, the Budget provides a variety of proposals designed to create opportunities that will progressively absorb the unemployment pool in a lot less time than the twelve months that the Opposition seems to want for this task if it were returned to office. There are ample signs of an upturn in business activity. In the field of primary industry, there are many small but quite valuable concessions that will help to encourage development. The sales tax concessions, and reductions in the price of petrol, will help to lower costs. Many farmers will benefit from the stimulus to productive expansion that may be expected from the increase of £5,000,000 in the funds of the Development Bank. In its first eighteen months of existence this bank has approved loans totalling £15,000,000 to primary and secondary industries, and has also provided valuable assistance in the form of hire-purchase finance for equipment for primary producers. This form of assistance will be extended.
Country bus lines will be grateful for the removal of sales tax on replacement vehicles - a concession which many of us have been seeking for some time. I remind the Treasurer, however, that this concession on vehicles should, in all fairness, be extended to the heavy ore-carrying trucks used as an aid to manufacture in the mining industry, when operated by owner-drivers working alongside mine-owned and operated vehicles that are tax free. I am sorry, however, that the Treasurer has not yet seen fit to grant continued requests for the removal of sales tax from ice cream and, indeed, from all foods.
Having myself been at some expense in the laying of underground piping to carry water, I welcome the concession that allows such expenditure as a tax deduction in the year of expenditure. The concession comes too late to benefit me, but will, I hope, encourage others, particularly when they realize the economy of the long-length polythene piping.
– Does that apply to the ordinary galvanized pipes?
– It applies to them, and also to water pipes in all the modern plastics. The necessity to extend a subsidy to wheat-farmers has increased this Budget item, and, of course, the dairying industry is appreciative of the maintenance of the butter subsidy at its full £13,500,000 for the sixth year - a provision which emphasizes the Government’s acceptance of the principle of no reduction of this subsidy until costs have been reduced.
The boom of last year is over, and the economy is much healthier as a result of getting rid of many of the speculative and inflationary forces inherent in it last year. This year’s Budget, if not spectacular, is roundly based with the aim of bringing about a return of confidence and the sort of steady stability that brings the greatest comfort to the largest possible number of Australians.
I would like now to make some comments on the present method of providing protection for Australian industries through the tariff, and the urgent need for a re-appraisal of the value of many industries to the general welfare of the community. Over the past twelve months, we have seen a complete change in outlook for Australian manufacturers. In the ten years prior to that, it had been Government policy to encourage the establishment of new industries to supply the local demand and so reduce the drain on overseas funds. Even if it was only a matter of importing raw materials such as wool for carpets instead of bringing in the finished article, there was a saving of overseas exchange. At the same time, these industries provided work for our own people and for our migrants. Their call on other industries mushroomed out to stimulate them and keep them alive, and above all provided us with the best market we are ever likely to get for our primary food products. These in turn required processing for consumption and provided further employment and further market outlets. The whole process goes on ad infinitum gaining momentum all the time and providing for the expansion and development of Australia, .of which we are all so very proud.
Even after the lifting of import restrictions in February, 1960, most manufacturing industries continued to expand because they had existing outlets; they were geared to a certain tempo and the market was a buoyant one with retailers continuing their buying habits while they re-organized themselves to take in the new products that had been denied to them in many instances for so many years. It was natural to expect what the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) chose to call a hump of imports as the effort was made to fill a demand for highgrade motor cars, for fashion jewellery and even for frogs’ legs in aspic and many other items that some people seem to regard as useless luxuries. But thank goodness there are enough people in the community who have a taste of something better than average or something of a different character and who can afford to indulge themselves in this way, just as the Australian worker is entitled to indulge his fancy for beer.
What we did not reckon on was that the retailers would buy from overseas everyday commodities - the ordinary every-day items of pots and pans, tools, knitwear and clothing in general. They did this not so that they could sell them more cheaply or because they were of better quality, but because they could buy them for less. The public did not get these goods any cheaper and almost invariably the imported article was of a decidedly inferior quality. I have been at some pains to make comparisons of a wide range of articles in our stores, and in a majority of cases the local product is of better quality and is most certainly better value. The stores pushed the imported lines because of the bigger profit, and implied they were better value by quite dubious wording in some of their advertisements.
Then, some of our manufacturers began to search out suppliers of raw material and, as well as consumer goods, we had the fantastic position of plastic stampers getting their powders from overseas instead of from readily available local sources, of weavers getting their yarns from overseas and cancelling orders to the local spinners, and of clothing manufacturers seeking overseas materials for their every-day lines. About the only Australian source not badly affected was the iron and steel industry, in- which, we have so far retained the market. The result has been that manufacturing industry has taken such a blow in the last twelve months that I doubt very much whether it will ever fully recover unless we can evolve a system of control through the application of a tariff that will at least enable efficient industry to supply the major portion of the local market. In the last few months, there have been some dozens of references to the Tariff Board for special and urgent protection for industries which find they just cannot hold their local markets in the face of unrestricted competition from overseas.
Just at the moment, there is something ot a lull in imports as the effects of the credit squeeze become apparent. We have a breathing space before stocks are cleared and we again must face the problem of regulating imports as economic activity picks up and the demand for imports again rises, as it will. This gives us the opportunity to recast the tariff structure to fit into whatever our future policy will be. We must decide whether we will give protection to some industries to ensure that they have a sufficiently large local market to achieve the economy of large-scale production and enable them to make the fullest contribution to employment and our total national product, or whether we will permit the free entry of products which may be imported at less cost than could be achieved by local factories and which are not desirable from an employment or strategic value angle. Our main consideration must be the expansion of all efficient and economic local manufacturing industries so that our national resources of man-power, materials, machinery and investment will be used to the best advantage in raising the standard of living.
To take a specific case, let us look at the story of paper. There are seventeen mills in Australia producing pulp and paper and they turn out nearly 500,000 tons of paper a year, probably valued at £60,000,000. They employ about 10,000 people, who receive £12,000,000 in wages Their total assets are something like £95,000,000. In addition, they use large quantities of power, water and other materials and this has a wide impact outside their own particular sphere. The industry is capable of supplying at least 90 per cent. of Australia’s requirements at a price which the Australian business community can well afford to pay and which is completely comparable with the price charged by similar overseas mills to their own market But when import restrictions were lifted the mills overseas, specializing perhaps in only one product whereas our mills have to diversify because of our small market, saw the opportunity to dispose of what are to them comparatively small surpluses that keep their mills running for longer periods but which to us are large quantities dumped here to the detriment of our production, resulting in our mills having to shorten their runs with unavoidable increases of costs.
The largest company, Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited, reports a reduction in sales for the year of 22,000 tons, with production in the last six months at less than 70 per cent, of capacity. I venture to say that actual production to-day would be very much less than 70 per cent., but that is the latest reliable figure I have been able to obtain. Imports rose from 15,000 tons to 45,000 tons, a rate that more than offsets the reduced output and spells disaster for this industry. In the last six months, the number of employees fell from 5,934 to 4,990 and a further 200 have been put off since 30th June. The company is distressed at the loss of skilled and experienced staff, but it is also greatly concerned about the fact that the output of its eighteen machines is so drastically curtailed that its unit costs have risen alarmingly, making even the sales it is able to maintain a losing proposition. The answer is clear. Here is an industry that needs something quite apart from our recognized prop of protection through the imposition of a duty. The product is not one that calls for great variety in qualities or niceties in preparation or presentation. It is a raw material for other industries to carry on into ordinary everyday products such as paper bags, wrapping paper, cardboard cartons and so on. We know what the market requires of these basic products and we know the productive capacity of our machines. Here is a case for selective control, not by licensing or quotas or any of the bad old schemes that left themselves open to abuse, but on a quantitative basis. The completely inadequate and ineffective monetary basis should not be considered.
Taking into account the normal rate of duty as at present assessed, importation of only special types of paper not made here, or of the balance that could not be supplied locally, would be necessary. The idea is not new, I do not pretend that it is. But the techniques of applying it could very well be adopted from the pattern which has been set by many countries, notably America, from which we could find the easiest method of putting it into operation. The same system could apply to many other industries that to-day are suffering from lack of protection against the lower unit costs of overseas suppliers caused by greater production. I cite the knitted garment trade in which we know our requirements of material; we know how much comes into the country, and we know our productive capacity. We could easily adjust the figures to give very much needed protection to the local industry.
Let me mention briefly the case of the Tasmanian firm of Silk and Textile Printers Limited. It has very special problems on account of the great diversity of materials used and the wide range of qualities that are inherent in printed dress fabrics. The company has £1,500,000 worth of magnificent up-to-the-minute machinery, carefully selected from the best available in the world, working at about one-quarter capacity. The company has had to put off some 300 of its 700 employees. It applied for an increase in duty from 2d. to 7d. a yard to protect it in the medium-price field of screened printed cottons which would sell at perhaps from 9s. lid. to 15s. lid. a yard. The Tariff Board, in its report, made the following admission: -
The basic cause of the industry’s difficulties can be attributed largely to the increased volume of imports from Japan of printed cotton fabrics, many of which are of a quality comparable with local prints, landing in Australia at prices far below those of the local fabric.
The report stated further -
The Board has no doubts as to the ability of the local printers to produce high quality printed cotton fabrics. Nor has it any reason to alter its opinion expressed at the last inquiry that the industry is technically efficient.
The board then went on to find that in order to protect this industry over the whole range of roller and screen prints, which may range as low as 2.1 Id. a yard, adequate protection could not be given at less than 42d. a yard. So the board did not give the industry any protection.
The company asked for a quantitative protection through by-law admission on the basis of six yards of imported material for one yard of local material. This was rejected as being “ too difficult to administer “. This is another clear case for variation from the traditional method of protection by a tariff duty. The known consumption of the Australian market is 80,000,000 yards. Silk and Textile Printers Limited could produce 6,000,000 yards of firstquality up-to-the-minute fashion material in its class, and the quantitative method of admission of imports could be managed very simply. There is an alternative to this. The Government could seek some restraint by Japanese importers, but for some reason or other it seems to be unwilling to do so.
Carpets too have taken a beating. The carpet manufacturing business is of such a size that it must be preserved. . The machinery is such that it can produce the finest material, and its efficiency is such that it can compete with articles of similar quality from overseas countries. The industry could give employment to many people, but it needs protection.
I do not suppose there is ever a time when life does not present us with a challenge. We are accustomed to regarding the Budget every year as something of vital importance to us all. Truly it is of vital importance each year in a different way. Our concern is to take our place - indeed, to improve our position - in an increasingly competitive world. This year that competitive world has presented new and alarmingly formidable frontiers for us to storm because of the development of the Common Market and the suggested inclusion of the United Kingdom in its perimeter. Australia has never had such a need for a re-appraisal of its attitude to costs, physical resources, the processes of government, and the problem of persuading people to make the changes that must be made if Australia is to develop as we want it to develop, and if we are to prove our ability to compete with the great nations of the world sutch as those of Europe, America, Japan and Russia, in al) of which the population outnumbers Australia by ten or twenty to one.
Compared to the efforts put forward by those countries to build up their local resources to a state of self-sufficiency, our efforts have been puny. We are now in the second year of free competition in our local market with all the products of the free world - products of huge manufacturing concerns with huge home markets to give them mass production economies. But we do not seem to have found a way to call a halt to rising costs and to stimulate productivity to a rate which will give us some equilibrium in relation to cost of production per unit.
This is the challenge of to-day; to grapple with costs and force down prices; to match our employment to the productive capacity of our machines, and to boost the volume and value of our exports to match our import needs. The Government has never pretended to have no problems, but it confidently proclaims its versatility and ability to find the right way to handle its problems. It is to be commended for resisting pressures that would have resulted, as the Opposition’s policy would result, in, a new burst of inflation.
.- 1 support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in condemnation of the Government and the Budget that it has presented. This is the first time in the history of this, or any other, country that a government has been compelled to put 200,000 people out of work in the midst of plenty. We have been told that this state of depression had been brought about to dampen down the buoyancy of 1960, when the country’s wealth was too much for the Government to handle. If that is the position, I regret it.
The electorate that I represent in Sydney is possibly one of the wealthiest in the Commonwealth. It is a paying concern, with its breweries, insurance companies and other activities of big business; so much so, that with all the activity going on elderly people are scarcely able to walk the streets unhindered. And they must walk, because they cannot afford even to ride in a tram. In Sydney, thousands of people are unable to get the necessaries of life. They have to go around, night after night, week after week, looking for a bed or a meal in the soup kitchens of Sydney.
I do not ask honorable members to take my word for it. I shall read to the committee what the Salvation Army has said about it. It has announced that calls for assistance have reached such proportions that the Salvation Army is considering setting up a relief centre in Castlereaghstreet - right in the heart of the City of Sydney. Already there are relief centres there. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is serving 700 meals a week and providing 30 beds a night.
We have a government that is callous in the extreme towards the people who are suffering like this. They are the people who made this country before the young yahoos sitting on the Government side, talking about what they can do, ever thought of getting into this Parliament. They sit there behind their leader and willingly do what he tells them to do, whether it is good or bad for the country. Some of them will be missing from the Government side of the House after the next election, when we go to the people.
I have in my hand a true story of what is happening in Sydney now, as told by the Salvation Army. A Salvation Army officer reported -
Last Saturday we had 20 calls at our house. A chap came out on Friday night and slept at our home. Three men called for breakfast saying they had slept under the bridge the previous night.
That is going on all over Sydney, but the Government never gives any thought to such conditions. The pensions are a disgrace when you consider the cost of living. How can an aged person live on a pension of £5 a week? The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), who is sitting at the table, has championed a medical service. Since 1955, the Government has decided that if a pensioner earns only ls. over £2 by selling papers or minding cars in the markets he has no right to get medical benefits. A pensioner then has to go to a doctor and pay 30s. or more. He has to go to the chemist and pay for medicine just as anybody else in a better position has to do. Is that straight or fair? I am surprised that the Minister for Health should stand for that. These conditions were handed down by the British Medical Association.
– The strongest trade union in Australia.
– Yes, it is the strongest union in Australia. There were two doctors employed by the Sydney City Council recently and the British Medical Association said if they were not well paid they should go on strike and it would see that no other doctors would take their place. That is very different from the attitude to the wharf labourers or the members of any other union when there is talk of strike. If a trade unionist strikes for better conditions, he is (called a Communist or something like that.
The pensions that are provided by this Government are not enough to keep the people who get them. We have widows with children and widows without children. How can they exist on £4 12s. 6d. a week when they probably have to pay more than half that amount in rent, if they can get a place to rent at that price? I am glad to say that in West Sydney the City Council is doing something for the old people. If this Government would hand out money on a £2-for-£l basis to all the councils in New South Wales for the purpose of homes for the aged, there would be no complaints from the aged people. There is no council in Sydney or in New South Wales that would not help if it had the funds. Money is made available for aged persons’ homes, but it is offered to organizations which cannot raise the money that they must have before they can qualify for assistance from this Government. Assistance is given on the basis of £2 for every £1 that is raised. If the £2 was given to the councils, they could do the work.
To-morrow afternoon I have to go to Blackfriars for the opening of a community block by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, who will be seen in this place after the next election. The Lord Mayor of Sydney and the aldermen have willingly given £36,000 for the construction of the block to provide the aged people with one meal a day, if nothing else. At the lunch-hour, they are given a substantial meal. That sort of thing is taking place all over New South Wales. If it were not, this Government would be criticized even more than it is now for the malnutrition that is sapping the lives of people who cannot look after them selves. Supporters of the Government sa that the State Government should help the needy people. The State Government is already doing a lot. but the National Government should bear the responsibility of providing relief.
The provision for war service homes is a disgrace. In Sydney, ex-servicemen, in effect, are going to the pawn shops to borrow money to carry them over until the Government provides them with money to buy their homes. That has been going on for years, unless the ex-servicemen are building a new home. If they are buying an old home, they are told that they will be allowed £2,750 but there is no chance of getting it for eighteen months. A man who wants to buy a home and does not want to lose the option on it has to go to a moneylender. He is told by the Government’s representative that if he goes to this one or that one the money will be made available. The ex-serviceman gets a loan virtually on the guarantee of the Menzies Government, but he is charged 12 to 15 per cent, interest. That shows how the people are robbed. They have to pay 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, interest and take out a mortgage for a period of eighteen months. They also have to pay for a solicitor and incur expenditure of £60 or £70 on that transaction in order to meet the delay that this Government has caused. The people who lend this money are sitting pretty because they have the guarantee of the Federal Government that it will be repaid in eighteen months time. If these men who served this country during the war are entitled to this money, why should they be held up for years, when the other man can walk in and, because he has saved some money to back up the £2,750, build his home straight away? It is only the man who has money of his own who can walk in and get the £2,750 and build his new home straight away. But all this will be remedied very soon, I hope.
I have here the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, in which he suggested that the law will be made tougher for the taxpayers. Why must the working man pay his tax on the day on which he himself is paid? He has no chance of cheating the Taxation Branch, but it is common knowledge that for a long time other people and organizations have been able to cheat the Government at the expense of the working man. That position should not be allowed to continue. In his speech on the
Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, the Treasurer said -
Honorable members win recall that the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation was appointed in December, 1959, to examine and inquire into the operation of our income tax laws for the purpose of ascertaining any anomalies, inconsistencies and other similar defects. The committee met at intervals from February, 1960, until the end of March, 1961. It received a very large number of written submissions and also heard in person most of those submission writers who expressed a wish to come before it for discussions.
The committee received representations upon a wide variety of subjects, and as a consequence its recommendations cover a very wide field. These recommendations can, from the Government’s point of view, be conveniently divided into three broad categories. The first category consists of recommendations of the committee regarding the avoidance of income tax. The committee has drawn attention to several parts of our income tax law which are being exploited to the serious detriment of the revenue.
Year after year and Budget after Budget this Government fails to deal with the defects in our income tax law, just the same as it fails to implement the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee which it set up. I thought that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) meant business in regard to the Constitutional Review Committee, when it was appointed; but I have been deluded. We put the country to a lot of expense when that committee was appointed. The membership of the Constitutional Review Committee was drawn equally from the Government parties and the Labour Party. The committee took evidence in every State, and it cost the country thousands of pounds. But, strangely, when we expected the Government to take action on the committee’s recommendations, the Government did nothing at all.
The Prime Minister, on his return from the United Nations, told us that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) had remained in New York to examine the problem of sharp company practices and how they were dealt with, but when he came back and the matter was proposed for discussion as a matter of urgent public importance, the Attorney-General got up in this House and said, “ T would not dream of bringing down legislation as a result of the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee “. Did he condemn the six members of that committee from this side of the House or the six members from the
Government side of the House? I understand that the recommendations of the committee were practically unanimous, and my information is that it was the AttorneyGeneral himself who advised the Liberal Party in this regard. But when it was put to him that he should take action and bring down legislation to modify the existing law, he was the first to say that he would not dream of doing anything about the matter. That fact will go against him when we tell the people how this Government has dillydallied in this matter. I suppose the Government will say, “Well it is a State matter. We will have to leave it to the State governments.” The Government adopts the same attitude in respect of education. I received a telegram yesterday from the Fort-street Public School, Sydney, asking me to bring before the House the situation in which that school finds itself through lack of finance. The other day, in company with a senator and another colleague, I visited Blackfriars’ Correspondence College, which is the largest school of its kind in the world. It has 7,000 scholars, and is staffed by about 350 teachers, whereas it requires twice that number of staff. But this Government says that education is merely a State responsibility.
I come now to conditions at Lord Howe Island. To get to Lord Howe Island, one has to travel on an old flying boat. My colleague, the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay), had a rock and roll on that aircraft when he recently visited the island. It is interesting to note that an airfield could be constructed on Lord Howe Island at a cost of £200,000. This Government pays Australian National Airways an annual subsidy of £100,000 for the present service. Apparently, the Government prefers to assist its company friends rather than meet the requirements of the residents of Lord Howe Island.
Civil aviation in this country has come to a pretty pass when the authorities leave Lord Howe Island, which is 480 miles away from Sydney out in the ocean, without adequate air transport. I can assure anybody who is looking for a good place for a holiday that there is no place in Australia where he would enjoy a holiday more than he would on this island.
– Has the island selfgovernment?
– It has better than that. It has the advantage of being far away from the Menzies Government. Apart from the need for an airstrip, the people of the island never want to see or hear anything of an administration like the present Government. It taxes the people of the island in every possible way. It takes from the residents pay-roll and other taxes and gives them nothing in return. This Government taxes the people of Lord Howe Island as heavily as it taxes the people of any other part of Australia, but it does not provide the island even with a telephone service. This is a shocking state of affairs. Is it any wonder that the residents of the island do not want to see or hear anything of this Government?
A few honorable members from the other side of the chamber, including the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), have visited Lord Howe Island. He promised the residents everything. Even the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack), on one occasion, spoke on Lord Howe Island. He told the local people that he would see that they obtained an adequate flying-boat service. Yet efficient air transport to the island seems to be as far away as ever.
– What about the honorable member for Bennelong?
– I shall leave him for somebody else to deal with. I am sure that on the forthcoming polling day there will be no black-outs. I recall the time when the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) controlled the Bunnerong power house in Sydney and therefore the city’s electricity supplies. In those days, one could be sure that black-outs would occur on polling day whenever a State election was held. On this occasion, however, the honorable member will have a fight on his hands. He is in danger of defeat at the next election by a man who has done great work for Sydney and the people of that city who are not able to come to Canberra and look after themselves as some other people are able to do. I assure the Government and its supporters that, after the election, we shall add to the Opposition’s belt the scalp of the honorable member for Bennelong.
He will be defeated by a man who will really do something for the people. However, that new member in the ranks of the Australian Labour Party in this chamber will be only one of about ten from New South Wales who will help to provide a majority that will enable Labour to cross to the benches on the other side of the chamber.
– What is the name of the opponent whom the honorable member for Bennelong will have to face at the election?
– If the honorable member wishes to press the point, I do not mind telling him that the present member’s opponent will be Harry Jensen. However, there are a lot of people besides the honorable member for Bennelong who are shivering in their shoes. He is not the only one who is in danger. And is it not true that those who are in danger of defeat at the next election deserve to be defeated?
– Where is the pensioners’ ball to be held?
– The pensioners’ ball was held last Saturday week. Again, we did not want the services of members of the Liberal Party of Australia who govern from Canberra to advertise our function. It was attended by some 200 people who were ready and eager to help those whom this Government will not help.
– What were the proceeds of the ball?
– I shall keep that information to myself. That information should be given to the people of the West Sydney electorate and not to honorable members opposite, who would not care if the citizens of West Sydney were swimming down the river.
In all sincerity, I suggest that the Government ought to do something for the unfortunate people who are homeless in Sydney, and the other capital cities as well. In Sydney, we have perhaps one-third of the total number of unemployed throughout Australia. There are more than 30,000 people unemployed in Sydney at present. In my office, there is a stack of files about eighteen inches high which contain particulars of the cases of people who are seeking the assistance of the Department of Social
Services, but the department cannot attend to their needs. Why does the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) not appoint more staff to attend to these distressed people? Sometimes, one experiences a delay of half an hour in communicating with the department by telephone, because the number is so constantly engaged. As a result, I have to send people out of my office to wait, and, in the meantime, others come in to tell their story. Very often, when one eventually gets through to the department on the telephone, closing time has arrived and some of the people who are seeking assistance have to wait until another day.
These circumstances are not the fault of the staff in the office of the Department of Social Services. The clerks there have done everything possible. They have even sent telegrams at night to tell applicants for the pension to collect it at a post office the next day. But the situation becomes very serious when there are hundreds of people in distressed circumstances. One cannot easily obtain relief for them. It is of no use for the Minister for Social Services to say that he is doing more now than was done ten or twelve years ago. I recall that on one occasion he told us in this chamber about his own misfortunes. He told us how he had to shoe horses and live on the track before he became a member of this place. He should think of those days again, and he should do something for those unfortunate people who stream into the offices of their local members in Sydney looking for help in finding jobs that are not available. Why should the officers of the Department of Social Services say to these people, “ Go and see your local member “? That merely adds insult to injury.
When people come to me with these problems, I talk very plainly to them. Recently, I said to one man who interviewed me: “What can you expect? We have a Liberal government.” We discussed the matter for about five minutes, and the man who had come to see me said: “ It is strange that the Prime Minister arrives safely every time he travels by air”. Apparently he wanted the plane to come down. That was the outlook of a man who was practically starving, and can any one blame him?
We who sit in this place look after ourselves well. We are well kept and well fed.
Surely the Government should give the pensioners an additional 15s. or £1 a week instead of a mere 5s., if it wishes to prevent them from falling into distress. I have lost all faith in the Government’s promises, and I hope that after the next election we shall have a different government that will help all those people who are unable to help themselves, particularly those who depend on repatriation benefits and pensions of every description. This Government is far behind the times. It suggests that pensioners who have adult children ought to be helped by their sons. But, in many instances, the sons are now out of work themselves. Many families of a husband, wife and four or five children have to try to live on £6 or £6 10s. a week. Yet the Government expects sons whose families are in that position to help their own aged parents by supplementing the meagre pension of £5 5s. a week that it proposes to give. Sons who are unemployed, and who have their own families to keep, cannot help their parents. I hope and trust that future budgets will not be so disappointing for the unfortunate people of whom I speak as is this one.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, in the atmosphere just engendered by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue), the “ Dead March” from “Saul” would probably be appropriate theme music. The honorable member’s approach to the situation was that of one who may be described as a member of a professional opposition. Honorable members opposite try always to promote an atmosphere of gloom when a Budget is presented. References, even by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), to Sir Arthur Fadden’s skill in administering the Treasury were of great interest to me because history shows that Sir Arthur, despite his wonderful administrative ability and his skill in handling the financial affairs of Australia, was always criticized very severely by the Opposition. Obviously, its approach to Budgets has not changed.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is to be congratulated on the Budget which he has presented on this occasion. The Government has a responsibility to ensure stability and prosperity for Australia, and no one can truthfully deny that Australia has enjoyed its most prosperous times during the twelve years in which this Government has been in office. We see evidence of that on all sides. It may be that this Government has been in office for so long now that many people have forgotten the conditions which existed before it was elected to office, and perhaps that is a disadvantage now in that no effective comparison can ‘be made. It may be that, just as one does not realize how fast a jet airliner is travelling until it gets close to the ground, so do the people not realize the rapidity with which our economy has been progressing. I remind honorable members that a child born at the time when this Government took office would be twelve years old to-day, and that a young man of twenty years of age then would be 32 years of age to-day. At twenty, he would not be taking any interest in political affairs, and therefore to-day would have nothing in his own experience on which to judge the performance of this Government. For that reason I think many people to-day are being led into offering mistaken criticism of our present economic position. 1 believe that most of our problems have been created by certain sections of industry, particularly by the speculative sections which have benefited enormously from this Government’s actions in developing, the Australian economy. Generally speaking, those who are connected with the motor industry, hire purchase, real estate and the building industry are concerned only with making quick profits, not with looking for a sound future economy or with where Australia is heading. Because of that, too, I believe that this Government is being criticized severely by those sections for its ability to see the danger signs at the end of last year and for having the courage to act immediately instead of waiting for calamity to overtake the economy. Many people, especially those in the speculative group, either did not see or did not want to see those danger signs.
To illustrate my point, I mention the motor car industry as an example. Every year or so disaster overtakes the motor car industry of America as a result of over- expansion. The same fate would have overtaken the motor car industry in Australia, and for the same reasons, because our economy had no hope whatever of absorbing motor cars at the rate at which they were being produced towards the end of last year. The wise actions taken by the Government have been condemned by people engaged in industries such as that. For instance, the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, aided and abetted by the Australian Labour Party, has conducted a campaign which has undermined the confidence of the people to the extent that they are afraid to purchase. People like those who speak for the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures feel that they can frighten this Government into introducing measures which would be very favorable to them, but disastrous to the rest of the community.
Again, large sections of the metropolitan press have been allied to these interests because, through their advertising, they are the greatest source of newspaper revenue. Only the other day, I read that approximately £56,000,000 is spent annually in Australia on newspaper advertising. It is obvious, therefore, that the newspapers will look after their advertisers, and this unfair criticism and speculation against the Government through our metropolitan press has been responsible in great measure for creating conditions which have shaken the confidence of the people and inhibited the spending of tens of thousands of housewives to the detriment of the overall economy.
That great daily, the “ Sydney Morning Herald”, is one of the chief offenders in this connexion. What worries me most about that journal is its “ Financial Review “ which, instead of being a conservative publication setting out the real facts of the situation, has embarked upon a campaign in support of the daily journal’s policy, and one now experiences considerable doubt about the accuracy of the financial information one reads in the “ Financial Review.” If such interests as those to which I have referred would only pause to think they would realize that they stand to lose a great deal by their efforts to condemn this Government. I remind them that, in replying to this Budget, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has proposed nationalization as a remedy for our ills. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has advocated building up our steel industry instead of exporting our iron ore and coal. I agree with him that we should build up our steel industry, for 1 have been advocating that for many years, but 1 disagree entirely with his proposal that the steel industry be built up as a nationalized industry. We in Queensland have had so much bitter experience of nationalization that we have come to fear it. For instance, early in the 1920’s, the then Labour Government of Queensland took over a number of cattle stations in that State and ran them at tremendous loss. Eventually, they had to sell them. We also remember how, at Peak Downs, £500,000 was lost in an effort to nationalize the production of food. Again, we all know that the great exponents of socialization in the world - the communist countries - have failed miserably in their efforts to nationalize the production of food. They have achieved many things, at great cost, but they have never been able to provide enough food for their own needs. I mention East Germany as an example. At one time, East Germany was the great food producing area for the whole country, but now she is not producing enough for her own needs. That is the result of the dead hand of socialism when it seeks to nationalize industry.
The Chamber of Manufactures and the press have gone to great lengths to condemn the Government. They have advocated the re-imposition of import licensing, but, in their efforts to further their own interests, they have completely disregarded the interests of all other sections of the community, especially of the primary producers who, in the long run, bear the full burden of increasing costs and falling overseas prices for their products. The Chamber of Manufactures and similar interests are incapable of planning for the future economic welfare of Australia as a whole. As salesmen, they are concerned only with their immediate environment.
Now I have a few criticisms to offer with regard to the finance to be made available through the Development Bank. It is very pleasing to know that an additional £5,000,000 is to be provided for the Development Bank, but that sum is totally inadequate to meet the needs of the primary producers. In my electorate there is a good deal of closer settlement. There are also many dairy farms, wheat farms and cattle fattening areas. On these farms a high degree of stability could be established by water conservation schemes. I do not mean the large schemes that are receiving popular advocacy in Australia to-day I do not support proposals for these large water conservation schemes the cost of which would run into £50,000,000 or £100,000,000, all of which would be spent in the northern parts of Australia where there is no farming or closer settlement to-day. I refer to much more modest schemes for the provision of small farms in areas where there are established farms to-day. Those larger projects will be implemented at a future time, when our requirements are greater. But we must have a system of priorities in connexion with water conservation schemes.
First, we should try to stabilize the economy of areas already established as efficient farming communities, by carrying out some small farm water projects. Provision is already made for such undertakings in the legislation of the Queensland Government, but the State is limited by a lack of funds. When a farmer is responsible for his own farm water scheme he is very careful to see that the scheme is economic. He knows that he will be responsible for the payment of interest on moneys provided for carrying out the scheme, and for the final repayment of the money. It is in this field that I believe the Development Bank could be of great advantage to farmers. It could help to stabilize the economy not only of the farmers themselves but also of the whole of the State of Queensland, which is at present so subject to fluctuations through seasonal conditions, particularly drought conditions.
Apart from those small farm water schemes, there are other smaller projects which could be of great assistance. Small dams, costing, perhaps, £1,000,000 or so, could be built across selected watercourses. The waters impounded by these dams could become a source of supply for the streams and rivers, some of them underground, from which the farm reservoirs draw their requirements.
For these reasons I believe that the £5,000,000 set aside for the Development Bank is quite inadequate. I visualize that probably three or four times this amount will be required for the development of existing farming areas in Australia.
There is a matter that perhaps I should have mentioned when I spoke of the motor industry. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) criticized General MotorsHoldens’ Limited for not reducing the prices of its vehicles. To-day half of the new vehicles sold in Australia are Holden vehicles. If the prices of those vehicles were reduced, all other makes of vehicles would eventually be driven out of the Australian market, and we would see considerable unemployment as a result. That is one aspect of the matter that should be considered. I admit that there is a degree of overexpenditure in the motor industry, but that, as I said before, is one of the features of the industry. The men who control the motor industry are salesmen, and they are conditioned by practices in the American motor industry where, as I said before, a degree of disaster ensues every few years from over-expenditure. At least we have stopped such wide fluctuations in the economy of the industry in Australia.
As I have said, certain speculative interests in the motor industry, probably influenced by American practices, seem to believe that they can influence a government and frighten legislators into adopting measures favorable to them. In Australia, however, this just will not work. A great deal of publicity followed the reduction of sales tax on motor vehicles in March of this year to the level that prevailed before the government introduced its economic policy on 15th November, 1960. Certain newspapers seemed to give the idea, which, I think, was accepted by the motor industry, that pressure had been brought to bear on the Government to reduce the sales tax. Of course, one has only to read the statements made by the Treasurer in introducing the increased sales tax in November last to see that such was not the case. The Treasurer said at the time that the measures taken were only temporary. However, I am afraid that certain groups of people within the motor industry were encouraged to try to exert pressure on the Government in an endeavour to have it take measures opposed to the interests of the Australian community as a whole.
Just a week or so before the Budget was presented - and again it may have been a coincidence - a considerable number of persons were dismissed from the motor industry and the tire industry. A good deal of suspicion was thrown on those responsible for these sackings. However, the motor industry generally must realize that it has a good deal to gain from a free enterprise Government, as this Government is.
As I have said before, we have endeavoured to improve the conditions of the people of Australia, and we have, to a large extent, succeeded. In a period of rapid expansion, of course, there are many dangers. As was made clear by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) the situation in Australia is rather peculiar. We depend to a large degree on our primary industries to build up our overseas trade balances. Until our secondary industries can compete in world markets to a far greater extent than they are able to do now, what has become known as a stop-and-go policy must be followed. After all, who can tell what the price of wool will be in two years’ time, or how seasonal conditions will change? No one can foretell these things, and so we must adjust our economy as circumstances dictate.
It is encouraging, of course, to see a gradual expansion of exports of manufactured goods. The Department of Trade is to be congratulated on its efforts in this regard. It has sent missions to South-East Asia and to the Middle East in an endeavour to increase our exports, not only of primary but also of secondary commodities. The drive for South American markets, although on a small scale at present, undoubtedly will eventually build up substantially.
It is absolutely necessary, however, to keep our costs down if we are to have any hope of increasing exports of secondary manufactured commodities. This being so, it was most disappointing to primary producers and to all those who are concerned to maintain a stable domestic economy, to see the basic wage increased by 12s. a week. The members of the party to which I belong do not want to keep wages down, but they do want to have a stable and prosperous economy maintained. We cannot capture overseas markets while we allow wages to be increased without any relation to our ability to export. I have some figures before me to show the effects of wage increases granted over the years by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Commission. For these figures 1 am indebted to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who makes a very close study of these matters. In 1950, the Commission granted a prosperity loading of £1 a week, and in 1952 an economic crisis developed. In 1954 there was a very considerable increase in margins, and a crisis ensued, culminating in the horror Budget of, I think, 1956. In 1959 a 15s. a week increase in the basic wage was granted, and also a 28 per cent, increase in margins, and we know of the measures adopted by the Government because of those decisions, which resulted in a tremendous amount of money being placed in the hands of the people of Australia. It was said, of course, that we should not have removed the import restrictions, but, as a signatory to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, we have to conform to its rules. We have voted in Gatt on many occasions. We have to preserve our overseas balances and stand on our own feet. With the efforts of every one in Australia, undoubtedly we will do so, but we will never do it while a section of the community is putting pressure on the Government to promote inflation.
The Leader of the Opposition proposed a budget deficit of £100,000,000. That would put us back in the position that we were in before the last economic measures were applied. After all, inflation is only a temporary state. It benefits a few people, but it hits those on low or fixed incomes, including the pensioners. It has been said that the recent increase of 12s. in the basic wage will put £60,000,000 into circulation in Australia. But who will provide that £60,000,000? It will be provided not by the employer but the primary producer, the pensioner and others in the fixed-income groups - the people who cannot pass these charges on.
I am probably wrong in stating that the full £60,000,000 will come from these sources, because, after all, industry will absorb quite a lot of that amount into existing over-award payments. In some industries, under pressure from the trade unions, the 12s. has been added to the over-award payments. This may be all very well for some of the individuals concerned, but it is of no benefit to the overall economy of Australia.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) complained about the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures attacking this Government. 1 think that the chamber had every reason to complain because the Government is ruining the prospects of manufacturers and of those employed in their factories. There are 113,000 unemployed. The Chamber of Manufactures put a very apt question to the Government recently in the following terms: -
What shall it profit a merchant if his store be stocked with low priced merchandise from abroad if his customers, through local unemployment, lack the wherewithal to buy.
The Australian merchant who purchases the imported product at the expense of domestic goods is jeopardizing the Australian standard of living and imperilling his own future.
Import what we must by all means, but do not bring here a single thing that keeps a foreign workman busy and an Australian workman idle.
Australia’s first duty is to Australians.
The Government has not recognized that Australia’s first duty is to Australians. I have read the Budget speech and the papers relating to it, and I have failed to discover any proposal that will correct Australia’s economic ills. Australia is suffering from two chronic ailments at the present time. One is in the national economic structure. The other is bad government. Continually rising prices in the cost structure are a damaging element. We are also suffering from a chronic do-nothing government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is floundering in every direction looking for something that will put him in a more favorable position. I think that the first step - and I know that the opportunity will come soon - is for the people to get rid of the second ailment that I have mentioned - bad government. I anticipate that the next general election will be held on 9th December. On that date the people will have an opportunity to take the first corrective step by voting out of office the anti-Australian Menzies Government and voting into power a truly Australian government led by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
What I have just said about the Government is in keeping with what is being chanted through every line of communication throughout Australia. Even friends of the Government have had some unflattering things to say about the Budget: According to the “ Sydney Morning Herald” it is a “stand-still” budget with few concessions. The “ Daily Telegraph “ said, “ It is not a panic budget, lt gives a few pension concessions “. The Sydney “ Sun “ called it a “ stay-put budget “. The “ Daily News “ of Western Australia said that the Budget had disturbed Government members of Parliament; the Government supporters were disappointed by the “ stand-still budget “ and perturbed by the growing spectre of unemployment. The paper also said that the Budget lacked even one colourful concession to boost the Government’s chances of being returned at the next general elections.
Those are a few comments which I culled from newspaper headlines. They are typical of most statements by newspapers and commentators. There has been considerable criticism of the few concessions such as the 5s. increase for pensioners. This, surely, was the least the Government could provide if it was to give an increase at all. A few shillings are being given to repatriation beneficiaries. I think the repatriation put up a nine-point plan and the Government conceded two of those points. An additional 17s. 6d. is provided for unemployed families. The Budget does not contain one sound plan which will make any real contribution to correcting the instability of the national economy.
As I said in the beginning, the whole problem is in the rising cost structure. The Government does not even give one hint in the Treasurer’s speech that it intends taking any suitable action. I am certain that the trouble in our national economy cannot bc fixed by a Budget. Strong direct action against rising costs of production is the only effective weapon. The Treasurer’s speech was just a conglomeration of hopes, expectations, probable prospects and per.hapses. He said that the next wheat crop could be a very good one. It may be and it may not be. He said that there was no obvious reason for expecting a fall in private overseas investment in Australia. He said that new industries such as aluminium, chemical, petroleum refining and even motor vehicle industries might turn up trumps and give employment. His speech was all “ may “ or “ might “. He said that the wool clip should be good and that the selling price might be higher than last year. It is all “ maybe “; but it may not be.
The Government is depending on something unexpectedly turning up. That sort of thing is not good enough for Australia. Not one concrete plan has been put forward by the Treasurer which will fix any one problem. As I have said, his speech was full of hopes, expectations, probable prospects and perhapses. He was promising pie in the sky. This may be all right for astronauts but it is of little use or benefit to the unemployed and other sections of the community which are suffering as a result of the mismanagement of this Government. The Leader of the Opposition gave the lead to the nation in his speech in reply to the Treasurer and it has been proclaimed as a lead. The action of the Prime Minister in walking out of the House laughing was not the remedy for our problem. Cynicism does not achieve anything. The Treasurer said, in his Budget speech -
We put full employment foremost now in our immediate economic plans.
My question to Government supporters is, “ Why did the Government allow the number of unemployed to grow to 113,000?” Full employment has been the Government’s expressed policy for twelve years. Every member and supporter of the Government is equally at fault, and they will soon be called upon to explain their neglect in this matter. Full employment is a government responsibility. The Government should have a plan to ensure continuity of employment for all workers. The right to work is the right to live, and notification of dismissal on the ground that there is no work available is a serious matter. Disemployment is something like a sentence of death. No work means no money, and no money means no food and no clothes and none of the other necessaries of life. Unfortunately, notices of dismissal have been too fast and frequent in recent times.
The Menzies Government was elected to office in 1949 on a promise to maintain full employment. Honorable gentlemen opposite had to make this promise because they were campaigning against the Labour Government that planned for full employment and was the first Australian Government ever to succeed in achieving this humane objective. The Menzies Government should have fulfilled its election promise. It will be remembered with great satisfaction that when the Labour Party was last in office, up to the end of 1949, every able-bodied man and woman in Australia had a job and was receiving a wage every £1 of which was worth 20s. As a matter of fact, jobs were so plentiful that there were opportunities for workers to select the jobs that they liked doing - and that is important. Too many workers are doing jobs for which they are unsuited and untrained. It is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Better production comes from a man or woman doing the job that he or she was trained to do and likes doing. But with a planless government such as the one now running Australia efficiency is never considered.
In 1949, the present Prime Minister chided the Labour Party about its policy of full employment. He said that the Labour Party had no monopoly of such a policy, and that if the people elected a Liberal-Australian Country Party government he would guarantee not only full employment, but also increased production to a degree that would reduce the cost of living. How the people have been let down on his promises is now history.
With a general election due in the near future it is important to remind ourselves and the people of Australia of those broken promises. Each year since 1949 the cost of living has been soaring, and unemployment has been consistent. Ever -since 1949 wages have been chasing costs and prices, but have never caught up. The Government has never taken any steps to prevent the continuance of that position. Instead, it has encouraged the maintenance of that position, and has not only allowed unemployment to occur, but has assisted in bringing it about.
The Government admits that in November last year it deliberately set out to cause the dismissal of workers by imposing the credit squeeze, as a counter to inflation. The Government also used other weapons such as the removal of import restrictions and increased sales tax - which in the present Budget it is reducing slightly. However, the story of unemployment goes back beyond November, 1960. Ever since it took over from Labour in 1949 it has been the plan of this Government to have a pool of unemployed. Here are some of the figures on unemployment which are admitted by the Government to be correct - 1955, 16,000 unemployed; 1956, 38,000; 1957, 59,000; 1958, 75,000; 1959, 82,000; 1960, 102,000; and 1961, 113,000.
I think that those figures show clearly the trend of the Government’s policy, and they are very serious, particularly for the individuals affected. Lack of food and clothing for himself and his family is a terrible thing for a breadwinner. Calculated on average wages the unemployment of 113,00 workers would mean a loss of about £2,000,000 a week in spending money, or £104,000,000 a year. This means so much less money for retailers and, accordingly, smaller orders for producers and manufacturers. It means, therefore, fewer employees in factories, because unemployment has a snow-balling effect.
I turn to some of the other factors in the Government’s policy that I have mentioned. They include the unwise lifting of import controls last year. The Government’s failure to see that the bank credit restrictions that it imposed at the same time were observed and applied to importers caused a flood of imports which threatened established Australian industries, particularly the textile and clothing industries, thousands of whose employees are working part-time only.
Unemployment has always been a family dread. It is obvious that the Prime Minister and other Ministers have never lived in a home affected by unemployment, and experienced the privations that arise from unemployment, or they would surely do something to prevent its occurring. Australia’s industrial records disclose that unemployment has been consistent. The first and only government in Australia ever to plan and achieve a state of full employment in peace-time was the Chifley Labour Government, and the Labour Party is the only party that can bring this country back to that state of affairs, and maintain that state of affairs. Despite the need for more food, houses, equipment and every other type of product, and the need for development of every kind, prior to the period known as the depression of the 1930’s, the “YearBook “ shows that the average rate of unemployment was 10 per cent, of the working force and, during the depression, 25 per cent, of the work force was left in unproductive idleness. By contrast, during the 1939-45 war, no financial or other obstacles were allowed to prevent the need for extra production being satisfied to the limit of our resources to provide employment and to make a total war effort possible. It is true that full employment in war-time was accompanied by efforts and sacrifices of an abnormal kind, and ‘by a curtailment of individual liberties, but also showed up the waste that was caused by unemployment in the pre-war years and taught us - the Labour Party in particular - a valuable lesson which we can apply to the problems of peace-time, when full employment must be achieved in ways consistent with a free society.
The question that we must ask ourselves at this time is: Is unemployment due to the incompetence of the Menzies Government, or to its deliberate planning? Either would be serious, and I think that the Government is guilty on both counts. It has made so many blunders in every field that most people are convinced that it is incompetent. Others say it is complacent and could not care less. Most Liberal and Australian Country Party members believe that the Government has no election worries because its stooge, the D.L.P., will do the stab in the back act and divert enough Labour votes to defeat the cause of justice. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the large funds required to keep the D.L.P. officers and office organization functioning throughout Australia come from the financial backers of the Liberal Party and Australian Country Party. The legitimate revenue of the D.L.P. would not cover the cost of the postage stamps that it requires. I believe that people who have allowed themselves to be misguided and misled on previous occasions by the D.L.P. will not allow themselves to be misled on the next occasion. They will know that the ruin of Australia’s economy and the unemployment of 113.000 Australians, including some of themselves, are too high a price to pay.
The question of unemployment concerns the trade union movement, which has always suspected that this Government wants a pool of unemployed because the section it represents believes that people waiting for work outside the factory can control the wages and conditions of the employees inside. The theory is that if a worker lives in fear of losing his job, he will not press claims for better conditions. This fear is understandable.
If the reasons I have given are incorrect, I challenge any Government supporter to say why 113,000 workers are allowed to remain unemployed and suffer privation. Surely Government supporters are not so much out of touch with affairs as to believe that many of the families they represent in this Parliament can live on the unemployment benefit of £6 2s. 6d. a week. This sum is to be increased to £7, according to the speech of the Treasurer. The Leader of the Opposition showed the inadequacy of this amount when he replied to the Treasurer and pointed out that an unemployed man with a wife and three children would have a weekly income, including child endowment, of £8 5s. This is £1 15s. less than the amount received by the aged pensioner couple. Both amounts, of course, are completely inadequate, but £8 5s. a week for a family is much more inadequate than is the age pension.
Making suggestions to this Government to maintain full employment is of little use. It appears that unemployment is growing at the speed and to the extent the Government wants. The profiteers it represents are going through a period of re-organization. This is occurring not only in Australia but also in Great Britain and Europe, where the Common Market is receiving considerable attention. It is occurring in the United States of America and Canada, as well. All these capitalistic areas have their pools of unemployed. There are 6,000,000 unemployed in the United States and 900,000 in Canada or 9 per cent, of the work force. Unemployment is much worse in these countries than it is in Australia. Great Britain is so badly affected that it is turning towards new allies in the European Common Market at the expense of Australia. This is mainly because monopoly capitalism is cracking up again, as it does repeatedly, and the system is undergoing further repairs. I concede that when breakdowns occur, repairs are essential. But this should not be at the expense of working men and their families.
Unemployment should not be allowed, because it is avoidable, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition.
I shall make some constructive suggestions to the Government, though I know they will fall on deaf ears. The Government should reintroduce selective import restrictions, as suggested by the Victorian manufacturers. The removal of import restrictions was one of the main factors contributing to unemployment. There should be a review by the Tariff Board of the unused capacity of industries to ascertain whether they can produce many of the goods we now import. In this regard, the Australian Development Association made a survey and reported that there is unused capacity which could produce goods we now import and save £270,000,000 of our import bill each year. This Government does not show enough loyalty, in my opinion, to Australian industries or to Australians.
Employment and development should not be left to private enterprise. These matters are far too important to be left to chance. Private enterprise can function only for profit. Therefore, necessary services and development activities must be undertaken by public enterprise, which has proved its capacity and efficiency in such ventures as Trans-Australia Airlines, the Snowy Mountains scheme, the Commonwealth Bank, Commonwealth Railways, the Bell Bay aluminium plant and the Post Office. Public enterprise has also played an important part in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, the whaling station, the handling equipment pool and the shipping line which was sacrificed by this Government against the interests of the people of Australia.
The Government should accept the responsibility for stimulating spending on goods and services to the extent necessary to sustain full employment. The waste of resources that results from unemployment in a young country like Australia is tragic. Any government that permits it is committing a crime against the community. My suggestion is that the Government should, when private enterprise slackens its activities, establish a public authority such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to take over or commence necessary development works to take up the lag. I do not suggest a full employment policy designed to make work just for work’s sake. Yet the authority I have suggested should be charged with the responsibility of undertaking developmental works that are necessary or producing goods and rendering services that are needed.
The Parliament should seek authority to regulate prices, profits, capital investments and interest rates, and we should have a uniform company law which would enable us to control monopolies. The Government should seek the co-operation of the States to obtain these powers. Failing this, we should seek the approval of the people by referendum. The Commonwealth, States and local government authorities are all suffering because the whole public authority lacks the power to stabilize the national cost structure. Private monopolies are calling the tune in these important matters to the detriment of the great majority of Australians. The continual rising cost structure is not helping employment. The one thing it is surely doing is pricing Australian goods out of the world’s markets. The wage and salary earners could buy as much with a basic wage of £10 a week a few years ago as they can buy now with a basic wage of £15 a week. The Government is allowing senseless and ruinous adjustments in the cost structure which are unnecessary and which handicap Australian producers to such an extent that it is difficult for them to find new markets and to hold existing markets.
I will make another suggestion to the Government. It should establish and maintain full employment and stabilize the economy at a level sufficiently high to stimulate spending. This would provide a demand for the total production of which the economy is capable when it is fully employed. However, I am afraid that making suggestions to honorable gentlemen opposite is just a waste of time, as they have empty heads. I am sure that the people have reached the stage when they will not trust the Government any further. It has an amazing record of somersaulting. The Budget is supposed to guide fiscal matters for at least twelve months, when the next Budget is introduced. On occasions, this Government has drastically changed its Budget within a few weeks of introducing it and on two occasions new Budgets, known as little Budgets, have been introduced half way through the financial year. Stability under these conditions is impossible. Industry and the people cannot succeed in their efforts with such instability. The Budget now before us may not last the distance. The few good points in it may be rescinded soon.
Recently in Brisbane, the Prime Minister said that we should not be afraid, thing? will be better in 1962. Did not the wolf tell little Red Riding Hood not to be afraid? What use is this glib assurance to the unemployed bread-winners? What consolation is it to the building industry and its many subsidiaries depending upon bank credit to be told that they should hold out until some obscure date in 1962? What use is it to the workers in jobs that are threatened by a flood of imports, particularly to new Australians who know that, as they were last on, they will be the first to go?
The nation does not want the glib assurances of the Prime Minister. It wants action to correct the position now. Why should the unemployed be required to exist on a mere pittance until 1962? The nation demands the reimposition of selective import controls, the immediate easing of bank credit and the restoration of full employment together with justice for wage earners and social service beneficiaries. We will not tolerate the continuance of a depression made by the Menzies Government. When I say that, I say it for all the people of Australia.
.- In opposing the amendment to the Budget which has been moved by the so-called Opposition, I should like to remind honorable members that at 8 o’clock last Tuesday evening this chamber witnessed the pitiful and tragic spectacle of a would-be alternative prime minister desperately struggling to ward off the fatal embraces of his own angel of political death, while the red eye of his party’s dictator watched him from the gallery. For 45 minutes the leader of a disunited, virtually non-existent Opposition delivered a panic-stricken “ Ohpromisethem - anything - but - for - theparty’ssakepromise - them - all “ pre-election policy speech. Obviously aware of the instability of his crown and demonstrably conscious of his inability to control the party factions of his own front bench, the honorable gentleman revealed the torment and agony of his mind when, during his rendition of the old primitive impressionist A.L.P. ballad, “I Promise You “, he was so visibly affected on several occasions as to be almost incoherent.
Despite the very feeble and spiritless challenges of the alleged Opposition, the basic issue in this Budget debate is not the merits or demerits of the Government’s economic programme, but who will govern Australia from the date of the next Federal election.
Who are the Opposition’s contenders for the positions of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister? They are the official Leader (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam), and the unofficial leaders, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). Time and time again this chamber has witnessed open clashes and challenges of authority between these four contenders. Time and time again this chamber has witnessed vulgar displays of bad temper and undignified behaviour by these contenders. Let the chamber and the nation remember the all-too-frequent torrid scenes of the Leader of the Opposition beside himself with rage at interjections while his deputy carried on like a pampered, petty, temperamental prima donna.
If these leaders are not able to restrain and conduct themselves with the dignity that their high office demands, if they are unable to influence and unify the bitter factions on their own front bench, what hope have they of ever unifying and influencing the Australian people; and what hope have they, having regard to their past and present exhibitions, of ever earning respect in the councils of the free world? Do they think that the oratorical attributes that are so useful on the Yarra bank and in the Sydney Domain fit them to meet on equal terms such world leaders as Prime Minister Macmillan, President Kennedy and Mr. Nehru? And where would they stand with Khrushchev? Are they so stupid as to believe that the Australian people would welcome the picture of the honorable member for East Sydney as Minister for Defence, in charge of our security; the pro-red China honorable member for Parkes as the Minister for Trade; or the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) with his well-known Marxist-Leninist economic theories as Treasurer? The plain unarguable fact which is known to and realized by all Australians is that when the Opposition lost its truly great leader, the late Ben Chifley, the Labour Party lost its soul, its substance and its direction. Only a hollow and extremely noisy shell is left.
There is no one presently on the Opposition benches capable of leading it out of the wilderness, and although in my opinion there are two prospective leaders - I refer to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) - they would require some grooming and some time before they would be acceptable to the Australian people. For this practical and unarguable reason the Opposition can expect to remain in the wilderness for several elections, no matter what they offer or promise the people. They have no leader to offer capable of winning respect, exhibiting dignity or having the ability to unify his own party.
This leads me to my second point. Can this country and this Parliament long endure if free enterprise and the free press continue their present inane philosophy that the sole function of the Parliament is always and without argument to yield to every demand that they make, to allow them to go their own unfettered sweet way, and never to attempt at any time to interfere with their so-called rights? May I remind the nation, free enterprise and the free press that the responsibility for the continued preservation of a free enterprise and a free press rests not alone with government but conjointly with all three. Each possesses a terrific power for good or evil. Therefore, each carries a tremendous moral obligation to exercise that power conjointly for the benefit of the Australian people.
May I also remind the leaders of free enterprise and the free press that while the Government is elected by and is responsible to the people, they are not. Therefore, our prime obligation is to the people, not to free enterprise or the free press. Their leaders are trained and skilled before they reach their high office, but the weakness, and yet the very definite strength of democratic government, is that we as parliamentarians are not. Free enterprise and the free press demand that we know and understand their problems, but they evince not the slightest interest in our problems of government, except to hurl abuse if they feel that their interests are being touched. To the Australian people they continually convey the impression that their only concern is power and profit, and their actions imply that they could not care less how their demands affect the Australian people and the Australian economy. In their exuberance, free enterprise and the free press constantly give to the Socialist Labour Party tremendous weapons with which to destroy themselves if ever the Labour Party comes to office.
If the so-called Opposition had not been so busy charging the Government with desiring to increase unemployment it would, in normal circumstances, have charged General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited and Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited with making gigantic profits in Australia, yet not being prepared to use a fraction of those profits to carry their unproductive workers over the temporary stage of readjustment. After all, both General Motors-Holden’s and the Ford company in their very bitter fight for the largest share of the car market in Australia were very large contributors to the crisis with which this Government was called upon to deal. Several other groups were also involved.
May I direct the attention of the leaders of the free press to the warning contained in the Chinese proverb, “ When hit by a thunderbolt, it is too late to consult the Book of Dates “. Every time they misuse their great journalistic powers; every time they deliberately misquote or wrongly sensationalize; each moment they give false emphasis to statements that have been made and every hour they indulge in destructive criticism of Parliament, parliamentarians and their faults, either alleged or real, they are destroying not just individual parliamentarians but the very institution of Parliament without which neither they nor free enterprise can exist. They should remember also the oft-stated A.L.P. attitude to the press, and think well on the forms and powers of Parliament that Socialist Labour can use to destroy them if it comes to power. Those who destroy by the power of the pen can .themselves be destroyed by the same implement.
As I have said previously in this place, the physical sciences are advancing at a rate faster than the present apparent capacity of the social sciences to adjust rapidly to the changes. This is an era in which teamwork and co-operation must prevail if we all are to survive. Therefore, the Government, the free press and free enterprise must work together, each trying to find how to help the other in carrying out our conjoint moral responsibilities to the Australian people. I say to you free leaders: Help us to help you to develop to the great benefit of the people this God-blessed land of Australia.
Much has been made of the great problem of the undeveloped north. Promises are being made by the members of the socalled Opposition, who have told us what they will do if they win office at the next elections, but these can be dismissed as the desperate promises of a desperate, disunited and tattered Australian Labour Party. Sir, I believe that the Australian people must face up to two unarguable facts. First, while the populations of the great overcrowded cities are concerned only with day-to-day, bread and butter politics, no single political party or government can ever, or will ever, be able to develop the north. By the north, I mean that portion of Australia north of the 26th parallel stretching from a little north of Gympie, in Queensland to the Western Australian coast.
Secondly, soon or later, in one way or another, the Australian people will have to pay heavily for the north. This becomes self-evident when you realize that in the area I have mentioned, covering just over one-third of Australia, there live barely 300,000 people. Let us face the issue. Every government in Australia, free enterprise and the free press have a vested interest in the development of the north. It will not be done on party political lines for it is an issue above partisan politics; it is an issue of survival. Each of us must pull our weight and none of us should try to claim the credit for the work done.
I turn now to the search for oil. Discussions with men who have brought in oil wells all over the world leave no doubt that Australia is a great oil-bearing country and that, with new scientific techniques now being used, it is only a question of time before we start producing and using our own oil. Accepting this fact, as we must, it becomes obvious that oil search is now a national emergency and Australia’s No. 1 priority. The Government’s increase in subsidy from £2,500,000 to £4,000,000 is encouraging, but it is not enough. From somewhere we must find and guarantee over the next three years subsidies of £20,000,000 to £25,000,000 to implement a day and night crash programme to find oil.
The rewards to the Australian people are too great and far too important to allow the lack of a money subsidy to be a deterrent. Find oil and most of Australia’s economic problems will be solved. Find oil and the prosperity of the Australian people will leave little room for honest criticism. Let free enterprise and the free press, therefore, co-operate with this Government in this urgent need.
Finally, although the Budget did not give all I had hoped, I stand completely by the side of this Government, quietly confident that the Australian people will support a government that will do its job irrespective of votes or popularity in preference to the pitiful, desperate, panic-stricken, promiseall policy of a completely disunited, factiontorn Opposition that has no leader of standing to offer the Australian people.
.- It was rather refreshing to hear words of praise of that great Australian, the late lamented Ben Chifley, although they were hypocritical, to say the least. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) evidently did not have enough material for his speech, or he was ashamed of his connexion with the present Government, because he took only fifteen minutes of the half-hour he was allowed. However, the honorable gentleman is on the brink. He is awaiting political decapitation at the hands of the electors next election day. We have heard his swansong.
On 10th December, 1949, the great Chifley Australian Labour Party Government was defeated by the anti-Labour forces led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). This defeat followed a campaign which reached an all-time low in political tactics. A scurrilous daily press deliberately indulged in a filthy, low, lying campaign of vilification of a great Australian, Ben Chifley, now deceased. Unfortunately for Australia, the campaign was successful and the present tragic Government was elected.
The Government is now recognized on all sides as the most hopeless bunch of individuals ever brought together in this House. It is led by the most tragic individual who has ever held the title of Prime Minister. He is vain and arrogant. Did he not say a fortnight ago to our professors, his advisers, that he took no notice of his advisers; he was a man supreme. This vain, arrogant individual thinks he knows all the answers. He has put Australia in the tragic plight it is in to-day.
How can we forget his long list of failures, both in war and peace? Might I mention the Suez Canal debacle? Can we forget the hopelessness of the right honorable gentleman’s appearance at the United Nations and his drubbing at the hands of that great Indian leader, Mr. Nehru? Can we forget that the Japanese hordes were once at our gates, and that the Prime Minister engaged in a shameless walk-out which amounted to a betrayal of the Australian people? Can we forget our Australian armies left at the mercy of the Japanese army, navy and air force? Can we forget the gallant pilots in the Wirraways and how New Guinea was left to its fate after a long period of Menzies administration? Can we forget the Prime Minister coming into this House and deciding that Australia must fight on the Brisbane line? The people of north Queensland can never forget their betrayal by this Prime Minister of ours.
However, there is still a ray of sunshine. John Curtin took over the reins. Aided by the great Ben Chifley, the famous Australian Labour leader, by superb administration and efficiency, he cleaned up the horrible mess left by this great Prime Minister, Robert Menzies. Then came the miraculous transition from war to peace. We cannot forget the great Chifley organizing achievement of transferring 1,000,000 servicemen and service women into peace-time occupations without loss of one hour. Now the Prime Minister is walking out on 200,000 unemployed. What will happen next?
At the end of the war, Australia was at its zenith of its fame as a nation. Full employment was the order of the day, with a well-organized economy expertly and efficiently geared so as to exert all possible advantage for the welfare and the comfort of the Australian people. There was a basic wage of £5 12s. a week. Our overseas balances had been raised to an all-time high, £800,000,000 sterling, despite the horrors of war, by Ben Chifley. There had been a reduction of £150,000,000 in our national debt and a magnificent gift of £40,000,000 had been made to war-torn Britain. During the course of the war, the magic wand of this wizard, Chifley, the master economist, had been responsible for the establishment of national projects for the protection of our native land. These included Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, which has now gone out of existence; Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, our shareholding in which company has been sold; Commonwealth Engineering Company Limited; the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool; the whaling station in Western Australia; the Bell Bay aluminium works; Trans-Australia Airlines; and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. He appointed Commonwealth conciliation commissioners to deal with federal industrial disputes and to expedite decisions. He established the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission and the Joint Coal Board, and he introduce the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement to enable the expeditious building of homes for those needing them. He was the originator of the Social Services Consolidation Act, free medical benefits, Commonwealth maternity allowance, child endowment and unemployment and sickness benefits. These magnificent achievements brought into bold relief the national thinking, which is part of Labour, for the advancement of the Australian people.
It should be pointed out, at this juncture, that during the period of this remarkable transition one of the most trusted and competent lieutenants of the great Ben Chifley was none other than the present leader of the Australian Labour Party, the Honorable A. A. Calwell, who, it seems certain, Wl be called upon by the people of Australia at the next federal election to pull Australia again out of the mess into which R. G. Menzies has plunged it. It is believed that the next federal election will be held on 9th December. When I look around, I know that after that date a number of honorable members will be missing from this chamber. That will leave a great Australian who has emerged, again in a time of crisis, to lead and carry on the good work begun by Chifley, which was so sadly interrupted by the tragic election of the hopelessly inefficient and incapable present Prime Minister in 1949. How hopeless he is! He laughs, in his vanity, at all and sundry, especially at the hopeless bunch that sit behind him. The people of Australia can be sure that they have a man, in the person of the great Arthur Augustus Calwell, who possesses all the attributes of a leader necessary to follow in the footsteps of that great Australian, Ben Chifley.
Over these years of nation-building, while Australia’s assets were steadily piling up under the able management of Labour, the greedy, avaricious eyes of both local and foreign big business were following with interest the progress made and they were summing up the great fortune involved. A secret meeting was called, mostly of foreign oil interests and chemical interests, coupled with representatives of huge overseas cartels, as the 1949 elections were approaching. The decision was that the Labour Party must be defeated. A quick look round was taken, but the material was weak. What was big business to do now? Finally, a desperate decision had to be made. It was decided to resurrect the decomposed political carcass of the previous Prime Minister who had walked out and betrayed Australia. Would he do it again? How were they to build up this hopeless individual again into a Prime Minister?
Money had to be collected, of course. This was poured into the kitty, especially by the overseas oil cartels, experts in bribery and corrupt tactics. Australia was invaded by gentlemen who had spent a lifetime in the gentle ways of American graft. Cheap local grafters, of course, were brought in. Drink-sodden newspaper editors, so used to being cheap and nasty, and small-time publicity go-getters nocked around the Liberal Party rooms. All sorts of individuals, who were prepared to cling to the coat-tails of big business and sell Australia again, were brought together, at a price, and a special meeting was called at the head-quarters of the Liberal Party in Ash-street, Sydney. A campaign was decided upon which, when launched, was agreed on all sides to be the most viciously, unscrupulously misleading ever seen. However, it proved successful and. emerging from the gutter once again crawled R. G. Menzies as the leader of this decrepit bunch - the same old gang.
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I direct your attention to the extravagant language ‘being used by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. I know that the Chair is very indulgent, but I take exception to the remarks that the honorable gentleman has just made and I request that they be withdrawn.
– Order! I ask the honorable gentleman to restrain himself, and I say to honorable members on the Government side that if they ceased interjecting it might also help the proceedings.
– I compliment you on your very fair decision, Mr. Temporary Chairman. He emerged again, may I say, from the sewer.
Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that.
– The leader of the same old gang, who had already betrayed-
Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw the word “ sewer “.
– Well, we will leave him in the gutter, Mr. Temporary Chairman. This individual-
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. You said that the word “ sewer “ must be withdrawn, but the honorable member has not withdrawn it.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the word “ sewer “.
– I withdraw it. We have the leader of the same old gang, which had already betrayed Australia to the enemy, now getting ready to betray us again, and that has been proved up to date. I wonder that my words have been disproved at last; I did not think the same person would do the same paltry thing twice to dishonour his native land. Let us look at the position and sum him up. Australians should take a very careful look at the mess the Prime Minister has made of our native land in the last twelve years. Look at the destruction which threatens the very lives and homes of our children and the mothers of our families, the children we have worked so hard to educate and give security for the future. Look at the destruction which threatens the homes we have worked so hard for and sacrificed so much to build and furnish for the future and the comfort of our families. Then we realize the danger of the rising tide of unemployment, now reaching 200,000; the rising tide of unemployment which threatens to engulf most of the families in Australia. Aussies, take another look.
Does the average Australian realize that the percentage of unemployment now is greater than the percentage was in 1939 at the height of the depression, just before the outbreak of World War II.? Does he realize that all the Church organizations are aware of the position and are appealing to their parishioners for funds to feed the hungry, purchase bedding and accommodate the homeless? Does the average Australian realize that the Sydney City Council is considering making funds available to feed, clothe and accommodate the unemployed? And this in what our Prime Minister is pleased to call Australia Unlimited. Huge profits are being announced in the daily newspapers by great industrial organizations and such profits, of course, under the reciprocal taxation agreement, are leaving Australia free of tax. When the stark, ghostly spectre of starvation and misery hovers over unemployed persons who are forced to sleep on the ground in parks, with newspapers for cover in a desperate attempt to obtain protection from the elements, can we join in a chorus and acclaim that we belong to Australian Unlimited? I ask the bunch of six sore and sorry Liberals who are about to join the unemployed parade-
– Why are you sorry?
– I am sorry for any one who is hungry. Does the average Australian realize that the Prime Minister by imposing the credit squeeze and lifting import restrictions has destroyed the lifetime ambition of the Australian to own a home, simply by refusing the banks permission to advance the necessary credit, which of course dries up the demand for
F.6363/6 1 . - R. - [IT]
material and equipment? One does not need to be a university-educated economist to see the misery around us.
– What about the boilermakers?
– The boilermaker is out of work too, I am sorry to say. The credit squeeze and the lifting of import restrictions dried up the demand for material and labour. That depressing action resulted in the mad race to Australian ports by foreignowned ships, manned by cheap foreign labour working under the most depressing conditions, and carrying all sorts of foreignmanufactured goods made by cheap Asiatic labour working under the most depressing conditions for the lowest possible wages to be dumped in Australian ports to compete with goods manufactured by good Australian tradesmen working under modern conditions and earning wages set down as fair by the courts of the land. Why does our anti-Australian Prime Minister do these things? Why does he sell us out at every chance he gets? Why does he answer the crack of the whip of the Retail Traders Association of Australia, rather than follow the sensible policy of building up our manufacturing industries, which a good economist would tell him to do in order to create employment and foster a strong and durable economy, with security for the people and, what is foremost, happiness in the home? His policy, assisted by this bunch of individuals calling themselves the Country Party, which is standing over him and blackmailing him for a free trade policy must eventually bring stagnation and disaster to Australian homes by the constant threat of unemployment and more unemployment.
Hire-purchase debts are piling up and mortgage instalments are piling up because people are unemployed and cannot meet them. This causes anxiety to people who owe the debts through no fault of thenown, because although they are willing they cannot get work. They do not want charity; they are willing and able to work. What protection has the Prime Minister and his Australia Unlimited given to them? None at all, although under the banking legislation, he could bring in a moratorium to protect every one who is out of work through no fault of his own and give people protection for the debts they owe until they are back at work and on their feet again. I challenge the Prime Minister to do that. Of course, honorable members opposite do not conceive that the worry ot debt in a home causes severe illness. Worry has been known to cause mental breakdowns, and homes have been broken up as a result of both parents being sent to mental institutions.
– The Government does not mind that!
– lt certainly does not, but that has happened. Many newly-married couples who, with a splendid vision of the future, have entered into a hire-purchase agreement, put large deposits on homes, and signed up for mortgages with heavy interest payments, have already indicated their inability to pay their commitments because they have been dismissed from their jobs. They face eviction and the loss of all their belongings. Some have already suffered this indignity. These young boys and girls have been evicted by interest mongers who plague every State in Australia, in the absence of legislative safeguards. This Government should bestir itself to provide them.
The Prime Minister and his Treasurer keep on exhorting the people to have faith in the future. They tell the 200,000 people with empty stomachs that it will not be so bad in 1962 - if they can survive until then. As a matter of fact during the recent Liberal Party convention the present honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon), who is the Minister for Labour and National Service, said that the people who think unemployment is here to stay are pessimistic. The same thing was said in the 1930’s. He will be an addition to the ranks of the unemployed after the election. I wonder whether this mental giant will change his mind the first morning he misses his breakfast!
Unemployment is increasing so rapidly that the Minister for Labour and National Service has resorted to the dangerous practice of deliberately cooking - I make that statement deliberately and challenge him to disprove it - unemployment figures in an attempt to deceive the people of Australia.
– I rise to a point oi order. I regard the remark about the
Minister for Labour and National Service as offensive, irrelevant and untrue, and I ask for a withdrawal.
Order! The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith may proceed but I ask him to exercise care in the expressions he uses. It is for the Minister for Labour and National Service to ask for the withdrawal of the statement if it is offensive to him.
– I consider I have been very fair to him. I should like to point out that our heavy industries - especially the shipbuilding industry - are deteriorating at an alarming rate. Many dismissals have occurred of apprentices as well as of journeymen. The Government has allowed the importation of several ships from Great Britain. Why could not these ships have been built in Australia? I hope that some of the workers in the shipbuilding yards of Maryborough are listening in. They know that a ship is at present on the blocks. I should like to point out to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is not prepared to do anything about the matter, that this ship is about to be launched, and that when it is launched 1,000 members of the Maryborough shipyards’ staff will be sent on their way. The ships that the Government intends to import could be built by great Australian tradesmen who have proved their metal.
I point out also that the Melbourne Harbour Trust, over which the Minister of Shipping and Transport should have control, intends shortly to bring out under their own power from England self-propelled hopper barges that could have been built at Williamstown.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The people who have been listening in to this debate must wonder why they were ever given the benefit of radio. If they have been able to extract any fun from the speech of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) they may consider that they have had a slight part, if only a pennyworth, of their annual licence fees.
– They got the truth.
– The honorable member says that he has given listeners the truth. He had something to say about the shipyards in Maryborough. He told us that a ship was about to be launched. Apparently he knows so little about the true position that he does not know that the ship was launched months ago.
– That is not true.
– The ship which was launched months ago, and which has now been almost completed, is resting very nicely in the waters of the Mary River. It would have done the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith good to have gone on to that ship to see the quality of the workmanship in it, but obviously he collects material for his speeches by remote control. I had the privilege of seeing the ship launched, of walking onto it and of being able to appreciate the good workmanship that has gone into it. I am hopeful, too, that the Government will soon announce something of benefit so that the men who have done such good work on that job will be able to continue their work in the shipyard of Walkers Limited of Maryborough.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has indulged in another stunt. Before previous elections we have heard many fanciful promises made by leaders of the Australian Labour Party. It has been interesting to hear those promises, but on this occasion the Leader of the Opposition has done better than ever. Because he made these definite promises I have indulged in a little arithmetic. With the consent of honorable members I shall conduct an arithmetical exercise based on the promises of the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of his party.
First, let me deal with what he had to say about income tax. At page 335 of “ Hansard “ for 22nd August he is reported as saying -
Individual income tax in this Budget should have been cut, not increased. Half the revenue foregone should have gone to people with families and the other half to people with incomes under £40 a week. The married basic wage earner should have been completely exempted from tax.
Obviously the Leader of the Opposition intends to rectify the situation if his party gets into power. A conservative estimate of the amount of taxes to be collected from individuals in 1961-62 is £586,000,000. The Leader of the Opposition would perhaps reduce taxation by a modest 5 per cent, which would mean that he would have to find another £29,000,000. He did not, of course, speak of the £29,000,000. A little further in his speech he expressed dissatisfaction with the motor car industry and suggested that it should be assisted. At page 335 of “ Hansard “ he said -
The first is the motor vehicle industry which is desperately hard hit.
On page 338 he continued -
We will take immediate steps to revive, from the present conditions, the key industries of motors and of house building on which so many other important industries in this country depend, by appropriate taxation reductions.
Let us estimate his taxation reduction. The sales tax payable on motor vehicles in the current financial year is estimated at about £60,000,000. So a reduction of the sales tax on motor vehicles by 10 per cent., in accordance with the Leader of the Opposition’s proposal, would require us to budget in this financial year for another £6,000,000 from other sources of revenue.
The honorable gentleman has suggested, too, that the maximum limit of advances for war service homes ought to be raised from £2,750 to £4,000. In debates in this chamber over the last year, various members of his party have suggested that the annual allocation of £35,000,000 for war service homes is far too small. So let us assume an allocation of £50,000,000 for war service homes. This would require us to budget for another £15,000,000.
The Leader of the Opposition then dealt with primary production and child endowment. He is reported, at page 337 of the “ Hansard “ to which I have already referred, as having said -
Not only does the Budget do nothing to help primary production by tax reductions or lower interest rates, or in any other way, but it also does nothing about child endowment . . .
The honorable gentleman had pointed out a little earlier in his speech that farm incomes had fallen by £53,000,000 in the last four years. If we are to adopt the suggestions that the honorable gentleman has made, we should, in fairness, help the farmers along by adopting taxation or other measures to ensure that they gain about another £50,000,000 a year. Surely that would be fair. The Leader of the Opposition and various other Opposition members advocate higher child endowment, and so we shall budget for another-
– Another £100,000,000!
– No. We shall be modest. We shall budget for another £60,000,000 for higher child endowment benefits. Then, if we are to give effect to the suggestions - indeed, the determination - of the Australian Labour Party, as enunciated last April, we ought to increase age, invalid and other pensions. Let us, instead of increasing them to an amount equivalent to half the basic wage, be reasonable and raise them by 30s. a week above the amount of £5 5s. proposed in this Budget. This would give age, invalid and other pensioners £6 15s. a week, which is less than half the basic wage. An additional 30s. a week for pensioners would add £48,000,000 to the Budget.
– The honorable member is just taking numbers out of a hat.
– I base all these estimates on statements made by members of the Australian Labour Party, who say that these things with which I am dealing must be done in order to achieve justice. In fairness to repatriation pensioners, we must increase repatriation benefits correspondingly, and we may estimate the cost of these increases at £10,000,000 a year.
The Leader of the Opposition stated, as reported at page 338 of “ Hansard “, that he would remit pay-roll tax paid by municipal councils and other local government authorities. A little later, he said -
We would be prepared to examine the inflationary effect which pay-roll tax is said to have with a view to collecting the £61,000,000 involved in some other way . . .
So we ought to increase the Budget by a further £61,000,000 if we are to abolish the pay-roll tax as he proposes.
The honorable gentleman said that a Labour government, instead of allocating a lump sum every year for road works, would allocate for that purpose all the moneys collected in petrol tax. If he intends to be fair, he must allocate for road works the proceeds of the tax on diesel fuel also. The total of these two taxes is about £67,000,000. If we assume that the Commonwealth will allocate in round figures, £47,000,000 this financial year for road works, we shall have to find another £20,000,000 if we are to allocate the proceeds of these two taxes in this way. Furthermore, the Leader of the Opposition has stated his intention of planning boldly for the development of northern Australia, at a cost of £60,000,000 a year. We shall overlook the fact that, in order to be fair, as he presumably intends to be, he would have to plan boldly for the rest of Australia at a cost of at least another £60,000,000. We shall just forget that. So, under his proposals, we would have to budget for a total additional amount of £359,000,000 in this financial year. That would be the cost of the proposals on which his party insists.
How would the honorable gentleman raise these funds? He has committed himself. He said that if a Labour government is formed, he will bring down a supplementary budget early next year and increase the total deficit for the financial year to £100,000,000. The deficit envisaged in the Budget which we are now discussing is £16,471,000. The Leader of the Opposition proposes, early next year, to increase the deficit by £84,000,000, in round figures. Now we see how the gentle art of the confidence man is involved. In order to raise a sum which can be variously estimated at more than £300,000,000, but which, for the sake of particularity, I have taken at £359,000,000-
– I rise to order. The honorable member stated that the Leader of the Opposition was using “ the gentle art of the confidence man “. I object to that remark, and ask that it be withdrawn.
Order! The honorable member for Wide Bay will withdraw the remark that has been objected to by the honorable member for Wills.
– I withdraw the remark, Mr. Chairman. I suggest that a confidence man could not hope to achieve such a good result.
The Leader of the Opposition has promised that if his party is returned to office he will increase the deficit for this financial year by £84,000,000 in order to satisfy the requirements of his party, which, as I have demonstrated, would cost the country £359,000,000. Obviously, the honorable gentleman, if he honours his promises, will have to increase taxation, both income and company, very considerably in order to raise the difference between £84,000,000 and £359,000,000. Not that we would be surprised at Labour raising taxation! At page 2149 of “ Hansard “ of 1st June, 1960, we find recorded some very definite statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). Among other things, he said -
Capital appreciation in this country, as distinct from realized capital gains, is probably well in excess of £200,000,000 per annum at the moment; and this is a source of inflation, if any one wants one, and a capital gains tax would deal with it.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) asked -
Is that part of your policy?
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition replied -
Of course it is, and the Taxation Commissioner’s staff could well implement it, as your authorities have told you.
Could anything be more definite than the fact that the Opposition wishes to impose a very solid capital gains tax and that in the eyes of the Australian Labour Party, in the words of its deputy leader, there would be no difficulty in obtaining by that means a substantial proportion of £200,000,000?
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), as reported at page 319 of “ Hansard “ of 18th August, 1959, said - . . there is a distinct difference between the tax pattern in 1958-59 and that in 1952-53. In terms of the expected revenue of £1,200,000,000 for the current financial year, if we were collecting 62 per cent., as in 1952-53, instead of the present 53 per cent., in income tax, something over £100,000,000 more would be coming from income tax, and you would have approximately £100,000,000 less coming from customs and excise, and the sales tax. You could almost abolish the sales tax and collect £100,000,000 of additional revenue in income tax.
We see, therefore, that the Opposition would have no difficulty at all in finding the extra sum of approximately £300,000,000 that it would need to carry out its wishes. On the word of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Labour would be able to get up to £200,000,000 from capital gains and, on the word of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, there would be no difficulty in raising another £100,000,000 from income tax.
It is obvious that the correct amount of the deficit in any given year is a matter of personal opinion. Some people say, as did the Leader of the Opposition, that it should be £100,000,000. This Government, after investigating the matter carefully, after considering all the facts, and having had the benefit of the best available figures and the best expert advice, has decided on a deficit of approximately £16,000,000 in the present circumstances. Not all of us agree with that particular sum. If I were to reject the views of the experts and to express an opinion, I would be inclined to say that we should increase the deficit a little. That is my personal opinion. As a member of this place and of the Australian Country Party I, unlike some members of the Opposition, have a free right to express that opinion. I repeat that if I were to make a personal choice I would like to see the deficit increased by, say, £20,000,000.
I should like to see provision made for improved benefits to the family man in the form of greater income tax allowances in respect of his wife and children. I should also like to see extra help given to single pensioners and to the wives of pensioners, as well as greater children’s allowances. I should like to see added help given to widows, especially those with children. Moreover, I should like to see the sales tax on some foodstuffs reduced and some provision made for short-term schemes - other honorable members have mentioned this matter, too - to assist the unemployed. Also, if finances permitted, I should like to see greater unemployment benefits given to the unfortunate people who are not working. I certainly would like to see an increase of the sum that is to be made available to the Commonwealth Development Bank. A sum of £5,000,000 is certainly very nice; a sum of £20,000,000 would be much better.
But surely in this chamber we, as representatives of the people, have to be reasonable. Even though I should like to see extra provision made in the directions I have indicated, I must content myself with acknowledging that this Budget is designed to avoid a recurrence of the severe inflation that we faced last year. According to my rough computation, there was a risk that if the boom had not been halted when it was halted we would have had a level of inflation of more than 10 per cent, within twelve months. We are in the fortunate position that, as a result of the measures adopted by this Government, the consumer price index reveals that the increase over the whole of Australia in the quarter ended in June last was only .6 per cent. We must pay a tribute to the Government for its courage in adopting most unpopular measures, especially so close to an election, to save our finances, to keep the economy stable, and to avoid galloping inflation. The Government has the satisfaction of knowing after the event - it is difficult to know these things beforehand - that the measures it adopted have been successful, have halted the boom and have prevented further trouble from developing.
Every member of this committee has his own idea about what should be done in the interests of the nation. But every member who is honest with himself realizes that, if a government wishes to play its part in the life of the country, it must achieve a reasonable balance between stability and expansion. If any one in the community were to be asked to-day what was the most important matter confronting us from the long-term and national points of view, without hesitation he would say it was the development of our country. It is quite true to say that the development of Australia is a national need. There are so many ways in which our country can be developed. It can be developed, not by making rash promises such as those made by the Leader of the Opposition, but by taking a calm and sober look at the situation and then deciding what should be done in the interests of Australia as a whole. There is still much to be done to improve transport facilities and facilities for water conservation and flood mitigation, to improve our pastures, and to effect the necessary improvements on millions of acres throughout the country in order to increase the production of our primary industries. As we all know, Australia moves on the back of the primary producer.
One fact which is evident to any one who moves through the north and the centre of
Australia is that higher prices for cattle and better roads have, in recent times, enabled producers to improve their facilities, their methods and their outlook. A classic example of this is provided at Brunette Downs. Since 1958 the management of Brunette Downs has spent much more than £200,000 on improvements. It has indulged in extensive fencing and has put down many additional bores. As a result of the construction of additional fencing, the station has been able to work its cattle better. Instead of having all the cattle running wide and wild, the management of that station is aiming at running its cattle in a proper manner. For example, the calves will be bom at the right time and will not have to suffer as they have suffered on so many properties in the past. The weaners will be taken out at the right time. The old breeders will be treated correctly and it is hoped that after spaying they will be sold. I am told that up to date no breeders have been sold off Brunette Downs because they have all died there. The calving rate on Brunette Downs and other big properties in the north has been a very bad percentage indeed. Because improved roads and improved prices have enabled Brunette Downs and other big stations to spend this money with the hope of getting it back, the future looks quite good indeed for all those properties in the north.
The catch-cry “We must develop the north “ has been developed over the years, but I suggest it would be better to say “ We must develop Australia “, because there are many places in Australia where development is equally as important as it is in the north. Let me mention a few with which I am familiar. I would have no difficulty whatever in spending £20,000,000 on water supplies in the Mary Valley and another £20,000,000 on water supplies in the Burnett Valley. It might be of interest to honorable members to know that the construction of one dam alone - Borumba, on the Mary River- at a cost of about £2,500,000- is estimated to improve the value of its production by from £500,000 to £750,000 annually, when the water stored behind it is put to full use. Again, the Moogerah dam in the Fassifern Valley has enabled a tremendous increase in production by the primary producers of that area. Because we have been suffering from dry conditions in most parts of the Burnett area, the citrus growers there are becoming worried because this year’s crop, which is a very valuable one, could be menaced if we do not get rain between now and October. This valuable crop could be placed in jeopardy because of insufficient water. This pattern is developing in every area where primary production is increasing, because the more production expands, the more water is required. At the present time, another bore is being put down on my farming property in the Upper Burnett area with a view to getting more water for added production. But every farmer is not fortunate enough to be able to find water underground and it is therefore necessary that proper steps be taken to ensure adequate water supplies for those producers who are already producing in our settled areas.
Under all the circumstances, I have no hesitation in saying that the provision of water in particular throughout Australia - I have insufficient time in which to deal in detail with other aspects of development - is not only a national necessity but a national responsibility. The States have not the money to do it, and if we cannot find the money in Australia we must aim at obtaining it overseas over a period because the provision of water and other developmental requirements is an absolute necessity if our country is to continue to develop in the years to come.
For the reasons I have outlined, I suggest that we must set up a national committee to ascertain first what we need most and then to establish priorities. When those priorities are established, it will be a matter for the Government to decide how much should be spent and where the money should be found.
– I rise to make a personal explanation with relation to what was said by the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin). As I understand the position, the honorable member has challenged me to prove that 1 have not “ cooked “ the figures relating to registrants for employment and job vacancies. I have explained in the House that the formula followed is an automatic one, that initially the figures are collected in something like 241 Commonwealth Employment Service offices and 400 agencies. They are then passed to the divisional offices in the States and from there are forwarded to the central office at Melbourne. This formula is always followed; consequently the compilation of the returns is in the hands of many hundreds of people. These people are all civil servants. The Minister himself has nothing whatever to do with the compilation of the returns, or with the returns themselves. Therefore, I say first to the honorable member that the process is an automatic one, and one which I believe ensures accuracy. Secondly, not one civil servant alone, but hundreds of civil servants take a part in the compilation of the figures.
I would not rise to make this correction were it not for the fact that the honorable member has made a very serious charge, which affects civil servants rather than myself. I want it to be perfectly understood that the record is an accurate one and that it clearly reflects the true position.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
.- I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to express our disapproval of the Budget. This stay-put Budget is the sequel to the stop-and-go measures of earlier months. Each full-dress debate in this chamber generates its own atmosphere. During this debate there has been a two-fold atmosphere. On the one hand, the supporters of the Government have shown timidity and uncertainty; they have abused the members of the Opposition in their speeches. On the other hand, honorable members on this side of the chamber have emphasized the sins of omission of the Government and have urged it to correct the serious anomalies in our economy.
The Budget is a framework within which the Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the ensuing year are shown. The Budget reveals government policy in various directions. In addition, it announces the measures that the Government proposes to take in facing up to its responsibilities. The 1961 Budget is not unusual in that it indicates the revenue that the Government hopes to receive and the expenditure that it expects to incur, but it certainly is unusual in its failure to grapple with the urgent need to correct Australia’s economic stagnation and to restore the moral right of employment to our vast army of unemployed people and the many thousands of others who are working short time.
The Budget has been described as a stayput Budget. The press generally condemned it with faint praise. Following that initial impact, it is now the subject of almost universal criticism. Such criticism is justified because the Budget fails to give leadership and falls short of a worth-while attempt to restore steady employment and economic security to tens of thousands of unemployed Australians. The Government has contented itself with saying what ought to be done and has then left it to some one else to take action, in the faint hope that all will be well in the end. It is in that respect that the Government has fallen down. It has a grave responsibility to act quickly to correct the present economic situation and the chaos that has occurred, but it has not accepted its responsibility. Therefore, it must be censured.
Trade and commerce have looked in vain for budgetary measures that would quickly restore the flow of trade and the business enterprise that existed prior to the implementation of the November policy. With the exception of the small gesture that has been made in the way of reduction of sales tax, the Budget contains no incentives to restore normal conditions throughout our economy. The record of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is not a good one. In August of last year he presented a Budget which expressed high hopes for the future and confidence in the Menzies Administration. Three months later he suddenly discovered that Australia had reached a crisis, with over-full employment, galloping inflation and inability to meet our overseas commitments. Contrary to the Treasurer’s statements, those things did not happen overnight. Creeping inflation had been with us for a number of years. The number of registered unemployed had been receding from the 1958 figure of 65,000, and had reached approximately 40,000 in late 1960. That figure apparently alarmed the Treasurer. He must have regarded it as being undesirably low.
I was interested to hear Sir John Crawford say in a recent television interview that he would start to worry once our unemployment figure exceeded 30,000.
Not so the Treasurer. He seems to be more contented now that there are 113,000 registered unemployed than he was when the figure was 40,000. In confirmation of that contention, we have his recent pronouncement that all the people who are at present unemployed would not necessarily be re-employed when industry returned to a normal footing. That statement is significant and should be regarded with apprehension by all who are concerned with the humanities in our society. If the Treasurer’s prediction proves to be correct, it means that many Australians will be condemned to the unemployment scrap-heap, with all the attendant miseries that that entails. Could we have a more telling argument for a change of government? Surely the people of Australia will not re-elect the present Government, which shows such a callous disregard of the well-being and security of Australians.
On the score of our balance-of-payments problem, the Government should have adopted the simple policy of selective import controls, allowing in essential imports and barring non-essentials. If such a policy proved to be insufficient, capital issues control could have been implemented to assist in achieving the desired objectives. Those measures would have corrected our adverse balance-of-payments position in a short time without causing the chaos in our internal economy that the Government has, in fact, caused. The Government has destroyed the confidence that is so necessary in our commercial and industrial activities. Most business transactions are transacted on a credit basis, and this means that there must be confidence amongst the contracting parties. If that confidence is destroyed, then business is destroyed. There is an equal need for confidence on the part of the investing public, which provides much-needed finance.
The allegation by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that calamity howlers had caused the lack of confidence is untrue. The current, stupid policies of the Menzies Government, which have been accentuated since November last, are the real cause. Instead of adopting a logical method of controlling our balance-of-payments problem, it has adopted the obnoxious method of depressing the demand for goods by creating a vast army of unemployed, thus destroying their power to purchase goods and services. As a result, we now have 113,000 registered unemployed, and probably a similar number working for only two or three days a week. What an inglorious situation, when conditions could have been so different had the Government been more concerned with human values!
To add insult to injury, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer strut about the stage telling the people to go about their business in a normal fashion and to spend freely. The potential loss of purchasing power through unemployment, part-time employment and dislocation of industry, approximates £200,000,000 per annum. Yet, our two leading faith healers tell us to spend freely and act normally. Such statements represent another dose of wishful thinking, a characteristic so strongly entrenched in this Government. Furthermore, the Government has displayed irresponsibility towards its duty to govern our nation in the best interests of the people.
In failing to meet the challenges, to restore confidence in the community, to restore the people’s spending power and to provide opportunities for employment on major national developmental projects, the Government has earned the criticism and condemnation of a large section of our people. The members of the Government have adopted an attitude of smug complacency, believing that they are securely entrenched in office because of the assistance they receive from a third political party. A striking illustration of this attitude was given by the Prime Minister when he walked out of the House laughing after the Leader of the Opposition had made his speech on the Budget.
Our large automotive industry has been severely affected by the Government’s credit squeeze. Tn that industry 30,000 employees have lost their jobs, and there is no sign of a revival. The level of sales is only two-thirds as high as the level of twelve months ago. Many subsidiary companies of the various motor companies and many allied industries have also been severely affected. These facts never even rated a mention in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech.
The housing industry has also been hard hit. The question of housing is more than a simple economic one; it is a moral as well as an economic question. It has often been said that the home is the cornerstone of our society. How can our society be sound if there are no homes for many thousands of families, in which they might build family lives and make themselves valuable parts of a stable society? There is still a waiting list of 20,000 applicants for war service homes. In addition we must remember that those who wish to purchase existing homes under the war service homes scheme must suffer long delays before they can expect to receive approval. Those who are waiting for advances from the War Service Homes Division find that they have to seek finance to tide them over, and they can get it only from money-lending institutions at high rates of interest. These irritations merely add to the difficulties facing ex-servicemen who seek to establish their homes.
With respect to home building generally the position again is very difficult. The latest figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician show a decline in home building, and this, mind you, when the demand for homes is continually increasing. Many industries allied to the home building industry have also been the victims of this Government’s foolish economic policies. Some firms are just surviving, while others have been forced to close down, and in some cases they have been forced into insolvency. All the press publicity and propaganda about the Government giving assistance to home building have been shown to have no sound foundation. Some months ago we were led to believe that a new era was dawning and that homes would be provided for the homeless. Now we find that the rate of home building is declining and that the number of unemployed skilled building tradesmen is increasing. Only this week the bricklayers union in South Australia announced that 100 tradesmen bricklayers were unable to find jobs. This is the general trend in the building trade. The timber industry is in a shockingly depressed state. Many timber mills have been closed down for months.
There are two major problems facing the building industry to-day. The first is the inadequate maximum amount that may be obtained on long-term loan; the second is represented by the heavy interest burdens that must be carried. Interest rates of 7 to 8 per cent, for long-term loans constitute a strong deterrent on would-be home-builders as well as those contemplating the construction of industrial buildings.
The Treasurer’s Budget speech did not criticize the prevailing high interest rates, and the Government has not shown any intention to reduce those rates. By their silence we can assume that Government supporters approve the interest rates that now prevail in respect of ordinary banking transactions and also in the field of hire purchase. Where is the incentive to invest in private business undertakings? There can be no incentive when people realize that the Government is indifferent to the many difficulties and burdens that must be faced when money is dear.
Broadly speaking, the Budget does nothing to revitalize our stagnant economy. Only resourcefulness on the part of ordinary people, overcoming their many difficulties, will enable us to achieve economic recovery. If we do recover, it will be in spite of the Government and not because of any tangible help from it.
The increases in social service payments provided for in the Budget will do little more than restore to those payments the value that they had when they were last increased, before the subsequent inflationary spiral pushed their value down. In reality the pensioners are given no more than a restoration of the purchasing power they enjoyed twelve months ago. The mothers of Australia have once again been rebuffed and have been given no increase in child endowment rates. Child endowment benefits were considered a necessity in years gone by, but since 1949 this Government has consistently refused to agree that the value of child endowment payments should be maintained. Each successive Budget has ignored the need to adjust the endowment rates, although some other social service payments have been increased in order to offset the creeping inflation that has depressed money values.
There are many anomalies and injustices in our social service system, but it seems that the correction of these must wait until a Labour government takes over the treasury bench. The crocodile tears shed by Government members for the family and for home security are so much poppycock while those who shed them continually refuse to give adequate protection and assistance to the mothers of Australia by increasing child endowment payments.
The Government has also failed to carry out its responsibilities to primary producers. It has constantly given only lip-service to them, while watching the spiral of costs creeping up and up while farm incomes were falling. At no stage has this Government sought to control costs of production, although it has always realized that the farmer must sell on world markets. The time is fast approaching, surely, when the Government must face this issue. If the United Kingdom joins the European Common Market the hand of the Government will surely be forced, and we may then see some tangible action taken in the interests of our primary producing industry.
The Commonwealth Development Bank was to have been the saviour of primary producers, or so we were told in 1958. However, after listening to the many searching questions asked of Ministers by backbenchers in this Parliament, we can deduce that all is not as well as was expected. Many of the opinions expressed by Labour members in the debate on the banking legislation were well founded. While the Development Bank has served a useful purpose, it has not proved to be the panacea that Government supporters predicted.
Having made a critical analysis of the Budget, pointing out its many weaknesses, I now turn to the positive side of this debate. We wholeheartedly support the programme outlined by the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday night. His first pledge was to restore full employment and give a new deal to those who are at present denied a weekly pay envelope. This is the first and most urgent responsibility of the Government. The first major steps that will be taken by a Labour government will be the implementation of a programme of works, the offering of incentives to industry and the restoration of purchasing power for goods and services to more than 100,000 workers who are now unemployed.
The Leader of the Opposition has also promised immediate action to help the automotive and housing industries. These industries are vital to our prosperity. They form an important part of our present day society, and they must be encouraged instead of being penalized.
The great failure of the present Government is its refusal to separate the nonessentials from the essentials. It has made all sections of the community suffer needlessly, when only a small section should have its wings clipped.
Our leader has promised a new deal to the States by paying to them the whole of the revenue from the petrol tax. This will establish the principle that taxes paid by the motorist should be used to provide better and more roads and other facilities for the motorist. This has long been sought by local government and other authorities and Labour’s proposal will be a refreshing item of news for State governments. A further pledge of assistance to local governments concerns the remission of pay-roll tax in respect of their administration, other than trading activities. As one experienced in local government, I would particularly welcome the granting of this relief. I know the many difficulties and burdens under which local governments perform their work.
A very important promise from our leader is to provide easier terms for borrowing money. This phase of our economy is in urgent need of stimulation. We are reaching a stage at which the borrowing of money is becoming a heavy burden, affecting the economic stability of many home owners and industrial concerns. Particularly does it impose hardship on primary producers trying to establish a new farm or to develop an existing one. The Commonwealth Bank could well set the pattern for cheaper money. This would need an alteration of government policy and a directive, through the Treasurer, to the banking structure. It will be done when we get a government that is willing to take the necessary step.
The pledge to establish an overseas shipping line should be welcomed by all Australians and particularly by primary producers. Only last evening we heard the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) describing how the private shipping lines had exploited the Queensland primary producers. This story could be told by producers all over Australia. The shipping combines and monopolies have had it all their own way since this Government has been in power. They will continue to do what the honorable member for Herbert complained about until such time as a Labour government comes into the field with a competitive shipping Une. If a shipping line costing many millions of pounds is to be established, the people ought to be given the opportunity by referendum to determine that no public utility or instrumentality could be sold by any government without the consent of the electors - again by referendum. This would prevent a repetition of the shameful actions of conservative governments in disposing of great public assets, built up over many years of endeavour, to private enterprise.
Further, Labour would prepare a bold plan for developing northern Australia. All who visit this area return and wax eloquent about the great potential that awaits development by the ingenuity of man. During the regime of this Government little has been done to grapple with the task that lies ahead. Instead, Government supporters have hurled ridicule and abuse at the Opposition as a smoke-screen for their own inaction. Our leader will meet the challenge to see that urgent development will not be hampered for want of finance. Just as Sir Arthur Fadden, the then Treasurer, budgeted for a deficit of £110,000,000 in 1953 so, also, can we, if need be, budget for a deficit to lead this nation out of its present economic turmoil.
Another important matter that will engage a Labour government is a revision of taxation methods. We know that, to-day, sales tax and pay-roll tax are a burden mostly on those sections of our community that are least able to bear it. It would be far better to collect the necessary taxation by direct rather than by indirect means. As an instance, we may remember that sales tax on furniture and household goods is now at the rate of 2± per cent. Why, it will cost more than that to collect it! It is far preferable that the sales tax should be abolished altogether and the necessary money collected by a more direct system. These are the things that will engage the mind and attention of a Labour government. I believe that this will be appreciated by the people when they know the facts.
There are many other matters on which I should like to speak, but my time has almost expired. In concluding, I say that the Budget has been a very disappointing one. It has not measured up to the requirements that were expected of it by all sections of the Australian community - by the industrial and commercial sections, by the financial section, and, perhaps most of all, by the working-class section. That is why our leader has accepted the challenge and has presented an alternative budget which he promises to introduce if he is elected to lead a Labour government at the next general election. The present time calls for boldness and not timidity; it calls for vision and not smug complacency. The Commonwealth Parliament needs a serious-minded leader, not 3 laughing Prime Minister.
.- Sir, I must be careful not to laugh. This debate has been quite interesting. It has been very reminiscent of budget debates that I have listened to for a long, long time. I have heard some of it directly, and some of it through the medium of the wireless. I have learnt more things about myself that I ever knew before. Not for the first time, but for about the twelfth time, I have listened to honorable gentlemen on the Opposition side explaining with some vehemence how my Government is busy ruining the country, creating disaster, and bringing despair into the hearts of people. This may be, of course, merely repetition for the sake of emphasis, but I know, and all those who have been here for a similar time know, that this is the customary diet. The odd thing is that, in spite of this ruinous process of administration that we have adopted, not only in 1949 when, I gather from one honorable member who spoke earlier, we won the election by fraudulent practices, but in 1951, 1955 and 1958 - at five consecutive general elections - the people of Australia, who are not fools, have been told of this kind of thing.
– You said this afternoon that people are gullible.
– Gullible are they? Is that the Labour Party’s view? All I can say is that in this series of five elections they have voted for us although there has never been an election campaign yet which was not preceded by prophesies from honorable gentlemen opposite of mass unemployment and grave disaster. At the end of nine years of our incompetent administration, the people of Australia gave us the biggest majority that a government has ever had. Gullible are they?
So I speak to-night on behalf of the people of Australia who have voted for us, who have maintained us, who have supported us, and who are now under attack for their own folly, so the Opposition says. That is the issue. Are the people stupid? Do they not understand these things? Or has the Opposition suddenly, in the still watches of the night, discovered the answers for the first time? It has never had them before.
I do not propose to waste my time on this or that. I want to say something about the speech of the prospective Prime Minister - the Leader of the Opposition. It is quite proper to refer to him in that way, as you will at once be disposed to agree. One must fight in one’s own division. Therefore, I deal with the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, who was described this afternoon in a somewhat intemperate speech as - am I permitted to use his name? - the great Arthur Augustus Calwell, I know him very well and we are, I am happy to say, on the best of terms. I have no objection to being Prime Minister and he thoroughly enjoys being Leader of the Opposition. The other night he favoured us with a speech on the Budget and I will, with proper respect, confine my remarks within a limited period of time to what he had to say.
– Get on with it.
– Yes, I will get on with it. So far I have been doing rather well, don’t you think? The theme song of the Leader of the Opposition - I quote his words - was: All the troubles in the economy have been Government-caused. I would like to say to my distinguished friend, if he were in the chamber, that, as a matter of advocacy, it is a very great mistake to overstate your case. He said: All the troubles in the economy have been Governmentcaused. That remarkable proposition ignores the rest of the world and the great tides of events that sweep around the world. Having established that proposition to his own satisfaction, he says - what? He cannot say, and he did not say, that we created the boom of 1959-60, because he denies that such a boom ever existed. I want all honorable members and all the people of Australia who may learn of the honorable gentleman’s statement, to get that firmly fixed in their minds. He denies that there was a boom in 1959-60. I think I have a note here of what he said. I must quote his precise words. He referred to - the myth-
I am not lisping - of the 1960 boom which the Government has been trying to create in recent months.
That is how the Leader of the Opposition disposed of the boom. He said that there was no boom. It never existed; it was an invention, an act of imagination on our part.
– Hallelujah, I’m a boom!
– I know that the honorable member who interjects agrees that there was a boom, but his Leader, or whatever he is, says that there was no boom. If the Leader of the Opposition means anything, he means that everything was going nicely. I am delighted to see that the honorable gentleman is here now. For his benefit, I must repeat what I said. I was saying that the Leader of the Opposition denied that there was a boom. He described it as a myth created by the Government in recent months.
– He will “myth” out, too!
– I am sorry that honorable members should see fit to laugh, because laughter is prohibited by the Sydney “ Mirror I never read it without laughing. But what does the honorable gentleman mean, if he means anything, by his statement that there was never a boom? What he must mean is that, there being no boom and everything, presumably, going nicely, we, within a year of an election, being minded to commit suicide politically, took unnecessary measures and caused a depression and dangerous unemployment - all of which my honorable friend will cu’-; by the time-honoured Evatt-Calwell recipe of increased inflation. If he does not mean that, I ask everybody: What does he mean? If there was not a boom - if everything was completely normal - why in the name of fortune did the Government that I have the honour of leading suddenly make up its mind to take unnecessary measures, to cause a depression and to go out to create unemployment? I put this to the common sense, if not of honorable gentlemen opposite, at least of the great Australian people: Why should they suppose that we would commit such folly, unless they imagine that in a single stroke we had all gone mad?
Now the Leader of the Opposition, having committed himself to these propositions, says, “ When I come in “ - he means after the next elections - “ I am going to have a February Budget” - I suppose January will be devoted to reconstruction and all that-“ for a £100,000,000 deficit”. That sounds magnificent, does it not? It is the master-stroke of statesmanship. I think the honorable gentleman does well to be optimistic. Every leader should be optimistic. He says, “ We have an election. I come in. We form a Cabinet. We get to work and in February I bring in a new Budget for a £100,000,000 deficit.” A Budget in February, let me remind honorable members, would relate to the rest of the financial year. It would not become effective until March. There would be March, April, May and June. So in four months of the current financial year the honorable gentleman would run into a deficit of £100,000,000. Subtracting the deficit of £16,000,000 for which we budget, he would have an £84,000,000 deficit for four months of the financial year. I am sure that, as an honest man, he means that; but I am equally sure that, as an intelligent man, he does not think it will happen. But if his statement means anything, it means that he would, in his Budget in February, introduce taxation reductions and increase Government expenditure at the rate of £84,000,000 for four months and, therefore, at the rate of £250,000,000 a year. This is the thoughtful contribution made by the Leader of .the Opposition. The arithmetic is simple. The deficit would run at the rate of £250,000,000 for a full year.
Let me go on from that point, because I am perfectly certain that my honorable friend does not design himself to be the Prime Minister just for the balance of the financial year. Therefore, there will be another year. This is always a salutary reminder. There will be another year, the financial year 1962-63. What would he do in his Budget for 1962-63? The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) is interjecting. I am not asking him, because he will have nothing to do with it. What would the Leader of the Opposition do with the Budget for 1962-63? Would he go flat out for another deficit of £250,000,000? Is that what we are being promised by this party that wants development and hates unemployment? Is that what the game is? Because if it is not, then presumably, having got through an election on this rather lush promise he will, in 1962-63, bring in a Budget in which he restores taxes, or cuts expenditure in order to achieve a balance, or continues the inflationary process and budgets for a deficit of over £200,000,000. Now, Sir, I do not ask the honorable gentleman to come clean on this matter in this debate, because he has already spoken; but I do hope that he will come clean on it with the people of Australia before polling day.
We want him to come clean on this: Are we being promised a vast inflationary system of finance - because I will say something about the consequences of that a little later - or is he just saying something at this stage in order to get over the problem of the moment, and will then come along six months after polling day saying, “ I am sorry. Those taxes I reduced I must now increase. That expenditure I let out I must now pull back “? Because, Sir, he has made glowing promises of easier borrowing. I wonder if he would mind my repeating it? Easier borrowing! Easier borrowing for the Government? For the people? How do you make borrowing easier if you are running into an inflationary boom? How do you make borrowing cheaper if the value of money is running away through inflation, as it undoubtedly would on the programme he has put before us - a programme which, I may say, was so admirably exposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) this afternoon.
– Yes, admirably exposed. It is a pity you were not here listening at the time.
– You are easily pleased.
– The honorable member says that I am easily pleased. If he would make only one bright remark 1 would be delighted. Easier borrowing. If I may use the famed Macaulayan phrase, every schoolboy knows that in a period of inflation borrowing is harder because interest rates must rise. But he is going to have easier borrowing. He is going to do something about the pay-roll tax. I must say to him, as an old friend, that I rather admired the way in which he phrased it. He did not really say, “ We will abolish the pay-roll tax.” That would have been well received by some of those business interests that we are supposed to serve, would it not? He did not actually say, “ We will abolish it.” He said, “We will look into this to see whether we can replace it in some other way.” That is as broad as it is long, and I do not attach much significance to it. He is going to do something about the petrol tax. He is going to have vastly increased expenditure in Western Australia and Queensland, in which States the expenditure by this Government leaves for dead whatever was done by the Labour Party in its own time. He drags out the good old thing about an overseas shipping line - the deficit on which no doubt he will carry on Treasury account. He is going to have some sort of government insurance company that is going to be unlike any other insurance company and be able to carry on profitably at a loss.
This is the kind of thing he says, and because, he has put it in that way, because he or whoever has advised him has looked up all the points of criticism, particularly in one or two places that we know of, and they have added them together, he produces this astonishing programme - so astonishing that I hope Australia will never have to suffer from it.
– It has suffered from the Menzies Government a lot.
– Australia has suffered from the Menzies Government for twelve years, and if you can find anywhere in the world a happier and more prosperous country than Australia, I should like you to drop me a postcard.
Now I pass on from that in order, if 1 may with profound respect, to point out a few gaps in the reasoning of the honorable gentleman who made this policy speech. I admit it is a little subject to correction, because the federal executive of bis party had not finished meeting at the time the policy speech was made, and we all know that the policy of the Labour Party is fixed by twelve people, or whatever it may be, outside. But I say nothing more about that, because I am sure he has had a difficult time. However, first of all, let me take the gaps in his reasoning. He denies the boom. I just repeat that, because he went to some pains to say that there was not a boom. I wonder, Sir, if the honorable gentleman believes that, and whether he is unaware of the tremendous rise in 1959-60 of what has been called “fringe banking “ but which I much prefer myself to call money dealing by people dealing in money, many of them making enormous profits in consequence.
– You could have stopped that.
– You say so, but 1 had other legal advice. Then there is hirepurchase finance. Is he unaware of the tremendous development in this field, of the development of fancy rates of interest, or does he deny that those things existed? To me, there were many indications of a boom, and to my benighted colleagues they conveyed the same idea.
Does the Leader of the Opposition deny that we have had a tremendous speculative boom in land sales?
– Promoted by the Government.
– Wait a moment! You do not get away from it by saying “ promoted by the Government “. I am asking a simple question: Was there a boom in land selling? Was there a speculative land boom?
– Ring up Artie. He will tell you.
– All right. Run away as fast as you like. Having a sense of relativity I am saying this to the Leader of the Opposition, who says that there was no such thing as a boom. You do not explain this by saying that somebody was to blame for it, because immediately you say that you admit it existed. But the Leader of the Opposition denies it existed. Does he? I wonder what people would say who found themselves having to pay a most fantastic sum of money for a bit of land on which to put up a home. But the Leader of the Labour Party denies that there was any such thing. Does he deny that there was a speculative boom on the stock exchange? Not a bit! He says there was no boom. I do not like speculative booms on the stock exchange because, quite frankly, stock exchange speculation very seldom, if ever, puts new money into industry. Does he deny that there was enormous increase in purchasing power, and that in consequence there was an immense demand for imports? Does he deny that? I put this, because he never thought fit to refer, directly or indirectly, to the fact that there was a grave threat to our overseas reserves, which were falling rapidly and, but for strong action, would have fallen to the point of danger. The prospective Prime Minister of Australia is unaware of that fact. It is so trifling in his mind that never, from first to last in a carefully prepared speech, did he mention it. This is the leader of the alternative government. Does he deny that there was an acute competition for labour and materials? I wonder whether it crossed his eye, looking over the records in the course of his studies, that because of this boom and this tremendous demand for basic materials, Australia, with all its remarkable increase in local production, had become a net importer of steel. There was no mention of it.
These are all the marks of a boom, and a government that is confronted by a boom and is afraid to do something about it is not fit to be a government. A government that inherits a quelled boom, or an abolished boom, and sets out to create a new one by its policy is not fit to be the Government of Australia either. Being confronted by all these obvious questions, the honorable gentleman took refuge in saying that the boom was an imaginary thing created by our imagination and having no existence in fact. So, Sir, as I repeat, he paid no attention to the problem of the balance of payments. May I remind him and remind Australia, if it needs to be done, that this wonderful country of ours lives on international trade more than does any other country of its population. We are one of the great trading nations of the world. I am not boasting about this. It is a fact that if you put down the first ten trading nations in the world in absolute terms, not in comparative terms, we are one of them. Of course we live on it, because our exports enable us to pay for the things that we bring in from overseas, the bulk of which are in aid of production in Australia itself. We are a great trading nation and therefore we have a vital interest in what our balance of payments may be.
Do honorable members realize that all the economic troubles that have arisen in Great Britain of late are troubles of balance of payments - America had a few of the same kind not so long ago - all problems of how you can keep your exports up to the world so that you may buy what you want from the world and not go bankrupt in the process? This is the simplest possible way of stating the problem of the balance of payments. But the honorable gentleman opposite says nothing about it. It does not count in his world. Whoever advised him did not think of it. But we have had to think about it. Governments have had to think about it very greatly in my time. I wonder - I am now speculating on what would have gone on in my friend’s mind if he had thought about this matter - I admit this is a dangerous and almost an impertinent exercise on my part - whether he would have said that there would not have been a problem of that kind if import licensing had not been abandoned. It is a very odd thing that in his speech, so much admired in the Sydney afternoon press-
– The dailies were not bad either.
– I was referring only to the juvenile section; you know what I mean.
– I understand. You would read the comics first.
– I always do - except that I read the leading articles; they are the same thing. Of course, my friend reads the comics, provided they are guaranteed written or drawn by an Australian. Anyhow, we will not quarrel about that. The Leader of the Opposition said not a word about import licensing. I thought he was going to say, “ Of course, there was a boom and you caused it. You did not invent it; you caused it. And you would not have caused it if you had not got rid of import licensing.”
Now, Sir, this leaves us free to speculate. Does not the Leader of the Opposition know that in a period of domestic inflation with full and, from time to time, over-full employment a reduction in the supply of goods will increase the inflationary pressure unless, corresponding with the reduction in the supply of goods by import licensing, you stiffen up the credit restrictions at home? You cannot have it both ways. There are two weapons you can use on this matter. One is to let more goods in, and the other is to restrict credit at home by various processes. But if you let all the goods in, then quite palpably you will have to restrict credit twice as much; otherwise the inflationary boom will go right out through the roof. That is elementary. You do not need to be a professional economist to know that. But the honorable gentleman has thought fit to ignore it. I wonder, Sir, whether my friend, who is a good Australian and believes in Australian industry, regards import licensing, with its inevitably arbitrary and bureaucratic character, as a sound permanent means of encouraging Australian industry, because quite frankly I do not. I am a great believer in Australian industry. I am a life-long protectionist. I will not accept the proposition that the right way to protect Australian industry is to put it at the mercy of the government of the day and of the officialdom of the day under a licensing system. Import licensing lasted long enough, and I hope that it will never come back.
There is one other question that I ought to put. I wonder whether my honorable friend, when he wins the next election and puts this new Budget of his into operation, is going to restore import licensing. He did not tell us. I am sure that as a member of the government which made Australia a party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as Gatt, he will realize that with the present state of our overseas reserves - because our measures have restored them to a position of abounding health in the last few months - he could not re-introduce import licensing because, as he well knows and as his Government explained to us at the time, you cannot impose quantitative restrictions except to protect your balance of payments, and the balance to-day - thanks to these measures that we have taken - is so healthy that nobody would have believed it possible five months ago. That, of course, explains why the Leader of the Opposition has not promised that he will restore import licensing. He has not even referred to import licensing and in fact, of course, he would not dream of making a promise because he knows that until his policy has been operating for six months there will be no justification at all tor import licensing.
Then, Sir - I am bound to say that I heard this with great reluctance and with some sorrow - I am accustomed to some of the extravagances elsewhere, but the honorable gentleman seemed to me to set out to destroy confidence, to preach gloom, to prophesy mass unemployment and to prophesy a depression deeper than anything we have ever known. Of course - and listening in this afternoon, I have learnt that there are quite a few expressions that are now parliamentary - it is utter drivel to talk about a mass depression of that kind. There is not the faintest reason for any such prophecy.
The fact is that every one in this chamber - I say this emphatically on behalf of all of us - hates to have out of work people who like to be in work and who are competent to be in work. Of course we do. No government in our history has done more over a period of twelve years to maintain the highest possible level of employment than has this Government. We do not need to be told by bellowing fellows - you know, Sir, whom I mean - about unemployment and its hardships. Unemployment presents the most tremendous human hardship that one can possibly imagine. But when people make speeches which, unless those people are utterly stupid, are intended to increase unemployment and human hardship, I express my utter contempt for them.
One of the greatest tasks we have is to get rid of the relatively small amount, but too big for our comfort, of unemployment that exists at present. The right way to do this is not to destroy confidence in the community but to encourage it. Let me put it into simple terms. To-day, the numbers of registered unemployed are a little more than twice what they were in the period of the boom. Do not let us forget that we have always had a number of people registered as unemployed, even in a boom when we have had full employment. Let us agree that the number to-day is twice as great as it was - that is 50,000, 60,000 or whatever you may care to call it. These people are tremendously important. How do we get them back to work? I put it in the simplest terms: We get them back by improving business turnover in this country by 2 per cent. - that is all.
– What sort of business?
– The business of buying at the ultimate end, if you want it explained to you. If people are threatened with unemployment and are constantly told by their supposed leaders, “ You never know, you may be out of a job to-morrow; this is going on and it will get worse and worse until it reaches the Lang 30 per cent.”, then, of course, they will button up. But if they go about their affairs in the normal way, believing, as I think they should, that this country is in a resurgent movement which will make everybody before long forget these troubles, business activities will return to normal. I put it in this way: 2 per cent, more buying at the ultimate end-
– With what?
– There is a good deal of purchasing power in the community. The honorable gentleman forgets that there has been a substantial increase in the basic wage, a substantial increase in social service payments in this Budget and a very large amount of tax refunds this year, running, I think, to about £90,000,000. An increase of 2 per cent, and the trade position will begin to clear, the stocks will begin to move out and the manufacturers’ wheels will begin to turn. Sir, I am trying to put this in proper proportion. It is all right to stand up and moan about people. I know it is the fashion for a few honorable members opposite to think of me as a thoroughly inhuman fellow. I am not.
– Aren’t you?
– You are the last man who ought to say so. I am not. I am a responsible political leader and as such it is my duty to point out to this country that whatever reduces the confidence of the people will destroy their employment and whatever makes them see the position clearly with all the elements that make for employment will restore the jobs of those who to-day are without them.
Opposition Members. - Oh!
– I have heard that “ Oh “ many times. I have been here a long time. I know Opposition members say I have been here too long.
– Too long!
– Yes, too long for you. I know that honorable members opposite live year by year, election by election, on prophesies of gloom. They say there will be more and more unemployment. That is the most shockingly barren policy I have ever heard. It is quite discreditable. When they find 97 people out of 100 employed in a factory or whatever it may be, they say to the 97 as vociferously as they can, “ Be careful, you may be the next to go “. I know it is not very well regarded by people of a delicate nature to say this kind of thing, but I perfectly well believe that there are honorable members opposite who would regard another 100,000 on the list of unemployed between now and December as the greatest political triumph in their lives.
– Who is being inhuman now?
– I am being human, but I am taking leave to question your humanity. You might think about that occasionally.
To me, the existence of unemployment is a terrible thing. It imposes human hardship. It is quite true that every government, whatever its political colour may be, must deal with these great problems in the broad and occasionally may have to accept some of these consequences. But it is a monstrosity to think that the Government does not know that there is tremendous tragedy in homes in which the breadwinner is willing to work but cannot work. The whole of our policy is designed to remove this tragedy. The whole of our policy has been to get rid of inflation, which is a threat both to development and to investment, to produce a sensible stability in the community, to prevent the value of wages, salaries and pensions from being run out by an inflationary movement, and thereby before long in total to restore a complete prosperity - not a boom prosperity but a sound prosperity to the country.
Our position to-day is that our overseas balances are good; that the seasonal prospects appear to be good, except, I regret to say, in parts of Queensland; that we have good prospects for wool production; and that we will have, I hope, good wool prices. Sales tax has been reduced on many commodities that affect the householder and we have the virtual ending of the credit squeeze, because all banking restrictions to-day, under Reserve Bank directions, are concentrated in substance on speculative operations, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out in his Budget speech. We have good bank liquidity and a vastly accelerated works and housing programme which has not received the study in this place that it deserves, though the Treasurer might, if he had had time, have said a good deal about it. We have increased purchasing power along the lines that I have mentioned.
The last thing I wish to say is this: The Leader of the Opposition said, being put to it by himself, that he prefers expansion to stability. I want to say, if it is a permissible form of words, that we prefer both. We attach enormous importance to stability not for stability’s own sake, but because we believe in expansion and because we believe that unless we can have a stable base in this country we can never attract the investments, the hopes, and the willingness to take risks that the country needs if it is to expand as it should. I could elaborate on that, but I will not, because my time has almost expired. Perhaps, before I resume my seat, I ought to say that I hope I have made it clear that we do not accept the proposition advanced by the Leader of the Opposition.
– In my opinion the speech that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has just delivered has shown him to be completely unfitted for the position which he now occupies as the leader of this nation. His speech was rather amusing in parts. No one would imagine that a crisis existed in Australia to-day. I well recollect reading on one occasion that the Prime Minister had an early ambition to go on the stage. It is a pity he did not, because at least there he might have been able to give the people a few innocent laughs. But what the people who are suffering as a result of this Government’s policy want to-day is a serious national leader who will approach and deal with their problems with great seriousness. We could liken the Prime Minister to a man of eloquent inaction. He is able to make very pleasant sounding speeches but does nothing to examine the crisis which now is confronting this nation, or to present any worthwhile programme to correct it
On an earlier occasion the Prime Minister said that the nation was living beyond its means internationally. That is the understatement of the year because, if honorable members care to tally the figures of our earnings from exports and our payments for imports over the last ten years, they will find that we are on the wrong side of the ledger to the tune of £1,800,000,000. We have been able to carry on only because this Government, like other anti-Labour governments of the past, has borrowed where it could and has induced foreign investment to come into this country. Of course, the Government claims that that is a good thing. I think I know what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) meant when he stated that the boom about which the Government talked was an illusion. The truth is that this country has been living on its “ fat “. The Government has not been willing to face up to its responsibilities. Away back in 1956 Sir Arthur Fadden, who was then the Treasurer of this country, stated -
We need an export income of £1,000,000,000 per year and imports limited to £650,000,000 per year plus a steady flow of capital intake.
We have not in any year yet reached the £1,000,000,000 of export income; neither have we been able to bring our imports down to the £650,000,000 level that was deemed necessary by the former Treasurer. In 1959, the Commonwealth Export Development Council advised this Government that in the ensuing five years we would require an increase of £250,000,000 in our export income to maintain our existing living standards and our present rate of development. Any one who looks at the available records will realize that we are nowhere near approaching that figure. In 1950-51 we had an export income of £982,000,000. When I mentioned that figure in an earlier debate Government supporters claimed that that was the year of the great wool boom. Well, let us turn to 1956-57 when our export income was £993,000,000. For 1960-61 it was £926,000,000. So, even if one accepts the Government’s own statements and figures, it can be seen that the country’s development has been retarded because the Government has not been able to raise the nation’s export income.
Until three months ago we had had twelve successive months of trading deficits. In May, June and July, the Government was able to obtain trading surpluses. But how did it obtain those trading surpluses? It obtained them as a result of the fortuitous sale of wheat to red China. Red China had suffered a famine and this Government, which has always prided itself on being a great anti-Communist government, did not want to accept the responsibility of selling wheat to red China, so it claimed that the sales were made by the Australian Wheat Board. We know that the wheat was sold to red China at below the cost of production, and that the balance between the cost of production and the selling price eventually will have to be made up by the Australian taxpayers. I am not opposed to the Government selling wheat to red China or to any other country because if we have a surplus production in Australia we should sell it wherever we can find a market.
The value of our imports has recently fallen to some extent. But how did the Government obtain a fall in imports? Simply by creating unemployment, by applying the credit squeeze and by bringing about a fall in production! Let me give some figures to indicate how production has fallen. I well recollect that on other occasions honorable members opposite have mentioned the increasing number of refrigerators that have been sold and the increase in the number of motor cars that have been registered. That was done in other days to indicate the great prosperity which it was then claimed existed in this country. Well, on 27th July last the “ Financial Review “ published production figures for June, 1961, as compared with June, 1960. These figures indicate that the production of bricks had fallen by 8 per cent.; of refrigerators by 40 per cent.; of television sets by 48 per cent.; of motor car bodies by 40 per cent.; of cotton yarn by 45 per cent., and of wool yarn by 36 per cent.
The ‘Commonwealth Statistician has released figures which indicate that there has been a substantial reduction in the production of electrical consumer goods. There was even a fall in the production of pig iron. Honorable members will remember that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made great play of the alleged fact that the Government, by its policy, had -caused a transfer of labour from non-essential industries to those that were more essential for the well-being of this country. Surely no one would regard pig iron as a non-essential commodity in a developing nation! Yet we find that production in June was 14;000 tons less than it was in May.
The Prime Minster stated that one of Our problems is the adverse terms of trade. Why have we adverse terms of trade? lt is well recognized that Australia’s export industries are in difficulty because the Government refused to do anything to arrest inflation when it took office in 1949, despite the fact that during the election Campaign it had promised to do so. The annual report of the National Bank of Australasia Limited indicates why Australia’s export industries are in difficulties. It states -
Inflation in those countries to which we sell most of our exports has been brought well under control. lt has not been brought well under control in Australia. The Government has some committee which it calls its agricultural committee. During the recess that committee went on tour and one of the properties it visited was that of Mr. G. B. S. Falkiner, president of the Australian Merino Breeders Association. To show how serious and critical the position of the wool-growing industry is becoming, Mr. Falkiner said -
Wool-growing would still be a highly profitable undertaking if production costs had not risen out of all proportion to the international value of our currency.
That is the exact answer to the problem which exists to-day. If our exports continued to receive the same prices overseas as they are receiving now, but their internal costs had remained at the 1949 level when the Labour Government went out of office, our export industries would be in “ clover “ to-day.
Mr. T. M. Scott, president of what was formerly ‘known as the New South Wales Graziers Association, stated as late as 12th March this year -
Wool production is falling. Expenditure on maintenance and ‘improvements is lessening. Already some capital as being -withdrawn from the industry.
It is said that £40,000 invested in the grazing industry to-day would give a return -of £2,000, provided you had a good season.
The Treasurer has said that ‘there is nothing wrong with inflation so long as it is creeping inflation, and he described creeping inflation as inflation at the Tate of 3 per cent, per annum. He said that that in itself was not bad for the nation. We are still continuing to experience creeping inflation, because in 1960-61 inflation continued to the extent of 3.2 per cent. That means, in effect, that a person investing capital in a government loan to-day would lose 52 per cent, of his capital at maturity if creeping inflation continued throughout the whole term of the loan. It is no wonder that the people are losing confidence in government loans and are not investing their money in them to the same extent as formerly. Mr. G. Chislett, the secretary of the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council, said that, in view of the way things were going, within six months the Government would be compelled to subsidize the wool-growing industry.
According to the Treasurer, inflation was under way during the latter years of the Chifley Government’s regime. The Treasurer was trying to establish that the Labour Government was implementing a policy that made inflation certain in Australia. Inflation was becoming apparent when the Chifley Government was defeated, and I will tell you why. In 1948, the parties which now occupy the Treasury bench opposed the prices referendum of the Chifley Government, which, if accepted, would have enabled that Government to stabilize costs and prices. Let me quote what the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said during the campaign on the prices referendum. On 8th May, 1948, the right honorable gentleman said -
It is nonsense to threaten that if the people do not vote yes, prices will skyrocket
At a Liberal Party women’s rally held in Sydney at the same time, the present Prime Minister said -
I would be prepared to break my seek to see the Government lose the prices referendum.
So you can see how keen he was to ensure that the people who are now making exorbitant profits should have removed from them the controls that were keeping prices stable. In 1954, addressing an election meeting in North Sydney, the Prime Minister admitted that the currency had depreciated by 60 per cent, since 1949. That was seven years ago, and inflation is still uncontrolled.
Let me turn now to what the right honorable gentleman said at the 1949 elections, to show what he undertook to do and what he has failed to do. On that occasion, he said - (Perhaps our greatest charge against the financial and economic policy of the present Socialist Government is that, whilst it has paid a good deal of attention to increasing the volume and circulation of money, it has largely neglected the problem of what and how much that money will buy . . . The greatest task, therefore, is to get value hack into the pound - that is, to get prices <5own.
How can any of the honorable members who sit on the Government side to-day argue against the allegation of the Opposition that the Government is completely responsible for the critical situation of our (internal economy and for the adverse position of our balance of payments overseas? This Government has had an extraordinarily lucky run. It has had a succession of good seasons. It has had ready markets for our products, and good prices have been paid overseas. Something was always taming up for the Government, such as the wheat deal with red China last year and the Korean war.
Let me turn now to the question of unemployment, because unemployment has been created deliberately by this Government. That is part of its plan. Nobody should imagine that because the Prime Minister gets up and talks about his humanitarian feelings, he has any concern for the unemployed. As I have said, this Government has deliberately created unemployment. This is what the Treasurer said on the master -
I ‘believe we are going to get a greater output in .future with fewer employees.
That is exactly what the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, said also. So you can see that the Government’s aim is to have a volume of unemployment so that the workers who retain their jobs will be forced to produce more, work harder and, no doubt, work longer. Some years ago, the financial editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ wrote an interesting article under the heading “ Is depression necessary? “ In this article, he stated -
Admittedly, depressions have had the redeeming feature of restoring efficiency to set against the misery of the unemployed.
That is exactly the attitude of this Government to-day. It believes that the existence of this army of unemployed will help ii to get discipline in industry and improve efficiency. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) had something to say on this subject when speaking in a television session in Brisbane. He is reported to have said -
Unemployment was greater than the Federal Government would have wished for.
What I would like some speaker on the Government side to tell us is this: What volume of unemployment was the Government wishing for when it brought down its policy of last November?
When addressing a meeting of Liberal Party officials in the Sydney Town Hall recently, the Prime Minister said, with a note of triumph in his voice and in great delight, like the mad professor who had just blown himself up with the bomb of his own creation, “lt worked!” Then the Prime Minister referred to what had been done in the United Kingdom with the same problem, and he said, “ But we did it first “. I do not know what he was trying to prove. If he thinks that he has accomplished a great deal by increasing unemployment to the extent that it exists to-day, in my opinion there will be very few people in Australia who will agree, with him.
Let me turn now to what the Government regards as its solution. This is the Government’s plan if you read the Treasurer’s Budget speech: Australia can spend its way out of the recession. The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have appealed to the Australian people to go on spending normally. In February, the Treasurer said that before there could be any relaxation of credit restrictions, three things would have lo happen: First, the banks would have to play their part by applying the credit squeeze; secondly, the price of wool would have to improve; and thirdly, the Arbitration Commission would have to give a decision favoring the Government’s contention in the basic wage case.
You will recollect that twelve months ago the Government intervened in the Arbitration Commission proceedings and argued that it would be a bad thing for the Australian economy if there was any upward adjustment of the basic wage. Twelve months later, when the court increased the basic wage by 12s., the Treasurer said that this was a good thing. He said it would increase purchasing power and would help to revive the lag in retail sales. Twelve months ago an upward adjustment of the basic wage was a bad thing; to-day the Treasurer believes it is good.
To show how the people are suffering, I cite the Commonwealth Statistician, who said that the Australian people ate and drank less in the June quarter of 1961. Why are the people eating and drinking less? The answer is: Because they are feeling the effects of this Government’s policy. Not only are many completely unemployed, but many of them are working short time. In many cases, as in the textile industry, they are actually working for less than the basic wage.
The Treasurer has referred to the fact that the hire-purchase debt has gone down by approximately £60,000,000 from the peak figure of £450,000,000. He said, “ This is one of the reasons why retail sales have fallen. The people are now paying off the debts which they accumulated.”
Only a little while ago, members of the Government were telling us that the people were having refrigerators and other household implements in their homes because this was a government which had brought about a prosperous condition in Australia. When the Labour Party was telling Government supporters, in previous debates, that the people were getting these things by putting themselves into debt, they denied our allegations. What is the position of the people? We find that savings banks deposits have been falling since October at an annual rate of between £90,000,000 and £100,000,000, because the people have to withdraw on their savings in order to keep going. That is the only way in which they can retain the household goods that they have secured on hire purchase, and it is the only way that they can keep going in periods of unemployment.
Let us take the public reaction to the Government’s Special Bonds issue. In the June quarter of 1961, the public contributed the relatively small amount of £1,600,000, but in the same period the reduction of Special Bonds on issue amounted to £2,400,000, so we can see what a sorry plight the economy is in to-day. Now the Prime Minister says, “ We do not want import restrictions back. The Australian manufacturing industry, in which I have great confidence, will be able to carry on quite well without them “. So he opened the “ Buy Australian “ campaign at the Hotel Canberra. Honorable members will recollect that at the time he was appealing to the Australian community to buy Australian goods, due to the removal of import restrictions he was flooding the Australian market with the cheaply produced goods from overseas. He was asking the Australian public to buy Australian goods, but when the Commonwealth Railways wanted rolling-stock, did they get it from the heavy industries in Australia that urgently needed the work, and that were only carrying on from week to week? Not at all! The Government sent to Japan for the rollingstock, because it could be obtained more cheaply there. So we can see how much sincerity there is in the Government’s “ Buy Australian “ campaign.
Let me turn now to the immigration cut. Honorable members will recollect that a long time ago the Labour Opposition were urging upon the Government the need to regulate the immigration intake, having regard to the employment and housing situations in Australia. Government spokesmen said, “No matter what happens, the immigration programme has to go on “. Now, by force of public opinion and the riots that occurred among unemployed migrants at the Bonegilla camp, the Government has been finally compelled to cut its immigration intake. Of course, it does not admit this openly, but the Treasurer was a little unguarded in his speech. He gave the game away and showed that the Government had actually reduced its immigration intake, because he said, “ The Government had the firmest intention to restore full-scale immigration as soon as circumstances permitted “. If you do not cut it, what have you to restore? It is still going at full scale. This shows that the Government realizes that the economic crisis will continue, that it will not be of short duration at all.
Let me return to the Attorney-General who, when addressing the Young Liberals in Perth, had the audacity to say that it was not a matter for the Federal Government to solve the unemployment problem. I shall tell honorable members where some of the unemployed have gone, because the figures issued by the Government are, as my Leader referred to them, faked figures. Evidently one of the places where some of the unemployed have gone is into the armed services, because in the last six months recruitment to the armed services has increased by 55 per cent. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) said that this was due to more efficient recruiting methods, but the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which is not a Labour journal, stated in its leading article on 6th July, 1961, in relation to the increased number of recruits -
Most of them resulted from an employment situation in which there are seven Australians reporting themselves out of work for every available vacancy.
So the increased recruitment into the services accounts for some of the people who have been forced out of employment by the policy of this Government.
My time is rapidly running out, but 1 want to say something in regard to foreign investments. This Government prides itself on the fact that it is getting into the country at the moment approximately £250,000,000 per annum in foreign investment. The Treasurer said here last year that since the war £1,000,000,000 had been invested in Australia from this source. Today, in answer to a question, he said, “ A deal of it goes into portfolio buying”. Portfolio buying means that foreign capital is taking over Australian industry. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the Government has not put any limitation on the amount of foreign capital that can go into existing Australian industries. Therefore, if one wants to see what is likely to happen if this Government remains in control, he must turn to Canada, where James Coyne, Governor of the Bank ot Canada, said that by 1956, because Canada had followed a similar policy, 48 per cent, of its manufacturing industry was foreignowned and 52 per cent, was foreigncontrolled. The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Diefenbaker, said -
United States companies in Canada have interfered with Canadian policies.
We know what happened in regard to our own Mount Isa mines in Queensland. The foreign company that controls a major part of the capital is an American company which, without advancing any reason or consulting with the Australian authorities, eighteen months or two years ago, ordered a decrease in the production of those mines. That shows what can happen. The Prime Minister does not worry about how much foreign capital comes into Australia, where it is borrowed or where it is invested.
Further, if ever we get into difficulties, we can see how his humanitarian feelings will react! A gentleman sent to me a very old press cutting containing a report of a speech that was made by the Prime Minister in the Wesley Church in Melbourne one Sunday afternoon during the depression of the 1930’s. It reads -
Rather than that we should fail to pay our honest debts to our bond holders, I would prefer to see every man, woman and child in Australia die of starvation in the next six months.
That is what the present Prime Minister said in the depression of the 1930’s.
Government supporters say, “ This is a period of development. We must develop Australia.” Let us have a look at the Budget in order to see how they propose to accomplish this. For roads in northern Australia, an amount of £1,000,000 is being provided. If it were £100,000,000, it would not be sufficient, but the expenditure of an amount of £1,000,000, in view of the road situation in the Northern Territory, will not be noticed. Now for the coal ports. Members of the Government say that there are opportunities of expanding our coal trade, so they propose to have consultations with the New South Wales Government about increasing port facilities at Port Kembla. Balmain and Newcastle, because the ports, they say, are inadequate for some of the ships that want to use them. What has the
Government been doing since 1949, if our port facilities are now considered to be inadequate?
Now let me turn to the Western Australian railways. The Treasurer said that this was another matter that was under consideration. There has been no action. An amount of £150,000, mere chicken feed, is being provided towards the cost of the survey of one railway in Western Australia. Then we turn to the South Australian railways, in order to see some more of this allegedly great developmental programme for Australia. The Treasurer said that the Government intended to have discussions with the South Australian Government to see whether it could help that Government with the provision of diesel locomotives and rolling-stock. The South Australian Government has sought a ruling of the High Court to force it to honour its undertakings under the Railway Standardization Agreement of 1949.
So we can see that we can hope for little in the way of national development from this Government. But Labour’s plan is different. We will build houses. We do not need overseas money to build houses; we have the labour, equipment and material here. We shall go on with sewerage. The Government is holding up sewerage work because, it says, we are short of overseas funds - we have balance of payments problems. What is wrong with our pushing on with road construction by utilizing the unused capacity in our Australian community and cutting out non-essential imports? According to the Australian Industries Development Association, by these means we can save up to £300,000,000 of the money that we now spend on imports and give employment to from 100,000 to 110,000 of our unemployed Australian working men.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, this is not the first time in debate in this House that I have had to follow the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and I find that ;t is a matter of providing the calm after the storm once again. Let me confess to the House that I rather like the task, because, after the ranting, raving and screaming of the honorable member, with all his excesses, I hope I will contribute the relief and serenity which usually follows the storm. How silly he can be. He i* just like his colleague, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). Thehonorable member for East Sydney implied that the 1949 wool production costs could have been pegged. How silly he can be when he makes such a statement. The public knows only too well that a Labour administration could not have done anything about that at all. He also suggested that everything - the elements, the seasons, the markets and prices - had rolled in favour of the Menzies Administration. But the public, as they had the privilege of listening to-night to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in one of the finest speeches he has ever made in his long career, will know that this Government has not had an easy road in the last twelve years. The Prime Minister has manfully led this Administration through difficult times indeed, and with a great deal of courage has done things, which the Government realized would be difficult indeed in the experience of every man and woman in the country.
Of course, the honorable member for East Sydney is an advocate for governmentcontrolled industry, for his own party only yesterday announced its renewed nationalization objectives; and there is a renewed fear in the minds of thinking men and women in this country because a Labour administration, if it released the funds that it claims it would, would want to direct those funds to governmentcontrolled industries. I cannot resist the opportunity to look the honorable member for East Sydney in the eye and remind him that when he talks about the ports of New South Wales he refers to something which is the distinct responsibility of the Labour Administration in New South Wales, which has been unable to handle the problem, and it is necessary now for the Commonwealth to assist that Government.
The national Budget carries with it wide implications. It simply cannot be treated in isolation, because its impact is felt not only by our own people but also by other nations. It is of paramount importance that the Australian people recognize that we cannot live to ourselves. For this reason, I wish to link our young nation with the world’s greatest human problem.
I will deal with this question for some minutes, because I firmly believe that the Budget to which we speak in this debate is linked indefinably with the world’s greatest problem. A great Australian and world figure in the person of Lord Casey recently stated that Australia should be deeply interested in the implications of what is called the population explosion. He said that apart from the need to avoid a nuclear war the present unprecedented growth in population ought to be tackled as the world’s greatest problem. I think the House should take note of the fact that every week the world’s population increases now by 1,000,000 people, an increase never before recorded in the history of mankind.
At the beginning of this century the world’s population was about 1,500,000,000, and to-day it is double that figure - 3,000,000,000. It took about 60 years to double the world’s population in this century, but it will take only the next 40 years to double it again. It has taken 200,000 years to reach a world population of 3,000,000,000, but it will take only 40 years to add another 3,000,000,000. The fantastic increase of nearly 1,500,000,000 in population in the first half of this century and the practically sure increase of 3,000,000,000 in the second half of this century is a phenomenon which has never happened before. That is why we hear to-day such a great deal about the coming population explosion. At the end of this century it will take about one decade to add 1,000,000,000 people to the world’s population, but it took 50 years, from 1900 to 1950, to add 1,000,000,000 and we therefore compare half a century with one decade. My colleague, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), also dealt with this world population problem in a recent article which he wrote. He said that the relentless pressure of world population might, within generations, prove to be man’s greatest problem and even his greatest tragedy unless some action was taken. The Minister wrote these words -
At the end of the century, with continued migration at the present rate, Australia could expect a population of only 25,000,000 at the most, unless there was a steady rise in the birthrate.
The Minister said that at the moment Australia was a nation of 10,500,000 people in possession of 3,000,000 square miles of territory and that consequently Australia’s density of population, only 3.4 persons to the square mile, compared statistically with 217.5 for Europe, 147.9 for Asia- both excluding Russia - 548.3 for the United Kingdom and 56.7 for the United States of America. Much of Australia, of course, is unproductive and unsuitable for settlement. But, as every Australian knows, there is a very great deal which is suitable and there are great many resources in this country yet untapped. If this nation does not increase its population and develop these resources, a hungry and over-crowded world in the future may well ask, “ Why not? “
Some time ago I read an article by Jean Fourastie on “ The Future of Mankind “, and also a lecture given by another notable Australian, Sir MacFarlane Burnet, entitled “2000 A.D. - A Biologist’s Thoughts on the Next Forty Years”. The Frenchman to whom I have referred recalled the numbers of world total population as accepted to-day and said man’s appearance on earth goes back 500,000 or 800,000 years. Four thousand years before Christ humanity still had less than 10,000,000 members. There were 100,000,000 at the time of the birth of Jesus and 2,400,000,000 in 1950. There will be 6,300,000,000 in the year 2000, according to the projections based on the mean estimate of the United Nation’s competent service. Sir MacFarlane Burnet stated that no form of sophistry can imagine that the irreplaceable resources of a small planet like ours can continue to supply a population increasing in geometrical progression, 6,500,000,000 in the year 2000, 52,000,000,000 in the year 2100 and 420,000,000,000 in the year 2200. What I want to stress is that this is what must happen if the current human situation persists.
Clearly it cannot go on, and we have virtually only two ways to bring the situation into line with reality. Either we can wait for a population reduction by the catastrophe of famine, nuclear war and the overthrow of civilization, or we can make a whole-hearted attempt to control the position before it is too late by spreading a sane understanding of the position, and by supporting a steady expansion of research. It will be necessary also for action to be taken to find the most humanely acceptable form of population control.
Why have I said all this, Mr. Temporary Chairman? It is in this context, I submit to honorable members, that Australia - a relatively young nation - has responsibilities, not only to herself but also to other peoples, and the nation’s annual Budget should, and I submit it does, reflect truly its exercise of responsibility. So I propose quickly to remind the chamber of what the Budget accomplishes, first, here at home, and secondly, overseas.
At home, according to the Treasurer’s words in his Budget speech, the Australian economy is basically stronger to-day than it has ever been. I say that again with the authority of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, in the face of what we have just heard from the ranting member for East Sydney. The Budget is designed, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to give further stability to Australia at a crucial moment in her history. Secondly, here at home, monetary conditions will be relatively liquid throughout this financial year, 1961-62. There has been a release of funds for housing. In reply to the criticism of the honorable member for East Sydney, let me say that this Government has done a great deal in the field of housing. Let him come to Western Australia and visit the new housing areas to see what has been accomplished. Admittedly, more houses need to be built - in an expanding population that will ever be - but what has been accomplished is to the credit of this Government’s administration. In addition to the release of funds for housing and for the Commonwealth Development Bank, an expansionary influence will be created positively by the deficit budgeting which represents a change from last year of over £32,000,000.
At home, national development continues unabated. The Government has no apology to make to the Australian people in the field of national development. It has a proud record and will stand by that record in the coming election. National development includes the uncovering of the mighty mineral resources of the country and the development of national projects of immense magnitude, and these are being carried out under the Menzies’ Administration. In this very Budget provision has been made this year for the expenditure of £152,000,000 on capital works and services. 1 said that I would turn to the overseas influences of the Budget. Externally our position has greatly improved. Our external resources have been built up to approximately £700,000,000. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the magnificent speech he delivered a little time ago, referred to the improvement in our resources. I now follow him by emphasizing that the value of those resources at the present time is £700,000,000. Secondly, investment from overseas demonstrates a well-founded confidence in the future of Australia. Measures to attract investment in Australia, and to increase our overseas marketing, are to be constant and will be applied by this Administration, as in other years, with initiative and broad vision. There is nothing restricted in the thinking and outlook of the present Government whose initiative and broad-world vision has been seen from time to time.
Bearing in mind what I said a little earlier about Australia playing its part in world population problems, I note that £10,500,000 has been provided for international development and relief. In addition, £17,300,000 will be spent in the administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It so happens that in my electorate I have an eager young constituent who is concerned that Australia should do more for underprivileged countries. I appreciate his views and his concern. My reference to responsibility in the world sphere should be sufficient confirmation of that, but I am sure, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that no apology is necessary for Australia’s efforts in this field.
In his speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said-
The estimates for international development and relief cover Australian assistance to countries of
South and South-East Asia under the Colombo Plan and Australian contributions to aid and humanitarian programmes of the United Nations. They include for the first time provision for Australian technical assistance to Commonwealth countries in Africa under the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan. They also provide for awards to Koreans for training in Australia. Total estimated expenditure under this Budget heading is £3,413,000, compared with actual expenditure of £5,336,000 in 1960-61.
Besides this, however, we have to provide this year the second instalments of our contributions to the International Development Association and to the Indus Basin Development Fund, both of which are appreciably higher than last year, and for a further release in connexion with our 18 per cent capital subscription to the International Bank for use in its loan operations.
In view of the provisions in the current Budget, it will be understood, I trust, that 1 hold the view that whilst Australia must maintain her programme of maximum immigration, she cannot expect to relieve more than a tiny fraction of the world’s population pressures. She must, therefore, continue to be as generous as possible. That is why I underline what our provision is this year in the field of international relief. Australia must do her best to contribute to national funds that have been established to mitigate the challenging human problem of excess population and the constant shortage of food and medicine for people who need them.
In the remaining time available to me I wish, as a Western Australian, to refer specifically to one or two Budget items. Other honorable members have referred to some of their experiences during the winter recess. Let me say that I had the privilege of taking the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation for a few days to the Esperance district in Western Australia. We were very impressed with what we saw. Newly developed pasture in that most promising area is carrying almost three sheep to the acre after a few years of activity. The progress which we saw fully warrants the loan from the Development Bank to settlers who may find that their personal capital is limiting the steady progressive development of their properties. Here again is evidence of progressive work, not only by this Commonwealth led by the Prime Minister but also of the progressive and successful Liberal Party Government which is in charge of affairs in Western Australia to-day and which, we hope, will remain in charge of those affairs for many years to come. Loans must also be available, I suggest, from the Development Bank for new industries and must not be confined under any circumstances to primary production only.
– Is there not a Country Party over there, too?
– Of course it is a Liberal-Country Party coalition government and I am glad to acknowledge that for the benefit of my colleague.
I turn now to the second aspect of the essential financial assistance to the Western Australian Government. I refer, as did the honorable member for East Sydney, to the Western Australian railway proposals. I prefer to read the exact words of the reference to this matter in the Budget speech made by the Treasurer rather than leave the committee with the inaccurate impression conveyed by the honorable member for East Sydney. The Treasurer stated -
Another matter under active consideration is the question of providing Commonwealth financial assistance to construct a standard gauge railway from the iron ore deposits at Koolyanobbing in Western Australia to the site of the proposed iron and steel works at Kwinana and for further work to provide a standard gauge service from Perth to Kalgoorlie. This is a very large project and one which calls for very careful study. Our examination of the proposal is proceeding urgently and we hope to engage in negotiations with the Government of Western Australia in the near future. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has agreed to provide funds to meet the cost of surveying the proposed route of the railway. An amount of £150,000 is included in the Budget for this purpose.
This statement was indeed encouraging for Western Australia, Mr. Temporary Chairman. A firm announcement - and perhaps that will be possible by this week-end - of the approval of this mighty undertaking, which is to cost some £41,000,000 over a period of years, could, of course, open up a new era for the Western State. Here again, once the implementation of this work is possible, there will be a contribution by the Commonwealth Government to real national development.
With my colleagues of the Government Members Food and Agriculture Committee, I visited Queensland, the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western
Australia during the recent recess. I readily support the plan to construct roads in Queensland and the Northern Territory for the transport of beef cattle. I should like to take this opportunity to mention the splendid speech made in this debate yesterday by my colleague, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray). It cannot be denied that an immediate rise in beef production will result from these improved transport facilities. Because of the immediate results that will be obtained, a wise administration will provide for this expansion of production. The Government’s contribution towards the provision of these roads is not an insignificant one. The honorable member for East Sydney implied that it was small and would be ineffective, but I consider that what is proposed at this stage will give a splendid impetus to the beef cattle industry of northern Australia.
The thrilling feature of our tour of northern Australia was our visit to the Ord River diversion dam. There we saw developmental work with a tremendous potential. We looked at the pilot farms and we asked many questions. We saw the commencement of the irrigation scheme and sighted the experimental crops, which were indeed exciting. We looked at the impressive town site at Kununarra, which, I believe, will have, not many years hence, a population of, say, 6,000 people to serve the farming area along the banks of the Ord River. There is the foundation, I believe, for the profitable use of the land in that part of north-western Australia. Young men of adventure will surely find scope for successful careers as they establish farms along the rich banks of this river.
The opening up of this land was impossible of implementation by the Western Australian Government, charged as it is with the responsibility of administering a vast State which comprises more than onethird of the Commonwealth. This work has been made possible only by the grants made by the Commonwealth Government in recent years to help the development of the north. The Western Australian Government, of course, will need to offer impressive market research reports in conjunction with its successful production reports. This Budget will provide £1,800,000 for this developmental work, or £592,000 more than was provided last financial year.
I have not time to turn, as I usually do, to the important sphere of social service benefits and to review the provision for social services made in this Budget. However, I praise the Government for its decisions. Let me, at the same time, say that there still remain many anomalies which I and my colleagues would like to have seen adjusted. But the important thing for the people of Australia to recognize is that votes in the coming election are not being sought or bought by foolish and excessive financial proposals in this Budget. Rather, as I said in my earlier remarks, this Budget promises the people stability. I am pleased with what is being done, and I know that there will be a murmur of gratitude from hundreds of thousands of the senior citizens of Australia, because this Budget will give them, on top of extremely helpful benefits, further assistance in their older years.
I turn my attention now to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who said that this Budget will do nothing. He even had the effrontery to throw around millions of pounds as he spoke of his alternative budget. There was an irresponsibility in his approach to the country’s financial affairs which reminded me of his recent television interview in Western Australia. When asked what rivers he would dam by spending the £100,000,000 which he proposed to spend in the North-West of Western Australia, he hesitated and, for want of a detailed convincing answer, he replied, “ I would dam all the rivers of the North-West! “. This is one of those irresponsible statements which indicates the danger with which the Australian Commonwealth would be confronted if this alternative leader of the country were elected to office. In the financial sphere he, like his predecessor as Leader of the Opposition, has nothing to offer. Nor would the ranks of those who now sit on the Opposition side of the chamber reinforce him with the strength that would be needed in members of an alternative cabinet.
I say in conclusion that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer of this country do not seek, with foolish promises of excessive spending, the support and votes of the Australian people. Instead, the Government offers stable, sensible administration. I believe that the people of Australia will, as they have done before, convincingly reject the irresponsible budget proposals made by the Opposition. I spoke earlier; Sir, of the calm after the storm. Let me say, finally, that I support this Budget as a statement of a further progressive programme presented by an able and proven administration which, is well worthy of reelection when a poll’ is taken towards the end of this year.
Mr. JAMES (Hunter) 010.8)-. - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I suggest that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) shows no concern for the unemployed in this country and for the way in which their ranks are growing daily. His speech made me wonder whether he has any unemployed people in his electorate. I ask him to listen intently to the description that I shall give of the plight of the people m my electorate, and I appeal to him to show some human concern for the unemployed when he next speaks in this National Parliament.
On behalf of the Australian Labour Party, I censure and condemn this Government for its Budget, which offers the Australian people practically nothing to ease their present plight - a plight which is the result of the Government’s economic restrictions in conjunction with the removal of import controls and gross mismanagement of the country’s affairs under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Many Australians were waiting with anxiety to see what this Budget would contain. But they have been greatly disappointed by it. The disappointment has been particularly acute for the unemployed, who now number approximately 130,000. Another 150,000 people are working parttime. Many of these unemployed people have no possibility of obtaining employment in the immediate future. The normal lives of these unfortunate Australians have been disrupted because they are unable to provide for their families in the normal way, educate their children and provide them with adequate medical and dental care, as it is the desire and the right of every decent Australian family man to do. The people in the northern coal-fields area did not expect anything constructive to emerge from’ this- Government’s policy, because they have been hoodwinked for too long: For a long period they have been the victims of monopolistic capitalism, which is furthered in every piece of legislation that this, Government introduces.
Despite what else may have happened in Australia, I claim’ that no community has been harder hit than that resident on the northern coal-fields. Since 1952 - long, before the economic restrictions were imposed - there have been repeated retrenchments of miners from the northern coalfields of New South Wales, mainly because of mechanization. From that year up to the; present time more than 8,500 men have been retrenched from the industry. Such retrenchments usually occur suddenly; the men are given only a week’s notice. These men have difficulty in finding other jobs. Most of them are more than 40 years of age and have spent their lifetime in the industry. I submit that it is not easy for a man to adjust himself to another calling after he has spent years in one industry without being prepared or trained for the change-over.
I have been disgusted at the fact that this Government did not, through its advisers, the members of the Joint Coal Board, anticipate the situation that has arisen in the coal-mining industry and did not act in such a way that the unfortunate mineworkers could plan their lives by studying for another calling and by deciding not to build their homes, which are now valued at below their true value, in this area. Even if it were possible for these people to sell their homes, they would almost have to give them away. Those men who have been fortunate enough to secure work in Newcastle industries are travelling from 70 to 80 miles a day to keep their family units intact. The Newcastle industries have now reached saturation point as an alternative source of employment, and the number of unemployed on the northern coal-fields is mounting daily. From 1st January last to the first day of this month an additional 1,016 men have been displaced from the coal industry in the Newcastle and in the northern coal-fields areas. That is continuing to happen, without there being any possibility of alternative employment.
The New South Wales Government is desperately attempting to stem the tide.
With its limited financial resources, which have been given to it by this Government, it has commenced to build a mental hospital at Cessnock and a penitentiary near that town. But I am afraid that this activity will not provide a permanent solution of the problem. The Joint Coal Board has given a reasonable grant of money for road development in the Cessnock and the northern coal-fields areas. But how long will that money last? It will last for approximately six months. Then many of these former mine-workers will be back on the dole. There are very few situations closer to death than that experienced by the honorable family man being thrown out of work. The Prime Minister said to-night that the Government was vitally interested in the unemployment position, but I suggest that he was not sincere when he made that statement.
I referred earlier to the fact that my constituents had been hoodwinked. In 1949 Mr. Cameron, the then chairman of the Joint Coal Board, said to my constituents when they were resisting mechanization of the mines because of the fear of unemployment - a fear they were justly entitled to express -
We would not allow a machine to displace a man from employment.
In spite of that statement, I repeat that since 1952 more than 8,500 men have been displaced from employment in the coalmining industry.
In 1955, Mr. Cochran, the present chairman of the Joint Coal Board, described an estimate that 2,000 men would be displaced from the coal mines as being a gross exaggeration. Subsequent events have proved his statement to be grossly misleading or wickedly false. The people are losing confidence in the Joint Coal Board and Mr. Cochran. In May, 1960, Mr. Cochran used these words in relation to the northern coal-fields -
Handled properly there was no reason why the bulk of Japanese gas-making coal requirements should not be met from the South Maitland fields.
What has been done since then? Nothing has been done. Mines which produce gasmaking coal are continuing to close down. Not so long ago, the rich coal deposits at
Pelaw Main colliery were closed down and 150 men were thrown out of work. The small township of Pelaw Main was thrown into a state of chaos. Immediately following the closure of that mine, the Stanford Main No. 2 colliery, at Paxton, was closed down. Only a few men in that town remained in employment. The owners said the mine was closed down because it was uneconomic. I suggest it was because they were not getting enough profits.
No government should have permitted a small, isolated town like Paxton, which is situated 12 miles west of Cessnock and within 40 miles of which there is no alternative employment, to be thrown into economic chaos. If the operators of this mine were only breaking even, and not making a profit, or even if they were losing financially, the Commonwealth Government should have given financial assistance to keep the men employed. I say that sincerely, because the Government has been able to find £30,000,000 for the purchase of Mirage jet fighters, which are to be brought here from France, and has also committed the Australian people to an expenditure of £40,000,000 on two rocketfiring destroyers which could have been built in Australian shipyards instead of being brought from America.
The next mine in my electorate to close down was the Bellbird mine, with a further retrenchment of about 80 men. Then there was the closure of the Stockrington mine, with a further retrenchment of men who had spent a lifetime in the industry. As a result, the town of West Wallsend was thrown into chaos. This town is badly in need of a special grant from the Commonwealth Government to carry out sewerage works. The latest retrenchment of miners occurred at the Northern Extended colliery only a week ago. More than 50 men were dismissed. This sort of thing continues to happen, bringing mental torture to the wives of these unfortunates. Yet this Government does nothing.
Surely the Government could have foreseen this state of affairs and planned to meet it by setting up a modern oil-from-coal plant, as was done in Holland, East Germany and other European countries. I have appealed to the Government in this chamber before to do something to prevent unfair competition from residual oil, bumy appeal has been of no avail. This Government has proved itself to be bereft of all human feelings and it could not care less about the plight of the people, irrespective of what the Prime Minister has said to-night. Why has not the Government, if it is not prepared to prevent an inrush of residual oil to the detriment of the coalmining industry, induced the oil companies to establish a petro-chemical industry in the coalfields area, or even at Hexham near Newcastle, so that the unfortunates who are the victims of the activities of foreign oil companies may have an alternative source of employment? I urge the Government to do something about the matter as a national emergency, so that the people of this area may find work and so that a normal life with their wives and children may be resumed.
In 1955 Sir Edward Warren, the president of the coal-owners association, made a public statement in which he said -
The industry can and will absorb any miners who may become unemployed.
In 1958, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) said -
Coal demand would be so great that it would not be possible for the coal-mining industry to attract the men to produce the coal that would be wanted and to man the mines necessary. As Minister I resent the suggestion that Cessnock is not going from strength to strength.
What rot that is, Mr. Temporary Chairman! I have never in my life heard such falsity on the part of a man who occupies a high office like that of Minister for National Development.
– You do not mean that.
– I do. I have had a lot of dealings with confidence men. I would rate you amongst them. Then we have another burst of absolute lies and gross exaggerations. 1 have had a lot of dealings with confidence men-
Order! The honorable member must moderate his language.
– Let me give another instance of what in my opinion were untruths uttered by Sir Edward Warren, chairman of the coal-owners association. In January, 1960, he said -
The New South Wales coal industry has surmounted its difficulties and placed itself in a position to meet the competition of other fuels.
Not long after that statement was made by the heir to the John Brown fortune, the coal owners were complaining about their inability to compete against residual oils, which had placed them in great difficulties. Of course, the international oil cartel could not care less about the human suffering and the economic distress which their products have caused to people who have spent a lifetime in the coal industry. Their constant ambition is to reap high profits.
The people of my electorate are usually peace-loving and tolerant, but they will not put up with the present cruel situation for much longer. They have been tolerant towards this Government’s action in casting them ruthlessly on to the economic scrap heap after inducing them to continue working in the coal industry after the war. At the end of the war, they were told they would never want if the country was given coal. Those people do not mind having muck thrown, and they do not mind having it rubbed in, but the Government is now virtually giving that muck the high polish, and they resent that. Indeed, they will not put up with it.
The coal industry in America met with similar difficulties because of competition from residual oils and the position became so bad that the United States Government found it necessary to introduce an oil import control plan, under the administration of the Department of the Interior. That had to be done in the interests of national security. It resulted in howls, screams and protests from the selfish oil importers, but a reasonable degree of sanity has now been restored on the east coast of America. Why cannot something like that be done here? Is it not done because this Government is in the pockets of the international oil cartels? I think that must be the reason. Are these cartels contributing to the election funds of the Government parties, or to their stooge the Democratic Labour Party, with whom they have an unholy alliance?
– Tell us the latest about that.
– That is all that will save you. You will lose your seat unless you have that alliance. Recently, I was in Queensland. The natural gas resources at Roma in that State are well known to most of us. Certain interested persons there have a proposal for piping this natural gas over 300 miles to Brisbane for both industrial and domestic use. Why could not this Government persist in a proposal for the piping of gas from the coalfields of northern New South Wales to Sydney, a distance of only a little over 100 miles, servicing all towns en route? Such a scheme would lead to cheaper gas for the consumers. It would eliminate expensive shipping and transport costs and, at the same time, it would give the coal industries of northern New South Wales a greater measure of protection. Residual oil should not be used in the gasworks of Sydney and Melbourne to the detriment of our own gas and coal.
I have no objection to the proposed expenditure on the provision of port facilities for the export of coal, but I do wish the Government to pursue a vigorous coal utilization scheme in order to restore some sense of security and sane conditions to the gas coal industry.
I come now to the question of defence. The Budget under consideration seeks to increase the defence allocation by £4,000,000 above the amount provided last year. This is at a time when all nations are screaming for international peace! What hypocrisy! Yesterday, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) said in answer to a question he was asked in this House that all Australian Army personnel had been issued with FN rifles and that almost half the cadet personnel also had been issued with this rifle. In my opinion, the expenditure of even £1,000,000,000 on defence would not be adquate to defend our vast coastline. I am convinced that the huge defence expenditure being undertaken by this Government is being done for the purpose of pleasing America. I hope that in my lifetime the means of killing people will be destroyed and that the steel that is used in the manufacture of the weapons of war will find its way into the blast furnaces of the nation, to be converted into ploughs, harvesters, tractors and binders for the production of food for the hungry people of the world. Indeed, I am confident that if the weapons of war now being manufactured are ever used, the flames of war will consume not only the profits amassed from the production of armaments but also the owners of the many munitions factories.
This Government is doing nothing to bring about world unity, peace, mutual confidence and trust between the great world powers. If it were eager to do something in this direction, it would recognize mainland China’s request to become a member of the United Nations. On 2nd May this year, the Canadian Government announced that it had made an agreement with mainland China to sell to that country 6,000,000 tons of wheat, barley and flour during the next 18 months, the price being 362,000,000 dollars. What opportunities there are for Australian farmers to seek markets in Asia, which is virtually next door to us. We will have to seek markets in Asia if Britain’s application to join the European Common Market is accepted. That is why I say that during my lifetime I should like to see the weapons of war cast into the blast furnaces and converted into implements to produce food. After all, would not that be much more in keeping with true Christianity than the war mongering programmes pursued by this Government? If the money that has been spent on weapons of war by the world powers during the last twenty years had been used for housing, 150,000,000 homes could have been provided to house hundreds of millions of people. No attempt is being made to build houses in preference to manufacturing weapons of war.
I come now to war service homes, for which £35,000,000 is to be allocated this year. That sum is totally inadequate. The number of letters I receive from people wishing to obtain advances from the War Service Homes Division is amazing. Applicants are told that they will have to wait twelve months before their applications will be considered, and as a general rule they are directed to some legal eagle. I do not suggest that all legal men are eagles but some do pick up their prey for the kill while others believe in crushing their prey to death.
– Did you carry a pistol when you were a detective sergeant?
– No, because I did not anticipate coming across any of your kind. Only a week ago, a woman wrote to me saying that her application for a loan from the War Service Homes Division had been refused, that she had been referred by the division to a solicitor, and that ultimately she had agreed to pay 10 per cent. interest for financial accommodation. This unfortunate woman is a good type of Australian. She is the mother of four young children. It is because this Government is spending so much on defence that it is unable to increase the allocation necessary to provide war service homes for such deserving people as this mother of four children. The paltry sum of £35,000,000 is far too little to meet the demands of applicants for financial accommodation from the War Service Homes Division.
I wish to refer to the lack of provision in the Budget for health services. It was stated in the “ Newcastle Morning Herald “ yesterday that 300 dentists were leaving this country to go back to England to practice under the national health scheme. Either they are too conscientious and are disgusted by the charges which their colleagues impose on the unfortunate people of Australia, or the national health scheme in England provides for a more lucrative practice. I am prepared to believe that they are disgusted by the charges for dental treatment that many dentists in this country make.
I say to the people of Australia that because of the maladministration of this Government the workers have had inflation to boot around for years, and now they have unemployment. I appeal to the people to raise their voices loud and clear between now and the next general election. In conclusion, I recall the following words of a poet named Whittier who wrote them more than 200 years ago: -
Our great land to ruin’s brink is verging.
In God’s namelet us speak whilst there is time.
The padlocks for our lips are forging
And silence is a crime.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Osborne) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This is the first occasion on which I have spoken on the motion for the adjournment, but I assure honorable members that 1 shall detain them for only two or three minutes. This morning, at question time, I put to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) a question seeking information concerning the activities of the Australian Medical and Accident Insurance Company Limited. The Minister indicated that he would let me have a detailed reply later. I now have that reply and I desire to bring it to the notice of all honorable members, particu« larly those who may have constituents what are vitally concerned in the matter. It is as follows: -
The Australian Medical and Accident Insurance Company Limited is incorporated in South Australia and carries on insurance business in all States except Queensland. It has engaged in sickness and accident insurance. It is not registered for the purpose of Commonwealth medical or hospital benefits under the National Health Act.
The company was fined £250 in Adelaide last week on each of two charges of failing to lodge the full amount of the deposit required under the Insurance Act 1932-60. Although the additional deposit required was lodged subsequent to the issue of the summonses, the amount of the fines has not yet been paid by the company. Judgments upon claims under policies were obtained recently, and consideration is being given to the payments being met by the Treasurer out of the securities held as a deposit, which total £35,005. However, a petition for the winding-up of the company has been lodged by a creditor and it is set down for hearing by the Supreme Court in Adelaide on 18th September. If a winding-up order is made, section 22 (2.) (a) of the Insurance Act will apply. It provides that - (2.) In the event of the winding-up of a Company or the sequestration of the estate of a person other than a Company, being a Company or person that carries on insurance business in the Commonwealth and has deposited money or securities under this Act -
The money or securities so deposited shall, subject to any order made under subsection (3.) of section eighteen of this Act, be held by the Treasurer to meet the liabilities of the Company or person under the policies issued by it or him in the Commonwealth; . . . “
Section 18 (3.) applies to companies carrying on business outside Australia and is not applicable in the present case.
In the circumstances, and with a view to ensuring that equity is preserved among all claimants under policies, it may be decided not to pay policy-holders who have obtained judgments until all liabilities of the company under policies are known. Claims under policies should be submitted to the company in the normal manner, but pending the hearing of the petition that has been lodged for the winding-up of the company, policyholders may wish to consider whether there would be any advantage in the meantime in proceeding to obtain final judgments against the company.
That, Sir, is the text of the Treasurer’s reply on this matter. I know that it will be of value to those honorable members who are interested, and I believe that the information will enable everybody to assess where he stands with this company.
.- This morning, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) spoke to a motion protesting against the Soviet practice of making a prison house for its people and refusing to allow them freely to emigrate. I do not want to refer to the debate-
– Order! I think the honorable member should bear in mind that the debate has not been concluded.
– That is quite correct, Sir. I bow to your ruling. I do not wish to refer to- the debate but to something that happened while it was proceeding. While the honorable member for Mackellar was speaking, I interjected. There is no doubt that my interjection invited a retort, but I do not think that the honorable member’s reply should have been couched in the words that he used. He said that my interjection proved beyond all doubt where my sympathies lay in relation to this matter. Every honorable member knows that the honorable member for Mackellar is a fanatical redbaiter. That has been proved beyond doubt by his numerous speeches which have been made for party political propaganda purposes. I believe that the motion which he proposed this morning was prompted by a desire to make political propaganda and was not couched in sincere terms.
– That is your opinion.
– You could not have listened to the honorable member’s speech and still say that.
– Order! The honorable member for Watson has the call.
– I did listen to the speech of the honorable member for Mackellar, and that is my opinion of it. In a moment or two I shall point to the inconsistency of his attitudes.
You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that a few years ago atrocities occurred in a certain part of the world. I agree with the honorable member for Mackellar that all peoples should enjoy freedom to travel and to emigrate to other countries if they wish to do so. The Australian Labour Party believes in the free migration of all peoples. We do not believe in oppression. I have always been a violent opponent of all forms of totalitarianism, whether it be communism, fascism or anything else. However, I like to be consistent. When atrocities occur in Russia they should be criticized violently, just as they should be criticized if they occur in other countries. We should always voice our criticism when we see people being oppressed by their governments.
Did the honorable member for Mackellar rise in this chamber and protest when inhuman and un-Christian atrocities were perpetrated at Sharpeville in South Africa? Not on your life, because there was no political propaganda to be made out of that incident! But at this time, just before an election, he thinks he can make political propaganda out of this issue by red-baiting the Opposition. However, we will have a further opportunity to debate this matter because the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has told us that he intends to make a further statement on international affairs, which will give us the opportunity to re-open the whole question.
I would also remind the House that this same gentleman, the honorable member for Mackellar, publicly protested against this Government’s trade policy and against certain valuable trading arrangements that have been made and which are of great importance to the Australian economy. This gentleman has protested against that kind of trade with Communist countries. I turn to members of the Country Party and ask them whether they agree with him that we should not trade with Communist countries. I ask any member of the Liberal Party, which supports the policy of trading with red China, to say whether he disagrees with the Government.
Every one knows that this man is a fanatic on matters of this kind. That is why I have risen in the House to-night to explain my position. I have never been associated with any members of the Communist Party, and I have never yet had the opportunity or the honour of presenting any members of the Communist Party with a silver cup. I have been in this House long enough to know that at every possible opportunity this chap rises to his feet and tries to smear members of the Opposition. Any one who does not agree with him is, of course, proCommunist or a fellow traveller.
I rose to-night to make a protest at the retort to the interjection I made this morning, when the honorable member said that he knew where my sympathies lay in this matter. Nobody knows better than the honorable member for Mackellar where my sympathies lie in this matter, and I think every honorable member of this Parliament knows where my sympathies lie. I repeat that I and all the members of the Labour Party believe in freedom for all people. We believe that there should be freedom not only in Russia but also in South Africa and in every other Fascist country in the world. Is there any one here who disagrees with that viewpoint? I do not think the-e is.
I have merely tried to point out the inconsistencies that characterize this particular member. He wants to criticize only one country. I repeat that that country deserves criticism because of the atrocities committed and the attacks made on free peoples whose only crime is that they seek freedom in other countries. I believe that this is so, but I also believe that other countries should be criticized for oppressing free people.
.- I think that, on reflection, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) will regret that he has made this anti-anti-Communist speech. He has been completely unfair to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in suggesting that the honorable member proposed his motion for sheer political purposes. I do not believe that any sincere person, listening to the honorable member for Mackellar, and seeing him, would have had any doubt at all in his mind as to the deep conviction that motivated the honorable member when he spoke in the House this morning. I regret that the honorable member for Watson has seen fit to describe him as a fanatical redbaiter. This is the kind of thing that we hear from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr Haylen). This kind of language does not become the honorable member for Watson at all.
As a matter of fact I noticed that when the honorable member for Mackellar was speaking this morning, the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Parkes sat in their places and giggled and sneered at the honorable member for Mackellar in a most unbecoming way.
– When was this?
– There is no denying it. The honorable member for East Sydney was sitting there yawning his head off as if saying to himself, “ I am now a spent volcano, and all that is left to me is to rumble”. He reflected no credit on his party at all. Nor did the honorable member for Parkes reflect any credit on his party. 1 put it to the honorable member for Watson that he was completely unfair in saying what he did this evening about the honorable member for Mackellar. The honorable member for Mackellar was motivated by high and noble purposes, and that is not something to be dismissed out of hand or despised. I regret very much indeed that the honorable member for Watson has spoken in this strain.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, definitely. The honorable member for Moreton made some reference to my conduct in the House during the time when the honorable member for Mackellar was speaking to his motion this morning. I believe there are many honorable members in this House at the moment who will agree that shortly after the termination of question time I left the House and did not return for some time, and that I was not in the House while the honorable member was making his speech. I heard him commence it but I remained for only a few seconds and then left the House. I simply wanted to direct attention to the fact that the honorable member for Moreton on this occasion, as on most other occasions, is completely unreliable.
.- I was interested to hear the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Cash) raise a matter involving the organization known as Australian Medical and Accident Insurance Company Limited, both at question time this morning and during the debate this evening on the motion that the House adjourn. I have been trying throughout this week to put a question to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) in these terms -
Is the Australian Medical and Accident Insurance Company Limited, with head-quarters at 231 North-terrace, Adelaide, registered as an approved medical benefits organization with the Commonwealth Department of Health? If so, I would like to inform the Minister that cheques paid to Tasmanian customers of this company have bounced when presented to the bank, which has informed the customers that the account is closed; yet the company is still doing business. Will the Minister check the bona fides of this company, which has led people concerned to greatly doubt its solvency and standing?
I have before me a cheque that was received by one of my constituents, three of whom have been affected in this way in dealings with the company concerned. The cheque is dated 27th June, for an amount of £10 18s. 3d. The constituent’s claim was for £14 10s., but he received a cheque for only £10 18s. 3d. It appears to be properly signed by company representatives in Adelaide, and it is drawn on the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited. It was presented through a businessman in Launceston, and a note was sent back saying that the account was closed and that the cheque was, therefore, returned. I have two other constituents who also have dealings with this company, and they have been gravely concerned because they have not received replies to letters. Interestingly enough, the cheque I mentioned was signed on 27th June, and, as I said, it bounced. Yet the company sent a letter to one of my other constituents, on 30th June, three days later, which said, among other things -
Enclosed please find your C6 (which includes C4 Death by accident) Policy No. PA/W158.
You will note that your Insured amount has been reduced from £1,000 to £500.
The letter was signed by the managing director, Mr. K. D. Anderson. The company was still doing business after its account had been closed and while cheques were bouncing.
I am very glad that the affairs of this company are now receiving the closest scrutiny, and I am sorry to say that several of my electors are going to lose heavily as a result of the company’s financial depredations in South Australia. I am glad the honorable member for Stirling brought this matter up, because other people who may be on the point of being trapped by the company’s agents into taking out insurance may now be forewarned. The company did have an office in Tasmania until about June of this year, but the representative suddenly disappeared, and the only replies to letters sent by me to the company in Adelaide have been circular letters to the effect, “ This matter will receive attention “. I am glad that we have at last caught up with this company.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Survey of the prawn resources off the Australian east coast from Princess Charlotte Bay in north Queensland to Lakes Entrance in Victoria - cost, £58,869 lis. 7d. Survey of crayfish resources off south west Western Australia - cost, £19,389 12s. 4d. Survey of pilchard resources off the New South Wales coast- cost, £5,902 lis. 9d. Survey of barracouta resources in Bass Strait area - amount allocated for five-year programme, £29,500; to 21st August, 1961- cost, £15,599 12. 9d. Survey of tuna resources off south-west coast of Western Australia - amount allocated (for 12 months’ survey), £40,000 (less returns from fish caught); to 21st August, 1961- cost, £3,076 18s. 4d. Representation at International Fishing Gear Congress, Hamburg - cost, £500. Investigation of the biology of the Western Australian crayfish (Panulirus longipes - amount allocated (for three-year programme), £4,500; to 21st August, 1961 - cost, £2,250. Purchase of Puretic power block - cost, £340 5s. 4d. Investigations associated with the Bight trawling project - cost, £720 lis. 4d. Investigation of the trawling potential of the Great Australian Bight - investment in Southern Trawling Company (including purchase, delivery and equipment of trawler), £285,000.
z asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Ormond White, A. H. Tidey, Rohan Rivett, Professor Julius Stone, Professor Richard Spann, Rev. Dudley Clarke, Dr. Harold Bell.
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
How many dwellings were completed in Australia during the years 1958-59, 1959-60, and 1960-61?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
1958-59, 84,158; 1959-60, 90,021; 1960-61, 94,352
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
When will the July, 1960, edition of the “ British Pharmaceutical Codex “ be gazetted under the Therapeutic Substances Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It is anticipa ed that the 1959 edition of the British Pharmaceutical Codex 1959, which came into force in the United Kingdom on 1st July, 1960, will he gazetted with effect from 1st November, 1961.
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 August 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19610824_reps_23_hor32/>.