23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. I ask him: Is it true that masts and aerials for fringe television reception, on which many hundreds of country viewers have expended up to £200, will be unsuitable for the reception of programmes from both metropolitan stations and the new country stations? As it must have been evident to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department that a great many country people were making this large outlay, why were they not informed that these masts and aerials would be useless for local reception, and that additional expense would be necessary before signals from local stations could be received?
– I advise the honorable member that, in the extension of television further throughout Australia, it is essential that the utmost use be made of the available frequencies. A great problem is that television stations have a limited range, and that there are inevitably fringe areas around each station in which reception is not good. This problem arises when new stations are opened in country districts where programmes from metropolitan stations can be received, although not very well. Only relatively few of the people in any area which is to be served by a new station have expended considerable sums on special aerials to enable them to pick up signals from a metropolitan station. However, the new country station in any particular district will enable many thousands of people who have not previously been able to see television to receive programmes, and it is in the interests of those people that stations are being established in country areas. In some instances, it will still be possible to receive programmes from both the metropolitan and the local station, but, in the main, the local station will be of such power, and its signal so strong, especially as its frequency will probably be quite close to that of the metropolitan station concerned, as to interfere very considerably with signals received until now from the metropolitan station.
The honorable member asks why people were not warned that this would happen. As a matter of fact, this subject has been raised on several occasions. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, in one report, mentioned the possibility of this problem arising as television was extended. So the people who face this problem have not been without some notice of it. Also, we must assume that, before expending a couple of hundred pounds or so on a special aerial to enable him to obtain programmes from a metropolitan station, a person would at least make some inquiries about the likely position when television was extended to his own district.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Is it a fact that when the Parliament goes into recess Hotel Kurrajong, which is now administered by Commonwealth Hostels Limited, will be closed down, with the exception of a small part of the establishment which will be required to serve fifteen guests, and that the employment of most of the staff will be terminated?
– I welcome this question from the honorable member, because rumours have been floating around this House and Canberra that the Hotel Kurrajong will be closed during the coming parliamentary recess. Sir, that is a rumour which, I think, has been mischievously inspired. What is intended is that the hotel will remain open, although it will, of course, have to cater for many fewer guests than it does when the Parliament is in session. This year it has been arranged that some employees of the hotel will take their annual leave during the recess. Others will voluntarily stand down. These employees have agreed to this. Others will be transferred to work at various hostels in Canberra. This has been arranged with the complete agreement of employees of those hostels, who will take their annual leave and whose work will be performed in their absence by employees transferred from the Hotel Kurrajong. I am glad that this question has been asked, because I have been informed that the rumours have caused considerable concern to some of the employees of the hotel.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Social Services a question. Several days ago I asked the Minister a question concerning the payment of unemployment benefit to men at Mount Isa who are at present unemployed, and who have applied for the benefit. The Minister said that he was having the legal aspect examined. I now ask the Minister whether the Government has made a decision in the matter, and whether it is proposed that these men be paid the unemployment benefit.
– The honorable member for Kennedy has asked me questions concerning the eligibility for unemployment benefit of applicants who are currently involved in an industrial dispute at Mount Isa. I undertook to convey the decision to the honorable member as soon as it was reached. It is now my unpleasant duty to inform him that these applicants are not eligible.
– Why not?
– Some fifteen industrial and craft unions are involved in the dispute, and it is impossible to escape from the conclusion that the members of these unions are, in one way or another, direct participants in an industrial strike. During the metal trades industries dispute in 1946 the members of the unions concerned were informed by the Government at that time that “ where workers have imposed a darg, and they are stood down, unemployment benefits cannot be paid if the employer is willing to re-engage them subject to the performance of their normal duties “. That general rule has been applied ever since, and it is not proposed to depart from it in this instance.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has the Australian Government been consulted about the advisability of the Queen visiting Ghana? If the Government has not been consulted, and in view of the unhappy and very disturbing situation now existing in Ghana, will the Prime Minister consider such advice as may seem clearly appropriate concerning the Queen’s proposed visit?
– We have not been consulted about this matter, nor should I expect that we would be. This is, after all, a matter that concerns the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Ghana, and I think it can be adequately dealt with in that setting.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. On 17th April, I wrote to the Minister concerning a request that had been made by the Bundoora Cricket Club about its desire to establish a recreational centre at Bundoora. The Minister promised to reply when he had further information. Will the Minister inform me whether he has any further information on this matter?
– I can give the honorable member some more information about this matter. The land to which he has referred has been used by the Bundoora Cricket Club for some years on a permissive occupancy basis. The club has sought to acquire a title to it, and also to some additional land. It forms part of the property on which the Bundoora repatriation mental hospital is built. The matter has been fully examined, and the Repatriation Department can dispense with the area of which this land is a part. However, I understand that there may be some obligation to the Government of Victoria from which the Repatriation Department acquired the land, and that other public authorities are interested in parts of it. My department has either already declared the land surplus to its requirements or will shortly do so. From the time that is done, the land will become the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and I shall inform him of the honorable member’s interest in this property.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Have any plans been made to increase the power of the national broadcasting station 3LO Melbourne? If so, when will this increase eventuate? Will the implementation of these plans enable people in north-eastern Victoria to obtain a more satisfactory reception from this station?
– It is intended to increase the power of station 3LO Melbourne along the same lines as I mentioned yesterday with regard to 4QR Brisbane and other stations that have been brought into this plan. The power of 3LO will be increased from 10,000 to 50,000 watts. The early work is proceeding now. It is expected that the new power will be operating about the middle of 1962. It will certainly give a much better signal to the country areas in Victoria, such as the area represented by the honorable member for Indi. An alternative service will be available also.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Yesterday, the Commonwealth Statistician published employment figures for August, and he showed that there was an increase of unemployment in August of the order of 2,300. The Department of Labour and National Service, in its unemployment figures for August published about a month earlier, purported to show a decrease of 2,700 in the army of unemployed. One government agency has announced that there was an increase of 2,300, and another has stated that there was a decrease of 2,700. Will the Minister make another one of his famous efforts to compare the incomparable?
– Gallantly, the honorable gentleman has answered his own question by asking me to compare the incomparable. It is not unusual for him to give the game away at the end. Now, Mr. Speaker, the simple truth is that the two sets of figures cannot be compared. I have said that the figures issued by the Department of Labour and National Service relate to actual facts. They show the number of persons who are, in fact, registered and who want employment. They are accurate figures, and the next set of relevant figures will be issued next week.
The second set of figures mentioned by the honorable gentleman relates to the estimates of a group - not a comprehensive but a defined group - of wage and salary earners. Those figures do not include per sons in rural industries, the defence forces, self-employed persons and others as well. For that reason, it is not practicable or possible to compare the sets of statistics. If the honorable gentleman will wait, he will have the consolation of seeing that the trend of this economy is a healthy one, and being a healthy one I am sure that he above all others will rejoice at the prospect of its continuing.
- Mr. Speaker, my question is addressed to you. It relates to certain abusive remarks regarding myself which were made by the Leader of the Opposition earlier this week. They are recorded at page 1814 of “ Hansard “. By way of explanation, may I recall the circumstances? The honorable member for Lalor, having said in this House that it was no disgrace to be a member of the Communist Party, and subsequently having improperly altered the “ Hansard “ text, I asked-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to proceed with his question but to keep the information he is supplying within permissible bounds.
– Yes. My question is addressed to you, Sir. I am recalling the circumstances. The Leader of the Opposition made certain abusive remarks about myself, which were based-
– Order! The honorable member must not introduce any matter of debate.
– Based on a misstatement of fact, which is now admitted by all concerned. I ask you, Sir: Are there any forms of the House which would afford the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to make an apology to me for what he has said?
– Order! This subjectmatter does not come under the control of the Chair. If any honorable member desires to make an apology, it is within his own right to do so.
– Is the Treasurer aware that it is reliably reported that action is to be taken by the Victorian Railways to dismiss 600 men before Christmas? Does he know that the reason that will be given to vindicate these dismissals is that sufficient funds have not been made available by the Commonwealth Government to enable the Victorian Railways to carry out essential works? If this is so, will the Treasurer make funds available to the Victorian Railways to prevent this calamity prior to Christmas? Does the Treasurer consider what is happening to be a healthy economic trend?
– I have not been made aware of the report alleged by the honorable gentleman to have been circulated. The financial position of the Victorian Government is, to the best of my knowledge, strong. Certainly, the provision made by this Government at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council and at the Premiers’ Conference earlier this year put the States in the strongest position they have been in as a whole since federation. The Victorian Budget reflected this healthy position. Not only were reimbursement grants under the formula very considerably increased, but the Commonwealth agreed to a programme for works, record in size, and to an increase of f 10,000,000 over the preceding year in the borrowings for the works programme. We agreed, through action taken then and subsequently, to an increase of £10,000,000 in the total borrowings authorized for local government authorities. All these actions taken together have produced in the aggregate a volume of governmental expenditure by the States which is an all-time record in the history of federation.
I may add, seeing that the railways have been brought into the matter, that the Commonwealth Government has provided very substantial funds for the construction of the standard gauge link between Melbourne and Sydney. It has, I believe, received all too little credit for this substantial gesture. That, too, should have been of considerable assistance to the Victorian Railways Department and its general programme.
– My question to the Treasurer is supplementary to that which was asked of him by the honorable member for Gellibrand. Is it not a fact that the Victorian Government had a surplus last year and that it put over £1,000,000 into a special trust fund?
– While I cannot confirm the facts which have been stated by the honorable gentleman, at least they support my general statement on the present strength of the Victorian Government’s revenue position. I should have added in my earlier reply that it is well known that the Victorian Government, largely as a result of economic measures taken by this Government, last year was able to add literally thousands to its work force when previously essential labour required for the efficient conduct of the railway system had not been available to it.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that trade with India has fallen steadily over the last five years? If so, what is the reason for this decline in a period when Australian trade with many other countries has increased? Has the Government any plan to stimulate trade with India?
– I regret to say that I do not carry in my mind figures relating to our trade with India progressively over recent years. However, I know that the Government of India, not unlike the governments of many other countries which depend for their export earnings upon the export of primary products, is having difficulty with its balance-of-payments position. As has happened in Australia and a number of other countries, when that occurs inevitably there is some restriction of the opportunities of countries to sell in such a market. I am sure that represents part of the problem of the trading relationship between Australia and India. There is a complete mutual understanding and trust between the governments of our two countries. We are in constant contact through our Trade Commissioner Service, and I assure the honorable member that no opportunity is lost to make sales to India when the price of our products is competitive and when that country is willing and able to buy.
– My question to the Minister for Labour and National Service is supplementary to that which was asked of him by the honorable member for Perth. Before the House rises will the Minister have prepared a statement showing the business done by the Hotel Kurrajong during the summer and Easter recesses over the last three years?
– Yes, I shall obtain the figures and a report on the matter, and let the honorable gentleman have them.
– I ask the Minister for
Health: In view of the continued prevalence of infectious hepatitis with its frequently fatal effect upon its victims, nineteen sufferers having died in New South Wales during the last three months, what steps have been taken and what progress has been made by the Commonwealth Department of Health in inquiring into the spread, prevention and cure of this dread disease?
– Infectious hepatitis is due to a virus which has not yet been isolated so that the problem of dealing with it is basically one of prevention in the public health field. Therefore, as the honorable gentleman will realize, the governmental measures necessary inthis regard are chiefly those to be carried out by State governments and local government authorities. All the information about this disease is readily available to those bodies, and the measures that they advocate are of course taken under the authority of the State health departments. Until the virus has been isolated there can be no specific treatment for the disease, and the best that can be done at present is to adopt the same precautions as were taken before the organism of typhoid could be dealt with by inoculation; that is, general public health measures, personal cleanliness, care in the handling of food and so on. That is what is being done.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Harvey, ruled at Mount
Isa that the action of the employers in respect of the dispute there did not constitute a lockout - a term used constantly by members of the Opposition in referring to Mount Isa? Also is it a fact that the Australian Workers Union sought legal opinion, and that the opinion given was in accord with Mr. Harvey’s ruling?
-I am hopeful that soon - next week at the latest - further efforts will be made at conciliation at Mount Isa. I am also hopeful that better counsels will prevail and that the men will go back to work in accordance with the terms of their awards and the relevant acts of parliament. It is true that the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Harvey, said that there was not a lockout at Mount Isa. As to the rest, I believe that as conciliation processes are now under way it is best to say no more than that an industrial dispute does exist there and that I hope the parties will work in accordance with their normal awards.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it true that there were 47,000 more unemployed in Australia in August last than in August, 1960? Did the number of unemployed increase by at least 2,400 in August despite successful efforts to increase temporary employment in government occupations? Is this continuous growth in unemployment proof that the economic policies of the Government to stem unemployment have absolutely failed, or is it proof of the success of the Government’s policies?
– The honorable gentleman’s statement of the facts is incorrect. Last month’s employment figures, which were made available recently, showed that the trend of registrations for employment was downwards, and so the assumption on which the honorable member based his question is incorrect.As to the political parts of the honorable member’s question, I have no doubt that there is a growing feeling of confidence in the economic outlook for this community. The economic indicators becoming available give good reason, I think, for believing that that confidence is soundly based. When the employment figures become available I think they will indicate that the Government’s policy has been sound and that it will be successful.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that the Premier of Tasmania has claimed that Tasmania has been left out of the recent special financial assistance which has been given to Western Australia and Queensland in particular? Is it a fact that the Tasmanian Premier has not submitted any proposals which would qualify for such special financial assistance - namely, works which would directly increase our export income within a measurable time? Is it a fact that the total grants to Tasmania by the Commonwealth Government do at present compare very favorably with the grants to any other State?
– Taking the second part of the question first, while I have it in mind, what the honorable member has suggested is undoubtedly true. Not only the general provisions but also the special grants have, I think, from anybody’s point of view, been very satisfactory. As to the other matter, raised by the honorable member, the Premier of Tasmania did submit certain proposals which, in the Government’s view, did not measure up to the test that we had set, namely that the emphasis must be placed on the development of export income. When I was last in Tasmania I interviewed the Premier, who did not pursue those proposals, having regard to the general principles that had been explained. But he did discuss with me in a general way two other propositions. I said that I would be perfectly glad to examine those propositions whenever the Premier felt that he had something specific to submit in relation to them. I am still awaiting further information on those two matters.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I have been informed that Japanese interests are negotiating to take over Broken Hill South Limited. Is the
Government so interested in obtaining foreign capital that it is prepared to sacrifice Australian industry to Japanese interests and subject Australian workers to Japanese masters, or will the Government take action to prevent this threatened take-over?
– Leaving aside the purely argumentative content of the honorable member’s question, the rumour to which he refers has reached the Government’s ears. That matter is under very close examination.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, in view of the increased efficiency on the waterfront since amendments in respect of long-service leave were made to the legislation covering the stevedoring industry, the community may expect some reduction in shipping freight rates.
– It is true that as a result - but not exclusively for this reason - of the act passed by this Parliament there has been a marked improvement in efficiency on the waterfront. Although I have not given explicit consideration to the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. I think it is logical to hope for some reduction of overseas and interstate freight rates or at least that freight rates will not rise. I will examine the question asked by the honorable gentleman, and if I can obtain a more detailed reply I shall be only too happy to give it to him.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: How far has phase 4 of the extension of television services proceeded? When will the honorable gentleman reach a decision on the extension of television services under phase 4 to the north-west coast of Tasmania? Is the honorable gentleman prepared to consider the erection of a booster station on Mount Roland so that viewers on the north-west coast may have a choice of programmes from Hobart and Melbourne and, next year, from Launceston?
– The honorable member asks how far planning of phase 4 of the extension of television services has proceeded. As I have said several times recently, this matter is currently under consideration by the Government. I expect to be able to make an announcement soon. Regarding the provision of further services in Tasmania, the present position is, for the information of the honorable member for Wilmot and other interested honorable members, that on completion of phase 3, approximately 94 per cent. of the population of Tasmania will be able to receive a first-class television signal. That percentage is far higher than the percentages in other States. As a matter of fact, a higher percentage of people in Tasmania will be able to receive a better television signal after the completion of phase 3 than people in quite a number of other places will receive under phase 4.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether he, or the Administration, has been able to put into operation proposals for the advancement of women in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– The question asked by the honorable member for Robertson refers to one very important aspect of our work in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. As honorable members know, for a long time the progress of the women folk was much slower than that of the men there. A policy was introduced to ensure that the women had an equal opportunity in education with the men, and we are seeing the results of that now in the emergence of women teachers, women nurses and women administration employees in the offices. An interesting feature is that at the present time we have visiting us in Canberra a number of women teachers, who are teaching in either Administration schools or mission schools. They have come to Australia to broaden their experience.
In addition to the work for the younger generation, we have, of course, to overtake the lag in the middle generation, and a good deal of work is being done with women’s clubs in the villages to help the village housewife also to make progress, and to keep pace with the advancement of the men folk.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this week, the honor able member for Moreton requested you to look into a remark made to him by the honorable member for Hunter. You answered that you would see that justice was done. It is quite obvious that your promise has not been kept. This is evidenced by the appearance of the honorable member for Moreton in the House this morning. [Question not answered.]
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, I refer to the alarming fall of 14.2 lb. per head in meat consumption in Australia, as disclosed by the annual report of the Australian Meat Board. Will the Minister consider asking the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to conduct a full-scale investigation into the causes which have produced this trend so that producers may take the steps necessary to correct a situation which is endangering their livelihood?
– I do not know that the suggestion by the honorable member would be appropriate to meet the situation. I hardly think that it is a matter for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. I shall first obtain a report from the Australian Meat Board, and then discuss the matter with the honorable member.
– My question to the Minister for the Interior refers to the system under which the Commonwealth sells to tenants the homes which they occupy in Canberra, the sale being made on payment of a deposit of 10 per cent., with repayment of the balance spread over a period of years. I ask whether it is true that at the present time there is no means by which the tenant may appeal against the valuation placed by the department on the house he seeks to purchase. In view of the number of complaints of relatively high, and in some cases very high, valuations placed on the older homes, would the Minister consider providing an avenue of appeal, either by way of appointment of a panel, or a tribunal, before which the tenants could bring evidence against the valuations placed upon the houses by the Commonwealth?
– The government valuer values at replacement cost less, depreciation* without taking into account any premium, on the value of the land, government houses offered for sale to tenants. I am quite satisfied that in most cases this method of valuation in fact gives the tenant quite a substantial bonus when he buys his house. In most instances, the market value at which the tenant could sell the house subsequent to his purchase would be considerably higher than the price which he had paid the Government for it. Until I am satisfied that any good purpose would be served by investigating this question of appeal, I do not feel inclined to agree with the honorable member’s suggestion.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, refers to a statement by Mr. Enticknap, the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, charging the Commonwealth Government with political discrimination because of its offer of financial assistance to South Australia for the construction of the Chowilla dam and its refusal to assist the New South Wales Government financially with the construction of the Blowering dam. Is it not a fact that the New South Wales Government contracted to build the Blowering dam from its own resources as a partner in the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme?
– Yes, that is the position, but I ought to point out that the Chowilla dam, the suggested work on the Murray River, was examined by the River Murray Commission, on which the State of New South Wales is represented. It is in the light of the commission’s report that I have proposed that a conference be called. On the face of the report, there can be little doubt that the benefits of such a dam would accrue, not only to South Australia, but also to Victoria and New South Wales, because the existence of such a dam lower down the river would permit the more effective use of the water upstream and would therefore, in the view of the experts from both New South Wales and Victoria, I believe, bring material benefits in irrigation to those two States. In those circumstances, the statement made by the New
South Wales Minister is not highly intelligible to me.
– I direct a question about war service’ homes to the Minister for Social Services, ls it a fact that the Government’s attitude regarding war service homes is such as to prevent loans from being advanced to finance the acquisition of flats and home units? Is the Minister aware that many incapacitated ex-service men and women and war widows consider that modern, contemporary-style home units and flats are eminently suitable for their purposes? Does he realize that the Government’s failure to facilitate loans to eligible applicants who aspire to live in home units and flats is tantamount to depriving them of their entitlement?
– Perhaps the honorable member will be good enough to appreciate that. I represent in. this chamber the Minister responsible for war service homes, who is in another place. It will be my pleasure to bring to the Minister’s attention the question now addressed to me, and I shall see that the honorable member is given an appropriate reply.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. The right honorable gentleman, when tabling in this House on 17th August the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, intimated that legislation would be introduced at a later date to remove certain areas of tax avoidance. I am sure that every reasonable person agrees with this intention, but has the Minister been made aware of the problems that the announcement has raised for tax agents such as solicitors and accountants? As many members of these professions are being pressed by their clients for advice on this matter, will the Minister intimate when some information regarding the terms of the legislation to be introduced will- be available?
– I am not unaware of problems of the kind to which the honorable gentleman has very properly referred. I have had discussions with the Commissioner of Taxation, and he assures me that a great deal of work is being done on what I am sure all honorable members will recognize as being a quite complicated and involved series of tax proposals. It is clearly not practicable for the Government to come to a decision and to introduce legislation in this Parliament before it is scheduled to go into recess. 1 am considering whether it may be possible, at some stage before the end of the year, to make on behalf of the Government a statement about what I may term areas of uncertainty affecting current arrangements although it may not be practicable to cover the whole field in this way. 1 assure the honorable gentleman that the matter is very much in my mind and that I shall do what I can to resolve difficulties of the kind which he has mentioned.
– by leave - For the information of honorable members, I lay on the table the following paper: -
The Radio Frequency Allocation Review Committee, under the chairmanship of Professor L. G. H. Huxley, was set up by the Government in 1960 to examine the allocation of frequencies for all types of radio and television services in Australia following the 1959 International Frequency Conference held at Geneva. The Geneva conference was convened by the International Telecommunication Union to undertake a complete survey of frequency allocations throughout the world. It will be appreciated by honorable members that the control of frequency allocations involves action at both international and national levels. International action is directed by the International Telecommunication Union and aims at obtaining world-wide agreement to a table of frequency allocations. This table represents the basis on which the spectrum is apportioned. It is then the responsibility of member nations to supervise existing services and allocate new services in their respective countries to conform as closely as possible to the recommendations of the union.
The Radio Frequency Allocation Review Committee was representative of the government departments and authorities concerned, amateur wireless operators, radio manufacturing interests, and public utilities and commercial organizations licensed to operate radio services. Broadly, its terms of reference were to examine the existing frequency allocations and those arising from the Geneva conference, to examine specifically any aspects of the frequency position as it affected broadcasting and television services in this country, and to make any necessary recommendations to the Government. One of its immediate tasks was to deal with the allocation of frequency channels for television purposes. Honorable members will recall that, as a result of this examination, a report on the practicability of accommodating thirteen television channels within the very high frequency band was submitted on 13th November, 1960.
The committee approached its task with enthusiasm and zeal. The report which it has now submitted on the overall frequency position has been compiled expertly and with a great deal of care, together with a deep sense of responsibility appropriate to so important and far-reaching a subject. It is, I think, significant that, in a matter of such complexity, the committee made a unanimous report. The report outlines clearly the proposed table of allocations, in relation to both the existing Australian table and the Geneva table, and the differences between the existing and proposed tables. The Government has considered the committee’s report and has adopted its recommendations.
On behalf of the Government I should like to convey to Professor Huxley and the other members of the committee my sincere appreciation and thanks for their conscientious approach to the difficult task they were asked to undertake, and my congratulations on such a satisfying result.
Copies of the report are available from the Clerk of the Papers.
Ordered to be printed.
.- I move -
That this House give consideration to the recommendations, in relation to the formation of new
States, of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. 1 bring this matter before the House in an attempt to have appropriate action taken to implement certain recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. Before dealing with the matter at issue I wish to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government for having appointed the committee, and also for making available this opportunity to discuss what I consider to be one of the committee’s most important recommendations. I would also like to congratulate the committee itself on the extraordinary job it has done. For the first time in my 40 years experience in this Parliament we have been able to achieve unanimity of opinion amongst honorable members from both sides of this House, as well as amongst senators of different political complexions, as to what should be done to amend our Constitution. On previous occasions unanimity has always been lacking, and the fact that it has been achieved by the Constitutional Review Committee is in itself a tribute to the members of the committee.
The committee’s report is an admirable one. I believe it will go down in history as one of this Parliament’s most significant documents. It is most satisfactory to know that complete unanimity has been achieved by a body consisting of members of both Houses of the Parliament and representative of all parliamentary political parties. The committee’s report seems to imply that there is no reason why immediate action should not be taken in connexion with practically all the recommendations contained in it.
We must all realize, of course, that there is a continuing need for change according to changing world conditions. This need was appreciated by the men who drafted our original Constitution. They provided in the Constitution for two methods by which it could be changed. First, the Constitution can be changed by a decision of the people at large obtained by means of a referendum. It can also be changed by unanimous agreement of the Commonwealth and all the State governments. When a change is sought by means of the referendum process, there must be an overall majority vote in favour of the change, and there must, in addition, be a majority vote in a majority of the States. As six States make up our Commonwealth, there must be a majority in favour of a change in at least four of those States before any change can be made. It has been found difficult to obtain this four to two majority amongst the States. Of course, the second method involves even longer odds, because there must be a unanimous decision of all State governments. The odds then become six to nothing. It can be seen, therefore, that it is quite difficult to have changes made in our Constitution, despite the fact that in the discussions that led to the framing of the Constitution practically every speaker emphasized the absolute necessity for continual change.
In studying the Constitution of the United States of America I find that the men conducting the government of that country are strongly of the opinion that the strength of the Constitution lies as much in the capacity of the government to create new States at will as in any other of the Government’s powers. Because of this extraordinary facility in creating and developing new States, the American Constitution has survived for the last 175 years, practically unaltered as to its main principles, but changed in all kinds of minor ways so as to improve the methods of handling all kinds of national and international problems. As I say, the Constitution in that country has endured for 175 years, during which time the population has increased from about 4,000,000 to 200,000,000.
The weakness of the Australian Constitution lies in the fact that additional powers may be obtained by the Commonwealth Government only by means of the referendum process. Of course, the State Governments may agree, on their own initiative, to hand over additional powers to the Commonwealth, but normally the Commonwealth must have recourse to referendum in order to obtain extra powers. As I have said, it is difficult to make changes by this method because of the fact that a favorable majority must be obtained in four of the six States. Consequently, very few changes have been made in our Constitution. I considered myself very lucky many years ago to have a referendum proposal which I was instrumental in having placed before the people accepted in every State. This resulted in the introduction of the Financial Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States.
When one looks at the changing world situation one sees the necessity for all kinds of new developments that this Parliament should be able to handle. Unfortunately our powers are strictly limited. All that the Commonwealth can deal with are those matters set out in section SI of the Constitution. Matters not mentioned there are automatically within the jurisdiction of the States. I venture to suggest that we might find ourselves in great trouble if we were to investigate the legality of many developments in the Commonwealth field during the last 30 or 40 years. What power did we have to deal with television? What power did we have with regard to radio? What power did we have to initiate electricity developmental schemes? All these matters were given no consideration at all when the founders set out the various items in section 51, and we can have additional words inserted in that section only if we get a huge majority of the people in favour of doing so.
– What about the effect of section 92 on the creation of new States?
– I venture to suggest that if we had twenty States in Australia we would have no trouble at all with regard to interstate trade, because the States would then be much smaller and trouble would not develop. In this regard I can cite one industry that I know something about. That is the pharmaceutical preparations industry. In the United States of America we do not find State laws dealing with pharmaceuticals, although it might be expected that the States would deal with such a matter. The firms making pharmaceuticals have nation-wide interests, even worldwide interests, and there has never been any question concerning interstate trade. For instance, the Parke Davis organization has its head-quarters in Detroit, Michigan, but it operates in every State. The people of the United States realize that it is simply a matter of commonsense that such firms should be allowed to trade freely throughout the nation.
On one occasion a referendum proposal was put before the people to give the Commonwealth powers with regard to civil aviation. One would have thought that this would have received the unanimous support of the people of Australia. However, the overall majority in favour of the proposal was only 250,000, and this majority was obtained, practically in total, in the two biggest States. In the other four States the vote went against the proposal, and so it was defeated. What followed? A referendum had been taken, and immediately it was found impossible to continue unless aviation was handled by the Commonwealth. In two or three weeks, the States had to go cap in hand and beg the Commonwealth Government to take over aviation on the basis of unanimous decision of the States. You could not have anything more silly in the whole world. Every other federation must have regarded us as a laughing stock. I raised this question about five years ago in the Parliament in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, and I shall read what I said then because it is relevant to the present position. I said in 1956 -
The existence of more federal partners than we have at present in the Australian Federation would lend itself to securing constitutional reforms, which those working in the Governments of Australia recognize as imperative, but whose necessity cannot be demonstrated to the public mind over the huge States that now exist. But, quite apart from this aspect of facilitating constitutional reforms, an increase in the numbers of federal units in Australia would automatically resolve some of the problems that have been disturbing Australian statesmen since federation.
Everybody knows the difficulties I have had in securing satisfaction in the handling of our primary products for sale overseas. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) can support me in that statement because he continued my work after he became the Minister for Commerce in a Labour Government. It is absurd that we cannot get something appropriate done. We have tried time and time again to get a commercial referendum through after virtually achieving unanimity in this Parliament, but we have had no success at all. We are shutting our eyes to what the High Court of Australia will do to us some day in this connexion. I said also in my speech in 1956-
For instance, parties of all shades of political opinion have brought down referendums to increase Federal commerce power. The existence of 20- States in Australia, instead of the existing six, would automatically ensure that Federal commercial law ran throughout the whole of Australia. Individual States would be relatively too small in area,, and iri development, to attempt to live like Robinson Crusoe on a lonely island outside the main stream of national development.
America has shown that very definitely. I also said-
Therefore I urge that this whole problem should be given to the Constitutional Committee for discussion, taking, into account the factors that I have raised in this speech, so that Australia can follow the line of development - which made Britain and the U.S.A. great and prosperous - of getting the Government on the spot as close to the job as possible.
The Government accepted this advice, and put the proposal to the Committee on Constitutional Reform. It has done a wonderful job in that regard. The question is: What action should we take? Here we have a unanimous report - something without precedent in the history of Australia. For God’s sake do not let us do anything to spoil what has. been done. We should heed the advice of practically every wise man who attended the conventions that led to federation in Australia. Every one of them said there must be more members of the federation. Sir Henry Parkes said that there must be an increasing number of partners if federation was really to work. He said -
As a matter of reason and logical forecast, it cannot be doubted that if the Union were inaugurated with double the number of present colonies the growth and prosperity of all would be more absolutely assured.
The remedy for the defects of the Constitution is to be found rather in the extension of federal powers, with an extension of local government by sub-divisions of the larger States. Only by this means will be secured that “enlargement of the powers of self-government of the people of Australia “ which was the declared object of the Constitution.
Professor Harrison Moore, who was the recognized constitutional authority of those days, wrote -
In a country as yet so sparsely settled as Australia, it is improbable that the present political divisions are final.
Senator Walker spoke on behalf of Queensland as well as New South Wales.
Queensland was really led into, accepting the Constitution by a deliberate, trick. Senator Walker commented -
I may mention that the colonies of Victoria and Queensland were separated from New South Wales on petition, and without the approval of the Government of New South Wales.
The only States we have in Australia have been obtained by petitioning, and not by the system that we have adopted now. Senator Walker also said -
In fact, Victoria would never have been able to secure separation from New South Wales if the consent of the New South Wales Parliament had been required. At the time Queensland was made into a separate colony, Her Majesty reserved the right to separate Queensland into two or more colonies.
Every thinking statesman who has dealt with this problem has had a similar view; yet in a country of 10,000,000 people, you can find perhaps 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 who ace stupid enough to think there is something wrong, with having many States, many people and proper local development. Judge Hi. S. Nicholas sat on this matter for two or three years and recommended constitutional change. He said -
In States as large as New South Wales or Queensland, a Parliament sitting in the State capital did. not give adequate attention to distant constituencies and was out of sympathy with rural needs; new States in New South Wales or Queensland would create a better informed interest in public affairs; residents in New South Wales suffered from the disadvantages of over-centralization and of a division of powers at the same time.
Surely, after 60 years of federation, we have seen all these things, and should be prepared to make certain that the inalienable rights of the people in the rural areas of Australia should be given back to them, instead of saying, “ You cannot have anything done in the north of New South Wales or along the south coast because it does not lead through Sydney “. We must do something to ensure that Australia can be held, and it cannot be held unless we divide it into States that will enable us to develop properly, and will permit Commonwealth power to deal with problems as they arise.
The people of Australia will be wise enough to deal with that matter, but I should like to refer to other federations and see what they do. I shall refer to other countries about the same size as ours. China is a federation. Its area is 3,760,000 square miles, or 25 per cent, more than Australia; yet China has 29 States. Some honorable members by way of interjection have referred to China’s huge population. In the same area, we could not deal with such a population without many States. To defend this country we must have something similar. When the United States of America began to develop, two new States were formed every ten years from the beginning of the union right up to 1950. In the past two or three years, the United States of America has created two different States. America is not frightened of States. It wants local government to the maximum extent, and now has 50 States in an area slightly larger than Australia. Brazil’s area is 3,300,000 square miles, which is slightly larger than Australia. It has twenty States and five federal territories. The Argentine has 24 States in an area onethird of the size of Australia.
We are having a lot of trouble over the proposal of the United Kingdom to join the European Economic Community. The six national States of the European Economic Community control an area of 451,000 square miles - an average of 75,000 square miles to each State. The European Free Trade Organization of seven States has a total area of 720,000 square miles, averaging 100,000 square miles to each nation. Yet we think we can run a country with an area like Western Australia as one State although it covers 1,000,000 square miles, and is bigger than the Argentine. We think we can run the Northern Territory of 500,000 square miles from Canberra. Could anything be more stupid than that!
Away back in 1925 we offered Western Australia £5,000,000 to take over the area in that State north of the 26th parallel. We said we would spend £5,000,000 a year for ten years and in that time we would create two new States. Western Australia then would have been three States instead of one, and would have had three sets of senators!
We can imagine the vast development that would have occurred under such a plan as this. We should look at the population map of Australia and the beef map. These show that all our beef is in the north, but we have no people there. A few hundred miles away from us are thousands of millions of hungry and starving people. But we still do nothing for this area in the north. The time has come when we should get on with this job. People in the countries to our north have developed tropical areas. What do we do with our tropical areas? We neglect them and hope for the best.
The history of the United States of America shows what can be done if a continuous, definite programme is adopted. At the time of its federation, the United States had a population of 4,000,000, just as we had’ a population of 4,000,000 when we adopted the federal system. Every ten years for the first 50 years, the United States created two new States and its population grew to some 50,000,000 in that time. We started with 4,000,000 people and in 50 years we increased our population to 10,000,000, with most of it south of the 26th parallel. The whole of our north at this time is practically defenceless. The story of the United States is most interesting. It was faced with balance of payments problems. How did it overcome them? It kept on taking more people and doing more developmental work. Although it had some trouble for 35 years, it finally reached the position during the First World War of being able to repay all its overseas debts within a year. In the meantime, its people enjoyed the best standards in the world. Since the Second World War, the United States of America has been able to give millions of dollars for the purpose of feeding people who were starving. It has been able to do this during all these years, because it got on with the job of developing itself in the early years of federation.
When I visited the United States only three months ago, I discovered that its strength comes from its emphasis on local development. The federal government provides the capital for the development works and the local authorities get on with the work. Capital for purely water works is provided free of interest and a charge of 3 per cent, is made on capital provided for works producing electrical power. What is the result of this generous attitude with works involving the conservation of water and irrigation? After twenty years, the income tax and excise duty derived from production in the newly developed areas exceeds in one year the total capital outlay on the original work. But here in Australia we keep on saying that we cannot undertake these projects. Look at Glenbawn dam! It has been under construction for many years. Originally it was to cost £1,500,000 but now it will cost £25,000,000, and God knows how we will pay for it. The position with Keepit dam and other dams is the same. In the United States enormous projects are completed within two or three years, and its policy of decentralization helps this to be done.
If we want to hold our country, surely the time has come for us to adopt measures such as I have outlined. We must decentralize and we must give the people in the outback areas their own government. For years in this Parliament I have been trying to obtain assistance for the development of our water resources. The cry has always been that, under the Constitution, this is a State matter and the Commonwealth cannot do anything. In the last three or four years we have departed from this old idea and large sums of money are being provided to the States for various projects, whether they be purely State matters or not. If we did not do this we would go bankrupt. We must give greater sums for the conservation of water and fodder and to adequate rail services. I am glad that the Commonwealth has broken down the old rule that it cannot help in State matters. I could never see anything in the Constitution to justify the view that the Commonwealth could not give money to the States. This was simply an idea that developed over the years. I cannot imagine any one being so stupid as to hold the view that the Commonwealth cannot help the States.
We, in Australia, created two new States in 1850 and 1860. What happened? We doubled the population of Australia in ten years.
– Do you think the population doubled because of the creation of the new States?
– It had a good deal to do with it. The Melbourne people and the Adelaide people believed that their improved situation arose from the local control of their affairs instead of control from hundreds of miles away. Look at the position of our States to-day. Which are relatively the most developed? Victoria has 29 people to the square mile and New South Wales has eleven. Tasmania uses 3,000 units of electricity per head annually, whilst New South Wales uses 1,200 or 1,300. If either guide is used as a measure of prosperity, what do we find? Tasmania cannot be said to be too small an area for a State. No one in this Parliament, either here or in the Senate, says that when a Tasmanian vote is being sought. That was not said when I was in office. I told Tasmania then to get on with the job of developing water power because, if it did, the day would come when Australia as a whole would bless it.
Our federal system has existed now for 60 years, and this Parliament must think of the future. Our position vis-a-vis other countries has completely changed in the twenty years since the beginning of the Second World War. People in the countries to our north are starving and many of these countries have a tremendous number of people to the square mile. We have vacant land in our north and we must show the world that we can develop it. The only way we can develop it, it seems to me, is to put local development in the hands of men on the spot. The Commonwealth Government, if necessary, must seek changes in the Constitution which would enable it to give fullest assistance to the development of our north. Years ago I was responsible for making it possible, under the Financial Agreement, for the Commonwealth to back every shilling we borrowed overseas or in Australia. That has really saved us.
The time has come when we should give every thought to our development, and especially to the development of our water resources. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization estimated that the loss in wool and sheep alone in the 1946-47 drought amounted to about £600,000,000. How much development could have been done with that money if, instead of losing it, we had used it? I hope that some definite action will result from this discussion to-day. I know that nothing will be done before the coming election, but surely every party should promise that, when the election is over, steps will be taken to hold a referendum on as many of the points I have mentioned as possible. I hope a referendum will be held on what I think is the fundamental question, and that is the creation of more and more States. This would enable us to obtain a thorough knowledge of the whole situation and to get, in both State and Commonwealth Parliaments, many new men from country areas with plenty of knowledge and plenty of courage to deal with the problems that face us.
– I second the motion. In continuing the discussion which has been initiated by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), I submit that effect should be given to the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in relation to new States for the following reasons: First, because of the intention of the founders of the Constitution as revealed in Chapter VI.; secondly, because of the obvious failure of the present unnatural subdivisions of existing States to provide for the balanced development of Australia; thirdly, because of the dangerous absurdity of a federal partnership in which the smallest State of the Commonwealth covers only 27,000 square miles whilst the three largest States cover 976,000 square miles, 670,000 square miles and 310,000 square miles respectively; fourthly, because world experience proves that it is essential to the growth of civic responsibility that countries of large area be divided into areas of local self-government which in Australia and the United States of America are called States, and in Canada provinces; and fifthly, because of the evident desire of responsible people in certain areas in the large States of New South Wales and Queensland for those areas to be granted local self-government as new States of the Commonwealth.
There is ample reason for not delaying the introduction of this great reform. In the history of our Commonwealth, this is the time for greatness - greatness of vision and greatness of spirit and courage - and a time to put our house in order so that we may meet effectively the changing world which confronts us. We stand on the threshold of a new era in our history as a nation. The final stage of cutting the apron strings that have bound us to the Motherland which gave us birth has been reached with the European Common Market issue. For good or for ill, in the years ahead it will bring profound changes in the constitutional machinery of the Australian Commonwealth. It can and will affect the present external safeguards in the Constitution and the existing relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. For those reasons I regret that it has not been found possible for the Parliament to consider all of the committee’s recommendations. Whether they were so intended or not, I believe that taken as a whole they would cushion the effect of that inevitable day when Australia must stand on its own feet and cease to take its domestic affairs, whether State or Federal, overseas for judgment.
There are those who may not agree, but if the people of Australia are to lift themselves from the morass of legal technicalities which hinder her progress, they must rethink seriously about Federal and State relations. Either we are a living organism susceptible to change, as is all growing life, or we are not. If we are the former, then to preserve the federal principle of States with local self-government, a new, sane and co-operative approach to our national problems of balanced development is essential. The basic principle for the preservation of democratic government is, briefly, that no section of the community, public or private, must be allowed to become so powerful as to challenge successfully the right of freely elected governments to govern. This principle is in grave danger in Australia where certain States are so large and powerful as to destroy ultimately the balance of federation unless they are subdivided. It is paradoxical, but true, that the more States there are the stronger is the Commonwealth, yet the more is the State’s right to local selfgovernment capable of preservation. With these thoughts in mind, I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on his courage and statesmanship in making time available for this debate on the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee in reigtion to new States. 1 do so with great pleasure because I am sure that if this one great reform of subdividing our present unwieldy States into smaller new States is achieved, the logic of events will clear the way to other urgent reforms.
The motion which has been moved by the right honorable member for Cowper has for its objective the adoption and implementation of the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. The words of the recommendation may be summarized in this way: Section 124, Chapter VI. of the Constitution provides that new States may be formed by separation from the territory of an existing State, but only with the consent of the Parliament thereof. As no new State has been formed under this power in the 61 years since federation, the committee recommended in effect that if the States will not act the Commonwealth shall have power to do so. The powers of the State parliaments to act if they wish to do so remain intact except for the present power of veto. I do not propose to enter into argument on the legal aspects of this amendment, but I would commend those interested to read the masterly and brilliant case submitted to the committee by Sir Garfield Barwick - now the AttorneyGeneral of this Commonwealth - who appeared as advocate for the New States Movement and other interests. 1 submit that the committee’s recommendations are eminently reasonable for the following reasons: First, since federation there have been persistent attempts, especially in northern New South Wales and Queensland, to secure from their parliaments the division of these unwieldy areas into new States; secondly, since 1920. and especially since 1948, the New England New State Movement of northern New South Wales has pressed its claims for separate statehood with increasing vigour and supporting facts; thirdly, in 1922 on the motion of Colonel Bruxner, M.L.A., the New South Wales Parliament affirmed that the State was too large for effective self-government; fourthly, in 1923 the New South Wales Parliament, on my motion, appointed the Cohen royal commission to inquire into and report upon the desirability and practicability of creating new States - that commission reported adversely, but useful reforms followed; fifthly, in 1926 evidence was given by the movement before the Commonwealth Peden commission which recommended an amendment of the Constitution to make Chapter VI. more workable; sixthly, in 1933 the Stevens-Bruxner Government appointed Mr. H. S. Nicholas, K.C., a royal commissioner to define boundaries suitable for new States in New South Wales - he reported in 1935 on three areas, one of which contains the proposed new State of New England; seventhly, in 1950 a motion to hold a referendum on the question was defeated in the New South Wales Parliament by two votes; eighthly, in 1959 an all-party committee of the New South Wales Parliament reported in favour of the creation of new States; and ninthly, in 1961 the New England New State Movement raised in three months from less than onethird of the proposed new State over £100,000 for a fighting fund. The movement is engaged now in canvassing the remaining area. I think that I have supplied sufficient facts to justify the claim that the people of northern New South Wales are firm in their determination to achieve statehood.
Let me now mention some facts concerning the area of the proposed new State of New England -
And in South Australia it was £279,000,000.
I submit that its claims to statehood are undoubted, as are those of central and north Queensland, about which I am sure members from those areas can speak more effectively. Consider now the general reasons why this Parliament and the Australian people should approve new States. More than 60 years of federation have proved that the existing mainland States have failed to achieve a balanced development and a reasonable distribution of population. According to the latest census, of the total Australian population of 10,800,000, 5,900,000 or approximately 55 per cent, live in our capital cities. Of these no less than 4,100,000 live in Sydney and Melbourne. If the population of the hinterland had grown in proportion the danger would not be so great. The truth is that with few exceptions the inland areas have failed to hold their natural increase, much less benefit by immigration. For instance take the rich north coast and northern tablelands of New South Wales. According to the Statistical Bureau of New South Wales the north coast in 1921 had 123,000 people, and in 1954 170,000 people. The actual increase was 47,000, but the natural increase in that period was 88,000, so that there was a net loss of the natural increase of 41 ,000, quite apart from anything which may have come from immigration. In 1921 the population of the northern tablelands was 51,000, and in 1954 it was 54,000, an actual increase of 3,000. Yet the natural increase was 28,000, which shows a loss of 25,000 or almost half of the original population figure. These figures can be duplicated in other parts of New South Wales and, I think, in other States.
I do not propose, for I have not the time, to go into greater detail, but let us compare the position here with that of New Zealand. That country has an area of 103,000 square miles, which is remarkably well developed, and New Zealand sits as a separate nation in the councils of nations. Yet Sydney, the capital of a State of 310,000 square miles has a population equal to that of New Zealand squeezed into less than 400 square miles, while the hinterland is relatively unpopulated. Who can sanely argue that our present State divisions are giving local self government to Australia? Consider this: South of the 32nd parallel, an area of 500,000 square miles contains 7,500,000 people, while north of that parallel, in that vast area of approximately 2,500,000 square miles there are only 2,380,000 people and practically half of them are in the two capital cities of Perth and Brisbane. Is this any sane way to develop and defend this continent?
Let us now consider briefly some of the objections to creating new States. They are, first, that no new State has ever been created from an existing State. This is incorrect. Northern Ireland was created a new State in the then United Kingdom 40 years ago, and a very successful one it has been. It has a parliament with powers similar to those of an Australian State parliament and, in addition, twelve members in the Imperial Parliament. Incidentally its area is less than 5,250 square miles and its population is 1,400,000, or roughly half that of Sydney.
Secondly, it is said that the difficulties are too great. Difficulties are only paper lions in our path if we do not let them deter us from action, but are real lions if we do let them deter us from action. India, with a population of over 400,000,000, was divided in 72 days into two separate nations, India and Pakistan. We could create more States in at least that time if we had the will to do so. Thirdly, it is argued that the creation of new States will add to the expense of government, but that, I believe, is incorrect as a general principle. The fact remains that no great industrial concern such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, attempts to run itself as one vast organization. Such organizations are broken up into subsidiary companies, not for the purpose of dodging taxation, but for the simple reason that the overhead becomes too great and the management ineffective unless, within the framework of a sound central policy there are subsidiary companies with some autonomy. The relationship is similar to that of the Commonwealth and the States. Incidentally, the cost of parliamentary government of the Commonwealth and States combined was lis. 7d. a head last year. I submit that the time for the creation of new States is long overdue. In the words of the father of federation. Sir Henry Parkes, uttered 65 years ago -
The division of the existing Colonies into smaller areas to equalize the division of political power will be the next great constitutional change
That change is long overdue. In conclusion 1 will quote the words of Sir John Latham, a former eminent member and Minister of this House and later Chief Justice of Australia, when giving evidence before the Constitutional Review Committee. He said -
Gentlemen, if you do not want new States you will leave things as they are. If you do want new States you will amend the Constitution.
I appeal to this House and to the people of Australia to end the present stalemate and to rise to the greatness of their destiny and amend the Constitution. May I, in the few minutes remaining at my disposal, say that I do hope that this great principle and all it stands for, the subdivision of this country into smaller areas of self government, with governments that can be the centre of communications and action, and the release of those forces which come with subdivision, will not be hindered by a mass of legal technicalities and side issues. There are all sorts of things which can be put up. As the late Sir Robert Garran once said in my hearing, there was much discussion among the 50 or so gentlemen, who met to frame the Constitution, and, looking back, it is most significant that the problems they spent most time on and theorized most about did not arise at all, while two at least of the things which they did not deem worthy of much consideration have been the source of most of our trouble. One of them is industrial arbitration. I appeal again to the members of this House and to those who are listening beyond this House, to stand behind the movement of which the former Chief Justice of New South Wales once said, at a new State convention -
This movement is as natural as federation and is its natural corollary.
I refer to the late Sir William Cullen.
.- The Opposition supports the motion. It believes that the Constitutional Review Committee’s recommendation embodies a democratic principle. It believes that this Parliament should have the power to ascertain whether the people living in a proposed State and in the whole State wish to have a new State created within the boundaries of an existing State. It believes that this Parliament should then have the power to give effect to the wishes of the people.
The six Labour Party members of the Constitutional Review Committee supported that recommendation. The recommendation was supported also by the four Liberal Party and the two Country Party members of the committee. The Labour Party has since resolved that it would support any of the committee’s proposals which are submitted to a referendum by the present Government. The Labour Party has also undertaken that, if returned to power at the forthcoming elections, it will submit all of the committee’s recommendations to a referendum and will allow the electors to vote separately on each recommendation. For those reasons we support the motion. We on this side of the House always welcome a debate on constitutional matters. One of the functions of the Federal Parliament is to review the Constitution and to allow the people to modernize it. The Australian Constitution cannot be modernized unless this Parliament takes the initiative and unless the people approve of its proposals. Therefore, we are doing only our job when we discuss these matters.
We have some regrets about this motion. We regret that the Government has not permitted a resumption of the debate on the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on 13th April last that all of the committee’s recommendations should be submitted to the people for their approval. It will be remembered that on that occasion the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) and the other government members of the Constitutional Review Committee were precluded from speaking to the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition. We also regret that there has been no discussion or decision by the Government parties sitting jointly, or by the Liberal Party, on the committee’s recommendations. Lastly, we regret that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) did not take the opportunity offered to him more than two weeks ago of moving this motion. If the right honorable gentleman had moved his motion on that occasion and if honorable members had indicated that they were in favour of the committee’s recommendations being submitted to the people at a referendum, the necessary legislation could have been put through the Parliament in time for that referendum to be held coincidentally with the forthcoming elections. The Labour Party would have supported the legislation and the referendum. 1 believe that a vast number of members of the Government parties also would have supported it. As it is, our discussions to-day may be very interesting, but they will be purely theoretical and utterly fruitless so far as the Twenty-third Parliament is concerned.
The Labour Party is not opposed to the principle of the committee’s recommendation. It is the Liberal Party which has always resisted it. The Liberals support continued political and commercial domination from Sydney and Melbourne. As long as there is one border between Sydney and Melbourne the operation of section 92 of the Constitution will preserve the immunity of capital city corporations. If, however, there were more State borders in Australia, this Parliament’s powers to regulate interstate trade would be increased, as have the powers of the United States Federal Congress. It is regrettable that the Country Party has accepted the Liberal Party’s stalling on this subject for the last 40 years in this Parliament, in the New South Wales Parliament, and in the Queensland Parliament.
There is a further ground for the conservative opposition to the creation of new States. If a State of New England were created the Liberal Party realizes that the Labour Party always would govern the remainder of New South Wales and always would have a majority of Labour senators from New South Wales in this Parliament. The Liberal Party also realizes that a new State of North Queensland and a new State of Central Queensland would be similarly blessed with Labour governments and with a majority of Labour senators in this Parliament.
The Constitution contains two provisions which could have ensured decentralization and development. Section 122 enables the Commonwealth to accept territories surrendered by a State. That section has been a dead letter since 1910 when the Commonwealth accepted the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Section 121 provides for the Commonwealth to admit new States. The Commonwealth has never done that in respect of the North ern Territory which is now an obvious candidate for statehood. Those two sections of the Constitution have been frustrated by the pretensions of State governments and the dominance of State capitals. When our federation was launched the United States consisted of 45 States and five territories. Those five territories have now achieved statehood.
Our present State boundaries were not determined in Australia. They have never been voted on by Australians. The Australian Labour Party is not averse to new States. It is, however, averse to sovereign States. We find State-righters more obnoxious than new-Staters. The Labour Party wants more national and more regional administration and legislation. The present States are too small and too poor to deal with national issues, and they are too large and too remote to deal with local issues. Labour’s policy is to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with unlimited powers and with the duty and authority to create States possessing delegated constitutional powers and, pending the achievement of this aim, to remedy defects as they appear and to keep the Constitution abreast of changing conditions. As long as there are sovereign States under our Constitution, the more the better from our point of view.
It is true that some Labour supporters are worried because section 92 precludes the National Parliament, alone among the national parliaments of the world, from nationalizing any exploiting industry. Nevertheless, we accept the fact that nationalization can be achieved in Australia only if this Parliament passes a bill to nationalize an industry and the people at a referendum approve of that bill. If, however, there were more States in Australia, this Parliament’s powers would be enlarged. Its indirect powers over industrial matters would clearly be enlarged. More importantly, its direct powers would more nearly approach those enjoyed by every other national parlament in the world. We are at present handicapped because we do not possess those powers in sufficient measure. For instance, if there were more States the Commonwealth Attorney-General would be deprived of his flimsy excuses for not introducing legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices. The Commonwealth would be able to legislate to ensure the adoption of safe road practices by interstate hauliers. The Commonwealth would be able to introduce more effective legislation in respect of pure foods and drugs.
In all these matters the United States Federal Congress has passed laws decades ago. The efficiency of government and private enterprise in the United States largely flows from the fact that there is federal supervision in such matters. Furthermore, if we had more States the Interstate Commission, for which provision is made in the Constitution but which has been a dead letter for the last 40 years, could determine the question of rail freights in country districts. If there were more States the Commonwealth could construct or plan more interstate roads. The Commonwealth itself could pioneer and compete in more air and shipping services. The interstate commerce power is the source of power for the Government of the United States of America. We believe that, if there were in Australia 26 States instead of six, Australia might achieve some of the efficiency and some of the all-round development which the United States has achieved during this century. It is clear then that, in this Parliament and on the hustings, we would support a referendum to amend the Constitution as proposed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). If, however, the Constitution were not otherwise amended, I believe we would be constrained to oppose a referendum to set up any new State within its framework.
It is constantly assumed that Newcastle would be in the new State of New England. The honorable member for New England was not altogether happy in comparing northern Ireland and New England. Most areas of Ulster would prefer to be in a united Ireland, but Newcastle would be as happy in a new State of New England as the City of Belfast and its suburbs would be in a united Ireland. Quite clearly, all the industrial legislation in New South Wales which is valued by the residents of the Hunter Valley would be in the melting pot. The New South Wales industrial awards covering long service leave, three weeks annual holiday, the progressive application of equal pay for women doing equal work, and quarterly adjustments of the basic wage in accordance with fluctuations in the consumer price index would all be superseded. There is certainly no guarantee that any parliament in New England would permit its industrial tribunal to pass similarly progressive legislation. Again, the acts of the New South Wales Parliament concerning safety in factories, workers’ compensation and rural accommodation for itinerant workers would all go by the board. It is quite clear that the workers in New England, both in the industrial part and in the rural areas, have the gravest misgivings concerning the intentions of many of the persons who, outside this Parliament, are most outspoken in their support of a new State of New England. I would think, therefore, that the Labour Party would oppose a referendum to set up a new State of New England unless the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee seeking the same industrial powers for this Parliament as every State has with respect to intra-state industrial matters were also incorporated in the Constitution.
I realize, however, that this is not an insuperable obstacle, because there is at least machinery for us to appoint either for life, or for some period, or from time to time, arbitrators or conciliators to make awards on all these industrial matters, and we can set out the terms of reference on which they can make those awards. What is more important, however, are the difficulties which would arise under all marketing schemes if a new State were created and the Constitutional Review Committee’s marketing proposals were not put to the people. Honorable members will recall - and on this again the committee was unanimous - that the Constitutional Review Committee recommended that this Parliament should be able to ascertain the wishes of primary producers with respect to marketing schemes, and that if 60 per cent, of the producers are in favour of any scheme this Parliament should have the power to pass that scheme into law. If there are new States within the present constitutional framework, there is no machinery whatever to save the host of present marketing schemes, and there is no adequate industrial machinery which would overcome the chaos which would occur in industrial legislation.
In New South Wales primary producers have voted for the establishment of boards for the marketing of rice, eggs, wine grapes, navy bean., and french bean seed. The producers of all those products would be at the mercy of individual exploiters near any new State border, whether that border was somewhere between Armidale and Sydney or somewhere between Newcastle and Sydney. Again, what would be the position of persons who supply the Sydney milk zone? The present milk zone extends up the north coast as far as the Hastings River, and includes Tamworth. That is, it includes vast areas of the proposed new State of New England. The New South Wales Milk Act precludes the acceptance of milk other than from declared production areas. Thus, any area in New South Wales could be made a declared production area under the act. The creation of additional States would prevent that area from being declared, if it were inside the existing milk zone, but outside what was left of New South Wales. Again, the present egg zone covers all of New South Wales. The chief of the many egg producing country districts of New South Wales is Tamworth. The creation of a new State in that area would completely upset the present marketing arrangements of egg producers in that district.
Then, too, this Parliament has set up many boards for the marketing of our exports. For instance, on the Australian Wheat Board, Queensland is represented by one member, and each other mainland State by two members elected by the wheatgrowers in the State concerned. The Australian Egg Board includes two members from the New South Wales board, and one from each of the other mainland State boards. The Australian Dairy Produce Board includes one member from each State elected by co-operative butter and cheese factories in the State. The Australian Apple and Pear Board includes a growers’ representative from each mainland State elected by the growers in the State, and two from Tasmania. What would be the attitude of the producers of all those export products towards the re-arrangement of their present marketing schemes, which they have sought, and which every party in this Parliament has supported? What new arrangement could be made with the new States? What new arrangement would commend itself to the producers?
I have not the time to mention in detail the position in Queensland, but Queensland has more marketing boards than any other State, and they have been set up by the producers. What would be the position of the sugar industry if Queensland were divided into three States? Where would Mackay be - in the northern or the central State? For those reasons, I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and the reference by the committee, in connexion with these recommendations, to marketing problems arising from the creation of new States.”
A new State without the inclusion in the Constitution of the marketing provisions recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee would, in fact, undermine the whole basis of production in New England, north Queensland and central Queensland, and in their mother States and it would undermine the export arrangements of the whole country.
Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House has just listened to what I can best describe as a very clever speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I should like to reserve judgment on it until I am able to study it carefully as I read it in “ Hansard “. On the surface, as the speech was delivered to the House, it appears to me that, if the honorable gentleman speaks for the Australian Labour Parry, the A.L.P. will support proposals for new States provided that sufficient strings are attached to them to enable a system of complete unification to be brought about in Australia and the federal system to be destroyed. The whole spirit of the new-State movement - of those people who believe in State rights and in this movement - is entirely the opposite. I make no apology for the fact that I am a federalist. I believe in the federal system as it exists to-day and I am entirely opposed to the system of unification as espoused by the Labour Party. Making a quick judgment on the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I would say that it will be most unacceptable to those people who believe in the new-State movement.
One of the great problems that the newState movement has faced right down through the years is the fact that the enthusiasm of the people in the areas likely to be affected by the creation of new States is never matched by any State government. There are waves of enthusiasm among the people, but State parliaments are always very reluctant to act. I support with somewhat mixed feelings the original motion proposed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I regret that it has been necessary to bring the matter before the Federal Parliament. I believe very sincerely that the whole question of the establishment of a new State within the boundaries of an existing State could be very easily resolved by simple parliamentary procedures in the States, and that the matter has come to this Parliament only out of the sense of frustration that has plagued the new-State movement for the last 100 years. We are looking for a break-through, and this Parliament affords the only means by which we can overcome the lack of enthusiasm by State parliaments and their unwillingness .o move. We come to the Federal Parliament now and we hope that it will be sympathetic to the cause.
In my opinion, all that is needed for the establishment of new States is the will on the part of State Parliaments to establish them. If the State Parliaments had the will to do it. we would have new States in existence to-day.
– How many new States?
– The honorable member’s leader suggests that we should have more than 40 new States throughout Australia. I do not go all the way with him on that, but I suggest that we ought to have many more new States than we have. The desire for new States springs from the people themselves, and we, as parliamentarians, ought to heed the people’s expressed desire. The situation in Queensland, my own State, is almost ludicrous. In two years’ time, the new-State movement there will be 100 years old and will celebrate its centenary. Prior to the establishment of the new-State movement in Queensland, there was a new-State movement composed of citizens of New South Wales who lived in that part of New South Wales which is now Queensland. Queensland was separated from New South Wales, sovereign powers being conferred on the Queensland Government, in 1859. Within about four years, there was a virile newState movement seeking the further separation of certain areas and the creation of new States in Queensland. Over the last 98 years, the supporters of the new-State movement in the central and northern areas of Queensland have repeatedly asked governments to express the will to act and to adopt proposals for new States.
All shades of political opinion have been well represented in this movement and have lent it support. I point out to the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) that some of the most active participants in the new-State movement in Queensland since 1863 have been Labour leaders like the late T. J. Ryan, Frank Forde and the late E. M. Hanlon. Men like those have been most enthusiastic supporters of the new-State movement for almost a century.
– But not supporters of the establishment of sovereign States.
– In a moment, I shall tell the honorable member for East Sydney about motions submitted to the Queensland Parliament by those men and the views expressed by them.
Before the turn of the century, when federation was being discussed, the supporters of the new-State movement in Queensland were lulled into a false sense of security. They were told that if they just quietened down and did nothing to interfere with the establishment of the Commonwealth, there would be written into the Commonwealth Constitution specific provisions to permit the creation of new States. Indeed, there is now in the Constitution a section dealing with the establishment of new States, but it has never been acted on. No government has ever shown the least enthusiasm in the matter. The enthusiasm of governments has been nothing like the enthusiasm of the people who have carried the new-State movement forward.
I now turn to the support given to the new-State movement in the past by Labour leaders. In 1910, T. J. Ryan, who was an acknowledged Labour leader and one of the great men in the Australian Labour Party, moved, in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, a motion authorizing the subdivision of Queensland into three States. There was no mention in the motion of sovereign powers or of differentiation under a federal system. The motion was carried, but the government of the day did not act on it. In 1922, Mr. Francis Michael Forde, my predecessor as member for Capricornia in this House, who was at that time a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, succeeded in having passed by that Assembly a motion affirming its opinion that the time had arrived for the remodelling of the Commonwealth Constitution to permit the sub-division of Australia into a greater number of selfgoverning States “ for more economical and effective government and also providing an easy method for the people living in any district such as central Queensland and northern New South Wales to obtain self-government “. The Queensland Parliament on that occasion invited the Commonwealth to take the necessary action.
Then we pass on to the time when the supporters of the new-State movement received perhaps their greatest blow. They thought that the government of the day would act, but nothing was done. I refer to the time when a Labour government under E. M. Hanlon took office in Queensland in 1948. The Governor’s Speech at the opening of the Queensland Parliament in that year stated -
To have a properly balanced Commonwealth Parliament it would be advantageous to have at least three States across the northern portion of the continent … my advisers are prepared to recommend the establishment of additional States in Queensland when, as a result of her developmental policy, the new States will have a reasonable degree of financial and economic stability.
In the next year, in the debate on a bill designed to remodel the Queensland Electoral Act, Mr. Hanlon himself spoke up in the Queensland Parliament in favour of new States, and particularly in favour of an inland State. He said, among other things -
If honorable members will look at the map of the Commonwealth they will realize that the curse of this country has been that there have not been enough States and that we had not had any inland States. If Longreach had been the capital of an inland State created 30 years ago, we should have had a city of 70,000 or 80,000 people at Longreach to-day and a population in the surrounding country four or five times bigger than it is now.
Unfortunately, Sir, Mr. Hanlon passed on before he was able to influence his Government to act in this matter.
It became necessary then for the newState movement in the centra] and northern areas of Queensland to become active again. In 1951, the movement for a new State of Capricornia was established in central Queensland and steady work for this cause has been done. The president of the executive committee of the movement is Mr. J. O’Malley, who was at the time the Labour Mayor of Gladstone and the president of the Capricornia Branch of the Australian Labour Party. I was elected chairman of the movement, a position which I still hold. The gentleman who acts as chairman when meetings are held in my absence is none other than Mr. George Grey, my A.L.P. opponent at the coming election. So all shades of political opinion are represented at the head of the Capricornia new-State movement. Representatives of all sections of politics have been very active in the movement.
We became enthused in 1955-56 when the leaders of the Queensland branches of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party came out with emphatic statements in support of the creation of new States. Indeed, Mr. Morris, who is Deputy Premier in the present Queensland Government, said that new States in Queensland were a must. He publicized these views widely, and we agreed with him. So far as I know, he still holds these views.
Then the Gair Government was thrown out, and the Nicklin Government came in. We asked that Government to set about implementing this policy of creating new States. The Government asked us in Capricornia to circulate a petition. We asked how many names were wanted on the petition and we were told 10,000. So great was the enthusiasm for the creation of new States that within a matter of a few weeks we had 20,000 names on the petition, twice as many as Mr. Nicklin had asked for. That petition was presented to the Parliament, together with a petition from north Queensland which also contained a great number of names. But again nothing was done, and there is no indication that the Nicklin Government will do any more than Labour governments did in the past, although members of that Government have expressed views and made policy announcements along these lines.
– Nobody seems to want the new States.
– Nobody in the Parliament seems to want the new States. The honorable member for East Sydney is quite right. When members are in opposition they support a new States policy, but when they change over to the Government side they oppose it. If democracy is to prevail I believe the Parliament should heed the wishes of the people; and the people of central and north Queensland definitely want the opportunity to govern themselves in their own districts. All State Governments, of all shades of political colour, have shown the utmost reluctance to give selfgovernment to sections of their people. Indeed, throughout the whole history of Australia, Australians have never given self-government to any group of Australians. The plan drawn up 120 years ago for the development of Australia has not proceeded along the line of the creation of new States or the breaking up of the Commonwealth into self-governing areas. We owe what we have in the form of government to the United Kingdom and not to any government that has held office in the Commonwealth of Australia.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I cannot see that any great benefit will result from this motion. Although I support it, I feel a sense of frustration. Perhaps the best way to deal with the matter would be to put it to a test which I seriously commend to the Government of New South Wales and particularly the Government of Queensland. I suggest some kind of legislative set-up similar to that which exists in the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In central and north Queensland we could have, for a trial period of five or even ten years, a legislative council to which the Queensland Government would vote the money that is at the present time supposed to go to the north and central areas of the State. The proposed legislative council could advise the Queensland Government how to spend that money. Better still, it could look after the spending of it in its own area.
It would be very easy to adopt this suggestion in Queensland, because the boundaries of north, central and south Queensland are well defined. They have been marked out since the time of federation. If this simple test were applied to us new-Staters over the next five years or so, it would be the breakthrough that we are looking for. I feel sure that our efforts would be so successful that even those who are now opposed to the creation of new States would come, however reluctantly, to the belief that the whole answer to the problem of the congregation of our population in capital cities and of the development of our nation lies in the creation of new States. It would become apparent that Parliament should heed the express wish of so many of its people who are looking for self-government.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
.- The House is considering the motion that was submitted by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) -
That this House give consideration to the recommendations, in relation to the formation of new States, of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has moved as an amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and the reference by the committee, in connexion with those recommendations, to marketing problems arising from the creation of new States “.
I have seconded the amendment, and now speak to the motion and the amendment. The motion of the right honorable member for Cowper originates from the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. This committee was appointed in 1956. It submitted a progress report in 1958 and a final report in 1959. We must bear in mind that in submitting his motion, the honorable member for Cowper touched fairly generally on constitutional amendments as a whole, but gave heavy weight to the recommendations of the committee on new States.
Australia is singularly unfortunate in this respect: While great changes have taken place in our society and government has become more complex since 1901, we are still saddled with a Constitution that was formulated in the years preceding 1900. It has been the experience of many governments that every time they endeavour to avail themselves of the provisions of the Constitution to amend it to meet changing circumstances, if one political party advocates an affirmative vote, another political party says, “ Vote ‘ No ‘ “. So in 1956, the Menzies Government appointed a joint committee of the Parliament in the hope - I suppose it was a pious hope - that a committee representative of both sides of the Parliament would arrive at some recommendations which might have the approval of the Government and be acceptable to the people.
I believe that if the recommendations of the committee had been accepted and put to the people, they would have been accepted and many of the horrible economic conditions which obtain in this country might have been avoided. I think the people would accept the recommendations if they were put to the nation in the near future, although there is no suggestion that they will be so submitted.
There was a lot of come and go between members of the committee. We confined ourselves to the major problems confronting Australia. The right honorable member for Cowper was good enough to say that he thought the committee had done a good job, and I do not think I am misleading the House when I say that he commended practically all the committee’s recommendations.
– Hear, hear!
– That is a major admission by the right honorable member for Cowper, because it is seldom that we agree on everything. The right honorable member has a particular interest in new States. The advocates of new States have been putting their case in Australia for as long as I can remember. Numerous advocates for new States have spoken in this Parliament and outside of it. Numerous new State movements and organizations have been formed in various parts of the Commonwealth, but none of them has got anywhere. Numerous promises have been made by State Premiers, but without result. Nothing has been done. Affirmations have been given in good faith, but subsequently have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps some of them were not given in good faith.
Realizing this and, in particular, by virtue of the advocacy of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) who was a member of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, the committee agreed to a recommendation on the machinery that would enable the formation of new States, lt gave long and careful consideration to the matter, and produced a recommendation which is contained in its report. In effect, the recommendation is not designed necessarily to make the machinery more simple, but it would take from the State governments an authority they can exercise and place it in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament, subject to certain conditions. However, there have been no results. The right honorable member for Cowper, who was long in government, sees himself at the end of a long political life no more forward on this matter of new States than he was 40 years ago.
That is due to the negligence of the Government he supports. It is not due to the attitude of the Opposition. We have announced that we are prepared to support a recommendation along the lines suggested in the committee’s report even although the committee’s recommendations in this connexion do not concede many of the things we ardently stand for. As to the creation of new States and the subdivision of areas of Australia for governmental purposes, the policy of the Australian Labour Party is well known. We believe that the Commonwealth Parliament should have plenary power in the making of laws; that in this respect it should have the same power as has the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The method has worked successfully in the United Kingdom for generations, and also in New Zealand. We believe that there should be power to delegate authority to various provinces or States, whatever you might like to call them.
In effect, they should receive their power to legislate, and authority in respect of administration, from the Commonwealth just as for generations, municipalities and city councils in Australia have been delegated power by State governments. These organizations have to their credit a remarkable record of achievement. They have a record of efficiently controlled local government, and the central State governments concerned have proved to be no more monsters in their sphere than Canberra has proved to be in the Commonwealth sphere. From time to time, the State governments have retracted the powers of municipalities or cities, sometimes at the request of those concerned. At other times, the powers have been extended.
– You are against a federal system?
– No, I am not against a federal system. I am in favour of a system along the lines I have outlined. Even the honorable member for Wide Bay will not deny that it has worked with reasonable efficiency in all States of Australia. It has worked most efficiently in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and undoubtedly in many other places as well. Speaking of the delegation of authority and administration, I am reminded of a little book that I read many years ago entitled “ The Smaller Democracies “, by Sir E. D. Simon, in which the author wrote of the systems of government in Norway, Denmark and other places. After investigation, he found that the most efficient form of government existed in one of the cantons of Switzerland. The canton was so small that every member of the community was a member of the local government authority, and therefore had to shoulder his share of responsibility.
Having made those few comments, I want to direct my attention to the justification for the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. During the course of the inquiry by the Constitutional Review Committee, most of the responsible marketing authorities, through their federal bodies, gave evidence. Almost without exception, they pointed out the weaknesses and the difficulties of efficiently conducting organized marketing in Australia. The Australian Wheat Board is an illustration. It exists to-day purely through an element of good luck in 1948 when the Commonwealth government of the day was able to obtain complete agreement, not without a long struggle, with every State government irrespective of its political colour. They passed legislation complementary to the Commonwealth legislation. Even that method of orderly marketing, now in its third successive fiveyear term, has weaknesses because of the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution. It is still possible for a wheat-grower in one State to market his wheat in another State, to break down the marketing organization and legally to snap his fingers at the board. That sort of thing is being done.
The dairy farmers pointed to the slender thread on which their organization works. lt only requires the break away of some proprietary butter manufacturer to cause the whole situation to collapse. This also applies to other organizations. Let me give a very good illustration of what happens with State marketing authorities. Recently I was driving along the road between Canberra and Melbourne when I was hailed by a carrier, who asked me for a lift into Gundagai because he had run out of petrol. I gave him a lift. I said to him, “What have you in your big covered truck?” He said, “ Eggs “. I said, “ Where are you coming from? “ He answered, “ Adelaide “. I asked, “ Where are you taking them? “ and he replied, “ Sydney “. He agreed that in this way the State dues were avoided. There is a good marketing authority in New South Wales and in South Australia. At certain times of the season, to avoid paying into the equalization fund, the poultry farmers send eggs all the way from Adelaide to Sydney, but the general public receives no benefit from this. To crown this story, I read in the press that the realization in Sydney at this time was 9d. a dozen more than that in Adelaide. This transport of eggs from one source of supply to another does not benefit the consuming public in any way and reduces the ultimate realization of primary producers.
This sort of thing will continue unless the Parliament accedes to the suggestion of the right honorable member and adopts the recommendation of the committee on new States. The Commonwealth, after a referendum, must have powers to establish sound marketing practices in Australia. In paragraph 960 of its report, the Constitutional Review Committee said -
In the international field, the national agricultural policies of some countries, involving the export of surpluses under what would once have been unusual types of arrangement, having disturbing effects on the normal overseas markets of several exporting countries, including Australia.
It went on to say - lt is self-evident that the local market for primary products, even though at times less spectacular, is more reliable than the overseas market and it is no more than equitable that the fortunes of an industry abroad should be shared by the producers at large along with the fruits of the more stable local market.
Later in the report, the committee also said -
Yet when the interstate market has ceased to be attractive, they have then expected to share in the marketing scheme of their own State to the detriment of producers who have always remained loyal to the scheme. Evidence was supplied to the Committee, moreover, of interstate transactions deliberately created to enable disposal of produce grown in a State to take place outside a marketing scheme of that State.
With the inauguration of the Common Market, every one knows that not only must internal distribution and the marketing of primary products take place on a most highly organized basis but it must also be associated, as wheat is at present, with export marketing arrangements. Unless this Parliament is vested with the powers to enable that to be done - it does not matter very much which party is in power - there will not be as satisfactory a national return as there should be.
I support the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. 1 support the suggestion of the right honorable member for Cowper that the Constitution should be amended to enable those who think this process is best to have the opportunity if they so desire to create new States. Like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition I say that I would not necessarily support a proposal for a new State. Our views are different, but we think that in a democracy those who believe this to be the best way should have the opportunity to get on with the job. If I may advert to organized marketing again, I point out that no one need to have any illusion that, under the terms of the recommendation of the committee, any government would be deprived of the marketing powers already vested in it under State laws. The recommended power and the existing power of the States would run concurrently with each other, but all this waste, inefficiency, skullduggery, rivalry and ultimate national loss should be avoided.
I cannot say much more about the resolution of the right honorable member. I point out that it may not be too late even for this Government to announce in its policy speech that it would hold a referendum, with the support of the Australian Labour Party, along the lines suggested by the all-party Constitutional Review Committee. I believe that the people at such a referendum would give their assent to the proposal.
.- Unlike the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), I entirely disagree with the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), and I say at this stage I shall vote against it. It is obvious that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not want new States. He wants provinces with the status of local government. He wants the centralization of all important powers in Canberra. When he says, therefore, that he agrees with the resolution moved by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), I suggest he is being disingenuous. He wants us to believe that he believes in new States when actually he does not. He does not want new States; he wants provinces. He does not want a federal system; he wants a unitary system. He does not want democratic government; he wants authoritarian government. He does not want decentralization; he wants centralization. For all these reasons which came out in his address to the House. I oppose his amendment.
Others have dealt with all the reasons why there should be new States and it would be a work of supererogation for me to go over the array of facts they have marshalled in support of their arguments. My interest in this matter has extended over a period of 40 years. After World War I., a few of us used to gather at Glen Innes to discuss ways in which we might prevent being pushed about by a centralized government. We thought that a new State was one of the answers to the question. I dare say that in that 40 years most of those who attended the discussions have been called to their fathers, and I doubt not that if we could look behind the scenes we would see them sitting on their deckchairs on the “ Houseboat on the Styx “ listening perhaps to the arguments being presented here which we discussed 40 years ago at Glen Innes on the northern tablelands. Let us see if we cannot give them now some of the reasons why we want the new States for which they were arguing then. Much water has run down the Clarence River since we discussed these things. The difficulties experienced in those days were quite novel compared with the difficulties being experienced to-day. Many of them are mentioned in the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, and they require the closest consideration by people like ourselves who want new States to be introduced. I assume they will receive that consideration.
Although many of the things that we asked for in those days are no longer possible, the main fundamental principles still remain. The principles that were enunciated then are still germane to our present position. We wanted new States as a means of preserving the federal system. We wanted new States because they were essential to the preservation of democratic government. We wanted new States because we believed that to have new States would stem the tide that was flowing towards centralization and political unification. I cannot discuss all of those reasons, but let me select the one relating to the preservation of the federal system. There is much truth in the contention that with the growth of the powers of the Federal Government federalism has lost its substance. These powers have been altered either by judicial review or for administrative convenience, but they are out of all proportion to what we, who were concerned with the introduction of the Constitution in 1901, envisaged at that time.
Federalism demands the existence of States which are independent in their own spheres, but the adoption of uniform taxation has robbed the States of their financial and administrative independence. The hypertrophy of functions that have been undertaken by the Commonwealth since the war, and largely as a result of the war, has resulted in administration being further removed from popular control and becoming increasingly authoritarian and bureaucratic. One only has to visit a Minister in his room to discuss matters with him to be impressed with the burdens that the Minister has to bear and the tasks that he has to perform. I have not the time to discuss these at length, but it must be obvious to any one who goes into a Minister’s room to make representations to him that he is being caught up continually in minutiae which do not leave him time to deal with matters of high policy. In that case, inevitably, an increasing degree of power and authority is being thrown into the hands of public servants. That is why informed observers have stated that in our system of parliamentary government bureaucracy is defeating democracy. This reminds me of the remark which was made by General Smuts that in that context Parliament was becoming of less and less importance.
This tendency for Parliament to be of less importance and for bureaucracy to be more enthroned would be stemmed if we created new States as has been suggested by the right honorable member for Cowper. If this were done, we could decentralize policy and administration and bring the problems of government closer to the people. Who, in this place, will deny that the people of Perth, for example, or the people of Townsville, do not know more about their problems than do parliamentarians and officials in Canberra? The creation of new States will result in a subdivision of functions and resources between Commonwealth, State and local government authorities with a view to securing maximum satisfaction with minimum cost.
I wish I had the time to deal with the comments which were made last night about local government by the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes). One of our problems is that this country has no tradition of local government. We never have believed in the importance of local government. We have begrudged even the minor functions which have been entrusted to it and have begrudged even more the resources which have been made available to it to enable it to carry out those functions. Therein lies the reason why the American system has been so far ahead of our own. America believes in local government and has had a strong tradition of local government since the days of the “ Mayflower “.
Various committees which have been established have agreed that a federal system is most likely to afford the maximum economic development and administrative efficiency for this Commonwealth. The report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, which sat in 1929, under the chairmanship of Sir John Peden, had this to say about what it believed to be fundamental from the point of view of a federal system -
A central authority is necessary for the discharge of those functions on which Australia should speak and act as a whole, e.g., defence and relations with other countries, and is desirable for the exercise of powers of legislation and administration with respect to matters, e.g., weights and measures and coinage, in which uniformity is convenient But in our opinion the existence of self-governing units within the area of the Commonwealth is also necessary. The advantage of an independent right of self-government may not be so obvious to the residents of those States which are in close touch with the central authority, but it is of fundamental importance to States which are situated at a distance from the seat of government, and which by reason of the sparseness of their populations have a relatively small representation in the Commonwealth Parliament. Where there are adequate powers of self-government, there is scope for public spirit, local patriotism, and local knowledge, which would be lost if all legislative and administrative functions in Australia were absorbed in the central Government. Again, the existence of the self-governing States does, we believe, provide the best means of supervising development, and the best safeguard against a disastrous experiment. The importance of confining economic and industrial experiments to limited areas is obviously greater in Australia than in the United States where the Constitution contains prohibitions which restrain both Congress and State legislatures from legislating in certain directions.
To implement those ideas the Peden Commission on the Constitution included in its report the following passage: -
We recommend that an alternative method of creating new States should be provided in the Constitution so that in a proper case a new State may be created out of an existing State without the consent of the State Parliament
The Institute of Public Affairs in Sydney, of which I have the honour to be a member, decided to prepare a case for the Committee on Constitutional Review which was presented on its behalf by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). The institute also proposed what I regard as a very good alternative to the solution which was provided by the Peden Commission. The Joint
Committee on Constitutional Review states it in this way -
The Institute submitted a proposal under which the Commonwealth Parliament should be empowered and, in certain circumstances, required to conduct a referendum in a proposed new State area. If three-fifths of the formal votes cast at the referendum held in the area were in favour of the creation of a new State, then it should be competent for the Commonwealth to form the new political entity without the consent of the Parliament of the existing State.
That is a way out of the difficulties we have had up to the present in getting new States created, and I imagine that if that proposal were followed it would be quite as effective as that made by the Constitutional Review Committee.
Throughout these comments I have had in mind the creation of new States with a degree of autonomy and independence similar to that enjoyed by the existing States. This outlook is at complete variance with the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), and indeed that of the whole Labour Party. Labour’s policy is aimed at the elimination of politically autonomous States and replacing them by States subject to the authority and under the tutelage of the Commonwealth Parliament. That would spell the end of our federal system and would involve us in the toils of political unification and administrative centralization which would destroy our democratic way of life.
I close by quoting a comment by Sir Winston Churchill, which I think is apt at this stage. When reviewing the socialist programme of the British Labour Party and its planned society ideas, he said -
Let us beware of building a society in which no one counts for anything save a politician or a public servant.
I believe that fate could be avoided if we created new States.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), which is the addition to the motion of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) of the following addendum: - and the reference by the committee in connexion with this recommendation to marketing problems arising from the creation of new States.
We believe that this question of constitutional review and of new States is not something that can be looked at just from the point of view of one group of people. It must be viewed as the responsibility of the whole of the Commonwealth. Therefore, we propose this amendment in the hope that the Government will realize that the debate must be on a broader plane than the mere question of setting up one new State, because the trend of the discussion so far has been the creation of one new State.
I wish to refer first of all to one remark made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). I believe I am quoting him correctly. He said “ All that is needed for a new State is the will of the State Parliament to have a new State”. Is that right?
– That is right.
– The honorable member went on to say that he supported the motion of the right honorable member for Cowper only out of frustration. Right! Let us look at what has taken place and what has been the policy and programme of the right honorable member for Cowper during the 40-odd years of his parliamentary service. I want to show what a humbug he is when, at this late stage of his parliamentary career and so late in the life of this Government, he-
Order! The honorable member must withdraw the term “ humbug “. He is reflecting on the right honorable member for Cowper.
– I withdraw the remark, and say he is not sincere in bringing this resolution before the House at the present time. If he were sincere, the resolution would have been brought forward much earlier in the life of this Parliament, so that a referendum could be held. If the resolution is carried to-day, what will be the result of it? I ask members of the Government and supporters of the Liberal Party and the Country Party to tell us what can flow from the carrying of this resolution? Can you hold a referendum? It is quite obvious that you cannot. This is only some of the window dressing that has gone on for years and years by the right honorable gentleman and those people who support him. Another hypocritical resolution which is on the notice-paper-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I say instead that an insincere resolution about decentralization stands in the name of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). Two old members of Parliament! The honorable member for New England had a long and distinguished career in the New South Wales Parliament, and was one of the leading lights in the Country Party. He was a Minister in various Liberal-Country Party governments. Judging by the two resolutions which these members have brought before the Parliament, one would believe that they were two recently elected members who were announcing their policy in the Parliament for the first time. Yet both of them have been supporters of this Government for the past twelve years! Now we have resolutions on decentralization and new States in the dying stages of this Parliament when nothing can be done about either matter. A referendum cannot be held to seek the views of the people.
I reiterate what I said earlier: Both these resolutions are insincere. I will not have to withdraw that remark, but honorable members will know what I am thinking. The resolutions are not put before this Parliament in a genuine desire to do something, but are only brought forward because their sponsors realize that things are not going well in their electorates because of this Government’s economic policy and that some side issues will have to be introduced as red herrings. The Government’s policy has brought its reputation to its lowest ebb in the electorates which are most concerned about new States. So, matters such as that now being debated are introduced to confuse the issue and so that the supporters of the Government can stand up and say to the people, “ This is the policy we have pursued with regard to the new States which you people want in this area “. They are using the issue only to cover up their inefficiency, bad policy and bad government in recent years.
Unemployment in the country districts is even worse than it is in the cities. In the country districts of Queensland the percentage of unemployment is much greater than that in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, or other centres. It is to cover up inefficiencies such as this that the resolutions of the right honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for New England have been sponsored. The parties that they support have had the opportunity time and time again to act. In Queensland they had the Moore Government, and now the Nicklin Government has been in office since 1957. But what has been done to create new States in Queensland, about which the honorable member for Capricornia is so frustrated? Why does the Nicklin Government not do the things which the honorable member, as a supporter of this Government, says should be done? Is it a case of members of the Liberal Party and the Country party talking one way when in Opposition and acting another way when in Government? As I have said, these parties have had opportunities in Queensland, but have done nothing. The honorable member for New England was a leading member of the Liberal-Country Party coalition government in New South Wales which set up the Nicholas Royal Commission, which brought down certain recommendations. What was done about those recommendations? Nothing!
Resolutions such as this, brought down so late in the life of this Parliament, are pure window dressing. The honorable members who sponsor them do not intend to do anything about them. There has been a Liberal-Country Party coalition government in South Australia for almost twenty years, but no new State has emerged. In Victoria the Liberal-Country Party Government has been in office for the past six years, but what has it done about new States? Do not say there is not a movement for new States in Victoria, because there is. But once again there is no action by the Liberal-Country Party Government. There is a similar state of affairs in Western Australia. It is just hypocrisy for honorable members opposite to bring down resolutions such as this at this stage of the session.
I ask the honorable members who are supporting this resolution, “Where do you want the capital of this State of New England? “. Does the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) want it in Lismore? I think he does. Does the right honorable member for Cowper want it in Grafton? We know that he does. Does the honorable member for New England want it in Armidale or Tamworth? Will the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) and the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) tell us where they want it? Honorable members opposite remain silent on this matter. Those questions must be answered.
The facts and figures produced by honorable members opposite are confusing. Let us take the position of Newcastle. I do not want to be in a new State of New England. I do not think the people of Newcastle want to be in a new State of New England. It has been said that the new State would have a population of 754,000. If you deduct from that figure the 350,000 people of the Hunter valley you come back to a figure of about 400,000. From that you can deduct the 20,000 people who live south of Newcastle and you find that the real figure for population in this alleged new economic State of New England is about 380,000. Let us look at the position with regard to production. According to a circular received some time ago from the organizing secretary of the New England New State Movement, the production of the new State would be worth £295,000,000 a year. But from that amount you must deduct the amount of £167,000,000, which represents the approximate value of production in the Hunter valley. If you disregard the value of production in Newcastle and the Hunter valley you find that the value of production of the new State area is reduced to less than £160,000,000. That is the real position. Honorable members opposite distorted the real position.
I am opposed to the creation of new States under the present system which allows companies to engage in restrictive trade practices. This is a matter to which I have referred constantly in the House. All that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) will say on the matter is that restrictive trade practices is a matter for the States. When I raise this issue with State Ministers they are able to show me how impossible and impracticable it is for the States to control restrictive trade practices. We know of the anomalies and problems that exist because of the operation of section 92 of the Constitution. If we are to have new States let us have them but not on the basis of existing State boundaries. Whilst we on this side of the chamber support the report of the Constitutional Review Committee we do so because we feel that the report in its entirety - not particular sections of it - should be submitted to the people. I do not want to see new State boundaries fixed on the basis of existing boundaries. If new States are to be created let them be created in an objective manner.
Let us establish a parliamentary committee or a royal commission to inquire into this matter from a Commonwealth point of view, to inquire where boundaries will run and what will be the powers of the new States. What powers will new States have? In respect of what matters will they be permitted to legislate? When those matters have been dealt with by a commission and its report submitted to the Parliament, any recommendations contained in the report may be submitted to the people, who will then know what they are voting for. We do not want to encourage a haphazard hitandmiss state of affairs as was supported by the right honorable member for Cowper when he suggested that we should deal only with the establishment of new States and disregard the other recommendations made by the Constitutional Review Committee. In the Australian Capital Territory we have a problem associated with the marketing of eggs. We have trouble with our milk vendors, who are knocking each other about because of the state of affairs that exists here. Those are examples of what can happen when you deal haphazardly with States and Territories rather than in accordance with some definite plan.
Returning to Newcastle, the trade union movement there is concerned about the suggestion that Newcastle should be absorbed into a new State of New England. Trade unionists in Newcastle are concerned about the remarks of the New State Movement that Newcastle will not dominate New England. They are concerned also about the statement recently made by Mr. Askin, the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, that if elected to power his party will immediately remove one State seat from the Newcastle area. I know there is not much likelihood of Mr. Askin’s party winning the
State elections because the Liberals in New South Wales are fighting among themselves at the moment like Kilkenny cats. Why would a Liberal government in New South Wales remove one State seat from the Newcastle area? It would do so because the Liberal and Country Parties are opposed to the policy of one man, one vote, one value. The Liberals want to count cows and stumps in the electorate and give them votes. We realize that honorable members opposite would like to see a strong anti-Labour government in power in New South Wales in order to destroy the conditions that have been granted to workers in Newcastle and elsewhere throughout the State.
We know the attitude of the Government parties in this place towards the conditions of the workers. We know that the Country Party opposed the granting of long service leave and increases in annual leave. We know that it is opposed to a shorter working week. We know that the Government parties are opposed to quarterly adjustments of the basic wage. They are opposed to the introduction of safety regulations in industry. The Country Party is opposed to the introduction of safety regulations in rural industries. It is these things that concern the workers in Newcastle. They fear that if a strong anti-Labour government is elected in New South Wales all of the conditions that they have gained for themselves over the years will be in jeopardy. We have seen how Country Party members in this Parliament have supported the elimination of quarterly adjustments to the basic wage. We know that about twelve months ago they supported this Government’s intervention in the basic wage case. It is these things that the workers of Newcastle fear.
.- The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has a very unfortunate fixation. He has in mind constantly a rubber tire. Every time that he speaks this rubber tire comes before his mind. It is doubtful whether any mind can be seen behind the tire, but each time he speaks he bounces along like the rubber tire that is so much in the forefront of his thoughts. He has said that he does not want to be part of the State of New England. I am not surprised, and I am sure that there would be a reciprocal hope on the part of those who expect to be residents of a new State of New England. Unfortunately, the honorable member has not learned that this Parliament is a place for debate, where one expects to hear sensible thoughts expressed. On four or five occasions during his sp tech he used terms that cannot be excused on any ground. There is a way of expressing thoughts. There is a correct way of criticizing a member of another party. The way to do it is not to resort to the lowest form of expletives, which is what the honorable gentleman did. I hope that if a new State of New England is formed the wiser and more gentlemanly members of it will prevail upon the honorable member for Newcastle to mend his ways.
The question involved in this motion is whether more States should be created within the Commonwealth, I do not think that this debate should devolve into an argument as to the merits of any specific new States - whether they be one or more in Queensland or one or more in New South Wales or elsewhere. This is something which we have known about for many years. Those who are older than I am have known about it for longer, but those who are older than I am, and have known about it for longer, are no closer to a solution than am I who have not known about it for so long.
The arguments for new States have been well presented, and the arguments against new States have been well presented. I think the arguments for new States can be summarized very briefly in terms of the desirability of decentralization, and the belief that decentralization will bring with it a greater rate of development. The arguments against new States can be equally readily summarized. They are, 1 think,, in terms of the cost of the paraphernalia of government in a variety of new States. I think, however, that the true argument against the creation of new States is the need to preserve federalism, and the need to preserve the sovereignty of the States, because, in the creation of new States, I see the greatest challenge to federalism and the greatest erosion of State rights merely by the creation of those States. I believe it to be a compelling argument that we cannot at the present stage afford the complete parapher- nalia of government which must go with sovereignty in the field of State legislation.
I think, too, that the report of the Constitutional Review Committee ought to be examined to see whether or not the recommendations contained in it are in fact the vehicle by which can be achieved the creation of new States, for there are tremendous difficulties in the way of creating new States. For instance, there is the necessity for a referendum in both the proposed new States and the original State, and in each case the referendum must be agreed to by a majority. I omitted to say that first there is difficulty in the very framing of the referendum. For instance there is the great difficulty of determining the boundaries of the proposed new States, and there is the difficulty of obtaining a majority. Further, there is need for action by this Commonwealth Parliament to remove the matter from the State sphere and place it firmly in the federal field. That in itself presents difficulties. Perhaps the greatest difficulty of all is the determination of representation of the new States in the Federal Parliament,, both in the Senate and in this House. Besides the question of representation, there is also the question of the powers which would devolve upon the governmenting authority of the new States, and this problem is most difficult of solution.
Having mentioned the question of the difficulty of representation in this chamber and in the other place, let me say that I disagree with the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee that the number of senators should not be tied to the number of members of the House of Representatives. I say emphatically that I believe it ought to be tied fo the number of members of the House of Representatives, because I believe that if it is not so tied the Senate will remain a small chamber and,, if it is a small chamber more power will devolve upon it. 1/ its present condition,. I do not think the Senate is the chamber in which greater power should reside. The number in the Senate should be maintained at the same ratio as at present so as not to permit it to obtain a position of power which’ it does not now enjoy. Further, the election of members to the Senate ensures that there will always be a relative balance. It does not ensure that the party with the majority shall have power to act upon its policy and bear responsibility for it at the poll.
If we assume that we have in Australia to-day a population of 11,000,000 - and I expect the recent census will show that the figure is not far short of that - and assume a parliamentary population of some 600 - I think the number of members of Parliament in the Commonwealth would be at least 600 or probably more - we reach the situation where we have one member of Parliament for every 20,000 of the population. It was suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) this morning that there should be a minimum of 26 States. If we have 26 States, each with a State government’s paraphernalia, we shall finish up with more members of Parliament to the square mile than honorable members of the Country Party can raise cows on their properties. We cannot have that sort of situation. We cannot have in the new States the sort of State paraphernalia which we understand to-day, and which has served us so well since federation, and even before that. These problems must be faced by the proponents of new States. Are they prepared to sacrifice State sovereignty for the mere creation of a multiplicity of units? We can forget the idea of calling them States for, if they have not got sovereignty, they are not States, and if they are to have sovereignty, they need the paraphernalia of State governments, of Parliaments, Cabinet Ministers, police forces and all the public services. All these things must be borne in mind. Therefore, in order to preserve the sovereignty of the States, and in order to preserve our federal Constitution, I think that at this stage we must turn our backs upon the creation of new States.
It may be that there fire compelling arguments for the creation of a new State in north Queensland, but T am sure that the population of north Queensland is not as great as that of the electorate that I represent. I notice the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in the chamber. He represents more people than there could possibly be in the whole of north Queensland.
We can learn a lesson from the United States of America. It is true that the States of the Union have some sovereignty, but it is not sovereignty as we understand it. In the United States of America, the States have not the same parliamentary system as we have in the Australian States. For instance, in the United States, the executive is not drawn from the Parliament; the executive is elected separately, and it enjoys powers which are far greater than those which we are prepared to entrust to our State Governors. It is true that the Legislative Assemblies of the States of the United States of America meet very rarely, and when they do meet, it is only for a very short time. I do not think there is one single member of a State legislature in the United States of America who makes of his membership a full-time occupation. There, the position of member of the State Legislative Assembly is looked upon as one of honour, not one of work. There, the true executive powers resolve upon the Governor. That is not what we contemplate when we talk about new States and the creation of new States. There is no parallel between the United States of America and Australia in this field, and it is wrong to look to the United States of America and to say that the multiplicity of States there has served them well. We cannot reconcile the differences between the two systems.
This morning, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition sought to use this debate as a vehicle - a very haphazard vehicle - for gaining some political kudos. He commenced by saying that it is the Government’s desire to give to big business the protection that is given now because of the existence of only one boundary between Sydney and Melbourne, and if there were more than one State boundary, the Commonwealth would have greater power of control. I am surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who was characterized the other day by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) as having had a distinguished career at the Sydney bar, should make such a factually and legally wrong statement. The truth of the matter is that in the United States there is nothing comparable to section 92 of our Constitution. In that country, the trade and commerce power is not inhibited as it is in Australia by section 92 of the Constitution. In this country, the trade and commerce power must be read subject to section 92.
Possibly the most important reason why the federal government in the United States has been able to extend its legislative power is the commingling doctrine which has been developed by the United States Supreme Court. I think it is true to say that nothing like that doctrine has been developed in Australia, although it could follow from the creation of new States. But, on the other hand, the importance of that doctrine is not sufficiently great to lead me to believe that greater impetus ought to be given at the present time to the movement for the creation of new States. Shortly stated, the commingling doctrine is this: If commerce extends across a state boundary and intermingles with purely intra-state activity, the interstate activity commingles with the intrastate activity. This commingling gives the federal government in the United States its power to legislate with respect to trade and commerce. So the statement made this morning by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the effect that the creation of more States would give the Commonwealth more power is patently wrong.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to say that the Australian Labour Party wants the Commonwealth’s power to be supreme, so that it can create new States and delegate constitutions to them. But this, Mr. Speaker, is something which I could not abide and against which I would fight with my utmost strength. I do not believe that the interests of this country will be served by the creation of a unified system of government. For the protection of our vital freedoms, we need State rights and State sovereignty, together with the inter-play of forces such as we have in Australia at present. These rights and powers will become ever more important as the country develops and the population grows, and I think that they could be well expressed in the form found in the United States, where the best counter-balance to the exercise of excessive power by the federal government is the sovereignty of the states, even though I believe that the states there have not as much sovereignty as is exercised by the Australian States.
Another remarkably inaccurate statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this morning was the observation that if a new State of New England were created the modern, liberal Labour legislation of
New South Wales would be lost to the people of New England. I cannot think of a more incorrect statement designed to give credit where credit is not due. The simple fact of the matter is that the new-State movement would have no chance of winning a referendum unless laws of the kind to which the people of New South Wales are subjected to-day were to be accepted by the new State.
Mr. Speaker, I feel that we are not ready at this stage to create a second set of constitutional machinery, or to adopt a constitutional change, to allow the creation of a great number of new States. Because we are not ready to accept all the paraphernalia that go with State sovereignty, and because I believe in State sovereignty and the federal system based on our Constitution, I find it difficult to support the motion.
– Mr. Speaker, the House has just listened to a speech by a comparatively young man who is a lawyer and who argued his case from the standpoint of a mid-Victorian reactionary. He would have been out of date 100 years ago. Had he been alive at the time of federation, he would have been one of the minority that voted against it. Everything that he has just said is typical of those who have narrow State minds. He is a hopeless State-righter. He shows it through and through. The honorable member happens to come from a geographically small State with an area of only 88,000 square miles. However, it has a very big population, and, comparatively, is the most densely populated of the Australian States. He and his friend, Mr. Bolte, are perfectly happy down there. They are not in the least concerned about how the rest of Australia develops or about what happens to the rest of Australia. Those who have an Australian outlook, on the other hand, are concerned about what happens to every part of Australia.
The Australian Constitution provides ways and means by which new States can be created and by which the Constitution can be altered. The Constitutional Review Committee of this Parliament, of which I was a member - I mention that only in passing - recommended that the people in an area should have the right to say whether or not they wanted a new State and that the people of the State as a whole should have a similar right. The committee considered that if, in both instances, the people favoured the creation of a new State, the State Parliament should not have the right to prevent the will of the .people from prevailing. The committee recommended that the State parliaments be deprived of the power to thwart the will of the majority as expressed, first, in the area affected, and, secondly, in the State as a whole.
The Commonwealth Parliament has the right to determine whether new States shall toe admitted to the Commonwealth of Australia. Of course, if a new State is admitted, we cannot say that it shall have any fewer senators than ten, the number fixed for Tasmania and all the other original States under the Constitution. So, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) holds that up as a reason why we ought not to admit new States. He does not want to deprive the Senate of any of its powers or to limit the number of its members. He just wants the Senate to keep on increasing the number of its members until it becomes even more ridiculously overloaded than it is at present. He hopes, by posing that proposition, to prevent the creation of new States.
This country is marching on, Sir, even though it is developing only slowly. Had the Australian continent been discovered by Europeans 100 years earlier than it was in fact discovered by them, we might have had a population of 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 to-day. But we have a population of fewer than 11,000,000 people and we have some reason to be fearful of the future. Those who advocate the creation of new States really advocate the creation of new areas of regional autonomy. The honorable member for Bruce, who opposes this proposition for the creation of new States, fails to realize, or probably does not know - and a lot of others do not know - something that was stated very clearly some years ago by the late Dr. Frederick Watson, who said that not one of the boundaries between the then existing colonies in Australia had been drawn by an Australian statesman. Every one of them was drawn by a clerk in the Colonial Office in London. The only boundaries that have been drawn by Australians are those surrounding the
Australian Capital Territory and that between the Northern Territory and South Australia. It was only when those boundaries were drawn that the Australian people, through their representatives, were given the opportunity of delineating boundaries between areas of self-government.
In the United States of America there has been, from the very beginning, and fortunately for that country, a provision in the Constitution limiting the size of States. Had we had such a provision in the Australian Constitution we would have been a much greater nation than we are to-day. One of the reasons why America is as great a nation as she is lies in the fact that on the mainland there are 48 areas of regional autonomy.
– And America has 180,000,000 people.
– Of course, but she did not always have 180,000,000 people.
– She was not always great.
– She has been very great for a very long time. At the time of the American Civil War, in 1860, she had only 30,000,000 people. America’s population has grown in 100 years from 30,000,000 to 180,000,000. I hope that in the next 100 years Australia’s population will increase sixfold.
– America has had a SOO per cent, increase in population in 100 years.
– As the honorable member for Canning says, America has had a population increase of 500 per cent. When the seceding colonies broke away in 1776, she had a population of only 3,000,000. What did she do? She cut up her land into territories and made them into States in accordance with the development of those territories and according to the feeling of Congress from time to time. It was only at the turn of this century that the last mainland State was admitted to the Union.
The honorable member talks about sovereignty. He keeps harping on sovereignty. I think he mentioned sovereignty about twenty times in his speech. There has never been any sovereignty in Australia since federation. How can you have sovereignty when you divide your powers between the Commonwealth and the
States, when the delegated powers exercised by the Commonwealth are written into the Constitution, and the residual powers, the ones not designated, are exercised by the States? What the States exercise is part of the sovereignty; the other part is exercised by the Commonwealth. You might just as well talk about a sovereign Commonwealth as about sovereign States.
The whole aspect of our federation has been changing since the time of federation. We have had two world wars. The High Court of Australia has ruled that the defence power means more to-day, and meant more after World War I., than the founding fathers ever thought it could mean. The High Court interpreted the defence power to cover such matters as the repatriation of soldiers and the provision of war service homes. Two alterations of the Constitution completely changed its character. One was made at the instance of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the other at the instance of the Chifley Government. The first concerned the establishment of the Australian Loan Council and the validation of the Financial Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. The second one related to the extension of the welfare state. Then there was the decision of the High Court of Australia in the uniform taxation case, when Their Honours, without the solicitation of the Commonwealth - and I remember it well - handed down a decision which the Government never expected, holding that uniform taxation was a proper exercise of peace-time powers. That decision changed the whole character of our federation.
We cannot go back. We are going foiward all the time, and more and more power is coming to this Commonwealth. The honorable member for Bruce can emulate King Canute if he likes. He can stand metaphorically on the seashore and tell the waves not to roll in. He will have just as much effect upon the tides as King Canute had. The tide of public opinion in Australia is flowing in the direction of vesting more and more power in the Commonwealth Parliament. We of the Australian Labour Party have our views on the matter. We think the Commonwealth Parliament should be vested with complete power and that it should have the right to delegate those powers to States or provinces. We would create many more States and provinces than there are at the present time. We would probably create even more than the members of the Country Party would be prepared to create.
For myself, I have said repeatedly that I would write the delegated powers into the Constitution so that they could be altered only by referendum. But this, to some purblind Liberals, particularly those who mix with the silk-skinned sybarites of the metropolitan areas, is, of course, completely unacceptable. Those of us who served on the committee, who saw the problem as a whole and who appreciated the need for Constitutional change, agreed on a report which contained many recommendations. A spirit of compromise was apparent throughout our discussions and our deliberations, and eventually in the report which we made to the Parliament. We of the Opposition decided to support the alteration that would permit the creation of new States. Members of the Liberal Party and of the Country Party saw the wisdom of making some concessions to certain points of view that we held. But, by and large, the document, which could be regarded as a package deal, was something which, if its recommendations were implemented, would promote the well-being of Australia and would open up a new phase of federation. It would enable the Australians of to-morrow more easily to promote the well-being of this country. We of the Opposition not only agreed to the document; we also took it to our conference and we said, as an earnest of our honesty and sincerity in the matter, that if the Government put all the recommendations to the people we would support them all, that if it put only part of them to the people we would support those that were so put, and that if it were to put only one recommendation before the people we would support that also. It is in that spirit that I speak here to-day.
I support the amendment which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has moved, because I think this matter of organized marketing is of vital concern. It is a tragedy that a proposition along these lines was defeated when it was put to the people in 1936 in the days of the Lyons Government. It is a tragedy that the very same proposition, in identical language, was defeated when it was put before the people by the Chifley Government in 1946. It is no use going over the past. I simply say that the Country Party on the second occasion, and a section of the Labour Party on the first occasion, opposed the proposition. For my part, I supported the proposition on both occasions. The only proposal for alteration of the Constitution that I have ever opposed was that which was put forward after the Communist Party Dissolution Act was declared invalid by the High Court. Whatever other proposition for an alteration of the Constitution has been suggested while I have had the vote, no matter what government has brought it forward, I have always supported it. I have done so because I believe in increased powers for this Parliament, which is the voice of the people. I believe in Australia as a nation. I believe that the national Parliament must be clothed with sufficient powers to do its job, and I believe in the spirit of this resolution. That is why I support it.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has just uttered a few truths that I think he did not know he was uttering, when he exposed the aims and objects of the party he represents. Let me take this Parliament back a few years to the turn of the century, when the famous Sir Edward Creasy, the great constitutional authority, pointed out, in speaking of spheres of government, that that which could properly be left to its own circle should be left to its own circle. The aim of the Opposition, which pretends to support the motion for the creation of new States, is quite contrary to that proposition. It is to take everything out of its own circle and centralize it in one big circle, with the resulting dictatorship which would be necessary to carry out the functions of a non-federal Australia.
There are some vital problems connected with the creation of new States. I support the principle of new sovereign States, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the attitude of the Opposition, and also with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. After all, the States were created in Australia first; the Commonwealth last. The object was to bring about a judicious balance of power because it has ever been a fundamental principle of British constitutional law to have a balance of power - checks and counter checks so that if the executive becomes tyrannical at any time, there are ways and means of checking the powers of that tyranny.
The Opposition has consistently followed the principle that was laid down many years ago, and that can be found by anybody who wishes to study it, in the various conferences held by the British Labour Party some years before the Second World War. It laid down a policy that the first thing that must be done to allow a Labour government to function effectively and efficiently was to bring in legislation which would completely centralize all power in the hands of Parliament, and place the decisions of Parliament completely beyond the deliberations and decisions of any court. Indeed, in this House a few years ago, we had the spectacle of two former leaders of the Australian Labour Party quite openly and frankly stating that the High Court of Australia must be deprived of all its powers to consider or express any opinion upon the decisions of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Those who have studied this subject will recollect that, in 1942, 1943 and 1944, determined and deliberate efforts were made to get complete power into this Parliament and destroy the powers of the High Court of Australia to make any comment or fulfil its constitutional functions as the juridical guardian of the people’s legal rights.
There are many problems associated with the question of new States. As at present constituted, the six States of Australia are to a large extent complete and sovereign within their own boundaries; yet there is a proviso in that the six States are bound by the Colonial Laws Validity Act. A very precious section of that act - section 2 - is an important factor in Australian liberty. What would happen if the Commonwealth Parliament were given full constitutional power to interfere with the original six States and to chop up - if I might use that expression - the territory of those States at will without the authority of the sovereign parliamentary bodies of the States? If there were the six original
States with certain constitutional ties and restrictions deriving from the Mother of Parliaments, together with a number of other States not so bound or tied, the latter would be the playthings, not of the Commonwealth Parliament but - let us face the situation - of the party that dominated the Federal Parliament for the time being.
As a lover of British constitutional history and Australian constitutional law, I believe that no matter how pressing the objective might be, we must proceed very slowly indeed when we come to make constitutional changes. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) himself pointed to the need for careful and slow change when he said that since federation, and as the result of two wars, the High Court of Australia had ruled that the defence .power meant a lot more in peacetime now than it once did. Therefore, I say frankly that we would do the people of Australia a grave injustice if we sacrificed the trust that is ours to political expediency or for the alleged honour of party politics.
I agree with the principle that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has enunciated in this House from time to time: that our function as members of Parliament is not to try to alter the laws of Australia to make it easier to do something that we find it difficult to do it, but rather to sit quietly and work out slowly and surely how we can make use of the existing laws in order to achieve our objectives. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition says that as things now are, the Parliament has no power to do this, that or the other. It has been my conviction over many years of study of this subject that the Commonwealth Parliament, within the confines of our present Constitution, does indeed possess all the powers essential to the proper functioning of a federation of Australia if - and I emphasize the word “ if “ - some of the curses and stupidities of the interplay of party politics do not interfere.
When honorable members rise and say that the Commonwealth Parliament has not the power to do this or that, what they mean to say is that the reigning party, or the party they represent, has not the power as the Constitution stands to implement its ideology. I hope to God that that situation is never changed. We must hasten slowly when we start to deal with the very basis, the origins and the powers of Parliament. I believe we must retain the present principle that we have the political sovereign, which is the vote of the people, and we have in effect the legal sovereign, which is the High Court of Australia dealing with the powers of the Parliament when properly brought before it.
Many issues arise in a consideration of the question of new States. We have such matters as taxation powers and the problem of unemployment. Sir, may I make this statement at this stage and challenge any one to produce evidence to the contrary: In this present state of alleged failure of the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with the employment situation and to provide sufficient funds to various bodies throughout the Commonwealth to meet the problems of unemployment, may I say quite clearly, and challenge denial of it, that the power still resides in all the States, if they so desire, to introduce taxation within the borders of their own State to meet the needs and problems of unemployment in their own State. But to date no State has used this power; the States prefer to take the problem to the Commonwealth.
– What about Queensland?
– Yes, Queensland too - all the States. I come back to some of the arguments that have been advanced on the failure to introduce new States. References were made this morning to Queensland. For nearly 40 years while a Labour government was in office in Queensland, the power resided in that Parliament to form new States. At the same time, for many years, a Labour government was in office in New South Wales. Those two States could have come together with the will and the desire, which allegedly the Australian Labour Party now has, to settle the problems of new States in New South Wales and Queensland, quite simply and amicably.
Sir, I will never cease so long as I live to advocate the principle of new sovereign States. But I shall always insist that these sovereign States shall be created as the result of actions within the State and not as the result of a decision of some central body temporarily dominated, since this is a Commonwealth Parliament, by one political party at any one time. I agree that we must hasten slowly. I agree that one of the first steps on constitutional issues that should be taken but so far has not been advocated in this House, is a complete review of the real, the logical and the natural functions of the three spheres of government in Australia - local, State and Federal. This was not done by the Con stitutional Review Committee. When we have those spheres of activity clearly delineated, we will surely be in a position to take action, and the action we take will be the correct action. I am of the opinion that we will serve the people best in the long run, despite all the cries and screams of expediency, if we maintain the status quo.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
– I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 30).]
The proposals which I have tabled provide for temporary duties on -
High tension ignition coils,
Generators and starting motors, 6 volt or 12 volt,
Automatic voltage regulators, for 6 volt or 12 volt systems, of the types used in the automotive industry when for use as original equipment in motor vehicles. A temporary duty of Ti per cent, is imposed on distributors, high tension ignition coils, generators and starting motors. On automatic voltage regulators for 6 volt or 12 volt systems, a temporary duty of 35 per cent, is imposed.
In each instance, the temporary duties are imposed following report by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board and are m addition to the normal duties applying to the goods.
The normal protective needs of the industries concerned have been referred to the Tariff Board for full inquiry and report. The temporary duties will remain in effect only until the Government has taken action on the final reports of the board, but in any case not longer than three months after the receipt of the relevant reports.
I commend the proposals to honorable members.
– I lay on the table of the House a report by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Automotive electrical equipment.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 2012).
– I always listen with rapt interest to speeches delivered by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), so I listened to-day with great interest to his speech on the proposed new States. He is a very old statesman. He has been in this Parliament for 42 years, and I do not suppose any one here now has had the wealth of experience that he has had during those years of office. I support the proposal he advanced to alter the Constitution to give the Commonwealth the right to initiate a referendum in the State in which the proposed new State is to be established, because the Labour Party has agreed to support the whole of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, whether submitted in whole or in part. At the same time, the Labour Party is bound by a platform which states that we believe in clothing the Commonwealth Parliament with unlimited power and with the duty and authority to create States possessing delegated constitutional powers. It is true that adoption of the committee’s recommendation as it now stands without further alteration to the Constitution will confer upon the new State the same sovereign powers as are enjoyed by other States, but, nevertheless, we are prepared to support the right of the people to decide these issues, reserving to ourselves the right to determine whether we can support the proposal when the referendum is taken and having regard to the proposed boundaries and the powers the new States are to exercise.
It is to be regretted that the views which the right honorable gentleman has expressed so often and so eloquently, and the moves that he has made in this regard, have been timed so poorly. It is a misfortune which seems to have dogged him for the last 42 years, for which I suppose none of us can actually blame him. This occasion is another example of what seems to have been the right honorable gentleman’s unfortunate fate throughout his political career. He is making a move on something that never can eventuate. It is too late now for this Parliament to give effect to the resolution if it is carried, so I share his grief in knowing that this whole debate is a waste of time and that all we can do is to hear once again one of the many very wonderful speeches that he has made over the last 42 years. It is a pity that he has not been able to persuade the Government to allow this debate to continue and for a vote to be taken on it in time to have enabled this Parliament to authorize a referendum. However, he has not succeeded, and there is not much we can do about it except to lament the fact.
The mover of this motion entered the Parliament in 1919 because of his advocacy of the new States movement. Not only did he enter the Parliament himself, but he succeeded in getting other people in. Mr. Massey Greene, who was not ardent enough in his advocacy, was defeated and the right honorable gentleman assisted another Mr. Green to enter in that gentleman’s place. A Mr. Thompson and a Mr. Abbott seemed to fall under his spell at one stage. Between them, they seemed to have the unhappy knack of moving when in opposition, when on the back bench, or when it was far too late for anything to be done, even though the resolution had been carried.
The right honorable gentleman’s first reference to this matter was contained in his first speech to the Parliament, during the Address-in-Reply debate in 1920, but he did nothing further until late in 1921, when Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister of the day, brought in a bill for a constitution convention. The Nationalist Government, as it then was, then moved that the matter be adjourned so that it would be killed and so that nothing could happen. The proposal to adjourn was advanced and every Nationalist with the exception of one voted for the adjournment. Curiously enough, so did seven members of the Farmers and Settlers Association, or whatever what is now known as the Country Party called itself at that time. Indeed, only three members of that body stuck to the right honorable gentleman. They were Messrs. Hill, Prowse and Stewart. The rest deserted him and left him holding the baby, so to speak.
Nearly a year passed and on 14th September, 1922, the right honorable gentleman decided that it was time to take a pretty positive and bold step, so he asked Prime Minister Hughes whether he had received a request from the Premiers of Queensland and New South Wales for a Constitution convention. The Prime Minister’s reply was very short. It consisted of one word, “ No “. But evidently it was sufficient to deter the right honorable gentleman from any further action for a considerable time because nothing more was done, apart from one or two good speeches - almost as good as the one he made today - until after the Scullin Government was elected in 1929. Then, not immediately afterwards, but on 10th April, 1930, he moved for a referendum to alter the Constitution relating to new States, but again the Nationalists and some Country Party members helped to defeat the proposal so nothing further was done.
Those eight years of inactivity must be borne in mind. It must be remembered that during that time the right honorable gentleman was Treasurer of this country from 1923 until 1929. For twelve months of the period to which I have referred he was in fact Acting Prime Minister. But still not one single thing was done during those halcyon days to have this wonderful dream brought to fruition.
– The honorable member forgets all the things that were done, such as the appointment of a royal commission.
– I have missed some things and I shall refer to them later because they seem to add lustre to the point I am making that the right honorable gentleman’s timing unfortunately has been bad. In 1926, Mr. Thompson, the then honorable member for New England, moved for a referendum on the matter, but this move was defeated by an amendment which was moved by another Country Party member named Abbott and supported by the right honorable gentleman. This amendment provided for the matter to be referred to a Constitution convention which was to be held later. In fact, it took place in 1927. But 1926 was the time to have acted, not to have passed the buck to a Constitution convention and delayed the matter for another twelve months.
I remember reading the remarks of the right honorable W. M. Hughes in 1926 when he was participating in the debate. He summarized the activities of the right honorable member for Cowper up to that stage - that is, from 1919 to 1926 - in this way -
The first year-
That is, of the previous three-year period - was taken up in rapt retrospect of the election campaign; but out of darkness came light, and he arrived breathless, but happy, where he is now. In the next year-
That was the year when the right honorable member for Cowper became Treasurer - he was dazzled with the unaccustomed glare of ministerial office, and action was impossible. Then came the third year and again he did nothing. Many times we have heard him wax eloquent upon the subject of new States. By the revolution of the political wheel the honorable member for Cowper may be imagined now as seated where he has only to press an electric button and lo, in turn come forth a budget or a shining array of new States.
– Who said this?
– The Honorable Billy Hughes, who was his erstwhile friend. He continued -
As for the New States Movement, the bride is arrayed in her wedding finery; but the bridegroom cometh not. As in the song, the anxious bride, her once rosy cheeks pale and her manner depressed, is “ waiting at the church “ or, in the language of the streets, “ There’s nothing doing “.
Let me now repeat some remarks by Mr. Forde, another Prime Minister, who spoke in the same debate. Even in 1926 - a cool 35 years ago - he was impatient with the right honorable gentleman’s activity in this regard. This is what he said -
Those who have been returned to Parliament by making certain promises to the electors should “ deliver the goods “, instead of merely placing motions on the business-paper and allowing them to be talked out. Although he-
Referring to the right honorable member for Cowper - has occupied the second position in the present Cabinet for four years during which time he was Acting Prime Minister for twelve months, he has done nothing to further the New States Movement in a practical way.
Then in 1926 we had the action which the honorable gentleman, by way of interjection, probably refers to - a referendum. Surely the new State would be mentioned now! Here was a referendum bill, agreed to by Parliament, but it dealt only with (a) industry and commerce, and (b) the protection of essential industries. It did nothing at all about this wonderful dreamed-up idea of new States. Surely that was the time to give effect to the new-State proposal! A referendum on other matters was to be put to the people and this idea of new States could have been dealt with at no extra cost.
The year 1927 did see something happen. In that year the promised Constitution commission - the thing which took the place of the referendum proposed a year before by Mr. Thompson - was established. The commission did, in fact, make certain recommendations. It said -
We believe that the prosperity and development of Australia call for a greater distribution of the areas of existing States - for the creation of new States.
But there was no positive action to implement the recommendations of that commission. Nothing happened. The year 1928 came along and still the right honorable member for Cowper was in office as Treasurer of the Commonwealth and leader of the Australian Country Party. He was a very influential man with the Liberals, because they had to rely on the votes of his party to remain in office. Another referendum was proposed by the Liberal-Country Party Government. This time, surely, it could not leave out the question of new States again, in view of the fact that two years earlier the commission had recommended positive action I But we find that the only submission made was that there should be some alteration of the Constitution in regard to State debts. Surely this was the time when this pressing, urgent, and important matter should have been put forward, seeing that it had been skipped for so many years previously. But still no positive action was taken.
In April, 1930, after the election of the Scullin Government, when the right honorable gentleman no longer had any influence or power in the country, but was an ordinary private Opposition member, he showed his first real interest in positive action since he had unsuccessfully tried to get his Country Party and Liberal Party mates to support the Hughes referendum proposal of 1921. Again he was unsuccessful. On 2nd April, 1930, he said that in the United States where there were more States there was more interstate trading, and federal powers .over trade and commerce had been given a wider interpretation by the courts. He also said that if both New South Wales and Queensland were divided into three States there would be more interstate trade within the existing boundaries of those States than there would be intra-State trade.
This seemed then to be the reason being advanced by the right honorable gentleman for the new-State movement. Being in Opposition and without any power or influence, in spite of the fact that previously he had enjoyed six years in the office of Treasurer, he did nothing more until 1931 when he stated that he had been authorized by the people of New England to announce to the Parliament that they were prepared to pay their share of the New South Wales Government’s debts, amounting to something like £2,500,000. The money was actually never paid, but that is beside the point. The announcement was good talking matter and probably sounded quite good to the people of New England who supposedly were prepared to pay their debts instead of repudiating them as the rest of the State proposed to do.
Three times in 1932 when his party was supporting the then Government, although he was no longer a Minister, the right honorable gentleman raised the question of new States. Nothing was done, but here at last was a manifestation of the lion being rampant. The odd thing about these rampant lions from New England, Cowper and Richmond, is that none of them is ever prepared to wear the badge of the New England State movement. Are they ashamed to do so? Why is it that only we of the Labour Party who believe in this thing-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have just heard from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who did not express his view one way or the other throughout the whole period of his speech. He spent his time attacking the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) for what he had been trying to do over a period of some 40 years. It is most interesting to see that the honorable member for Hindmarsh did not express a point of view. That was quite different from what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did, because he came out and said he was in favour of new States and of more and more States. That is completely contrary to Labour’s policy. Labour’s policy is unification- the abandonment of federa tion and the establishment of only one Parliament in Australia. That is part of Labour’s platform. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition waxed eloquent here to-day and said there should be more States because he realizes that this is good political propaganda just at this time. Less than a month ago, on 20th September, speaking at the conference of local government in New South Wales, he said that there should be only a two-tier system of government; that there should be no State governments. But to-day he has the hypocrisy to come here as a demagogue and say that there should be more and more State parliaments-
– Order! The honorable member is not entitled to use the word “ hypocrisy “.
– Did you say “ democracy “?
– I think the honorable member is well aware of the word he used, and he will withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. The reason why I have entered this debate is that I feel that the movement to create new States - particularly the New England State in New South Wales - has been brought about by the great need to decentralize industry and to hold population in country areas instead of letting it drift to the cities which are already overcrowded. In the newState area the drift of population is the worst of any part of New South Wales. In the north coast area there was an increase of only 2.5 per cent, in population between 1954 and 1960, as against a State increase of 11.2 per cent, and an increase, in the regional area of Sydney, of 13.5 per cent. Surely this shows that something must be done to try to decentralize industry in New South Wales. No wonder there is an uprising in the New England area to demand that something be done. There is only one Labour member in the whole of that area, the others being all conservative members. The only alternative they can find is to have a new State, if they are to have a fair deal. Why is it that at local elections when polls have been held to ascertain whether the people want a new State, there has been a 75 per cent, affirmative vote? Why is it that the New England State movement has been able in a short time to raise a fighting fund of £108,000? The reason is that the people of those areas have been persecuted by the New South Wales Government. They are not getting a fair share of available funds and there is persecution in the marketing of their products and in the way in which the New South Wales Government is treating the sawmillers in the north of New South Wales in the matter of high royalties. This is why there is a movement afoot and a spirited uprising to have a new State. If the New South Wales Government will not do anything to help the creation of a new State the Commonwealth Government should, do what it can by altering the Constitution. The State Government could, of course, recommend straight away to the Commonwealth Government that a new State be created, and all would be well, but what has it done? Nothing! The history of the new-State movement is old. As the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) said this morning, the movement for a new State of Capricornia is almost 100 years old.
Many royal commissions in New South Wales have recommended the creation of new States. The Nicholas royal commission in 1.933 actually fixed the boundaries for three new States- within the present area of New South Wales, one of them being: in what is now proposed as the new State of New England. If the proposed new State of New England was too small and if it did not have a. large population and large resources I would say that its creation would be unwise, but the. proposed new State would have a population of 752,000 people. That population is larger than the population of Western- Australia,. South Australia or Tasmania. The suggested new State has the highest per capita income of any State in the Commonwealth. Its per capita income is £392, compared with the per capita income of the Commonwealth of £3”40. The- proposed new State would’ be the fourth strongest State in Australia. The gross income of the area’ was- £295,000,000- in 1960^ compared’ with- South Australia’s gross income of £279,000,000. If the new State of New England were created, New South Wales still would be the wealthiest State and’ still would be- two and a half times the size of Victoria.
We need balanced’ development in Australia - not the congestion that is taking place in the cities, not the extravagant capital, expenditure that must be invested in the city areas for the provision of water and transport facilities. Cities can become too large. Then everything becomes inefficient. Sydney has reached that stage now and something must be done to improve the situation.. This Parliament should support the creation of new States. The New South Wales Government is amalgamating, local governments. Its objective is to centralize power in Sydney and to deny the people an opportunity to govern themselves and to develop their own interests. New States would have chances to make deals with the Commonwealth Government for irrigation or power schemes or for the development of mineral- resources. The Commonwealth has made deals with South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia but at present when the Commonwealth makes a deal with New South Wales the deal is generally designed to please Newcastle, Sydney or Wollongong.
– What about the Glenbawn dam and the Keepit dam?’
– The New South Wales Government has taken twenty years to build those dams. Their original estimated cost was about £1,500,000, but their ultimate cost was £20,000,000. Is that the type of organized development that the Opposition wants’ in Australia - this muddling by the New South Wales Government? Surely not. A State of New Eng-land, a State of Capricornia or a State of Northern Australia could attract foreign investment for the development of projects in those areas. The right honorable member for Cowper has told me that American companies, were interested in building The Gorge scheme at a cost of between £30,000,000 and £50,000,000. They would have made the scheme a profitable, concern by selling, power, and water. But what happened? When the New South Wales Government tried to take over the. Sydney electricity authority that authority appealed to. the. court. The court ruled that the authority could, manage its own affairs. The New South. Wales Government, then- passed legislation, giving* it. power, to take over the authority. The New. South Wales Government, decided that there should’ be only one. electricity commission. Who would establish an independent electricity authority knowing that the Government could socialize the undertaking at any stage?
Decentralization is important. One way to encourage decentralization is to try to decentralize the banking system, the insurance system, the hire-purchase system and the superannuation funds. At present all these funds are centred in the capital cities. If they could be decentralized you would have a chance of using them to a greater extent for local development. At present those funds accumulate in the capital cities and are used in the main for development around the capital cities. The creation of additional States would mean, under section 92 of the Constitution, more trade between the States. The creation of additional States would make easier the control of restrictive trade practices. Why is there so much illfeeling in the great rural area of northern New South Wales towards the New South Wales Government? Why do the people of that area want to govern themselves?
One reason is the way in which the New South Wales Government treats the arbitration or industrial courts of the Commonwealth and the State. What did that Government do about the 40-hour week? It overruled the court, and itself introduced a 40-hour week. Irrespective of the merits of the 40-hour week, what right had the New South Wales Government to override the court? The court may as well be disbanded. What did the New South Wales Government do about quarterly adjustments to the basic wage? Again it overrode the court. It did the same thing in the matter of three weeks annual leave. Three weeks annual leave was not granted by the court; it was granted by the New South Wales Labour Government. Who pays for all these things in the long run? Your exporting industries and your primary producers pay. More costs are being loaded onto this sector of the community. What is the New South Wales Government doing now? It is talking about introducing a 35-hour week for workers. It has supported the introduction of a 35-hour week in the coalmining industry. It is talking of introducing a 35-hour week for local government employees. It has granted four weeks annual leave to employees of the Sydney City Council. How long can the nation stand these increasing costs? I know that the primary producers of northern New South Wales cannot stand them for much longer.
It would be a good idea to break up the strength of some unions. That would be in the interest of the trade union movement. What happens when there is a strike in Sydney in the railways or in the electricity undertaking? We in the north are affected. Our rail services are persecuted and handicapped because of something that happens in Sydney. With a smaller State the unions could look after their affairs in that State without being dragged into disputes by stronger capital city unions which do not have a great interest in the problems of the country areas.
How is the New South Wales Government’s land policy affecting northern New South Wales? Some of the finest beaches in Australia - Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Ballina and Evans Head - are in my area, but what has stopped their development? The State Government has maintained its socialistic outlook towards Crown land. It has not allowed development of Crown land along those beach fronts. As a result, the south coast of Queensland - the Gold Coast - has developed. Development on the New South Wales side of the border has been much slower. Greenbank Island, at Tweed Heads, could become a mecca for tourists, but for fifteen years the New South Wales Government has stalled on development of the island. A new State could promote development of a tourist industry in this area. The people of Sydney do not have much interest in northern New South Wales. Why, it is 600 miles away.
What is the New South Wales Government’s policy in relation to forestry? Why should we in the north be penalized by high freight charges and high timber royalties? Time and again the Tariff Board has indicated that freights and royalties in New South Wales are higher than in any other State. The Tariff Board has said that it sees no justification for increasing protection to the timber industry while one State arrogantly increases royalties. Although we have had a crisis recently in the timber industry, what has the New South Wales Government done? In my area it has recently notified saw-millers that royalties will again be increased. Would that happen in a new State? Of course not.
The northern area of New South Wales abounds in minerals. There is bauxite - something like 10,000,000 tons- at Glen Innes. There is iron ore at Fineflower There is copper at Trangie and Cobar. There is tin in the Emmaville area, down to Grafton and up to Casino. There are vast deposits of tin, gold, manganese and molybdenum in this area, but the New South Wales Government has made no attempt to develop them. If a new State were created in that area, the people there would see to it that the district was developed to the utmost. One matter that causes me great concern is the arbitrary, discriminatory barrier created by the milk zone against producers on the north coast of New South Wales. Can any member argue that it is fair or just that a person producing milk on the north coast of New South Wales should receive only ls. lOd. a gallon for his milk while the producers within the Sydney milk zone enjoy a return of 4s. a gallon? Is that fair or just? Of course it is not! The only way to solve this problem is to create a new State. Even after the creation of a new State, Sydney would still require milk, and this area would supply a great part of it. The whole of Sydney’s needs could not be obtained from the other areas, and once milk was allowed to come from the new State in the north of New South Wales, it would not be possible to set up any arbitrary barrier against the supply from the north.
I believe, further, that if the creation of a new State led to the breaking-down of the milk zone, much would be done towards establishing an equalization scheme for milk.
It has to be remembered that the committee which inquired into the dairying industry recommended that there should be an equalization scheme, not just for butter and cheese as at present, but for all dairy products, including milk and dried milk powders. That is only in conformity with modern practice in England, Holland and Denmark, and I am very pleased at the thought that South Australia has now made some substantial move towards the establishment of an equalization scheme for all dairy products there. But, heavens above, how can we hope to have such a scheme in New South Wales so long as we have this discriminatory milk zone under which the people of the north, who observe the same industrial awards as do the producers within the milk zone, are persecuted? I repeat that suppliers within the milk zone enjoy double the return that the producers outside it receive.
With the establishment of a new State of New England there would be a far greater development. Present development of the resources of the area is not commensurate with the value of those resources and the great potential of the district. It is my firm belief that these resources can be fully developed in the national interest only if the people of the north are given their own parliament to which are elected local people who have the knowledge and experience of local conditions necessary to give the required impetus to its development. I sincerely hope that the Government will see fit to do something about vesting in the Commonwealth power to initiate the move for a new State. I emphasize that before a new State can be established, not only the people of the proposed new State, but also the electors of the whole of the State, must agree to the establishment of the new State. This presents many difficulties, and it will be necessary to put before the people of the two States concerned - New South Wales and Queensland - convincing arguments in favour of the creation of new States, but I assure honorable members that it is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the people of the northern part of New South Wales that a new State should be created there. As the figures disclose that 75 per cent, of the people there favour the creation of a new State, I am of the opinion that there is every possibility that a referendum would result in a new State being established in that part of New South Wales.
.- The feeling I have towards this question of new States, which has bedevilled the thinking of the Australian community for many years is shared, I think, by most members of the Australian Labour Party. It is that what the people desire they should have, and eventually will have. We look at the whole problem of new States from the point of view of unification. We believe, from our philosophy and from our acceptance of the facts of life, that it is probably better in the long run that there should be a very strong central government. However, considering the present blast for new States, the rather rugged history of the fight for new States, and having in mind the propaganda emanating from each side on this question, I am beginning to wonder whether we have been a little over-generous in the amendment which we have proposed, and which I support.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) says that the people of New England are at boiling point, and that they are persecuted. All I can say is that there are some very good kinds of persecution taking place when they result in the provision of £19,000,000 subsidy for the butter industry. 1 hope that type of persecution comes to me when I am writing another book, for I would like to be persecuted in the same way by some tyrant in Sydney or Canberra. It is also very nice to be persecuted into the ground, burnt up and crucified by that reasonable marketing scheme originated by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who sits here beaming at me at the moment.
– That has nothing to do with the milk zone.
– It has something to do with new States, We shall get round to the milk zone later on. It is possible to get a phobia about persecution when none exists.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has been sincere in advocating new States for some time now, but I am not sure that he, having grown up in a rather sordid political atmosphere, has not raised this matter rather to further the political interests of the Australian Country Party. For years now, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), and members of the State Parliament - some with great devotion and some with political aspirations - have pressed this claim for a new State. But I, as a New South Welshman who was born in the country, and who lived in the city of Sydney for many years, know that there is more emotion than genuine conviction behind this move.
The right honorable member for Cowper has based his case on the need for dividing the State of New South Wales into areas which have 360 miles of coastline, no section of a new State to be more than 200 miles from the capital city. Theoretically, that is most efficient and reasonable, but when you get the new man who is to inherit the new State making such surprising statements as those to which I am about to refer, you begin to think that a new State run by representatives of the Country Party would not be in the best interests of the community. For instance, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) says, “ What about the 40-hour week? Nobody does anything about that.” So we can gather from his speech that the people in the new State are not to have a 40-hour week. He also says: “What about the quarterly adjustments? This was not done by the Arbitration Court.” You can take it from me that very few cockies believe in the Arbitration Court. Again, we can take it from his speech that there is to be a sort of duma, a sort of rigid chamber created which will do away with all these city-bred liberalisms that have been created for the benefit of people all over the country. Therefore, we can take it from his speech that the 40-hour week will go, and the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage will go. Again, the thought of three weeks annual leave almost made him reel over the cowbails. He could not believe that such a thing could exist. Then he said a most astonishing and frightening thing. He said, “ We can achieve something in the break-up of the size of the union, we can do something about a break-up of industrial policy.” So that it would seem that we are to have a Tory centre from which grew up the oldfashioned privileges that existed for so long, and that were broken down so slowly. He put up a very sad case as compared with the sober one put forward by the right honorable member for Cowper.
Reference to the City of Sydney has been made in the newspapers. All cities grow up. All cities have large populations in which people go about before having their shower in the morning, gnashing their teeth and saying: “ What can we do for the country? How can we knock it over this morning.” Why, most of us are obsessed with the thought of how we can get a living in competition with our fellow city-dwellers, and when we go round the big buildings of Sydney we usually find some big man from the country putting across a good deal for himself. Why, the city slickers are not in it compared to the boy from the bush, whether he stays in the country, or whether he comes to the city, when it comes to pushing for something for himself.
I have told the House about the £19,000,000 butter subsidy which was wrung from the so-called city slickers. This Government is prepared to help country interests along in that way and by means of orderly marketing schemes, the construction of dams, reafforestation, soil conservation works and the provision of roads and all those things which are part of the scene in the very fine and prosperous State of New South Wales. Rural areas have some disabilities, of course. So have city areas. If you balance the two together and have a hard look at the new State movement, the issue is not a matter of favouring some one and putting some one else in an unfavorable position. The question is: Will the idea work? Is it financially feasible?
We talk of new States as if this were the United States of America and as if millions of pounds were tumbling in from overseas and spreading over the fertile land. We have a population of little more than 10,000,000. Are numbers any more important when they are distributed in big groups than when they are distributed in little groups? The economic problem is the important thing. Millions of pounds were poured out by the previous Labour Government, and the Labour government of the near future will pour out many millions more on the development of the country generally. This is the sort of thing that we ought to think about instead of cutting up problems into little pieces and hoping that they will disappear. That just does not happen. We want a broader approach to our problems than that. The Commonwealth has an obligation in these matters, and we need to adopt a reasonable attitude. The important thing, in the final analysis is the wish of the people. We are democrats on both sides of the House, and we have to consider how the wishes of the people are to be served.
We have heard the perfervid statement of the honorable member for Richmond, who said, “ Get rid of the milk zoning scheme “. Immediately, I saw at least five honorable members on the Government side collapse. I ask the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall): Does he want to get rid of the milk zoning scheme? I see that he is not present in the chamber, but I am sure that if he were his answer would be a reverberating “ No “. Would the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) like to get rid of the milk zoning scheme? I ask the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is now at the table - the Minister from Old Junee, where the lowing kine wind slowly o’er the lea: Would he like to have his Illawarra shorthorns-
– Aberdeen Angus!
– Yes, the Aberdeen Angus. Because they have a good Scots name, they would like to participate in a good thing. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who has been hunting Communists in this Parliament in the last few weeks rather than cattle, would not be out of the milk zoning scheme for quids.
I suggest that if a new State were created there would be a bigger Donnybrook on the Government side of the chamber than on this side. The whole proposal arises from the gentle dreams of the right honorable member for Cowper, a former Prime Minister and a very sincere man in his attitude to his country’s problems. Those who have followed him on the Government side in supporting this dream to-day are aggressive haters of the city and they talk a lot of nonsense. That is one side of the issue.
– They decry the city at every opportunity.
– Of course. They think it is a good thing to keep the country divided from the city. The Liberals and the members of the Australian Country Party who sit in this Parliament mostly live at nice watering places such as Manly. About once every six months, they go back to their electorates and say: “ The terrible city! It is grinding our faces.” Then we could ask this sort of question: “ What kind of a cheque did you get from the wheat board? “ The answer would probably be, “ Not bad “. What about asking the dairy farmer how he gets his milk taken to the city? He will say, “ It is a good cop, mate “. Do honorable members opposite think that that sort of bucolic humour reaches us? We in industry would not be caught up in the sort of cowcocky humour that they try to put over. In industry, that sort of thing would fill us with horror.
If a new State were established, the first thing we would hear from it would be: “ Perish the cities. Down with the cities. We shall have no aggregations of population. But, of course, we must have Newcastle.” That is the dream city and the Hunter Valley is one of the most desirable and fertile areas of this continent. We would hear from the people of the new State the cry: “ Perish the cities, but we must have the City of Newcastle “. That sort of thing is nonsense. It is indicative of a nonsensical attitude.
Let us have a look at the things that would happen in the new States. I am not a lover of States. I am a lover of federation. Fancy having another State Parliament and more senators in this Parliament. We are sworn to abolish the Senate. We could, of course, watch with some satisfaction the advent of Labour senators, but all those whom we would get from the proposed new State would be members of the Australian Country Party. In any event, it is against our policy to have senators at all. What sort of bunyip aristocracy would we see? We can just imagine the local grazier sitting back in parliament house in Armidale and imagining that one day he will be Lord Wallawalla. Can honorable members think of anything more frightening in a democratic country that wants to get ahead? Apparently, honorable members opposite just crawl back into the old ideas.
I have sat in on and reported the proceedings of royal commissions on the establishment of new States and have read the reports of others, and I know what happens. The honorable member for Richmond is obsessed with the idea of new States. Some members of the old Parliament in New South Wales are quite rabidly using the idea of a new State, as are some members of this House, as a political gimmick to help separate the country from the city. The Australian Country Party is a sectional party and it has to live on hatred. Its members say, “ Look what they are doing to us “. They should say, “ Can we not do this together? “ Members of that party want to take from New South Wales the richest part of the State, including a fine city like Newcastle, and form another State in which they can create their own institutions. They talk about what they can get, what they have lost and what they have never had. But, when one mentions the national debt and certain obligations that the new State ought to have, members of the Australian Country Party do not think so kindly of those things. They say, “ Do not say that in Peel-street, Tamworth, Beardy-street, Armidale, Hunterstreet, Newcastle, or the main street of Maitland, or we shall be gone a million “. They want to talk only about the desirable things. It looks to me as though, in the final analysis, we shall see only a lot more politicians and not the achievement of any great national aspirations if a new State is created. As I said before, the thing that I fear is the creation of a little, tin-pot thing like one of the Balkan states - a sort of new Ruritania - which will have no power and which, very soon, will petition the Commonwealth for more money.
Let us consider what the honorable member for Richmond has said about the matter. Listening to him, one begins to fear that the new State not only is unnecessary but could be very wrong. I repeat, for the benefit of those who were not in the House to hear the honorable member’s short speech, that he denied everything Labour had done for country people. He said that nothing was any good. The wheel of the wagon was broken and would not go round any more! Daisy had dyspepsia! There was no future in the dairy! He was going to rehabilitate everything for himself. In the process, the 40-hour week would go. Quarterly adjustments of wages would go. Three weeks’ annual leave would go. The result would not be a new State. It would be a state of disaster. The country would be put back 100 years. The implication was clear enough for all to see.
Then we got the usual splatter of statistics about how many millions of pounds had been spent here and how many millions of pounds had been spent there. We know that the States are alleged to be suffering under a disability. It is said that they do not get back all the money that they put into the taxation pool, because that money is spread all over the nation under the federal system that we have adopted. A new State would be in the same position in that respect as that in which the existing ones find themselves. The whole argument reminds me of a boy who looks at a nice plum cake that his mother has made for Christmas and nominates the plums that he wants, leaving the dough for his mates. That sort of thing cannot be done in a democracy. This is one of the flaws that I see in this idea of new States.
The Australian Labour Party is a collection of people who are mostly unificationists. They believe very firmly in federalism and have been its greatest advocates. But they have been generous in their treatment of this motion. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was a member of the Constitutional Review Committee and has put before us a very reasonable and very democratic amendment to give the motion some sense of reality and make it sound honest. The amendment goes a little further than the mere pious aspirations for a new State. Lots of people go along with the idea of a new State simply because of the perfervid advocacy that they have heard from the right honorable member for Cowper for so long. But one becomes alarmed when one finds that the new men - the young fellows - have a different idea and just want to take the best that they can get for themselves and leave the rest. For these reasons, I feel that we can go only as far as the amendment will allow us to go. At any rate, it is good that this matter has been raised and that we have talked about it between ourselves. I know that, on the other side of the House, there are many honorable members who think, as we on this side do, that propaganda about new States has to be taken with a grain of salt. I think that that is all that needs to be said about it.
I would make this final comment in passing: There are so many serious things to be done in developing our country and grappling with our problems that there is no need for us, like some amoebic insect in a fishbowl, to break up into segments. Instead, we ought to coalesce, so that we can achieve some unity, and from the strength thus obtained, for unity is strength, we can build every section of the community. There is no reason why Taree or Kapooka Loop or Snake Gully should be depressed because it has not proper representation in the Federal Parliament. It may be that the Country Party cannot handle its role in this Parliament. It may be that the members of that party do not speak up here because they are hide-bound in their attitude towards new States and cannot think federally. There is no reason why they should not bring their problems here and have them bashed out on the national blacksmith’s anvil that we call the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
There is no great value in cutting our national problems up into sections and saying, “ We will solve this problem in this way or that way. We will overcome this difficulty in this backyard or that.” You can integrate all your progressive plans for this country in the great national plan that we envisage as coming from a Federal Parliament. If anybody feels oppressed there are various ways in which his parliamentary representative can come here and see that that oppression is lifted. But no oppression exists. The honorable member for Lalor, if he had the opportunity to do so - and I hope he will have - would tell the House of the great plans that the Labour Government had in its day, and which a future Labour government will revive, for the country people. The Labour Party does not regard them as farmers, graziers or milkmen; it looks on them as Australians living in certain areas and working in certain vocations.
– You call them hillbillies.
– Well, one may use all kinds of expressions, if one utters them in pleasant tones. You, of course, are not even a hillbilly; you are a bill hilly. You follow a reverse process; you do not farm the land, you farm the farmer. However, you are from a rather more intelligent branch of the Country Party, and I do not think that in your heart you believe in new States. Why, if some one tore Mildura from you, you would bleed to death polite :ally. You could not: stand it. It.would.be; the- grapes1 of wrath- in the- greatest measure: So do not. try to kid me: about- your attitudeto new States, because, you-and I know what you think about the matter.
– Order! The honorable member, should address the Chair.
– I am- sorry, Mr: DeputySpeaker. I am reminded that E must’ conclude; and T do so on this- note: The dream of the right honorable member for Cowper about seven States and1 50,000,000 people coming- into this- country is, after all; only a dream. It is a gentle dream. We- respect the right honorable member- because he has believed in it all his life. I would have hoped, if we had had the population, that something like his dream- would have’ been possible. It is not possible because of thehard facts I have enumerated. For the benefit of the- honorable member, for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who is now in. the chamber, I will, enumerate, them- again. I will do so. by putting, a few questions to the honorable member.. Would you, say that your electorate has been, totally neglected by the Federal Government? Would you say, if you- had a. new State and had something, to do with the government of it, that you would, like to get rid of the 40-hour week? After all, election time is. approaching, and now is the time, to speak up on these issues. Would you say that you would- get rid of the quarterly wage adjustments? Would you. say that- three weeks’ annual leave for a. worker is an. imposition on industry? Would you break up the union, so that the little compact State would become some sort of little, palatinate such as. existed in Germany 100 years ago? Or would you go along with the federation,, which looks after every segment of the Australian countryside, whether, it be a State or a federal territory?
If you want new States, the way to get them is to follow the American plan. When you have an area with fertile soil, with people and with potential you make a territory of it. It remains a territory for a while and then, as its, population increases; it builds- up towards the status of a new State. But do not take ready-made States. The new-Staters do not want to go to work and build new States; they do- net want: to- do the pioneering work. They, want to grab what, is already in existence,, and they look over: Australia and pick, out the. bits that: they- want. What happened in America was> that’ the pioneers went into the- wilderness! and carved a. living out o£ it.. When they had. the. numbers; and.’ the potential the. area, in which- they, lived became a. territory. Then the population of- the territory commenced to build up; That is the sort of! development that we do not see in Australia to-day, and the reason’ why we do not see rapid development in the- big’ States such as* New South Wales and’ Queensland is that’ development’ is now beyond the capacity of the- individual’ pioneer or even the individual’ capitalist: Development now needs a multimillion pound-‘ plan.
What, we need for our development is not new States. We need an all-out drive for national development. We need: to carry out plans such as- that put forward by the honorable- member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti)’ for the national development of our coal” resources. Conserve what you have and develop it to the limit’. Then you will not want a new State, because you- will’ have a new Australia.
Mi?. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Order! The honorable member’s time’ Has: expired.
– I wish- to make a personal explanation,. Mr. Deputy Speaker. I claim to have been- misrepresented. The honorable- member- for Parkes has misrepresented what I said, deliberately I think, although I hope I- am; wrong, in thinking so,
– I raise a point of order,. Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been insulted.
– Order! The honorable, member for Richmond should withdraw the word “ deliberately “ and proceed.
– I withdraw it. The honorable member for Parkes said’ that I was in favour of abolishing the 40-hour week, the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage and three weeks annual’ leave for workers, all’ of which operate in New South Wales. What I said was that the New South Wales Government had overridden the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission m the matters of the 40-hour week, the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage and the three weeks or four weeks annual leave for workers,
.- We have heard from the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and others, and it is quite obvious that they do not want new States. They really do not want any form of government other than that represented by this Parliament to rise above the local council level. It is interesting to speculate on their real reason for this attitude. I think it might be fair enough to issue a warning to all those ardent supporters of the creation of new States about the company they may be keeping in alining themselves, in connexion with the new State movement, with members of the Opposition. The Labour Party will go along with them in these State proposals, but only on Labour Party terms. In general, those terms are that new States must have no more power than would be exercised by local councils. The Labour Party wants to centralize all power in this Parliament. That is precisely the policy of the Opposition. It wants to centralize power in this Parliament and to gain control in that way. It can then make even the High Court subservient to the Parliament. Then, with no need to worry about section 92 of the Constitution, imagine what a field day the members of the Opposition would have.
I believe, therefore, that it is fair to issue this warning to supporters of the new State movement about going along with the Labour Party on this proposition, because the Labour Party will insist on the acceptance of its terms.
– It would be disastrous.
– I agree that it would be disastrous. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) said he did not think that any one on this side of the House was sincere in this matter. He used certain words that I do not consider to be really parliamentary. He said we had no sincerity at all. He said that only one new State was ever spoken of, a State of New England. The case for the creation of such a State was put very well this morning by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page)’ and ably supported by the seconder of the motion and by others. I want to say, however, that for a long time we have had new-State movements in Queensland, and there has been a good deal of substance in the arguments for those new States. All that has been said to-day about the need for a new State of New England is applicable, and to an even greater extent, in the case of Queensland. The problems in Queensland are in many respects far more serious than those of New England.
I support the motion of the right honorable member for Cowper, but I want to speak mainly about the problems of Queensland. Honorable members generally do not realize the distances involved in that State and just what the situation is as a result of centralized government. If you look at a map of Queensland you will see that Brisbane is right down in the south-east corner. The seat of government is in Brisbane. All along the coast, as far north as Cairns, there are excellent cities and towns, which are expanding, but all too slowly. The pattern is well and truly set for a division of the State. The situation is ideal for cutting it up into separate administrative areas or new States. Queensland is quite well organized in this regard and no doubt this was intended from the start, because the central, northern and southern areas are quite well defined.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) advanced sound arguments for a new State in central Queensland. There is no doubt that many people in that area believe they should have a new State. Rockhampton, which might be considered the radial centre or capital for a new State, is 500 miles from Brisbane. That is roughly the distance between Melbourne and Sydney. It is a long way, and distance definitely breeds neglect, as is shown when you have a capital city in the south-eastern corner of a State as it is in Queensland. Central Queensland is very rich, and it could sustain a new State.
Further north, there is a strong movement for a new State in northern Queensland with a capital or radial centre at the rapidly growing centre of Townsville. North Queensland is a vast area with tremendous possibilities although it has a small population. Many honorable members realize the extent of its potential; but it cannot get far ahead quickly unless it has more say in its administration. It is 1,000 miles from Brisbane.
The Queensland Government has taken reasonably positive steps over the past few years to try to convince the people of Queensland that it wishes to achieve decentralization and is not neglecting the outer areas. The State Cabinet meets periodically outside the capital city, and Ministers travel much more than their predecessors did, but it is still not enough. The people of central and north Queensland generally feel neglected. The people of this vast area want to get ahead, and there is a strong case for new States.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to the per capita return from the New England area. The per capita return in north Queensland would be about £500. The area returns about £130,000,000 to £140,000,000 in various forms of production.
The people who advocate new States are often looked upon as cranks who are bashing their heads against a brick wall, but I have no doubt that in many areas they will be proved to be right and will ultimately succeed. They have to put up with a lot. Nobody believes that they are working for personal gain. They believe that what they are seeking is for the good of the people and of the nation.
In 1957, the Queensland Government unequivocally gave an election promise that it would give the people the right to decide whether they wanted new States, but it has not honoured that promise. The State Government has put it in the background since it was elected to office. When the present Government was in opposition, it clamoured loudly for new States. It gave a promise on the election platform, and then forgot it, and we have heard nothing about it since. This is a serious state of affairs. The newState movement is just as vigorous as it was, if not more vigorous. As other honorable members have said, it is wrong that a State government can withhold from the people a right that they want to exercise. I believe that the people of northern and central Queensland want to exercise that right.
It is said in Queensland that the wealth of the northern and central areas is so great that the south could not do without them.
That might well be so. I do not doubt that there would have to be a great deal of readjustment, and many problems would be involved. However, I do not agree with the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who introduced many legal and technical arguments why there should not be new States. He had all the reasons in the world why they should not be established. If we tie ourselves to those ideas we shall never get anywhere. Perhaps that is Victorian thinking. The honorable member for Bruce said that there were 200,000 people in his electorate. I expect it is the sort of electorate that you could put your hat over, and that is probably one of the reasons why so many people outside are advocating decentralization of the population.
I think that if the people want to express an opinion, they should be allowed to do so. I am quite sure that northern and central Queensland would be much better oft within a reasonably short time if they were allowed to administer their own affairs.
– So also would the Riverina.
– That might apply to the Riverina also. It is difficult to see how wc can get far ahead in Rockhampton and Townsville, which are developing into industrial areas, when they are so far away from the main centres of supply of raw materials and must suffer many internal disadvantages. As I said recently in this House, people in this area have none of the external advantages if they want to tender for overseas contracts. Because of the geographical situation, this area enjoys no advantages in relation to shipping freights. That applies to the whole of northern Australia. If you want to send something from Townsville to Port Moresby, the cost is as great as it is to send the same quantity of material from Melbourne to Port Moresby. That is a serious factor holding back industrial development in northern Queensland.
I believe we should go ahead in dealing with the new States problem, and I am glad that the matter has been aired to-day. The views expressed by honorable members have not been identical, nor have they followed party lines. This matter needed airing, and it is a good thing that different views have been expressed. There is not so much that the Commonwealth can do about it. The States should accept their responsibilities, and should make possible an expression of opinion if that is desired, but they must first make sure that the people are aware of all the factors involved for and against the proposal.
.- The motion before the House in the name of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) reads -
That this House give consideration to the recommendations, in relation to the formation of new States, of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has moved as an amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and the reference by the Committee, in connexion with those recommendations, to marketing problems arising from the creation of new States “.
Let us examine the wording of the motion. lt says -
That this House give consideration . . .
I have no doubt that the motion will be carried, but it means that the Government need only consider the matter. Various honorable members on this side of the House, particularly the honorable members for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and Newcastle (Mr. Jones) have emphasized the insincerity of the mover, the right honorable member for Cowper. I have listened intently to the debate and I agree with them, particularly with the honorable member for Hindmarsh, when they say that the right honorable member is insincere. I sincerely believe that this matter is raised on the eve of an election in the hope that it will increase the popularity of the right honorable member and other members of the Australian Country Party with the electors at the forthcoming election. I do not believe that they are sincere.
We must keep in mind that in the years gone by it has been difficult to get the States to agree to rail unification. This subject has not yet been finalized. Sir Harold Clapp put forward a rail unification scheme for the States and after much discussion the Ministers for Transport in the various States signed an agreement on rail unification with the Commonwealth. But the State governments would not agree. I know how difficult it is to get agreement amongst persons, and the more persons there are, the more difficult it is to reach agreement.
I have noted over the years how difficult it is for a jury of twelve persons to reach agreement. On one occasion a jury had been deliberating on a matter for some hours. The sheriffs officer reported to the judge that no agreement could be reached and that the jury would be staying for dinner. The judge said, “ Apparently you want eleven meals and one bale of hay “. He was suggesting that there was a donkey on the jury. It frequently happens that we have donkey States and the more States we have, the more likely we are to get donkey States. As we know, the donkey is muscle bound above the ears and has no capacity to think. It is possible that this would happen if New England were made another State. No honorable member should doubt where I stand on this matter. As the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) said, the motion has been discussed not exactly on party lines, and I think that that probably is good.
Let us consider some of the statements made by the right honorable member for Cowper. The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to some of his statements and I shall now refer to others. On 18th February, 1932, when speaking as a backbench member during the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, he said -
A cardinal feature of the joint policy is the subdivision of New South Wales. Such a decision would enable Mr. Lang to be brought before his masters at a much earlier date than in ordinary circumstances would be possible. If only in order to get rid of this menace to Australian credit this Parliament should take steps at once to initiate this constitutional reform. I urge the AttorneyGeneral to draft the necessary amendments so that they may be dealt with in his absence.
He was overseas at the time. The right honorable gentleman’s remarks about the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) were recorded in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, of 11th July, 1939. He is reported to have said, when addressing the Cowper Electoral Council of the Australian Country Party -
The national leader must have courage, judgment and loyalty. Mr. Menzies does not possess these qualities, which are needed to fit him to be leader of the country in these times of international crisis.
The right honorable member for Cowper has had many opportunities to give effect to his stated policy of establishing new States. He could have encouraged the holding of a referendum in the State in which a new State was to be created. In 1934, he was a member of the Ministry again and was in a position to assert some influence on the Liberal Government. But again he did nothing. The Stevens-Bruxner Government was in power in New South Wales at the time. Four years later, in 1938, the right honorable member was a Minister, but he still did nothing. On 14th October, 1938, the honorable member for Capricornia of that day, Mr. Forde, put the following question to the right honorable member -
Now that the right honorable member for Cowper … is Acting Leader of the Government, and has with him in the Cabinet almost half his party, will he state how he feels on the question of the creation of new States, which, a few years ago, he said was the chief reason for his having entered public life.
The right honorable gentleman is reported to have answered as follows: -
I still think that it is one of the most important constitutional reforms that could be carried out in Australia, and, had it been done twenty years ago, we should now have had a population of 20,000,000 people.
But what has he done? He did nothing when he was in a position to do something and he has brought this matter forward only now, on the eve of an election. After having received that reply from the right honorable member for Cowper, Mr. Forde then asked him this question -
Having regard to the great importance which the Acting Prime Minister attaches to the creation of new States, what does he intend to do about it?
To that question the right honorable member replied -
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) used to hold exactly the same views on this subject as I do, but he has done nothing at all to give them effect.
This matter has been revived in the Parliament continually over the years, but there has been very little drive and sincerity behind it. The New States Movement has been using this subject for nearly 50 years as a stalking horse for the Country Party. Individual politicians have used it for their own ends, but have done nothing to bring about the reform that they declare to be essential for the welfare of this country. I am convinced of the insincerity of the right honorable member for Cowper and other honorable members on the Government side who have participated in the debate to-day. lt is tragic that something more important could not have been brought before the Parliament for discussion. Having the numbers at this juncture, the Government is ruling the roost, but I am confident that it will not do so after 9th December.
What would a new State involve? lt would involve a new transport department, a new legal department, a new social service department, a new police department, a new justice department and, of course, more laws. We are over-legalized now.
– How would you like to be the Governor of the new State?
– I shall tell you in a moment who the new Governor will be. Only the rich people can exert fully the facilities of the law in an over-legalized community. They can appeal, obtain a retrial and continue to appeal until ultimately they obtain a verdict which suits them.
– What will be the personnel of the new government?
– In view of what this Government has been doing for its supporters when they retire, one honorable member having been made recently a justice of a supreme court, I am sure that if this new State scheme comes into effect the new Governor will be Sir Arthur Fadden. As is anticipated by honorable members on this side of the House, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt), with his legal training, probably will be appointed a supreme court judge in the new State. The ex-Country Party member, Mr. Bernard Corser, will be in the running for the position of agent-general in London. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who obviously will lose his seat at the next election, will become the chief judge of the arbitration court. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who, as surely as there is saliva in a cat, will lose his seat too, will be appointed as chancellor of the university in the new State of New England. Of course, Darcy Dugan, who is reported to be in Grafton gaol, may be brought out and given a responsible position.
– As a minister for trade?
– Yes. Mention nas been made of industries in the area. The Grafton brewery, which commenced operations in Grafton for certain reasons, appeared to have a great future but now it is more or less struggling. The proposal to develop industry, which honorable members opposite have said will be fostered in the new State, is all poppycock. The new State will create positions only for the people to whom I have referred. Of course, they will occupy the high responsible positions.
I oppose the creation of a new State, and I believe that my electors will react as I do because they indicated their attitude towards having more politicians during the recent State referendum in connexion with the abolition of the New South Wales Upper House. They voted by a majority of 3 to 1 for the abolition of the Upper House in that State. No doubt if this new State were created there would be all the wrangling about where the head-quarters should be set up. Undoubtedly the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) would want the Parliament House built at Lismore. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) would want it built at Armidale and the right honorable member for Cowper would want it built at Grafton. Ti it did eventuate, of course I would want it built at Cessnock, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) would want it built at Newcastle and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) would want it built at Gosford. We are talking about something that will not eventuate and it does no credit to any of us, including myself, that we should waste so much time on it.
.- I know, Mr. Speaker, that your lively sense of understanding will appreciate the sentiment which I express when I say that I am greatly relieved to find my friend, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), in a peaceful mood this afternoon. There was not the slightest spark of belligerence in his makeup, in his demeanour or indeed in what he had to say. I thought that his speech was perfectly harmless. It was only a majestic sense of modesty on his part which prevented him from adding his own name to the catalogue of the new State and casting him self in the role of Minister for Agriculture and Stock.
We have heard many interesting speeches during this debate but I believe that two of the most significant were those made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). A complete stranger to the chamber, not being au fait with what had taken place previously, after listening to those speeches would have come to the conclusion unhesitatingly that both honorable gentlemen were in favour of new States. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was quite explicit. He said, “ We favour the resolution “, and then proceeded to explain why, in no hesitant way, but plainly, simply and directly. Then, later this afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) put forward approximately the same argument. I believe that there is a measure of danger in accepting the speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition at their face value because the historic fact - it is not to be denied by any honorable members opposite - is that the Australian Labour Party has no affection at all for the creation of new States. That proposition is very readily tested on two grounds. First of all, the platform of the Australian Labour Party advocates plainly “ The conferment of all legislatvie power on the Commonwealth “, and, secondly, in very clear language, it says, “The abolition of the office of State Governor”. How can honorable gentlemen opposite support the argument that new States should be created when they propose to remove the gubernatorial head of the State machine? How could any legislation at all be approved unless there was a governor to assent to it?
– The honorable member for Wills, stirring himself and fluffing his feathers like a sulky cockatoo, says, “ Rubbish! “ How can he support the idea of a new State movement when at the same time his party’s platform urges abolition of the office of State governor? The Labour Party is dealing with something entirely different. If it had in mind the idea of administrative areas and calling them States I would concede the bona fides of the Opposition’s argument, but it is a form of entrenched humbug to say that Labour favours new States when, in fact, it proposes to tear down the whole constitutional structure of the parliamentary system.
The essence of the argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this debate earlier to-day was that he was giving voice - if the House will excuse the strange arrangement of words - to a bleat for power. That is all he is interested in - the securing of all legislative power here in Canberra. What the House listened to was the expression of the sentiments of a centralist. He has no affection for the federalist system of government, and at every opportunity he gets his efforts will unhesitatingly be directed towards dismembering what is presently left of the federal system of government. As my colleague, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), said this morning, in what I thought was a vigorous and persuasive argument, the new State movement in this country has a very long history. It is rather interesting to try to find out, in view of the long history of effort by this movement - why there has been this strange reluctance to act.
My friend, the honorable member for Capricornia, spoke about this century of frustration and, as every one in the House knows, he is not disposed to accept a state of frustration lightly. If there has been one person in this country, and particularly in Queensland, who has been devoted to the idea of pursuing ruthlessly - I hope the word does not offend him - the new State movement, it is the honorable member for Capricornia. The new State movement in Queensland goes back, as he said, to 1864. In that year 12,000 electors in north Queensland, in the area which they had in mind should be the area of the new State, were approached and asked to sign a petition for the creation of a new State. Of that 12,000 electors, 10,000 signed the petition, but it was completely ignored. That was nearly a century ago. In 1871 one of the great advocates of new States in Queensland, Sir Arthur Palmer, introduced into the Parliament a private member’s bill seeking financial separation of part of north Queensland but it was rejected. Four years later, John Macrossan, another great fighter for new States, introduced a similar measure and it met the same fate.
In 1877 a royal commission recommended that four districts be established in Queensland as the basis of four new States. A bill was introduced into the Queensland Parliament by Premier John Douglas to provide for the creation of the four districts and it even got to the committee stage but for some strange and inexplicable reason, it was withdrawn.
In 1886 John Macrossan again introduced a private member’s motion calling for the northern portion of the colony of Queensland to be made into a separate and independent State. During the course of the debate he referred to some of the despatches which had been sent out from England in 1859 by the then Secretary of State for Colonies, His Grace the Duke of Newcastle. It is interesting to look back on those despatches, and I hope the House will bear with me while I read a brief extract from one of them, written, mark you, in 1859, when Queensland was created a State, separate from New South Wales. This is what His Grace the Duke of Newcastle had to say on that occasion -
It is desired that the separation should take place with no further delay than may be actually requisite for the completion of necessary preliminaries. It will be desirable that the Crown should possess the power of subdividing further the territory now erected into the colony of Queensland by detaching from it such northern portions as may hereafter be found fit to be erected into northern colonies.
It is very interesting to look back on that history and those times and to see the great spirit with which the supporters and advocates of new States in Queensland worked, and then to see how over the years there has been in essence no diminution of that spirit. There are people to-day, such as the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland), who can look back over years and years of unceasing effort to create new States in Australia. It is difficult to formulate any precise reason for this strange reluctance to do anything. I think that, basically, the fault lies not with this Parliament but with the State authorities, and that point was clearly made by the honorable member for Capricornia this morning.
Something seems to come over the intellects of members when they are in opposition, and this applies with tremendous force to the question of new States. The history is incontrovertible so far as Queensland is concerned. For generations now parliamentarians, when in opposition, have said: “ We want new States “, but the very moment they are put into office they find excuses, real or imaginary, for abandoning the proposal to establish new States. It would be with great hesitancy that I would support the proposition by proceeding any further with the creation of new States in our present circumstances. I think the House should look well at the circumstances in which we are placed to-day. Looking back over 40 years of federalism I do not think any one can honestly say that it has worked in the way in which the founders intended it should. In recent years, particularly since the end of the Second World War, centrifugal forces have been at work dragging more and more power away from the States and centralizing it here in Canberra. We have to look, for example, at the effects of uniform taxation. To-day in only one or two very minor aspects have the States any finance-raising powers. The States do not have that sense of independence that they had when federation came into being. It is against that background of what has happened in Australia that we must make our judgment on the subject of new States.
Some unwelcome consequences have developed from the flow of power from th= States to the National Parliament. Every time there is a demand for the National Parliament to exercise a further form of authority or to assume a little more authority, then to that extent there is a surrender of the powers of the State. It is impossible for any measure of financial territory to be surrendered by a State without also surrendering at the same time a measure of legislative power. Look at our Premiers’ Conferences. One would gain the impression that those conferences were between the heads of power of six foreign States and a seventh foreign State. A similar thing could be said of the proceedings of the Australian Loan Council. Theoretically, Loan Council proceedings are held in camera and the public is not supposed to know what takes place, but it is the habit these days for every State representative to a meeting of the Loan Council to give a press hand-out at the conclusion of or during the proceedings of the council. This atmosphere is unhealthy. It makes a complete farce of the present federalist system of government. Many people to-day are consumed with a passionate sense of parochialism. They think in terms of their own State and in many instances in terms of some particular section of a State. They ignore completely the fact that the opening words of the Constitution are -
Whereas the people have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth . . .
We have come so far with what may grow to be described as the Balkanization of Australia. The six States give the impression at each Premiers’ Conference of being six foreign States. The entire federal system is in jeopardy. This situation must activate the minds of interested parties in finding some new basis on which to prepare the future of this country.
It is my view that we cannot continue to proceed any longer on the basis on which we have been operating in recent years. It is unfortunate that many people in this country now look upon the Commonwealth as if it is exercising some jurisdiction that is foreign to the jurisdiction of the States. The Commonwealth’s jurisdiction is not foreign to that of the States; it is a concurrent jurisdiction. That is the sentiment that we must endeavour to re-establish throughout the country. It may be an unhappy physical fact that time seems to have a remorseless effect not only on beings but upon spirits also. In the last 60 years, time has ravaged the federal system of government in this country. It is no good thinking that what has been done and is being done will be stilled by any airy-fairy resolution. It should not be imagined that we can ever recapture the essential spirit of federalism that existed 60 years ago by directing ourselves to airy-fairy resolutions. One of the most urgent tasks that will confront the 24th Parliament will be to see upon what new bases the Commonwealth may be prospered. I do not believe that we can continue to take the view that the federalist system of government as it now exists can continue any longer. That should be one of the anxious tasks to which the 24th Parliament should address itself. It is a task that it should address itself to with high hope.
.- The power of the Commonwealth has advanced very little by way of conscious decision of the people, as expressed in a referendum. It has advanced more by way of judicial interpretation. There have been judgments of the High Court, particularly in the uniform taxation case, that would have been totally unexpected by the founders of the Commonwealth Constitution. The power of the Commonwealth has advanced most by way of the financial power. If the framers of the Constitution had really thought about what they were doing they would have realized that it was inevitable that the Commonwealth Parliament would evolve towards being a national parliament - which under the Constitution it is not entitled to call itself - because they assigned to the Commonwealth all the revenue-producing departments, such as Customs and Excise and the Post Office, and left in the hands of the States all the expenditure departments, such as Health and Education. The power of the Commonwealth will continue to grow so long as this country and the world are subject to international strains.
If we live as we have lived for the past 30 years in a continuous state of world tension, then the Parliament that has authority over the defence power will inevitably grow in power. No amount of deploring, such as we heard from the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) this afternoon will alter that fact. When the campaign associated with the bank nationalization referendum was in progress we read continually of speeches made by the honorable gentleman who is now the honorable member for Warringah. At that time he said everything about bureaucracy and centralization that he has said to-day. Now, after twelve years of a government that was in opposition at that time, he speaks about those things as a continuing trend. The truth is that the Commonwealth Parliament is becoming more and more influential because the executive government that it forms is the international entity that speaks for Australia, and world tension strengthens the power of the central Parliament.
The former honorable member for Barker - the predecessor of the present honorable gentleman - the late Mr. Archie
Cameron, once told me that a referendum is the process by which those who know or who should know appeal to those who do not know and cannot possibly find out. If anything could establish the impossibility of carrying a referendum on this subject it has been the debate in this Parliament to-day because with all its irrelevance it sounds like the referendum campaigns of the past. After the defeat of the referendum on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill - a referendum which I would have expected to have the greatest chance of any referendum in federal history of being carried, having regard to the atmosphere of the times - the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the result of the referendum established what had always been true - that unless the Opposition supported the Government in a referendum, it was not carried. He might have made his remarks even more stringent because some referendums that have been supported by the Opposition have not been carried. The Federal Labour Party influentially supported certain referendums in 1937, but one section of the party - the New South Wales Labour Party- did not, nor did the State governments, and that referendum was heavily defeated. A referendum on new States would be highly technical. The referendum would seek the transfer in the Constitution from State Parliaments to the Commonwealth Parliament of power to initiate the formation of new States.
The movement for new States is and always has been an expression of protest by farmers against the fiscal policies of the Commonwealth. Those people may not always realize that that is what they are doing, but that is the essence of their actions. Just what would happen in a referendum on this subject has been illustrated by this debate. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) objects to milk zoning in New South Wales. He therefore argues that there should be a new State. In other words, in his case, the argument is based on objection to a particular act of the New South Wales Parliament. Other honorable members on this side have professed to know that a Parliament which has not even come into existence will abolish the 40-hour week, and will do certain other things. That is exactly how the referendum would be debated by the ^people -who are supposed to know. How -would the ‘electors ;be able to make. a. decision on the .technical-question of .amending the new States section of -the Constitution? I remember the referendum in .connexion .with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. All .over .Australia .could fee seen Communist sticker* .reading, “Vote, ‘ No ‘ .and Japan /will not be iearmed “. I remember ,a former member -of this House standing up -in . Forrest Place saying, “ There are .2,000 - Communists in amy ^electorate. They are .all armed, and they go into the Darling Ranges for drill.” That was supposed to he an argument for voting, ““Y.es”. The .real political .constitutional issues were .completely . obscured by that -kind of propaganda.
I want to come back now to the - proposition ‘that it is the grievance of the farmers against the settled fiscal -policy of the .Commonwealth which has led to the advocacy of new States. At least the farmers of Western ‘Australia were logical about this. They were the main force hi proposing that the whole of Western Australia -should ‘secede from the ‘Commonwealth, and a referendum that the State of “Western Australia should -secede from the -Commonwealth was carried by a majority of two to one in 1933. A -petition was then taken to the Parliament of the United Kingdom asking for the establishment of a new Dominion - the Dominion. of Western Australia. The .Parliament of the United Kingdom said that while it had the power, it was a power which it did .not claim to exercise. .Nothing ‘further was ,aone. But what did the fanners .of Western Australia want to do? They wanted tto get out of .the Commonwealth tariff system.
Let us examine the position of Western Australia. I ‘have mentioned this matter in the House before, and ‘I shall -refer to it only briefly -now. Last financial year, Western Australia exported £159,000,000 worth of goods, and brought back from abroad only £55,000,000 worth of goods. Therfore, it had a favorable balance of £104,000,000,00 in that trading with ‘the world outside. But, being within the ‘Commonwealth Common Market - the federal system - which is a compulsory market for eastern State secondary industries, Western Australia bought :from -the eastern States £12-2,000,000 worth ;of .goods, and sold back to-the. eastern States only £38,000,000 worth of goods. Whereas, inter nationally, Western Australia had a favorable trade -balance of £1.04,000,000, -within the nation, it had an adverse trade :balance of -£84,000,000. Had it been a separate Dominion, Western Australia .could have used . its international .reserves to buy goods more cheaply abroad than it could .buy :goods .-manufactured .in Australia. .In that case,-.the -farmers’ export income would have bought .more, and the farmers would have been better .off.
I do not agree with secession, but it seems to me to be unarguable that Western Australia probably .would have been better off in -that sense. Of course, there are many national considerations ‘which .outweigh that point but, ‘had Western Australia “:been a separate Dominion the farmers would have ve been better off in one -direction. -Sir James ‘Mitchell often used to say that we “had to buy our railway -rolling stock from the eastern ‘States at much higher prices than we could have bought it in London, and for that reason the :State has had to bear a tremendously greater interest burden.
– -But what .about the war effort?
– I have said that there were national considerations which out.weighed the .trading point, but the fact is that agriculture is penalized by the tariff system. I .admit that there are many other arguments in favour of the tariff system. I am merely saying that these are the things -against which .the farmers protest. At least the sesessionists were logical. They would have had a completely separate tariff system and .a .completely -separate fiscal system, whereas a new State would be no better off in that direction. If *the new State of New England is formed, it will still be within the fiscal system of the- Commonwealth. Western Australia has no exclusive grievance because df the trade position which I have outlined. The New South Wales farmer is in exactly the same position as the Western Australia farmer in that -he sells his goods abroad. It is agriculture which earns Australia’s export income. Manufacturing -industries are responsible for only 7 per .cent., whilst agriculture .and .minerals returns us 93 per cent. of our export income. The New South Wales farmer sells his goods abroad, and must buy from manufacturers in Sydney or other cities where the secondary industries are, and he is required to pay higher prices for the Australian manufactured products than he would have to pay abroad for similar goods, ‘because the Australian industries are protected by a tariff. Therefore, Western Australia has no exclusive grievance. The only point is that the State boundaries of Western Australia coincide wilh agricultural interests, whereas in New South Wales agricultural interests are united with manufacturing interests in the one State. The same position applies in Victoria. These New South Wales farmers who favour the formation of a new State feel that some how or other they will be better off. I point out that their trading position with Sydney and Newcastle will be exactly the same, for New England would not be a new Dominion with its own fiscal right; it would be a new State, and as a consequence, none of the economic grievances that honorable members have been mentioning would be remedied.
I do not know how milk zoning to which the honorable member for Richmond referred enters into the question of a new State of New England, for I presume that if there were a new State the producers would sell their milk in Sydney and Newcastle. If that were so, they would have to cross a State border to those cities and I cannot see how the creation of a new State would bring about any changes hoped for by the honorable member for Richmond.
I am glad that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) said that this debate had been going on for 100 years now because, if we look at the report of the Constitutional Review Committee we see that it quotes volume 2, at page 1690, of the proceedings of the convention of 1898. Those proceedings produce all the arguments that have been advanced by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray). In 1898, the convention delegates were afraid that Queensland would not join the federation at all because the people of central Queensland and the people of northern Queensland might want to form a new State. In fact, the then Premier of Queensland said in effect to the convention, “ If you play around with this issue, Queensland is not coming in “.
The constitutional position is that only a State parliament can initiate the formation of a new State within its own State boundaries. If the proposed new State extends beyond an existing State into another State, then the parliaments of both States must initiate the move. Will they do so? For reasons of State rights and sovereignty, the State of Western Australia would cling to its northern areas despite the fact that they are a tremendous financial and economic liability. Honorable members opposite have said that the members of the present Queensland Government advocated new States when they were in opposition, but no longer advocate them now that they are in government. Of course, they are not advocating new States now because it would mean diminishing the significance of their State. If this Parliament were to attempt, by way of referendum, to take from State Parliaments the right to initiate a move for new States, every member of the State Parliaments would be advocating a “ No “ vote. As the late Archie Cameron said, the electorate would be incapable of judging the strictly constitutional issues one way or the other and would decide that the safe vote was the “No” vote.
We all have received correspondence from the New England New State Movement in the last two days. I suppose that every federal member from the area that hopes some day to become the State of New England will be helped electorally by having supported this motion to-day. It is not a motion that calls for anything to be done. It merely seeks to provide an opportunity for the matter to be discussed. I sincerely believe that the New England people need more honest economic advice than they have been given. Their new State would not be a new dominion. It would be subject, as agriculture is subject, to the penalties of the fiscal policies of Commonwealth governments. If the newState movement is to achieve what it has set out to do, it would have to form a separate dominion. We in Western Australia have already found that to be impossible.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) obviously has made a serious and determined effort to understand the reasons for the pressure for new States throughout the Commonwealth. He put forward the interesting theory that new-State movements are an expression of protest by farmers against the fiscal policies of the Government.
– I did not mean any particular government. I meant all governments.
– Of all governments, then. But this is not so at all. The fact is that those who live in the less developed areas of the Commonwealth are more aware than is any one else of the enormous resources of the Commonwealth and of the fact that these resources are not being used to the best advantage. Those people are aware, also, of the lack of amenities in the less developed parts of Australia - the rural areas and of the high costs that face the primary producers of Australia, on whom we depend at present for our export earnings. The people who live in the rural areas are aware, too, of the inadequate representation that they are given at the State level.
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), I recall, said that the Australian Labour Party favoured the principle: One man, one vote. I wish to correct him on this point. The Labour administration in New South Wales, which has been in office for twenty years, does not subscribe to that principle. Under its scheme for the distribution of electoral boundaries, it treats only the constituencies in the Sydney metropolitan area as metropolitan seats. All those outside the Sydney area are regarded as country electorates. Anything less like a rural countryside than Newcastle or Wollongong I find hard to imagine. In the metropolitan seats, which, as I have said, are within the Sydney metropolitan area, the quota of voters is fixed at 22,000, with a margin of 20 per cent, above or below that figure. The country seats, which include all the electorates in the Newcastle and Wollongong areas, which are wholly industrial centres, have quotas of 17,000 electors with a margin of 20 per cent, either way. Under this arrangement, the industrial areas gain at the expense of the countryside. This sort of thing, rather than the fiscal policies of any government, is the reason for the support in the larger States for the cause of the establishment of new States.
We must face realities in this matter. In my own area, we have tremendous resources. There is not one person living in the north-west of New South Wales who does not realize that we have in that area a vast potential that remains untapped. We have three large river basins the resources of which have not been surveyed or adequately tested, much less put to proper use. We have large mineral resources which have never been surveyed by the New South Wales Government. We are anxiously awaiting the day when that part of New South Wales will be properly developed in the interests, not only of the people who live there, but also of Australia as a whole. We seek the balanced and efficient development of the resources of Australia in the interests of Australians living now and of future generations of Australians.
I am confident that debates like the refreshing one that we have seen to-day will be repeated in this House, because it is here that decisions on these matters must be made. I look forward to the day when the Government and the Opposition find some common ground and we arrive at a plan to be put to the people by way of referendum with the support of all members of this House. I urge Opposition members to put aside their socialist text-books when they consider these issues, and to serve Australia by ensuring that the human and natural resources of the country are used to the best advantage.
Order! The time allotted for the precedence of general business has expired. The honorable member for Gwydir will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an Order of the Day under “ General Business “ for the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for Increases in certain Superannuation Pensions.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for Increases in certain Defence Forces Retirement Pensions.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the International Finance Corporation Act. 1955.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to Income Tax..
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 6.4 to 8 p.m..
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That leave be given’ to bring in a bill for an act to- amend the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1959.
Bill presented, and react a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is to provide that royalties on timber cut on reserves for wards in the Northern Territory, that is, those reserves set aside for aborigines, shall be paid into a trust fund which is applied for the benefit of the wards, including the. making of grants to aboriginal institutions.
The principle involved in this bill was laid down in 1952, when the Northern TerritoryAdministration Act was amended to establish a trust fund known as the Wards (Bene fits from Mining) Trust Fund, into which royalties from mining on reserves for wards, or on any land excised from such reserves, were to be paid. This bill provides that the title of the trust fund shall be altered to the Wards Benefits Trust Fund, and that, in addition to mining royalties, royaltieson timber from aborigines’ reserves will also be paid into the trust fund and used for the benefit of the aborigines. Previously these royalties have been paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The theory behind this is, of course, that the reserves were established for the benefit of aborigines, and that if there are any minerals or timber on the reserves of commercial value, some part of the benefit derived from them should go to the aborigines.
The need for this bill has arisen largely because of the steps being taken to improve the control of timber-getting and for promoting afforestation in the Northern Terrir tory. The natural stands of commercial timber in the Northern Territory, mostly cypress pine, are limited, but it is planned to add’ to them considerably by forestry work, and to establish new forests. Many of the existing stands and much of the country most suitable for forestry work is in Arnhem LandandonMelvilleIsland on reserves for wards. Moreover, we are developing forestry as a form of training and employment for the aboriginal wards and using them in the creation of forests. In this year’s Estimates a sum of £73,500 has been provided for this work. The long-term programme includes detailed surveys and’ mapping of the forest areas, selection of those areas which would justify extensive silvicultural treatment, and programmes for conservation, replanting and utilization. If is envisaged that in the carrying out of the programme considerable employment for the ward’s will’ be created. In addition to acquir ing useful skills, there will be social as well as economic benefits in the extension of forestry work in the reserves, and the development of the forests will provide the’ prospect of occupations for the wards in the next generation and for generations to come..
It is intended to provide opportunities for private enterprise to cutlogs and mill timberin. reserves under licence, provided the licensee’s activities fit in with the programme of the Welfare Branch for development of forestry on reserves for wards. Royalties derived from these licences will, under the provisions of the bill, be paid into the trust fund and be used for the benefit of the wards. Of course, the royalty is customarily the only revenue the Crown receives from activities of this kind.
That is the main purpose of this bill. The opportunity has also been taken, however, to introduce one other unrelated amendment. The bill proposes to make certain formal changes in the principal act as a result of the enactment by this Parliament earlier this year of the Northern Territory Supreme Court Act 1961. That act established the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory of Australia in place of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. As a consequence it is necessary to amend the references in the principal act to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory so that they refer to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory of Australia.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Barnard) adjourned.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: -
Provision of engineering services to Rapid Creek Sub-division Stage 2B, at Darwin, Northern Territory.
The proposal provides for roads, drainage, sewerage, water and electricity supply reticulation to a new sub-division at Rapid Creek, near Darwin, together with additional water storage facilities and augmentation of water supply to the area, at a total estimated cost of £361,800. The committee has reported favorably on the proposal, and upon the agreement of the House to this motion, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to explosives.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Explosives Act 1952-1957, which provides for the handling of Commonwealth explosives for use by the defence forces, was amended in the last session of Parliament to extend its scope to include explosives of other nations, but in its present form is limited in its application to explosives having a defence use.
Regulations made under the provisions of the Explosives Act established the Commonwealth Explosives Port Facilities Com mittee, which has an advisory function in relation to facilities available or required at Australian ports for the handling of Commonwealth explosives. On a recommendation made by this committee, a pier is being constructed for this purpose at Point Wilson, which is near Geelong, in Victoria. The whole cost of the pier is being met from Commonwealth funds, and work on the structure has been progressing for some time. It is expected the pier will be ready for use by the end of this year.
After the construction of the pier had commenced, a parliamentary committee of the State Government of Victoria examined the conditions existing at the State Explosives Reserve, Altona, and made a recommendation that the Altona reserve be closed when the Point Wilson pier is ready for use, and that, with Commonwealth concurrence, all commercial explosives shipped to and from Victoria should be handled at Point Wilson. The Commonwealth has consented to this arrangement.
The existing Explosives Act and Regulations, being restricted to explosives for defence requirements, cannot be used to provide for regulatory control covering the safe handling of commercial explosives on the Point Wilson area and operation of the pier. Legislation is thus required to permit the making of regulations covering the safety of persons and the safe handling of explosives on the pier and in the adjacent Commonwealth-owned area and for the general administration of the whole establishment.
Substantial amendments to the existing act would be necessary to extend its scope to embrace all the matters which will be involved in the handling of both Commonwealth and commercial explosives at Point Wilson. It has been decided, therefore, that it would be appropriate to repeal the existing acts and introduce new legislation following closely the provisions of the earlier acts as they relate to Commonwealth explosives only, but with the inclusion of a new part dealing with the safe handling of explosives and general control of a Commonwealth explosives area, such as Point Wilson.
Of those parts of the bill which deal with matters covered by the existing act, the only change of any significance that has been made in the bill is to the existing section 6 (1a.) which has been amended by clause 11. This section authorizes the making of a second order specifying a berth to be used, when a port authority has failed to provide a suitable berth in response to an order. The amendment will permit the regulation authorizing the making of second order to be limited in application to prescribed ports only.
Although section 6 (a.) has been in the act for several years, it has not been found necessary to promulgate regulations to give effect to this provision because of the co-operation of the Australian Port Authorities Association.
The general manager of the Fremantle Harbor Trust, however, has requested that regulations giving effect to this section of the act should be proclaimed and made operative in respect of his port. In order to meet this request, sub-clause (2.) of clause 1 1 of this bill will provide that the regulations authorizing the making of a second order may be applied to ports prescribed in the regulations instead of to ports generally as at present. Pro vision has also been included for existing permanent indemnities held by port authorities, which become operative whenever an order is made, to continue in force.
Part 111. of the bill, which deals with the control and operation of prescribed Commonwealth explosives areas, has been so framed that it may be applied to the Point Wilson area or to any other Commonwealth areas that may be declared by the regulations to be areas to which the part applies, although no other areas of this nature are at present tn contemplation. This part will permit the making of regulations on all matters associated with the operation and control of the Point Wilson explosives area, the associated pier, access road and an overpass over the Princes Highway constructed at Commonwealth expense.
The regulations will cover such matters as the administration of the area, the transport of both Commonwealth and commercial explosives on the area, the berthing of ships and the manner of handling cargo over the wharf including any charges that may be levied on private concerns such as Nobel (Australasia) Proprietary Limited or on the State government for the use of Commonwealth facilities or for services performed.
The Commonwealth does not intend to provide magazines or, except in an emergency, store explosives on the area, but both Nobels, the principal manufacturers of explosives in Victoria, and the Victorian State Government are establishing magazines on land on the area which they have leased from the Commonwealth.
All transport and handling on Commonwealth property will be subject to Commonwealth regulations and precautions will be taken to ensure that this pier which has been built for defence purposes is available for its prime purpose whenever it is required. The charges to be levied for the use of the facilities by other interests will be assessed at a level that will enable the costs arising from this additional use of the pier to be recovered.
The bill makes provision for the act to come into operation on a date to be pro- !) claimed which w:ll allow time for the drafting of the necessary regulations. In the meantime, the handling and transport of Commonwealth explosives will continue under the existing act and regulations. 1 commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15th August (vide page 78), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this bill is to authorize payments to the States of £42,900,000 for this financial year. The expenditure was foreshadowed in the 1961 Commonwealth and States Housing Agreement which amended the 1945 housing agreement, and was debated in the Parliament earlier this year. The amount that is to be allocated in this financial year is £5,700,000 greater than the amount that was made available in 1960- 61. In that year, £37,200,000 was provided for the various State instrumentalities to assist their housing programmes. The amount made available last year corresponded with the amount provided six years ago, in 1953-54. In introducing this bill, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said in his second-reading speech -
The amount of £42,900,000 to be provided in 1961- 62 is a record contribution and demonstrates the Commonwealth’s continuing interest in, and practical assistance to, the housing programmes of the States.
I propose to show on behalf of the Opposition that this does not represent a generous contribution by the Commonwealth, and that the money to be provided by the Commonwealth Government in 1961-62 is certainly not sufficient to meet the programmes of the various State housing instrumentalities. Certainly it is not the amount that has been requested by the various State housing Ministers. That fact has been highlighted in the reports of the State housing commissions.
It is true, unfortunately, that very few statistics on housing in Australia are avail able to honorable memers. I can remember only one report that has been made available to this Parliament on housing, and that was a report by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in 1956. No other reports have been made available to honorable members such as those covering expenditure on war service homes and expenditure by other departments, and honorable members are obliged to obtain their information from various sources. Considering the allocations of money for housing that are made annually by the Commonwealth to the various State instrumentalities, I believe that information should be provided for members of this Parliament by way of an annual report.
As I have said, the only report that has been made on housing was that furnished by the Minister for National Development in 1956. Probably there is a very good reason for his failure to present any further reports - the Minister has made so many predictions which have since proved to be incorrect. The facts of the housing situation may be stated quite simply, and I hope to have the opportunity during the course of my remarks to refer to the various reports of the State housing instrumentalities as well as to the information made available to the Parliament by the Commonwealth Statistician. According to the information available to the Parliament, in 1956, 70,117 houses were constructed throughout the Commonwealth. In 1957, 67,471 were constructed and in 1958, the figure was 75,443. In 1959, some improvement had been effected and 80,110 were completed.
– What figures are you quoting from?
– I am quoting from the figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician. In 1960, 83,504 homes were constructed throughout Australia. This again was an improvement over the earlier years. But when the Minister for National Development presented his report to the Parliament in 1956, he suggested that if we were to overcome the backlag in homes and to meet the immediate demands, a minimum of 77,000 homes would have to be constructed each year. Despite this, in only two of the five years have we exceeded the target of 77,000 homes. In 1956, the very year in which the Minister made his forecast, we erected 7,000 homes fewer than his target. In 1957, we fell short of the target by 9,500 homes and in 1958 by 1,500 homes.
Now, in 1961, the position obviously is not good and it is certain that we will not reach the Minister’s target in this year. In the March quarter of 1961, only 18,671 homes were constructed, compared with 19,043 in the corresponding period of the previous year. In the June quarter, the latest quarter for which figures are available, 18,681 homes were constructed, compared with 21,137 for the corresponding period of 1960. In fact, there has been a decline of more than 12 per cent, for this quarter. It is obvious that we are not overtaking the backlag referred to by the Minister five years ago. At that time, the Minister stated quite emphatically that if we constructed homes at the rate of 77,000 a year, we would overtake the backlag in five years. This is now 1961, five years later, and I submit at once that the backlag is substantially greater than it was when the Minister made his statement five years ago.
All the statistics available to the Parliament - I refer not only to the statistics made available by the Commonwealth Statistician, but also to the statistics released by the various State housing instrumentalities - show that the position has deteriorated considerably in recent years. The reasons for this are obvious to all honorable members, and I shall refer to some of them later in my speech. At the same time, our population has increased from 9,500,000 in 1952 to more than 10,000,000 in 1961, but I do not think the Minister allowed for any possible increase when he dealt with the situation in 1956. At the end of the war, there was a substantial shortage of homes throughout the Commonwealth. The figure has been variously set at between 200,000 and 300,000. The backlag now is probably in the vicinity of 100,000. It could be more and I concede at once that it may even be less, but the figures show that there is still a serious backlag of homes throughout the nation. The population of Australia is increasing at the rate of 2i per cent, annually - one of the highest rates of increase in the world to-day. The age group that will be setting up homes in the immediate future - that is, people between the ages of twenty and 24 years - is increasing at a tremendous rate. It is expected that this age group will increase by more than 50 per cent, during the next decade. These people will be obliged to seek homes under the present circumstances of severe credit restrictions and other difficulties.
I believe that the problem may be illustrated more forcibly if I refer to other factors that will undoubtedly affect the housing situation in the years that lie immediately ahead. There are 1,400 marriages each week; yet the statistics available to the Parliament show that for the March quarter of this year we constructed flats and houses at the rate of only 1,250 a week. This leaves a gap on existing rates of 150 flats and houses each week. Immigration is increasing the population of Australia at the rate of 1,660 people each week. Of course, the Government - quite properly in my opinion - has given no indication that the immigration programme will slacken to any great extent in the future. I do not believe that to do so would provide a solution to the problem. The solution is for this Government to make sufficient money available to the various State housing instrumentalities, to co-operative building societies and to other approved lending institutions for the purpose of constructing homes.
Against the figures I have just given we might set the fact that there are at least 800 deaths each week in this country. On the other hand, babies are being born at the rate of 4,000 a week. It should require little imagination to appreciate the significance of the housing problem that will confront us in the next decade, unless the Government is prepared to reach a much higher target of home construction than it has set in the past.
I mention another very important aspect of home construction by referring to those who are engaged in the industry. This will give some indication of the extent to which the building industry has been allowed to fluctuate during the period of office of this Government. 1 will give the number of people who have been engaged in the industry. In June, 1948, one year before this Government assumed office, 111,850 persons were engaged in the building industry. By December, 1960, the number had increased to 138,000 although there had been intervening periods in which the number had decreased following various economic measure and the recessions which resulted from the Government’s policies. In March, 1961, the number of persons engaged in the building industry had fallen from the high level that it had reached in 1960 to 124,341. The decrease of almost 14,000 in the number of employees in this trade obviously was the result of the measures which the Government introduced in December, 1960.
A few moments ago I suggested that the housing situation has varied according to the economic actions that the Government has taken during its period of office. There was a slump in the building industry following the horror Budget in 1951. The number of homes erected fell substantially. Again in September, 1956, following the supplementary Budget, there was a reduction in the number of homes erected and, following the 1960 panic Budget, there has been the obvious deterioration to which I have referred. So whatever test one applies to this problem, it can be seen that the Government certainly has not honoured the promise that it made to the people of Australia in 1949 that it would consider the urgent necessity to construct homes. More home were built in 1948 proportionally, despite the fact that we then were in the immediate post-war period, than were constructed after 1950 since which time the Government has had every opportunity to embark upon a homebuilding programme. Unlimited materials and manpower have been available. No doubt honorable members opposite will endeavour to show that the number of homes erected and the volume of money which has been made available have increased substantially. It is true that the volume of money which the Government has made available to State instrumentalities has increased, but so too has the cost of homes. Although the cost of homes has more than trebled since this Government has been in office, it is certain that the amount of money which has been made available through State housing instrumentalities has not doubled, let alone trebled.
At this stage let me refer to the number of applications for homes which have been lodged through the various State instrumentalities. I shall mention only three States, but the reports of all housing commissioners indicate that the trend continues in an upward direction; there is a greater number of applications for homes each year than in the preceding year. In New South Wales, 15,482 applications for housing commission homes were lodged in the financial year 1960-61. In Victoria, 9,091 applications were lodged in the same year and in South Australia the number was 9,100. Referring to the number of outstanding applications, information ;in relation to which is available to all honorable members in the reports of the various housing authorities, in New South Wales 35,230 applicants are still awaiting the allocation of a Housing Commission home. In Victoria, the number is 14,024 and in South Australia it is 11,000. The total number of outstanding applications for assistance in the Commonwealth is 71,353. I am referring only to those persons who have lodged applications through the various State instrumentalities. It is extremely difficult to obtain some indication of the number of outstanding applications which have been lodged with building societies and other approved lending institutions because the relevant figures are never made available to this Parliament.
Returning to the 1956 report of the Minister for National Development, I should like to refer to the deficiencies that then existed. At that time the Minister for National Development in another place said that the deficiency in South Australia was 7,500 homes and in Tasmania 2,100 homes. But five years later, when we were told that the backlag in homes would have been overtaken, the deficiency in South Australia is now 11,000 homes, while in Tasmania there has been a slight improvement, the deficiency there being 2,016 homes. Five years ago the Minister stated that by this time the deficiency would have vanished, but the fact remains that in every State except Tasmania the deficiency has increased despite the Minister’s forecast.
No longer should it be argued that an increased allocation of money for purposes of housing will have the effect that we have heard mentioned so often by honorable members on the Government side. They have claimed that more money would mean fewer houses and increased costs. Surely with our present economic difficulties, with the present depressed state of the economy and with the recession in employment it should be possible for the Government to embark upon a home-construction programme. The figures to which I have referred indicate that there has been a recession in the volume of employment in the building industry. In this year alone there has been a decrease of almost 14,000 in the number of persons engaged in the building industry as compared with last year. Surely with the expected fall in export income and the possibility of a further recession in employment in the building industry, the Government should be able to make more money available to the States for housing. If it was possible for this Government to build 83,000 homes in 1960 - I give the Government full credit for its achievement in that year; no one would deny that a considerable improvement in the position was effected - surely it is possible at this stage, with the present level of unemployment in the industry with ample supplies of materials and the essential requirements to undertake a building programme, to set immediately a target of 85,000 homes a year, with the possibility of increasing the target figure to 90,000 homes each year within the next three or four years.
Based on an average cost of £4,000 - I refer now to the figures contained in the annual report of the War Service Homes Division - an additional 7,000 homes each year would involve the Government in an annual expenditure of not more than £28,000,000. I hope I shall be able to illustrate in a few moments, from figures that I will make available to this House, that the Government could make that sum available from the money it now receives in interest payments from the various State housing instrumentalities. I believe the housing position in Australia has deteriorated to such an extent during the last financial year and the housing programme is so important that it is a small matter to consider a sum of £28,000,000 in order to mobilize the resources now available in this country to undertake a programme of house-building throughout the Commonwealth. Surely in a country that has developed time payment to the extent that we have for less important commodities, it should find it difficult to apply that principle to the home-building programme. Surely we can apply those same techniques in the construction of homes as we have applied to other and less important commodities.
The Government, from its various commitments in housing throughout the country, is now obtaining a very substantial return on its investment in the same way as it receives a substantial return each year on its investment through the War Service Homes Division. I shall quote the figures that have been made available to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and which indicate the amount that the Government is receiving back each year from the various States, both in interest payments and return of principal on the amounts made available each year to the State housing instrumentalities under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
In the first year of operation of the agreement, 1945-46, interest payments to the Government amounted to £13,000, and, obviously, there was no repayment of principal. By 1959-60 the interest payment had grown to £10,975,000 and the repayment of principal amounted to £3,131,000, a total of approximately £14,000,000. In 1960-61 the interest payment was £12,480,000 and repayments of principal amounted to £3,481,000. In other words, the Commonwealth received back from the States during 1960-61 a total of £15,961,000. Taking into consideration that figure, the net amount that is being made available to the States this year under the bill which we are now debating is only £26,939,000 which, I suggest, is a substantially different figure from the “ generous allocation “ of £42,900,000 mentioned by the Minister during his second-reading speech. In point of fact the Government is receiving back from the States almost half the amount which it is making available to them for the purposes of their home construction programmes. I suggest that on those figures it should be possible for this Government to make available immediately to the various State housing instrumentalities the additional £28,000,000 that I referred to and which I believe would be necessary to construct an additional 7,000 homes each year in Australia above the figure achieved during 1959-60. 1 believe that the question before this Parliament and therefore before this country is whether we are to continue to adopt a fatalistic attitude to the home-building programme of Australia, or whether we are prepared to adopt the proper course and embark on a programme which will enable us within the next decade not only to overtake the lag of home-building but also to make sure that homes are available on reasonable terms and certainly on a reasonable deposit to young couples who wish to marry, as well as to the people coming here from other countries. To attain this objective I suggest that probably one or two courses are open to this Government. It appears first of all to be desirable that the Government should appoint a standing committee, comprising the Minister for National Development and the various State Ministers for housing. Up till now this Government has been quite consent to draw up agreements amending the original 1945 agreement without consultation with and indeed in complete defiance of the wishes of, the various State housing Ministers. He has presented those agreements to this Parliament for ratification without the approval of the State Ministers.
– That is not so.
– The Minister says that is not so, but I remind him that we debated the 1961 agreement in this Parliament before the State Ministers had been given an opportunity to see what was in it. Those are the facts. The Minister can examine the records of the debate at that time and he will then know that not one responsible Minister of the Government denied that charge. The various State Ministers had asserted that they received a telegram on the day that the bill to ratify the agreement was introduced into the Senate. Consequently T believe this Government should establish a minimum target of 85,000 homes a year, increasing in the next three or four years to at least 95,000 homes a year. I believe that only in that way will we be able to ensure that there is no backlag in home building and that all the people who to-day are looking for homes will be able to secure them on reasonable terms.
The third suggestion that I make to the Minister, in all sincerity, is that we should appoint a national committee representative of the building industry in Australia. The Government should be able to co-opt these people, who have some responsibility for and knowledge of these matters, so that the policies of the Government and of the building industry may be dove-tailed. The advice of those people has never been sought in the past and I believe it could make a great contribution towards solving the problems which we now have before us.
The fourth point I make is that I believe the Government has a responsibility to support the State building programmes in accordance with the original intention of the 1945 agreement which stated that the Commonwealth Government would make available to the States all of the money that they required for their housing programmes, as well as making money available to building societies. I am one of those in this House - I have said it before and I repeat it - who believe that building societies and lending societies have a great part to play in the home construction programme of Australia. But I do not believe that money should be made available to those organizations at the expense of the State housing instrumentalities. Unquestionably the demand for homes and for money for homes to-day comes from those who belong to the low-income groups. The annual reports of the directors of housing in the various States show that the statements I have made in that respect are in accordance with fact. I refer, first of all, to the annual report, 1959-60, of the Housing Commission of Victoria. That report states -
In spite of the large increase in the total number of dwellings completed over the last few years, there is every indication that sufficient houses and flats are still not being built to meet the demands of new household formation and the migrant intake. Any suggestion that there should be a slowing down of house production on the basis of the backlag having been nearly met would seem to be premature. This commission’s experience, which relates primarily to the demand for lower cost housing is that the current demand is not being met
In its report for 1959-60 the Tasmanian commission states -
A disturbing feature is that a decline in the overall State home-building rate occurred in the year under review, whereas the number of dwellings should have substantially increased.
The same comment is made by the New South Wales Housing Commission, indicating that the home-building programme in that State has deteriorated. Obviously, this state of affairs is due entirely to the lack of funds to which I have already referred.
A few months ago, when it was felt that the Government’s economic policy of November, 1960, was having a detrimental effect on the building industry, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) suggested that more money was being made available immediately for housing purposes. But that statement is not in accordance with the facts. No more money was made available through the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank lent money under the same terms that existed at the time the Government introduced its economic measures. There was no improvement in the terms and conditions under which money was lent. Similarly, there was no improvement in the terms and conditions of advances made by the War Service Homes Division. No more money was made available despite what the Minister for National Development said. In point of fact the only increase in the amount of money made available is that which is provided for in this bill. On the other hand, in New South Wales - I take New South Wales as being an average State - the cost of a home has increased from £3,386 in 1954-55 to £3,949 in 1959-60. Advances from the banks have remained static. In almost five years the maximum advance by the War Service Homes Division has remained static at £2,750. In the case of the Commonwealth Bank, anybody requiring a mortgage may borrow no more than £2,250 in respect of a weatherboard home or £2,500 in respect of a brick home.
Those amounts have not changed in the last five years. No more money has been made available and terms under which money is made available have not been made easier. But the average cost of a home has increased substantially. To-day a person in New South Wales requiring a war service loan is obliged to find a deposit of £1,200. I submit that it is completely illogical and financially impossible to expect a person on a low income to find a deposit of £1,200 in order to qualify for a war service loan. Persons borrowing from banking instrumentalities would need to find even greater deposits. At the same time money has been made available to the building societies and other lending institutions at the expense of the various State housing instrumentalities. The Opposition has consistently maintained that the fact that 30 per cent, of the money provided under the terms of this legislation is to be made available to co-operative building societies will not mean that more homes aTe built. It may mean that more expensive homes will be built, but it certainly will not mean that more homes will be built. In its report for 1959-60, the Victorian Housing Commission refers to the availability of finance, particularly the amount that has been made available to co-operative building societies, and states -
In any new Agreement there should be no diversion of funds to Co-operative Housing. The diversion of funds in the current Agreement has not produced the desired result. These funds were intended to be supplemental to funds derived from private sources, but instead private funds have diminished roughly in proportion to the increase in Agreement funds diverted.
– That is what we said would happen.
– Yes, that is exactly what the Opposition said would happen. We said that money diverted to co-operative building societies would mean, that less money would be available for housing purposes. That opinion has been endorsed by the Victorian Housing Commission. The commission’s report continues -
Additional finance for the Co-operatives should not be at the expense of the Commission. The Commission needs the whole of the funds being provided under the Commonwealth State Agreement to provide housing for rental and for sale on low deposits for those persons in the community not able to afford high rents or to finance their housing through other financial sources because of the high initial deposits required.
That is the point that members of the Opposition have consistently made in this Parliament. We have suggested that all of the moneys made available under the 1945 agreement or under the new 1961 agreement should be made available to the various State instrumentaities because no other instrumentality in the Commonwealth makes homes available to the people who need them under more generous terms than the State instrumentalities. In Tasmania no deposit is required and in the other States the deposits required are at a very minimum. But according to the report of the Victorian Housing Commission - this opinion is endorsed in other quarters that have responsibilities in these matters - because the Government has channelled money into the various cooperative building societies, the amount of money that has been available to the societies from the banks, the insurance companies and the other traditional lenders to building societies has decreased.
I do not think it can be denied that less money has been made available to the State instrumentalities because of the Government’s attitude in making 30 per cent, of the money provided for housing available to various co-operative building societies and other approved lending institutions. There can be no doubt that the present rate of home construction in Australia is not meeting the demand. The Government’s promise to the people in 1949 has not been honoured. The problem is far worse to-day than it was when the Government assumed office in 1949. Many people to-day urgently need a home but they are not in a position to secure a home because of the severe credit restrictions that have been applied by the Government during its term of office, particularly last year. Whatever test we apply it will be seen that the Government has not faced up to its responsibilities. It has not recognized the urgent need for homes, particularly for people in the lower income bracket. As I have stated already, if it was possible for the Government to achieve the target set in 1960, it should be possible for it to continue on that level for the next few years. After all, we constantly hear honorable members on the Government side referring to the prosperity of Australia and, if the Government’s last Budget can be accepted as factual, it is obvious that it has sufficient money to continue financing housing at the 1960 rate. It may be true that to some there does not appear to be any housing shortage. Those who are already adequately housed may not recognize the problem.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I was very interested to hear the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) say towards the end of his speech that he did not like the requirement that 30 per cent, of the funds provided for the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement shall be allocated to the co-operative building societies. Of course, he is like the former honorable member for Corio, Mr. Dedman, who said on many occasions: “ We do not want to make a nation of little capitalists. We do not want to have people owning their own homes.” One of the great features about the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is the requirement that money shall be made available to cooperative housing societies in order that people may be enabled to own their own homes. The vast majority of the people of Australia want to own their own homes and, in fact, are in their own homes to-day. That is why it is such a good thing that the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was renewed for a further period of five years.
– No one denies that.
– No, but you would like to see more money allocated to the socialist housing commissions so that everybody will be tenants instead of home-owners. The honorable member for Bass started off by saying that under the Commonwealth-State agreement the record amount of nearly £43,000,000 is being allocated from Commonwealth sources to State governments for housing this financial year. The important point to remember is that this figure has been agreed upon by the Australian Loan Council, and therefore has the full approval not only of the Commonwealth Government, but also of the State governments, as each of the State governments is represented on the Loan Council. The decision that 30 per cent, of the allocation shall go to co-operative housing societies is not the decision of the Commonwealth Government alone; it is the unanimous decision of the Commonwealth and the six State governments. It is also the unanimous decision of those governments that a total of almost £43,000,000 shall be made available to the States for housing.
We must not forget, either, that Commonwealth funds are made available through other avenues for housing. As one example, I mention war service homes. This year, a total of almost £78,000,000 is to be supplied by the Commonwealth from various sources to the States for housing. Although the allocation for war service homes is not under discussion at the present time, I submit that it is appropriate to point out that the period for which applicants for these homes are required to wait has fallen significantly during the last few months. In fact, there is no waiting period to-day for applicants waiting to build a war service home. As the directors’ report points out, the backlag has been gradually overtaken so that whereas, during the time when Labour was in office, there was a tremendous waiting period, to-day there is virtually none. But I mention that only in passing.
Let us look now at the need for homes in Australia, and at the rate at which building should take place. The honorable member for Bass quoted many figures, as he has done on more than one occasion in the past, but it is interesting to note that on this occasion some of the figures he quoted included both houses and flats, whilst others excluded the flats. It would seem that he included or excluded the flats according to the purpose he had in mind. Possibly he forgot to take in the flats, and possibly he did not. We cannot be certain about that. I should like to know how he arrives at his suggested target of 85,000 homes for this year, and 90,000 for each of the next two or three years. Have we got any exact measure of the need for housing in Australia? I suggest that until we see the results of the census taken at the end of June of this year, we cannot ascertain exactly just what the need for new homes is.
We have learnt more about the so-called housing shortage and the need for homes as we have progressed over the years, but I should like to direct the attention of honorable members to the statistics relating to the actual number of people per home in the capital cities of Australia to-day. It is interesting to note that at the present time in Melbourne the number of people per house is 3.29 for the metropolitan area, and in Sydney it is about 3.4. In the other capital cities, it is much higher than that. For instance, it is 3.7 in Brisbane and 3.6 in Adelaide. Another interesting point is that where the ratio of people to homes is lowest and where, therefore, one would think that the demand for homes would be lowest the number of people on the waiting list for housing commission homes is the highest. Therefore, it must be obvious that the need for homes is not something which is static or something that can be determined suddenly. The number of houses required at any time in Australia is related to the standard of living of the people of Australia. After all, if one were required to determine what the actual shortage is, one would ask: “ Are there people without a home of any sort? Are there people living in tents in the metropolitan area? “ To my knowledge, there are not any in either Melbourne or Sydney. The fact is that the backlag is related to the standard of living. The higher the standard of living rises in the capital cities, the greater the demand for homes becomes.
In some respects, it is good to see that the demand for housing is increasing, because this indicates that there is a gradually rising standard of living throughout the country. In fact, in no other capital city in the Western world is there a better ratio of homes to population than there is in the metropolitan areas of Melbourne and Sydney at the present time. I have mentioned this once before in this House, and no member of the Opposition has ever denied the correctness of the figures or the fact that we already have a high standard of housing. When we see the standard of living improving, we have to realize that housing is just as much a normal community demand as are education, pensions and all the other good things that we wish to see provided for the people of Australia. Housing is related to all these things. There has to be a balance between housing, education, hospitals and so on. I think that we ought to look at the need for housing on that basis and not merely content ourselves with looking a a figure representing the backlag - a figure which, obviously, will alter each year as the standard of living changes.
I suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I have said here in the past, that, in some ways, there is need for a means test on people who are allocated homes in one way or another. I know that there is a means test imposed on people who obtain housing commission homes. But that means test applies only at the time at which a home is allocated.
– What is wrong with that?
– This means test applies only to the head of the family and does not take into account income brought into the family by any one else. The honorable member for Bass asked what was wrong with the means test being applied only at the time of allocation. The point is that, at the time when a person applies for a housing commission home, he may just recently have been married and may be starting a family. He may be just beginning to make his way in the world and may be only on the basic wage. At the time of application for the home he may be only 22 or 24, and, when he reaches the age of 50 or 55, he may be no longer on the basic wage but on an income of £2,000 a year. Yet he will still have a subsidized home. The means test is not revised during the 30, 40 or 50 years for which a home is occupied by the applicant who obtained it from the housing commission. If there is a housing shortage, as the honorable member for Bass says there is, surely the available dwellings ought to be allocated to the people who are most in need. Furthermore, surely the means test ought to be reviewed from time to time as the occupants of the houses get older and can more easily meet their commitments.
– What about the income of other members of the family, too?
– I agree with the honorable member that it ought to be considered. We found last June, when we examined the waiting list of applicants for housing commission homes in Victoria, that the total income of some families was £65 or £70 a week, although the head of the family was earning only £15 or £16 a week. Yet families whose total income is very much lower than that have to provide homes for themselves out of their own resources while these other families, whose weekly income is so large and whose needs are not so great, obtain subsidized homes. If a means test is to be imposed, surely it should apply to the whole community and not just to the lucky few who have the advantage of being able to approach the housing commissions for a home under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
Let me now deal with some of the figures which were cited by the honorable member for Bass. I have here the “ Quarterly Bulletin of Building Statistics “ for the June quarter of 1961, which is published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. The figures given in this bulletin differ so much from those cited by the honorable member that I find it difficult to understand the figures that he gave, although he said that they had been prepared by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Possibly, the honorable member cited figures relative to calendar years, whereas the figures given in this bulletin relate to the financial year ended on 30th June in each instance. I suspect, also, that the honorable member f0 “Bass cited only the figures relative to houses. I asked him at the time whether that was 50, but he did not reply. The figures given in this bulletin, however, include flats as well as houses. Some people in the community to-day are just as pleased to have a flat as a house, and therefore I consider that the total figures for the two classes of dwelling ought to be cited, not just those relative to houses which happen to suit the purposes of the honorable member for Bass.
So let us have a look at the figures given in the “Quarterly Bulletin of Building Statistics “. The honorable member suggested that the Commonwealth Government should aim at a housing target of 85,000 houses a year. In the year ended 30th June, 1959, 84,158 houses and flats were completed - 842 fewer than the target set by the honorable member for Bass. In the year ended 30th June, 1960, 90,021, or more than 5,000 in excess of the target, were completed. In the year ended 30th June, 1961, 94,465 dwellings, or nearly 10,000 more than the target, were completed. If Labour were to take office after the election on 9th December, it would aim at a target of only 85,000 dwellings a year, whereas we achieved a total of 94,465 in the year ended 30th June last.
The honorable member for Bass said that there had been a falling-off in homebuilding as a consequence of the credit squeeze. It is quite true that there was a falling-off for a short time. In the quarter ended 31st December, 1960, 23,926 houses and flats were commenced. The number commenced fell to 20,136 in the quarter ended 31st
March, 1961, and, in the quarter ended 30th June, 1961, to 19,189. Those are the latest figures available. But if one seeks a true picture of what has taken place since 30th June last, one will see that the number of houses and flats commenced has increased in recent months.
The best indication of this is the number of approvals of plans. These figures, also, have been supplied by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. In the three months ended 31st August last, the number of approvals for new houses and flats rose to 22,800. This represents an annual rate well in excess of the target of 85,000 houses a year set by the honorable member for Bass. He may say, of course, that the number of approvals cannot be related directly to the number of dwellings commenced and the number completed. But, if one compares the relevant figures for the last few years, one finds that the number commenced is usually about 10 per cent, less than the number of approvals. The difference is no greater. So, even if we take 10 per cent, off 22,800, the figure still represents an annual rate of very nearly 85,000. So that, despite the troubles in the building industry during the early part of 1961, we can say that the number of houses being commenced has already risen to a rate equivalent to the target at which the Opposition suggests we ought to aim.
The way in which the number of approvals has increased in the last few months is significant. In February of this year, the number of approvals was only 5,950, and there was a gradual increase to about 7,000 in May and about 8,000 in June. There were about 7,000 approvals in July and about 7,700 in August last. The policy of this Government, which was designed to stimulate building and to encourage an increase of the number of approvals for homes, is obviously bearing fruit. The honorable member for Bass said that we were providing no more money for homes. If that is the case, how is it that the number of approvals has increased so dramatically during the last four months? The honorable member must look at the facts. He must accept what is actually happening, and not base arguments on what he would like to see happening. Like the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), of course, he is always hoping that things are going to become worse.
The honorable member also referred to the number of people employed in the building industry. The situation in this direction has also improved. While at one stage last year it was said that 138,000 persons were employed in the building industry, it must be remembered that that was at a time when there was quite a marked shortage of building materials, and, as a consequence, a large number of the people in the industry were not fully employed. We all realize that in such circumstances carpenters could be kept waiting for timber to arrive at a job, and, as I have said, many people in the industry were not fully employed throughout the whole of their working time because of shortages of material. These shortages have now been overcome, as one of the effects of government policy, and during the last few months we have seen much higher efficiency in the building industry. This is shown by the fact that whilst the number of commencements and completions of homes has increased the number of homes under construction has fallen. This means that it is taking less time to construct a dwelling to-day than it did some months ago. In this connexion it must also be remembered that when houses can be built more rapidly the number of houses under construction at any one time will fall. If we consider, therefore, the way in which the number of houses being constructed is falling, we can obtain a measure of the increase of efficiency in the building industry.
There are other ways in which one can demonstrate the improvement in the housing position during the last few weeks. Many honorable members know that I am a director of a co-operative building society, and I am well aware of the demand for homes from that body. People wanting to obtain homes with finance provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and through the cooperative building societies, have been told in some cases that they can get their advances this year, in other cases next year, and in still others in three or four years’ time. A few years ago it would have been difficult for such people to commence work on the building of their homes before the advances were actually made, because it was very difficult to obtain temporary finance to cover the interim period. It has been interesting to see that during the last few weeks many more people have been able to secure temporary financial accommodation.
– How much do you lend to individual applicants?
– The maximum is £3,000, which, as you know, is the amount laid down under the Victorian Government’s co-operative housing legislation. Under Victorian law a person can obtain an advance equivalent to 95 per cent, of the value of the home. The Victorian Government makes provision for such advances. I do not know whether the position is the same in Tasmania, but under the enlightened policy of the Liberal Government of Victoria, an applicant may obtain a 95 per cent, advance.
– What does Mr. Petty think of the housing position?
- Mr. Petty is no longer the Minister of Housing. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) often refers to statements made by Mr. Petty, who until recently was the Victorian Minister of Housing, and I feel sure that the honorable member will give us figures relating to the number of applicants on the waiting list for housing commission homes in Victoria. The honorable member for Bass gave this figure as 14,024. That figure appeared in the annual report of the Housing Commission. I have had the advantage of talking to the new Minister of Housing in Victoria, who has had this waiting list thoroughly investigated. As a result of that investigation it has been found that the number of applicants on the waiting list has been reduced by more than 3,000. I hope the honorable member for Batman will bring himself up to date on these figures, because I know he tries to keep abreast of events in the housing sphere in Victoria.
In the short time left at my disposal I wish to congratulate the Government on the record amount of money that is being provided for housing loans under this act. I hope the Government will also consider increasing the amount of money available for housing old people under the provisions of the Aged Persons Homes Act, which is so ably administered by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). The need to house old people is still very real, and the figures relating to housing for aged persons have not been included in those we have been discussing to-night. I believe the situation revealed by the statistics that have been provided can be said to be improving. The standard of housing in Melbourne and Sydney is now as high as, or higher than, that of any other city of the Western world. With the record amount of money that is now being provided for housing loans the target suggested by the Opposition will be more than met. I contend, in fact, that it has already been met. The Government has its finger firmly on the pulse of the building industry. It is doing its best to ensure that the needs of that industry are fulfilled as rapidly as possible, having in mind its many other commitments. I support the bill wholeheartedly.
.- The Menzies Government’s Budget of August last year, and its supplementary budget of November last year, caused a drastic decline in the amount of money available for building houses throughout Australia. Three-quarters of the people who want houses have to borrow money to get them. If they cannot borrow the money they simply must wait for their houses until they can borrow it. Banks, naturally enough, are reluctant to make large and lengthy loans for housing at a time when they have been directed to lend less than before. As a result of the Government’s financial policies, the number of houses commenced in Australia since last year’s Budget has shown a similarly drastic decline. I shall cite figures from the “ Quarterly Bulletin of Building Statistics “, which was published a week ago, and which has already been referred to by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson).
In the quarter ended 30th June last, the total number of new houses and flats commenced in Australia was 19,189. The total number for the quarter ended 30th September last year was 25,638. Information made available a week ago by the Government Statist in Victoria, the home State of the honorable member for Fawkner, shows that the number of new houses under construction in Victoria in the quarter ended June last was 37 per cent, below the number in the corresponding quarter of 1960. Fewer houses were commenced in the June quarter this year than in any June quarter since 1956, the last occasion on which the Menzies Government imposed a credit squeeze. The Commonwealth Statistician commenced publishing building statistics in 1947. He has never recorded so few houses under construction at the end of any quarterly period as at 30th June this year.
– The number of houses under construction is not as important as the number of commencements. The numbers under construction are only an indication of the efficiency of the industry.
– The significance of these figures is that commencements show the amount of money available for housing. The figures for housing under construction show how much building is still in hand. When there is less money to commence houses, builders complete the houses they are already building. There have never been so few houses recorded as under construction as there are now. Not for five years have there been so few houses commenced as in the last quarter for which the Commonwealth Statistician has issued figures.
The figures I have quoted are for the number of flats and houses commenced in Australia. They include houses and flats financed by grants from the Commonwealth to the States under the legislation with which we are dealing. The import of the credit squeeze is felt, of course, on other forms of housing. I will therefore subtract from the figures 1 have quoted the number of houses and flats financed by Commonwealth grants to the States. The number of private houses and flats commenced in the June quarter of this year was 15,025. The number commenced in the September quarter last year was 22,443. You will see, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the number of private houses commenced since this Government’s third credit squeeze last year has dropped by one-third.
– The preceding period was a boom period.
– Surely the honorable member does not suggest that there was a boom in housing. There might have been a boom in other forms of building, but money for housing construction comes from two sources. The first is the banks and insurance companies, which are subject to the control of the Commonwealth Parliament. The second source is grants by the Commonwealth to the States.
– What about private speculation?
– How many houses are built by private speculators?
– Previously there were a great many.
– Most houses are built with funds supplied by this Parliament through grants to the States, or with funds controlled by this Parliament through loans by banks and insurance companies, either to borrowers directly or to borrowers through building societies. The speculative building in Australia was of a commercial character, and that is not subject to this Parliament’s control because commercial buildings are erected by companies which raise money by shares or notes or debentures. The Government might have said that commercial building was suffering an unhealthy boom, but housing was not suffering an unhealthy boom. There was not an excessive number of houses being built in Australia when the Budget was presented last year or when the supplementary budget was presented.
It is nonsense to suggest, as the previous speaker did, that the efficiency of the homebuilding industry has been improved by the credit squeeze. The home-building industry has been disrupted three times during the last decade through the fluctuations in finance available to it. The greatest number of bankruptcies in any occupation has been among private builders. I refer not to corporate builders, but to individual builders. Efficiency has not been promoted in the home buliding industry by these fluctuations. Costs have been inflated.
The pattern has been set three times under this Government. After the first horror budget of August, 1951, the number of houses commenced dropped from 22,306 in the September quarter of 1951 to 15,700 in the September quarter of 1952. It dropped by one-third. Whenever this Government wants to deal with the balance of payments or with inflationary tendencies, it decides to cut down on building. Building is one of this Government’s financial controls.
I shall show in another way the amount of money available. The amount of money is shown clearly by the number of commencements, but one can also gauge it to a certain extent from the number of approvals. Statistics dealing with building approvals were issued on 22nd September. In August last year, private houses and flats for which approvals were given by local government authorities amounted in value to £9,470,000. In August this year, they amounted to merely £6,951,000. Clearly, the amount of money available for building has greatly declined, and accordingly the number of houses being commenced and becoming available has also greatly declined under the Menzies Government’s third credit squeeze as it did during the earlier restrictions in 1952 and in 1956.
The other consequence of the credit squeeze on this occasion has been the third increase in interest rates. There is no country in the Western world where the interest rate for housing is so high The cost of accommodation depends more on the interest charged than on the cost of labour and materials combined. If the Menzies Government were still lending housing money to the States at the same interest as the Chifley Government charged, the rent of houses now being let by the housing commissions would be 12s. to 16s. a week less according to size and location, and the purchase price of housing commission houses, where the purchaser is paying £2,750 over 45 years, would have been £1,283 less. Put in another way, the additional purchase cost of a housing commission house caused by the Menzies Government’s increase in interest charged to the States, and charged by them to the tenants, amounts over the period of the loan to half the amount owed.
Now I come to the cost to the Commonwealth of the grants which the Commonwealth is making available each year. We are frequently told that the Government is munificent in this matter. We are told that it is providing this money out of taxation, and subsidizing the persons who buy housing commission houses. The whole of the money, maintenance costs and interest is paid back by the persons who occupy those houses, whether as tenants or purchasers. It is true that the interest rate charged is lower than the interest charged by any institutions other than the War Service Homes Division; but nevertheless since most of the money comes from taxation it is arguable whether interest should be charged on the tax component at all.
Every year the Commonwealth is receiving increasing amounts in interest paid by the States on advances under the housing agreement and in principal repaid by the States on those advances. If we subtract the amount of the interest payments and principal repayments from the amount of the annual advances we find that the net amount being advanced in this current financial year is considerably less than, say, in the year 1953-54. In that year, the net advance was £30,686,000; this year, it will be £25,100,000. The Commonwealth is advancing this year less than it advanced in any year in the 1950’s.
The honorable member for Fawkner also referred to the Commonwealth’s expenditure on war service homes. This year the Commonwealth will be advancing less money net fori war service homes than it advanced for any earlier year it has been in office. There again, there are vastly increasing amounts of repayments, interest and principal.
– One is not set off against the other; this is new lending.
– Thai is just what I am doing, I am setting off one against the other. I am pointing out that in respect of war service homes, as in respect of Commonwealth grants to the States, the net cost to the Commonwealth is constantly declining. This year for war service homes the net cost to the Commonwealth will be under £13,000,000. In no other year of the Menzies Government has the net cost been so small and on four occasions it was over £20,000,000. Housing is costing the taxpayers of Australia less this year than it has cost in any previous year under the Menzies Government.
The honorable member for Fawkner referred, further, to the housing needs of Australia and he mentioned the statistics of the Department of National Development. The department’s summary of its activities in 1960 shows that it has discontinued its method of calculating housing needs. It states -
Over the last few years, the Department has made statistical calculations of the deficiency of housing in each State based upon the information obtained from the 19S4 census and later recorded demographic developments. During the year a critical study has been made of certain sources of inaccuracy which appear in these estimates as the censal material becomes out of date, arising from such matters as the lack of information upon interstate migration, the demolition of dwellings and various developments caused by rising housing standards. It has consequently become necessary, pending the availability of new censal material, to discontinue the estimates of State housing deficiencies, and studies have been made with the object of replacing them by estimates made upon a different basis.
There are now no departmental statistics on housing need and deficiency. The figures from this year’s census will be deferred until after the election. The 1954 census showed that there were thousands of Australian families living in huts, humpies and so on, and there are still thousands of such persons living sometimes in caravans but also in huts and humpies. There are even people living in this way in the Australian Capital Territory where the Commonwealth Government is entirely responsible for matters of land use and building progress, and the inflow of families from the States.
– I mentioned the metropolitan areas. Are there many people living in humpies in Sydney?
– There are, in the three large industrial cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The main housing difficulties in Australia are found in these three industrial centres. Comparatively, there are few housing difficulties in other centres of population, provincial or rural.
The advances by the Commonwealth to the States in the last five years, and this year, too, have been not only for housing commissions but also for building societies and for dwellings for serving members of the three armed services. I shall now concentrate on the amount of money available - not the net cost to the Commonwealth, because that has been decreasing - but the total amount of money available to the six State housing commissions during the last few years. This year, £27,605,000 will be available to them for the construction of houses to let and to sell to applicants. In many previous years under this Government, a greater sum of money was available to the housing commissions. That was the case from 1952 to 1956, inclusive. In 1953-54, there was £10,000,000 more available to the six housing commissions than will be available this year. The number of houses being made available by the housing commissions, not surprisingly, has fallen. In 1954-55, the number of dwellings completed with Commonwealth grants to the State housing commissions reached its peak of 14,318. Last year, it had fallen to 8,859. It had constantly fallen in the intervening years. The ratio of houses built by the housing commissions to all houses built in Australia in 1954-55 was 17.4 per cent, and last year it was 9.4 per cent. Again, there has been a constant decline in the proportion of public housing available.
The social significance of this is that the housing commissions provide the only houses now being constructed for rental, other than holiday houses. They also provide the only houses which are available for purchase on a small or a nominal deposit. People who need such housing must, because of their restricted means or the demands on them through sickness or family commitments, resort to the housing commissions. All the housing commissions impose means tests and the annual reports in particular of the housing commissions of New South Wales and Victoria and the Housing Trust of South Australia will show that the people who are applying for houses for rental or for purchase are people of limited means indeed. A person does not get a housing commission or a housing trust house now unless he has some real economic need for it and cannot find a house for rental or for purchase elsewhere in a reasonable time.
– The collective income is not taken into account.
– That is not correct. The collective income of all the occupants, or rather the prospective occupants, of a house is taken into account by all the housing commissions, by the Housing Trust of South Australia and by the Housing Department in Tasmania. If this were not so, it would be something that is within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament to correct. We can make grants to the States on terms and conditions which commend themselves to our Parliament. If we believe that the State housing commissions are abusing the money that we make available to them, we can impose new terms.
– Would you be a party to our seeking to impose conditions of that sort on State housing commissions. You would not agree to it for a moment.
– Do not get so apoplectic about it. You are very heated for this hour of the night.
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will address the Chair.
– And so will the interjector, I hope.
– For both sides. The 1945 Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which the Chifley Government made, and the 1955, 1956 and 1960 housing agreements which the Menzies Government has made with the States, have each imposed quite elaborate terms and conditions on the housing grants which the Commonwealth Parliament annually makes to the States. Terms have been imposed in all the housing agreements. This Parliament does it in respect of other grants to the States. Honorable gentlemen opposite suggest that the States are constructing houses with these funds and making the houses available to people who do not need them. If they look at the annual reports of the housing authorities they will find that there is no basis for that charge.
These funds are available not only for housing authorities but also for building societies. The extraordinary thing is that the amount of money which was made available last year to building societies from private sources was several millions of pounds less than it was in the last year of the Chifley Government or the first year of the Menzies Government. In 1948-49, private sources provided £11,095,000 for building societies in New South Wales. In 1949-50, they provided £12,015,000. Last year they provided only £7,720,000. In actual fact, the amount of money which this Government, under one of the most obnoxious terms and conditions which it has included in the 1956 and 1960 agreements, has directed the States to divert from housing commissions to building societies has not made up the loss in loans that the building societies have received from banks and insurance companies.
We were told some years ago that the advent of the private savings banks would mean more funds for housing. The charters of the private savings banks permit them to invest 30 per cent, of their deposits in loans for housing. The Australia and New Zealand Savings Bank Limited has invested 18 per cent, of its deposits in such loans, the Bank of New South Wales Savings Bank Limited has invested 19 per cent, of its deposits and the C.B.C. Savings Bank Limited has invested 16 per cent, of its deposits. They are permitted to lend onehalf or one-third more than they have lent.
At the time of the first credit squeeze in 1951 the insurance companies were asked to divert their loans from building societies to Commonwealth bonds. They have never recovered from that Government request of ten years ago. This year the Association of Co-operative Building Societies of New South Wales reported thus -
Once again your Board believes that the help afforded people in the lower income bracket by this movement warrants a much greater support from the Life offices of this country, and we hope to see a proportion of their investment funds lodged with terminating societies in the new year.
The Insurance Commissioner reports that loans by insurance companies to building societies at the end of 1960 amounted to 1.35 per cent, of their assets held in Australia and at the end of 1959 to 1.42 per cent. This Parliament can superintend the lending of banks and insurance companies for housing. It has not done so.
The third form of finance which this bill provides is for service housing. The advances proposed in the bill clearly will not meet the needs of serving members of the forces for some time. There is no need for the Commonwealth to ask the State housing commissions to build houses for men in the Navy, Army and Air Force, but it has paid them the compliment of showing that it believes that they can build houses more economically than can the Commonwealth.
The amount being provided for service housing is not significantly larger than it was last year. At the end of last June 1,815 Army men were still waiting for service housing. Twelve months previously the number was 1,903. During the year 1,848 received homes and 1,777 sought them. On that basis, it will be years before Army men receive the houses which it is the Army’s job to provide. Honorable members will see from the answers to the questions that I have asked on this subject the number of houses which are provided by the other services. Last year Navy personnel sought 1,172 homes and received 735. At 30th June last 546 persons were still waiting for them, as against 722 a year before. Air Force personnel sought 2,303 homes and were allotted 1,122, and 1,549 were still waiting for them at 30th June last, as against 1,509 a year before.
The final matter to which I wish to refer relates to slum clearance. The American Federal Government for years now has made it possible to resuscitate the urban areas of the United States by assistance and guarantees to the State governments and local authorities. The State governments resume land and the Federal Government subsidizes the interest and guarantees the mortgages. The result has been that all centres of the large American cities have been revived in the last few years. But it is impossible for our State governments or local government authorities to do that work in our metropolitan centres. Only the Commonwealth has the funds to do it. This matter has been reported upon frequently by the various housing commissions. The year before last the New South Wales Housing Commission reported -
Cumberland County Council estimates suggest that there would be something like 42,000 substandard dwellings requiring immediate replacement within the County.
The Victorian Housing Commissioner stated last December -
It has now been assessed that there are 1,000 acres in the inner area of Melbourne that are ready for clearance right now. Forty-two acres have been redeveloped. The total cost would be £50,000,000 and only £500,000 per annum ls available.
The rate at which funds are being made available by the Commonwealth to re-create the urban centres of Sydney and Melbourne and, to a lesser extent, the other State capitals, means that it will be many decades before the already decrepit houses can be replaced.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The House is not unaccustomed to hearing specious arguments from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), but to-night we heard one which really stirred me to protest. With a great show of authority he said that the housing commission in each State applies a means test which takes into account the total income of the family group of the prospective tenant of a house. He made that statement with great confidence. He was challenged from this side of the House - I understand with good reason - because the various State housing authorities allot houses on a points system. I am not an authority on this matter but I understand that it is incorrect to say that every State housing commission in Australia applies a means test based on the total income of the prospective occupants of the house. When challenged the honorable member immediately shifted his ground and said that if that were not the case it should be the case because the Commonwealth can impose conditions on the States. To begin with, we cannot do that because we have an agreement with the States and that agreement has no provision for us to impose such a condition. Secondly, the suggestion from the Opposition that it would agree to the imposition of such conditions in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is, I think, laughable. There is only one other point in the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to which I want to direct the attention of the House. He spoke as if moneys made available by the Commonwealth to the States for their housing programmes were decreasing each year because repayments to the Crown of principle and interest on earlier advances were increasing.
– I did not say that.
– I am glad you did not. It would have been completely wrong, because the States have already recovered those repayments from the individuals to whom the houses are let or sold. It was implicit in the argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Commonwealth ought not to charge interest on the amounts made available to the States. That argument ignores completely the whole basis of the arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States for making this money available, because it is a function of the Loan Council to decide how much should be made available. It is ordinarily contemplated that the money will come from loans. A great deal of it does come from that source, and the Commonwealth has to pay interest on that money. It is only to the extent that the loan market will not meet the requirements of the States that the Commonwealth finds the money out of revenue.
I want now to turn to the arguments of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), who led for the Opposition in this debate. He argued that the £42,900,000 being advanced by the Commonwealth in the year 1961-62 is inadequate for State housing needs, and that we should be providing a great deal more than that by means of this bill. To start with, that argument entirely overlooks the fact that an agreement is reached between the Commonwealth and the States at the Loan Council. Although this bill has been made the vehicle for a policy debate on housing - a debate which, with the tolerance of the Chair, has gone far beyond the disposition of the amounts to be paid to the States under the authority of the legislation - in fact the bill will merely authorize payment to and allocation between the States of an amount that has been agreed upon by the Loan Council. It is for the Loan Council to say how much is to be made available for this purpose and this bill merely gives effect to that decision.
There is another point which is entirely overlooked in this argument that £42,900,000 is not enough. It is that public finance for housing is only one of the elements involved in the building of houses in Australia. Our memories should be long enough to recall that if the availability of money is not balanced by demand and available labour and materials, inevitably the system gets out of gear and the cost of housing rises. The result is not to provide more homes but to provide fewer and at a higher cost. We all can remember circumstances in which that did occur.
Both the honorable member for Bass and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition argued that insufficient money was available for housing through the banking system and that the Commonwealth was responsible for that. If my memory is correct, the honorable member for Bass went further and said the Government had done nothing to provide further funds for housing through the banking system. That is incorrect. In June, a considerable amount of special assistance, totalling about £5,000,000, was provided by the Commonwealth Savings Bank. In the Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced further substantial assistance from the Commonwealth Savings Bank. The trading banks, which have never worked under any specific restriction on lending for housing, have now been released from almost all restrictions on their lending and we can confidently expect that their advances for housing will be maintained or even increased.
If we turn to the savings banks, which are a much more considerable source of finance for private housing than are the trading banks, we find that they have lately experienced a much better rate of increase in their deposits than they did earlier in the months which followed the November policy decisions, and this increase should be reflected in greater savings bank funds becoming available for housing in the months ahead. There is quite convincing evidence that this is already operating, because approvals in July and August for new private houses showed considerable improvement on the figures for the preceding months. I do not want to take up the time of the House unduly with this because it was covered very effectively by my friend the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson).
I would like to turn for a moment to some other remarks of the honorable member for Bass. He complained that my distinguished colleague, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), had not issued a report on housing since 1956. The Minister for National Development issued a report on housing needs in Australia in 1956, which was based on the census of 1954. The further you move from that census the more inaccurate becomes the basis upon which calculations are made.
– He does not have to wait for a census to make a report.
– Yes, he does, for reasons which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself stated effectively. The further you go from the census of 1954 the more inaccurate become any calculations and assumptions that you base on it. This was quite clearly set out in an official statement. The value of the assessments was becoming so open to doubt that they were discontinued.
I think the honorable member for Fawkner covered the next aspect, but it is of sufficient importance to return to again. The honorable member for Bass said that we had not succeeded with any regularity in meeting the target of 77,000 houses a year.
– I gave you credit for two years.
– That was only 66 per cent, accurate, because the figures for new houses and flats available for housing families over the last five years-
– I do not count flats.
– You do not count flats! There are many people who prefer to live in flats rather than in cottages, and any realistic approach to this matter must take into account flats and houses as units of accommodation for families.
– I said “ the number of new houses”.
– The number of new houses and flats completed over the last five years is as follows: - In 1956-57, 68,346; in 1957-58, 74,585; in 1958-59, 84,158 - well above the figure which the honorable member suggested as a proper target; in 1959-60, 90,021, and in 1960-61, 94,465. At the present time, as the honorable member for Fawkner pointed out, the rate of approvals is again going up satisfactorily and there is every expectation of a reasonable figure being achieved again. The honorable member for Bass said that the weekly marriage rate was 1,400 compared with a weekly home-building rate - I do not recall for what period - of 1,250.
– The March quarter, 1961.
– According to the best calculations available, the number of dwellings constructed over the last five years has been well in excess of the number of new family groups that have been formed, even if allowance is made for some houses being pulled down to make way for new buildings.
Some reliance was placed by the Opposition on the magnitude of the waiting lists of housing commissions. That is a very inaccurate yardstick of housing needs. In some cases waiting lists of State housing commissions include the names of people who already have a house but who would prefer to move into a new one or who would prefer to have the advantage of the better financial terms available through the housing commissions. Also, people often remain on the lists as requiring a home when they have obtained one from some other source. Sometimes there has been a wastage of up to 25 per cent, in the waiting list when homes become available. For the reasons I have stated, the waiting lists of State housing authorities are not a true indication of housing needs.
I want to refer now to a viewpoint expressed by the honorable member for Bass which I think it is important to correct. He suggested that the entire Commonwealth-State housing advance should be made available to State housing authorities without any of it being diverted to building societies. He argued that because there is no upper limit on the cost of the houses built with building society funds, fewer houses are being built. That is not so, because in ordinary circumstances the State housing authority finds substantially the whole of the cost of the house, but when the money is advanced through building societies the future occupant of the house must find a considerable part of the purchase money himself. So it is not correct to say that because 30 per cent, of the funds advanced by the Commonwealth are required, under the agreement, to be advanced through building societies more expensive houses and fewer houses are built. The facts are quite different. This is borne out by the figures of the average loan made from the home builders’ account under the 1956 agreement - that is to say, loans made through building societies and similar institutions. The average figure of those loans is markedly below the average cost of housing commission homes. In New South Wales the average loan on the home builders’ account is £2,770. The average loan for sales by State housing authorities is £3,169. In Victoria on the home builders’ account the average loan is £2,658 and through the housing authority it is £3,573. I will not bore the House by going through the figures for all States, but I assure honorable members that in every State the average loan made through the home builders’ account is less than the average loan for a sale by a State housing authority.
– They can afford larger deposits.
– That is the reason, but the figures I have cited completely deny the charge made by the honorable member for Bass that requiring 30 per cent, of the funds to be lent through building societies leads to a smaller number of houses being constructed.
In view of the gloomy views expressed by the Opposition about the state of the building industry and its future, I want to conclude by quoting some remarks made recently by Mr. Albert Jones, president of the Building Industry Congress. As reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th September last, Mr. Jones said -
The building industry should be much healthier by the end of the year as a result of the Federal Government’s shock treatment methods.
The situation is already healthier and is improving.
– I wish to make a pei.sonal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister foi Repatriation (Mr. Osborne) misrepresented me. He challenged the accuracy of my statement that a means test was applied to the allocation of housing commission homes and he said that I had failed to accept the challenge on that point from the speaker who preceded me in the debate. I have now had an opportunity of seeing the last report of the New South Wales Housing Commission, which contains this passage -
Approximately 76 per cent, of the applicants who sought housing during the year were in receipt of less than £20 a week, of which 54.3 per cent, were in the £15 to £20 a week wage group. Approximately 68 per cent, of applications received were in respect of family cases.
The report contains a table setting out the wage groups and the age groups.
– Does it say anything about the total family group?
.- Government supporters seem very happy because the bill means an increase in the loan allocations to the various State house instrumentalities. It is true that this year £5,700,000 will be provided more than was provided last year. Actually, the amount provided by the Government is a mere drop in the ocean when one takes into account the requirements of people in the lower income group. 1 regret to say that the housing agreement that was signed earlier this year accentuated rather than alleviated the difficulties being experienced by the State housing instrumentalities. I make that claim for one very cogent reason. It is a reason that Government supporters have apparently discreetly forgotten. Housing commissions were formed to provide accommodation for people in the lower income group.
Government supporters attempt to paint a rosy picture of 94,000 home units, which figure includes houses and flats, being constructed last year, but a dissection of that figure reveals that the lower income group has been very badly treated. Although honorable members opposite may be very cheerful because they expect 90,000 homes to be built this year, I, as a Labour representative, am very concerned to know how far the difficulties confronting persons in the lower income group will be met over the next twelve months. Persons in the lower income group are a forgotten race as far as housing is concerned. To support that, I refer to the following statement on page 7 of the report of the Victorian Housing Commission for last year because, although the report is twelve months old, it stresses the point I wish to make: -
The year just completed has been a record one for the building of houses and flats in this State - 26,219 units - but there should be no complacency thinking that the demand for housing is being met, and in particular, the demand for lower cost housing within the reach of the person of average means.
That is the very point on which the Labour Party differs from the Government. We say there has been no adequate recognition of the difficulties experienced by the lower income earners in obtaining accommodation because no houses are being built by private investors for renting. Whereas, before the depression, a person who had a little money built perhaps three or four suburban villas with the idea of depending upon the rents for his income, there is no private investment in this field to-day. In fact, building for renting took a nosedive during the depression, when it became unprofitable because tenants were unable to pay the rents. Then, during the war, we had rent controls as a result of which the return from the building of suburban villas for letting was not high enough to encourage this type of investment. Then came the establishment of State housing commissions, which were charged with the responsibility of building homes to house the people in the lower income group, people who, but for the housing commissions, would have been forced to live in tents or in parks because nobody else would make any provision for them.
The credit squeeze imposed by the Government last November has resulted in a diminution of home building throughout the whole community. Despite what has been said by the Minister (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) about the improvement in the position, we cannot get away from the fact that the number of people in the lower income group in need of housing is greater now than ever. In an attempt to bolster a very weak case, the Minister stated that the number of applicants for housing is not a good yardstick for measuring the housing requirements of the people. I should like to say that the people in the lower income group are in exactly the same position to-day as they were three, four, five or even ten years ago; therefore, the number of applicants for housing is a good yardstick for measuring the housing need. The State housing commissions are still being inundated with requests for accommodation. In Victoria alone, it is estimated that it will not be possible to catch up with the demand in under three and a half years. The position in Victoria is very bad, and in saying that I am not offering my own opinion; I am stating the opinion of the Premier of Victoria, with whom even the honorable member for Fawkner would agree. On 11th May of this year, the Premier of Victoria said” -
Home building must go on apace. As an irreducible minimum 26,000 home units should be built in Victoria a year.
By 196S, we must reach 35,000 a year.
So Mr. Bolte is not satisfied with the housing position in Victoria. He knows the difficulty the Victorian Housing Commission is experiencing in trying to meet the insatiable demand from the lower income earners for housing, the demand from those people who, because of economic circumstances, sickness, unemployment or other reasons, are unable to make private arrangements for the purchase of homes. It is idle for the honorable member for Fawkner to describe the housing commissions as socialist housing authorities. In effect, he said that we of the Labour Party were seeking to perpetuate a race of rent payers, a race of people who do not own their own homes. Let me point out to him that half the home units built by the Victorian Housing Commission are sold to tenants. In other words, the Victorian Housing Commission is encouraging home ownership, as may be seen from the following extract from that commission’s report: -
The record number of 2,717 houses was sold in 1959-60, an increase of 141 on the previous year . . .
The total sold represents 23.5 per cent, of all dwellings built by the Commission . . .
It must be admitted, therefore, that it is not the policy of housing commissions to perpetuate a race of rent payers. They encourage people to buy their own homes, and the beauty of purchasing a house from a State housing commission is that it may be bought on a very low deposit. It is impossible for the average person in the low income group to find a deposit of £800 or £1,000, and the Victorian Housing Commission sells its houses on low deposits. That commision built some houses in my electorate and is selling them on £300, £400 and £500 deposit. In fact, I heard of one case in which, because of special circumstances, it sold a house on £200 deposit.
Therefore, it cannot be argued that, because we of the Labour Party encourage the activities of housing commissions, we are encouraging a system that breeds a race of tenants rather than a race of homeowners. We will always encourage home ownership because we appreciate that the person who owns his own home takes a greater interest in local affairs. He takes more interest in the appearance of his home and in community activities than does the person who pays rent. I repeat that the argument that because we seek additional assistance for housing commissions we prefer the construction of rental homes is without foundation. We encourage people to buy homes, and we think that the housing commissions are the best authorities in Australia from which to buy them, because the housing commissions are prepared to sell on the lowest possible deposit.
I come now to co-operative building societies. The Labour Party does not object to co-operative building societies. As a matter of fact, several honorable members on this side are directors of co-operative building societies, and those societies are doing a first-rate job in helping to provide the people with homes. I point out, however, that when, in 1956, the requirement that 30 per cent, of the money made available by the Commonwealth should be allocated to the co-operative building societies was included in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, I argued that this requirement would not lead to any improvement in the position because the private sources of income for the co-operative building societies would dry up. I think I was the first on this side to say that, and I was ridiculed by honorable members on the Government side when I said it. In making that statement, I was expressing not my own opinion but the opinion of a high official in one of the co-operative building societies in Victoria. He told me that that was what he thought would happen, and what he told me would happen, and what I told this House would happen, did happen. Only two years after that requirement was incorporated in the agreement, the co-operative building societies of Victoria published what might almost be called a special issue of their journal in which they stated that as money flowed in from Government sources the income from private sources flowed out. In other words, while the Victorian Housing Commisison received a further £3,000,000 for the building of houses, the co-operative building societies did not get one penny piece more. In effect, the co-operative building societies of Victoria were actually spending £3,000,000 less than they were before the inclusion of the 30 per cent, requirement in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in 1956. Not only did the co-operative building societies make that statement through their journal, and not only did I say it but, at a meeting of housing Ministers held a couple of years ago, Sir Thomas Playford said it. The then Victorian Minister for Housing (Mr. Petty) also said it, as did Mr. Landa, the Housing Minister in New South Wales. The Housing Ministers of all States were unanimous in saying that as money flowed into the societies from government sources the income from private sources flowed out.
Those are the reasons why we take umbrage at the current Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. We do not object to it because it makes money available to co-operative building societies. The 1956 agreement caused a conflict between the co-operative housing movement and the State housing instrumentalities. We say that the State housing authorities ought to get the full amount provided under the terms of the agreement and that money ought to be made available to co-operative housing societies under a different agreement. This could be done.
It is idle for the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to say that this bill will merely ratify an agreement made at a meeting of the Australian Loan Council. Everybody knows that that body is dominated by the Commonwealth, which brandishes a big stick and forces the State governments to accept the opinions and decisions of the Commonwealth whether they like it or not. The same sort of thing happened in 1956 and 1961, when earlier agreements were entered into. The State governments had Hobson’s choice. It was a case of take it or leave it. To suggest that in voting in the Australian Loan Council the States were equal with the Commonwealth is to talk sheer balderdash. That was not the position at all. The representatives of the States were simply told, “ This is to be the agreement, and if you do not like it you can lump it “. To suggest that this bill is the result of an agreement reached in the Loan Council is merely to dodge the issue. The States were told categorically by the Commonwealth Government that they could borrow only a certain sum. The Commonwealth is in a dominant position financially and it certainly calls the tune in the allocation of funds for housing.
I should now like to discuss the housing situation in Victoria, Mr. Speaker. The housing situation of those in the lowerincome groups is deteriorating because of the large numbers of evictions taking place since the amendment of State housing legislation a year or so ago. You, Sir, will recollect that, up to about a year ago, a certain measure of protection against eviction was afforded to tenants. But the Victorian Government then altered the legislation and evictions are now proceeding apace. Unfortunately, the Victorian Government provides no emergency accommodation. More than 2,000 families were evicted from dwellings in Victoria last year as a result of court decisions, but the Victorian Housing Commisison was able to house only 60 of them. One cannot blame the commission for its inability to provide housing. It simply was not building sufficient houses. With the present allocations of funds, it is building fewer dwellings than it was constructing some time ago. In the last year before the 1956 Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was entered into, the Victorian Housing Commission constructed more than 4,152 housing units, and, last year, the number had fallen to 2,607, owing to a reduction of about £3,000,000 or £3,500,000 a year in the funds received from the Commonwealth Government.
The Government ought to revise its policy. It ought to remember that the only instrumentalities that have any hope of housing the people in the lower-income groups are the State housing authorities. If they are not enabled to provide accommodation, the people who cannot provide it for themselves are forced to live with relatives or in garages, sheds, outhouses and what have you. The position is becoming increasingly worse.
I should like to turn now to slum clearance. In Victoria, the Housing Commission, with very meagre resources, is making a genuine effort to remove slums. But it cannot do the job properly until this
Government recognizes that something must be clone on a large scale. 1 hoped that the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement that this Parliament approved earlier this year would have made it clear that the Commonwealth recognized its responsibility to assist in a major way in the work of slum clearance. The social evils associated with slums are well known. The Housing Commission, after a recent survey in Melbourne, estimated that there are 1,000 acres in the inner city area that can be described as slums. Before a reclamation scheme can be undertaken, the dwellings in that area have to be acquired by the housing authorities and demolished. But property values in areas such as this are high, and the cost of acquiring properties for slum clearance is between £40,000 and £50,000 an acre. These are inflated values, certainly.
The basic problem is: Where is the necessary money to be found to enable the State housing instrumentalities to do the job. They are stretching their resources to the utmost in order to provide accommodation for the people in the lower-income groups, and they have no funds left with which to undertake slum clearance. Their funds are totally inadequate for the purpose because they do not receive enough from the Commonwealth. No authority is more capable of undertaking slum clearance and rebuilding, or more suited to the job, than is the Victorian Housing Commission. It has powers of acquisition. The possession of those powers is most important, of course The commission has experience in the acquiring and clearing of properties, and its officers are experts to whom redevelopment presents no great problem.
What is the financial position of the Victorian Housing Commission? For slum clearance, it receives from the State Government £500,000 a year in addition to the funds that it gets under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and from various other sources it obtains a further £150,000 a year. But these sums represent a mere bagatelle compared to the magnitude of the problem. The proclamation of new areas for slum clearance in Victoria is practically at a standstill. The commission has already proclaimed and taken over about 45 acres in Melbourne, but it is not getting enough money under the agreement to enable it to construct houses and flats even on the 45 acres already acquired, much less to undertake further acquisitions. The commission is on the horns of a dilemma. The Commonwealth Government says that 90,000 homes a year ought to be built, but it shuts its eyes to the social evils of the existing situation. The Victorian Housing Commission is in the unenviable position of having sites half-cleared and being unable to complete quickly the clearing of sites that are eminently suitable for the re-building of dwellings.
Additional funds must be obtained from other sources. I have pointed out that the commission receives £500,000 from the State Government and £150,000 a year from other sources. Luckily, the Melbourne City Council, although, in some ways, it is not very realistic, has recognized its obligations and has come to the party. It has decided to provide £100,000 a year for three years for slum clearance. The Victorian Housing Commission recently published a booklet entitled “ Home Truths “, in which there was a very interesting article which stated that the Melbourne City Council had given the all-clear for slum clearance in a particularly bad area of Carlton. That will meet with considerable approval, because it represents a start on tackling the problem. But the Melbourne City Council cannot provide all the money that is needed. It cannot do very much. It is already stretching its resources to the limit by undertaking to provide £100,000 a year for three years. The Commonwealth Government must make grants for slum clearance.
One of the difficulties in slum-clearance work, of course, is that the value of a house that is demolished in the work of slum clearance cannot be recovered. The money spent on acquiring the site is more or less thrown down the drain, although the land itself, of course, has some value. Experience overseas has shown that, after clearance, the land has a value of about 50 per cent, of the cost of acquisition. If £1,000,000 were spent on the acquisition of slum properties, the land would be worth about £500,000 after the slum buildings had been demolished. Obviously, the Commonwealth Government is the only authority that can bear the heavy expenditure that has to be undertaken if we are to continue to be entitled to regard the Australian community as a civilized one. This is a problem of national importance. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has stated, the Federal Government in the United States of America contributes about 50 per cent, of the money required for slum clearance. I suggest that any contribution made by the Commonwealth for this purpose ought not to be made at the expense of allocations at present made for housing purposes. The Commonwealth ought to come to the party by providing the funds for the acquisition of some properties. The State housing instrumentalities could take over from there. 1 should like to point out, also, that this problem is not a static one. It is serious enough to-day, but it will be infinitely more serious in another ten years. The longer slum clearance continues on the infinitesimal and completely inadequate scale evident in Melbourne at the present time, and the longer we delay a large-scale effort in this field owing to the lack of interest of the Commonwealth Government, the more serious the problem will become, until it becomes almost impossible of solution. Increasing numbers of dwellings in Melbourne are deteriorating so badly as to make them fit only for demolition. They are damp and unhygienic, and they are totally unsuitable for people to live in, particularly young children.
One of the most humiliating experiences in going through the slum areas in the inner suburbs of Melbourne is to see the large numbers of children playing in the streets because there is nowhere else for them to play. These slums must be cleared as soon as possible. The longer we leave the task, the more difficult it will be. Other countries are dealing with similar problems; why can we not make a start? The United Kingdom Government has recognized the immensity of the problem. Some time ago it inaugurated a five-year plan for dealing with slums on a national basis. It has adhered to that plan and proposes shortly to prepare another five-year plan to continue the job of tackling the problem of slum clearance.
The future of the Victorian Housing Commission is a very bleak one if it must rely only on funds that it will get under this kind of legislation. Even with the additional money being made available it will be able to build only about 3,000 housing units a year. In Victoria 14,000 people are applicants for homes. Only last week-end three different groups of people came to me to tell me they expected to be evicted within a month. They told me their economic circumstances. I did not ask them to tell me, but they told me in any case. It was quite obvious to me that the only way they can ever get a home is through the housing commission. Unfortunately, however, the housing commission just cannot do the job.
If the Commonwealth Government were to come to the party and provide sites on which the housing commission could build flats, I am satisfied that the accommodation problem would practically disappear within three or four years so far as the lower income group is concerned. The Victorian Housing Commission to-day places emphasis on the construction of flats in the inner suburbs. I have only one objection to the flats that are being erected by the Victorian Housing Commission, and that is that insufficient playing areas adjacent to the flats are made available for the children. In my electorate recently a number of flat buildings were constructed to accommodate about 300 people, including a large number of children. There was practically no room for them to play, and so the children go to a public garden not far from the flats, and they are now breaking down many shrubs in the garden. Nothing can be done about it, because one must realize ‘that children have to play. I suggest, however, that when any future plans are made for flats suitable areas should be set aside in which the children who are expected to live in the flats can play. It is accepted that young children have to romp about, and if inadequate accommodation is provided for them they will find the accommodation for themselves, often to the discomfiture of some one, and often to the disadvantage of the community. I hope that in any future housing scheme the Victorian Housing Commission will make available adequate playing areas adjacent to the housing units.
I would like to give some facts concerning the activities of the Victorian Housing
Commission in slum reclamation. It has proclaimed 47 areas, comprising 100 acres. Of this 100 acres, however, only 80 acres have been acquired, because the commission has not the money to buy the other 20 acres. It must wait for next year’s grant from the State Government. Of the 80 acres acquired, 42 acres have been re-developed. This has affected 4,000 people. Obviously, when people are put out of their homes because of housing commission acquisition, those people must get sympathetic treatment in re-housing. Acquisitions frequently cause trouble and result in litigation. The prices offered by acquiring authorities are not always satisfactory to the people losing their properties. However, the acquisition activities of the Victorian Housing Commission have not caused many ructions, because the procedure calls for fair and equitable valuations. The Government pays full market value, which is arrived at by taking the higher of two valuations made and sworn to by accredited valuers. If the owner wishes to do so he can have recourse to arbitration, but he very seldom does.
I suggest that all the foundations of a truly national scheme can be found in the procedure that is followed in Melbourne in regard to slum reclamation. All that is needed is money. The State Housing Commission cannot be expected to deal with the large numbers of people involved in slum reclamation projects. It cannot even provide accommodation for all the people who must leave their homes when slum reclamation projects are undertaken. I believe, therefore, that the Commonwealth must come to the party. I think it was the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Osborne), or perhaps the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), who said that if the rate of home building is accelerated inflation follows, because there is a greater demand on available resources, and the result is that prices of houses rise. I was talking to a master builder last week who operates in a very big way in Melbourne. He had a small job in my suburb of Northcote. He advertised for a carpenter for one week’s work, and 44 carpenters applied.
I can assure honorable members opposite that in Melbourne there are great numbers of skilled tradesmen out of work. We know the position in the timber industry. The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) a few weeks ago made a masterly speech on the vicissitudes of the timber industry. We know that at least one-quarter of our Australian timber mills have had to close down, and many timber workers have been thrown out of work. I am satisfied that a large amount of money could be poured into the building industry without any danger of inflationary tendencies resulting from the old formula of too much money and not enough labour and materials. The time is certainly ripe, but if the people are looking for this Government to give a lead, they are certainly looking in vain.
. I would like to commence on the note on which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) concluded. Only a few weeks ago the representatives of building industry employees’ unions came to Canberra in the hope of making the Government aware of the crisis that has occurred in the building industry because inadequate funds have been made available for housing. They wanted to tell the story of unemployment in the industry. Some of the union representatives came on behalf of federal organizations. They wanted to speak not only on behalf of people in Sydney or New South Wales, but also on behalf of employees throughout Australia in particular building trades. To their great disappointment, honorable members on the Government side refused to see them. The Minister responsible for housing refused to see them. Is it any wonder that to-night the Government is having difficulty in keeping a debate going on a most important matter concerning the welfare of Australian families? Honorable members on the Opposition side found time to see these representatives of the building industry unions. Members of our industrial committee met them and for two hour* listened to their points of view. Why is it that Government supporters refused to avail themselves of the opportunity to learn the facts of the situation? The Minister tonight admitted that he knew very little about the subject. Other honorable members opposite have demonstrated their lack of knowledge and their disinterest by declining to participate in the debate.
This is a debate on a vital matter. It concerns a great deal of money which has been gathered from the Australian people. The bill seeks authority for the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to raise loan money to the extent of £42,900,000 for “the States for housing purposes. This figure is higher than the amount provided for last year, but it is still totally inadequate. That has been the tenor of remarks made by all honorable members on this side of the House during the debate to-night. New South Wales is to get £14,600,000, Victoria £11,600,000, Queensland £3,300,000, South Australia £8,000,000, Western Australia £3,000,000 and Tasmania £2,400,000, making a total of £42,900,000. Unfortunately, a considerable proportion of this money, 30 per cent, in fact, will not be available to the State housing instrumentalities, but will be made available for building societies.
As the honorable member for Batman has said, we are not opposed to that idea: but we would prefer to see a continuation of the old arrangement under which building societies were financed to a greater extent than they are now by banks, insurance companies and other instrumentalities that have waxed fat as a result of their very lucrative activities.
The first thing we have to say about this agreement is that the States did not want it. It was foisted on the State Premiers against their wills. We all remember that early this year, in about February, there were a number of press articles which quoted the State Premiers as having said they did not agree with the terms of the agreement, that they wanted more money, that they wanted lower rates of interest, and that they did not want the inroads into the agreement that were made to provide money for the building societies and for serving members of the forces - a responsibility for which the Commonwealth should be prepared to take other appropriate action. On 18th February last the “ Sydney Morning Herald” reported the feeling of the Premiers at the time. The article in question reads -
A conference between Commonwealth and State Ministers to-day failed to agree on the interest rate to be paid by the States on money lent by the Commonwealth for housing.
The article goes on to indicate the general disagreement that existed on the part of the Premiers. They were forced to come to the conference. The attitude adopted by the Commonwealth was: “Take it or leave it. That is our proposal. We are not compromising in any regard “.
Let us contrast this attitude, this disinterest, on the eve of the 1961 election with the attitude that was adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) before the federal election of 1949. It is not practicable for me to have incorporated in “ Hansard “ the advertisement that I have in my hand and which features a benign, photograph of the Prime Minister with a look of concern on his face. This is what the Prime Minister said on that occasion -
We give this firm promise to young couples: The Liberal Party, when returned to office, will regard as its permanent and most vital responsibility the speeding-up of the housing programme. We will not allow any other public works, other than those of the most extreme urgency, to begiven priority over home-building.
Listen to this cluttered-up nonsense -
The Liberal Party gives a firm undertaking tothe many thousands of young engaged couples in Australia who are forced to postpone marriage, and possibly throw away the happiest years of their lives, because they cannot get a home of their own, and to couples already married who are suffering the same penalty.
You are penalised to-day by the Chifley Government, which gives priority to extravagant building plans for Government Departments-
Perhaps the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme and things like that - which fails to check restrictive, go-slow tactics in the building industry or to increase productionof many essential building materials. In other words, the very Government which claims to bethe champion of the average man and woman is the Government that is depriving you of a home and, by starving State Governments of funds, preventing even your State Government from helping you.
We will not allow any public works, except those of extreme urgency, to be given priority over home-building.
The advertisement is signed “ Robert G. Menzies “. Just prior to the 1949 election the supporters of this Government showed great interest in the problems of people who were suffering from the lack of housing. But where is the interest to-night? It is difficult to arrange for sufficient: speakers to enable the debate to continue. That is a disgraceful state of affairs.
The housing shortage which prevails today is greater than that referred to in 1949. In that year the government of the day was charged with not having provided sufficient building materials, with having failed to check go-slow tactics in the building industry or to increase the production of many essential building materials. But to-day building materials are lying at grass because of the lack of money for building. Because of the attitude of this Government, bricks, tiles and timber are waiting to be used, timber mills in the division of Wilmot and other divisions have been closed down, and carpenters have been put out of work and have come to Parliament house, Canberra, in their hundreds to let the Government know how they feel about the situation.
A short time ago the Minister for Housing in New South Wales, Mr. Landa, said that the housing shortage in that State could last until 1980. This state of affairs exists not only in New South Wales. Similar statements have emanated from the Liberalcontrolled States. The report of Mr. Landa’s statement continues - “ The shortage has been with us for 20 years now and the number of people seeking the help of the Housing Committee is growing - not diminishing,” he said.
Estimated shortage of homes is about 60,000.
Then the report goes on to list where the shortage exists. According to the estimates in New South Wales, 42,000 sub-standard houses in that State need to be replaced immediately. They are in the County of Cumberland, or roughly in the metropolitan area. The report of the New South Wales Housing Commission contains this passage -
On the basis of figures set out in the Commonwealth publication “ The Housing Situation “ (Department of National Development - December, 1956) and allowing for replacement of sub-standard dwellings in the County of Cumberland only, the present shortage of adequate housing in New South Wales would be approximately 80,000 dwellings.
The report then sets out a detailed break-up of the figures. Setting all statistics aside, everybody recognizes the fact that there is a housing problem. The Commonwealth’s banking instrumentalities have conceded the point. The 1961 report of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, which is the most recent report available, had this to say -
The Government’s economic measures in November aimed to create a moderate cut-back in building activity, but the impact on housing was more severe than had been anticipated.
Then the report sets out certain figures, the effect of which is that in the first half of 1960-61 there was a fall of 10,500 in house commencements. The number of houses and flats commenced dropped from 49,500 in the first half of 1960-61 to 39,000 in the second half.
What do supporters of the Government stand for in regard to housing? What is their idea of a decent housing policy? Do they agree with government-assisted housing schemes, or do they not? Why have they mutilated that great, humane concept of the Australian Labour Party - the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement of 1945, which incorporated the rebate principle? That principle was discontinued in 1956. It made accommodation available to low-income earners. Does any one contend that the low-income earner can now get the necessary money for housing at n rate which is compatible with this capacity to repay? The Labour Party decided that nobody should be required to pay more than one-fifth of his income to provide housing. The result of the original scheme was that many families paid no more than 8s. a week. The first rule set by Labour «as that everybody should have a good house. Under the rebate scheme, the Labour Government of the day met three-fifths of the rebate and the States were called upon to meet only two-fifths. To-day, regardless of the lack of concern displayed by this Government for the low-income earner, several States still battle on and carry the rebate scheme without Commonwealth assistance. In New South Wales the cost of doing so i< approximately £2,000,000 a year.
In 1956 a royal commission was appointed to inquire into housing in Victoria. The terms of reference included this passage -
Whether on present-day costs the economic rental, fixed in accordance with the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, constitutes more than a reasonable proportion of incomes of tenants or applicants for Housing Commission homes or flats.
The commission found, in part -
The answer to this question is dearly in the affirmative. There are some classes of persons who cannot afford Housing Commission economic rents of £3 to £4 a week. Obviously this class would include age and invalid pensioners, unemployed persons-
And Heaven knows there are enough of them at the present time - widows on pensions and those on private income with just sufficient private means to prevent them getting a pension.
The commission considered evidence to the effect that people in these categories would need to expend £3 0s. 3d. per week on essential items other than rent. Heaven knows that is low enough! The commission concluded that 8s. 6d. was as much as many single persons could pay for rent and that £1 2s. was the maximum that some married couples could be required to pay. None of the commission’s findings is incorporated in the present Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The Government has abandoned all that. It has mutilated the humane approach to housing that was initiated by the Australian Labour Party away back in 1945. We on this side of the House are in no doubt at all about our regard for the low-income earners. We say in our official policy -
We consider that a dwelling of good standard and equipment is not only the need but the right of every citizen. Whether the dwelling is to be rented or purchased no purchaser should be exploited by excessive profit.
We stand for . government-sponsored rental housing projects. We believe that the Government should provide the money required. We stand for a rental rebate system, under which rents would not exceed one-fifth of the family income, and especially we stand for low interest rates. There is a clear-cut announcement that we are prepared to account for anywhere. We would like to know from honorable members opposite what is the Government’s housing policy.
I want to make some reference to the nature of the housing problem. Only a few days ago I was given some information on this problem as it affects new Australians. We have always contended that it is a good thing to bring people to Australia from war-torn countries so that they can take their place in this land of opportunity. It was we of the Labour Party who initiated the immigration scheme, but wc had in mind some incompatability of immigration, employment and housing. We had no idea of importing mass unemployment. We did not contemplate bringing people here to live in slum conditions. We would like to see an acceleration of the housing programme. We say that the Government should not carry on the present intake of immigrants while we have mass unemployment. I make a passing reference only to the fact that, according to the latest figures issued by the Government, there are about 110,000 registered unemployed in Australia, but, of course, a great many more people are unemployed. We say that the Government should not be bringing people to Australia while slum housing conditions prevail.
Let me give the House seme evidence about slum housing. This evidence is not of my own creation but was provided by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) only a few days ago. I asked him how many immigrants were domiciled in hostels throughout Australia. The statistics supplied by the Minister show that in New South Wales there are 12,626 migrants, including families, living in miserable shanties. In the Australian Capital Territory, where the Government has full responsibility for housing, there are 352 migrants living in shanties of the type that they left behind in Belsen and other miserable places in Europe. In Victoria there are 6,229; in Queensland, 230; in South Australia, 2,783; and in Western Australia, 475.
– That is correct.
– The honorable member should not be smug and think of making miserable political advantage out of the fact that the figures for Western Australia are down. That is no compliment to supporters of the Government. Rather than feel smug about that figure, the honorable member and his colleagues should have a real feeling of concern for the 22,695 new Australians who have been forced to live in these slum conditions throughout Australia. That is some evidence of the problem, for which this Government is responsible. We hope that the people of Australia will remember the promise that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in 1949 and will contrast it with what has been achieved - with the shocking mess that prevails on the eve of the elections in 1961.
We know the position of ex-servicemen sixteen years after the end of the Second World War. Some 16,000 of them are still waiting for war service homes. They have to wait for twenty months after submitting an application before a loan is made. That is so even in the case of houses already built. This is a problem that could be resolved. Why do they have to wait so long? Why cannot this backlag be overtaken? This is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. It could require the Commonwealth Bank to underwrite the money that is needed but, instead, the Government forces the ex-servicemen to pay high rates of interest. This was forced on hundreds of them, as was shown in a survey made in June, 1960. Seventy persons had to pay interest not exceeding 5i per cent.; 246 paid interest exceeding 5i per cent, but not exceeding 7 per cent.; 96 paid interest exceeding 7 per cent, but not exceeding 8 per cent.; 47 paid interest exceeding 8 per cent, but not exceeding 9 per cent.; 109 paid interest exceeding 9 per cent, but not exceeding 10 per cent. In one month alone 109 ex-servicemen who fought for this country had to pay those interest rates. Four of them paid at a rate higher than 10 per cent.
They had to go to the insurance companies and the banks and to private individuals, begging and cadging wherever they could get the money, because of the Government’s failure to take action on a matter that could so easily be corrected. Would any Minister dare to rise and say that this is a problem that he is incapable of handling? Would the Government admit that it has struck a snag and that, as a result, eligible ex-servicemen and women, and war widows, have to wait twenty months for a loan from the War Service Homes Division after their eligibility has been established? Are supporters of the Government prepared to say that? Are they prepared to admit that they are lazy, inept, washed-up and incapable of dealing with problems of great importance to hundreds of thousands of Australians?
We put this to the Government: One of the basic problems is that it has failed to regulate the economy. It has allowed interest rates to run riot. It is no longer comparatively profitable for a businessman to put his money into housing, when he can put it into debentures and shares paying 10, 12 or 15 per cent, interest. The Government has allowed this to happen, and investment in housing development has ceased to be attractive. When firms pay 12 to 15 per cent, interest on money invested with them, that is passed on to the consumers. It is inflationary. The Government saw that this was undesirable so, for that and other reasons, it introduced a credit squeeze. But the Government was so lazy that it failed to be discriminatory. It dropped a wet blanket overnight on the Australian economy. Its attitude was to discourage spending, but it needed to encourage spending on housing. It should have been discriminatory and should have said that money would not be available for luxury things but would be available for housing.
This is where the Government has fallen down so badly. The people have only a certain capacity to pay. They can only afford so much. The rates of interest that the Government has forced them to pay are well beyond their capacity. I represent an area on the outskirts of Sydney, and in such places we see people living in shacks, shanties, garages and caravan parks. We see them living with their inlaws and with outlaws who ruthlessly exploit them. This is the state of the nation for the young married people, for the aged, for the immigrants and for families who live with relatives and sleep on closed-in verandahs. We are dealing not with figures and statistics, but with human beings. This is what the Government has to face up to. It is time the Government overcame these problems.
I was going to make a substantial reference to building societies, but I will not have time to do so. Building societies are not receiving the encouragement they should receive from private investors, banks and insurance companies. I noticed in the report of the New South Wales building society movement for the year ended June, 1960, that of £97,900,000 advanced by twelve banking establishments, £74,000,000 came from the Commonwealth Trading Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank. Of 904 societies financed by banks 610 were financed by the Commonwealth Bank. Action should be taken, of course, to require the banks, which are simply custodians of the people’s money, to make a fair contribution to housing. This could be done under the Commonwealth Banking Act. The banks could be made also to contribute to any other national purpose which is in the interests of the people. The Government’s failure to take such action indicts it fairly and squarely and shows its inability to deal with problems of great national concern.
Let us consider the flow of funds to the building societies. In 1951 the flow amounted to £12,000,000. It decreased to £8,700,000 in 1952, and dropped as low as £6,600,000 in 1956. Since then the flow has been moving up steadily and in 1960 it was £13,500,000. It is a crazy pattern. The Government has no guiding star and obviously is unaware of where it is going. So much for the building societies. Their success, to some considerable degree unfortunately, has been at the expense of the State instrumentalities - housing commissions which provide houses for people on low incomes.
Who are these people? We are able to ascertain that in New South Wales - surely it is typical of the other States - 19 per cent, of those who applied for housing commissing loans last year had an income under £12 a week; 2.7 per cent, had an income of £12 to £15 a week; 31.9 per cent, an income of £15 to £18 a week; 22.4 per cent, an income of £18 to £20 a week; 12.7 per cent, an income of. £20 to £25 a week; and only 11.3 per cent, had an income exceeding £25 a week. Those are the people for whom the housing commissions are catering. They are people who are unable to raise the deposits necessary to attract loans from a building society or other lending instrumentalities. Yet this Government has chosen to make heavy inroads into the funds available to these commissions. After all it is this Government which is responsible for the low incomes of these people. Having caused pauperism it is not prepared to look after those affected by it.
In New South Wales 13,418 new applications were received for homes last year, an increase of 2,495 over the previous year’s figure, making a total of 24,341 applications in all. The New South Wales Housing Commission’s report had this to say -
There can be no doubt therefore as to the magnitude of the real and continuing demand upon the commission, which having regard to the rate of intake and the commission’s inability to increase substantially its building programme, it is impossible to reduce effectively.
In other words the commission has been pleading for more funds. I went through to-night the reports of the State housing instrumentalities and I found that the sort of feeling that prevails in New South Wales is typical of that which prevails around Australia in Labour-held and Liberal-held States alike. The New South Wales report goes on to say that the commission’s programme has not favoured city against country, and that to date 17,875 homes have been constructed outside of the Sydney metropolitan area. There has been no disparity in that regard.
The report also makes a plea for a rental rebate scheme. It reads -
The rental rebate scheme is of great value in meeting the problem of providing low income families with accommodation they can afford. It is the earnest hope of the commission that a similar scheme will be provided in any future agreements.
Why did the Government disregard the plea in the face of all the evidence that has been given in so many debates in which the Government has never been prepared, any more than it is prepared to-night, to stand up and refute points such as I and other speakers have made on this side of the House. If we have a case the Government should concede it to us, but if we have not a case it is the Government’s responsibility to deny what we say. It is not proper or responsible for the Government to ignore a prima facie or conclusive case, which I contend the case of the Opposition is on this occasion and has been on so many occasions when the subject of housing has been debated.
The same conditions prevail in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. Had I the time, or if the House wishes to give me the time by way of an extension, I would be happy to prove that. Why, in slum clearance alone the Victorian report shows that there are a thousand acres of slum housing to be acquired and cleared at a cost of £50,000 per acre. The total cost of this slum clearance is £50,000,000, none of which is provided for in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I put it to the Government that its scale of values has been blown sky high. There should be a priority for housing. The Government should find other ways of obtaining the money. It has to make sure that the public sector of the economy is expanded sufficiently to meet the needs and the welfare of the people because that is what governments are for. The Government must expand its economy and ensure that in the future it can participate in lucrative and profit-making development projects. It should establish more authorities such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. It should move into profitable fields, into insurance, and into other things, if you like, instead of selling out our mineral deposits to Japanese and other overseas interests. It should start making a quid for the people of Australia by directing money into things which concern the welfare of Australian families, especially the alleviation of the great housing problem which has been ignored for such a long time, and to such a large extent by those who sit opposite.
.- This afternoon Mr. Speaker ruled that the word “ hypocritical “ was not to be used, so I certainly will not consider using it in referring to the remarks of the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). His speech is quite understandable on the eve of an election. No doubt the electors of Hughes were thrilled by the throbbing voice that came across the air to tell them about the great struggle of the people.
When the honorable member commenced his speech he talked about what Labour had done and what Labour would do. Let us therefore cast our minds back to the period when Labour was in office and was able to do something about our national problems. As one who was married at that time, my recollection is of the great scarcity of goods. I remember, too, Mr. Dedman’s speech about home ownership and little capitalists. Since then we have heard the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) referring to his proposed capital gains tax, which in effect would mean that if you owned a block of land or a house, and there was an increase in the value of that asset, that increase would revert to the State.
There seems to be a certain amount of confusion on the Opposition side. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during his speech on the Budget, said that we had experienced no boom at all, and that any suggestion of a boom was merely a myth. But to-night the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), speaking of speculative building said, “ Surely you are not going to tell me there was a boom in housing in November, 1960”? Frankly, I was amazed to hear that, and I was very cheered indeed to hear the honorable member for Hughes tell us that there had been a boom, that there had been inflation, although in his opinion, the Government’s corrective action was not correct. It would be much easier for honorable members on this side of the House if the Opposition could get together and arrive at a uniform policy. We would then know which policy to reply to.
I shall not reply at length to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s claim that speculative building was having no effect on home building during the period prior to November, 1960, but I did have a look at the “ Herald “ of 7th November, 1960, and it was obvious to me that the honorable member had never heard of Hookers and that he had never heard the speeches made by members of his own party about the Hooker organization. The Melbourne “ Herald “ of 7th October lists Mutual Homes, L. J. Hooker, Gem Homes, Payne’s Properties, Stanhill Homes, Southern Cross Development, Parkmore Homes, Lend Lease, Olympia Homes, Davis Homes Proprietary Limited, Contemporary Homes Proprietary Limited, Sloane Homes Proprietary Limited and the Victorian Realty Service. They all advertise: “Why pay rent? Obtain a home on £325 deposit, or £175 deposit for an ex-serviceman.” The Deputy Leader of the Opposition told us that the speculative builders had very little, if any, effect on home-building prior to November, 1960. It has been said, I presume by honorable members opposite, that he was an eminent barrister, but when one hears him making such statements one wonders whether the Labour Party will treat the people, as it did in Victoria, as complete fools. I assure him that they are not.
The honorable member for Hughes referred so passionately to the young people who cannot get homes and who cannot buy this or that. The boom in housing prior to November, 1960, was such that land and houses were priced beyond the reach of every one except a very few people in the community. It has been proved that the Government’s action has brought these things back to earth and people now can afford them. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Osborne) put the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on the right track, and the honorable member left the chamber with a little more information than he had before he entered. The Minister corrected the honorable member’s statement in relation to the way in which State housing authorities operate. People complete an application form for a housing commission home and then leave the office. While waiting for a home to be allocated a considerable number obtain alternate accommodation and do not bother to so inform the commission. When their turn comes for a housing commission home they then inform the commission that they have already obtained another home. I am not saying that applies in every case, but it does to a certain number of people on the housing commission list.
– It applies to 40 per cent. of them.
– The honorable member for Lilley has said that applies to 40 per cent. I would have said 30 per cent., and would have been happy with 20 per cent.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also made play of the fact that housing commission homes are only for people in necessitous circumstances. Admittedly that is supposed to be the case under the agreement, but if one were tolook at some of the housing commission files one would find that under the points system the position is different from that. What the householder or the
No. 1 man in the family earns seems to be the yardstick by which eligibility for a home is measured. In some cases, certainly not in all cases, a man, his wife and perhaps two sons are working and bringing in a reasonable income to that house. I do not think such families can be regarded as being in necessitous circumstances. I am sure that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) who is waving to me is indicating his agreement on that point.
The Government has given financial assistance to the States for housing over and above the provisions of the agreement. The speeches which have been made by honorable members opposite have been largely party political. In a very clear and precise speech the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) made the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) aware of the facts. They now will be able to state the correct position to their electorates. As honorable gentlemen opposite know, this is merely a machinery bill. The housing agreement came into operation some time ago. They know that nothing can be done at this stage to alter the agreement, and I am sure that if an election were not approaching they would not have bothered even to speak to the bill. I support it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I rise to register a most emphatic protest against the Government’s action in refusing social service and unemployment benefits
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 24
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What was the value of imports into Australia in each of the years 1955-56, 1957-58, 1958-59 and 1959-60 which were essential to the maintenance of our primary and secondary industries?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question the Commonwealth Statistician has informed me as follows: -
Trade statistics are not classified in any way which differentiates between those items which are essential to the maintenance of primary and secondary industry and those which are not. However, the following table in which imports are classified according to broad economic classes may be of some assistance. Should the honorable member require further information on any specific item or group of items he might direct his request to the Commonwealth Statistician who will be pleased to supply the information requested’.
e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What amount was paid overseas for freights and insurance in each of the years 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-61?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Commonwealth Statistician has informed me that the total amount payable in respect of freight and insurance on imports (whether payable overseas or in Australia), was as follows: - 1956-57, £108,000,000; 1957-58, £119,000,000; 1958-59, £115,000,000; 1959-60, £127,000,000; 1960-61, £151,000,000.
e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What was the value of imports in the year 1960-61 of each of the following items: - Tinned ham, tinned chicken, tinned pork, tinned fruit, fresh fruit, tinned vegetables, tinned oysters, cheese, breakfast cereals, tomato sauce, ketchup, pickles and honey?
– In answer to the honorable member’s question the Commonwealth Statistician has informed me as follows: -
Imports of the following items into Australia during the year 1960-61 were as follows: -
Separate information on the imports of tinned pork, tinned fruit, tinned oysters, tomato sauce, ketchup and honey was not recorded during 1960-61. Imports of tinned chicken have only been recorded separately since 1st December, 1960, and total imports for the seven months ended June, 1961, were valued at £242,952. Although separate information was not recorded on imports of tinned ham during 1960-61, a special survey during the nine months ended March, 1961, revealed that total imports during that period were valued at £316,129.
s asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions the Commonwealth Statistician has provided the following information: -
e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What was the value of exports to each of the following countries during the year 1960-61: Mainland China, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Yugoslavia?
– In answer to the honorable member’s question the Commonwealth Statistician has informed me as follows: -
The value of Australian exports to the following countries during the year 1960-61 is as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition, exports of refined ingots or bar gold to United Kingdom totalled 2,016,569 fine oz. valued at £31,514,307. (Source: Commonwealth Statistician.)
Exports to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are not recorded separately but are included in trade with Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
There were no exports of gold to these countries during 1960-61. (Source: Commonwealth Statistician.)
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19611012_reps_23_hor33/>.