House of Representatives
22 February 1962

24th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. Has the conference at present being held in Sydney between meat exporters and representatives of the Australian Meat Board been called because of a reduction in the price of Australian meat in the United States market? What is the extent of that reduction in prices? What is the reduction expressed as a percentage of the price previously ruling? Can the Minister say what effect the price reduction will have on the Australian meat export industry?

Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– Any such meeting that is now proceeding is not one that has been originated by the Department of Trade. However, I will undertake to procure the information for the honorable member and give it to him on the earliest possible occasion.

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– I desire to ask the Minister for Repatriation a question about personnel of non-military organizations who provide services for Australian armed forces overseas. Do repatriation benefits extend to representatives of philanthropic organizations who serve overseas with the Australian armed forces?

Minister for Repatriation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– I am pleased that the honorable member for Robertson has raised this question, because it provides an opportunity to clarify a matter about which there is some considerable misunderstanding. It is a fact that members of philanthropic organizations, including the Salvation Army, who serve with the armed forces on war service overseas are entitled to certain repatriation benefits. They are not entitled to service pensions or to the benefits associated with the payment of pensions for pulmonary tuberculosis not due to war service. However, with the exception of certain benefits for war widows, they are entitled to the main benefits of the Repatriation Act, which include war pensions, medical treatment, sustenance payments under certain conditions, education allowance for children and so on. In addition, certain benefits are payable to the widows and children of those whose deaths have been due to war-caused disabilities. Of course, it is understood that war pensions are paid only if the disabilities have been war caused in the first instance. The determining authority in cases of this nature is the Repatriation Commission.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received an application from the Western Australian Government for an amount of money to finance the construction of a land-backed harbour and wharf at the port of Esperance in Western Australia. If such an application has been received, will he say what amount was sought and whether the request has been granted?

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– With the consent of the honorable member I will treat that question as if it were on the notice-paper, because it needs a somewhat precise reply, which I will get.

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– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Following the recent announcement by the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations that a 2,000,000,000 United States dollar bond issue would be made to alleviate the crucial financial position of the United Nations, and the announcement by the Minister that Australia would take up 4,000,000 dollars worth of the bonds, can he say how much support has been forthcoming from other nations and whether the Communist bloc is showing any responsibility in keeping the United Nations afloat financially?


– The honorable member’s reference to 2,000,000,000 dollars is a little inflationary. The amount is only 200,000,000 dollars, but that is serious enough. The Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations did obtain authority from the General Assembly to have a bond issue of 200,000,000 dollars and appealed to the nations to make contributions to it. We decided to make a contribution of 4,000,000 dollars. I may say that that was in excess of the amount that would have resulted from applying the ordinary ratio of contributions to the sum of 200,000,000 dollars; it was slightly in excess of what was in one sense our quota.

The House will realize that we did this ?s an expression of our view that the United Nations is of great importance, particularly to this country, and that we propose to continue to support its activities. I may say that that does not mean that we think the United Nations is a panacea for every ill, and it does not mean that we have not been disappointed at times in the efforts of the United Nations.

The honorable member’s question is really directed to whether the Soviet bloc has made any contribution or announced any intention so to do. The answer to that is, “ No “. lt is worth remembering that part of the reason for the need for this issue of bonds to save the solvency of the United Nations is the refusal of a number of countries, notably the Soviet bloc, to pay any contribution towards certain of the activities of the United Nations. The House may be interested to know that the question as to whether the Soviet bloc and certain other countries are bound to make very substantial contributions has been referred to the International Court of Justice for decision because of a point taken upon the articles of the Charter. Australia has lodged a document presenting a very substantial argument in favour of the proposition that the Soviet bloc and others are bound, and we are considering whether we should also make an oral contribution.

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– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Will he inform the House what progress has been made with the provision of television in central Queensland? Can he give any information concerning the approximate date on which television will be available in that area?

Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I announced last year the approximate dates on which television would be available in the various centres that are included in phase three, which is now proceeding. I also gave a rather sketchy outline of the dates for phase four, as it is not possible to determine those dates with any accuracy. The honorable member will know that approval has been given for a national station at Mount Hopeful in the Rockhampton area, and work has started. Approval has been given also for a commercial station, for which a company has been formed. There have been certain delays in the development of that company, for various reasons which it has been discussing with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I believe that as a result of recent discussions the matters which were causing delay have been resolved and that the company will be able to proceed with the establishment of a station. Already, the road to the chosen site for the national station is trafficable and work is proceeding on the preparation of plans for the necessary buildings, transmitters and so on. I hope that the commercial station will be in operation towards the end of the year, but, of course, I am not in a position to give a firm undertaking, because that is a commercial venture. The national service will be provided later.

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– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade a question. Can he say whether the French plan for the creation of a world stabilization scheme for wheat, which would have the effect of making abundant supplies of wheat available to the under-developed and over-populated countries of Asia and Africa at give-away prices, has met with any support from Church leaders and others who are interested in promoting the welfare of humanity as distinct from the welfare of particular groups or sections?


– I think it can be said that insofar as what is known as the French proposal is understood, there has been quite widespread support for the concept that this proposal may make wheat available on concessional terms to hungry people. The point is that the European Common Market proposal would normally involve the fixing of a price for wheat, among other commodities, to apply to producers inside the Common Market area. Commodities such as wheat that may be permitted to enter that area would not land, after the payment of duty, at-, a price lower than that fixed for the internal producers. This raises two great problems. One is whether countries which depend on the export of wheat - other commodities are in a similar position and would later be examined - are to have an opportunity to sell at all in a European market where an incentive price might make the area of that market entirely self-sufficient, or whether countries like Australia, being permitted to sell, would receive from countries in the Common Market, which may include the United Kingdom in due course, a much lower price for wheat than that which the United Kingdom paid to suppliers of wheat from the Continent. This circumstance obviously would not be very acceptable to Australia. The French, in what I believe is a wise approach to this matter, have proposed that a small group of countries should in the first place consider the question of grains in the broad, and whether, for instance, instead of having a European Common Market price for wheat, there should be a world price for those who are able to buy on commercial terms. A world price might well be an incentive price that would generate an even greater surplus of wheat, so that perhaps consideration of a world price would1 involve consideration at the same time of the question whether there should be some world control of the volume of production, as well as consideration of what would be done with the surplus. Consideration is now being given to whether the surplus of wheat generated by incentive world prices should be made available to the hungry people in the world. This is obviously a very worthy humanitarian proposal, and its adoption would clearly have advantages for the Western world, which is rich in food as compared with the Communist countries which, over all, are deficient in food. Australia is giving its interested attention to this proposal.

The last thing that we want is a situation in which we are restricted to trading arrangements which result in progressively smaller residual markets in which the larger producing countries of the world are compelled to dump their products and so produce artificially low prices. Such an arrangement would not be in our interests, nor would it be equitable, but we believe that a fair solution of the problem can be worked out.

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– I preface a question addressed to the Treasurer by stating that, during the recent election campaign, the honorable member for Mackellar sent a number of election propaganda telegrams to further his candidature. These telegrams cost approximately £750. I ask the Treasurer whether he is in a position to say whether the cost of these telegrams was met by the honorable member or by the Government. If the cost was met by the honorable member, would this not represent a contravention of section 143 of Part 16 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which limits election spending by a candidate to £250? If this is so, would it not mean that, because of his misconduct, the honorable member has been improperly elected and therefore should be disqualified, and that a new election should be held to fill the vacancy?


– I think this is a matter which the honorable member might usefully take up with the honorable member for Mackellar personally. 1 have no knowledge of the financial arrangements beyond what appeared in the press at the time. I gathered from the press article that the honorable member for Mackellar took what I think was a very commendable step in the circumstances, that of financing out of his own pocket an expenditure which seemed excessive to his critics.

Whether the legal chain of action envisaged by the honorable member has been set in train is not for me to say. I would only express the view that the honorable member for Mackellar was fairly elected by the democratic judgment of his electorate, and that any decision which deprived this Parliament of his services would not be in the best interests of the Australian people.

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– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs relating to recent comment on the question of the representation of mainland China in the United Nations. What was Australia’s attitude to this question when it came before the last meeting of the United Nations General Assembly?


– The honorable member’s question seeks information about what Australia’s representative did at the last meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The proposal before the Assembly on that occasion was that the question of the representation of mainland China was an important question within the meaning of the charter and, therefore, one calling for two-thirds majority. The point at issue was whether it was merely a question of credentials or whether it was a matter of substance.

Honorable members will know that the Republic of China is one of the permanent members of the Security Council and certain views were prone to be expressed. However, the only question in order to seat mainland China was the question of who had the right to be an accredited representative for China. The General Assembly - quite overwhelmingly when you look at the figures - endorsed the proposition that this was an important question and not a mere matter of credentials. Therefore, there would need to be a motion in substance to seat mainland China and this motion would have needed to be supported by a twothirds majority of the Assembly.

Our representative pointed out that the Republic of China - Formosa - had indeed been a responsible member of the United Nations whereas mainland China had exhibited none of the characteristics that one would expect of a responsible member of the United Nations. We have often recited in this House the various activities to which mainland China has been party - Tibet, and China’s general intention to subvert, as well as it could, South-East Asia to communism.

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– My question to the Minister for External Affairs relates to heads of Australian missions overseas. Is it a fact that for some considerable time there have been no heads of Australian missions at Colombo, Rangoon, Kuala Lumpur, Saigon and Tokyo? If this is so, what is the reason for the weakening of Australian representation in these important centres? When will replacements be made?


– The honorable gentleman is not very accurate in his assertion. Neither the post at Tokyo nor the post at Kuala Lumpur has been vacant for any time. In conformity with the standing practice, we take ambassadors from posts for a short period during the United Nations General Assembly sittings and ask them to attend as part of the Australian delegation. This was the case with the Ambassador in Tokyo and the High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur. Four posts have been vacant for a short period - Colombo, Rangoon, Pnom Penh and one other which escapes my mind at the moment. This has been due to the need to give leave from time to time, particularly to officers who are in tropical posts, but those posts mentioned have been in the hands of charges - experienced men - and there has been no lack of Australian representation in any of them.

At present I am engaged in the somewhat difficult task of moving ambassadors and filling posts. Honorable members will realize that Australia is maintaining a great number of posts. We are a young country and my department is performing a magnificent service, but the task of finding time for our representatives to have leave and of moving them from post to post, as well as filling occasional vacancies due to death, is a matter of some moment.

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– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by directing his attention to a statement which he made recently that national confidence is the one main ingredient necessary to give early effect to the economic measures now being taken. I direct his attention also to certain actions of the Melbourne “ Herald “, the Melbourne “Sun”, the Brisbane “Courier-Mail”, the Brisbane “ Telegraph “ and the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ in an endeavour to stimulate a return of confidence to the nation. I now ask him whether this voluntary contribution by this valuable section of the press shows not only a deep sense of responsibility but also a readiness to offset the contrary effect which has bern engendered by the Opposition.


– The honorable member is, of course, quite right when - he refers to the statements 1 have made on the subject of confidence - confidence coming in behind and supporting the various measures which have been announced. I had no knowledge, in advance, of the advertisements in these newspapers, but when I saw them I formed the opinion at once that they were an extraordinarily valuable contribution to the general public morale. I think their publication from time to time showed public spirit and great imagination and should turn out to be an extraordinarily useful thing.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that the Randwick Municipal Council of New South Wales is now developing for home building 57 acres of the Long Bay Rifle Range which it purchased from the Department of the Army recently? Is it a fact that the Long Bay Rifle Range still retains some 406 acres which is sufficient land for the provision of over 2,000 homes? In view of the fact that the Prime Minister recently pointed out that we must embark on greater home-building schemes to revitalize the building industry, can the Minister tell the House when the Department of the Army intends to vacate this large area of land and make it available for home building?

Minister for the Army · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The honorable member will know that 1 am to receive a deputation from the Randwick Municipal Council to be introduced by him in relation to this matter. He will also know that over the years I have explained to him the difficulties in relation to this area. I do not want to kill the representations made by the Randwick Council, but we have released all the land that it has been possible to release for residential purposes in that important area. The policy of the Department of the Army and of the Government is that land that is not needed for a particular purpose is not to be held. I do not think there is any more important Commonwealth purpose than that of defence, and therefore this land is not being held unreasonably. It is being held only because it is necessary for the purposes of the defence of this country. 1 will discuss further details with the honorable member when 1 receive the deputation.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services in his capacity as representative in this House of the Minister for National Development- on matters regarding the War Service Homes Act. By way of explanation, I point out that it has been stated in the Mallee electorate - and I believe elsewhere - that the increase of £750 to £3,500 in the maximum loan for war service homes will not. greatly benefit ex-service men and women wishing to finance the building of a home, owing to the long delay before the money is actually available. I therefore ask: Is there any delay in the provision of war service homes finance for approved applicants for home building as distinct from the purchase of existing houses?

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

– I have cause to be grateful to the honorable member for Mallee for his great personal enthusiasm on the general question of war service homes. It is my pleasure to inform him that there is no delay in the case of successful applicants for loans under the War Service Homes Act in the purchase of new homes and in the construction of homes. It is just a question of the application being considered’ and. approved. Applicants can then get the maximum loan available to them for their particular project without any delay whatsoever.

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– In directing a question to the Prime Minister I refer to visits to Australia by British service chiefs, visits which are said to be for the purpose of discussing the establishment of a supreme command in the Far East. Will the right honorable gentleman assure the House that the Government will not commit the control, the command or the disposition of the Australian forces to any other than Australian hands or those of the United Nations?


– I am not sure that I caught the first part of the honorable member’s question, but if he is referring to various suggestions that have been floating around for a unified command in or around

South-East AsiaI inform him that the Government through myself and, I have no doubt, through the Minister for Defence, has had certain discussions on this matter. The honorable member need have no fear that there is any proposal to abandon what has been a long established principle - that Australian forces, wherever they may be, remain within the overall control of the Government of Australia. What happens in the event of some operation is, of course, a different matter; but no suggestion has been made to us that there should be a unified command of a kind which would exclude the normal line of communication between the Government of Australia and whatever Australian forces might be involved.

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Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister tell me whether he is at present having discussions with leaders of the dairy industry regarding the introduction of a new five-year stabilization plan for that industry after the end of June this year? Are the leaders of the industry asking that dried milk processors be included in the new stabilization plan, since they were not included in the old stabilization plan? If they are making this request can the Minister give an assurance that it will be given the utmost consideration?

Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I have had discussions on behalf of the Government with the Australian Dairy Industry Council. Yesterday afternoon, I met representatives of the Australian Primary Producers Union, and this afternoon I am to have a further discussion with representatives of the Australian Dairy Industry Council. Whether manufacturers of processed milk are to be included in the stabilization scheme was discussed with me by the representatives of the Australian Dairy Industry Council. That matter is being considered, and will no doubt be discussed further this afternoon, and eventually will be considered by the Government.

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-I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice.

During the New South Wales general election campaign in 1959 the Prime Minister said that he would not underwrite the election promises of the then leader of the State Liberal Party. I ask him: Does he adopt the same attitude in regard to the leader of the State Liberal Party in the current election campaign?


– Order! The Prime Minister is not answerable to this House for anything connected with the Liberal Party in New South Wales, or any arrangements in regard to it. A question was disallowed yesterday on that ground.


– I defer to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but this matter involves the expenditure of Commonwealth money, which comes within the purview of this Parliament.


- Sir, I have nothing to say about the New South Wales election. I am still recovering from the effect of my own.

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– Can the Treasurer give the House an assurance that any possible detrimental effects of the Government’s recent economic measures on the rural section of the economy have been taken into account? In particular, can he give an assurance that the Government is actively considering methods by which rural industries can be compensated for the effects of creeping inflation if that state of affairs should return after having been so effectively exorcized by the Government’s measures of November, 1960?


– I appreciate the importance of the question raised by the honorable member for Barker. I assure him that the Government attaches the highest importance indeed to maintaining the competitive position of Australia’s great export industries, particularly those based on rural production. One of our main tasks - and a very difficult task in view of the developmental programmes going on around the Commonwealth - has been to maintain cost stability and wage stability in order that the competitive position of rural industries could be strengthened. The honorable gentleman has recognized that this was achieved after the introduction of earlier economic measures. Certainly, having striven to produce that result, we are not now embarking on a course which we believe would cost us the gains which we have made.

We believe that sufficient resources of man-power and industrial equipment are available for us safely to take the measures which we have so far announced. There have been exaggerated reports of the cost of these measures for a full year and of the effects that they are likely to have. In view of very favorable developments which have occurred in certain directions since the end of last year, we regard the measures that we have announced as being entirely manageable within a stable price and cost structure. lt is encouraging to note that the trade union movement apparently is so impressed with the likelihood that stability will continue despite the announcement of these measures, that it has not seen fit to press, at this time, for any increase in the basic wage. I assure the honorable member that we will be keeping a very close watch on the position. We meet the Premiers again in June and, of course, we have our own Budget decisions to make before Parliament meets for the Budget session - at least I hope we shall have our own Budget decisions to make. In making those decisions we shall have very much in mind the objective which we share with the honorable member for Barker.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the fact that many employers keep no records of applicants for employment and that unemployed people find difficulty in satisfying the Department of Social Services that they have been making sufficient endeavour to secure work, will the Minister direct his department to issue a card which an employer who had been approached for work would sign, and which would be accepted as evidence of an attempt to find employment?


– I would be pleased to consider the suggestion of the honorable member for Brisbane. Under the work test, up to this point, as far as I am in a position to judge, there has been no difficulty on the part of an applicant for unemployment benefit in satisfying the department that he or she has made appropriate efforts to secure remunerative employment.

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– Recently, the Treasurer announced further progress in the establishment of the new Australian mint in Canberra. Is decimal currency in any way related to this project? Has any firm decision yet been reached regarding the adoption of decimal currency in Australia?


– Some time ago, the Government decided in principle to agree to the establishment of a mint in Canberra. Since that time, a good deal of planning has been done and, to the best of my knowledge, some preliminary tendering has been organized. If we go forward with a decimal currency system, it will be necessary to have a new mint equipped suitably for the production of the type of coins which would be found necessary under such a system; but no final decisions have yet been taken on these matters by the Government. There has been no final or firm decision on the siting of a mint, the timetable of its construction, the installation of equipment and so on. I would hope that the Government could look at these matters at a reasonably early point of time as we would then be in a position to give further thought to any timetable which might be associated with a decimal currency system, although this, of course, is only one of a series of problems which arise in relation to that matter.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Now that it is proposed to permit the War Service Homes Division to make loans up to a maximum of £3,500, why does the Government still require or permit its other housing instrumentality, the Commonwealth Savings Bank, to make housing loans up to a maximum of only £2,500? Why is this bank still restricted to making smaller loans than any other financial or housing authority in Australia?


– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is not one for determination by this Government. The Commonwealth Savings Bank determines its own policies in this matter although, of course, we are represented in its deliberations by the Secretary to the Treasury or his deputy. I shall ascertain just what the position is in this matter. I know that several of the savings bank authorities - not only the Commonwealth Savings Bank but some of the State institutions as well - have been looking at this question of the maximum loan for housing purposes in recent times. I would myself expect some raising of the limit; but if I can get a more precise answer for the honorable gentleman 1 will do so.

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– I ask the Minister for the Army: In view of the statement he made in reply to a question by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith concerning rifle ranges and the continued need for defence, does the Minister recognize the value of rifle ranges as a training ground for young men in handling rifles? If so, will he do his utmost to preserve the Sale rifle range for the continued use of the rifle clubs of Gippsland?


– The question of the use of rifle ranges was settled about twelve to eighteen months ago, as honorable members will remember. There is a good ileal of co-operation between the Army and the rifle clubs in this matter. I will investigate the position regarding the Sale rifle range and ascertain what the conditions are concerning its use. I am not sure whether it is used exclusively by the rifle clubs or whether it is shared with the Army, but I will make inquiries and give the honorable member a considered reply.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the disastrous impact of the Government’s economic policy on primary industries, does the Treasurer propose to adopt the Australian Labour Party’s rural policy providing for the payment of £3 a ton on superphosphate and suitable rates on all other forms of artificial fertilizer?


– I am glad to be able to assure the House that the gloomy view taken by the honorable gentleman of the state of Australia’s rural industries is not shared by the spokesmen of those industries who recently conferred with the Government in Canberra. Far from condemning the Government’s economic policies, spokesmen for those industries commended us for the action taken and expressed appreciation of the stability which had been brought into the cost, prices and wage structure of Australia, a degree of stability which we, have not previously enjoyed for many years. The honorable gentleman, after disseminating propaganda preliminary to his question, referred to the subsidy on superphosphate. This being a matter of policy, it would not be appropriate to deal with it here. The Government considers matters of this kind from time to time, and announces its decisions at the appropriate times.

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Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Forrest · LP

– by leave - I desire to inform the House that as required by the Representation Act 1905-1938, the Chief Electoral Officer has ascertained the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth and the numbers of the people of the several States consequent upon the taking of the census last June. Copies of the Chief Electoral Officer’s certificate specifying the said numbers have been or are being tabled to-day in both Houses of the Parliament.

As prescribed by the Constitution and by section 9 of the Representation Act, the Chief Electoral Officer has determined the number of members of the House of Representatives to bc chosen for the several States. As a result of that determination the representation in four Stales will be varied as follows: -

Section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides as follows: -

  1. A redistribution of any State into Divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the Governor-General by proclamation.
  2. Such proclamation may be made -

    1. Whenever an alteration is made in the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be elected for the State; and
    2. whenever in one-fourth ofthe Divisions of the State the number of the electors differs from a quota ascertainedin the manner provided in this Part to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less; and
    3. at such other times as the GovernorGeneral thinks fit.

Accordingly, a redistribution should be made under the provisions of section 25 (2.) (a) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Due to the variation in the enrolments in a number of divisions in Victoria, that State also qualifies for a redistribution under the provisions of section 25 (2.) (b).

In South Australia the enrolment in three divisions is very much out of balance and a redistribution is desirable in that State also. In Tasmania the shift of electors has been less marked than elsewhere, but it appears that some adjustment of boundaries is necessary. The Chief Electoral Officer has recommended a redistribution in each of these States.

After consideration of all the factors, the Government has therefore decided that a redistribution should be effected in all States. The necessary proclamation to this effect has been made. The next step towards the new electoral boundaries is the appointment of Distribution Commissioners for each State in the terms of section 16 of the Electoral Act, and the Government has this under consideration.

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– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 17,I lay on the table my warrant nominating Mr. Brimblecombe, Mr. Drury, Mr. Failes, Mr. Falkinder, Mr. Haworth and Mr. Mackinnon to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from 20th February (vide page 37), on motion by Mr. Roberton -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– This is a bill of a kind on which ordinarily the Government might well be congratulated, even by its opponents, and I would be glad if I were in a position today to congratulate the Government upon this measure. The notorious facts, however, remove any cause whatever for congratulating the Government. The proposals in this bill, useful as they are, are known to be completely opposite to what the Government desires. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, two provisions in this bill were fought by the Government and by the members sitting behind it throughout the life of the preceding Parliament. These provisions have now been brought to the House only because of the pressure of outside public opinion and because of the verdict of the people at the recent election. The Government is not acting willingly; it is acting reluctantly.

Mr Fairbairn:

– One of the proposals was announced before the election.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– I know when it was announced. It was opposed in this House right up to the time of the dissolution of the Parliament, and it was only when the breath of public opinion was felt too strongly upon the neck of the Government that a last-minute decision was made and the proposal was included in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), leading the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) to rush hysterically from the hall, exclaiming, “ He has done it. Thank God, I am saved.” These facts are well known.

The other proposal was also fought by the Government on every occasion on which the Opposition advanced it, right throughout the life of the Parliament. It was not even included in the policy speech presented to the people by the Prime Minister in November.

Mr Freeth:

– That is wrong.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– The proposal in regard lo unemployment benefits was not included in the policy speech of the Prime Minister, so far as I am aware. 1 am sorry that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) shows so little knowledge of even the policy proposals of his own Government. The bill contains two very important provisions. In the first place, it reduces the residential qualification for the agc pension from twenty years’ continuous residence to ten years’ continuous residence, the meaning of “ continuous “ being governed by the application of a formula. it reduces the period of residential qualification for invalid pension, for those who incurred their disabilities outside Australia while not merely temporarily absent from this country, similarly from twenty years to ten years. Secondly, it increases the rate of unemployment and sickness benefits in a particular manner for which the Opposition has long fought - namely, by including payment not only for the first child but for every child of the unemployed family. Those two important reforms 4will be welcomed by the people of Australia. But they will express no gratitude to the Government, because they will know that it has been solely by their own efforts at the ballot-box and by the persistent efforts of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament that these two reforms have finally been wrung from a reluctant Government.

Because these provisions are of extreme importance, the Opposition will certainly not delay the passage of the bill. The announced intention is that the new rates of unemployment and sickness benefits shall apply from 1st March. We shall not only facilitate the passage of the measure so that the payment of the increased rates can begin at the earliest moment; we shall also place before the Parliament proposals to improve the rates that can be paid as from 1st March. The Opposition proposes to divide the House on the second reading of the bill on the simple issue as to whether any man or woman in this country, either jobless or ill, should be required to exist on less than the minimum amount payable to an age or invalid pensioner. In putting that proposal to the House, we will be simply putting something that is part of the established policy of the Australian

Labour Party. . We are not without hope’ that it will be adopted by the Government, because recent weeks have shown that the Government takes all its policy from the Australian Labour Party and will no doubt take even this proposal in due course if sufficient pressure is applied to it.

There will, therefore, be a test vote on this simple proposition. If it is agreed to, the Government will be under further instruction from this House to produce to-day the amended measure giving effect to this improvement in the rate of unemployment and sickness benefits. Thus there need be no delay in the passage of the measure or the implementation of the benefits contained in it.

The Government can then choose to obey the instruction of the House and bring down the amended measure at a later hour today or it can do what any self-respecting government would do in its place and that is resign. This would make way for a government that would truly reflect the wishes of the Austraiian people and which, in giving effect to policies, would be giving effect to its own policies and not to policies which it detests as the Government detests the two proposals contained in this bill. It is, of course, bringing down this bill only because it is compelled by the pressure of public opinion and the force-

Mr Barnes:

– Nonsense!

Mr Allan Fraser:

– The honorable member interjects, “ Nonsense.”

Mr Reynolds:

– He would not know.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– Because he does not know, I will simply remind him again that the proposal to reduce the residential qualification was put before the House by the Opposition in the concluding weeks of the last Parliament and we forced several divisions on it. Every member of the Government parties voted against it, including the honorable member who now calls “ Nonsense “ when I say that the Government is being forced to do reluctantly what it previously opposed. . ,

Mr Fox:

– That is completely untrue.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– The records of “ Hansard “ will show the divisions and will show how every honorable member voted.

Mr Fox:

– Your suggestion is completely untrue.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– Have I done the honorable member an injustice? I forgot. He crossed the floor and voted for the resolution to reduce the residential qualification. Is that so?

Mr Fox:

– No. There was no division.


– Order! The honorable member for Henty will remain silent.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– There were several divisions. It is a fundamental proposition in considering the present political situation that the Government has manifestly forfeited the respect of the country and has lost the last shred of its own selfrespect by its sudden craven willingness to do anything required of it, no matter how opposed to its own previous policies, so long as it is allowed to cling to office. This is shown manifestly in the bill now before the House. That is why we have seen the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in presenting this bill doing what the Prime Minister (Mr. Meazies) and all his ministerial colleagues have been doing since the election and that is humbly eating their own arrogant words which they uttered when they had a comfortable majority in the Parliament, hurriedly cloaking themselves in the policies and proposals of the Labour Party, which they formerly bitterly opposed, and forswearing those things for which they formerly stood.

No change of front is too cowardly for the members of this Government as long as they may hang on to their ministerial posts and privileges and avoid the arbitrament of the electors at another poll. So we have the agonized contortions in which the Government is engaging in this bill - a spectacle calculated to make the angels weep and the average Australian elector laugh in derision. We will see much more of this eating of words and humble attitude on the part of the Government in this debate. Of course, the distasteful political spectacle will continue until the honorable and right honorable gentlemen opposite are finally and inexorably dragged screaming from the tart shop. Honorable and right honorable? It could be said of this Government in other circumstances that all was lost except honour. What can truly be said of it to-day is that, its honour rooted in dishonour stands.

Mr Falkinder:

– What has this to do with the bill?

Mr Allan Fraser:

– The honorable member asks what this has to do with the bill. It is an exact description of the conduct of the Ministry in introducing the bill and of the speech delivered by the Minister for Social Services in moving the second reading of it. It is the frank and realistic recognition by the Opposition of this quite brutal position that has led us to the amendment which we will move later to-day. We recognize, as every Australian contemptuously recognizes to-day, that this spineless Government will do whatever it is forced to do - no more and no less.

I have said that the two proposals contained in this bill have in the past repeatedly been opposed by the present Government and by every one of its supporters, although, privately, to representatives of outside organizations and in the party room, many of those sitting behind the Government have expressed their approval of the proposal to reduce from twenty years to ten years the residential qualification for the pension. Although a number of members sitting on the Government side told representatives of outside organizations that they, privately and personally, would like to see this change made, it stands on record that every one of them, by his vote, attempted to prevent the enactment of this proposal in this Parliament and continued that attitude up to the time when the Twenty-third Parliament was dissolved.

Mr Freeth:

– When Labour was in office, it did not increase the pension for years. Was the honorable member always opposed to increasing the pension in those times?

Mr Allan Fraser:

– That is a most peculiar interjection. When Labour was in office, it not only increased the nominal rate of the pension, but, because we were able to maintain price stability in this country, the successive increases in the pension rate that we made gave the pensioners of this country a real increase in their standard of living. That has never happened in the history of the present Government. The present basic pension

Mr Freeth:

– There was a 10 per cent, increase in costs in the last year of the Labour Government’s term, but it gave no increase in pensions.


– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has the call.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– 1 said earlier, Mr. Speaker, that this Government will not do what it is not forced to do. The Minister for Social Services, in his secondreading speech, dealt with the actual provisions of the bill and went on, for a complete page of the roneoed copy of his speech, to give an exposition of the total social services policy of the Government and of the various improvements which he alleged it had made in the social services law during its term of office.

In support of my contention that the Government, even now, is doing only what it is forced to do, I remind the House that this Government still sees no need to adjust the rate of funeral benefit paid to pensioners in this country. The Government has taken away from the aged people of Australia the means of giving a decent burial to their dead. This is the most politically contemptible action, I believe, in the history of the federation. Despite the Government’s solemn pledge to the people that it would maintain thi value of social service payments, it has allowed this small benefit, which involves only a few hundred thousand pounds of revenue, to remain unaltered at £10, the rate at which it was fixed in 1943, even though costs have trebled and quadrupled in the meantime. This is an outstanding illustration of the fact that, in the social services field, this Government will never move unless the pressure of public opinion compels it to do so.

Mr E James Harrison:

– There is no pressure from the dead.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– There is no pressure from the dead, and the old people

Social Services Bill.

Mr Anthony:

– What has this to do with the bill?

Mr Allan Fraser:

– I can understand the honorable member making that interjection. He and his colleagues do not like to be reminded of these facts. As I pointed out, the Minister was at pains, in his second-reading speech, to deal comprehensively with the Government’s record in social services and to claim for it credit for various things which he alleged it had done. I am merely replying to the statements that he made. I point out that, in all its term of office, the Government has made no adjustment whatever in the maternity allowance. This is not because justice does not require an adjustment. Every one knows that costs have doubled and the value of money has been halved during the term of the present Government. lt has refused to act, merely because there has not been sufficient pressure of public opinion to make it feel that adjustment of the maternity allowance is imperative if it is to survive.

The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), by interjection, said a few moments ago that there is no pressure from the dead, meaning that the dead have no votes. The new-born infants in Australia, of course, have no votes. Migrants have a vote very soon after they come to this country. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) administers a policy under which provision is made - I do not mind in the least - for very heavy expenditure indeed to bring new Australians to this country. Yet this Government, by deliberate act, has cut by half the assistance to Australian couples in bringing into this country the best migrants we can get - Australian infants.

Finally, to its eternal discredit, the Government, throughout its years of office, has made no alteration whatever in the existing rates of child endowment. That, of


course, is its final treachery to Australian families. A measure of the sincerity of the Democratic Labour Party which insists that, of all parties, it is the particular protector and champion of families in Australia, is the fact that, for reasons which are considered by those who control the organization of the Democratic Labour Party to be good and sufficient, that party continues to support this Government and refuses any adjustment whatever in child endowment rates for the benefit of families. Despite the Government’s attitude, the Democratic Labour Party uses all its endeavours to keep out of office the Australian Labour Party, which is pledged to double child endowment rates merely to restore - not increase - the purchasing power that child endowment formerly had.

So the present Government remains in office, knowing that it has completely forfeited the support of the Australian people and that, if it had to stand on its own, it could not win more than twenty or thirty seats in this House. It remains here only by the combined support of the Democratic Labour Party and the Communist Party of Australia. Being so utterly dependent upon those two organizations whose basic philosophies both are alien to the healthy development of Australian sentiment, the present Government no longer has any soul, no longer has any conscience and no longer has any policy, but, from day to day, adopts expedients such as that represented by this bill.

I turn now for a moment to the Government’s proposals with respect to the unemployment benefit, as exemplified in this bill. The Government proposes to increase the rate of benefit for an adult and for a married minor from £3 15s. to £4 2s. 6d, a week - an increase of 7s. 6d. a week. The additional benefit for a dependent spouse or unpaid housekeeper will be increased from £2 12s. 6d. to £3 a week - an increase of 7s. 6d. a week. The additional benefit for the first child will be increased from 12s. 6d. to 15s. a week, and a new benefit of 15s. a week is to be paid in respect of the second child and subsequent children. The first thing to be said about these proposals is that, typical of this Government, it expects an adult who is unemployed or ill to exist for a whole week on an amount equivalent to the expenses for one day paid to a member of this Parliament when he is required to be away from his home and on duty in this city. The amount, of course, is obviously insufficient to meet anything like the present cost of living. Anyone who is receiving only £4 2s. 6d. a week, and who has no other means of support, obviously must go short of both food and clothing, particularly if he is required to pay rent, even though he has committed no fault and even though, because of the deliberate actions of this Government, and only because of them, he has been deprived of the employment for which he was trained, and in which he had been honestly and faithfully engaged up to the time when the credit squeeze wa9 introduced.

The responsibility for the whole of the unemployment in Australia to-day rests squarely on the shoulders of the Government, and it is therefore the immediate obligation of the Government to see that the man who is thrown into want and destitution by its reckless and foolish policies is given at least sufficient to keep body and soul together, and to keep him free from hunger and cold. Honorable members on the Government side have been vociferous enough in their interjections up to this stage, and they will all vote for this bill, but will any one of them stand up and say that he believes that £4 2s. 6d. a week is adequate payment in the circumstances? There is not one!

Mr Anthony:

– It seems to be sufficient for your party. You did not mention increases in your policy.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– I heard the honorable member’s interjection, but I am not sure whether he said he regarded the amount of £4 2s. 6d. a week as being adequate or inadequate. I would not like to do him an injustice, so I will give the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) another opportunity. I note his silence.

For the reasons I have mentioned, the Labour Party will propose to the House a simple amendment and will confine it to the one point. Our amendment seeks to provide that the minimum payment to an adult, or to a married minor, in the prevailing state of unemployment in Australia, or to someone who is afflicted by sickness which temporarily prevents him or her from working, shall be at least the amount of the age and invalid pension which the Government has so far maintained at £5 5s. a week. As we said in our policy speech, we believe that should be increased, but we do at least put to the Government the simple proposition that no adult and no unmarried minor should be required to exist in this country on less than the amount of the age and the invalid pension when his inability to earn a living is due to no fault or error of his own, unless it be the fault or error of having given his vote to this Government at some previous election. The amendment we propose to move reads -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to include provision for the rate of unemployment and sickness benefit for an adult and for a married minor to be increased to the rate of the age and invalid pension, and that the Government present the redrafted bill to the House this day.”

When dealing with this question of unemployment and sickness benefits, I should like to direct attention to the action which is being taken in many districts throughout Australia to-day to strike men and women off the register of those entitled to unemployment benefit. Since the policy is now being administered in a harsh manner, quite contrary to the manner in which it was operated in previous years, I cannot but believe that the present harshness is the result of a deliberate government instruction designed to reduce, on paper, the number of registered unemployed and to remove from benefit many thousands of people who still find themselves unable to obtain work.

Many cases have been brought to my notice from various parts of Australia to justify what I say to the House now, cases in which married men have been struck off the register because they refused to accept employment that was entirely unlike the employment in which they were customarily engaged, entirely unsuited to their years or physical condition, and also hundreds of miles away from the homes in which they and their familes live. All these things are contrary to the spirit and intention of the law governing the payment of unemployment benefit.

Men are being struck off the register for unemployment benefit today not because the Commonwealth Employment Service is able to offer them employment which they have refused, but because the Commonwealth employment officers in various districts declare that these people themselves have not made sufficient effort to obtain employment. Sometimes they base their decisions to strike these men off the unemployed register and to deny them unemployment benefit on such dubious reasons as that they have telephoned various factories or places of employment and have obtained no evidence that the unemployed persons concerned have applied to those factories or places of employment for a job. As you know, Mr. Speaker, outside many factories today hangs a sign which has not been there since the days of the depression, the sign reading, “ No vacancies.” When you see that sign hanging on the gate, of what use is it to go inside and ask the employment officer for a job.

Secondly, many of these places of employment keep no register of those who come to them seeking a position. So many hundreds of people are coming to them today looking for jobs that there is no need for them to keep a record of applicants for possible vacancies. They know that if a vacancy occurs there will be 100 or 200 men available immediately to fill it. In those circumstances, the unemployed man who is struck off the register for benefit because the employment officer declares, without any supporting evidence, that the particular man has not made sufficient endeavours to obtain employment, has no way whatever of proving that he has made such endeavours.

I had one case in my own electorate, although I agree that it was corrected immediately I brought official attention to it. lt was the case of a girl in Goulburn who was struck off the register for unemployment benefit on the grounds that she had not made sufficient endeavours to obtain employment. I was able to obtain most detailed evidence to show that, not only for weeks, but for months, every day, at every conceivable place of employment in her district, she had presented herself time and time again for employment. As I have said, when I brought the matter to notice, and was able to produce all the facts to support her contention that she had been most diligent in seeking employment she was restored, to the unemployment benefit register. But it would be impossible to say in how many thousands of cases people who have not had the opportunity of having their cases presented by their member, or who have not been able to produce detailed evidence of the kind which this girl, fortunately, was able to produce, have been incorrectly and unjustly struck off the register so that this Government can keep the number of registered unemployed at a minimum. All that can be said for certain is that the total is very great and that the system which allows this sort of thing to happen very badly needs overhauling. I can think of no better proposal than that contained .in the Labour Party policy to provide for an appeal tribunal to which anyone, believing himself unjustly removed from social service benefit, shall have the right to apply and to put his case.

The Minister, in his second-reading speech, being at pains to endeavour to justify the Government’s social service record, claimed that its expenditure on social services had risen, during its term of office, from £81,000,000 to £365,000,000. I challenged the latter figure. The annual report of the Director-General of Social Services places the current expenditure in this field at £100,000,000 less than the figure the Minister stated in his second-reading speech. The report to which I have referred is available not only to the Minister but also to every member of the House. It states the current expenditure on social services as a little over £250,000,000, not £365,000,000.

When the Minister makes a comparison between £81,000,000 in 1948-49 and the present actual expenditure of just over £250,000,000 he is of course making a most dishonest comparison because he fails to give any attention to the change in money values or to the increase in population in the intervening period. If honorable members remember that since 1948 the value of money has more than halved and that the population of Australia has increased by one-third, they will see that the figures produced by the Minister do not reflect nearly the credit upon his administration that he would seek to have the House give to it. The fact is that in proportion to the nationalincome the Government to-day is spending no more on social services than was being spent before it came to office. A further fact is that up to that time Australia stood, very high - either first, second or third in successive years - in the assessment by the United Nations of leading countries in the social services field. Under this Government we fell to sixth place, then seventh, and to-day we occupy, I think, sixteenth place. That is the record of the Government’s achievements in the field of social services over the past twelve years.

Mr Makin:

– That is correct.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– I am very glad that the honorable member for Bonython, who is an expert in these matters, confirms the figures that I have just given to the House.

I present the amendment which the Opposition desires the House to accept. I trust that there will be at least one member in the Government ranks who will have the courage on this occasion to do what he knows in his heart to be the correct thing to do, that is, to give the unemployed man or woman the opportunity to exist at least on the same scale as does an age or invalid pensioner. It will be useless for anyone speaking in reply in this debate to contend that, the unemployment benefit was far less than the age pension in some previous year when the Labour Government was in office, because I will agree that it was and that the rate provided by the Labour Government in those days was inadequate for any real period of unemployment but the rate fixed by the Labour Government in those days was a notional rate because the problem of mass unemployment was not present as it is to-day and as it has been since this Government’s deliberate measures of November, 1960.

Mr Forbes:

– What about 1949?

Mr Allan Fraser:

– As the honorable member from South Australia has stated, there was a temporary period of mass unemployment in July and August, 1949, during, a coal strike which was engineered by the Communist Party of Australia in an endeavour to bring about the defeat of the Chifley Labour Government and to achieve the election of a Liberal Government. The Liberal Government of Australia and the Communist Party of Australia have many things in common. One is the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). Another is their joint determination to keep the living standards of the Australian people as low as possible. The Liberal Party seeks to do that because it believes in the monopoly capitalist system and wants to ensure that the maximum profit can be made and the maximum dividends can be paid by the great companies, big banks and other institutions which keep it in office.

Mr Jess:

– Has the “ Sydney Morning Herald” cleared this speech?

Mr Allan Fraser:

– That is not bad for you. The Communist Party of Australia, for a totally different reason, shares with the Liberal Government of Australia exactly the same objectives. It seeks to keep living standards down and misery as great as possible so that it can destroy public confidence in the parliamentary system of government and so that out of unemployment, misery and despair it can create the revolutionary situation in which it can seize power and replace monopoly capitalism by a system equally or more hateful - a system of the kind which is in operation behind the iron curtain in various Soviet dominated countries to-day. The Communist Party and the Liberal Party have those two objectives in common. That is why it is the aim of the Communist Party on all occasions, no matter what it states publicly, to keep in office in Australia the most reactionary government possible. It knows that in the social services field there could not be a more reactionary government than that led to-day by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies). But the people of Australia are also aware of the position. No matter what honorable members opposite do from now on and no matter how much of Labour’s policy they adopt - I glad to see them adopt much more of it and put it into operation because it is designed for the good of the Australian people - they cannot regain the prestige and the reputation which they enjoyed for many years and which they have now totally destroyed by their attitude.

The people of Australia are confidently and hopefully looking for the return as soon as possible of a Labour Government which will introduce a social services programme that will do justice to all sections of the community and give them the opportunity to live, as they cannot live to-day, in security and freedom. Therefore, I put the Opposition’s amendment to the House and give the Government the alternative either of giving effect to the amendment - it has become accustomed to giving effect to Labour’s policy to the extent that it has been compelled to do so - or of doing the honorable thing and resigning and handing over control to those much better able to carry on. I move -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to include provision for the rate of unemployment and sickness benefit for an adult and for a married minor to be increased to the rate of the age and invalid pension, and that the Government present the redrafted bill to the House this day “.


– Order! Is the amendment seconded?

Mr E James Harrison:

– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak at a later stage.


.- We have just heard a very ungracious speech by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). He says that he believes in this proposal to reduce the residential provision from a period of twenty years to one of ten years. The honorable member was a member of this House from 1943 to 1949, during the period when the L:.bour Government was in office, and he supported it; not once during that period of six years did he raise his voice urging this reform. His government did nothing to deal with this matter, notwithstanding the fact that the residential provision remained at twenty years during the whole of that period. Now that this Government proposes to carry out this very desirable reform, in which the honorable member says he believes, he has not the decency or the gratitude to congratulate the Government for doing what he believes to be right and what his government failed to do during its eight years of office.

I wish to pay tribute to the many organizations and people who have assisted in bringing about this’ magnificent reform. I want, first of all, to pay tribute to members of the Government Members Social Services Committee, of which I have the honour to be chairman, for their powerful advocacy in favour of this reform. I wish to express my appreciation to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and to the Government for agreeing to make this reform part of his policy speech On which his Government succeeded at the last election. I also wish to pay tribute to members of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, who powerfully supported this reform in view of its urgency to assist in the assimilation and integration of migrants in our community. I desire also to pay tribute to the Migration Planning Council, of which the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) is chairman. Members of that committee, too, saw the need for this reform in the forward planning in relation to migration. I must also mention the hundreds of branches of the Good Neighbour Council who, from a good neighbour point of view, saw the necessity for this reform in order to remove a feeling of injustice from the minds of our new settlers. Then there were the many migrant groups and clubs which also made representations in relation to this matter.

The Menzies Government has an extremely proud record in social services, and this bill is another milestone in the Government’s objective of providing social security for the aged, the sick, the unemployed and the young without discrimination. The bill now before the House has four distinct arms. The first deals with the aged and contains a reduction of the residential provision from twenty years to ten years so as to bring into the field of age security a very large section of the community which under Labour was and still is, but after the passing of this act will not be. excluded from the operation of the Social Services Act. The second arm of the measure deals with invalids and makes provision for those who become invalided while outside Australia to receive an invalid pension after a ten years’ period of residence in lieu of twenty years as at present. The third arm deals with the unemployed and provides substantially im proved benefits for married people who are unemployed. The fourth arm deals with the children of parents who, unfortunately, are temporarily sick or unemployed. In all respects these reforms go a long way towards carrying out the Government’s objective of providing social security for all.

I now want to deal particularly with the twenty-year residential provision. It appeared in the first Social Services Act, which was passed in 1909, and has remained there ever since. This provision did not call much attention to itself in the pre-war years because we then had very little migration and obviously almost every one in Australia, on reaching the age of 60 or 65 years, could show twenty years’ residence to his or her credit. Therefore, although this provision existed in the act there were very few people who were excluded by it. Obviously, there may have been the odd case where a baby was taken out of Australia and did not return until he was about 55 or 60 years of age and he then may have been affected by the operation of this provision. But that would not apply to more than one in thousands, or perhaps one in a million. Therefore, in the pre-war years, little notice was taken of this provision because little injustice was done by it. Immediately we resumed migration on a large scale in the post-war years this matter reared its head. First of all it was found that migrants who came to Australia from the United Kingdom, where they had a national insurance scheme, on arrival in Australia received the English pension, which was substantially below the Australian pension; and so we had, living side by side, aged persons, one receiving the Australian pension and one receiving the English pension at a much lower rate.

This caused discontent and dissatisfaction, and gave rise to the feeling that discrimination was being practised. Labour did nothing about it, although the rate of immigration to Australia was very high during the last few years of Labour rule; but the Menzies Government quickly saw the injustice of this apparent discrimination, and negotiated with the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand a reciprocal agreement whereby residents of any one of those countries would, for pension purposes, have interchangeable rights. The disability from which immigrants from the United Kingdom and New Zealand

Suffered has been removed by the operation of that reciprocal agreement. However, immigrants from other than the United Kingdom or New Zealand were left in the position of feeling that they were secondclass citizens not entitled to the benefits to which people born in Australia, the United Kingdom or New Zealand were entitled. Therefore, Sir, a number of us made representations to the Government on this score. We pointed out that it was unjust that immigrants who had paid taxes in this country for ten years or more, who had contributed to the production of this country, should be regarded as ineligible for the age pension purely because they did not have twenty years’ residence here to their credit.

It is true that in law there was no actual discrimination, because the law was framed to apply to Australian-born, New Zealandborn and English-born people. In fact, however, immigrants from Europe were particularly hit by this provision, lt is also true that citizenship always has been, and still is, a qualification for entitlement to the age or invalid pension. I think that honorable members will agree that those benefits are not provided for casual travellers. They are provided for people who live here or have decided to make Australia their home. On the average, immigrants become naturalized after they have been here for seven years. They are entitled to bc naturalized after five years’ residence, but experience shows that on the average they become naturalized after seven years’ residence. So when this bill becomes law the great majority of immigrants of pensionable age will immediately become entitled to the age pension or, if not immediately, before very long.

The second arm of the bill deals with the invalid pension. If a person is invalided in Australia he is entitled to the Invalid pension if he has resided here for five years; but if he is invalided before he comes to Australia, or while out of Australia other than on a casual visit abroad - the period of which is deemed to be residence in Australia - he is not, as the law stands, entitled to the invalid pension unless he has twenty years’ residence here to bis credit. This bill will remove that discrimination or disability, and will enable a person who is invalided before he comes to Australia, or : while he is outside Australia after having come here, to receive the invalid pension if he has ten years’ residence to his credit.

I shall not have time to deal with the special definitions governing the constitution of ten years’ residence when there are broken periods of residence. The Minister has dealt with those in his speech, and any honorable member who is particularly interested in that aspect will, I am sure, receive help from the department in regard to any explanations required of that rather difficult matter.

The third arm of this bill is the increase of unemployment benefit from £3 15s. to £4 2s. 6d. a week. This Government is in favour of full employment. It has taken positive measures to bring about a state of full employment, which it has been able to maintain over most of its terms of office. That, unfortunately, is not the situation at present. The Government has taken active and positive steps to implement its policy of maintaining full employment but, as any sensible person, any realist, recognizes, in any country, owing to circumstances which are perhaps outside the control of the government of the country there are periods when there is unemployment. Reference has already been made to 1949, when the Chifley Government was in office, and when there were about 250,000 unemployed - just about twice as many as there are to-day.

Mr Bryant:

– When was that?


– In 1949. Perhaps if the honorable member had been in the House he would have heard the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), who was leading for the Opposition, confirm that very fact.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– I said “ temporary unemployment “.


– There was temporary unemployment of about a quarter of a million people while the Chifley Government was in office. Whatever a government may plan there will often be periods of unemployment arising from circumstances beyond the government’s control. Therefore, we must have proper social security provision to cover those who, for one reason or another, are temporarily unemployed. To that end the Government has increased the amount of unemployment benefit. It has also done something that the Labour Government never did. For the first time in the history of Australia it is now providing allowances for all the dependent children of the recipients of unemployment benefit. This will transform the position of unemployed people with dependent children.

I mentioned earlier that for a considerable time I have had the honour of being chairman of the Government Members Social Services Committee. In that capacity I have been able to watch with interest the complete transformation of the social services of this country while the Menzies Government has been in office. I should like to compare for the House the position as it was when the Menzies Government was elected to office with the vastly improved position to-day.

Let us look at the people whom Labour excluded from the age pension. The Labour Government excluded the aboriginal natives from receipt of a pension. The Menzies Government has altered that and has allowed aboriginal natives as well as ether Australian born citizens to receive the benefits of these social services. The Labour Government excluded British immigrants under the residential provision unless they could show that they had been here twenty years. The Menzies Government, by making a reciprocal agreement, has enabled British immigrants to receive the age pension.

The Labour Government said that if any person had an income of £3 12s. 6d. a week he or she could not get any pension at all. Therefore, a large section of the community, even Australian born people, were cut out by the Labour Government because of the viciousness of its income means test. The Labour Government, after eight years in office, said that any Australian born citizen, immigrant, or anybody else who had saved £750 was not entitled to a pension at all. The Labour Government believed that it was so wicked to have an income or to have saved money that, through the means test, it penalized people, first, if they had an income, including an income from capital, and secondly if they had capital. It was the Menzies Government which realized the viciousness of that legislation and removed that double penalty. The Menzies Government abolished those separate means tests and, in their place, brought in an extremely liberal and generous merged means test which enables a single person without other income to have nearly £5,000 before he is deprived of a pension. A married couple can have nearly £10,000. Single persons without capital can have an income of £8 15s. a week, including pension, and married couples can have £17 10s. a week. That is £2 or more above the basic wage. How does that compare with the miserable position of pensioners under the Labour Government? If they bad nothing at all they could get a pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week. The honorable member for EdenMonaro and his colleagues were prepared to give the pensioners 42s. 6d. a week! In spite of the fact that costs rose by 10 per cent, in 1949, the Chifley Government, supported by the honorable member for EdenMonaro, would not increase the pension by one penny.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– Proudly supported!


– They would not increase the pension by one penny! Never have the people of Australia been treated so harshly and cruelly as they were by the Chifley Government to which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro lent his feeble support.

Let us look at the position of our exservicemen under the Labour Government. The Labour Government ruled that they could not get a war pension and an age pension in excess of a certain ceiling. It was the Menzies Government that removed that ceiling. Now a war pension is treated just as any other income. A person may receive a service pension or an age pension and, in addition, a war pension to bring him up to the permissible income limit.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– This Government takes into account every penny of the war pension in fixing the age pension.


– Your Government had a ceiling. You would not let an exserviceman get what he can get now. On all occasions, the social services policy of the present Government is to treat all Australian citizens alike and not discriminate between one section and another.

I could go on further and show this House that no government in the history of Australia has ever done so much to provide real social security as has the Menzies Government. Year by year and stage by stage it has brought reforms before Parliament. I believe that we have the finest social services scheme in the world, lt is true that there are still avenues for improvement. As the Minister for Social Services said in his speech, this bill is by no means the last thing the Government is going to do. The Government is looking at social services all the time. When the Government finds an anomaly or an injustice, or finds that a pension is too low, the Government takes appropriate steps to make a correction. I think we can hold our heads high and say, “ Show to us the country in which social services are as good as they are in Australia “. We can say that, bad as our social services were in 1949 after eight years of Labour rule, they have now improved out of sight. And they will go on improving year by year, until every member of this House can feel that there are no anomalies or injustices.

Unfortunately, sometimes when you correct one anomaly another appears. When the Government took steps to remove the disability in relation to the United Kingdom immigrants it became obvious that there was, in fact, though not in law, a discrimination against other than United Kingdom immigrants. But this Government has shown itself to be a dynamic government which is willing to meet difficulties from time to time as they arise. 1 am delighted to pay my tribute to the Government for the readiness with which it agreed to accept the magnificent measures that are contained in this bill.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would say this bill provides for two things in particular. First of all, it provides for a reduction from twenty years to ten years of the residential qualification for the age pension. The second provision, which probably is at least of equal moment, is an increase of unemployment and sickness benefits. However, before I speak about those measures, 1 should like to refer to a few of the comments made by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). I take the liberty, once again, of reminding the honorable member for Sturt and other members of the Government parties that it was the Labour Party which introduced into this country the whole concept of the welfare state.

I vividly recall the bitter opposition from tories in this Parliament and outside this Parliament to the introduction of the welfare state. We heard such comments, as “ You are sapping the. moral fibre of the ordinary citizen by making him dependant on the state “. It was said that we were molly-coddling the people and that they would lose their self-reliance. It was said that this was not the stuff of which good Australians were built. I remind the honorable member of those charges.

I also remind him that the Labour Government created the National Welfare Fund. When the Labour Government left office in 1949, there was about £200,000,000 it the fund, which had been deliberately created by the Labour Government under Mr. Chifley to provide a comprehensive national health scheme such as we have never seen since. Mr. Chifley also had the notion of ultimately abolishing the means test. What has this Government done? It has dissipated the fund which the Chifley Government built up to a total of about £200,000,000 when money was worth twice as much as it is to-day. We all recall the efforts of the Labour Government to establish a completely free public hospitalization scheme. The health scheme of the Chifley Government was in sharp contrast to that in operation to-day, for example, under a Liberal government in Victoria, where public hospitalization costs £3 a day.

I will not dwell on the social service plans of the Labour Government further because we are not going back to 1949 or 1946; but I take this opportunity of reminding Government supporters that in the post-war years the Chifley Government carried out a tremendous programme of post-war rehabilitation. Naturally, between 1941 and 1945 the Government’s task was to mobilize the nation for total war, but after the Second World War the Labour Government concentrated on rehabilitation. It trained thousands of young men and women. It put them on the land and into the professions. It sent many youngsters to universities under its Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. When supporters of the Government decry the social legislation of the Chifley Labour Government, they speak in ignorance or with the intention of deliberately distorting the facts.

Mr Whitlam:

– The Labour Government demobilized 1,000,000 ex-service men and women without unemployment.


– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition reminds me of the Labour Government’s great achievement in demobilizing 1,000,000 persons. It trained thousands in technical colleges, universities and other places of learning with great benefit to Australia. At the same time, it built up a fund of £200,000,000 as a nest egg to finance a comprehensive and equitable social services scheme much better than any we have to-day. This Government has taken twelve years to introduce a desirable change in the residential qualifications required of an applicant for an age pension. I remind the Government that the immigration programme has been much more significant in the past twelve years than it was in the Labour Government’s post-war years of office. Apart from the total number of immigrants who have entered the country in the past twelve years, the composition of the immigration programme has changed, particularly in the last few years. Many older immigrants are entering Australia and the question of residential qualifications for social service benefits is consequently much more important.

The Government is making a belated gesture by reducing the residential qualification from twenty to ten years. There is no point in labouring who was responsible for this idea, but the simple fact is that as late as last year when the Australian Labour Party proposed this amendment in the House, it was opposed by the Government. When it was realized that the Australian Labour Party would include this proposal in its election programme and it foreshadowed the change in its federal conference decisions, the Government became aware of the political expediency of including Labour’s proposal in its policies. Therefore it is now putting this amendment into effect. Whatever the Government’s motives might be, I am pleased that this has come about and that many new Australians will have much more security. I am pleased that the programme of family migration will have that much more assistance and encouragement.

It is regrettable that new provisions for unemployment benefits are necessitated by the state of the economy. The simple fact is that out of a clear blue sky, this Government deliberately - make no mistake about that - so damaged the economy in less than two years that it put 150,000 breadwinners cut of work completely, to say nothing of all those whose employment opportunities were reduced. This Government decided that the motor car industry had to be hit. The Liberals in New South Wales have dissociated themselves altogether from the mob in Canberra and are trying to. convince the people that the Labour Government of New South Wales is responsible in some way for this state of affairs. The people of that State do not need to be reminded, however, that this Government decided to open the flood gates and allow unrestricted imports into a young country which depends on its manufacturing industries to employ the great majority of its people. I do not need to remind the people of New South Wales or of any of the other States that it was this Government which subsequently restricted credit. It clamped down on credit not for commercial businesses only which imported foreign goods but for all industries. The great motor car industry which employed one in seven workers was deliberately depressed with consequent severe effects upon employment in that industry and on other industries which depended upon it. The iniquitous 40 per cent, sales tax on motor cars was not the responsibility of the New South Wales Labour Government. This Government was solely responsible for that measure.

We remind ourselves, if it be necessary, that unemployment has been most severe in the field of private employment and that this Government is solely responsible because it controls finance and banking and policy on imports and exports. Nobody seriously believes that any State government is to blame for the present state of economy. It is most unfortunate that the deliberate policy of this Government and its gross mismanagement have made it necessary now for the Government to increase the rate of unemployment benefits. The Government has not been impelled by any humanitarian motives.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.n.


– As I was saying before the suspension of the sitting, this bill provides principally for two measures. The first relates to a reduction from twenty years to ten years in the time stipulated as residential qualification for entitlement to the age pension. The second provides for some increase in unemployment and sickness benefits. I have expressed regret regarding the circumstances that have given special significance to this provision for increased unemployment benefits. I showed that the Commonwealth Government, by its opendoor policy in the matter of imports, and by its restriction of credit facilities and the imposition of vicious sales tax increases, had contributed towards the unhappy situation that now exists in Australia, when we have, I would say, 150,000 persons totally unemployed, to say nothing of all those who are employed only part-time.

On behalf of the Labour Party, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro moved an amendment aimed at enlarging the most inadquate increase in the unemployment and sickness benefits proposed in the bill. The amendment is in the following terms: -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to include provision for the rate of unemployment and sickness benefit for an adult and for a married minor to be increased to the rate of the age and invalid pension, and that the Government present the redrafted bill to the House this day “.

As we have said, it is not our wish to delay the grant of any increased benefit which may be provided for these unfortunate unemployed persons’ and their dependants. On the other hand, we are not prepared to condone the provisions of this bill which provide for something grossly inadequate for ordinary human beings to eke out even the most modest existence. I do lay a great deal of blame, however, at the door of this Government for its delay in bringing forward even the measure that we are now considering. Even as long ago as September last the Labour Premier of New South Wales, together with the other five State Premiers, asked the Prime Minister to convene a conference to deal with the unemployment situation. Quite obviously they saw that distress was on its way for a great many people, and it was for this reason that they asked that the conference be convened. But the Prime Minister was not prepared to do so. An election was approaching and he did not want to acknowledge the fact that the calamitous measures introduced by this Government had caused the disruption of industry and had resulted in wholesale unemployment and misery for many thousands of our citizens. He said that the matter could remain in abeyance until January, when there would be a review of the situation.

I am suggesting to this House that much of the unemployment and consequent misery that exist to-day have been quite unnecessary, and could have been avoided if the Government had refrained from playing politics and had been ready to acknowledge the difficulties that it had itself created. Instead of doing this, of course, it branded every person in the community, even the most objective person, who mentioned the imminent dangers, as a calamity howler.

In any case, the situation is now as we see it. Unfortunately a big proportion of the people who are unemployed are immigrants who came to this country with the hope that they were going to start afresh in a world of new opportunity. Instead of this, they have been depressed by longcontinuing waits for opportunities to earn their livelihood.

The consequences of the Government’s policies are not confined to those that are felt immediately. First, of course, this country has lost, in about twelve months, about £200,000,000 worth of production. In addition, however, it has had to meet a cost of over £1,000,000 a month in paying people who are out of work, virtually keeping those people in some depressed kind of existence. These are the costs to the community of the unfortunate measures introduced by this Federal Government. Now, of course, the cost is going to rise higher because, touched by some humanity, the Government is going to make some little effort to give slight relief to the masses of people who are out of work.

One of the worst features of the situation, in my opinion, is that the availability of apprenticeships has fallen off. In one Government department recently, just before this Parliament commenced its sittings, four apprenticeships were advertised and over 300 persons turned up to apply for them.

Not only are we losing production at the present moment, we are also losing the opportunity to provide in the community those skilled workers who will be our bulwark for future development, future production and future prosperity.

The Labour Party has said that the proposed weekly increases in the unemployment benefit, 7s. 6d. for an unemployed adult, 7s. 6d. for his dependent wife and 2s. 6d. for the first child, together with the belated provision of the full allowance, which is now 15s. a week, for each subsequent child, are grossly inadequate. The Minister was at some pains to tell us that the amount provided for a man, his wife and four children - note that he cited the case of the family with four children - under the new legislation will be £10 2s. 6d. a week. In other words, Mr. Speaker, we are still asking a man with a wife and four children to live on something of the order of £4 6s. a week less than the federal basic wage, which we have understood, in loose terms, to be the minimum provision for a man with a wife and one child.

Mr Beazley:

– And it is less than is provided for two age pensioners.


– As my honorable colleague from Fremantle says, it is less than the amount provided for two age pensioners. It is all very well to talk about child endowment being added to this amount. The fact is that the family on the basic wage also gets child endowment for any dependent children. I thought this Government would hardly have the temerity to mention child endowment, after having been twelve years in office and having provided not one increase in that benefit, beyond the provision in about 1950 of 5s. a week for the first child.

My view is that this unemployment benefit should not be considered as a social service benefit at all. I think this Parliament should accept the responsibility of compensating people whose livelihood it has taken away. If the Parliament approved a measure to take over a factory or some income-producing property belonging to a citizen, the Parliament would be quick to demand that the persons concerned be fairly and justly compensated. But it is a different story when the Government takes away from the ordinary citizen in the community, who has nothing to sell but his labour, by its own deliberate policies, the citizen’s very livelihood. The Government has, by its considered policies, put thousands of people out of work, and I think this Parliament should undertake the task of providing them with just compensation. We are, of course, doing nothing of the kind. The Labour Party is not even proposing that we should attempt to do so at this point of time. You cannot do such things overnight. We are, however, asking for some semblance of justice, and we consider that a man who is out of a job because of unemployment or sickness should not be asked to live and keep his family on less than the amount provided for an age pensioner couple. That is what we are asking the unemployed to do, even under the provisions of the measure that is now being brought forward.

The Parliament, and the community generally, must face up to the effects on our economic structure of the introduction of measures such as those brought forward by the Government during the last twelve months. If governments, particularly federal governments, have the power to put people out of work by their deliberately adopted policies - and put them out of work in pretty quick time, as we have recently seen - it should accept the responsibility, if it cannot provide alternative employment for those people, of giving them fair and just compensation for withdrawing the means of livelihood for them and their families.

I would like to refer not only to the amounts being provided under the bill but also to the very niggardly means test that is being maintained. Payment of the unemployment benefit is prejudiced if an adult receives more than £2 a week. In other words, the entitlement to unemployment benefit of a person who works for perhaps half a day is prejudiced. This has a broader application than merely to unemployment and sickness benefits. The permissible income provision applies to other social service benefits, including age and invalid pensions.

Permissible income is defined as gross income. If a person has to expend part of the £2, or £3 10s. in the case of the age pension in certain circumstances, in travelling to the place where he has casual employment, the legislation does not allow the amount of fares to be taken into account in assessing the amount of income. I know that some people receive the permissible income from, say, a superannuation fund, but others earn it by going to work and have to pay fares. Despite this, they are still allowed only £2 or £3 10s., as the case may be. I suggest that the amount of permissible income should be increased and that an allowance should be made for fares before the income is calculated. Naturally, a sick person could not work, but his spouse could, lt is well past the time for an increase of the amount of permissible income that pensioners can have.

A further aspect of the problem, as I see it, relates to unemployment and sickness benefits. The amount of these benefits should be increased if the recipient has been workless for more than a prescribed time, lt has often been said in the Parliament that unemployment and sickness benefits are only a short-term palliative; they are essentially short-term provisions. But 1 have people in my electorate who have been unable to find work for twelve months. What chance have these families of replacing the durable consumer goods in their homes, even with the increase given in this bill? An adult will have £4 2s. 6d. a week on which to live and this may go on week after week for twelve months or more. What chance has such a person to do more than buy the bare essentials of food and drink and perhaps pay board? How people live on these small sums astounds me. A couple is given £7 2s. 6d. a week. Let us not be complacent; let us consider what , our plight would be if we had to live on £7 2s. 6d. a week and pay rent or pay for a home and pay rates. If a man and his wife are faced with the prospect of Jiving on this weekly amount for six months, twelve months or more, what chance have they of re-equipping themselves with clothing and with other necessities in the home that wear or break from time to time? That is the position confronting these unfortunate people.

In addition, an unemployed person has to be out of work for a week before he becomes eligible for the unemployment benefit. I do not know why this should bc.

I do not know who introduced the provision and I do not care. All I know is that the Unfortunate citizen thrown out of work must wait a week before he becomes eligible to receive any assistance. I would not like to be without a week’s pay. What chance has the ordinary citizen, struggling hard enough to meet his commitments under this regime? Every time he becomes unemployed he must qualify for his entitlement by living for one week on thin air. 1 ask the Government to give serious consideration to removing this requirement, not when the Budget is introduced later in the year but now. If this bill can be brought in now, surely another measure can be introduced to give some justice to these people.

Other factors present in this subject have been mentioned, but 1 have not the time in which to deal with them. However, 1 want to take the opportunity to stress that people are obliged to spend money looking for work. The department requires them to look for work and they can become disentitled to their benefits if the department asserts that they have not looked for work. This matter has already been mentioned in this House and other honorable members will refer to the grave problem that arises when people must use their allowance in an effort to obtain work. In some instances, the unemployment benefit is discontinued if evidence is not provided to show that these people have sought work or it can be discontinued if they are not prepared to go to some outlandish place or undertake some uncongenial employment at the dictates of the Commonwealth Employment Office.

There are many matters that must be considered. I wonder why at this time when there was a need to stimulate consumption in the community; social service benefits generally were not increased. The age pension of £5 5s. a week should have been increased; it is a grossly inadequate amount. I would like to address myself to that subject, but I have not sufficient time to do so. But I do want to refer to the invalid pensioners. Many of them have nothing but their pension of £5 5s. a week and the wife’s allowance of £2 7s. 6d. a week on which to live. In other words, two people are asked to live on £7 12s. 6d. a week. This again is a grossly inadequate amount. It was recently increased, but many of these good citizens must have wished that the Labour Party had won the extra one or two seats it needed to have a majority in this House. If Labour had become the government, it would have now been providing that the wife of an invalid pensioner would receive the same amount of pension as he received.

The civilian widows must also be wishing that we were in office. The civilian widow receives £5 10s. a week for herself and a dependent child - £5 10s. a week on which two people must live and pay rent or pay for the upkeep of a house. We can well imagine how much these people must be wishing that Labour had won the extra one or two seats so that provision could now be made for the payment of a domestic allowance to them just as a domestic allowance is given to a war widow. Many civilian widows in desperate situations have come into my office. They have been absolutely forlorn. They have tried to establish that their husband’s death resulted from war-caused injuries so that they could receive a war widow’s pension. This would enable them to overcome their present desperate situation.

These increases should have been granted not only on the ground of humanity but also on the ground that they would add to the economic welfare of the community. The community at present is suffering from a lack of consumption. People are not able to buy goods that are available and these goods have been stockpiled. At the same time we are subsidizing the sales of primary products such as butter and eggs on foreign markets. When the breadwinner of a family dies, we ask his widow and child to live on £5 10s. a week.


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


.- At the outset of my remarks, I should like to comment on the speeches made by the honorable members for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and Barton (Mr. Reynolds). During the whole of his speech, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro stressed the point that, in introducing the bill now before the House, the Government had adopted the policy of the Australian Labour Party. I wish to correct the honorable member, who was careless in his handling of the facts. He said that the increased unemployment benefits now proposed were advocated by the Leader of the Opposition in his policy speech. I have had a very good look at that policy speech and I cannot find any mention of the fact that if Labour became the government it would increase the unemployment benefit. The honorable member for Barton also said that the Government had followed Labour’s policy in increasing the benefit, but there is no mention anywhere of Labour’s intention to do so. The criticism is not that the amount by which we are increasing the unemployment benefit is too small; it is that we have adopted part of Labour’s policy. I say again that up to 9th December last Labour made no mention of increasing the unemployment benefit.

The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said, also, that we had taken from the Australian Labour Party’s policy speech the proposal for the reduction of the residential qualification for pensions from twenty years to ten years. That proposal was in Labour’s policy speech, true enough, but it was in the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) the evening before and it has also, as the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), who is chairman of the Government Members Social Services Committee, has said, been under discussion by the committee and has had its approval for months. The Government, wisely, has now decided to implement this proposal.

Mr Beaton:

– Well, why did Government supporters vote against it earlier?


– That was another inaccurate statement made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. No vote was taken on this matter at the time referred to by him.

Another statement that the honorable member made was that the proportion of the national income going into social services to-day is less than the proportion in 1949. That is not true, and my friend, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), will prove later that it is untrue. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro went on to challenge the figures that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) had given in his second-reading speech when he pointed out how much money was being spent on social services in this country. The Minister compared the amount of £81,000,000 spent in 1949 with the amount of £365,000,000 a year being spent now, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, however, said that those figures were wrong and that the current figure is really only £256,000,000. The honorable member was not correct, and he did not give the complete picture.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– I quoted figures from the report made by the Director-General of Social Services.


– The expenditure of £81,000,000 in 1949 was made from the National Welfare Fund, and the current expenditure of £365,000,000 a year comes from that fund and represents the total cost of social services to this country. So, we find at least five points on which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has handled the truth pretty carelessly.

The honorable member for Barton, early in his speech, said with great pride that the Australian Labour Party introduced to Australia the whole notion of the welfare state arid had been criticized for doing so on the ground that the welfare state would sap the moral fibre of the country and make people dependent on the state and cause them to lose their self-reliance. On this point, 1 should like to quote from an article written by Mr. Graham Hutton, a leading British economist, who, for 30 years, has been a strong disciple of Lord Beveridge and the theories evolved and taught at the London School of Economics - a famous institution noted for its socialist theories. This leading British economist, at the end of last year, wrote -

To-day, after thirteen years of actually living under the politicians’ welfare state, I regretfully conclude that the experiment has not been successful.

Those are the words of a man who has* been a disciple of the welfare state for 30 years. He continued -

Our welfare state has been shockingly costly. It has had a debilitating effect on individual initiative. It has been extremely unfair to large sections of the population. And it has been used unashamedly by politicians to “ buy votes “. I suggest that this unfortunate experience may serve to-day as arn object lesson to any other nation that may be tempted to go and do likewise . . .

The great majority of people in a prosperous society such as Britain ought to require welfarestate services less and less, not more and more. If any nation is really dynamic, the majority of better-off citizens are competent to choose and pay for their own social services . . .

This individual independence will raise standards in the professions by voluntary, co-operative and personal effort . . . The thirteen-year British experience, in the health service and in state education alone, has diluted, lowered and then evened out professional and training standards and methods.

Mr Reynolds:

– I take it that the honorable member is now opposing social services.


– No, I am not. I am just telling the House what happens when the theories of the honorable member and his colleagues are adopted to turn a country into a welfare state. These views that I have read are those of a leading British economist and are based on thirteen years’ experience of the welfare state in the United Kingdom. Mr. Hutton also stated -

The wholesale turning away of the middleoftheroad electorate from the Socialist Party these ten years past indicates that this lesson is being learned.

The honorable member for Barton said that Labour introduced social services into this country. I do not know whether I am quoting him quite accurately on that.

Mr Reynolds:

– I did not say that.


– At any rate, what the honorable member meant was that the Australian Labour Party thought of social services in the first place in this country. I remind him that the first social services in this country were introduced by the Deakin Government, which was not a Labour government. It introduced age pensions in 1909. The honorable member said that Labour introduced the national health scheme. What happened to the national health scheme introduced by Labour? It would not work and a great stalwart of the Australian Country Party, the late Sir Earle Page, was left to introduce an effective national health scheme which is not only wonderful for Australia but also the envy of every other nation.

We have heard talk about the Australian Labour Party’s sympathy for the unemployed people in this country, but, on two occasions, Labour governments have actually reduced the unemployment benefit.

Mr Turnbull:

– Surely not.


– In 1931 and 1943 Labour governments actually reduced the unemployment benefit.

The Government’s proposals, as submitted in this measure, will not cost the nation much compared to the national Budget. We on this side of the House all agree that the unemployment problem is very serious, and we all are anxious to do something about it. We have taken action now. The Australian Labour Party indicated in its policy speech that it did not expect to restore full employment in less than twelve months. The measures taken by the Government will restore employment in a much shorter time than that. Various vague statements have been made about our programme costing so much more than the programme advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in his policy speech would have cost. Such talk is just so much nonsense. At the end of the current financial year, we shall have a much smaller deficit than most Opposition members are hoping for. Unemployment is a tremendous problem. Australia is not the only country with unemployment problems. Nearly every free country - I emphasize the words “ free country” - has similar problems. Indeed, in most free countries the degree of unemployment is greater than that which we have in Australia. This Government will do something about the situation, and already has done something about it.

I do not suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the unemployment benefit rates now proposed are enough to support a man and his wife and children for ever. Of course they are not. But that is not the intention of the unemployment benefit, anyway. The intention is to carry a family along temporarily while the breadwinner is unemployed. Unfortunately, a lot of people just cannot be employed. They have no skill. Those are the people whom we should look after to a greater degree than we should look after people who have skill of some kind and who are only temporarily out of work. The person who is only temporarily unemployed, of course, is fully entitled to unemployment benefit at the rates for which the Government is wisely providing. However, unemployment benefit at too high a rate encourages people not to work. We must never get to the stage where we have a welfare State and people will say, “ We can live on the Government “. Both the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) have talked glibly about providing more benefits and increased payments as though they believe that money returns its value immediately it is printed. It is just not possible to do things that way, and I thought that they, in making their assertions, showed a reckless disregard for both sound economic policy and the financial commitments of the nation.

I mention those as but a few of the inaccurate statements which have been made by honorable members opposite in an endeavour to put an entirely different complexion on this piece of legislation. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Government have acted humanely and wisely in meeting the present bad situation. I remind the House that the Labour Party did not promise any increase of unemployment benefits at all. I also emphasize that the Menzies-McEwen Government does not want people to be unemployed. It wants to do something about the unemployment position, and it will do so.

Port Adelaide

– It has been very interesting to hear some of the comments by honorable members on the Government side. The people of Australia know that in September of last year the Labour Party attempted to have the residential qualification reduced from twenty to ten years.

Mr Holten:

– There was no vote on it.


– I shall come to that presently, and the honorable member will then know whether or not there was a vote on it. Let me clear that point up straightaway. The main issue is whether the Government parties wanted to do something or whether they refused to do it. When speaking to the Social Services Bill on 14th September last year, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) moved the following amendment: -

That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- “2a. Section twenty-one of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (b) of subsection (1.) the words ‘ twenty years ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ ten years

After the honorable member had submitted his arguments in support of his proposal, the Chairman said -

Order! With respect to the arguments put forward by the honorable member for EdenMonaro, the fact remains that the intention of the amendment is to increase expenditure. Otherwise there would be no value in the amendment. It is obvious that it would increase the number of people eligible for social service benefits and this, in turn, would increase expenditure on social services. J now rule that the proposed amendment is out of order.

Mr Turnbull:

– That is only in accordance with the Standing Orders.


– Let us go a little further. Several honorable members argued against the Chairman’s ruling, and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) then moved -

That the ruling be dissented from.

Honorable members on the Government side had the opportunity then of reducing the residential requirement from twenty years to ten years. A division was called for on Mr. Pollard’s motion, and the voting was 33 for and 52 against. Every member of the Opposition voted in favour of the motion when every member on the Government side voted against it.

Mr Turnbull:

– That was a motion to dissent from the Chairman’s ruling.


– I have had a long experience of both State and Federal politics, and I know that when a bill does not quite cover a particular point permission may be granted to move the requisite amendment provided the proposal does not involve extra expenditure. Whilst the vote to which I refer did not exactly cover such an amendment, the point is that if honorable members on the Government side had really wanted to amend the Social Services Bill last September, they could have done so by dissenting from the Chairman’s ruling. But they would not agree to do that.

Let me go a little further. During the election campaign, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) outlined Labour’s policy and stated that if the Labour Party was returned to office the residential qualification would be reduced to ten years immediately. After the Prime Minister heard this, and after he had toured various electorates and noticed the number of migrants becoming naturalized and therefore gaining the right to vote at the election, he could see that the wind was blowing against him, and he said to himself, “I will have to take in a few sails “. I am not a yachting man, but those wealthy honorable members on the Government side will know that when they are out yachting and a heavy wind blows up it is necessary for them to trim ship. On this occasion the Prime Minister started to trim his ship. He said to himself, “ With these thousands of migrants becoming naturalized and so gaining the right to vote at the election, we could lose some seats if I am not very careful “. Having that thought in mind, he said to the people of Australia, “ If we are returned to office, we will introduce a measure designed to reduce the residential qualification from twenty years to ten years “. We now have that measure before us. If the Government feels that it is right that the residential qualification should be reduced to ten years, why in the name of goodness did not the Government say, when the honorable member for Lalor sought to move his amendment, “ When the measure goes to another place we will make the necessary alteration just as we have done in connexion with other matters “? But Government supporters thought they were safe. They thought that, having a majority of 32, they could ignore these necessary reforms. But when the Prime Minister saw the way in which the wind was blowing, when he realized that some trimming of the ship was necessary, he promised to bring down this measure.

Labour’s policy speech has been mentioned during the debate. We told the people that if we were returned to office we would provide for a substantial increase in unemployment and sickness benefits. I am sorry that I have had to take up so much time in replying to statements made by honorable members on the Government side in their attempt to belittle the Labour Party in connexion with this matter. One honorable member on the Government side said: “ We are doing something now. We are giving to all children after the first child something that they did not have before. The Labour Party did not do that.” I point out that the present Government has been in office for twelve years and is only now doing something for all children after the first child. I point out also that it was a Labour government that introduced the unemployment benefit payment for the first child. Before the Labour Government introduced its bill, nothing had been done about unemployment benefits. We did that only four years before this Government attained office, and it has taken this Government twelve years to arrive at the conclusion that something should be done for the other children.

Mr Stokes:

– It took you since 1948 to do anything about the merged means test.


– I will tell the honorable member about the merged means test. I did not want to mention it, but honorable members on the Government side have denied that they are stealing the Labour Party’s policy. About two years ago I suggested to the Labour Party’s social services committee that the two be merged. I first raised this matter in the House in 1948, when the Labour Government was in office, but it was not adopted then, although it should have been.

Mr Stokes:

– What did you do after that?


– I brought it up year after year in this House.

Mr Stokes:

– We did the work.


– It is all right to claim the credit for the work that some one else has done. I set out my proposal covering two full pages and sent it to the department with a request that 1 be advised of the cost involved in altering the then existing scale. I had a reply from the Minister telling me that this was his business not the business of the department and, as this proposal was only hypothetical, he could not tell me the cost of implementing it. My letter to the department contained tables showing certain figures. I admit that I was following up this matter so that we could use it in our campaign for the following election because our party committee had asked me to discover the cost involved but, as I have said, I could not get it from the Minister. But when the following Budget was introduced it. contained proposals along the lines that I had submitted and the Minister stated, “ My department has been able to evolve a system by which we can do these things “. The tables which I had submitted had been altered only slightly and included in the Minister’s statement which even included my suggestions relating to the permissible income that a pensioner may earn. And honorable members opposite ask what work I did on this! The bill which the Government introduced contained the very things for which I had been fighting for so many years. I am glad that the Government adopted my proposals. I am not condemning it for that. But when honorable members opposite try to make out that they are the only ones here who can think things out for themselves and that we on the Labour side have not the brains or the ability to do so, I must put them on the right track. I was pleased that the Government adopted my suggestions in relation to the means test - suggestions which I had worked out for myself and had advocated for many years.

No one has heard me squeal because a Liberal government did the job, but I do squeal when honorable members opposite try to make out that they are the only ones who do anything for the people of this country. I could mention several other things in relation to social services which I have advocated on behalf of the Labour Party and which ultimately have been introduced by this Government. I am thankful that I have helped in my own way to bring this about.

Let me now return to the bill before us. So far as the unemployment benefit is concerned, this bill represents the biggest step forward that has been taken since Labour first recognized that unemployment and sickness benefits should be paid. The Labour Government introduced those benefits in the first place and now they are being amended to meet a position which is a disgrace to Australia

Some people ask me, “Are you a Socialist? “ I reply, “ I do not know what you mean by a socialist.” This bill represents one of my socialist ideas, so honorable members opposite who claim that they are anti-socialists are now doing a socialist job by recognizing that practically every one in the community is entitled to a reasonable share of the country’s prosperity. I can remember the time when a sick person received no assistance whatever. I can remember the depression years when this National Parliament did nothing for any one who was out of work. It was left to the States to assist the unemployed. In my own Slate in those days under a Liberal government an adult received 4s. lOd. worth of rations a week and a child one-half of that amount. I have seen these benefits grow and I have continued to fight for them both in the State and

Federal spheres. 1 am proud to-day of the fact that we have gradually improved the scale of benefits.

The Minister has not been able to tell us what the proposed amendments will cost. J do not care tuppence what they will cost; I am glad that the Minister has decided that increased benefits are necessary to help the unfortunate people for whom they have been designed. A couple of years ago, when I was talking in this vein about doing something for people, an honorable member on the Government side asked, “ How will you pay for it; raise taxes? “ I said, “ Yes, 1 would raise taxes to-morrow if that were necessary to give these unfortunate people the things to which they are entitled “. Make no mistake, this proposed increase in benefits will cost a good deal of money, but I do not care how much it will cost. The Government has agreed to take the step and no doubt it wi’l raise the funds by taxes.

One honorable member has said that we just cannot keep on printing notes. We know that. We did not need an honorable member opposite to tell us that. We know that if you use your credit you must have something solid to replace it and that you cannot replace it with a printing machine. But we know also that this country is in a position to help every one who needs help. I have always believed that social services are designed, not to bring down the man at the top but to lift up the man at the bottom. If a man in a good financial position has to pay a little more tax, let him pay it.

Just a few days after the Prime Minister had announced his proposals to assist the economy I attended a meeting in my district at which a number of waterside workers were present. When discussing the proposed 5 per cent, reduction in income tax, one man said to me, “ I do not think it is right to reduce taxes. Most people are satisfied to pay the taxes they are paying now. I would prefer the same scale of taxes to be followed and the money used to assist the people who are so much in need of assistance “. That man earns a decent wage. He realized that you cannot give something from nothing; it must come from somewhere.

I am sorry that there will be a 5 per cent, reduction in taxes, despite the Govern- ment’s boasts during the last week or two that the new tax tables have been distributed so that the people will receive immediately the benefit of the reduction. For the remaining four months of this financial year the reduction will be at the rate of 15 per cent., and the Government must be careful that when the reduction becomes only 5 per cent, from 1st July next, it does not receive a kick from the people similar to the kicks that it has received recently. lt would have been far better if the Government had not introduced the lower deductions immediately but had given the taxpayers the benefit of an increased refund at the end of the financial year.

The Government claims that it wants to make additional spending money available immediately, but the people who will receive the most benefit will not be the small wage earners. To the man receiving a salary of £5,000, £10,000 or £20,000 a year a reduction of 5 per cent, in his income tax represents a worth-while amount but to the worker with perhaps half a dozen kiddies the Government’s proposal may mean only an extra bob a week. That is all he will get out of it. I shall not labour the point because the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has debated this matter fully. We all know very well that when there is a flat reduction the benefit goes always to the man at the top. That is the difference between the Government and the Opposition. We, of the Opposition, believe that this kind of action should be based on ability to pay and not just on flat rates. If I pay income tax at the rate of £1,000 a year and another man pays at the rate of £150 a year, I will receive by far the greater benefit. There is also the provision to reduce the residential qualifying period from twenty years to ten years, but I will not dwell upon it because it has already been fully debated.

I pass to what the Minister had to say in respect of persons who have come here and have not been eligible for the invalid pension because their disabilities arose before they arrived here. My first experience of that position was some 25 years ago when a young woman who had come here from Ireland with her parents at the age of about twelve months, suffering from a deformity, reached the age of sixteen years. Her parents then applied for an invalid pension for her. Her father was just an ordinary worker, but the department said that as the child was in Ireland when she contracted the complaint which caused her disability she could not qualify for an invalid pension. I have followed up many cases of that type. I know a man who came here with his mother who, when she became too ill to do domestic duties and was not old enough to qualify for the age pension, applied for an invalid pension. However, because after she came here she did only her ordinary housework and could not show that she had been employed and that her disability had prevented her from continuing work, she could not get a pension. I am pleased to see that the Minister has been able to rectify that position.

I should like to clarify a passage in the Minister’s speech because some remarks made since suggest that the position may not be clearly understood. In dealing with the provision of the invalid pension for persons after ten years’ residence in Australia, the Minister was referring to persons whose disability had been caused overseas. The point I make is that a person who comes here and remains for five years can qualify for an invalid pension provided his disability is caused while he is in Australia. I am not trying to correct what the Minister said, but merely to clarify what he put forward in connexion with this matter.

An honorable member opposite said that the Labour Party’s election policy statement did not refer at all to an increase in unemployment benefits. I have here a copy of our policy which was distributed by the Australian Labour Party’s federal executive. With regard to unemployment and sickness benefits, it proposed the following rates: -

Adult or married minor, £5 10s. per week.

Unmarried minor, 16-17 years, £2 per week.

Unmarried minor, 18-21 years, £2 12s. 6d. per week.

Dependent wife resident in Australia, £2 7s. 6d. per week.

I say to the honorable member opposite who raised this matter that though those details may not appear in the book he has before him, they were included in the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). And if Labour had won the election we would now be moving in that direction instead of making the unemployment benefit only £4 2s. 6d. a week, with £3 a week for the wife. We would now be providing for a payment of £5 10s. a week for both husband and wife. That is the answer to honorable members opposite who now imply that we of the Opposition are merely having second thoughts and trimming our sails on this subject as the Prime Minister has done. We are not doing that and do not need to do it, because we put forward solid proposals in this respect in the first place.

Another matter in connexion with unemployment benefits relates to two classes of persons who are being rather hard hit. Section 107 (c) (iii) of the principal act provides that a person must have taken reasonable steps to obtain work in order to qualify to receive an unemployment benefit; and a person cannot receive the benefit unless the department is satisfied that he has taken such steps. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) referred to that provision. In my electorate people go round and round to the gates of various works and, as they are simply told that no labour is wanted, they have no evidence to show that they applied for work. When they send in their returns for the week with regard to their earnings and so on, they have no proof that they have gone anywhere seeking work, because no record is kept of their applications. I would like to see that provision struck out. Let us get back to the original intention.

I am also much concerned about section 120 (d) of the principal act which provides that the Director-General may postpone or cancel the payment of unemployment benefit to a person who is a seasonal or intermittent worker. In my electorate there are hundreds of men who do casual work, and we have to have that kind of labour available. If a ship comes in and cargo has to be moved into sheds we have to have men to do that work for perhaps five hours a day. When two or three truck loads of barley or wool, for instance, have to be handled, intermittent workers are engaged. But when no work comes along for a few weeks, as often happens, these men, because they are intermittent workers, are not entitled to relief under the act. I amnot speaking of seasonal workers, because there are not many of them in my electorate, but the intermittent worker has had a bad deal.

Very often these men cannot take continous jobs owing to their physical condition or something of that nature, and they must take casual work. If they are not able to work for a few days they remain at home and try to make up the leeway later. But these men can be penalized. In all fairness to the department in my State I should say that it endeavours to give these men a fair deal; and very often the officers concerned feel they are stretching the provisions of the act in helping these intermittent workers. I would like to see better provision made for intermittent workers so that they could be given some assistance when they need it.

I hope that the Government will give further consideration to the position of the A class widow. The provision for the first child has been raised from 12s. 6d. to 15s. a week in the case of a person on unemployment or sickness benefit. But in the case of the A class widow, for whom I am struggling now, only 5s. a week is provided for the first child. I strongly advocated when we increased the payment to the first child of an invalid pensioner from 12s. 6d. to 15s. a week that we should also have increased the payment for the first child of the civilian widow from 5s. to 15s. a week. I hope the Government will give consideration to this suggestion, although it cannot be implemented under this bill. I hope such a provision will be included in the next Budget, if the Government is still here to bring it down. Unfortunately, when a similar measure was before this House last September, I was attending a conference in Brussels and could not take part in the debate. But I have been fighting for years to improve the position of the dependent wife of the invalid pensioner. I advocated that the payment should be increased to 35s. but the Government would not agree and I told it that it was callous in that matter. Last year the Government increased the payment by the magnificent sum of 12s. 6d. to £2 7s. 6d. a week for the wife of the invalid pensioner. Yet the Government has increased the allowance for the wife of a man on sickness benefit to £3 a week. We say that is still too little, but why not bring the wife’s allowance in other cases up to that level? Why not give the dependent wife of an invalid pensioner an allowance somewhat comparable to that paid to the dependent wife of an age pensioner, even if not as high? Why not raise the wife’s allowance for the depen dent wife of an invalid pensioner to the B-class widow’s pension rate, for instance? If you did that you would be doing something a little more reasonable than the present proposal. I believe that the people of this country are entitled to a reasonable standard of social services.

I felt a bit lifted up when I found that the Government was prepared to do even as much as it is doing in this measure, seeing that it provides for an increase of social services expenditure in a year of decreased revenue. I feel a bit encouraged to know that apparently the Government is acknowledging that human dignity and sufficient money to live on are worth bothering about, even if the provision of them is going to cost the country more and will mean that the well-to-do members of the community will have to pay a little more in taxes.

I have been trying to deal with this bill as it affects the people. I am not going to indulge in any heroics about the Government. Honorable members might say that I started off in that way, but I would not have done so except for the statement that the Minister made.


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


.- Her Majesty’s Opposition has returned to this House and this Parliament very cocksure indeed. But when an Opposition is in that mood very often its members overreach themselves in the things that they claim and the things that they say. Already in this debate we have heard claims and statements which we on the Government side, without heroics, without excitement, will quietly and confidently answer. 1 think that for the purpose of putting the record straight we must go back to the statements of the very voluble honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), whom so often we have had to correct in this chamber. Again, to-day, my colleagues who have preceded me in the debate have had to point out his errors. To my disappointment, the estimable honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) followed suit to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.

I point out that what was done in this chamber when the honorable member for Eden-Monaro endeavoured to bring in an amendment to the social service legislation last year was that the Government simply sustained the forms of the House and gave the Deputy Chairman the support which was due to him after he had given a correct ruling. That is something of which we can be proud. I only wish that the honorable member for Port Adelaide and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who was the instigator of that incorrect amendment, would pay deference to the Chair, and instead of seeking again and again a decision as to the correctness of the original ruling, would recognize their own deficiencies in drafting the amendment. We make the point that this Government was not confronted with a vote on the substance of the amendment, but with a vote on the ruling of the Chair. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro and others are tending more and more to twist the facts. We will bring them back to earth on various points.

I am sorry, in view of the energy he expended in the making of his speech, that my estimable friend from Port Adelaide, who has always shown a very keen enthusiasm on social service matters, allowed himself to run riot about the merged means test. It was this Government that introduced the merged means test. Of course, all sorts of things contributed to government decisions during the previous years. I know that the honorable member for Port Adelaide has made various suggestions in every debate on social services, but I also know that my very good friend and colleague, the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), while he was a member of the other chamber some years ago, and right through his career as a member of the House of Representatives from South Australia, has been an advocate of amendments to the social service legislation in the cause of the under-privileged. Let us not detract from the contribution of my colleague, who saw to it that the Government that we both support was eventually brought to the point where it could see the wisdom of the scheme which he and others had submitted. Yet here we have a claim from the honorable member for Port Adelaide that all the kudos is his, and that he, as a Labour man, had all the inspiration. I do not think that that is fair.

We get back to the fact that the merged means test was brought in by the Menzies-

McEwen Government. I do not think that the Labour Opposition can at any point detract one whit from the amazing record in the social services field established by this Government - a government which for twelve years has led this country very estimably. I make that point. The noisy member from Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) is interjecting. If he will only take time to study the handbook distributed by the Department of Social Services, and analyse the facts critically, he will find that almost every highly regarded piece of social service legislation was introduced, not by Labour governments, but by non-Labour governments. I say to honorable members opposite, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker: You run hot and cold without knowing in which direction you are heading. Do you really know how much expenditure you are advocating now?

Reference was made by the previous speaker to the amount of £5 10s. a week set down in some document given to honorable members opposite by the federal executive of their party. Now we find that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro does not comply with that recommendation or instruction from the federal executive of the Labour Party.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– Yes it does!


– You talk of five guineas.

Mr Allan Fraser:

– That is what we propose the age pension should be raised from, you poor simpleton.


– So I am a poor simpleton? We will come back to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro again. Speaking without excitement, I will get back to the facts of the bill. The members of Her Majesty’s Opposition have run over the whole field of social services, whereas this bill has two distinct facets only. First, it deals with the period of residence in Australia that is a prerequisite to eligibility for age and invalid pensions. A residential qualification of twenty years has been written into Australian law for the last half-century. I believe that the modification of that provision shows the developing maturity of our nation. No other country of which I have knowledge has such a long residential qualification period as twenty years. I believe that, taking the long view, as we must in those things, Australia’s splendid immigration programme has suffered because of this long residential period. J believe that there has been criticism by intending migrants of this provision, when it has been brought to their attention, and over recent years there has been a growing demand for the law to be altered. The need for review has been accentuated by the post-war immigration programme, and the demand for review has become more and more insistent as the programme has developed.

It is significant that since 1945 more than 280,000 new settlers have become naturalized Australians. As 1 have said before in this House, these people have made a splendid contribution to the expansion of this nation. These new settlers may be found at all levels of social and commercial life. Many of them have pioneered new industries. L always find delight when moving through my own expanding electorate to find a new industry pioneered there by a new settler. No doubt other honorable members feel the same in similar circumstances. Not only have these new settlers gone into new industries but they have become dedicated to the task of opening up new country in inaccessible places in the far north-west of Western Australia and in western Queensland, out in the backblocks. They have made their sacrifices readily although perhaps, for the education of their children, they would have liked to live on a higher standard in the metropolitan area. We are grateful to them as our pioneers in new areas. They have sustained the labour force for those vast developmental projects which are making such a magnificent contribution to the life of: Australia to-day. Very many hundreds of these new settlers have gone gladly to projects such as the Snowy Mountains scheme to do the heavy work which has been necessary, particularly in the early stages.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Government, under its immigration programme, has never hesitated to encourage new settlers in a variety of ways. We recognize that there is a splendid, close-knit family relationship among many of the immigrants. As one who is interested in the problem of juvenile delinquency and the conduct of young people, I have come to know that some of these families from overseas know a lot more than we in Australia do about closeknit family life. There is a much lower incidence of juvenile delinquency in Italy, for example, than in many other nations of Europe and elsewhere. We have been admirers of close-knit family life and naturally, the Government has encouraged full family units to come to Australia wherever possible. Many immigrants have saved and sacrificed to bring other members of their family from their own country. Many young people have saved amazingly in a relatively short time so that their aged mother and father might join them here. This is a recognition of the obligation of young people to care for aged parents which, unfortunately, we fail to see in our own communities on many occasions. I say again that the Government has encouraged immigrants to bring their parents, some well advanced in years. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) said recently -

The Government attaches great importance to entire family migration and this legislation should remove one of the barriers to this desirable end . . .

As these people have come to Australia 1 believe that the existing law has, in the majority of cases been understood by them, lt has been understood by immigrants who have had to nominate elderly relatives. Indeed, financial responsibility for those relatives has been formally accepted in many cases. This has been necessary because of the advanced years of the relatives. But from my personal experience in interviewing people with problems, I know that genuine difficulties sometimes arise after parents, having been nominated by sons or daughters, have been here for a number of years. In some cases family responsibilities have increased, children may have become sick, and the aged parents have had to stop working prematurely although when they arrived in Australia they were vigorous and hoped to perform useful work for a number of years. The most genuine new settlers have come to me as, no doubt, they have gone to other honorable members, and said, “ I never thought that 1 would be embarrassed, but this term of twenty years is a very long span and I now find that I need government assistance for my elderly parents “.

Financial pressures have, in many cases, caused them to look at the law to which I have referred this afternoon. They have found that twenty years is a long time indeed for them to face before the parents are entitled to a pension. European immigrants have proved to be, almost entirely, a large, happy and successful group of citizens, fully appreciative of all that our country has offered them, including the sound and democratic government of which we are proud. They are also appreciative of freedom from the supervision of which they may have been too well aware in their old country. But one real grievance among these people has been the unfair influence of this residential qualification. This matter has been aired on Good Neighbour Councils and at various meetings of national immigrant societies. The subject has been debated again and again. Resolutions have been forwarded to the Government. These people have claimed that the existing law has singled them out and treated them as second-class citizens.

Members of this honorable House have ail spoken to new Australians at naturalization ceremonies. In the name of the Commonwealth, we have been glad to welcome them and to offer them the citizenship which we have said was on the same level as that enjoyed by every natural-born Australian. Here we have a suggestion by genuine people that we have offered them a second-class citizenship. We have been concerned about this. Certainly, we have been able to explain, as 1 trust 1 have made clear already, that in law there is no discrimination against them. This law concerning twenty years’ residence applies to me as one born in Australia just as much as it applies to the immigrant. But, of course, the new settler has pointed out that, except in isolated cases, people born in Australia usually have had twenty years of residence. Likewise, because of the reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom and with New Zealand, immigrants from those countries find little difficulty in showing that they have a combined residence period of twenty years in Australia and in their old country. But for the European migrant, particularly if he has come here at an advanced age, the twenty-year provision represents a form of discrimination. A period of twenty years is a long span indeed.

This Government has initiated much humane legislation. lt has introduced amendments to ensure equity to all sections of the population as far as possible. Before the general election, the Government said that it could now see that it was possible further to improve its social service legislation. Government supporters believe that this ought to be done in the interests of equity. The amendments proposed are now before us and we look forward to the quick passage of the legislation, for it is apparent that the Government desires to have it passed smartly so that its benefits may be conferred within the next few weeks.

In the time that remains to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 should like to pay a tribute to the officers of the Department of Social Services. The Minister for Social Services, in his recent statement, pointed out that the greatly improved and simplified formula concerning residence, as it relates to the qualifying period of ten years, will affect the reciprocal agreement. The Minister said that a number of people who are at present receiving Australian pensions under the reciprocal agreement will be able to qualify for an increase in their present pensions at once, instead of having to wait until they have been here for the previously indicated period. The department is so well organized that these things cun now be done without requiring people to fill in a form of application and forward it to the department as they have done on earlier occasions. An automatic review will be made of pensions and an increase will be given to those who are entitled to it.

I do not think that I should leave this subject without reminding the House that the Social Services Act has always denied pensions to aliens. I do not think that any of us would support the payment of benefits to those who arc still registered under the Aliens Act. We believe that this should be restricted to those who are naturalized. lt is well known, of course, that no pressure is put upon a new settler to become naturalized. We would naturally prefer that he took this important step of his own free will. However, I think it is a very just provision that if any new settler expects to receive the benefit of pension income, he should first give evidence of his desire to accept the full responsibility of an Australian citizen.

As the House is aware, the other facet of this amending bill deals, as so many honorable members have rightly said, with the provision for an increase in the rates of unemployment and sickness benefits. The Minister for Social Services has outlined clearly what these increases will bc, and he has underlined the fact that this is the first time an additional benefit has been approved for each child other than the first. There will be a general acceptance of these increased rates which will mean that a married man with three children who is unfortunately out of work will receive £8 7s. 6d. a week instead of the £7 previously payable to him. When child endowment is taken into account, that income will be lifted to £10 12s. 6d.

Every thinking person in Australia should approve of this action because the problem of a bread-winner with family commitments who finds himself out of work is a very real one. But might I say also that I am glad to have the opportunity of emphasizing that unemployment and sickness benefits were never designed to apply to a person indefinitely. In my own electorate I have noted with some concern that some people in a minority group, invariably of course with large family responsibilities, have been the recipients of unemployment benefits for long, uninterrupted periods. They give every impression that they look upon this form of government sustenance as being permanent.

I am afraid that I have my suspicion that many of them - not all of them, of course - are malingerers. Do not let any honorable member opposite, like the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), who has a steely eye on me, believe that I am making this accusation against all of them. But man? of them are malingerers and I express the hope that the Department of Social Services and the Commonwealth Employment Service will combine to check regularly such cases and take appropriate steps when it is established that the man concerned is not making a genuine attempt to find employment.

I say this because I have a well-established confidence that, before very long, we shall have a shortage of labour in this country because of our developmental prospects. We would prefer to have every able-bodied man at work rather than have him sustained by government benefits which should be available only to meet an emergency situation.


.- The Opposition takes great pleasure from the proposals that have been introduced by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) because had it not been for the neverending efforts of the Australian Labour Party in debates on social services during this Government’s term of office, these proposals would never have been introduced. These proposals have been enunciated by the Labour Party time and time again during the past twelve years. Had it not been for the very narrow shave the Government had in the elections last December, it is certain that we would not have had the pleasure of discussing the proposals that are now before the House.

The amendments to the Social Services Act that we are now discussing are items stolen directly, deliberately and callously from the Australian Labour Party’s policy. As has been mentioned earlier in this debate, during the debate on social services legislation last year, the Opposition endeavoured to move an amendment, to the act allowing for the residential qualifications for age and invalid pensions to be reduced from twenty years to ten years. Despite the protestations of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) and other honorable members that they did not have an opportunity to vote on this amendment, the fact is that the opportunity was there if they had desired to take it.

The honorable member for Swan as well as the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) have indicated that they were in favour of this proposal in September last, but their principles were lacking to such an extent that when the opportunity was offered to them, to stand in their places and vote against the Chairman’s ruling so that the amendment might be introduced in the Parliament, they refused to do so. However, shortly after, on 9th November, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) delivered his policy speech, we found that this proposal to reduce the residential qualification from twenty years to tcn years was included in it. lt was surprising at first glance to find the

Government change its mind in such a short time, but on studying the Government’s record over the past three years, we find that its policies have changed continually. It has not followed any policy for more than six months at a time. Consequently our surprise at the Government’s change of attitude to this proposal was diminished to some extent. However, we began to consider what could cause the change in the Government’s attitude. It had been in office for twelve - years, and during that period the immigration programme had continued to prosper. Great numbers of migrants had come to Australia. During those twelve years, representations were made repeatedly by members of the Opposition to the Minister for Social Services for a reduction in the residential qualification from twenty years to ten years. AH those representations were rejected. Gradually it dawned on most new Australians that this Government which claimed to be in favour of the immigration scheme and said it welcomed new Australians, was becoming known as a government that was anti-new Australian. During its twelve years of office, this Government has made very few concessions to new settlers. What caused the change of attitude on this occasion?

The tactics that the Government had been using throughout its term of office were not having sufficient effect. The Government’s tactics had been designed to get new Australians and newcomers to Australia to vote against the Australian Labour Party by using untruthful, vicious and exaggerated propaganda against the Labour Party. This propaganda was distributed by Liberal Party and Country Party propagandists through various new settler organizations. They used the communist bogey against the Labour Party. They said the Labour Party and the Communist Party were associated. Then the Government found that these tactics were not having the necessary effect. It also found that its inefficiency, ineptitude and mal-administration could no longer be hidden from the newcomers to Australia. All the Government’s defects, faults and errors had become obvious even to those who had been in Australia only a few years. Consequently, the Government had to change its anti-new Australian attitude and it decided that the best thing to do was to grant this concession and amend the residential qualification for age and invalid pensions from twenty years to ten years.

Apart from issuing a few booklets on the benefits derived by Australia from immigration, the Government has given little tangible recognition of the part that has been played by newcomers from other lands in developing Australia.

The honorable member for Swan gave us to-day a speech that was almost a death-bed repentence, lt was a speech which would no.t, I am sure, have been made had it not been for the fact that the Government has realized, and is still realizing, that the newcomers to this country are now well aware that the Liberal-Country Party Government is not working in their interests or in the interests of Australia. The migrants have been dissatisfied with the scant attention given by the Government to their aged and infirm. They had made many representations, through the various organizations in migrant communities, to the Minister for an amendment along the lines that we are now discussing, but those representations were given scant consideration.

Many of these people had come to Aus- . tralia and devoted the last years of their lives in helping to develop this land of ours. They worked on many developmental projects. One that springs to mind is the Snowy Mountains scheme, which has been rapidly developed because so many new Australians were prepared to go and work in that area. The new Australians have taken an active part in light and heavy industries as well as in developmental projects. They have worked in the housing industry and in various other industrial activities. They have more than repaid Australia for having opened its doors to them. But this Government refused for twelve years to acknowledge the fact that their aged and infirm should be given some consideration. Those aged and infirm members of the migrant community had to be kept by their relatives and friends. Had it not been for the attempt made by the Labour Party during the last two or three years to have” this legislation amended so that the residential qualifying period would be reduced, I am absolutely certain that this measure would not have been brought forward.

There is another way in which the Government has tried to hoodwink the newcomers to Australia. That is by means of the Citizenship Convention which is held in Canberra annually. The Government brings to the convention members of Liberal organizations from all parts of Australia. Those people are wined and dined and feted at the taxpayers’ expense, and are then sent back to the various Good Neighbour Councils and other organizations to disseminate Liberal Party political propaganda aimed to discredit the Labour Party. But the Government found there also that because of its ineptitude and inefficiency the scheme was not paying off to the extent to which it had done in previous years. This is just another reason why this legislation is now before us. It is only because of the work of the Labour Party and because the eyes of the new Australians have been opened that the Government has seen fit to take this action.

The Labour Party says that this is a good amendment, but that it should have been introduced many years ago. Had it not been for our efforts, I am quite sure that these people who came from overseas countries and who are now aged or infirm would not be enjoying in the near future the benefits that will now be available to them.

The honorable member for Swan took to task the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) for saying that the merged means test was a plank of the Australian Labour Party’s platform, an idea that had emanated from within the ranks of the social service committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The honorable member for Port Adelaide has before him a copy of the letter which he wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Social Services, and which was replied to by the Minister for Social Services. The simple fact is that the social service committee set up by honorable members on this side of the House worked out this proposal, adopted it in principle and in detail and submitted it, in confidence, to the Department of Social Services for an estimate of the cost involved. Astonishingly enough, the reply came not from the department, to which the letter had been addressed, but from the Minister himself, although it has always been understood that a government depart ment should treat in the strictest confidence and in the most impartial manner any correspondence addressed to it by any member of parliament, whether on the Government side or on the Opposition side. Yet we find that an idea put forward by our social service committee apparently gained favour in the department and was submitted to the Minister in order that a reply might be sent by him to the honorable member for Port Adelaide, who had made the original inquiry on behalf of the committee.

The Minister, in replying to the honorable member for Port Adelaide, claimed that the committee’s request for information on this policy proposal with regard to a merged means test should not have been addressed to the department, but should have been addressed to him, the Minister. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what sense there would be in addressing to a Minister, whose views are opposed to yours, an inquiry on a policy matter that you intended to include in your policy speech, for the purpose of obtaining factual information about the cost of the proposal. It is quite obvious that the present Minister for Social Services, and those who have preceded him, would not have treated the matter in confidence, but would have done exactly as has been done in this instance. Within a few months the Government made a proposal for a merged means test, including, in almost identical terms, every item that had been included in the letter forwarded to the department by the honorable member for Port Adelaide.

Those are the facts with regard to the merged means test, lt does not matter what the honorable member for Sturt may say, or what the honorable member for Swan may say, or what the Minister himself may say. The facts are that this proposal for a merged means test and the proposal for the reduction of the period of residential qualification for age and invalid pensions were first thought of and suggested by the Labour Party, and would not have been introduced had it not been for the efforts of the Labour Party.

Let me now turn to the unemployment situation. The Government proposes, by means of the bill now before us, to increase the unemployment benefit. Let me remind the House that during the last twelve months, despite the fact that the unemployment figures were rising month after month, due entirely to the effects of this Government’s policies, members of the Government, particularly the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), made repented predictions that in the next month, or in the following months, unemployment would become almost non-existent throughout Australia. What is the position now? The figures for last month show that 131.000 people are registered as unemployed.

I know that what I am about to say has been said before, but I feel that it bears repeating. If there were 131.000 men and women on strike in Australia, think of the protests, the condemnation and the criticism that we would hear from Government members and their supporters. They would demand an immediate return to work. They would claim that thousands of man-hours were being Jost each day. They would claim that many machines were idle, and that productive capacity was being wasted. But we have now, in effect, 13L000 men and women actually locked out of employment by the Government’s policy. Yet the Government sits idly by. It has made no real attempt to bring down a policy to reduce unemployment throughout Australia. 1 would remind the House that while unemployment increases there must be a consequent increase in the amount of benefit paid to the unemployed, and in this legislation the Government proposes to increase the amount of benefit that will be paid. Consequently, in the next few months there will be more and more of the taxpayers’ money paid to our unemployed citizens.

There is only one solution of this problem, and it involves the adoption of a policy that will maintain full employment throughout Australia. As has been said before, for every breadwinner who is unemployed there must be suffering, hardship and a lowering of living standards for every member of his family. There must be a consequent loss of human dignity, which should be among our most prized possessions. The machine was made for the purpose of man. Governments at all times should ensure, above all else, that their legislation and policies are designed to preserve human dignity. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) is another attempt by the

Labour Party to preserve human dignity. It is designed to make available to adults and to married minors who are unemployed an amount of money which, although far below that which they should have, at least will be as much as that paid to age and invalid pensioners. It is an attempt again by the Labour Party to raise the standards of these people who are suffering hardship and deprivation caused by the policies of this Government. The increase is well merited, but it would be far better if the Government had taken more notice of the policies enunciated1 by the Labour Party during the last Parliament and in its policy speech. The Government has already stolen three or four of our proposals. If it had taken more of them, more money would have been put into the economy, confidence would have been restored to industry and the policy of full employment which was brought into being by a Labour government, in 1948, would have been resurrected.

The bill provides for unemployment benefits to be paid for second and subsequent children in an unemployed family. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that the Government desired to help the unemployed man with the larger family. It is pleasing to note that the larger family is being considered by the Government, but this is the first time since I have been a member of the House that the Government has done so. Its failure to increase child endowment is well known. No increase has been granted in this field since 1950, although during the whole of the intervening years the cost of living has risen considerably. I want to bring home to the Government the fact that the man with a large family purchases more goods, more food, more meat, more vegetables, more clothing, and more furniture than doss the man without a family or with a small family. Consequently, the man with the larger family pays more sales tax. But this Government has failed to recognize the hardship and suffering inflicted on many of the parents of large families. These people have not received any consideration from the Government since 1950.

As a further point in my argument that the Government fails to do anything for the larger families, let me refer to the reductions of income tax that were announced by the Prime Minister on 6th February. I interrupt myself to point out that this is another occasion on which the Prime Minister has usurped the authority of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). I cannot understand why the Treasurer has not the moral fibre to stand up to the Prime Minister, but the fact is that every unfavorable announcement of economic policy is made by the Treasurer, who is now perhaps the most unpopular man throughout Australia. On the other hand, every popular announcement is made by the Prime Minister, and the Treasurer sits silently by. The same thing can be said of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick).

I return to the point I was making on the income tax reductions announced on 6th February. A greater concession is being granted to the person without dependants than is being granted to the man with a family. The amounts of the reductions for incomes I have chosen to illustrate my point are set out in the following table: -

On a weekly basis, a single person with a salary of £20 a week will receive a reduction of 6s. 9d.; a man with a wife and two children will receive a reduction of 3s. 6d.; and a man with a wife and four children will receive a reduction of 2s. 3d. A single man with a salary of £30 a week will receive 13s. 9d.; a man with a wife and two children will receive 9s. 3d.; and a man with a wife and four children will receive 8s. A single man with a salary of £50 will receive £1 lis. 6d.; a man with a wife and two children will receive £1 5s. 6d.; and a man with a wife and four children will receive £1 3s. 6d.

It is obvious that the Government is not prepared to consider the needs of the man with a large family. This is the only time since 1950 that it has shown any inclination to do so, and it has now introduced a bill to provide for the payment of unemployed benefits for the second and subsequent children. It is long past the time for consideration to be given to the larger families by increasing child endowment and by granting greater taxation concessions. If the Government wants to know what to do, it need only look at the policy enunciated by the Labour Party. The Labour Party wants to improve the living standards and to raise the human dignity of people throughout Australia, and the only reward we seek is the knowledge that this Government will continue to take from our policies proposals which will raise the standard of living and the standard of human dignity.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Anthony) adjourned.

page 142


Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1); Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 2); Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 3); Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 4); Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 5); Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 1)

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Minister for Supply · Paterson · LP

.- I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1).]

That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that the amendment operate, and be deemed to have operated, on and after the twenty-first day of November, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-one. [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 3).] That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that the amendment operate, and be deemed to have operated, on and after the twenty-sixth day of January, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two. [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 4).] That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals and that the amendment operate, and be deemed to have operated, on and after the seventh day of February, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two. [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 5).] That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals and that on and after the twenty-third day of February, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two. Duties of Customs be collected accordingly. [Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 1).] That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, and that the amendment operate, and be deemed to have operated, on and after the seventh day of February, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two. Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 1 to 4 and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 1 which I have tabled relate to tariff alterations which have been made since Parliament rose in October last. In accordance with section 273 ea of the Customs Act, notices of the proposals were published in the Commonwealth " Gazette ". Copies of the notices were circulated to honorable members at the time. Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 1 and 2 provide for temporary duties on styrene polymers and copolymers, penicillin or its salts, and streptomycin sulphate. In each of these instance's, the temporary duties were imposed following reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board. 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. Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 3 and 4 provide for amendments to the Customs Tariff on bathing hats and caps, vacuum cleaners and parts therefor, floor polishers, floor polishers combined with vacuum cleaners or floor scrubbers, safety pins, ceramic tiles, musical instruments of the lute class, for example, banjos, guitars, mandolins and ukuleles, synthetic resins of the styrene and acrylic types, industrial nitro-cellulose, tire cord and tire cord fabric, onions, and lactose and arise from consideration of Tariff Board recommendations, as distinct from reports by deputy chairmen. Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposal No. 1 is complementary to Customs Tariff Proposal No. 4 and ensures that the preferential treatment for the goods specified, when of New Zealand origin, will be continued. In addition to the amendments arising from Tariff Board recommendations there are several changes of an administrative nature associated with these proposals. These do not involve any alteration in the existing rates of duty. Customs Tariff Proposal. No. 5, which I have tabled, imposes a temporary duty of 27½ per cent. ad valorem on certain road wheels other than of the well base or drop centre rim type and will take effect to-morrow morning. This also follows a report by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board. At a later stage I shall table the reports which gave rise to the foregoing changes. I commend theproposals to honorable members. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 149 {:#debate-25} ### TARIFF BOARD Reports on Items. **Mr. FAIRHALL** (Paterson - Minister for Supply). - I lay on the table reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board on the question of whether temporary duties should be imposed on the following items: - >Glycerine. > >Penicillins and streptomycin. > >Road wheels other than of the well-base or dropcentre rim type. > >Styrene polymers and copolymers. > >Textile handkerchiefs. I also lay on the table the reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: - >Bench or table-type knitting machines. > >Ceramic tiles and tile blanks. > >Industrial nitrocellulose. > >Lactose. > >Musical instruments of the lute class. > >Onions in their natural state. > >Plain safety pins. > >Portland cement from Japan (dumping and subsidies). > >Rubber bathing caps and hats. > >Synthetic resins of the styrene and acrylic types. > >Tire cord and tire cord fabrics. > >Vacuum cleaners and floor polishers. Ordered to be printed. {: .page-start } page 149 {:#debate-26} ### SOCIAL SERVICES BILL 1962 {:#subdebate-26-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed (vide page 142), on motion by **Mr. Roberton** - >That the bill be now read a second time. Upon which **Mr. Allan** Fraser had moved by way of amendment - >That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - " the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to include provision for the rate of unemployment and sickness benefit for an adult and for a married minor to be increased to the rate of the age and invalid pension, and that the Government present the redrafted bill to the House this day ". {: #subdebate-26-0-s0 .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond **.- Mr. Speaker,** I am pleased to be able to address the House on this bill. First, I should like to reply to the bitter attack made bythe honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** on the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** and on the Government's policy. It is not unusual to hear the honorable member make such an attack on the Minister. He seems to have some personal animosity towards the Minister. It is a pity that the honorable member makes an attack of this kind in circumstances in which the Minister has not an opportunity to reply. The Minister is very anxious to get this measure through as quickly as possible so that the unfortunate people who are concerned may receive the benefit of it. Indeed, the Minister wants to have the measure passed by 1st March. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro gave us quite a lecture on political morality and political honesty. When one closely analyses his speech, one concludes that he is rather hypocritical in foisting these arguments on us. First of all, he made the wild accusation that we on this side of the House have perpetually resisted the proposal to reduce the residential qualification for pensions from twenty to ten years' residence in Australia and also the increasing of the unemployment benefit. Dealing first with the reduction of the residential qualification, the honorable member said that members of the Australian Labour Party had voted on this issue a number of times in the dying hours of the Twenty-third Parliament. As was clearly established by my friend, the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. Holten),** there was no vote in this House on that issue. There was a vote on a purely procedural matter, but no vote on a motion designed to reduce the residential qualification. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- What about the Senate proceedings? {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- There was no vote on the matter in this House, although the honorable member for Eden-Monaro alleged that such a vote had been taken in this chamber on a number of occasions. The vote in question was taken during the consideration of the Social Services Bill 1961, on a motion by the honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard)** that a ruling by the **Chairman (Mr. Lucock)** be dissented from. The Chairman had ruled against the honorable member for Lalor in these terms - >I remind the honorable member again that the latter which he is discussing does not come within the clauses of the bill before the committee, and I ask him, therefore, to relate his remarks to those clauses. The subject-matter to which he is referring is not before the committee. In effect, what we voted on was the question of whether the honorable member for Lalor would be allowed to proceed with the matter that he was discussing. That was a purely procedural vote. The assertions by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to the effect that we on this side of the chamber had voted against the reduction of the residential qualification period are wide of the mark and it ill behoves him to talk of honesty. The honorable member said, also, that we continued to resist an increase in the unemployment benefit and to refuse our sympathy to the unfortunate people who are unemployed. Yet, in the last Budget, we provided for increased unemployment benefit and we are now again proposing to increase it. We do so because we see that the unemployed people need help. The honorable member asserted that the Australian Labour Party's policy for the general election contained a proposal to do these things. I challenge any Labour member of this House to read through Labour's policy speech and show me one word that was part of a promise to increase the unemployment benefit. Labour found room for promises to increase everything else, but, somehow, it forgot about the unemployment benefit The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro earlier today proposes that the unemployment benefit be increased to the level of age and invalid pensions. Apparently, Labour members believe that the unfortunate people in the community who are permanently deprived, by reason of age or health, of the opportunity to work ought to get no more than a person who temporarily is without a job ought to get. I do not think that that is a fair proposition. The unfortunate person who is permanently unable to work needs a reasonable pension, but the unemployed person should be given only what I describe as a floor payment - that is, a benefit at a level that will sustain him and keep him going until he can get a job. The initiative to find work for himself should never be killed. I believe that if the unemployment benefit is raised to too high a level that will happen. What we propose now is just and reasonable. Of course, we have done more than just increase the basic unemployment benefit. This Government has raised the permissible earnings from £1 to £2 a week. I would rather see an increase in the permissible earnings than any further increase at the moment in the unemployment benefit itself. I should like unemployed persons to have an opportunity to get a day's work now and again. Labour, of course, has never suggested that the permissible earnings be increased, but I believe that the figure should be raised from £2 to at least £3 a week. In these times, a day's work is worth at least £3, and it is very difficult for an unemployed person to get just half a day's work rather than a job for a whole day. As a farmer, I am restricted in obtaining an unemployed person on unemployment benefit for one day's work, because I would have to pay him at least £3 or £4 for the day's work and that would affect his unemployment benefit. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that this Government was all the time trying to push down the underdog by denying him any purpose in life and refusing him decent social service benefits. Then the honorable member came out with the wild allegation that the percentage of the national income spent on health and social services is less to-day than when Labour was in office. I have taken the trouble to work out a comparison. In 1948-49, the gross national income was £1,966,000,000, and Labour spent on social services and health £80,800,000, or 4.1 per cent. of the gross national income. In the financial year 1960-61 the gross national income totalled £5,825,000,000 and this Government spent on health and social services £331,000,000, or 5.7 per cent. of the gross national income. This represents an increase of 39 per cent. in the proportion of the gross national income spent on health and social services now compared with the proportion spent when Labour was in office. So let Opposition members not say again that this Government has refused to give those who need help a fair go. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr Beazley: -- Does 5.7 per cent. minus 4.1. per cent. give 39 per cent.? {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- The honorable member can work it out. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr Beazley: -- The difference is 1.6 per cent., and that represents the increase in the proportion of the national income now spent on health and social services. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- The proportion of the national income now spent on health and social services has increased by 39 per cent. compared with the proportion in the Labour Government's time. Opposition members talk so much about social services. Let us go back to the time of the Labour Government. We all remember that Government's National Welfare Fund. We all remember that at that time it was necessary to fill in two returns - one for income tax and the other for social service contributions. Every person who became liable to pay income tax was required also to contribute to social services at rates varying from 3d. in the £1 to a maximum of1s. 6d. in the £1. But I point out that the scale rose sharply, and that a man earning approximately £300 a year would be contributing the maximum rate of1s. 6d. in the £1 towards social services. Although the Labour Party claims that its desire is always to help the little man, the fact is that a man earning only about £300 a year was required to contribute the maximum of1s. 6d. in the £1 to social services. When this Government attained office, the payments were amalgamated, and the person on the higher income was required to pay a greater percentage than was the person on the lower income, whereas, although under Labour's scheme the minimum rate was 3d. in the £1, the man earning approximately £300 a year was required to pay the maximum of1s. 6d. in the £1. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr Beazley: -- But at that time £300 a year was more than the basic wage. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- That may be so, but the philosophy of the Labour Party in that connexion was wrong. If the Labour Party's aim is to favour the man on the lower income as against the man on the higher income, that should have been done. Instead, the man on the lower income was penalized. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro made another very wild statement. He said that the percentage of our national income devoted to social services had degenerated from the third largest in the world to about the sixteenth largest.I thought that allegation needed investigating andI turned to (he report of the International Labour Organization. ThereI found a host of statistics relating to social security, and they showed clearly that in 1957 this Government was contributing a great deal more towards social security than the Labour Government contributed in 1949. The preface to that report also pointed out that accurate comparisons could not be made between countries because some countries take into consideration tax allowances for families, expenditure on public works projects undertaken for the relief of unemployment, expenditure on the prevention of accidents, payments to those who have accidents, and many other factors when arriving at their expenditure on social services. The report states, further, that an accurate comparison cannot be made between countries in which the per capita income is low and those in which the per capita income is high, because some of those countries in which the per capita income is low spend a high proportion of their revenue on health services and the relief of unemployment. The honorable member also spoke about political honesty, political morality and so on. He suggested that we on this side were not politically honest. Let me take honorable members back to the last election campaign. Let me remind them that the Labour Party made extravagant promises in connexion with every possible matter, promises which, according to departmental estimates, would have cost well over £300,000,000 to honour. These promises were nothing more than a cheap bid for votes. But that is not unusual with the Labour Party. We all remember how, four years ago, the Labour leader in New Zealand, **Mr. Nash,** made some very wild promises. He could not honour them, with the result that he was thrown out of office three years later and **Mr. Holyoake** and his party were returned with one of the greatest majorities enjoyed for many years. The same thing happened in connexion with the municipal elections in Brisbane only last year when **Mr. Clem** Jones, the Labour candidate for the office of Lord Mayor of that city, promised that there would be no increase in rates or tram and bus fares. He had not been in office for more than six months when all those charges were increased in Brisbane. In New South Wales, too, this form of political bribery has been going on for years. For instance, eleven years ago we heard great promises in New South Wales about the Blowering Dam, but not one sod has been turned since. Even now I am feeling the full impact of Labour's bid for votes in my electorate where Slate Ministers have been making all sorts of promises. Only last Monday they promised a big new base hospital to cost about £500,000 for Lismore. Why, we have been crying out for such a hospital there for years. As far back as 1941, Labour promised a hospital for Lismore, but nothing has been done in the twenty years since then. Most Australians are becoming accustomed to these cheap bids for votes by the Labour Party. We all agree with helping those who need help, butI do not believe that government expenditure in this direction should become top-heavy or so great that it is impossible to carry out other essential public works. Some of the other countries of the world are beginning to realize that it is not wise to over-spend on social services For instance, when the United Kingdom Government found it necessary to adopt certain economic measures recently, it was forced to cut defence expenditure because its social service commitments were so high. In the same way, if we go on paying out more and more on social services, it will probably mean either a cut in defence expenditure or a substantial increase in taxation. I do not like to see taxation reaching abnormal levels because high taxation kills all incentive to work and produce. Again, if one becomes too dependent upon social services one must lose all sense of selfreliance and initiative. I do know that many church leaders and leaders of benevolent organizations are not very happy about the present trend in which people are becoming more and more dependent upon the state. They feel that this trend is leading people to ask, " Why should I worry about my neighbour? The state will look after him." That is not the true Christian spirit. {: .speaker-K6X} ##### Mr Coutts: -- You want the state to look after the banana-growers. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I am not asking the state to do anything for the banana-growers; I am asking for an orderly marketing scheme. That does not need state help. The honorable member does not know anything about marketing organizations. All he knows is what Clem Jones is doing in Brisbane - increasing rates and bus and tram fares. He would not know anything about marketing. As I said before, the important purpose of social services should be to give help to those who need it, to give them enough to exist on without killing their incentive of desire to go out to look for work and produce more. I believe that we must increase social services as costs go up, but we must not make the benefits so great as to kill initiative in the man who is prepared to go out and work. By increased benefits I mean that we should consider granting greater tax concessions to the family man. We should also consider granting him higher allowances for the education of his family. We could even go so far as to consider granting travelling allowances if the family man has to travel to work. Perhaps the greatest reform ever introduced was that brought down by the present Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton),** the Australian Country Party member for Riverina - the merging of income and property in a means test. That is probably the greatest social service step to be taken in a decade. We have heard of all the great things that the Labour Party has done. I should like to mention some of the things this Government has done. The Labour Parly has mentioned child endowment but it was the Menzies Government in 1941 which introduced child endowment and in 1950 gave child endowment for the first child. Let me remind honorable members that this Government has made the hospital and medical benefits scheme work, lt has lifted that scheme out of the realm of mere promises. We introduced the free milk scheme to help build up our nation through the health of our children. We introduced also a phar {: .speaker-K0I} ##### Mr Comber: -- Labour was not allowed to introduce it-- {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Labour was not allowed to introduce it because Labour could not get the co-operation of the pharmacists and the medical profession. While you are on your political honeymoon YOU should not interject too much. Then there is the anti-tuberculosis campaign which Labour started and for which 1 give it credit. Labour claims to give help to the people who need help - the poor people who may be afflicted with tuberculosis. What did Labour give a married couple in its last year of office? If the man had tuberculosis he received £4 lis. 6d. a week. When we came to office we increased the amount to £12 2s. 6d. Labour gave the single man £2 lis. *66.* and we increased it to £5 7s. 6d. Labour gave 5s. to the child of a person who had tuberculosis and we increased the amount to 10s. Do not say that we do not give justice where justice is deserved! We assisted the mental institutions; we introduced the anti-polio scheme; we subsidized the Red Cross blood transfusion service and we brought in the Aged Persons Homes Act, the provisions of which apply to benevolent and religious organizations so that the scheme is not completely state-controlled. Those are some of the things that we have done to help the people who need help. Let us return now to the age and invalid pensions. The honorable member for EdenMonaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** made great play on this. He admitted that the pensions have increased, but so has the cost of living. I took the time to telephone the Commonwealth Statistician and learned that from the December quarter, 1949, to the December quarter, 1961, the consumer price index had risen by 91 per cent. But during the same period the age and invalid pensions had increased by 144 per cent. In addition to this, we have introduced the hospital, medical and pharmaceutical benefits which the people did not receive under Labour administration. Do not tell me that we have not looked after the people and will not continue to look after them as the country can afford to do so. The only reason why the country has been able to afford the substantial increases which have been granted is because of our great national productivity, because we have attracted foreign capital into Australia and because we have given people the urge to work and to produce. By what amount have unemployment benefits increased? With the introduction of this legislation the amount payable to a single man or a married minor will represent an increase of 232 per cent, on the amount paid when Labour went out of office. That is a tremendous amount more than Labour paid to assist the unemployed. The benefit paid to a married couple has increased by 211 per cent., and the increase from 5s. to 15s. for the children represents an increase of 300 per cent. Remember, the cost of living has increased by only 144 per cent.! My goodness, what hypocrisy has been displayed by the Opposition with all its talk about this Government not assisting the people. We have heard a lot to-day about full employment and the so-called full employment in the days of the Curtin Government. Do not forget that the Curtin Government was in office during war-time when there was conscription of labour and when a worker could not leave his job unless he was given permission to do so. Is that the way by which the Opposition wants to achieve full employment in this country? Does it want to have labour conscripted again with the workers directed to certain jobs and required to obtain permission before leaving them? {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Mr Forbes: -- That is what the Labour Party wants. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I am sure it does. We have heard a lot about the small number of unemployed when we came to office. Just remember that, in 1949, there were 34,000 registered unemployed and 105,000 people out of work because of the coal strike in New South Wales. The Communist-dominated union took control of the coal-mining industry and paralysed every other essential industry, including the production of electricity, in that State. How did we overcome this problem? When we assumed office we introduced the secretballot legislation which the Opposition now wants to repeal. Labour does not want a secret ballot because it has managed to establish a unity ticket. We have heard a lot of talk recently about how the Labour Party managed to get a Communist out of the Waterside Workers Federation and replace him by **Mr. Fitzgibbon.** How was the Communist displaced? It was not the Australian Labour Party which got him out, it was Santamaria's national civic organization and the Australian Democratic Labour Party which did so. In the States where those organizations are strong the big vote was against the Communists, but in New South Wales the vote was two to one in favour of the Communist Party representative. That is the State in which the Labour Party has the most power, so it has a lot to answer for. I wonder how the Amalgamated Engineering Union ballot is proceeding, in which the Labour Party has put up McDowell against a Communist? I hope that the supporters of the Labour Party express their opinions on this occasion and do not leave it to Santamaria and the D.L.P. to get the Communist out of power. I should like now to direct my remarks to the bill. The other day a new Australian said to me, " Why is it that when I become naturalized I sign a form which states that I am entitled to everything to which an Australian is entitled, yet I have to be here ten years to qualify for the age or invalid pension? " I want to clear up one point. This residential qualification applies to all Australians. If an Australian who was born here lives in the territories or overseas, other than in New Zealand or England, and does not spend ten consecutive years in Australia or have a minimum of five years' continuous residence in fifteen years or more in the aggregate, he does not qualify for the pension. So this qualification applies not only to new Australians. When they become naturalized they are entitled to everything to which other Australians are entitled. There has been some misunderstanding among new Australians on this point. For instance, a child will not receive any of these benefits. {: .speaker-KXZ} ##### Mr Peters: -- He will not get the old age pension. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I know that. He will not receive any benefits until he is over sixteen years of age. I ask honorable members who attend naturalization ceremonies to clear up these points with the new Australians. Australians accept the social philosophy that benefits conferred upon the beneficiary by the community should be related to his contribution to- the community. Only if you give something to Australia can you expect anything in return. It is not fair that a person who comes to Australia should receive immediately all our social service benefits, but I know this cannot be carried too far. In the case of unemployment, for instance, the regulations specify that a person must be here for one year before receiving the unemployment benefit unless he can show to the department that he is determined to remain in Australia permanently. Of course, even if a child is born on the ship coming to Australia, child endowment is payable immediately on arrival. The same applies to maternity allowances, but where age and invalid pensions are concerned it is only right and proper that there should be a qualifying period. I support this legislation. I hope that I have highlighted the extreme and wild statements which the Australian people are becoming sick of hearing from the Labour Party. {: #subdebate-26-0-s1 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- This bill proposes to alter the Social Services Act in order, among other things, to reduce the residential qualification period from twenty years to ten years and to increase the rates of unemployment and sickness benefits. Supporters of the Government have been at great pains to try to explain why it was that they voted against this proposition just before the last election. They did that, as I will show in a minute. So far supporters of the Government have tried to seek refuge from the fact that by cunning manipulation of the Standing Orders- {: .speaker-KBH} ##### Mr Wilson: -- That is a reflection on the Chair. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I repeat, that by a cunning manipulation of Standing Orders, and I have no doubt by some conference - not some malicious or ulterior conference but some conference or understanding with the Chair that this would not be dealt with as a motion- {: #subdebate-26-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: **-(Hon. Sir John** McLcay). - Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark. It is a reflection on the Chair and on the Chairman of Committees to say that he went into conference with anybody to manipulate the Standing Orders. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr Beazley: -- On a point of order, **Mr. Speaker:** Are you entitled to rule that no honorable member may make any criticism of an honorable member of a previous Parliament? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! I thing the honorable member is making a grave reflection on the Chair. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- But it was a different Chair. You, of course, **Sir, would** not allow such a thing to happen. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I do not think the honorable member should canvass the matter; he might be sorry later on. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I want to prove that this was a manipulation of the Standing Orders in order to prevent a debate and in order to prevent a vote from being taken here, because if we turn to the official record of the debate in the Senate we find that the people in charge of affairs there were not quite so cunning and clever as were those in this place. If one turns to page 591 of the official report, on 14th September, 1961, one finds that **Senator Cooke** did in fact move a motion to insert in the Social Services Bill the following provision: - >Section 21 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (b) of sub-section (1.) the words " twenty years " and inserting in their stead the words " ten years ". That motion was accepted by the Senate and by the President of the Senate, and a debate took place on it. As appears at page 639 of "Hansard" of 26th September, 1961, **Senator Spooner,** the Leader of the Government in the Senate, had this to say about it - >The Government has very carefully considered all the various proposals that have been advanced. He was referring to the proposals advanced by **Senator Cooke** in his motion. He continued - >I have risen mainly to say that, for the reason I have given, the Government is unable to accept the Opposition amendment. Now laugh that off. Let me hear any one else, from now on, get up here and say that the Government did not have an opportunity to accept this amendment before the last election. There was a division on this question, in fact, and I find that when the division was taken 26 Labour senators voted in favour of **Senator Cooke's** motion to reduce the period from twenty years to ten years and every one of the Liberal and Country Party senators then in the chamber, 30 in all, voted against the proposal which we are now considering in this Parliament. So let us hear no more of this humbug that we have been hearing here and this attempt to shift the responsibility that the Government must bear on its shoulders for the decision it took. {: .speaker-KXZ} ##### Mr Peters: -- It was a manipulation of the truth, also. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- That could be. Of course, in those days the Government was riding high, wide and handsome nd felt that it did not have to worry about this kind of thing and that it could go on, as it had for the last twelve years, ignoring public opinion as. expressed by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Calwell)** and Opposition members. What more striking example of the complacency and the smug arrogance of members of the Ministry can one get than by reference to that rather memorable article which appeared in the " Daily Telegraph " under the name of **Mr. Ray** Castle, and which explained how he found members and Ministers of the Government when he journeyed from Sydney to Canberra to have a look at them just before the election was to take place. That was at the time of the Budget. He said - >The Prime Minister, **Mr. Menzies** - looking remarkably fit and cheerful- shook me by the ind and admired my waistcoat (a little thing red, yellow, black, orange and green tartan). I am sorry to say that it is true that the Prime Minister was inclined to pay more attention to coloured waistcoats in those days than he did to the requirements of the people, and it appears that as the result of the shock which he received at the hands of the electors on 9th December he has tried to rectify his errors in that regard. The article continues - >Defence Minister Athol Townley grinned at me. Labour and National Service Minister Bill McMahon winked at me. Repatriation Minister Fred Osborne told me he'd never felt fitter. Unfortunately for him he is not here any longer. Further - >Treasury Secretary **Sir Roland** Wilson looked straight through me. He said **Mr. Harold** Holt told him he had slept very well and said - >I have been getting up to go to work so early, I haven't had time to sleep. That was the attitude of the Ministry in those days as you so well know, **Mr. Speaker.** I want to show the Government that the sole reason why it is bringing down this legislation now is because of the shock that it suffered at the hands of the electors on 9th December. I want to prove how insincere the Government is in now bringing down a proposal which every one of its members voted against in a division in the Senate when the Labour Party tried to have the same provision introduced. I do not think there is any argument against the proposal to reduce the residential qualifying period for migrants from twenty years to ten years. Many of these people came out here late in life and many were persons who had escaped from tyranny in other parts of the world and were perhaps well over 50 years of age on their arrival here, which means that if we were to apply the law as it now stands, many of them would be over 70 years of age before they could qualify. I think there is something else which has to be looked at in regard to the position of migrants in respect of social services. The time is coming when - I think the leader of the Labour Party, the Honorable Arthur Calwell, recognizes the fact - the practice now obtaining under the law in the United States of America must be followed by Australia in respect of the payment of all social service benefits in cases where the recipients are naturalized Australians who decide to live outside of Australia. This practice is regulated by treaty agreement and is reciprocal in the case of the United States of America, Italy and some other countries. I believe that a similar agreement could be made by Australia with Italy, Greece and the Lebanon, to mention but three countries from which we obtain many immigrants. I believe also that similar agreements could be negotiated with Holland, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. I hope that the Government will give attention to this, because I think it should be remembered that whilst it is true that probably not very many of our immigrants will ever want to go back to their own lands to spend the rest of their days- {: .speaker-KXZ} ##### Mr Peters: -- They are going back in thousands. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- If that is so, the need is greater than ever. It is nice for those old people, however, to know that if they want to go back to the lands of their birth and spend the last days of their lives with their own people they can do so in the certain knowledge that they will be secure. What does it matter to us, once those people have qualified for social service benefits, whether they live here or in Italy or some other country, because we are committed for the amount they are entitled to until they die, whatever happens? To take advantage of the technicality that they are not now living in this country is, in my view, a mean and miserable attitude to take and one which, I hope, will not be taken for very much longer. I now turn to a remark made by the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Cleaver).** I think it is almost a disgusting thing that men in this Parliament who are earning, or at least receiving, large incomes not only as members of Parliament but from other sources also should get up in this place and describe as malingerers people who are unemployed. The honorable member for Swan went further than that. He said that " many " of these people are malingerers. I do not believe it. I do not believe that anybody would want to remain on the miserable pittance that we call unemployment relief if they were able to get jobs. It is not true that, as the honorable member for Swan attempted to suggest, many of the unemployed are malingerers. I wonder how many he means. He did not say. He did not say " a few ". He said " many and I dispute that, and say that it was an unkind and unjustified thing to say about the unfortunate unemployed. The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony),** in his rather unusual speech, said that the cost of Labour's social services proposals would be an extra £300,000,000. That reminded me that during the election campaign, when Labour put forward its proposals and estimated that they would cost approximately £130,000,000, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** told a meeting at Wagga that his assessment, which he said was based on information supplied to him by departmental authorities, was that the cost would be £300,000,000. The reaction from the press and from everybody who read this statement was so unsatisfactory that he decided he would bump the figure up by another £200,000,000 and the following night, speaking in Sydney, he increased the figure from £300,000,000 to £500,000,000, again blaming the departmental officers for the change made. Unfortunately, some of the other Ministers did not know that there was to be a £200,000.000 increase in what the Government was going to claim to be the cost of financing Labour's proposals because the Treasurer **(Mr. Harold Holt),** evidently believing that £300,000,000 was to be the magic figure that was to be used to frighten the electors away from Labour's proposals, made a statement that he had carefully considered the proposals and found that they were going to cost £240,000,000; while on the same night, also evidently npt knowing that the figure had been changed at the Sydney meeting, the Leader of the Country Party, the Minister for Trade **(Mr. McEwen),** announced to his startled audience that the cost would be £270,000,000. To-day we find from the honorable member for Richmond that the Prime Minister's first figure -£300,000,000- is the figure we are to accept as being the official version from the Government side. The odd thing about these estimates from the various Ministers is that the Public Service association immediately repudiated the assertion by the Prime Minister that his assessment was based upon figures supplied by the Public Service. The Public Service association said that it resented the attempt by the Prime Minister to use it for political purposes, and that no such assessment had ever been made by it. But that, of course, does not worry the honorable member for Richmond, who has come along with the same old story. Now I want to see whether I can melt the heart of the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** on a matter about which I have written several letters to him - without avail. They had about the same effect on him as my present remarks will no doubt have. He is looking with a glassy stare in his eye at somebody on the other side of the House, and is apparently taking not the slightest notice of what I am saying. {: .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr Roberton: -- He is a most attractive fellow. {: #subdebate-26-0-s3 .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock: -Order! {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- Whether or not the Minister likes it, 1 am going to repeat here my advocacy in this particular case in the hope that the Minister's departmental officers will read my remarks, pull the Minister by the coat-tail and tell him to wake up and do something about the matter, lt concerns an old lady who owns a large home - too large for her to look after by herself any longer. She decided to let two of the rooms to a boarder for 25s. a week. Remember, those two rooms were part of the house. The boarder had to share all the conveniences, such as laundry, toilet and bathroom, and the front door and back door. So in every sense the two rooms were part of the house. However, the department in Adelaide decided to reduce that old lady's pension, lt made an assessment of the value of the portion of the house let in this way, treated that as property and applied the property means test to the old lady's pension. Because of other property she had, this action had the effect of reducing her pension almost to nothing. In a letter dated 15th November, 1961, the Director of Social Services in Adelaide wrote to me as follows: - >It is noted in your letter that you have stated that the tenants in the claimant's property will share the entrance to the house. This factor will not make any difference if the circumstances are otherwise the same and the value of the selfcontained portion will still be included in the pension assessment. I eventually wrote to the Minister himself. Knowing what an influential person he is with his department I believed that he might be able to do something to overcome this injustice. I received from the Honorable Hugh S. Roberton, the Minister for Social Services, a letter which contained the following statement: - as the new arrangements- This was the arrangement about the tenant using the front door - may be said to lower the value of the tenant's accommodation, a lower figure will be taken into account than previously. Which means that the Minister has decided that the statement by the director in Adelaide that it made no difference was entirely wide of the mark, and that it did in fact make a difference. I went on with this matter, and finally 1 had occasion to write other letters to the honorable gentleman. I want to read to the Parliament some of the statements contained in those letters. In a letter to the Minister 1 pointed out that in the days of the Labour Government a pensioner was allowed to let a portion of his house without loss of pension so long as there was a doorway connecting that portion of the house with the portion occupied by the pensioner himself. I went on to say that when the Liberal Government came to office it tightened the interpretation of the means test so as to provide that if a pensioner wanted to escape the penalty of the means test the tenant must use the same entrance as the pensioner and must also share his toilet, bathroom and laundry. Honorable members will recall that in the days of the Chifley Labour Government, so long as there was some doorway that joined the two parts of the house, the person concerned was not penalized. On this point, the Minister actually agreed that this was so in the letter dated 9th December. That was the day of the general election but he was still quite blase about things. He said - >Up till a few years ago the major factor taken into account in determining whether the whole of the building in which the pensioner resided constituted his home was whether or not there was internal access between all the rooms in the building. There is an admission by the Minister himself that, in the days of the Labour Government, the pensioner had the right to let a portion of his home in this way. The Minister went on - >On receipt of legal advice in the matter it was decided to determine cases against the practical test - " Is the house, or part of the house, in fact the permanent residence of the claimant or pensioner? " Where a claimant or pensioner makes structural alteration to his home to keep the tenanted portion separate from his own portion, two homes are created, one of which is the home of the pensioner and the other the home of the tenant. The portion let cannot be regarded as part of the pensioner's home and ils value must be taken into account in arriving al the property component of his means as assessed, > >This procedure does not preclude a pensioner from letting one or two rooms within his home. Provided such rooms remain an integral part of the home, the pensioner's entitlement to pension is affected neither by the value of the rooms let nor the rent received therefrom. But if the number of rooms let is excessive- 1 hope the Minister is listening because 1 wish to emphasize this - > >But if the number of rooms let is excessive, consideration is given not only to the question of whether ihe rooms let are part of the pensioner's home, but to the question of whether the income received therefrom should more rightly be regarded as income derived from business rather than as income derived from property. That is where portion of the house let is "excessive ". The Minister concluded his letter by saying - >In practice, each case is considered on its merits and where there is any doubt il is ihe policy of the department to extend that doubt in the pensioner's favour. If you have an individual case in mind and furnish me with ihe particulars, 1 will have a look at it and advise you of the position. This idea of resolving the doubt in favour of the pensioner is very much like the Government's idea of resolving the doubt in favour of repatriation claimants. It just does not happen. In this case, the Minister cannot tell us the magic formula which he would apply to find out whether there is a doubt or not. However, I wrote another letter to the Minister, f took htm up on his offer. I drew his attention to the case of the lady of whom I spoke at the beginning of my remarks to-day. I shall call her Miss X. She had let her home for 25s. a week and her tenant had to share the toilet, bathroom, laundry and all other conveniences. There was a great deal of delay in answering the letter. *I* have no doubt that the Minister was busy checking the final results of the general election. But on 19th January he wrote me a letter. Now, the oracle has spoken and this is what he has said - >When Miss X's case first came under consideration, it was necessary to determine whether the two rooms given over to the exclusive use of her tenant - one a bedroom, the other a kitchen and dining room - could be accepted as forming part of Miss X's permanent home. After a thorough examination of the position, the conclusion was reached that they could not. The proportion of the value of the portion let was accordingly taken into account as property in the assessment of Miss X's entitlement to pension ... It has been decided, therefore, that this portion of the house must still be regarded as not forming part of Miss X's home. Whereas at one point of the correspondence the Minister said that if the amount of space let to the tenant were excessive it would be regarded as property, now he says that the determining factor is whether the tenant has exclusive use of the part of the- home that she is renting. So it would seem that unless the tenant is prepared to share her bedroom with the person who owns the house, the owner is disqualified from being treated as outside the property means test, because the tenant has the exclusive use of the bedroom. What could be more stupid and ridiculous? Who, for example, would want to share a bedroom with the Minister or with anybody else for that matter? Goodness gracious! We talk about the Kukukukus in New Guinea and their weird habits, yet the Minister says that if a tenant has exclusive use of a bedroom he will regard it as property and the owner will be penalized. The only hope of escaping the property test is to make sure that every part of the house, that is tenanted, including even the tenant's bedroom, is shared by the owner. I ask the Minister fo wake up to himself. I invite him, when he finishes to-night, to have a good look at himself in a glass and see whether he really thinks that he is a fit and proper person to be in charge of an important portfolio such as this. If it is not possible for the Minister to comprehend the point that I make, I would like him to give the head of his department a free hand to decide this case which he has already knocked back. I have a plan of the house concerned which shows quite clearly that the two rooms let in this six-roomed house do not represent an excessive portion of the house. But this is the Government's cheeseparing method of whittling away any advantages of the means test so that, in the end, what little advantages people thought they had are taken away from them. Finally, let me refer to another thing which I think we have managed to nip in the bud at last. Until 9th December, 1961, the Government was determined to consider each fortnight's earnings of pensioners separately. Consequently, if a pensioner couple earned more than the permissible amount of £7 a week in any fortnight, they would presumably suffer a reduction of pension. In the Parliament, the Minister said that this was not true. The Directors of Social Services in the various States said that it was true. I believe that the Minister has at last succumbed to the same kind of process as that to which the Government succumbed when it agreed to accept Labour's proposal to reduce from twenty years to ten years the qualifying period of residence for pensions. I hope I am right. I assume that the Minister has, at long last, backed away from this miserable cheeseparing attitude of refusing to consider pensioners' earnings over a twelve-monthly period. This rather weary recital of the Minister's correspondence has been rather uninteresting because they were all uninteresting letters from an uninteresting Minister, and you cannot make an interesting speech out of excerpts from this kind of correspondence. I hope that the heads of the Department of Social Services will be listening to this speech. I know that the Minister is not. I hope that the heads of the department will go to the Minister and say, " **Mr. Minister,** please wake up to yourself. You are going a little bit too far. For goodness sake, come down to earth and remember that you are no longer Peter Snodgrass ". {: #subdebate-26-0-s4 .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN:
Farrer .- It would be a complete waste of time for me to try to follow the ramifications of the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Clyde Cameron).** First, he attempted to show that some members of the Liberal Party had voted against the reduction of the residential qualification for pensions at an earlier date. Naturally, the Government cannot always accede to every request that is put to it because every request involves additional financial assistance. I thought that the honorable member for Hindmarsh would have woken up to that fact. Then the honorable member made supercilious and, I think, intentionally rude remarks about Ministers of the Crown generally and the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** in particular. He wasted the time of the national Parliament for about twenty minutes on a matter which may have been important in its own way but which could easily have been settled by a discussion with departmental officers or the Minister. He need not have taken up the time of the Commonwealth Parliament with it. He could have debated this matter on the motion for the adjournment of the House. There was no need to discuss it during the debate on a measure to which it is not actually related. I think the honorable member for Hindmarsh was given considerable leniency in being permitted to discuss that matter during this debate. I suggest that we get back to the bill. This measure will benefit a relatively small number of very worthy people who will now be able to receive the age pension to which they were not entitled previously. It is easy to criticize the Government for not having acceded to requests for this amendment before, but I think the time has arrived when we should congratulate the Government on introducing this measure. The Government, the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** and the honorable member for Sturt **(Mr. Wilson)** should be congratulated. For a long time, the honorable member for Sturt has urged upon the Government the necessity for this amendment. We are pleased that it has now been introduced. I want to thank the Good Neighbour Councils of Australia for the work they have undertaken over a long period. They also have been responsible for directing attention to the need for this amendment to the Social Services Act. Let us be gracious about this and not reiterate that this should have been done earlier. After all, many things could be done to improve social services but this Government has a very proud record in that connexion. There are many categories of people now receiving social service benefits who were not receiving them when this Government was first elected to office. It has been pointed out that the residential qualification has stood for well over 50 years. Victoria was the first to introduce the age pension in 1901. It was closely followed by New South Wales in 1901 and Queensland in 1908. The Commonwealth Government also introduced a measure in 1908 and as a result, Commonwealth pensions were paid from 1st January, 1909. The original Commonwealth act prescribed a residential qualification of 25 years, but when it was pointed out that both Queensland and Victoria had a residential qualification of twenty years, the Commonwealth act was quickly amended and the residential qualification of twenty years has remained unchanged ever since. Until the scale of immigration increased in recent years, there was no great pressure for an alteration of this provision. In most cases, immigrants eventually qualified for social services so an amendment was not necessary. This was altered by two developrnents. First there was the big influx of displaced persons from 1949 until about 1952. Immigrants who came to Australia under the assisted passage scheme generally were under 40 or 45 years of age. By the time they reached 65 years, they qualified for a pension. But the displaced persons were older and were taken in. largely as an act of grace. Many of them are how reaching the age where they should receive pensions but they have not been eligible. The need for this amendment became more urgent after the negotiation of a reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom in 1953. Many European migrants felt that there was some discrimination against them compared with migrants from Great Britain. We know that there is no discrimination in law, but in actual fact there is discrimination because British migrants could count the period of residence in the United Kingdom in qualifying for social services. I for one as a member of Parliament and as chairman of the Immigration Planning Council am pleased that the Government has accepted this measure. It will make a big difference to European immigrants to Australia. At present, many of them are in a quandary.I have heard immigrants say that they would like to become naturalized because they wanted to remain here, but if they became naturalized, they would not be able to get a pension until they had resided here for twenty years whereas they could return to their native land and get a pension at once. They hesitated to become naturalized because they would throw away their rights to a pension in their homeland. I do not think that many of them realize that they are entitled to special benefits but this amendment will increase the benefits to which they are entitled. A married couple will be entitled to an age pension of £10 10s.0d. whereas up to now they have been entitled only to a special benefit at the same rate as the unemployment benefit which will be £7 2s. 6d. when this bill becomeslaw. In the first place, they will receive an extra amount of cash. Secondly - and this is more important - the act provides that a special benefit may be granted whereas the age pension is definitely a right. This amendment will assist us to get more immigrants andto hold them. It will encourage immigrants to apply for naturalization earlier. This does not mean that there has not been a. good and steady flow of immigrants seeking naturalization. The numbers reached a record of about 69,000 last year but there arestill about 1 85,000 immigrants who have reached the age when they are eligible to apply for naturalization but have decided not to do so for a variety of reasons. Immigration has made an enormous contribution to the development of Australia and this amendment will help immigration considerably besides encouraging assimilation into the community. The unemployment and sickness benefits are also to be increased. Naturally, the Opposition again has taken the usual line and has said that what the Government is offering is not enough. We have heard the same cry whenever a money bill has been introduced. I was first elected to this House in December, 1949, and when the Parliament sat early in 1950, the new Government introduced legislation to provide child endowment for the first child at the rate of 5s. a week. Immediately the Opposition which had refused to introduce child endowment for the first child only a few months previously when it was in office, said this was not enough. It wanted the amount increased to 10s. and delayed the legislation for some weeks or months. So, naturally one expects the Opposition to put on an act. We realize the disabilities and difficulties of many unemployed people, but there is a limit to the money available to the Treasury. The Government is doing what it can not only to assist the unemployed persons but also to ensure that unemployment is overcome as soon as possible. Members of the Opposition should realize that fact. They have criticized the Government for what we believe to be temporary unemployment, but it is time that they examined the measures that the Government has introduced and gave the Government credit for doing its utmost to alleviate the present unemployment which we hope will be only temporary. There is no need for me to list for the House the various measures that the Government is taking for the purpose of creating more work and eliminating the necessity to pay these unemployment benefits by getting people back into gainful employment. I could mention the grant of £10,000,000 for the States, the extra £5,000,000 for housing, the granting of permission to local government bodies to raise loans of up to £100,000 without having to seek authority, the reduction of 5 per cent, in income tax, the reduction of 7i per cent, in sales tax on motor vehicles, and the 20 per cent, investment allowance for industry itself. One could go on and give instance after instance of the way in which the Government is trying to reduce unemployment. The Government has stepped up its own expenditure, for instance in the Postmaster-General's Department, in the Department of Works, and on defence projects, lt is doing this as another attempt to give the extra boost that is necessary to reduce unemployment and reduce also the amount of unemployment benefits payable. The maximum amount available as a loan from the War Services Homes Division will be increased to £3,500. The amount available to the Development Bank will be increased by £5,000,000. There are also, of course, these increased unemployment benefits which have been introduced by the Government, amounting to an extra 7s. 6d. a week for an unemployed man and for his dependent wife. The Government has also provided for payment of 15s. a week for every child of an unemployed person. As a result of all these measures we can hope that this temporary unemployment will shortly disappear. I do not want to reply in detail to all the remarks made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** when be introduced his amendment, because many of my colleagues, notably the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** and the honorable member for Sturt have shown the complete inaccuracy of the statements that the honorable member made. I shall, however, touch briefly on one or two of the honorable member's comments. He accused the Government, I think most unfairly, of trying to manipulate the rolls of unemployed, and of trying to remove from the rolls the names of all those receiving unemployment benefits as soon as it was possible to do so, so that it would hot be necessary to pay the extra money. This is a completely unfair and inaccurate accusation, and one which I think is unworthy of any member of this Parliament. Honorable members know that the Labour Party originally laid down the procedures for people to apply for unemployment benefits and to have their names placed on the list of unemployed. Those procedures have not been altered in any way since they were originally formulated. Naturally people who are claiming unemployment benefits must occasionally give the departmental officials some evidence of their attempts to obtain employment. I do not think that this is an unfair requirement. During the last few weeks I heard of the case of a man who was annoyed because he had been struck off the rolls for unemployment benefit. He had been offered a job at £34 a week and had refused it. He complained to the Minister about having been removed from the unemployment benefit rolls and the Minister actually put his name back on the roll, and another job was later found for him at an even higher wage. Therefore I suggest that it is most unfair and inaccurate to say that this Government is manipulating the unemployment figures. My colleague the honorable member for Richmond also mentioned the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro concerning the payment of social service benefits. The. honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that Australia had dropped, in the list of nations prepared by the United Nations that. pay social service benefits, from second or third position to about sixteenth position. This again is completely inaccurate. In actual fact,, of course, both the total amount that we pay in social service benefits, and the proportion of total national expenditure represented by that amount have increased enormously. The honorable member for EdenMonaro sought to convince the House that the Minister for Social Services was wrong when he said that we were paying £365,000,000 a year on social services, whereas we paid only £81,000,000 a year before the Labour Government left office. These figures have been checked and they are- completely accurate. What the honor; able member for Eden-Monaro did not take into account is the fact that we now have a tremendous range of health services, all of which are paid for out of. the National Welfare Fund. They account for £100,000,000 or so over and above the figure given by the honorable- member for Eden-Monaro. I remind the House that before this Government came to office there was practically no payment of any kind for health services. It is quite inaccurate, therefore, to say that we have lost our place in any list of nations prepared by the United Nations. When I was at the United Nations I was told that it was almost impossible . to make a true assessment of. the amount that persons in particular countries received by way of social service benefits. In Australia, for example, we have a federation, and we must ascertain what the Commonwealth Government pays for social services and what the various State governments pay. It must not be forgotten that the State governments, in actual fact, pay very large amounts in social service benefits, quite apart from what is paid by the Commonwealth Government. I do not want to prolong this ' debate because- we know that the sooner the bill is passed the sooner it will become law. We also know that one of the benefits will be paid as soon as it becomes law, and the remaining benefits will be paid on 1st .March, if the bill has received royal assent by that time. In conclusion, however, I want to say, briefly, why 1 think this is a good bill, and also why 1 believe we should continue our immigration programme at a high level. As honorable members know, suggestions have been made that while wc have temporary unemployment of the kind that exists at present the Government should not continue its immigration programme at the high level that has obtained in previous years. Some people, in fact, have said that we should not bring in any more immigrants at all. Let me say that. nothing would increase the number of unemployed quicker than the chopping off of immigration. All the planning that is being done in this country, by State and Commonwealth governments, by local authorities, by semi-governmental authorities providing electricity services and water and sewerage facilities, and by other employing agencies, which has all been on the basis of tremendous internal' expansion, relies "on the fact that the' population of Australia is 'growing, rapidly. If we suddenly cut off the increase iri population attributable to immigration - representing about 50 per cent, of the total increase- all those authorities would have to alter their plans and reduce their projected expenditure by about 50 per cent. Nothing would be worse, from the point of view of business and industry, and of employment generally, than- to try to tamper with the flow of immigrants. The department has very sensibly changed the pattern of immigration, so that instead of having the -majority of immigrants consisting of workers and the minority of dependants,- we .now have a majority of dependants and a minority of workers. But it is an interesting fact that there is still a very considerable shortage of skilled tradesmen, . particularly amongst electrical and metal workers, if we can . bring in skilled tradesmen we will be able to increase production in the factories and create employment opportunities for many more unskilled labourers. There is another way in which immigration is most useful. We sometimes find that there are work opportunities in certain places, and it is then suggested that Australians should be sent to those places to fill, the jobs. It may be found, however, that while the available jobs may be in Western Australia, there may be numbers of unemployed Australians in Queensland, where they have houses, families and comrmitments which they do not want to leave. We can then bring in immigrants to fill the available jobs without affecting the local Australians. Immigration, of course, cannot be stopped and started at the drop of a hat. It takes from a year to three years from the time a person first becomes interested in migrating until he finally does so and settles in the country of his. choice. Canada and other countries that have tried to stop and start migration have found that this policy just will not work. When the tap is turned on again, no water flows from it. Countries that adopt this policy of stop and start cannot get people in. the numbers they would like. I commend the Minister and the Government for introducing this bill. Its provisions are excellent and it has already been particularly well received by new migrants coming into Australia. I am sure it will be well received by this House. {: #subdebate-26-0-s5 .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON:
Blaxland -- The honorable member for Farrer **(Mr. Fairbairn)** rightly says that this new thought of the Government in dealing with immigrants is a good one. However, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** pointed out that when the Opposition attempted to reduce the period of the residential qualification, every honorable member on the Government side of the House opposed it. This morning I seconded the amendment which is now the subject of discussion. The Opposition is seeking the introduction of a provision that the minimum amount of age and invalid pension shall be the minimum amount upon which any ill or unemployed person shall have to exist. It is our view that the invalid and age pension of £5 5s. a week is too low and should be increased. However, if this Government believes that £5 5s. is all that age and invalid pensioners are entitled to receive, we say that that must become the lowest amount paid to those who are sick or unemployed. In his secondreading speech, the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** said - >The increase in unemployment, sickness and special benefit rates will do much to assist those adversely affected by unemployment, sickness or the circumstances which would qualify them for a special benefit, but a permanent solution to problems of the kind is only to be found in reemployment, restoration of health and the removal of the causes which have rendered special benefits necessary. I repeat the important part of the Minister's comment - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . but a permanent solution to problems of the kind is only to be found in re-employment No one would surely doubt those words of wisdom. But let us pause to consider whether a similar principle was raised many years ago. Let us at this time recall the pattern that was laid down by Labour as the firm policy of full employment before this Government came to office. It is important to review carefully the policy of full employment that was laid down by a Labour go vernment. The Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Bill was introduced in 1944 by the Labour Government that was elected in 1943. The bill was introduced first in the Senate on 10th February, 1944, and was discussed in the House of Representatives on 2nd and 3rd March, 1944. I shall quote the words of the then Minister for Labour and National Service to show that unemployment benefit was introduced by the Labour Government for the purpose of taking care of special circumstances. On 3rd March, the Minister said - >The bill is not to be regarded as a part of the Government's plan for reconstruction and permanent economic improvement. We regard this social legislation as a piece of bridge-building to carry the people over those economic gaps which must necessarily occur from time to time. We cannot hope to eliminate sickness altogether, and it is necessary to take heed of it in our social legislation. We hope, by the passing of suitable legislation in the future, to provide regular employment for every one . . . That was the Labour Government's approach to the problem in 1944 when the nation was still in the throes of war. 1 want to refer now to what the Leader of the Opposition at that time had to say. He actually moved an amendment to the legislation. The Leader of the Opposition then is now, of course, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies). His** comments at that time can be related now to the percentage of unemployment in Queensland. On 29th March, 1944, the then Leader of the Opposition said - >Everybody desires to see set up in Australia as high a level of security and protection against the results of unemployment and the results of economic dislocations as is possible. He then gave the percentage of unemployment in the ten years after World War I. and went on to say - >So if one runs one's eyes over that column of figures one sees that the average percentage in that highly relevant period is approximately 8 per cent. The then Leader of the Opposition was suggesting that the experience in the years following World War I. would be repeated in the years following World War II. However, we were fortunate that we had a Labour government in office at the time. The then Leader of the Opposition continued - >We all shall hope to do better than that in the future . . . He was referring to unemployment of 8 per cent. But we donot know whether we shall succeed. We certainly shall not avoid all the economic shocks of the future by merely expressing pious sentiments about them. A great deal of really terrific work will have to be done in relation to the financial and economic structure of Australia it we are to keep unemployment down to 5 per cent. At present, unemployment in Queensland has reached 5 per cent. Because of the policies of the Labour Government, it was possible to avoid the serious unemployment in the years that immediately followed World War II. However, the present Government does not understand what is needed to implement a policy of full employment, and the consequences of which the Prime Minister spoke when he was Leader of the Opposition in 1944 are now with us. Yesterday, the honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Haylen)** was twitted for having referred to 5 per cent. of unemployment in 1945. But the honorable member for Parkes then was merely using the type of argument that was presented by the Leader of the Opposition at that time. The figures show that in the years preceding the term of office of the last Labour Government we got below 5 per cent. of unemployment on only one occasion, and that was in 1911 when a Labour government was in power. Later, I shall emphasize just what the position was under governments of Liberal persuasion preceding the advent of the Australian Labour Party Government of 1941. After the present Prime Minister, who was at the time Leader of the Opposition, made those observations about the terrific amount of work that had to be undertaken, the honorable member for Parkes to some extent related the same kind of thinking to a debate that took place in 1945. All he had before him was a figure of 8 per cent. for average unemployment in this country over the years, as was said by the present Prime Minister at the timeI have mentioned. In 1945, Labour laid down a plan in a document which became the White Paper on Full Employment in Australia. Some honorable members on the Government side of the chamber may never have looked at this document. Therefore, I shall refer to a few comments made and principles estab lished in it. Right at the beginning, the Labour Government declared - >Full employment is a fundamental aim of the Commonwealth Government. The Government believes that the people of Australia will demand and are entitled to expect full employment. Paragraph 6, at page 3 of the White Paper, states - >There will be no place in this full employment policy for schemes designed to make work for work's sake. That is what I emphasized last night when I was discussing this scatter policy that the Government is now following. The paragraph continues - >Moreover, full advantage must be taken of modern methods of production and training in all branches of industry, and the economic system must be flexible enough to meet changing needs. That is the kind of thing that this Government is forgetting about. The paragraph goes on - >In these conditions, full employment has advantages to offer to every section of the community. To the worker, it means steady employment, the opportunity to change his employment if he wishes, and a secure prospect unmarred by the fear of idleness and the dole. To the business or professional man, the manufacturer, the shopkeeper, it means an expanding scope for his enterprise, free from the fear of periodic slumps in spending. The very thing that the Labour Government declared should not be done is the thing that this Government does, and what the Labour Government said must be avoided has become the policy of the present Government. The Labour Government's White Paper, outlining the advantages of full employment, continues - >To the primary producer, it means an expanding home market and - taking a world-wide view - better and more stable export markets. To the peopleas a whole, it means a better opportunity to obtain all the goods and services which their labour, working with necessary knowledge and equipment, is capable of producing. At paragraph 10, on page 4, the White Paper states - >The object of this paper is to make clear the problems which lie ahead in making full employment possible, and to indicate the lines along which their solution can be found. The words used are " can be found ", not " may be found ". At paragraph 12, we read - >Full employment can be maintained only as long as total expenditure provides a market for all the goods and services turned out by Australian men and women, working with available equipment and materials, and fully employed after allowing for the need for leisure. Paragraph 23, at page 5, states - >The essential condition of full employment is that public expenditure should be high enough to stimulate private spending to the point where the two together will provide a demand for the total production of which the economy is capable when it is fully employed. Paragraph 28, at page 6, reads - >The policy here outlined is briefly that, if spending and employment tend to decline, .governments should stimulate spending, both by their own expenditure and through their monetary and commercial policies, to the extent necessary to avoid unemployment and the consequent waste of resources. At paragraph 55, on page 9, the Labour Government, in this White Paper, dealt with the mobility of resources in these terms - >It is essential that a full employment economy should not run along in a groove, unresponsive to the changing wants of the people and to technical progress. Unless the economic system is flexible and responds effectively to changing circumstances, full employment can be achieved only at the cost of using resources in relatively unproductive and wasteful employment. A scatter policy designed only to give short-term employment is the very thing that should be avoided in the interests of national ecenomy. My quibble with the Government at present is that its planning now is for three months only, whereas we ought to be planning for a decade. I go on to page 10 of this document, where the Labour Government laid down the principles by which the Commonwealth Employment Service was to work and what it was to do. The requirements stated here are the very ones that the service, under the present Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon),** is not observing. At paragraph 58 we read - >The Employment Service will also work with the relevant State Government Departments and other governmental agencies whose activities affect the employment situation - > >in co-operation with public or private bodies concerned with location of industry, public works, housing, social amenities and similar measures; . . . If, under the present Government, the Commonwealth Employment Service had continued to function as the Labour Government intended, we would not now have 1,459 people unemployed in Rockhampton. The White Paper states the next objective of the Commonwealth Employment Service in these terms - {: type="a" start="c"} 0. in disseminating information concerning labour supply, employment opportunities, the skills required to do particular kinds of work, changes in the skill requirements of particular industries, employment trends, special problems of seasonal and casual employment and other information of value in promoting full employment. What kind of reports do we get from the Department of Labour and National Service to-day? I do not blame the officers of the department for them. I repeat what I said yesterday: There is a complete lack of understanding about what is being done to those who are leaving school. If one reads the latest report by the Minister for Labour and National Service, one finds that, in every State, those leaving school are lining up and waiting for jobs, although the Minister, as reported in the Sydney "Daily Telegraph" of 8th December, 1961, on the eve of the general election, said - >Young people leaving school in the next twelve months would all find jobs. He omitted a few words. He should have added " in the sweet by and by ". That is the sort of thing that is happening now. I turn now to what Labour policy, as laid down in that White Paper, meant. That was the policy followed by Labour. It did not accept the principles and thinking of the prt en t Prime Minister as expressed at the .'v 'c when he was Leader of the Opposition. The right honorable gentleman was right in one thing: A lot of work was needed. A lot of work went into this White Paper. As I said earlier, we had less than 5 per cent, unemployment in Australia, prior to 1945, when the debate which has been mentioned so often took place, only in 1911, when a Labour government was in office. I invite every honorable member in this chamber to have a look at the " Labour Report " of the Bureau of Census and Statistics for 1950. It is No. 39 in the series. That report sets out the percentage of unemployment in various years from 1891 to 1951. It shows that in 191 1 there was 4.7 per cent, unemployment. In 1916, although a war was raging, the figure had increased to 5.8 per cent., and in 1921 it was up to 11.2 per cent. In 1921, of course, there was an anti-Labour government. Labour which was in office from 1910 to 1913, had brought unemployment down to 4.7 per cent, in 1911, but by 1921 it had increased to 11.2 per cent. I do not intend now to blame anybody for. the tragedy of the world situation in 1933. I merely point out that in 1932 unemployment in this. country had reached the tragic level of 29 per. cent. {: .speaker-KBH} ##### Mr Wilson: -- That was under the Scullin Government. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- I am speaking of 1932. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr Beazley: -- The Scullin Government fell in 1931. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- The worst year was 1932, after all the cuts were applied. A government of anti-Labour persuasion smashed the industrial awards, applied the' 10 per cent, cut in wages and salaries and sent this nation to the bottom of the depths by destroying completely the purchasing power of the Australian consumer. 1 pass on now to 1936, when, after four years under a government of Liberal persuasion, unemployment was 12.2 per cent. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party are still in office. The people are still satisfied with them. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- I am citing official figures, which cannot bc denied. In 1939, right on the eve of the war, after a Liberal government had been in office for seven years, unemployment stood at 9.7 per cent. In 1940, it dropped to 8 per cent., the figure to which the present Prime Minister referred, and about which he said something tremendously important would have to be done. Then came a change. A Labour government was returned to office in 1941, and in that year the figure dropped to 3.7 per cent. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- That is not the whole of the story. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- But there is a better story still to tell. In 1942, the percentage of unemployment in trade unions was 1.6. By 1943, it had dropped to 1.1. Then there were fluctuations of about .1 per cent, until 1947, when the -figure stood at 1.2 per cent. By 1948 it had dropped to .9 per cent. Now let us look at the year about which all honorable members on the Government side want, to speak. Let us look at 1949. We have heard much from the honorable member for MacArthur **(Mr. Jeff Bate)** and others on the Government side about what happened in that year. In the March quarter of 1949, unemployment in trade unions in Australia was down to .8 per cent. Then something happened about which much has been said. Some other time we will -tell the whole story about that. I refer to the coal . strike. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- Talk about it now. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- I have not the time. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon)** would like me to get away from the subject about which 1 am speaking, .but 1 do not propose to do so. In the September quarter of 1949, the figure rose to 5.5 per cent. Strangely enough, - that is the figure which has been mentioned as being the minimum, the figure at which unemployment in Queensland now stands. By December, 1949, under a Labour government, the figure dropped back to .8 per cent. When the present Government took office in December, 1949, unemployment in trade unions stood at only .8 per cent., and the number of recipients of unemployment benefit at only 703. And the present Minister reports that in January of this year the number of recipients of this benefit was 56,756! {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr Beazley: -- Give them the figure for the coal strike month. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- The coal strike occurred in July of 1949, and the number receiving unemployment benefit stood at 1 18,134. By August, it had dropped back to 9,926. By September, it had fallen to 1,058. By October it dropped to '742, and in November it stood at 627. Then, this Government took over in December with the figure standing at only 723. I repeat that the Minister now reports that at the end of January this year 56,755 people were in receipt of unemployment benefit. Of that number, 44,357 were males and 12,398 females. Fortunately for this Government, there was a Labour Government in New South Wales. In the report to which I have referred, the Minister states that there was a reduction of 667 males and an increase of 666 females since 30th December, 1961. On the other hand, it is to be noted that in Queensland there was an increase of 1,022 in the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit. Again, in Victoria under the good Bolte Government about which honorable members on the Government side speak, there was an increase of 239. These increases were offset by a reduction of 900 in New South Wales, if my memory serves me correctly. Perhaps the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** might be excused here because his department has nothing to do with these figures. I do not see how the Minister for Labour and National Service can get any comfort out of the fact that 10,404 vacancies are being filled- {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- Per week. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- Yes, per week. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- And it is going up. {: .speaker-KNM} ##### Mr E JAMES HARRISON: -- And every week there are still 11,000 looking for jobs in the city of Sydney alone. That is the type of reasoning we get from this Government. The Minister for Labour and National Service looks upon the filling of 10,000 vacancies as something to be proud of although 131,000 people are still out of work. Why, that 10,000 would not cover the school leavers who are scattered around the country, and who have not yet put down their names because their parents are hoping that they will find work. Some of them have been misled by the Minister's statement that the young people leaving school in the next twelve months would all find jobs. They might - some time! Why, in area after area of every State, the school leavers are lining up, and there are no jobs for them. What a tragedy it is for this country! We are rapidly getting back to where we were in 1939, when thousands of young Australians - school leavers - could not get jobs in this country until they donned khaki. Are we to wait until we have another war before we can give jobs to these young Australians who are leaving school? I remind honorable members, too, that on page 2886 of "Hansard" of 15th November, 1960, the Minister is reported as having said - >There is no reason in the world why any one should be hurt as the result of these measures- The November measures - >If people are wise they can avoid suffering any hurt from them. If they lose their employment, they must wait until the people of Australia indicate to the Government that they are dissatisfied before they even get an extra shilling to buy a loaf of bread. That is how much they can get hurt by what this Government has done! Again, on page 1135 of "Hansard" of 26th April, 1961, the Minister is reported as having said - >As to the economy as a whole, I think it would have been fatal to make any major change before now in the policies we announced in August-November. In other words, the policies are working out much as they were expected to work out. I emphasize, " the policies are working out much as they were expected to work out ". We have 5 per cent, unemployment in Queensland. One honorable member on the Government side said that the new members elected to this House from Queensland are the result of Labour's policy. Of course they are. The new members coming from Queensland represent the first major step towards giving to Australia the plan laid down in that White Paper of 1945 to which I have referred, the plan which this Government has avoided adopting ever since 1949. These new members represent the first step on the road to progress, on the road to full employment, on the road to the stage where there will be a job for every Australian no matter where he may be. This expedient, this pittance, as the honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** calls it, is a clear indication of the abject failure of this Government to appreciate the present difficult position. We all remember the Prime Minister telling us before the election about what had been done for Queensland. Amongst other things, he said, " We have seen the Mount Isa railway starting to move." Let me finish on the note that the Mount Isa railway was a typical example of what is happening in this country. We now have thousands of men out of work and the Government has before it a policy which, if administered by a Labour government, would ensure that money would be available to enable the secondary industries of this country to reemploy the Australian people. Every sector of secondary industry which is re-equipped, wherever it may be, reduces the man-power content which will be required. Automation is on our doorstep. If this Government does not realize that we must automate to compete with the rest of the world, and that every time we automate we reduce our manpower need then, until we have back in office a Labour government which understands the principles laid down in the White Paper, I am afraid that unless we do something about it the mere pittance which the bill provides will become the real income level of a great section of the Australian people. Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m. {: #subdebate-26-0-s6 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON:
Minister for Labour and National Service · Lowe · LP -- **Mr. Speaker,** we are, as I understand it, debating a bill with a dual purpose and, while the long title of this measure permits a fair scope for argument, I think too little attention has been devoted to the bill itself and too much attention has been given to other aspects indirectly associated with the true purposes of the bill but not completely relevant to it. I once had some legal training. I was never what could be regarded as eminent in my profession, no matter how much I might have struggled, but I did learn something about the rules of evidence and I hope that in my presentation of the Government's case to-night I can remember the rules and stick pretty closely to the bill. There are two main subjects that we have to consider in this bill. The first is the provision to reduce the statutory residential period necessary before a person can become entitled to a pension from twenty to ten years. The other relates to the increase in unemployment and sickness benefits. To commence with the first of those matters, you will know, **Sir, that** under the existing law for a person to become entitled to an age pension he or she must have resided in this country continuously for a period of twenty years and in the case of an invalid pensioner twenty years in certain circumstances. In the policy speech of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** in December last year a promise was made to the Australian people that, when we were returned as a government, that statutory period of twenty years continuous residence would be reduced to ten years. This bill carries out the Prime Minister's promise that we would reduce that period and give the benefit to migrants who come to these shores. 1 think this is a measure which ought to receive the commendation of all; it is a generous measure and one with the generosity of which the Opposition agrees. j There are certain other matters in the bill relating to this statutory residential period which should also be considered. The first of them is that while, under the law as it now exists, there are certain periods of broken residence that arc not taken into consideration - as in the case of a person who is here for a certain time and then goes away and comes back again - there are other cases where broken residence may be considered as continued residence. My colleague, the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** has said that it is a most difficult and complicated feat to interpret the law as it now exists with regard to this broken service, and that it is necessary to go to a great deal of administrative trouble in order to administer the law effectively. We are providing under the law as it will exist when this bill is passed that when a person - either man or woman - has five years of continuous residence here certain other broken periods of residence may be taken into consideration in accordance with a formula which does not involve very great administrative problems. We have provided that those broken periods can be added to the continuous period of residence in order to make up the ten years qualifying period. Finally, in regard to invalid pensions, in the case of those who become permanently blind or incapacitated outside Australia, provision is being made, if the person concerned has the qualification of five years continuous residence, to make up the balance of the ten years by adding together, in accordance with the formula, other years of broken residence. The three points that I want to make about this aspect of the bill are these. First, it carries out the liberal principle of giving help to those most in need. Secondly, and much more importantly I think, it shows that this Government lives up to its promises. Certain pledges were made to the Australian people in 1949 and every one of them - with one exception - was lived up to. The exception was the pledge relating to " No socialization without a referendum ". We found that it was impossible to legislate for that purpose; but every other promise has been carried into law. In exactly the same way wc will honour the promises we made at the last election. Here is a Government which lives up to its pledges and promises to the. maximum of its capacity. I want now to move on to the matter of unemployment and sickness benefits. I am one who found a great deal of pleasure - probably more pleasure than any other member of this House - when I heard the Prime Minister announce that unemployment and sickness benefits would be increased. And they have been increased, I believe, increased substantially. The inincreases are of this order: First, in the case of the adult person or married minor the increase has been from £3 15s. to £4 2s. 6d. a week, an increase of 7s. 6d. a week. In the case of the 'dependent spouse, the increase is also 7s: 6d. a week, and in the case of the first child there is fin increase of 2s. 6d. from 12s. 6d. to 15s. a week. In the case of all other children - this. is something completely novel, as it has not been done before - the increase is of the order of 15s. a week. I think I can best illustrate the nature of this amendment by pointing out that in the case of a married man with .three children the increase will be from £7 to £9 7s. 6d. a week which, together with child endowment, will bring the total payment to £10 12s. 6d. a week. I am not going to claim that this is a very generous payment, but I do claim that it is fair. We all have our differences of opinion as to how far we can go and what is generous and what is not;, but until to-day I had not heard one word of criticism of the Government's action in extending these social service benefits in this way. In fact, all the organizations from which I have heard have acclaimed the Government's action. They have said to me that in their opinion this is a wise and commendable measure. The honorable member for EdenMonaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** has criticized the Government's measures and said that if the Labour Party had been in power it would have done better and would have increased the payments still further. It is not words that count in this world. Wc do not bother so much about what a person says; it is what he does that counts. . When I referred to the reduction of the residential qualification for age pensions I said that the Government lived up to its pledges and promises. What, now, of the Opposition? It turns round and tells us that if it- was in power it would make the unemployment and sickness benefits a certain percentage of the age pension. Let us look at what the Opposition did as evidence of its intention and goodwill. Look at the actions of the Opposition when it was in power over a decade ago. I think it to be right to compare their declarations of intent with the actions that they take. When the Chifley Government was in power - that is, when the present Opposition, in effect, was in office: - unemployment benefit was £1 5s. a week. {: .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr L R Johnson: -- But there was no unemployment then. {: #subdebate-26-0-s7 .speaker-KSC} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -Order! {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- Unemployment benefit paid then represented 58.8 per cent, of the pension rate. Had unemployment benefit been increased in accordance with increases of the pension it would have risen to £2 2s. 6d. a week by now, and not to the £4 2s. 6d. a week now payable. I do not like looking back at the past too much, and I do not like being critical of the Opposition if I can avoid that, but I do say that by their actions honorable members opposite should be judged - and by their actions we can say that if they were in government at the moment the invalid pension would be considerably less to-day than it is under the present Government. If 1 cared to make a comparison on a completely different basis - that is, if I compared the present rate with the rate which would 'be paid in accordance with the movements of the consumer price index, which is the method normally employed by the Labour Party, the unemployment benefit today would be about £2 8s. 7d. a week, anil not £4 2s. 6d. a week. In the light of these facts wc are entitled to say that the amount now being paid is fair to the recipients of unemployment benefit. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Is it enough to live on? {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- I am not prepared to engage in that kind of controversy. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Of course not! {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro must not interrupt the Minister. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- I have directed attention to what you people opposite did when you were in power, and how you failed to live up to your promises. Now may I look at the principles that are behin'd this increase of unemployment benefit. We on this side of the House stand genuinely for liberal principles, and in the application of those principles we have kept certain ideals in mind. The first of them is provision for those most in need - for those who are temporarily out of employment and may be in great need at the moment. It was with that thought in mind that we decided' not only to increase the unemployment benefit payable to the father of a family, or to an adult single person, but also to carry the increased benefit through to cover the second and subsequent children, and to pay the additional amount, as well as child endowment, to those who qualified for it. The second point follows logically from that - to look after the family group, to look after the mother, to look after the child. Here I believe that we have adopted and been faithful to genuine liberal principles in considering this problem of what we should do for people who are temporarily out of work and have family responsibilities. One point to which consideration should be given is that we look at this matter of the payment of unemployment' benefit to those now receiving it as a temporary measure of aid only: Looking at the economy as it is, and at the economic and financial measures announced by the Prime Minister and, what is just as important, looking at the structure of the economy to-day, I think we are entitled to say that in economic and financial terms the Government's measures have given a- reasonable and even a strong expectation that people now unemployed will be placed in jobs, and placed in jobs quickly. I ask you, **Sir, to** remember what the Prime Minister has said. He put it - and I personally had used the phrase frequently before - that the conditions of the economy are strong. In other words, he said that in a great trading country like ours we must have adequate overseas balances and we must have a satisfactory balance of trade. Our overseas balances are sound, and our trading balances at the moment are good. In recent months, we have achieved what might be called stability of purchasing power - something that the Government set out to achieve a year or more ago and has now achieved. We have a balanced labour force, and the banking and financial system is liquid. As expansion takes place the banking and financial system will be able to play its part in the growth and development of this country. When we came back as a government we decided that there was still some slack in the economy, something more that had to be done. {: .speaker-KID} ##### Mr Luchetti: -- The people gave you some prompting. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- I will admit that the people gave us some prompting. We recognized the prompting that they gave us and acted in accordance with their wishes. We have no wish to deny that we heard them, listened to them and acted accordingly. Now, to continue with the economic background: We have looked at the problem from three points of view. The first is the need to boost the consumption expenditure of the working people or those in the lower income brackets, if I may use the term. For that reason, not only have we increased social service payments, but personal income tax is being reduced by 5 per cent. The reduction will have a quick effect, because the reduction for the whole year will be applied in a period of only three to four months. I emphasize that those two measures will put more than £28,000,000 worth, or a potential £28,000,000 worth, of purchasing power into circulation before 30th June of this year. That will give a quick and substantial addition to purchasing power in the consumption sector of the economy, and will help those people who are most in need at present. Secondly, we have taken action on a pretty broad front in regard to housing and public works performed by semi-government and local government authorities. We are also to make a non-repayable grant of £10,000,000 to the States for the express purpose of easing the unemployment situation. We have taken long-term measures to provide a special investment allowance - something completely novel in this community. We have also forecast the introduction of a bill to permit greater protection, by means of quantitative import restrictions, for the sensitive industries in Australia. I believe that that all adds up to a good total picture. The structure of the economy is sound. What we have done or promised to do gives the necessary degree of stimulus to the economy in order to bring about an increase in employment and a substantial reduction of unemployment in the course of the next few months. I state positively, as a matter of policy, as Minister for Labour and National Service, that the first and greatest objective of the Government, apart from the defence of our nation, is the full employment of our people and the growth of our country, so that our people, natural born and immigrant, can look forward to certain employment in the future. I believe that what the Government has done is wise. I add that we will watch the position carefully, and if we find that what we have done is not enough I am sure that the Treasurer will be the first to consider what supplementary action can be taken at Budget time. That is the contribution I wish to make to the debate. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- Not much of a contribution. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- Probably better than yours. May I turn to some problems raised by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro whom, as I have frequently said, I regard as probably the leading exponent on the Opposition benches of social service policies. There are one or two statements that he made which I think were wrong. I think it is a fair thing to come into this House and be critical of the Government, but I contend that people who want to be critical should be sure of the facts. They have to know what they are talking about. Touching, first, my own portfolio, the honorable gentleman from Eden-Monaro has said that the officials of my department arc applying the work test in a harsh manner. He has given three illustrations of married people having been shifted hundreds of miles from their homes and from their families. He has mentioned people being allotted to jobs for which they were unsuited. I will not deal with each of his illustrations because I do not think that they were true. The principles upon which we act in the department are these: Wc never ask a man to go to a job unless he is suited to it and we know that it is the kind of job which he has done before and which his talents will permit him .to perform. We do not ask people to move away from their homes into distant areas. On the contrary we think that they should have ready access to their homes. The honorable member claimed that married people were moved away from their homes. I have never had a case drawn to my attention where this has happened. In fact, I have not had five complaints about the application of the work test in the three years in which I have been the responsible Minister. The honorable member then said that the departmental officers moved around prying into and asking business people whether workers had gone to them for jobs. That has never happened - certainly not with the approval of the senior officials of the department or of myself, lt is true that we do sometimes invite single people to travel to another town to see whether certain jobs are suitable for them. We may provide the fare for that purpose. The work test is applied in a liberal and sensible way and without hardship to the individual concerned so far as this is humanly possible. i I regard the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro as a reflection on the officials of the department. He had one case and only one case that he could bring to our attention. Yet he dramatized that and generalized it into a criticism of my department, of the officials, and of the principles upon which we act. I believe that the honorable member is becoming truculent and overbearing just as the Australian Labour Party, in its nearness to victory, has lost its sense of proportion and realism. He is becoming contemptuous of public opinion but he will find that he can become too contemptuous. The public will react when there is another election and he will pay the penalty. Summing up, I say that I do not believe that we have been compelled to take action as the Opposition claims. I do not accept the word " compulsion ". If j there is one lesson which I have learned : from the last general election it is this: . Whilst a government's actions may be right, it is also necessary that they should be acceptable to the Australian people. Whilst a government must act in the long-term interests of a country, it must also act generously. It must be known to act generously when it is introducing laws or administering the country. Its administration must be for the benefit of the people. **Mr. Speaker,** I leave you with this thought: 1 believe that, in accordance with liberal principles, what we are doing in this measure is right and generous. I believe that you and everybody present may well applaud this measure and I commend it to the House. {: #subdebate-26-0-s8 .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr L R JOHNSON:
Hughes .- Like all my colleagues, I am anxious to have something to say about the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon)** who has waxed extremely eloquent on this proposal to effect some increase in the unemployment benefit and to reduce the time for which people need to be in this country before they can qualify for the age and invalid pension. The Opposition substantially agrees with any move that will alleviate the conditions of people who have been affected by the devastation of the Government's economic policy as a result of which about 130,000 people are unemployed to-day. Of course, it would be completely unreasonable and inhuman if we did not take such a view. I regret that the Minister for Labour and National Service is now leaving the House because I want to correct some of the inaccurate remarks which he made. However, there is still a considerable number of members in the chamber and it is a good thing that Opposition members are able to speak to some sort of audience in 1962. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in 1961. As a result of the recent general election, we now find more honorable members sitting on the other side of the House when matters of concern to the underprivileged people of the community are being discussed. People are under-privileged because of the measures which have been brought down by the Government. In reprimanding the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser),** who led for the Opposition- in this debate, the Minister for Labour and National Service said that the honorable member for EdenMonaro should make sure of his facts and should know what he was talking about. 1 have examined some of the contentions made by the Minister during debates on unemployment in the last Parliament. What we are discussing now substantially involves the Government's economic policy and the unemployment which has resulted. On 15th November, 1960, the Minister said - >There is no reason in the world why anyone should be hurt as the result of these measures. If people are wise they can avoid suffering any hurt from them. The Minister said that there was no reason why anybody should be hurt as a result of the credit squeeze. To what extent did he know what he was talking about when he said that? It is not difficult to discredit the Minister, not only in regard to that contention but in regard to the details of which he spoke to-night. Here is what he said on 26th April, 1961 - >As to the economy as a whole, I- think it would have been fatal to make any major change before now in the policies we announced in AugustNovember. In other words, the policies are working out much as. they were expected to work out. They have achieved good results. lt would be- a mistake to change policies! Even before we assembled here the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** and his henchmen, in the light of their consciences and their regard for the big business interests that they represent, began the process of systematically poaching Labour's policy. They have changed their programme. According to the " Sydney Morning Herald " of November, 1961 the Minister for Labour and National Service said that he was sure that the employment position would continue to improve. He was reported in the "Daily Telegraph" in December, 1961, as saying that young people leaving school in the next twelve months would all find jobs. There is not one member in the House who would not be prepared to give the lie direct to that statement, because since then there has been one of the most dramatic increases in unemployment that the country has ever known. Yet the Minister tells us that it is essential to know the facts! He is the Minister whose job it is, more than that of anyone else in the Parliament, to know something about unemployment trends. He has had the audacity to make this statement after his shocking record. It is clear that there is no rhyme or reason in what the Government is doing. It has no idea where it is going and is intent upon implementing a mere patched up pro* gramme. We are dealing with a proposal to increase the unemployment benefit. Good reason there is for it. It is an indication ot the Government's lack of confidence in itself. We on the Opposition side have always . been interested in social . service matters. The Department of Social Services itself was established by a Labour Government in April, 1941. We brought all the loose ends together and put all social services under the administration of on"; department. That was just another Labour Party achievement like the Commonwealth Bank,* Trans-Australia Airlines and the Snowy Mountains scheme. One- could go on endlessly talking about what the Australian Labour Party has done. To-day the Department of Social Services watches the interests of every age and invalid pensioner, every family that receives child endowment and every widow. It is useless for the Minister for Social Services to talk about the Labour Party's lack of concern for social serves. Labour's record is to be found in the very existence of the Department of Social Services; and everybody who receives a cheque from that department should remember that it was established- by a Labour government. The Labour Party was responsible for the administration of age and invalid pensions. Under a Labour Government, the Department took unto itself child endowment in 1941 and the Widows' Pension Act in 1942. In 1944, it undertook the administration of the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act, now incorporated in the Social Services Act. Social services expenditure in 1961 reached the astronomical total of £257,000,000 a year. The Curtin Labour Government was the first to introduce unemployment and sickness benefits, and payments began in 1945 at the rate of £1 5s. a week for a married person or adult. {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Mr Forbes: -- Is that all? {: .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr L R JOHNSON: -- We had to fight the opposition of the Country Party and Liberal Party to introduce that legislation. They opposed it at every turn and now a supporter of those parties asks, " Is that all?" At that time, the benefit filled a vacuum which had existed from the time Captain Cook landed in 1770. That amount was not such a bad payment when we consider the circumstances. The honorable member, who is interjecting represents the electorate of Barker and the name suits him admirably. He would do well to stop barking. In 1945, when the Labour Government, provided £ 1 5s. a week for a married personor an adult who was unemployed, there was an allowance of £1 for a spouse and 5s.. for a child, making the total. allowance for. a married man with a dependent wife and child £2 10s. a week when the basic wage was about £4 16s. In 1962, when we are supposed to have had some, measure of prosperity, the Government proposes to pay £7 10s. a week for persons in the same circumstances, although the basic wage is. now about £15. The Government has made, no progress when these proposals are taken into consideration. So, I suggest to the honorable member for Barker that he indulge in some research and pay some regard to the history of the Australian Labour Party, which pioneered these social service benefits. Unfortunately, unemployment and sickness benefits have become an important factor in the community and are costing a great deal of money. The Government proposes to increase the rates of payment, but a married man with three children will still get £5 less than the basic wage. That is the essence of our criticism. We hope that supporters of the Government will subscribe to the view that nobody who is out of work should be called upon to sustain himself and his family on such inadequate benefits. After all, many of these people arc out of work because of the policies of this Government. I travelled through the Northern Territory last year with a fact-finding committee representative of the Labour Party. We saw many things that needed attention, such as lack of sewerage, inadequate kerbing and guttering and poor roads. In such circumstances, how can the Government justify its lack of comprehension of the things that need doing? The same situation applies in the suburbs of the capital cities and the provincial towns, lt might be a good thing to say that the unemployment benefit should be the equivalent of the basic wage so that it would become unprofitable for any government to tolerate unemployment. There is no earthly reason why men should be unemployed; and unfortunately the situation will probably become more serious. It is considered that 120,000 new jobs a year are. necessary to maintain a population growth of 2J per cent., and a work force growth of *li* per cent. At the end of January, 1962, there were 131,200 registered unemployed, and by June, 1962, that could be down to 100,000; but the work force will increase by about 95,000 in 1962, including 60,000 leaving school. By June, 1962, an extra 195,000 people will be looking for jobs. This Government has come back to the Parliament following the election and one of the principal proposals in its economic policy is to increase the unemployment benefit. The Government has realized that unemployment will increase. The number of unemployed now stands at more than 130,000, and it is likely that when we feel the full impact of the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market the numbers of unemployed will still further increase. The Government has decided that it cannot allow the purchasing power of the community to go down too far, because if it does the whole economy is likely to get out of hand. The Government's answer is to provide increased unemployment benefits for the increased mass of unemployed. It is afraid that if it does not take this action the depression of the late 1920's and early 1930's will be overshadowed. What a shocking attitude is disclosed by this approach! The Government clearly displays a complete lack of confidence in the economy. What has the Government done in recent months to alleviate the difficulties that have become apparent? In January of 1961 the number of persons registered for employment stood at 71,000. It increased steadily until in October it was 96,000. In November it reached 100,000, in December 115,000, and at the end of January it was more than 131,000. The increase continued throughout that period, but the Government did nothing whatsoever to arrest it. Obviously it is still void of any positive policy to alleviate the situation. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. The Government stands by helplessly, inert, incapable and inactive. It is unfit to solve the problems that are now besetting the people of this country. There is no doubt that the cost of unemployment benefit for (his year will exceed the £700,000 that you have estimated. You must deal with the facts. I am sorry, **Mr. Speaker,** I do not mean you personally, but the Government. I know that you would be concerned about unemployment, and I am sorry that some of your colleagues are not as interested in these matters as you are. I think that it is probably because of your understanding of these problems that you have been elevated to your high position. The Government could not care less about unemployment or about the other basic problems that confront us. It fiddles about with side issues. To discover the root causes of our present difficulties we have to go back to the Government's failure to maintain a healthy balance of payments position and to keep our overseas reserves at a respectable level. There have been a gerat number of contributory failings on the part of the Government. It has failed to deal with raging, galloping or creeping inflation - whatever you like to call itwhich has been more pronounced in Australia than in practically any other country in the western world. Our balance of payments problem has been greatly aggravated by the fact that we have been held to ransom by the shipping companies, which have insisted on imposing greatly increased freight charges. The Government could have met this challenge by establishing a Commonwealth shipping line, but it has refused to do so. The Minister for Shipping and Transport **(Mr. Opperman),** who now sits at the table, can be forgiven for looking embarrassed, because he is one of the guilty men. Increased shipping freights have contributed to our failure to increase our exports. {: .speaker-KMB} ##### Mr Opperman: -- Did you see the figures giving the profit made by the P. & O. company? {: .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr L R JOHNSON: -- I am afraid I did not hear what the Minister said. Perhaps it is a good thing that I cannot hear the interjections, because they are now coming fast and furious. At least the Government is being galvanized into a little bit of action, which may be a good sign for the people of Australia. The inefficiency displayed by the Government was topped off by the cardinal mistake of lifting import controls. It was sound policy to protect our overseas balances, as can be done with the aid of import controls, which are used to allow only a certain amount of goods to come into the country. This Government, however, lifted off the lid, and very soon the whole matter got out of hand. There are many other ways in which the ineptitude of this Government has. been displayed. There has been a complete absence of any plan for national develop: ment. The Government has displayed no interest whatsoever in the deployment of our man-power and economic resources so that the people may get the best possible results. This Government has set out to deal not with causes but with effects, lt has sought to remedy the position by fiddling with effects. It started by imposing a credit squeeze to retard demand. It said that this was necessary to curtail purchasing power. Increased sales tax was the order pf the day on motor vehicles and other articles. This resulted in mass unemployment. It is time the Government thought of some other answer than a restriction of community purchasing power. Even as late as November of last year the Government declared that it was necessary to retard community purchasing power, but now, after the election, has been held, in February, 1962. the Government reverses its policy and decides that it must stimulate purchasing power by increasing unemployment and sickness benefits. If there is any consistency in the Government's policies it is very hard to find. Some day this Government, or the one which must inevitably replace it if the country is to expand and progress, must come back to causes and stop dealing with effects. If it is to deal with the unemployment problem properly it must begin by giving effect to some of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, which was established by this Government, and which was composed of leaders of the Country Party and the Liberal Party as well as of the Labour Party. The committee made a number of joint recommendations, the implementation of which would go a long way towards the alleviation of the difficulties that are besetting the Australian people. It made recommendations with regard, for instance, to capital issues control and the need for clothing the Commonwealth with powers in this direction. It referred to consumer credit and hire-purchase problems, to rates of interest and to the profit inflation that ' prevails in this country and which affects our ability to sell our goods overseas: The committee made recommendations regarding uniform company laws and restrictive trade practices. It recommended that legislation be introduced to control these practices, and the Attorney-General **(Sir Garfield Barwick)** has been playing about with this matter for a long time. The real answers to our problems are to be found in an implementation of these recommendations. They are not to be found in merely patching up with increased unemployment benefits. When we take a look at the proposals for increasing the unemployment benefits we can see another instance of the fact that there is no genuine enthusiasm in anything the Government does. In the matter of payment of unemployment benefits there have been many examples of departmental pinpricking. We have all had cases brought to our notice of constituents having their names crossed off the list of those eligible for unemployment benefits because they have been sent to jobs at quite unsuitable locations. This unreasonable approach to the matter has been adopted throughout Australia, and it has resulted in many people losing their unemployment benefits. I know of other cases in which people have applied for the unemployment benefit at the rate applicable to married men, and serious delays have ensued. Of course the Department of Social Services is now short of staff as a result of the increase in unemployment. lt cannot deal expeditiously with all the applications it receives. Unless an applicant for benefit at the married rate has children under the age of sixteen years, the department will not accept his word that he is a married man without verification. But the applicant does not know that verification is needed until he makes his application, and then a good deal of time elapses before the limited amount of sustenance to which he is entitled can be paid. A search must be conducted for a married certificate. What happens when the applicant comes from another part of the world? I had occasion recently to send to the United Kingdom to obtain - a copy of a marriage certificate from the Registrar of Marriages. This should be quite unnecessary. .An unemployed man should be given the benefit of the doubt, so that he and his family may continue to live. After he has been paid you can indulge in as much humbuggery and skulduggery as you like. If a mistake has been made it can be corrected later. But you should not deprive a man of his sustenance. This is a matter that the department would be well advised to investigate. There are many other ways in which the Government has failed in the field of social services. Let me refer to child endowment. This benefit is paid at the rate of 5s. a week for the first child under sixteen years of age and 10s. a week for each other child. The rate of endowment payment for the first child has not been increased for thirteen years. This is a very important matter. In Australia to-day there are 1,500,000 families, with 3,300,000 endowed children. Child endowment is now costing us £74,000,000 a year, but this, of course, is in inflationary terms, in terms of the Menzies £1 rather than the Chifley £1. We suggest it would be a good idea for the Government to look carefully at all aspects of social services, lt should consider child endowment payments in relation to the increase in the basic wage and the way in which the cost of living has run riot under this Government. With these things in mind the Government should give careful consideration to increasing child endowment substantially. As the honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Forbes)** and others have pointed the finger of scorn at our achievements in the field of social services, I mention that it was a Labour government in New South Wales that first introduced child endowment. Another bit of poaching was done by the Menzies Government in 1951 when it introduced child endowment for the first child. However, it has failed to do anything more since then. In 1948, the cost of living in terms of the consumer price index was 54.1. In 1962, in terms of the same index, it is 124.2. The consumer price index shows an increase of 129.5 per cent. The only adjustment to child endowment in all that time has been the 5s. granted for thi: first child. The family man is rated as a sort of second class citizen by this Government. A family with three children is in a pretty bad situation. In 1950, when the" basic wage was £6. 15s., child endowmentfor a family of three was 25s.- This was - 18.5 per cent, of the basic wage. In 1961, the basic wage was £14 12s. and endowment for a family of three was 25s. or- 8.5 per cent, of the basic wage. The Government has been prepared to witnessa fall of 117 per cent, in the value ofchild endowment for a family of three. It has very little cause to be proud of whatit has done in this field. Let me contrast the negative attitude of the Government with Labour's declared programme. There is no mention in the bill of any plan the Government may have, to increase child endowment. At the last; election, Labour said it would increase child endowment to 10s. a week for the first child, 17s. 6d. for the second child and £1 for every other child. The Government's lack of concern for the family is apparent in a statement made by the Treasurer **(Mr. Harold Holt)** some time ago. When introducing the pay roll tax legislation to finance child endowment, he said - i take it that there is little need for me to justify the principle of family endowment. {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . The facts of federation and our pride in our Australian standard of living imply- that we desire a uniform level of social progress throughout the Commonwealth. The need for a system of family allowances has long been recognised. Quoting Pitt, he said - >Let us make relief in cases where there are a number of children a matter of right and an honour, instead of a ground for contempt. The Treasurer's comment may be found in "Hansard" of 27th March, 1941. There are many other failings of the Government but time will not allow, me to mention them. However, I point out that the Government during the election campaign did not make any announcement of any intention it may have to overtake the lag in maternity allowances. This is another important social service and I think it is appropriate for me to mention it. These allowances stand at £15 for one child, £16 for two children and £17 10s. for three children. This rate was set by the Curtin Government in 1943. No change in the rate has been made in almost twenty years. The ' Government has been in office for a very long period but apparently is not concerned about this subject. I would not need to remind the mothers of Australia of the cost of all the items required for a confinement. We all know the extent to which these items have increased in cost, but no alleviation of the situation is made by increasing the maternity allowance. Labour's plan is to face up to the situation and increase the allowance from £15 to £30 for the first child, with the allowance rising to £35 for the fourth and subsequent children. We know that some improvement has been made in the amount of age pension, but there are still a number of outstanding problems. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-26-0-s9 .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES:
Maribyrnong .- The honorable member for Hughes **(Mr. L. R. Johnson),** in addressing himself to the bill, appeared to me to go far beyond the provisions of the measure. He seemed to deal with such matters as the national economy, child endowment, price indexes and the basic wage. Early in his speech he held himself out as a paragon of factual truth. He said that the Department of Social Services began its operations in April, 1941. That I will grant him is true. But he said that this was under a Labour government. In April, 1941, the MenziesFadden Government was in office. The honorable member, like many of his colleagues, uses rose-coloured glasses to look backwards at Labour's efforts in this field, and I wish he would use them to view the future instead of casting a jaundiced eye on the improvements made by the Liberal Party in the lowly efforts of Labour. I support the bill with a great deal of satisfaction, particularly as it reduces the period of the residential qualification. This is a matter in which I have taken a very deep interest. Without wishing to weary the .House, I would like to relate some of the early facts surrounding this matter and re-state them perhaps for the sake of the record. Our early legislators in 1908 adopted a period of 25 years as the qualifying period for the age pension. The following year in 1909, when the Commonwealth became responsible, the period was reduced to twenty years, so that it would be the same as the standard previously held in the various States. The reason fbr a residential qualification is quite apparent. It was some guard against those Australian citizens who would spend most of their working lives overseas, contributing nothing to the taxation revenue of Australia, and who then would return here on retirement and claim a pension to which they had made no contribution. Our early legislators were undoubtedly men of great stature and men of intelligence, but they could never have imagined the vast changes that were going to occur in the twentieth century. The recent space flights of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America highlight what I am trying to say. From the horse and buggy to space flights is the rapid development we have seen in a short period of 50 years. In 1909, the legislators could not have had any conception that we would have an immigration programme as vast as that which commenced in 1946. This scheme has increased our population from some 6,000,000 to 10,500,000. This is a huge increase in the short space of fifteen years. They could not at any time have had any idea that so many of our people - the migrants are now our people - would be so disadvantaged in our community. The overall result, which discriminates against the migrant, is that it is possible for him to have lived and worked in this country for nineteen years and to have died at the ripe age of three score years and ten without having become entitled to an age pension. The Opposition first gave evidence in this. House of interest in this matter, as far as I can recall, during the Budget session last year. It did then embody in its policy for the recent election a scheme to reduce the qualifying period from twenty years to ten years. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** also included the present proposal in the policy speech which he delivered at the Kew Town Hall. My friend, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser),** referred to this earlier in the debate. I remind him that I stood and applauded the Prime Minister on that occasion, but the other matters to which the honorable member referred were entirely figments of his fertile imagination. I remind the House that the Prime Minister's policy speech was delivered two days before that . of the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Calwell).** On this subject, I direct the attention of the House to a letter which appeared in the Melbourne "Age" on 2nd December, 1961. It was written by a member of this House whose authority I have to quote it. The letter reads - > **Sir, -** In his letter (25th November) **Mr. Chamberlain,** Federal secretary of the A.L.P., joins with **Mr. Calwell** in stating that the Prime Minister stole the idea of reducing the qualifying period of migrants for age pensions from twenty years to ten. > >As a member of the Government Members' Social Services committee with the files in front of me, I would like to refute these accusations. > >This committee started investigating all angles of this problem in 1 959. It put in two recommendations onthis matter, the latest being May, 1961. > >With all the correspondence with departments to get information on the subject, the roneoing of minutes of meetings, it seems far more likely that members of the A.L.P. got a hint of what was going on than that the Prime Minister had a preview of the A.L.P. policy speech before it was delivered. > >ROBERT LINDSAY. > >M.P. for Flinders. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- Would you mind reading that again? {: .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES: -- The honorable member will be able to read it for himself in " Hansard " to-morrow. The Opposition has always shown a tendency to claim credit for any worth-while legislation that is brought in by this Government, particularly in this field of social services. Right at the start of this debate, Opposition members claimed that the Fisher Labour Government had introduced age pensions, whereas, as a matter of historical record, the Deakin Government had introduced them a year earlier. Let me quote the words of the Leader of the Opposition as recorded in " Hansard " of 20th September, 1960, at page 1095. Referring to the pensions bill, he said - >The Labour Party put the Deakin Government into office and the bill was passed but, if my memory serves me aright, it was not implemented. Mark those words. He continued - It was the Fisher Government that brought it into operation in 1910 . . . It is a matter of record, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** that the Leader of the Opposition's memory was at fault in this matter, as well as in others, because the effective date of the first payment of age pension by the Common wealth was 1st July, 1909 - twelve months before the Fisher Government took office. Therefore, age pensions were implemented by the Deakin Government. When the Fisher Government took office, it made no change in the age pension provided by the previous government, but it did introduce invalid pensions. In the . 1960-61 Budget, this Government introduced the merged means test. The efforts made by the Opposition to establish that the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson)** first thought of this original idea are on record in " Hansard ". I refer the House again to " Hansard " of 20th September, 1960, at page 1102. {: .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr Cope: -- Who is making this speech - you or " Hansard ". {: .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES: -- I can see that the honorable member does not like the truth. The honorable member for Port Adelaide said, as " Hansard " records, that he had written to **Mr. Chifley** on the matter on 20th August, 1948, and proposed a merged means test, and that **Mr. Chifley** had said to him - >We can't see our way clear to do it. There the matter ended. In the twelve years that followed until the present Government introduced the merged means test, there were numerous elections. Did any of the policy speeches of the Australian Labour Party contain any promise to implement the proposal that the honorable member for Port Adelaide said he had pressed on **Mr. Chifley?** All I can say is that the honorable member could not have pressed very hard. Opposition spokesmen have claimed, and still claim, that the supplementary economic measures recently announced by the Prime Minister are practically identical with proposals made by Labour. It is perhaps a matter of history that, in both the United Kingdom and this country, all the worthwhile points in the original Labour platforms have been implemented by nonLabour governments, leaving Labour with only the unpalatable socialization policy remaining to be implemented. Therefore, members of the Australian Labour Party of necessity jump on other band-wagons. I should like to tell the House and the nation some of the facts about the proposal to reduce the period of residential qualification for pensions, and perhaps put the record straight once and for all. Despite the honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Cope),** I again refer to " Hansard ". In -the debate on the Social Services Bill 1959, on 17th September, 1959, as recorded at pages 1187 and 1188, 1 stated- >However, that is not to say that there is not room for improvement and justification for criticism of certain aspects of our social services legislation. One of these is the question of residential qualification. At present a person must reside here for twenty years before he can qualify for the age pension. I went on to speak about reciprocal agreements with the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and continued - >I earnestly suggest to the Government and to the Minister for Social Services . . . that consideration be given to reducing the qualifying period from twenty years to five years, which is the period of residential qualification for naturalization. There was a debate on this issue in September, 1959, but not one Opposition member took up this matter. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- That is not true. I did. {: .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES: -- The honorable member had a chance to speak this evening, but he did not take it. Again, in the debate on the Estimates 1960-61 for the Department of Immigration on 6th October, 1960, as recorded in "Hansard" at pages 1757 and 1758, I spoke of discrimination against migrants, and said - >But unfortunately there is to be found in another act the last bastion of this discrimination. I refer to the residential qualification for social service benefits. I then quoted a letter from a constituent, and went on to say - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . this last discrimination was never meant by our legislators to act against immigrants. 1. . This is a matter on which I think the Minister for Immigration could well get together with his colleague, the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton),** to see whether some amendment could be made to the Social Services Act. 2. . I believe that most of our immigrants, whilst they had health and strength, would prefer to work and receive a higher rate of remuneration than merely sit about receiving social service benefits when they reached the required age. I put the arguments very strongly to the Minister for Immigration and I hope that be will discuss this matter with the Minister for Social Services. In October, 1960, again, nothing further was heard from the Opposition on this matter. ------ This matter was originally discussed by me and my colleagues on the Government Members Social Services Committee in 1959, and again in 1960 and 1961. The submissions that we made to the Government in 1959 and 1960 were not accepted, and our proposals were not incorporated in the Budget for 1961-62. But, later, towards the end of October, 1961, the Prime Minister agreed to include our proposals in his policy speech for the 1961 general election which, as I said before, was delivered two days before that of the Leader of the Opposition was made. At this stage, I pay tribute to the sustained and detailed work of the Government Members Social Services Committee under the capable and inspired leadership of its chairman, the honorable member for Sturt **(Mr. Wilson).** This bill goes a good deal beyond the question of the reduction of the period of residential qualification for pensions. In particular, there is the question of the liberalization of the provisions relating to the grant of invalid pensions to persons who may be permanently incapacitated, or permanently blinded, whilst outside Australia. In this connexion, I can well remember my colleague, the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Fox),** mentioning in this chamber four or more years ago the case of a British national, a woman, who had been resident in India and who was blinded while in India. She was denied any benefit on her arrival in Australia because there was no reciprocal agreement covering such cases. The honorable member for Henty raised that subject long before it was ever mentioned by the Opposition. The bill before us refers to the unemployment and sickness benefit. I am pleased to see that on this occasion the Government has given special consideration to the unemployed family man. The introduction, for the first time in our history, of such a benefit for each child other than the first is truly a humane approach, for which the Government should be highly commended. The honorable member for Hughes **(Mr. L. R. Johnson)** and other speakers have referred to the fact that the payment to an unemployed man with a wife and four children will be increased from £7 to £10 2s. 6d. a week, and that, together with child endowment, the total payment will be £11 17s. 6d. a week. The Opposition has moved an amendment seeking to increase the payment to the unemployed man to £5 5s. per week, an amount equal to the- agc pension. Let us have a look at this suggestion, because it is rather interesting. Let us take the case of a man with a wife and three children. Our proposal is to pay the wife £3 a week. The suggestion by the Opposition that the husband be paid £5 5s. a week involves an increase of 22s. 6d. a week above the payment that wc propose. I take it that the Opposition seeks also to increase the suggested wife's allowance by 22s. 6d., making it £4 2s. 6d. With allowances for the children, amounting to £2 5s.. the payment to an unemployed worker with a wife and three children would be £11 12s. 6d. a week. If you included child endowment payments, the amount would be £12 17s. 6d. I point out that this man may earn up to £2 a week by doing odd jobs. Therefore, his total income for the week could be £14 17s. 6d. The honorable member for Hughes asked, "Why not increase the .payment, to an amount equal to the basic wage? He should bc on the equivalent of the basic wage." His colleagues of the Opposition signified their approval with loud shouts of " Hear, hear ". What is the sense in creating in our country a class of people who could become permanently unemployed, a class of people who would not have to pay fares to travel to work like the mcn on the basic wage have to do? A working man on the basic wage who has three children does not pay income tax, but he is involved in expense in travelling to and from work. The man to whom T am referring would not have to pay such fares. Wc have to be realistic about these things. In common, I think, with all honorable members present, 1 very much deplore the fact that there are so many people receiving this benefit. I express the wish that, with a return of confidence in this Government and as a result of the measures which arc now being taken, there will be an early return to "full employment - that there will be an early return to conditions when, in the words of Labour's esteemed late leader, **Mr. Ben** Chifley, a man can do a fair day's work for a fair day's wage, and sustain his family by his own labours. The increased payments which the Opposition suggests should be made to unemployed men could take from some of .them all incentive to" work. **Mr. Acting Speaker,** this is a matter which must be looked- at closely if we want to avoid the mistakes which have been made in this field by other countries. I support^ the bill and oppose the amendment. {: #subdebate-26-0-s10 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
Grayndler .- I listened with interest to the last speaker, but," my legal training having been somewhat" neglected, I was unable to follow the long trek through " Hansard " which was associated with what I would consider to be his apology for voting against this proposal when it was presented to the Parliament on, a previous occasion. It is interesting that the honorable member should see fit to" apologize on this occasion. The honorable member says that he does not believe that unemployed mcn or women should have enough to live on during a period of unemployment forced on them by the Government. He follows in the train of the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Cleaver),** who said that the unemployed people in this country were a team of malingerers - which shows the attitude of this Government towards unemployment and establishes that unemployment has been . deliberately created. Later, I shall enunciate the real reasons for the introduction of this legislation. They are certainly far away from any sympathy for the plight of those who are forced into unemployment. This legislation provides for certain changes in the residential qualifications for age and invalid pensioners. It reduces tha residential requirement from twenty to ten years. Tha bill provides also for an increase of 7s. 6d. a week in the payment to an adult person or married minor who becomes unemployed or sick, making the payment £4 2s. 6d. The payment for a dependent spouse or unpaid housekeeper will rise by 7s. 6d. to £3 a week. The payment in respect of a first child will rise from 12s. 6d. to 15s. a week, and benefits will be provided for other children at the rate of 15s. per week. Taking child endowment into consideration, a married man with three children will receive £10 12s: 6d. a week and a married man with four children will receive £10 17s. 6d. The point 1 make is that, from the way in which honorable members on the Government side are speaking, one would think that these provisions will allow an unemployed man to go on a spending spree. I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr.** Ainu Fraser) which asn* bill oe withdrawn and redrafted to include provision for the rate of unemployment and sickness benefit for an adult and for a married minor to be increased to the rate of the age and invalid pension, and that the Government present the redrafted bill to the House this day. I support it because I believe it is more in keeping with what is required in this crisis of mounting unemployment caused by the policies deliberately pursued by this Government. I think we should look at what has caused this legislation to be introduced. One would think that the Government was activated by the highest possible humane motives in introducing legislation of this nature. Judging by the way in which honorable members on the Government side apologized for voting against similar proposals recently, one would think that they had conceived this idea. The fact, of course, is that it was stolen from the Labour Party, just as most of the good ideas put into effect by the Government in days gone by were stolen. It is a fact also that this social service legislation is being introduced during this session, although on previous occasions similar bills were dealt with exclusively during a budget session. Why should the Government introduce this legislation now. I will tell the House why. On 9th December last, an earthquake struck the Government, and sixteen members of the Government parties were added to the ranks of the unemployed in this country. As the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon)** said, you have got to consider public opinion. That earthquake, and the consequent unemployment in the Government ranks, have been responsible for this legislation. This Government's majority has been reduced from 32 to two. The fact is that the Government owes its victory to the Communist Party. The tremendous earthquake that struck the Government on 9th December last caused it to change its views. And why should it not cause that change of view? Where is the wandering former Minister for Supply to-day? Instead of being elected to this House by a majority of 6,000, he is now somewhere in the northern part of Queensland, attending to his accountancy business. The seat of the former Minister for Health, who once had a majority of 7,000, is now held by a more able man, who sits not far from me in this chamber. The former Minister for Repatriation, who represented the Evans division, now has plenty of time to ponder the problems that he did not deal with when he was Minister for Repatriation, because the new honorable member for Evans turned a government majority of 7,000 into a majority for the Labour Party. This legislation is introduced as a result of the humiliating defeat of former Government members and the reduced majorities of present Government members everywhere. Even the majority of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** has been decreased by several thousands in the blueribbon seat of Kooyong. Why should not this legislation be introduced? The Minister for the Army **(Mr. Cramer)** is lucky to be around, even with the limited Army he has got. His majority was reduced from 7,000 to 832. He certainly thought a guided missile had hit him when the Lord Mayor of Sydney lined up against him. Any one can see from the speech made to-night by the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon),** that he certainly had a close shave in Lowe. He scraped in with his 8,000 majority reduced to 673. No wonder he is startled and could only speak to-night for twenty minutes. No wonder he told us to-night that we have to deal with the bill and should not worry about what caused the 131,000 unemployed. A few months ago he was like a roaring lion in this Parliament but now he is like a worn-out old tom cat. {: .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock: -- Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Grayndler come back to some of the factors related to the bill that is now before the chamber. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY: -- With due respect to you, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** I believe that I am entitled to give my reasons why this legislation has been introduced. I am pointing out that these are the factors behind it and that they explain why honorable members opposite, who voted against a similar proposal when it was last before us, are now stealing Labour policy. I think I am entitled to tell the electors, and particularly the unemployed, what has caused this legislation to be introduced. However, I shall not persist. The election shocks which were handed out, plus the fact that the honorable member for Maribyrnong is here only because he and fifteen others in his State received D.L.P. preferences, have brought about this change in the Government's attitude. This Government is determined to cling to the plums of office irrespective of the cost involved, it will adopt any of the Labour Party's policies which can benefit it in any way despite the fact that honorable members opposite condemned this and similar legislation as late as 9th December, 1961. The. things that have occurred have struck terror into the ranks of Government members. They ure frightened of what is happening, and they have had conferences with representatives of business and with others to decide what should be done. This is a death-bed repentance because they fear political oblivion. That is why they are stealing Labour's social and' economic policy. lt is true that the Government stole the proposal in relation to the merged means test from the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson),** who spoke in the debate to-day. The honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Clyde Cameron)** to-day read out a list of the legislation which was presented during the Budget session. He showed how honorable members opposite had voted against the introduction of this proposal which had been submitted by the Labour Party. Every honorable member facing me to-night, plus a few now absent, voted against this legislation which to-day they claim as the brain-child of the Liberal Party. We should say these things arid let the people know the true position. The people should be reminded of what the present Prime Minister said in 1949. Let mc refer to the unforgettable booklet which sets out the joint Liberal and Country Party policy in 1949. Honorable members will well remember the promise to put value back into the £1 and to increase social service benefits. On page 22 of the booklet under the heading " Social Services " the following appears: - . Meanwhile, existing rates of pension will, of course, be at least maintained. We will, much more importantly, increase their true value by increasing their purchasing power. Every one knows now they are worth only a few pence to-day for every ls. that they were worth in 1949. That is how the Liberal Party put value back into the £1. *I* want to deal now with unemployment, and matters associated with it. There are. other aspects which do not come within the. scope of the bill but,, as one honorable member said to-night, it is thirteen years since changes were made in certain aspects of child endowment. Changes are necessary" to remove anomalies from the means test, from the provision of medical benefits for pensioners, and from the payment of funeral benefits, although the Government does not care very much about that- because there are no votes from the dead, in addition, age and invalid pensions ought to be increased. There is plenty of scope for the Government to deal with that aspect. But let me deal with unemployment. The Minister to-night spoke about unemployment as though it did not matter much. We must look at the reason behind the introduction of this legislation. The fact is that the Government has created a pool of unemployed totalling 131,000, despite the fact that it took from the Labour Party a legacy, of full employment. The monthly bulletin of employment statistics which is issued by the Department of -Labour and National Service indicates that on 31st December,' 1949. just after the Labour Government was defeated, there were only 9,800 unemployed people out of a total population of 9,000,000. There were 96,000 job vacancies in special categories, and only 703 persons in this great country of ours were receiving unemployment benefits. What happened after this so-called dynamic Liberal Party came to office? On 3rd February, 1962, there were 131,496 people who could not get a job. In addition, there were only 24,000 vacancies as compared, with 96,000 vacancies in 1949 when only 9,000 people were out of work. Now 56,000 people are registered for the unemployment benefit as compared with 703 in 1949. Those figures indicate the effect of. this Government's policies. The present position has been created deliberately by the Menzies Government because it has. changed its economic policies from time to time. The statements which have been issued by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service read almost like a fairy tale or something from another world. The other day the Minister said that things will get better. To-day he sits in Parliament like a sulky koala because he becomes annoyed at criticism. Let me read what these men have said from time to time in relation to unemployment. It is interesting also to learn what industrialists have said about it. On 23rd February, 1961, J. B. Were and Son in an "Investment Letter " had this to say - >The credit squeeze is the most powerful weapon in the political armoury and it has been brandished in a terrifying way. On 29th August, 1961, the Prime Minister made the quite mild statement that we were " fractionally " short of full employment. At that time there were only 113,000 people who could not get a job! Then he went on to say - >Nobody can get rid of an inflationary boom without treading on somebody's corns. You can't do it without hurting somebody. It is the duty of the practical statesman to select the corns and not to be afraid of treading on them. Is that not a bright idea? He continued - >To achieve this I must be content to annoy thousands. I wonder what the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Killen)** thinks of that. *On* 15th November, 1960, the Minister for Labour and National Service had this to say - >A second point, and one which I think I should make particularly for the benefit of honorable members on my own side of the House, is that there is no reason in the world why anyone should be hurt as a result of these measures. He was referring to the measures which were introduced in November. He continued - >If people are wise, they can avoid suffering hurt from them. On 29th November he made this statement - >I think I can put it this way: There have been some, but very few retrenchments as a result of recent decisions and we are confident that we can find jobs for all of these people in the near future. He is a first class prophet. Unemployment rose from 80,000 to 131,000! On 30th April, 1961, in the course of a television interview the Prime Minister said - >No figure of unemployment is satisfactory so long as it exceeds the ineviatable number of. people who will be unemployable - and there are some such. But, intrinsically, this figure of 80,000 is not a critical figure. That doesn't present a major problem. But if it grew worse, then of course nobody could ignore it, if the numbers grew. I could read for an unlimited time statements by Ministers which indicate the complacency that the Government has shown towards this important problem, and its contradictions of its own policies. Hie Minister for Labour and National Service was very daring in the early stages but then he became a little wary. Now he does not know where he is because he says that to have 16,000, 20,000 or 100,000 boys and girls leaving school, a big proportion of whom cannot obtain employment, is only a seasonal condition, and while he cannot give a definite assurance about their employment, he is hopeful that after a few years under this Government's administration they may get a start in some apprenticeship trade. I have outlined the reasons why this legislation now is necessary. It has been brought about by the unjust and unnecessary economic policies which the Government has adopted and which have inflicted suffering on thousands of families. Unlimited manpower has been wasted and expansion in every possible direction his been halted. It is useless for supporters of the Government to say they feel for the unemployed. The Government's responsibility is not to create an industry of unemployment, to reduce men to the condition of the days of the depression in this country. It must acknowledge their right to live as decent Australians and to take their place in society, enabled to buy the things they need. The reason why these people are out of work to-day, why this legislation is necessary and why the Government now has such a slender majority in this Parliament is its incompetence and the fact that it has deliberately created these policies, aided and abetted by the Minister sitting at the table who, I trust, will try in his own way to defend the Government to-night. This bill shows that the Government is determined to continue to bring to this country migrants whom it cannot employ, wth the result that countless thousands of them to-day have a bad impression of Australia because they left their own lands to come to this land of good fortune, but have had to go to the end of unemployment queues. This meagre increase in benefits is being given to people who are being brought here to take their place in society but who rind themselves at the end of unemployment queues, with no prospects under this Government. Whilst certain measures have been announced, it is tragic to read into the second-reading speech of the Minister that because the Government anticipates lengthy periods of unemployment for the people of this country it has been forced to do something which it said a few months ago the Labour Party had no right to propose and which supporters of the Government voted against in this Parliament. I see nothing to indicate that merely by increasing unemployment benefits we will increase the spending power of the community and stimulate the economy sufficiently to enable all of our people to be fully employed and the country to prosper. This is a bill which to all intents and purposes should be necessary only in respect of the small section of our people who are unemployable or temporarily displaced, as was the case in the times of the Labour government. It should not be necessary permanently to pay people because the Government cannot find work for them. These matters should be borne in mind in relation to the legislation under discussion. The real conditions behind this legislation have been forced on the people because the Government's policies have failed to promote employment. All kinds of reasons are advanced as to what should be done and what should not be done, but I repeat that full responsibility for the present position rests on the Government. I am fortified in this view by a leading economist who spoke at the summer school of the Institute of Political Science recently in Canberra. He is reported to have said, when describing the economic aims of the Government and employment in this country - >Australia is suffering from economic thrombosis caused by the " clots " at Canberra. That statement by a leading economist at the summer school places the responsibility on the government of the day. It indicates that the Government is responsible in every way for the conditions which have rendered necessary the introduction of this legislation, which will make for permanent unemployment in this country because the Government has no policy in this regard. I revert to what I said in regard to the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Cleaver). His** remarks expressed the opinion of supporters of this Government when he said that most of the unemployed people in this country to-day are malingerers. He does not believe they are entitled to any benefits. I heard the honorable member make that statement and he was quite arrogant about it; but he is somewhat chastened these days like the rest of Government supporters. The fact is that these people are not malingerers. They are out of work because of the Government's policies. When the honorable member made that statement he thought the Government would have a majority of 32. as it had last October. While these people are out of work there is not much justification for this Government offering men and women a miserable pittance of £5 less than the basic wage. We have a millionaire playboy, the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon),** telling the people of this Parliament and of this country how to live on 82s. 6d. a week. Perhaps he can spend that much on entertainment, and good luck to him, but why should he ask unemployed people to live on such a pittance? These are matters that should be borne in mind when this legislation is under discussion. In a message to the people prior to the election the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Calwell)** made this statement - >This is a time when Australia either goes forward or goes backward; it cannot remain stationary. Unfortunately it possesses a " standstill " government that relies on a " stay put " Budget, a government that is depressing in every sense of the term* and with a leader who makes the fatal mistake of thinking it is immortal. Truly that is the position. What will this legislation do except give temporary relief to the unemployed in the broad scheme of putting 131,000 people back into jobs? What plans has the Government to remedy its incompetence? What is it going to do, apart from this solution, in respect of unemployment? Is it not strange that immediately following the election various conferences were held, and one brain child was to increase unemployment benefits as a contribution to improving our economic position? While this increase in benefits is necessary for the people affected, they will hardly be enabled to go on a spending spree in a financial way on the meagre assistance that is to be' granted to them. I believe there is a responsibility on members on this side of the Parliament to tell the people that the real reason behind this legislation is not any genuine feeling for the unemployed on the part of the Government. Nothing would have been done for them had the Government not been so overwhelmingly rebuffed by the people last December. This is merely a sop given by the Government in order to save its skin because it realizes that something must be done. I do not wish to say much more on this matter, except that I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service will have a more practical solution to the problem than' inadequate proposals of this kind. -This legislation is Undoubtedly overdue and 1 am pleased that the Government has learned again from the policy of Labour and is giving effect to it. I realize that this has been made necessary by the chaotic policies of the Government. The changes in policies of the Government remind me of the case of the doctor who operated on a man and then said that the operation had been a complete success but unfortunately the patient died. That is the position to-day. The economy has been operated on but the nation has gone bankrupt under this Government. In racing parlance this legislation was born out of desperation by defeat; it is trained on deceit and ridden by terror, it is a desperate attempt to correct the blunders of policy which have wrecked the economy, and it shows the bankruptcy of the Liberal policy which the Government has enunciated and given effect to in this country. The very necessity for this legislation indicates that Australian cannot afford the Menzies Government whose policies have now been so overwhelmingly rejected by the Australian people. {: #subdebate-26-0-s11 .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH:
Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Forrest · LP -- The bill before the House deals with two aspects of social services. Ohe of them is the question of the length - of residence required for a person to qualify for an age pension, and the other deals with the rate of unemployment benefits. 1 felt a little sorry for the honorable member for Grayndler **(Mr. Daly)** as he ranged a wide field. Truly he is a man more to bc pitied than criticized in this regard. He was once one of the brighter members of the Labour Party. When I first came into this House he was the party whip and had prospects. {: .speaker-KYS} ##### Mr Reynolds: -- He increased his majority. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- He has a safe seat. There are some seats where, if the Labour Party endorsed a gorilla he would be elected. The fact remains that the honorable member for Grayndler is coming to the point where he has to try to carry out his role as a selfappointed funny man and make comments about personalities on this side of the House. That was the situation in regard to his speech to-night. He made personal comments about members on this side of the House and, if we subtract them from his speech there is virtually nothing left. The bored inattention with which his party greeted his attempts to be funny illustrated his desperate position inside his' own party. As I said, this bill deals with two subjects in particular, but - I suppose in an attempt to bring some interest to the debate - honorable members have ranged virtually over the whole field of social services. I think it is a pity that when something with which the whole House is in agreement comes before us we should have to resort to violent argument about who thought of it first, with statements made and questions asked like, "You have stolen this from us," and, " Who first started social services? ". There has been a great development in community thinking about what should be done for the less fortunate members of the community. It is quite true that from time to time there have been differences in policy between the opposing sides in Parliament. Wc, for our part, have always said at election times - to give a simple illustration - that we will not make specific promises about social service rates in an attempt to buy votes. The Labour Party, for its own good reasons, has at election times made specific cash promises. That may appeal to the Labour Party, and it may or may not appeal to the electors. The situation is that the present Government has at least as good a record and, I maintain, a better record than members of the Opposition in regard to actual performance. For honorable members opposite to say that anything that the Liberal Party has done in the field of social services has simply been done because there was pressure from the Opposition or to meet specific promises that had been made by the Opposition seems to me somewhat similar to a man who has taken part in a mile race with Herb Elliott saying, " Elliott would not have broken the world record if I had not been in the race too." That would possibly be true, but the simple fact is that this Government has to its credit a magnificent performance in the field of social services. . I listened to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** to-day. In what was a typical speech from him he was not willing to give this Government credit for anything good that had ever been done in the field of social services in Australia. The whole of his speech was based on the inference that because we had been run fairly close by the Labour Party in the general election we were now bringing this bill in as a desperate measure. Let me remind the House that one of the major purposes of this bill - the reduction of the period of continuous residence in Australia as a qualification for a pension - was specifically promised in both the Government's policy speech and the Labour Party's policy speech. As regards the increase of unemployment benefit, I have looked carefully through the Labour Party's policy speech and I can find no undertaking to increase the benefit. So, when the Government is honoring its undertaking to reduce the qualifying period of residence, the Labour Party accepts the proposal because it could not very well at this stage try to outdo us in that; but on the other matter, about which the Labour Party was silent in. its policy speech, honorable members opposite are trying to put in a late bid to increase the rate proposed by the Government. This is a pretty sorry performance on the part of the Labour Party. It amounts almost to a case of sour grapes or envy. Honorable members opposite suggest that the fact that we have a narrow majority in the House at this stage is the only reason that we arc introducing any improvements in social services. To refute that suggestion let us go back over the last twelve years. Docs the honorable member for EdenMonaro suggest that the increase of 7s. 6d. in the age pension made in 195.0 was made because we had a narrow majority in this House? Does he suggest that the increase of 10s. a week granted in 1951 was inspired by the fact that at that time we had a narrow majority in this House? Surely the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has been here long enough to know the true circumstances. In 1952 there was an increase of 7s. 6d. a week, in 1953 an increase of 2s. 6d., in 1955 an increase of 10s., in 1957 an increase of 7s. 6d., in 1959 an increase of 7s. 6d., in 1960 an increase of 5s. and in 1961 an increase of 5s. At all those times this Government had a comfortable working majority in this House; yet to-day the honorable member for Eden-Monaro suggested that the present measure was introduced for the simple reason that we had had a close shave in the last general election. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is undoubtedly a capable debater, but I have never heard him show to less advantage than he showed in this House to-day. As to the question of who first initiated the idea of reducing the qualifying residential period, I pay great tribute to a body of people not connected with the Labour Party or the Liberal Party - a body of people of whom the honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** spoke in most disparaging terms when he made a reference to the Citizenship Convention at Canberra. These people, who come to Canberra each year from all over Australia to discuss the problems arising from immigration were, as far as I am aware, the first to suggest that the reduction of the qualifying period of residence would be a means of helping migrants. It is quite true that the suggestion was not adopted immediately by the Government. Where does one find a new idea immediately adopted by any government? It is quite true that in this chamber last year the Labour Party sought, during the consideration of the Budget, the implementation of such a proposal. But again, **Sir, looking** in the context of a particular budgetary situation, while there were undoubtedly members on both sides of the chamber who, in isolation, would approve of the proposal, who can say that that was the right time to introduce it, and not this? That basically, is the reason why in 1949, when there was an inflation of about 10 per cent, in the economy, the Labour Party made a great virtue out of not increasing the age pension. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- After your' party had defeated the prices referendum proposals. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- That may be right. The honorable member for East Sydney supplies the perfect support for the argument I- am using - that in a particular context or a particular situation there is always a valid reason for a government's not adopting a suggestion. In isolation, I have no doubt that most members of the Labour Party in 1949 would have been delighted to support an increase of the age pension. So would the members of the Liberal Party at that time. Let us have a little common honesty in our approach to those problems of government. I am very grateful to the honorable member for East Sydney for his reference to that situation. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Did you not help to defeat the prices referendum proposals? {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- I did indeed, and there are one or two other things that I am glad I helped to defeat. Now I come to the second aspect of the legislation - the increase of. unemployment benefit. Honorable members opposite, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro foremost among them, suggested that this Government and the Communists had something in common - that they were both deliberately trying to create unemployment. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- You would not be in government except for Communist preferences. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- I am again grateful to the honorable member for East Sydney for his interjection. The Communists have shown themselves to be singularly impartial in their approach in this respect. Our friend from Stirling **(Mr. Webb)** received 447 Communist preferences which effectively made him a member of this House. So if we owe our majority to the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Killen),** the Labour Party equally owes its proximity in numbers to the government's numbers through its capture of the seat of Stirling, to the Communist Party. A far greater percentage of Communist Party votes went to the honorable member for Stirling than went to the Liberal Party in the Moreton electorate. This is a talking point if you like but it is quite obvious that these accusations are made only to deceive those who do not understand the true position. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Tell us what the total votes were for the respective political parties. Labour got the highest vote. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- The honorable member for East Sydney is trying to draw mc aside from this question of unemployment. I was dealing, before he so rudely interrupted, with the accusation made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that the Liberal Party was deliberately trying to create unemployment; that the percentage of unemploy- ment was so high that it could only have been caused deliberately. When the Labour Government was in office it was puzzled and confused about this problem of unemployment. We have heard the honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Haylen)** make his periodical apology to this House for his statement about 5 per cent, of unemployment. I accept that he, at the time, really thought that he was making some contribution to the thinking on the subject. His own leader at the time, **Mr. Chifley,** had a very confused idea about what could be done permanently to absorb every member of the community who happened to be unemployed. As late as 1948, he had ideas about man-power control in his ; socialist conception of what could be done; Honorable members will know, although some people may have forgotten, that he said that no guarantee could bc given that anybody could stay in any particular industry. He said - >It is realised that there will have to be transfers of workers, and in many cases transfers of whole communities to other forms of work. I am not going to fool anybody in that regard. It may even involve a plan of movable towns to provide reasonable living conditions and amenities . . . {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Do not distort what he said. He had no intention of using compulsion. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- I am delighted to hear that because, on 16th January, 1949, the federal president of the Australian Labour Party, **Mr. McAlpine,** was reported in the " Sunday Sun " as saying - >We cannot have full employment unless we have a balanced economy. The report continued - >He added that it was necessary to have manpower control "in the interests of working people ". {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- You saw the denial of that statement. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- The statement was made by **Mr. McAlpine** and published in the " Sunday Sun" of 16th January, 1949. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro objects to having some of his own medicine thrown back to him. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am trying to keep you to the facts. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- I have no doubt that the honorable member for East Sydney will not be in such a hurry to deny that in 1944- {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr Bryant: -- Oh cripes! {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH: -- Oh cripes! I heard somebody go back to 1911 on the Opposition side of the House to-night. I think that we are entitled to hear both sides of the story. The honorable member for East Sydney figured in " The Sydney Morning Herald ", a journal which has lately taken to supporting the Labour Party on federal issues. The honorable member for East Sydney received a headline which said - >MR. WARD URGES SOVIET LINE. The following report then appeared: - >Australia should begin to think along Soviet lines in post-war planning instead of in terms of what could be economically afforded, said the Minister for Transport, **Mr. Ward.** He spoke to a big audience in Sydney Town Hall at the celebration of the 27th Anniversary of the foundation of Soviet Russia. We have heard a great deal from honorable members opposite about the history of social services. I put it to the House in all sincerity that what the Government is doing in this bill is right. It has the approval of all sections of the community. Therefore, I suggest that it should be agreed to without further argument about history. Question put - >That the words proposed to be omitted **(Mr. Allan Fraser's amendment)** stand part of the question. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.) AYES: 60 NOES: 57 Majority ....... 3 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived. Original question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported. Message recommending appropriation reported. In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message): Motion (by **Mr. Roberton)** proposed - That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Social Services Act 1947-1961. {: #subdebate-26-0-s12 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- As honorable members know, the Committee of the Whole House is the body responsible for the finance of the nation. When a motion such as that moved by the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** is before the committee, I suggest that honorable members at least should know the purport of the proposal on which they are voting. On similar occasions, honorable members are given an indication of the amount involved in the appropriation. We had one such experience yesterday when an amendment to the Commonwealth Banks Bill was moved. 1 shall read the form of the motion - >That it is expedient that an appropriation ot revenue be made for the purposes of u bill for an act to increase the Capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia by the sum of Five million pounds. At least under the terms of that motion the House knew what it was doing. The committee does not know what it is doing in the terms of the motion that has been moved by the Minister for Social Services to-night.- The appropriation proposed is to give effect to the bill that has been passed by the House by a majority of three. The measure before the House was designed to increase the amount of unemployment benefit. The Government does not know the extent to which unemployment will grow in the next few months. We suggest that unemployment will increase faster than the Government suggests it will increase. Secondly, the measure before the House was designed to permit the payment of pensions more quickly, and the Government .again has indicated that it does not know the extent of the numbers who will qualify for the payments. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- In the first case, you are quite wrong and you know it. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- If the Minister for Labour and National Service can explain these matters better than his colleague has done, and if he can explain the purport of this notion I shall be interested and surprised to hear him. All I am saying is that at the committee stage, we are to appropriate in this instance a considerable sum. Can honorable members on the Government side indicate the extent of the re-writing of the last Budget that is involved in the measure that has just been passed?. It is proposed to enable certain persons to qualify for pension benefits sooner than they might have done. 1 am not objecting to that; but in addition it is proposed to pay unemployment benefits to about 40,000 persons now. We hope the number will get less rather than greater, but the measures taken so far indicate that the number of beneficiaries will be greater rather than smaller. Has this committee any comprehension of the extent of the appropriation that is being made? 1 suggest that at least the Minister who has moved this motion should indicate to honorable members the extent of the new appropriations that, will be required- from, the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet the purposes of the bill. 1 would be interested to hear the Minister give us some indication of the amount involved. {: #subdebate-26-0-s13 .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr ROBERTON:
Minister for Social Services · Riverina · CP -- As I have tried to explain before, this is exclusively a matter of procedure, and the procedures of the House are not laid down by me. I am informed that this is largely a constitutional question and that section 56 of the Constitution does not require the amount of the appropriation to be stated in the message. All that is required is that the message should recommend the purpose of the appropriation. In the case of an increase in social service benefits, it is obvious that the exact amount needed cannot be known in advance because it will depend on the constantly varying number of claims. However, the Government's estimate of the increased expenditure is always available to honorable members and, indeed, almost invariably is mentioned in detail in the second-reading speech. In the case of this bill, or a bill arising out of the Budget, it will be found in the Budget estimates. I have no great objection in this instance, since a reasonable estimate can be made, to saying to honorable members, as, indeed, I said during my second-reading speech, that the estimated amounts involved in respect of both the measures included . in this bill would aggregate £1,400,000. But I hope that honorable members are not suggesting now that there is to be an alteration in the .procedure with regard to social services expenditure, and that at the stage at which that estimate is reached or exceeded the Minister for Social Services should be placed in the position of having to come to the House for additional resources. {: #subdebate-26-0-s14 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- The Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** has said that the estimates will be found, in the Budget. That is not true. What are we doing now is re-writing the last Budget. The amounts with which we are now concerned were not postulated in the last Budget, and, as has been pointed out in this debate, after the last Budget was presented and a proposal was put forward in terms identical with those contained in part of this bill, and an amendment to give effect to the proposal was moved on this side of the House, to provide that persons not born in Australia should qualify for pension after ten years residence instead of twenty years, that amendment was rejected by the House. In addition to that, it is now proposed to increase the amount of unemployment benefit by approximately one-quarter, and the Minister has given estimates of the cost of these proposals. He said that he estimated the additional cost, in respect of the new pensioners, at £2,250,000 in a full year. This evidently envisaged that about 10,000 persons, as a minimum, would be involved on a twelve-months basis. He has given no indication whatever as to the estimated number of unemployed for the remainder of this financial year, although the appropriation that we are now considering is designed to provide for any person who will become unemployed during that period. I suggest that the explanation given by the Minister is erroneous. This House should understand what it is doing in terms of the reality of finance. It is all very well to fall back on the subterfuge of section 56 of the Constitution, which was formulated in terms of conditions prevailing in 1901. What this House wants to know is the reality of this expenditure at the beginning of 1962, and I suggest that the Minister has not given any convincing explanation in this regard. I would think that this House is being recreant to its trust as the custodian of the finances of this nation if it votes on this message in terms of the explanation that has been given by the Minister in charge of the bill. {: #subdebate-26-0-s15 .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr ROBERTON:
Minister for Social Services · Riverina · CP -- 1 take the strongest exception to the allegations of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean)** in regard to what I have said during my second-reading speech on this bill and in second-reading speeches that I have previously made in this House. For the information of all reasonable and honorable members, let me repeat what I said during my second-reading speech when introducing this bill. It is not possible to give any exact estimate of the cost involved in the proposals. If all those estimated to be able to qualify by residence for an age or invalid pension under the new provisions were qualified in all other respects, the additional cost for 1962-63 would be some £3,000,000, rising to some £10,000,000 in 1969-70. As, however, some of those qualified by residence will not be qualified in such other respects as means or nationality, the actual expenditure should, on the estimates for 1962-63, be somewhat less than that mentioned, and may approximate £2,250,000. During the remainder of 1961-62 the cost is expected to be not less than £700,000. Again, in regard to the unemployment and sickness benefits it is not possible to give a firm estimate of costs, lt is expected, however, that the additional costs of the increased rates will be in the vicinity of £700,000 for the remainder of 1961-62. **Mr. Chairman,** no Minister could give a more detailed estimate in a case of this kind, nor would I expect that any honorable member would want to bind any Minister for Social Services within the strict limits of these estimates. {: #subdebate-26-0-s16 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Leader of the Opposition · Melbourne -- Section 56 of the Constitution does not preclude the Minister from being more precise than he is being now. In the course of his earlier explanation he said that he relies on the structure of the Budget. Well, the Government has already exceeded the Budget estimates very considerably, so it is rather a ricketty structure on which to base any argument. The Government proposed to spend something like- £8,500,000 this year on unem- ployment and sickness benefits. In seven months of the year it has already spent more than £9,000,000, or £500,000 more in seven months than it had provided for the whole year. It is obvious that the Government's estimates in respect of unemployment were completely astray. The amount that the Government will probably spend on unemployment relief this year is likely to be of the order of £16,000,000. Now the Minister tells us that the estimated expenditure on the increased rates for the four months of this year is something like £1,400,000. {: .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr Roberton: -- There are two sums, £700,000 in each case. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- That is so. The expenditure will probably be much greater, because unemployment is not going to diminish in the next few months. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- That is quite wrong. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The Minister for unemployment has been telling us month after month that unemployment would decrease, but all the time it has been increasing month after month, until we now have a record figure of 131,500 registered unemployed, which, of course, is not the total number of persons who are unemployed. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- What does the " Financial Review" say, giving a seasonally adjusted figure? It gives a figure of 105,000. The people who publish that journal are your friends. Are you not going to stick by them? {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The only government authority that has given us any figures that seem at all reasonable is the Commonwealth Statistician, and we are quite prepared to stand by his figures. If the Minister would use his figures I am sure that the estimates for the year's expenditure on unemployment benefit would be much greater than the estimate that we have been given to-night. But the Minister ought to be precise. He ought not to take advantage of a vaguely worded section of the Constitution which requires the Government to come to the committee of the Parliament and to go through the form of appropriating a sum of money without making the figures sufficiently precise for the Parliament to know what it is actually voting for the services of the department of State concerned. The Minister ought at least to give us a calculated guess if he. cannot give us a reasonable estimate. An far as unemployment and sickness benefit figures are concerned, and all other figures connected with social services, this Government is miles out in its calculations. That is why it lost so many seats at the last election. {: #subdebate-26-0-s17 .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK:
Minister for External Affairs and AttorneyGeneral · Parramatta · LP -- We have listened to a very amusing proposition from the Opposition. We have been told that section 56 of the Constitution is a vaguely worded section appropriate only to 1900. In truth', section 53 and section 56 between them safeguard the rights of the House of Representatives in relation to the other House. What we are listening to is a proposition from the Opposition that the House of Representatives should forfeit its right to the control of the nation's expenditure and run the risk of what may happen in the other House. The proposition that is being contested really is, first, whether there should bc a message at all and, secondly, whether we can have a message that does not stipulate an amount. If it is right to say that we must have a message - and it is right - and if it is right to say that a message need not state an amount, there is nothing left for the Opposition to debate at this moment. If Opposition members are really saying that they want only a specific amount of revenue to be appropriated so that the unemployed man who comes next after that sum is exhausted will not get his relief, let them stand up and say so. It is quite plain to any one of a reasonable mind that there arc many forms of expenditure that can be stated precisely, as in the instance given by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean).** If £5,000,000 is to be added to the capital of the Development Bank, it is possible to say that the sum is £5,000,000. But any one would know that if the benefit to unemployed persons, in numbers that cannot possibly be given with precision, is to be increased, it is quite impossible to state an amount. Our system would be unworkable if every message had to contain a precise amount. The Constitution, oldfashioned as the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Calwell)** seems to think it is, was wise enough to provide in section 56 that only the purpose of the appropriation need be stated, and that is done in His Excellency's message. It is not necessary to state an amount; frequently that cannot be done. It is, of course, quite reasonable to give an estimate, as my colleague the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** has done, of what the Government imagines on the best guess it can make will be the expenditure for a period. But the important point is that there be an appropriation of enough money to cover the payment of benefit for all those who are entitled to it. What the Government proposes is that that should be done. What the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues want to do is to work some manoeuvre that will leave some of the unemployed without any benefit. That is the only construction that can be put upon the argument at the present time. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- It is wicked and it is stupid, like you are. {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- It is nice to be called stupid. The situation at present is that the Government proposes to increase certain benefits and it asks through the message for so much money as will allow it to pay the benefits to every human being entitled to them. The Opposition, as far as I can understand, disputes that proposition. {: #subdebate-26-0-s18 .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
Monaro · EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I do not know what the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton),** who is in charge of the bill, was about to tell the committee when the Attorney-General **(Sir Garfield Barwick)** so roughly pulled him down and took charge of the proceedings in his place; but whatever the Minister proposed to tell the committee, it would have been of more value than the contribution made by the Attorney-General, who proceeded most curiously to misstate the issue before the committee. The AttorneyGeneral most certainly on this occasion put up a series of Aunt Sallys and then proceeded to knock them down himself. He evaded the real issue with which he had to deal. Obviously, it is impossible in a measure of this kind to give a completely accurate estimate of the amount that will be expended under the new provisions which the Parliament is approving. But the real issue is that the committee is entitled to the most precise information and the most careful estimate that the Minister may be in a position to provide to it. The Attorney-General remarked that this was an amusing situation. It is amusing only in one respect, and that is the utterly confusing and contradictory estimates and statements made by the Minister and representatives of the Government as to the cost of these proposals. Since this is a matter of spending the people's money, the committee is entitled to have full information. This is in accord with the proper traditions of the parliamentary system of this country. Instead, we have had a most confusing, inconsistent and contradictory series of estimates from the Minister and from other representatives of the Government. I will quote first from " Hansard " of 4th October, 1961. The estimate then given was that the cost of reducing the residential qualification from twenty years to ten years for pension purposes would be £670,000 in a full year, rising to £1,000,000 by 1966. Those figures, of course, are so utterly at variance with the estimate now given by the Minister for Social Services that the committee is certainly entitled to require better information before approving this appropriation. In support of this estimate of £670,000 in a full year, rising to £1,000,000 by 1966, the most detailed figures were given and they are the only detailed figures that have ever been given to the House or the committee in respect of any estimate. As the honorable member for Sturt **(Mr. Wilson),** who is the chairman of the Government Members Social Services Committee, will well remember, it was he who gave this detailed estimate to the House and informed it that the figures were provided for him by official sources. Since then we have had the Minister himself give an estimate. At page 1168 of " Hansard " of 14th September, 1961, he is reported as having said that he would like to give some authoritative estimates of the cost of reducing to ten years the residential qualification for an age pension. He placed the figure then at £2,500,000. The committee surely is entitled to know upon what basis those estimates were made. I proceed, therefore, to quote " Hansard " of 17th October, 1961. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Whitlam)** asked the Minister for Social Services the following question upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many citizens whose age and means would entitle them to age pensions are disqualified from receiving them because they have not yet resided for twenty years in Australia? 1. How many of these citizens would be entitled to age pensions if the qualifying period of residence were reduced to ten years? The Minister, who without giving any basis for his estimate had already given us a figure of £2,500,000 while the honorable member for Sturt had given an estimate of £670,000, gave this answer - >Information relating to the financial position of people of pensionable age who are not receiving pensions is not available. The number of people who may be eligible for age pensions under the means test but who are ineligible under the nationality and/or residential provisions is not known. He declined to give any estimate of the number of people who would be affected by the provision that he is now asking the committee to approve, although earlier he gave an estimate of £2,500,000, has now given a different estimate of £2,250,000 and has given a further estimate of £10,000,000, which he says will be the eventual sum involved. But that is not the end of this story of ministerial inconsistency, confusion and contradiction. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition pursued this matter further. On 3rd November, 1961, he wrote to the Minister in these terms - >My dear Minister, > >On 14 September you quoted in the House an authoritative estimate of the cost of reducing to ten years the residential qualification for age pensions as £2,500,000. > >On 17 October, in answer to my question on notice, you stated that the number of people who might be eligible for age pensions under the means test but who were ineligible under the nationality and/or residential provisions was not known. > >I should like you to let me know how the estimate of the cost of the proposal was made when the number of persons affected by the proposal is not known. That is information which every member of this committee and of the Parliament as a whole is entitled to ask for. A reply to that letter came by telegram from the Minister's private secretary. It was as follows: - >Your telegram 29th. The Minister has been on the road for several weeks but he will acknowledge your letter as soon as that is practicable. So one could expect that some information would at last be provided. We now come to the final page of this very curious chapter. It is a letter from the Minister, dated 9th January, 1962, which stated - >Dear **Mr. Whitlam,** > >Referring to your letter dated 3rd November which reached me when I was " on the road " and to your telegram of 29th November which was acknowledged by my Private Secretary on the same date, I have nothing to add to my reply to your question on notice which referred to the number of people who may be eligible for pensions under the means test but who are ineligible under the nationality and/or residential provisions of the Social Services Act. Surely a case has been established to show that this committee and the Parliament are entitled to better information than the Minister has so far been able to provide. The Minister, even at this stage, ought to give to the committee a detailed estimate of the number of pensioners likely to be affected, the number of those who would qualify under the means test and the estimated number of those who would benefit under the residential provisions. If he is able to give us an estimate of the cost, why is he not able to tell us what that estimate is based on? If he makes one estimate one day and a completely contrary estimate another day, and another entirely contrary estimate is given by the chairman of the Government Members Social Services Committee, surely there is an overwhelming case which establishes that this Parliament is being treated with contempt in relation to the cost of the Government's proposals. {: #subdebate-26-0-s19 .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr ROBERTON:
Minister for Social Services · Riverina · CP **.- Mr. Chairman,** the procedures were altered, I understand by the clerks of the House, two years ago. When the procedures were altered and it was originally suggested that I ought to mention a sum in the appropriation, I declined to mention an amount. I declined because I believed that the stipulation of a sum would only lead to senseless argument that would serve no useful purpose. After the Budget had been presented last year and I had introduced the Social Services Bill 1961, the same question arose, and I was pressed by my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean),** for an estimate of the appropriation. Again I refused to state an amount. I refused for precisely the same reason as before: Any estimate could only lead to senseless argument that would serve no useful purpose. The question arose again when this bill was being considered. On this occasion, I have relented and mentioned the estimate of the appropriation. As a consequence, all my worst fears have been confirmed. The estimate has led to senseless, stupid argument that will serve no useful purpose. That is what I wanted to say a few minutes ago, and I give it special emphasis now. What is the purpose of this discussion? Is it to cut down the rights of these people who would qualify for these benefits? Is it to suggest that the Department of Social Services could ever run out of funds needed to meet its normal responsibilities? Such a thing is unthinkable and unacceptable to me and to all members of the Government. How could I or any department of this kind know how many of these people will qualify or will apply for age or invalid pensions? {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Has the Minister no idea? {: .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr ROBERTON: -- I have not the remotest idea. How am I to know whether a woman is likely to apply for an age pension when she reaches 60 years of age? How am I to know whether a man will apply for an age pension when he reaches 65? There are 500,000 people in our country who will qualify by age for an age pension and have never applied for it. That is history. We know that, but I and the department have no means of knowing how many people will apply in the circumstances that we are considering, nor has the department any accurate information about how many will be eligible if they do apply. In what circumstances could the department know about the naturalization of people who apply for social service benefits of any kind? What would the department know of people who failed to meet the residential qualifications of the past or the residential qualification provided for in this bill? How would the department or any Minister for Social Services know with any degree of accuracy how many applicants would be eligible under the means test, and under the means test alone? In this instance, I have done the best I could to give a reasonable estimate of the cost - £700,000 on the one hand and £700,000 on the other, making a total of £1,400,000. I have done that against my better judgment to appease my friends on the other side of the chamber. I have appeased no *one.* The statement of an estimate has only led to this senseless argument, which is delaying the passage of humanitarian legislation that is of tremendous importance sociologically to the people who are likely to benefit from it. {: #subdebate-26-0-s20 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa **.- Mr. Chairman,** the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** is floundering in the technicalities which he created two years ago. Until 1960, social services bills were not introduced at any stage on message. In that year, not on the initiative of the clerks of this House, but on the initiative of the law officers of the Crown, the new practice of presenting messages with social services bills was introduced. The purpose was to prevent the moving of amendments to social services legislation which would embarrass the Government and make *Government* supporters declare themselves on the scale of the various social services. Up to .that time, **Sir, there** would scarcely have, been a debate on a social services bill in which the Opposition of the day, whatever may have been its political complexion, had failed to move an a mendmen designed to increase social service payments. In 1960, to save itself at last from the embarrassment of having to vote against desirable increases in social service benefits, the Government introduced the practice of presenting messages on these measures. The omission of messages up to that time had never been challenged in this chamber or outside it. How the. omission could have been challenged outside the House is difficult to contemplate. Last year, the year before and again this evening, the Minister has been confronted with the embarrassment of asking for a blankcheque appropriation. The traditional safeguard of the country's finances is the provision that the popular House, the House of Representatives in our legislature, cannot vote a sum in excess of that requested by the Government in the Governor-General's message. Therefore, the ceiling, the limit of the expenditure which the Parliament can vote has always been known. This message and the preceding messages relating to the social services bills last year and the year before, are the only messages which have not mentioned a specific sum or have not been accompanied by estimates containing a specific sum. That is, the safeguard of the ceiling has been omitted. The position is not clarified, or fortified by saying that the House of Representatives is abdicating its superintendence of financial measures to the other place if it omits this procedure of a message. That point was never taken in the first 59 years of the Federation. The other place never presumed on our financial prerogatives by dealing with social service appropriations. The absence of a message was never challenged in this House, in the other place,, or outside the Parliament, and the safeguard, of having a limit, a specific amount mentioned,, has been omitted with respect to this bill and similar bills in the last two years alone. Our suspicions are justifiably aroused in this matter because, last October, the chairman of the Government Members' Social Services Committee estimated the cost, in a full year, of halving the residential qualification, at £670,000. The chairman of that committee, the honorable member for Sturt **(Mr. Wilson)** said he was quoting from official sources. Within a fortnight, the Minister for Social Services, in computing the cost of the Labour Party's social services proposals under this heading - the same matter with which we are now belately dealing - put the cost at £2,500,000. This week, the Minister estimates it at £2,250,000. Have we come to the stage where £250,000 does not matter? Perhaps we have. But is it not significant that here there is a variation of about 350 per cent? {: .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr Roberton: -- It does not matter what it is. We have to pay it. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- There is surely a difference between £670,000 and £2,500,000, or even £2,250,000. {: .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr Roberton: -- If I were £1,000,000 out in my estimate, we would still have to pay it. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- This is making a travesty of the constitutional safeguards. It is true that we do not know how many recipients of social service benefits there will be in any period, but every time the Governor-General sends a message on budget night he transmits estimates of expenditure including all social services. At that time the government makes a fairly accurate estimate of the cost of social services as subsequent budget papers demonstrate. But if the argument of the Attorney-General **(Sir Garfield Barwick)** and the Minister for Social Services is to prevail on this occasion, we might as well abandon altogether consideration of a budget or a departmental estimate. The Attorney-General now says that the Constitution is satisfied and the traditional British practice which we have inherited is satisfied if the Queen's or the GovernorGeneral's message never contains or accompanies any estimate at all, that is, if, the House of Commons or the House of Representatives votes a blank cheque. That, surely, is reducing all these Constitutional safeguards to an utter travesty. Our suspicions and our misgivings are aroused all the more when we get authorative estimates varying, within a fortnight, so vastly as from £670,000 to £2,500,000. Apparently, since last October, the number of migrants who would be eligible to benefit from a reduced residential qualification has dropped so much that now the Minister says that the estimated cost is only £2,250,000. But the Minister himself, in correspondence which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** quoted, says that he does not know how many recipients there will be. He must have some idea. We are entitled to know what the cost may be. We will vote whatever amount is necessary to cover these contingencies, but the popular House, the House of Representatives, should not be asked to vote a blank cheque. These technicalities which the Government instituted two years ago are now shown to be the fraud that we said they were at the time. {: #subdebate-26-0-s21 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON:
Minister for Labour and National Service · Lowe · LP -- I rise on this occasion because, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Whitiam)** will know, and as members of the Government Members' Social Services Committee will know, I happened to be acting Attorney-General at the time when the discussion of the difference in procedure for social service bills arose. I believe that when a person comes into this House he should have a good memory and he should also be honest. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the new procedure was initiated from the Government side. On the contrary, it was initiated by the officials of the House. It was initiated by a letter sent from the officials of the House to the Attorney-General, and I, as acting Attorney-General, replied to it. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows that to be the truth because he discussed the matter with me when I was sitting in my seat here, and he reminded me of the fact that a different procedure applied when repatriation benefits were under consideration. So he knew that this procedure was initiated not by members of the Government but by the officials of the House. Therefore, he has not stuck to the facts; he has not been honest in his interpretation of the facts. He knows that the true position is exactly contrary to what he suggests. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Why not take your medicine? {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- You cannot take your medicine. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- You are hiding behind men who are not allowed to speak for themselves. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- And you are hiding behind a misstatement of the facts. You know we are right. Let us come not to theories but to the facts. There are two ways in which this matter should be looked at - from the constitutional position and from the point of view of the Minister for Social Services. I believe that when we are introducing a bill we should give the most effective estimate we possibly can of the probable expense. That has been done. Before I deal with that matter any further, let me turn to section 56 of the Constitution. That section requires that we set out in general terms the purpose of a particular piece of legislation. On this occasion, the message that has been given to the House sets out the general purposes for which the bill is to be brought in and money is to be appropriated. That is exactly as it should be, and the constitutional requirement is satisfied. If we put in a specific amount as I understand the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean)** wants us to do, and if the assumptions on which our estimate was based proved to be incorrect, then, because the appropriation was specific, once that amount had been exceeded we could no longer make payments. It is true that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried1 to correct the faults of those who had gone before him. They tried to make explanations without quite knowing what they were saying. He corrected them and said, " We want to pay these amounts, no matter what they might cost". So do we, but we are introducing this legislation. We have determined that the additional benefits will be paid and that there will be no impediment in terms of a necessity to go back to the House for an additional appropriation. The other matter that has to be looked at is the necessity for the Minister to give an estimate of the cost of the increased benefits. He has made certain assumptions, and on those assumptions he has estimated that each of the reforms that are being made - the change in the residential period for age pensioners and the increased unemployment benefit - will cost the revenue in this year a sum of the order of £700,000. The Minister has said that he does not want to give the details of his assumptions. If he were to do so, he would strike the problem that he thought would arise when this matter was brought before the House. There would be much argument, meaning nothing to the pensioners, helping no one, and simply creating confusion and disturbing every one's train of thought. So, **Sir, I** believe that what the Minister has done is correct. The constitutional procedure has been observed. I repeat that the present constitutional procedure is the correct one. I believe it has been properly followed, and an appropriation has been properly recommended to the House. The Minister has made his estimate of the expenditure. As a former Minister for Social Services, I know, as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** knows, that estimates made by the Department of Social Services are accurate and can always be relied upon. I had great pleasure in administering that department. I have complete faith in the ability of the officers of the department to give proper estimates, and I think it is only right and proper that the House should accept these. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- I wish to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon)** completely misrepresented me. I have never at any stage had any correspondence or conversation with him on this subject under a Social Services Bill or a Repatriation Bill, or in his capacity as acting AttorneyGeneral or as a former Minister for Social Services. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- You know that is quite untrue. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- What you said I know to be untrue. I challenge you to produce minutes of any conversation or any correspondence. {: #subdebate-26-0-s22 .speaker-KBH} ##### Mr WILSON:
Sturt .- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean)** has asked for an . estimate of the cost of the reform- {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I thought that I would have been called by the Chair, not the honorable member for Sturt. {: #subdebate-26-0-s23 .speaker-KIH} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:
LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I apologize to the honorable member for Lalor. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition came to the table and made a personal explanation. When he returned to his seat I looked around the chamber. I did not notice anybody seeking the call from the Opposition side, so I gave the call to an honorable member on the Government side. I admit that I was incorrect, and I apologize to the honorable member for Lalor. {: .speaker-KBH} ##### Mr WILSON: -- If it is your wish, **Sir, I** am prepared to make way for the honorable member for Lalor, if he wishes to speak. I will then speak after he has spoken. {: #subdebate-26-0-s24 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have called the honorable member for Sturt. I suggest that if he wishes to speak he should continue, and afterwards I will call the honorable member for Lalor. {: .speaker-KBH} ##### Mr WILSON: -- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports asked for an estimate of the cost of the reduction of the residential qualifying period for age pensioners, which is one of the reforms contained in the bill we are discussing. Subsequent speakers referred to the fact that I had made such an estimate. That is perfectly true. My estimate was made on 26th April, 1961 - a fact which confirms very definitely that this matter was being dealt with by the Liberal and Country parties in April of last year. The Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** has stated that it is extremely difficult to make an estimate in a matter such as this. I can assure honorable members that it is extremely difficult and that a great number of assumptions have to be made. However, I shall give the committee the facts and figures that I was able to obtain, and I shall tell honorable members of the assumptions that I made in arriving at my estimate. I obtained from the Department of Immigration the number of non-British migrants who, in 1960 - the latest year for which figures were available - were of pensionable age. The figures were: males 6,200; females, 16,640; total, 22,840. These figures were supplied by a government department, and I think they can be taken as being absolutely accurate. When we come to consider Australianborn citizens, we find that of those of pensionable age only 50 per cent, qualified for or applied for an age pension. The remainder were eliminated either by the operation of the means test or because they did not apply for something to which they were entitled. In making my estimate of the number of non-British migrants of pensionable age who would apply for and obtain the pension, I used the same proportion as applied to Australian-born citizens. If the assumption were correct, it meant that 1 1,500 would have qualified for and applied for pensions in the year 1961. There is another provision in the act which disentitles aliens, or non-naturalized immigrants, to an age pension. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- You are driving every one out of the chamber. {: .speaker-KBH} ##### Mr WILSON: -- I should have thought the honorable member would have had more respect for the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who asked for this information. I am endeavouring, as tersely as I can, to supply the information that I relied upon when I placed my statement before this Parliament. Even with the passing of this legislation, some persons of pensionable age who are not naturalized will not qualify for a pension. If we look at the figures for naturalizations, we see that of those who are entitled by years of residence to naturalization, only about 50 per cent, apply for naturalization. Therefore, **Sir, it** is obvious that a substantial number of elderly migrants, who otherwise would be entitled to a pension, will not be entitled to one because they are not naturalized. Some will be unable to pass what might be called the language test, that is, having a reasonable knowledge of the English language, and some will not become naturalized for other reasons. Therefore, I reduced my figure by 50 per cent, to cover those who were not naturalized and who would not apply for naturalization. If you multiply that figure by the average pension received by the Australian age pensioners, you will arrive at the amount of £634,000 which was the estimate for a full year. I have given this information to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports whom I respect because he always asks an intelligent question to obtain information. I support entirely the Minister who said that this is an extremely complex matter and that any estimate depends, of necessity, upon a large number of assumptions. Among those assumptions are these: How many of the new migrants will be naturalized? How many will be eliminated by the. means test? Hew many will not apply for naturalization? There are many uncertainties of that nature. The bill before the committee covers many things other than the reduction of the residential qualification for migrants. In addition, it will give substantial benefits to migrants from the United Kingdom who were not covered by my estimate. The bill refers also to unemployment benefits which were not dealt with either in my estimate or in my statement to the House to which reference was made earlier this evening. Only the roughest of estimates can be obtained, but I have endeavoured to give the committee the benefit of such facts as are available and to indicate the assumptions which will have to be made by whoever makes the estimate. {: #subdebate-26-0-s25 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Lalor .- All that the honorable member for Sturt **(Mr. Wilson)** has done is to further confuse the discussion on the question of whether a specific sum of money should be named in the Governor-General's message. He has contradicted the estimates which were made by the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** and by the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon).** To return to the real subject of disputation which has arisen as a result of the contribution of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean),** I recollect that discussion on a similar matter took place before the dissolution of this Parliament prior to the election. The Minister was as adamant then as he is now In defence of this situation two Ministers have told us to-night that if a specific sum of money is named in the Governor-General's message it will lead to endless disputation. Is it not a good thing for this Parliament to indulge in disputation, particularly in regard to sums of money made available to it from the taxpayers' pockets? It appears to me that the Government is becoming very sensitive. It knows that it is vulnerable on the whole question of unemployment. The Minister for Labour and National Service has repeatedly claimed that he can give accurate estimates in relation to the unemployment situation. If he is telling the truth, he should know with a reasonable degree of accuracy the cost of unemployment relief at any given period. Two things are uppermost in the Government's mind. One is that it knows that the economic measures proposed to be enacted by this Parliament in the next few months, including the one now before us, will prove to be completely inadequate to cure the scourge of unemployment. The Government hesitates, therefore, to name a sum of money in the appropriation it is seeking. All this nonsense that is talked about not being able to assess accurately the sum required is, in one sense, not nonsense. It is merely put over in a nonsensical way. The plain fact in regard to most appropriations which come before this Parliament is that it is utterly impossible to assess accurately the cost of the particular subject under consideration. No one knows that better than the Attorney-General **(Sir Garfield Barwick),** a responsible Minister of the day, and the Treasurer **(Mr. Harold Holt),** who has the responsibility to assess the Government's requirements with a reasonable degree of accuracy. When a government is dealing with a £1,000,000,000 budget a reasonable degree of accuracy in relation tosome of the major departmental expenditures and other governmental responsibilities could be said to range from perhaps £5,000,000 to £10,000,000. If there is any substance in the argument of the Minister for Social Services that the unfortunate unemployed might find themselves in a distressing situation as a result of a specific amount named in the appropriation or in the message proving inac- curate, and that the Government mightnot be able to meet that expenditure, all I can say is that thatkind of thing has happened in the past. What has been the result? The position has been assessed before the sum of money has been spent and the procedure then has been to call the Parliament into session, if it has been in recess, to submit to it a supplementary estimate, and to name that estimate in the Governor-General's message. That is the decent thing to do. The plain fact is that this Government, with all the problems confronting it, with the serious possibility of a failure of its economic measures and with increasing unemployment, will endeavour to reach the haven of recess as early as practicable. That is why it wants carte blanche from this Parliament to appropriate an unnamed sum of money. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr Cleaver: -- What rot! {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- Here is a member of this Parliament, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, seemingly intelligent, who is unable to understand a simple message which asks for authority to appropriate a sum of money unnamed. Is that plain English? Of course it is! Having received authority to expend an unnamed sum of money the Government will not be obliged hurriedly to call the Parliament together. It knows that it will meet its Waterloo if it fails on this occasion. I join with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in asking theGovernment to mend its ways, in regard to the appropriation of moneys not only for this kind of expenditure but also for expenditure for other purposes - because apparently this will become the established practice -and to tell the people and the Parliament, in the Governor-General's message, the sum of money which it is proposed to appropriate. I hope that reason will prevail and that the hollow excuse that this will provoke endless argument will be abandoned. The plain fact is that argument in this Parliament is essential. It was only argument in this Parliament and pressure from outside it that made this particular message and this piece of legislation necessary. I refer to the argument of the members of the Labour Party andthe pressure of the workers outside that at last forced the Government to do something about increasing the unemploymentbenefits to which this message refers. I appeal to the Minister forSocial Services **(Mr. Roberton),** and I appeal to the Attorney-General **(Sir Garfield Barwick),** who knows the logic of the case submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and I hope that that excuse will be abandoned. {: #subdebate-26-0-s26 .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER:
Swan .- The honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard)** has been making alot of appeals, and I claim the democratic right, on behalf of the other honorable members of this committee, to appeal to him, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean)** and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Whitlam)** not to let us have another occasion like this - this is the third - when the time of the committeehas been wasted. If honorable members study a couple of simple points they will appreciate that the time of the committee has been wasted. The honorablemember for Lalor spoke of the bill before the committee as if it were an appropriation measure. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I was speaking about the Governor-General's message; I was not speaking of the bill, and you know it. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- **Mr. Chairman,I** claim the right to continue without that constant noise. I point out that the bill has no schedule. It refers to no amount for appropriation, and of course there is no need for any appropriation. May I invite attention to the fact that there are two kinds of appropriations - normal and special appropriations. In the Estimates for this financial year that were dealt with last year £835,000,000 was listed as the annual appropriations and £860,000,000 was listed as special appropriations. If honorable members have the Budget papers available and turn to page 20 they will find details of expenditure from revenue. Under " Social Services " and the sub-heading " National Welfare Fund " they will find figures for age and invalid pensions and also unemployment benefit, the two items with which this bill deals. The honorable member for Lalor will please note that these are covered by special appropriations - that is, they continue year by year under standing legislation. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -. - They do not cover the appropriation necessary for this measure, and you know it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable member for Lalor has made his speech. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- They know that this is standing legislation for the appropriation on the last day of the financial year of every £1 spent for unemployment benefit and pensions. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr Crean: -- But the proposal now is. to alter the rates. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- I am answering the question asked by the honorable member for Lalor, which is, why do we need a message? We need a message because the legislation authorizing a change in rates is a money measure, and of course it must be introduced by way of a message, but there is no need to state a specific amount. Honormembers are not being- asked to appropriate an amount. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The special, appropriation in the Estimates will not. cover, it. Do you deny that? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honormember for Lalor has made his speech. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- The Parliament accepted the Estimates for all of these social service items of- expenditure. They were, of course, estimates only. The Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton)** did not know the exact amount that would be required. How can he know the exact amount, or even make a close estimate of the amount, as has been requested, at a time when this measure is introduced to amend the same sort of legislation that was dealt with months ago? To supplement my point, and to put the king hit upon the three honorable members who have wasted the time- of the committee, may I refer to the fact that, as the Attorney-General' **(Sir** Garfield Barwick) has rightly said, linked with the constitutional requirement in this connexion is section 5 of the National Welfare Fund Act, inserted in 1952. I ask honorable members opposite to listen to it. I am glad to see that at least my friend from Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Fraser)** is giving me close attention. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am trying hard to understand you. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- I think I am being, fairly lucid, but you. do not like it. Section 5 reads - >There is payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly, for the purposes of the National Welfare Fund, in each financial year, an amount equal to the amount of moneys paid out of the National Welfare Fund in that financial year. Surely every honorable member wants this Parliament to follow proper procedure. After the Clerks of the House noted two years ago, when a review of the Standing Orders was being- made, that there was something amiss with our procedure, the procedure was amended so that any of these amending bills would be introduced correctly, on a message from the GovernorGeneral. The first point is clearly established. There is no need for a specific amount to be mentioned, because these are estimates similar to the Estimates of last year. This bill is adding, by authority of Parliament, to the amounts which were approved in the Estimates last year. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Nothing of the sort! {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- That is true, and youcannot deny it {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- If that is the case; the estimates were sadly inflated. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- The committee haswasted a lot of time on this. I should have expected my friend, the honorable member for. Melbourne Ports, who has served on: various committees and has now raised this point for the third time to-night, to know the difference between annual and special appropriations, and not to dwell constantly on the same point. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I want an answer. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: -- You are deliberately trying to humiliate the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton).** You have your answer. The- only answer that any one could give is the estimates stated in the Minister's second-reading speech. There is no requirement, according to the forms of the House, beyond what has already been given. Other honorable members have taken a fair amount of time on this matter, and from this side of the House I put these simple points. The Attorney-General has been helpful. The Minister for Social Services has answered the questions. My colleague, the honorable member for Sturt **(Mr. Wilson)** courteously gave a lot of detailed information in an attempt to satisfy honorable members opposite. However, they know that, based on what I have said, there is no ground for their demand. {: #subdebate-26-0-s27 .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
Monaro · EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I have only one observation to make. I have listened intently to the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Cleaver),** who spoke at considerable length and with great vehemence, and quoted extensively from various documents. It is regrettable that we should have the spectacle in this chamber of an honorable member in his position - a former member of the Public Accounts Committee - displaying such an utter lack of ability to grasp the point of the question with which the committee has been dealing to-night. All honorable members can only hope that as he proceeds in bis parliamentary career, long or short, he may finally come to some appreciation of the traditional and important principle in the British parliamentary system under which the Parliament itself should be armed with the utmost knowledge of the Government's financial proposals and should retain its power over the purse of the country. {: #subdebate-26-0-s28 .speaker-KZE} ##### Mr ROBERTON:
Minister for Social Services · Riverina · CP -- I want to say just these few words: Exception was taken to the fact that in the past I have avoided making any definite estimates on this message, though in every instance I have given all the estimates available to me in my second-reading speeches. I have given estimates of the proposals in this bill. I have mentioned £700,000 on the one hand, £700,000 on the other, and £1,400,000, as the aggregate sum. I hope and pray that my estimates are entirely wrong in both instances. I hope and pray that every migrant who comes to our country becomes a naturalized citizen. This would make these estimates entirely wrong. I hope that every migrant who becomes a naturalized citizen of our country qualifies under the more generous residential qualifications provided by this bill. I hope and pray that every migrant, by industry, providence and good fortune, is placed in a position where he or she can stand up to the normal hazards of life and living without the assistance of the Department of Social Services. But if they cannot, I hope to be in a position to meet their just entitlements and their just claims, without reservation. So far as the residential qualification is concerned, I hope and pray that my estimates as to costs will be proved to be entirely wrong. Now let me come to the variation in the rates of unemployment and sickness benefits. Here again I have estimated that the variations might conceivably cost the Treasury and the people of our country £700,000 in this financial year, but I hope and pray that we never do. I hope the situation will change rapidly and so completely that the degree of unemployment visited on our people will be completely eliminated as rapidly as possible and that the £700,000 which I have mentioned will be an utter extravagance. But these things are incidental to this debate. If the Opposition wants to oppose this measure the thing for it to do is to oppose the bill and vote against it in the normal way. But to question estimates of this kind on a social services bill is to defame the people who qualify for social services from time to time and I am ashamed of the people who try to >o that. {: #subdebate-26-0-s29 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
Port Adelaide -- I do not want to take up much time in this debate, but the real reason why the Opposition is sore about this question - and why the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean)** is so sore about it - is because until the procedure followed in bringing in this measure was adopted members of the Opposition could move for an increase in social service payment. I have moved in that direction in this House before that alteration took place. There is no need for this message. On the Public Accounts Committee we find from time to time that if a department puts in for perhaps £2,000,000 for various purposes and finds that that is not enough, two procedures may be adopted. The first is to bring in Additional Estimates and make the necessary provision or, alternatively, to cover the provision from the Advance to the Treasurer which last year amounted to £16,000,000. Provision of this kind was made, for years and years without any necessity for the adoption of a message recommending the appropriation; we took the money from the National Welfare Fund. I recollect the question being put years ago as to whether we could move to increase the widow's allowance from £1 15s. to £2 10s. or £5. I thought at that time that as with the ordinary Estimates we could not increase expenditure iri that way. But I found that was not the position in this instance because the money was provided from the National Welfare Fund and not out of Consolidated Revenue in the ordinary way. This alteration in procedure was made to protect the Government and to prevent the Opposition from moving for increases and, as we have stated, thereby putting the Government on the spot by obliging them to declare whether they supported such increases as the Opposition proposed. There is no question that it was done for that purpose. Three or four years ago I moved for an increase in the amount which the Government proposed should be paid. The motion was accepted and debated and was voted against by supporters of the Government. At that time Liberal members came to me afterwards, saying, " I would have liked to support you on that matter, particularly in regard to the increase in the £1 15s. allowance to the wife of an invalid pensioner ". But they added that the Government was opposed to the increase and they were put on the spot when they had to vote against the motion that we had been allowed to move in this House. A few months ago, when we tried in this House to move that the twenty years' residential qualification be reduced to ten years, the motion was ruled out of order by the Chairman of Committees on the ground that it would increase expenditure. That was done because this present procedure had been adopted. We on this side of the chamber believe rightly or wrongly that that alteration was made to block us. It is all right for the Minister to state that the alteration in procedure was put forward by the Clerk who said we had not been adopting the correct procedure. Nevertheless we suspect that the new procedure works in the interests of the Government and not in the interests of the Opposition. It enables the Government to prevent the Opposition placing it in a difficult position. I might be wrong, but I do not altogether agree that an amount has to be stated in the message. I say that sooner or later any extra expenditure above what was placed on the Estimates has to be approved by this House. Two or three years ago, when money over the amount appropriated and provided for in the Estimates was spent in one year, in the following year Supplementary Estimates were brought down to validate what had been done. It was then decided that it was not necessary to do that, having regard to the appropriation of the Advance to the Treasurer from which such provision could be made. On the Public Accounts Committee, I fought to do away with the Supplementary Estimates and to have it made mandatory on the Treasurer to bring down a statement showing what he had done and how he had expended that money, so that this House could give its approval. In relation to this legislation it was a question of whether expenditure from the National Welfare Fund was distinct from the provision of ordinary expenditure from Consolidated Revenue. That is where we have been suspicious of it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is well acquainted with this question and knows the position. We recall what the former member for Warringah, Professor Bland, said in regard to parliamentary control of expenditure. That was one of the things he was always concerned about - whether a department should be able to spend money that had not been specifically appropriated for the purpose for which it was spent. The other suspicion which comes into my mind in this connexion to-night is that we have not been told by the Government that, if it is necessary, Additional Estimates will be brought down. I do not know the relevant figure, but I shall be very much surprised and even amazed if the amount that was approved on the basis of the Estimates last year will be sufficient to meet the expenditure. We do not know whether the sum that is needed is to be taken from the Treasurer's Advance without the knowledge of the Parliament. We do not know whether particulars of the expenditure will be given, or whether that will not be done until next year. The crux of the matter, so far as the initiation of this debate is concerned, is our desire to know whether we are being asked to approve a blind appropriation without knowing whether Additional Estimates are to be presented, if necessary, to provide for the relevant expenditure this year. {: #subdebate-26-0-s30 .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK:
Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs · Parramatta · LP -- I would not trouble the committee at this late hour, **Mr. Chairman,** but for the fact that it seems, having listened to the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson)** that there is a good deal of unnecessary confusion on this matter. Up till 1952, the form in which the National Welfare Fund was fed and the way in which the appropriation for its disbursement was made, made it quite unnecessary for there to be a message, but in 1952 there was an amendment which, in the opinion of the law officers and of the Parliamentary Draftsman, required a message. Through the years from 1952 until 1960 there was no message. It is idle to suggest that the amendment in 1952 was made for some wrong purpose, or with any idea of tampering with the privileges of honorable members, because in fact nothing was done to carry out that sort of intention. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Until you came here. {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- No, it was not connected with me at all. The Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon)** is quite right in saying that in 1960 the Parliamentary Draftsman called the attention of the Attorney-Genera] to the fact that there was an irregularity and that there should be a message. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- Not the Clerk of the House? {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- Not the **Clerk,** but the draftsman. It was brought to my attention. I made a decision about it, and subsequently it was carried out, in my absence, by the Minister for Labour and National Service. The effect of that was that there needed to be a message. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It was your decision? {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- It was my decision, agreeing with the draftsman. Although I take full responsibility for it, if any one is suggesting some fraudulent design it is worth noting that the initiative did not come from the Minister. That is a relevant fact, but I take full responsibility for the decision, and I say that it was right. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Whitlam)** has sought to give the impression to the committee that it is an unusual thing to have a message without an amount. I was amazed to hear that. Both of us have been in practice. So often we read in an act the words, " and Consolidated Revenue is appropriated " to the necessary amount. I suppose that if I were to take the time to run through the volumes before me on the table I could find hundreds of such instances. Every one of them was preceded by a message, with no amount in it. That is the standing practice of this place and of the House of Commons when dealing with an appropriation for which no amount can be stated, or when it is an appropriation which has to extend over a year, beyond the annual period. There is no basis for the endeavour to excite suspicion and hot feelings because no amount is stated in the message. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- We did it for six years without any objection. {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- Very well, but may I remind the honorable member that the privileges of this chamber in relation to the other House depend very much on that message, and that one of the things that was in my mind and that of the draftsman was the protection of the privileges of this House. I am rather surprised to hear honorable members on the other side of the chamber who understand this matter bringing into jeopardy the rights and privileges of this House with respect to money bills. I heard1 the honorable member for Port Adelaide say that the Public Accounts Committee had to ensure that money was expended for the purpose for which it was. provided, but the message, states the purpose and fastens that purpose on the expenditure, so that any one in the- position of an auditor may see whether the money has been spent for the purpose. There is no risk, so far as the Public Accounts Committee is concerned, in the fact that the message does not specify an amount. I am sure that the honorable member for Port Adelaide, when he was sitting as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, would have seen many occasions on which, although there was an appropriation without a sum stated, that committee was quite able to police the expenditure of the money. The truth of the matter is that, this chamber is asked now to say, in substance, " Do we raise this benefit to a particular level and do we appropriate enough money, whatever it costs, to carry out that purpose? ". I should have thought that we could have decided that matter much earlier this evening, without this quite confused debate which has: not got down, in my respectful submission, to the basic facts of the matter. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- **Mr. Chairman-** {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable member has already spoken twice on the matter before the committee. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Motion (by **Mr. Roberton)** proposed - >That the report be adopted. {: #subdebate-26-0-s31 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- I know, **Mr. Speaker,** that you have no knowledge of the proceedings in committee, but I suggest that the Attorney-General **(Sir Garfield Barwick)** ought to table in the House certain correspondence which apparently has taken place interdepartmentally, dealing with the conduct of this chamber as it operates in committee. As honorable members know, this is not the first occasion on which I have raised this matter. I have done so on two previous occasions. Had I been given, in the first instance, the answer which has been given at this late stage of the debate, much of our time would have been, saved. I do not know the nature of the diplomatic channels to be followed, but the Attorney-General is present, in the House and is aware of the matter to which I am referring. I suggest, **Mr. Speaker,** that it would be in the interest of all honorable members if the correspondence leading to certain changes in the procedures of the House, originating with a message to you from the GovernorGeneral and involving considerable sums of money, could be tabled. Much time might be saved thereby and1 better understanding would undoubtedly result from that, course. {: #subdebate-26-0-s32 .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK:
Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General · Parramatta · LP -- I only want to say that I took the trouble this morning to speak to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition' **(Mr. Whitlam)** and explain to him what I had in mind and why. I suggested that he speak to. the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Crean)** so that there would not be any need for a discussion of this kind. If the honorable member would like to see the letter from the Parliamentary Draftsman to me I will show it to him. {: .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr Allan Fraser:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Will you lay it on the table? {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- I do not mind it being put on the table. There is no secret about it whatsoever. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 205 {:#debate-27} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-27-0} #### Electoral - Appropriation. Procedure: Tabling of Paper - Transport of Members - Immigration Motion (by **Mr. Roberton)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART:
Lang **.- Mr. Speaker,** the matter which I desire to raise to-night concerns the very fabric of our electoral system. To-day, the Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Freeth)** announced in the House that a redistribution of electoral boundaries would take place. I realize that under the Electoral Act, perhaps this redistribution is necessary, but I desire to complain about the indecent haste of the Government in making this announcement. This Twenty-fourth Parliament is only in its third day, yet the Government has seen fit to announce that a redistribution of electoral boundaries would take place. In the normal course of events, this Parliament would be in existence for three years. In the present circumstances, because the Government came back only by the skin of its teeth with an effective majority of one, the Minister for the Interior immediately makes an announcement that there will be a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Every person in Australia knows that the Government is worried and frightened by the state of the House. It is generally expected that the Government will have some difficulty in maintaining its slim majority and control of the House. The Government is in a really precarious position. It is likely to be defeated at any time on the floor of the House. Because of the economic situation, the Government is most unpopular in the community. At the recent general election the people demonstrated that this Government had completely lost favour with them. Had it not been for the darling of the Kremlin being elected to this House on Communist preferences, perhaps the Government would have had to face the people immediately. There is no doubt, **Mr. Speaker,** in the present economic situation, that the Government cannot afford to face the electors with the present electoral boundaries. A look at the figures for the recent general election will show that the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon),** the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs **(Sir Garfield Barwick),** the Minister for the Army **(Mr. Cramer),** the honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Brimblecombe)** and many other members on the Government side managed to scrape in by the skin of their teeth. The great majority of them were elected on Communist and Australian Democratic Labour Party preferences. The Government knows full well that while economic ills are still rife in the community it has very little prospect of recapturing any of the seats won by Labour at the last election, particularly if the next elections are decided on the present electoral boundaries. The Government further knows that unemployment, the instability of industry and the present general economic conditions are going to be harder to cure than they were to inflict on the community. I am raising this matter solely because 1 believe that all the ingredients are present for pressure to be applied by the Government on the electoral commissioners in the various States. I want to ensure that the fabric of our electoral system is protected and maintained. I feel that the Minister for the Interior or some other spokesman for the Government should give an undertaking that the commissioners appointed to redistribute the electoral boundaries will be men of the utmost honour and integrity. The GovernorGeneral has the right to appoint three commissioners. Section 16(1.) of the Electoral Act reads as follows: - >For the purpose of the distribution of a State into Divisions in accordance with this Act the Governor-General may appoint three Distribution Commisioners, of whom one shall be the Chief Electoral Officer or an officer having similar qualifications, and, if his services are obtainable, one shall be the Surveyor-General of the State or an officer having similar qualifications. Apparently the Government has the right to appoint the third commissioner from anywhere. Whilst all the members of this House would be prepared to trust the Surveyor-General of each State and the Chief Electoral Officer of each State it is not necessary, under this act, that they should be appointed as commissioners. The Minister for the Interior, in his wisdom, can pick any officer with qualifications similar to the qualifications of these people - a man, perhaps, not of the same high integrity as these individuals. The Minister should give a guarantee that the men whom the Cabinet will appoint will be of the highest integrity. The Minister should also guarantee that no gerrymandering will take place. The prospect of a gerrymander is a very realistic issue because the Liberal Party in South Australia has been responsible for the greatest gerrymandering of electoral boundaries in Australian political history. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. I was saying, **Mr. Speaker** - and I saw you nod your head in agreement and you come from South Australia - that the electoral boundaries in that State were subject to the greatest gerrymander of any electoral boundaries in Australia's political history. The Minister should guarantee that Cabinet will allow the commissioners to make their report to this Parliament without any interference whatsoever from any member of the Government. Unless the Minister is prepared to give this guarantee I should further like to know, **Mr, Speaker,** whether the Government has any intention of altering electoral boundaries to ensure the re-election of the ex-Minister for Supply, the ex-Minister for Repatriation, the ex-Minister for Health, or any other Liberal Party or Australian Country Party member who was defeated at the last election. Has the Government any intention, at this stage, of coercing the redistribution commissioners into strengthening the electoral prospects of the Attorney-General, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for the Army, all of whom just escaped defeat, or any other member on the Government side who managed to obtain just sufficient support to secure his election. The most important guarantee which I want from the Minister is that he will not, and that no member of the Government will, take any action to weaken the electoral prospects of any member of the Opposition who may be considered to be a thorn in the side of the Government. Because of the length of time that they have been in office, many Ministers have grown to love their power. Many of them are quite capable of malpractice to ensure their re-election to this Parliament. {: .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr Stokes: -- I rise to order. The honorable member's statement is offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn. The honorable member cast aspersions on the members of the Government. He said that Ministers were capable of malpractice to ensure their re-election to this Parliament. {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-KSC} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay: -- If that was the phrase that the honorable member used I think that he should withdraw it. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I withdraw the phrase. But I remind you, **Mr. Speaker,** that Liberal Ministers in South Australia have been responsible for a gerrymander. We have Liberal Ministers here, and I think they are quite capable to doing the same. I merely wish to protect the impartiality, fairness and integrity of the redistribution commissioners. In the present circumstances an assurance by the Minister for the Interior on all the points I have raised seems to me to be most essential. I ask him to give the House those assurances. **Mr. FREETH** (Forrest- Minister for the The honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** has just made a most extraordinary speech. He has asked me to give certain specific guarantees, including one relating to the appointment of commissioners and another to the effect that what the commission decides will not jeopardize the chances of any Labour members of this House. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr Stewart: -- I did not ask for that. {: #subdebate-27-0-s2 .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr FREETH:
LP -- The honorable member did ask for such an assurance. I took a careful note of his request. He asked for a specific guarantee that the re-distribution would not jeopardize the chances of any sitting Labour member. I suggest that in the insinuations and innuendoes he has offered to the house to-night he was guided by his past experience of the Australian Labour Party. His own leader has said on more than one occasion that the system of redistribution which operates under the Commonwealth Electoral Act is the fairest that could reasonably be devised. I do not intend to give any guarantee at this stage as .to the names of the commissioners, because I have not even got them in my own mind. But I tell the House that the Government will be quite prepared to stand up to any scrutiny of the commissioners when they are appointed. The Government will stand on its record of impartiality and integrity in relation to the redistribution of electoral boundaries. Its record in relation to the one distribution for which it has been responsible has been one of complete scrupulousness and integrity. It will adopt the same approach on this occasion. They are the only guarantees that I give to the honorable member for Lang. It is premature to canvass now what the commissioners themselves will recommend or who they will be; but this Government will stand by what is done and will stand up to any criticism that the honorable member likes to offer after the event. {: #subdebate-27-0-s3 .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK:
Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General · Parramatta · LP -- I ask for the leave of the House to lay on the table a minute from the Acting Parliamentary Draftsman to myself in connexion with a matter that has been debated to-night. I also ask for leave, if I may, to make an explanation. In the speech I delivered earlier to-night I said that I thought the initiative came from the draftsman. I find on looking at the minute that my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon),** was right when he said that the initiative came from the Clerk and was concurred in by the draftsman. Leave granted. {: .speaker-126} ##### Sir GARFIELD BARWICK: -- I lay on the table the following paper: - >Bills to increase Payments out of the National Welfare 'Fund - Minute,, dated 10th August, 1960, by the Acting Parliamentary Draftsman' as to whether Message of the GovernorGeneral is required. {: #subdebate-27-0-s4 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney .- The matter that was raised by the honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Stewart)** concerns the next Parliament. The matter I wish to raise concerns this Parliament. Already we have had an indication of the unscrupulous and filthy tactics that this Government will employ to maintain its majority in both Houses of the Parliament. During the life of the last Parliament **Senator Amour** was provided with- motor transport to take- him to and from the Parliament because he was unable to use the- ordinary public transport available. The Government, in order to try to reduce Labour's opportunity to maintain its full strength- in the Senate-, has now decided- to withdraw this facility from **Senator Amour.** Let us examine the situation. **Senator Amour** is an ex-serviceman. The disabilities from which he is now suffering are warcaused and they have now become accentuated and have evidenced themselves to the point of causing him to indicate his intention to complete his present term in the Parliament and then retire. But the Government is not satisfied to wait for that period of time to elapse. **Senator Amour** enlisted for service in the First World War at the age of fifteen years. He had put his age on. He had suffered wounds and had been returned to this country and discharged as- medically unfit when he was only seventeen, years, of age - twelve months- below .the normal age for enlistment. He was elected to the Senate in 1938. He is a 100 per cent, war pensioner and has already been accepted for a total and permanent incapacity pension.. He does not receive the T.P.I, pension while he remains a paid, member of the Senate, but. immediately upon his retirement from the Parliament, he. will become entitled to that pension. Why is the Government taking this action against. **Senator Amour?** It is doing so to prevent a member of the Parliament from carrying out the duties that he was elected to perform. It is trying to make it difficult for **Senator Amour-** to attend to his duties in the Senate.. If the Government wants to economize in the use of cars - I understand that that is one of the arguments which has been advanced for curtailing this necessary facility - why does it not do something about the abuse of Commonwealth cars on all sides and of which the public is fully aware? Let us. examine the use of ministerial cars. Cars are made available to the Ministers without question at any time. Ministers are not required to- account for the way in which the cars aTe used. Ministerial cars have been known to be used to take Ministers' wives to hairdressers and to have been kept waiting outside while those ladies have been having their hair permed. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- What about your hair? {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- Yours could not- be permed. At least, it would be rather difficult to perform the operation. The Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Freeth)** has used his ministerial car to take his children to and from school and to take his wife shopping. {: .speaker-JXI} ##### Mr Freeth: -- That is quite false. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- Cars are used to attend social functions. One has only to go to the Hotel Australia in Sydney to see that. Ministers even use Commonwealth cars to take them from the federal members' rooms in the Commonwealth Bank building in Martin-place to the Hotel Australia, a distance of about 150 yards at the most. The cars park outside in Castlereagh-street for hours waiting until' the Ministers have imbibed and want to go back to thenhomes. Hours and hours are wasted. **Sir Earle** Page was provided with a car without question for his sole use, and so was **Mr. W.** M. Hughes. **Senator Cole,** who leads a party of two in the Senate, is given the sole use of a car. If he wants to use it to go backwards and forwards to. Melbourne by road,, he. is. permitted to do so. But that is not so with **Senator Amour.** Let us look at the question of costs. The honorable member for Moore **(Mr. Leslie),** who has just been re-elected to the Parliament, was accustomed to flying home to Western Australia every week-end when he was here previously. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- Why shouldn't he? {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- The Minister asks, " Why shouldn't he?" If the Government is approaching the matter from the standpoint of cost, let us see what the cost is. I have already inquired and I understand that the honorable member for Moore is booked to return to Western Australia this week-end. His return to that State will cost the taxpayers £108 a week if he persists in following the practice of flying backwards and forwards to Western Australia as he did previously. If the Government is considering economy, let it not economize at the expense of a completely disabled exserviceman who requires the service of a car to transport him to and from the Parliament. The Minister for the Interior has said that **Senator Amour** could use the train service. He came to Canberra this week by train and therefore he could return by train. But the trains are not always running at times which are convenient, and **Senator Amour,** as a result of the Government's decision, has to wait in .this place another 24 hours. He cannot get away from Canberra until the train leaves .to-morrow night. He will also have some difficulties in returning to this place. Here is a man who, in my opinion, is endeavouring to his credit to carry out faithfully the duties for which he was elected. I say that there is no justification for the Government to act in this way. It has expended money extravagantly in many directions for less worthy purposes, and its supporters have abused the use of government cars. You can see government cars running all round the Australian Capital Territory. You can see them in the capital cities taking flowers to aircraft to be brought to womenfolk in Canberra. They are being used for such purposes while an .ex-serviceman is denied ordinary facilities to help him to come to parliamentary sittings. I do not know who on the Government side made the decision and I do not know whether the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** is aware of what is happening; but the Minister for the Interior has proved a very tough proposition. According to him the decision was that **Senator Amour** was to be provided with a car during the last Parliament but once the Parliament had ended this concession to **Senator Amour,** as the Minister termed it, was to end. The Minister himself is not averse to exercising a little bit of influence when he wants to get a personal benefit. Honorable members are aware that he gave himself priority in changing from one government dwelling to another, because he could get it at a cheaper rental, while many persons in the Australian Capital Territory have been waiting long periods to get homes. The Minister has an unenviable reputation for reaching out .and grabbing everything that he can grab for himself, but denies help to a disabled ex-serviceman. We have often heard about the exservicemen's committee on the Government side. We have heard talk about the number of ex-servicemen who sit on the Government benches. I appeal to that committee now. Here is an opportunity for the ex-servicemen on the Government side to show whether they are genuine in their desire to assist ex-servicemen. **Senator Amour** has a creditable war record. He is suffering from serious ill health as a result of his service to Australia. He put his age up to enlist. For this Government to withdraw from him the use of a car and to make his attendance at the parliamentary sittings difficult is most reprehensible. I ask those honorable members on the Government side who believe in fair play - if there are any - to try to .have this decision reversed. {:#subdebate-27-1} #### Friday, 23rd February, 1962 {: #subdebate-27-1-s0 .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr CHANEY:
Perth .There are only two points that I wish to make, briefly. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- That will be enough. {: .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr CHANEY: -- If honorable members go outside to-night when this House adjourns they will see the interjector get into a Commonwealth car to drive home and they will also see the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** get into a Commonwealth car. The Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Freeth)** gets into his own car. Moreover, the Minister does not send his children to school in a Commonwealth car, as I well know. He uses his private car in Canberra although as a Minister he is fully entitled to use a Commonwealth car. Commonwealth cars are used1 not only by members on the Government side but also by members of the Opposition, as they well know. It was wrong to bring forward this matter in the terms in which it was introduced. The honorable member for Moore **(Mr. Leslie)** happens to be an ex-serviceman who suffered a disability at Tobruk. He has every right to go home every week to his electorate, just as the honorable member for East Sydney does. No Western Australian is going to be penalized by reason of the fact that he lives 2,000 miles from here. We have just as much right to travel as any other member of the Commonwealth Parliament, regardless of where we live and whether the honorable member for East Sydney considers it wrong. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- **Mr. Speaker,** I claim to have been misrepresented. {: #subdebate-27-1-s1 .speaker-KSC} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay: -- Order! The honorable member for Grayndler has not spoken, and therefore he could not be misrepresented. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- I should like the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Chaney)** to withdraw a statement he made. {: #subdebate-27-1-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. He will have an opportunity to speak later. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- I should like him to withdraw his statement that I use a Commonwealth car in which to go home. It is objectionable to me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member has the right to speak later. {: #subdebate-27-1-s3 .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY:
Fremantle -- The matter to which I wish to refer is one for the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. McMahon),** and concerns what is likely to become a serious problem if, in fact, there is a diminution of unemployment. I have had a number of cases put before me concerning immigrants and native-born Australians 45 to 47 years of age or older who have become unemployed. They include migrants who have been brought out from England, where they left good jobs in the belief that there was full employment in Australia. The comment made to them constantly by employers is that they are too old at 45. Some of them have also been informed that they should never have beer* induced to come here because they ought tounderstand that there is a general opinion that a man is too old to start a new occupation at 45. Employers will continue to employ a mam of that age, but now that the continuity of employment of many people has been broken - there are more than 130,000 unemployed - if the time comes for some of them to be re-absorbed, these men will be at a disadvantage. Every time there is an election when many members of Parliament are defeated many of us are concerned at. least about the position of our friends who, in middle life, have to go out and find another occupation. This Parliament was. very concerned about itself in this respect and established the parliamentary pensions, scheme. If we acknowledge this as a special problem for ourselves we ought to acknowledge it also as a special problem for other people. I believe the Department of Labour and National Service needs to get to work to re-educate the thinking of employers in this matter. Some years ago, a very fine film was shown in Parliament House. It was called " Date of Birth " and was produced by the Canadian Department of Labour and National Service. This was part of the attack by that department on this problem of employers who quite ignorantly refused employment to older men. It established from the most exact analysis, that the older men over 45 years of age had far less absenteeism, a higher productivity and a lower accident rate than the younger employed. They were more responsible and, of course, more cautious because they were carrying responsibilities. The people who have been coming to see me include migrants. One case was a very sad case of a man who had an excellent position in England. He was told by Australia House that he would have no problems here. Normally at that age men have children of teen age or younger, and their inability to get employment critically affects the opportunity of their children to get an education and, later on, to get suitable employment for themselves as a consequence of their defective education. I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether his department will start a massive campaign of reeducation of employers on this matter, because failure to employ men in middle life is a heavy blow at many children and youths who are dependent on these men. {: #subdebate-27-1-s4 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
Grayndler -- I wish to enter this debate only to put right the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Chaney).** As usual, he has made a statement which is completely inaccurate, based on anything but fact, just for the purpose of misrepresenting the position in a matter in which I do not want to intervene. It is not true that I get the use of a car from Parliament House in the evening. I would be pleased if he would give me the number of the vehicle so that I might avail myself of the facility if it is available, as I seem to have been missing opportunities to save boot leather. I do not have the use of a car and I should like the honorable member to withdraw the allegation. When I lived a long way from here I did get a car, but for some considerable time that has not been the case. I feel that as the honorable member is a man of integrity he will withdraw the wild statement that he made in the course of defending others in his heroic way Good as it might look, his defence of them was not based on fact. I feel extremely hurt and upset by his allegation, and I should like him to withdraw the imputation because I could not rest with such an untrue allegation having been made against me. {: .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr Chaney: -- Because I cannot stand to see a grown man crying, if what the honorable member says is true I withdraw the statement I made concerning him. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 12.12 a.m. (Friday). {: .page-start } page 211 {:#debate-28} ### ANSWER TO QUESTION The following answer to a question was circulated: - {:#subdebate-28-0} #### European Common Market {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is the Government in possession of a copy of the full text of the speech made by **Mr. Edward** Heath in submitting the United Kingdom's application for membership of the European Economic Community? 1. If so, when, and by what means was it obtained? 2. Has the Government yet considered the document? 3. Was the speech couched in terms satisfactory to Australia? {: type="a" start="a"} 0. The Government has received the full text of this statement. 1. The statement has been issued as a White Paper by the British Government. Prior to its publication the British Government informed the Australian Government of the text of the statement through normal official channels. 2. The Government has considered the document. 3. The speech was fully in accord with the Government's understanding of the British Government's approach to the negotiations between Britain and the Common Market countries. 4. The White Paper is available in the Parliamentary Library.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 February 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.